ACW Episode 302 – So this happened

So, this happened. A month ago, on January 13th – FRIDAY the 13th – I was feeling really good. I’d had a productive start to the new year. I was getting my house cleaned up, getting to the Y on a daily basis, doing lots of crafting a drawing, and I was looking forward to more of the same. Lots more of the same.

Then I got a call from my sister. Dad had a heart attack.

Just so you know, my parents are fine now. But back on January 13th, we had no idea if Dad was going to be okay or not. And we had no idea if Mom was going to be okay. You see, my parents live out in the middle of nowhere in rural Arkansas, and my mom’s health hasn’t been the best of late. She’s okay when Dad is there, but we had no idea how she’d be on her own.

What followed that phone call from my sister was a desperate race to get to Arkansas to make sure both parents were okay. I drove. My sister flew. Both trips ended up being disastrous. Carolyn had a couple of cancelled connecting flights, and I ended up spending a day at a car repair shop in Nashville when my engine started stalling out on the highway.

We both eventually made it to Arkansas, and as I said, my parents are fine now. Because my dad couldn’t drive for four weeks after his heart attack, I stayed with my parents for four weeks to help out, and it was quite the experience. But not one that I’m prepared to share here.

You see, the weeks that followed Dad’s heart attack ended up being frustrating, infuriating, exhausting, and lonely for me. I would love to say we all had a fun family adventure while I stayed with my folks, but that didn’t happen. Not at all. And I’m still frustrated, infuriated, and exhausted from the whole thing, though no longer lonely since I am now back home.

I am sure my parents feel much the same way. This was not an easy time for any of us. And maybe one day we’ll all look back on this experience and smile. But right now? No. I’m just too raw from the experience.

ACW Episode 301 – What the heck happened?!

Webcomi!

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Just in case you were wondering why I haven’t been posting here very much, this is why.

Every time I think I’ve got my schedule under control, something else rears its ugly head to completely mess up my day… week… month… year…

I am working to take some of that time back, but the recent snow storm in the area has delayed the start of our Girl Scout cookie sales, so now we have to spend more time going door to door. And that’s okay. We’ll work through this. Just keep in mind, if you see some Girl Scouts selling cookies, considering buying some. Or even consider just making a little donation. Every penny a troop makes during cookie sales counts!

Now, I’m going to write some scripts for upcoming episodes and just keep plugging along!

Girl Scout Cookies VS. SNOW!!

Buy Girl Scout Cookies!

Buy Girl Scout Cookies!

Hey everyone! In case you didn’t know it, today is the first day of the Girl Scout 2017 cookie sale! This year, we’re celebrating 100 years of Girl Scouts selling your favorite winter treat! We’ve got Thin Mints, Samoas/Caramel Delights, Trefoils/Shortbread, and so much more!!! And we even have a new cookie – the Girl Scout S’mores cookie! And let me tell you, that’s a tasty cookie! (Yes, as cookie mom, I do get to try the product :D)

 

Buy Girl Scout Cookies!

Haven’t you bought your Girl Scout cookies yet?!

Princess and Pixie are both selling cookies this year! If you would like to buy cookies from them and support their troops, go to their cookie sales websites.

To order cookies from Princess, visit here: Buy cookies from Princess!

To order cookies from Pixie, visit here: Buy cookies from Pixie!

Be sure to check out their art and videos that they’ve posted on their cookie sales pages. You can see on Pixie’s page just how much snow we’re getting right now!

Thank you! I’m going to get back to work on the webcomic. I know I’m way behind on publishing a new one, but the next comic should be up soon!

ACW Episode 300 – FINALLY!!!

Cynical Woman!

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FINALLY!!! FINALLY!!!!!! FINALLY, I HAVE POSTED THIS BLOODY WEBCOMIC!!!!!

I’m sorry. I’m having a frustrating night… week…month… semester… life.

I think it’s ironic that as I was drawing the episodes for this particular story line, a lot of this has actually been playing out in real life. I had horrific insomnia and night sweats all summer (two of the more fun symptoms of menopause). Then just as I was coming to grips with all of that, the school year re-started and I got clobbered with all the turmoil that goes along with that – parent-teacher meetings, volunteer work, after-school activities, volunteer work, Girl Scout recruiting, volunteer work, troop meetings, volunteer work, eighth grade and the associated looming graduation from middle school, VOLUNTEER WORK.

It just never stops. Seriously. And I am doing my best to embrace the madness, but all the volunteer work has just killed my work schedule the last two months. I am hoping to fix that now that we’ve gotten past cross country season, but I know there are more opportunities for VOLUNTEER WORK just around the corner.

Seriously, if I didn’t need my right hand to draw, I’d cut it off at the shoulder to keep myself from raising my hand every time someone calls for volunteers!

Anyway, the comic above is a pretty good representation about how I feel these days, right down to the blowzy old broad in the final panel. I swear, I will have that hair AND those pants one day, and I will look FABULOUS!

ACW Episode 299 – The Apples and the Tree

Cynical Woman webcomic!

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Sooooooooo… I’m a little behind schedule.

My apologies for the delay in getting this episode posted to the web. The first month of the school year has been hectic to say the least. So far, we’ve had 6 weeks of cross country practice, two 5K races, an all-day service project at a local convent (yes, I spent a day at a convent; the sisters were very nice), a Girl Scout recruitment meeting, a Girl Scout troop meeting, and Girl Scout service unit meeting, two sick kids, one sick mom, and one Hubster out of town on a business trip. Plus the usual homework, housework, and other daily chores.

Did I mention I crocheted seven Pokemon this month for my Girl Scout troop to hunt for in my yard?

So, we’ve been busy. I am trying to get back to a schedule where I work for at least an hour every day on the webcomic, but it’s a bit tough to do during cross country season. Practice is four days a week, for two and a half hours, after school. That doesn’t leave us much time in the evenings to get stuff done. And with the start of the school year, my mornings are taken up with Girl Scout work (which has to be done) and exercise (which desperately needs to be done). If I’m lucky, I find a bit of time to wash and fold the laundry and clean the dishes.

And I tell you all of this as a way of explaining that yes, I am going through a sort of mid-life crisis in real life right now. Well, I wouldn’t really call it a crisis. But I have been looking back a lot to the days when I was younger and my time was my own to do with as I pleased. And yes, it’s still my time to do with as I please, but how I choose to spend it now is vastly different from how I used to spend it. I no longer spend my time on me. I spend it on my kids, on my friends, on volunteer work. And I don’t think that’s a bad choice. Just a very, very busy one.

Anyway, enough chit-chat. I’m posting this now and getting back to work on the next episode. Hopefully episode 300 will be up within a week! If not, you know what’s going on. Life, that’s what’s going on 🙂

Practice Drawing – Cats, Part Deux

When last we talked about drawing practice, our intrepid artist (i.e. Me) was struggling to doodle the purrfect cat! Ha ha! I’m so funny!

But seriously, I was not happy after my first attempt at doodling a cat. It was supposed to be a simple doodle exercise, and I couldn’t do it. My first thought was that the apps I was using to doodle were not adequate to the job, but these were apps designed for doodling! So I got to thinking, maybe the problem wasn’t the apps. Maybe the problem was that I was overthinking the doodle. I wanted something that looked like a cat, but maybe I was trying to hard too draw a cat, an actual cat as I would see it in my mind.  Maybe I just needed to really get back to the basics.

So that’s what I did. The Paper app actually has a tool that changes my squiggly lines into nice shapes. It’s cheating in a way, because I’m relying on the tool to make the shape rather than my own skill, but drawing precise shapes on an iPad can be tricky, so let’s just acknowledge that I took the best approach to the problem and move on. With the shape tool selected, I started drawing basic shapes – ovals, circles, triangles – and used those to make a few cats.  Here are the results.


I really like these cats! Even though they’re simple shapes, they have personality. And look at their expressions! They’re so cute and goofy! These are the cats that exemplify the simpilicy that I think was the point of the the doodle exercise in Craft-A-Doodle

So I got that exercise done and then I tried the next – making a flag with my doodled pet. Again, the exercise in Craft-A-Doodle suggested drawing a pug, but I love cats, so I drew a cat flag, again using the simple shapes tool in the Paper app on my iPad.


Yep, I even managed to make this kitty a Siamese!

However, I still wanted to see if I could draw cats free-form, without relying on the shape tool in Paper. So I took another stab at it and here’s what I came up with:


These cats are a little different, but they still rely on basic shapes. This time, though, the whole body is a basic shape – rectangle, triangle, oval. And finally, finally, I feel like I really got the point of the exercise. Stick to the basics. Don’t overthink things. Don’t try to hard. And that’s a lesson I think I really need to learn.

ACW Episode 298 – Some things are unforgiveable

Webcomic!

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I apologize for the delay in getting this strip up. I know I don’t keep the most regular schedule, but this episode was posted much later than I had intended. Unforeseen circumstances and all that.

But I have finally posted this, and I hope you enjoy it. The other posts I have planned for this week – Drawing Practice and Alternate Mii-ality – will show up in a couple days.

Thank you for your patience! The kids are back at school, so hopefully I’ll be back to a somewhat normal schedule by next week.

Alternate Mii-ality 02 – Ta-Daaah!

After my first attempt at making a Miifoto on Miitomo, I quickly realized there were ways to make it better. For example, tapping on a sticker, character, or other element while setting up a Miifoto, allowed me to layer things in the order I wanted them. That meant I could put effects stickers and word balloowns behind my Mii, instead of blotting her out. It’s a primitive layering system, but it works!

Of course, Miifotos aren’t about the stickers. They’re about the clothes! Yes, the virtual wardrobe you can collect for your virtual character. I quickly became obsessed with putting together the perfect outfits for my Mii. However, my options are limited to what I can pay for with participation coins, any freebies that Nintendo chose to give away, or by what I can win in the Mii-drop games.  This has led to some… Interesting outfits. Like this one.


The only part of this outfit I bought was the shoes. The hat was a freebie from Miitomo during the launch of the app, and rest of it was won in a food themed Mii-drop game. I honestly had no idea what the games were about initially. I just gave them a spin to see what would happen and all of a sudden I had a bunch of weird, food-themed clothing in my virtual closet. The sandwich shirt and skirt do go well together, but I’m not sure if I would wear this outfit in real life…

Oh, who the hell am I kidding?! You know I’d totally wear this! Somebody get me this outfit in real life, STAT!

Practice Drawing – Cats, cats, and more cats!

I am slowly working my way through the book Craft-a-Doodle, playing with the tutorials for drawing fun little doodles. I got stalled on the exercises in the second chapter though, which was about drawing pugs. The tutorial is very straightforward. The problem is, I didn’t want to draw pugs. To me, pugs seemed to be the signature motif of the artist who wrote the tutorials for that chapter – Gemma Correl. Her pugs are adorable, but they’re also her pugs, and I’m not doing this drawing practice so that I can perfectly imitate anotehr artists.

I opted therefor, to draw cats instead. I know nothing about pugs, but I’ve lived with cats all my life. We have three prime specimens in the house right now, in fact! So, after reading through Gemma Correl’s pug-drawing tutorial, I set baout drawing cats.

The basic idea behind Correl’s pug drawings is that they’re very simple and very cute. Everything is composed of basic shapes, mainly circles and triangles. So I tried to stick to that idea when I drew my cats. However, things didn’t quite workout the way I wanted…

I drew my first cat in Paper on my iPad and immediately ran into problems. Paper doesn’t give me a lot of control over how the tools work. I can pick a tool and I can pick the color to draw or paint with, but I can’t make any adjustments beyond that.  And there’s a definite limit to how far I can zoom in. In some ways, that makes Paper the perfect app for doodling, but in others, I feel crippled by the app. I can’t draw as smoothly as I can in other, more sophisticated apps, nor do I have the tactile advantage of working with more traditional media, like markers and card stock. Anyway, I drew the first cat, and here’s how he turned out.


Okay, he’s not bad, but I wanted to draw him with a thicker line and I didn’t have the option to do that. The result was a scratchy little drawing that just disappeared on the page. Since the lines were so thin, I thought maybe coloring him would help him pop out more. I opted to give him Siamese coloring, and discovered that the watercolor brush in paper has some quirks when it comes to blending and layering colors. Frustrated, I decided to redraw my cat in another app.

Here’s cat number two, drawn in Tayasui Sketches. Again, I did a simple pen drawing with watercolor.


To me, this was even worse. The water color blended better, but I had such limited control over the size of the brush that colors were constantly bleeding into areas where I didn’t want them. Keep in mind, I wasn’t using the pro version, of Sketches, although I did pay to unlock all the features in the version I am using, so I’m not sure what the differences is between the two apps. I also don’t know if the pro version would allow me more control over the brush size. That’s something I’m going to ave to investigate. But the biggest problem I had with Sketches was that it worked sooooooooo slooooooowly on my iPad. There was a definite lag between when I drew a line and when it actually appeared. I don’t know what the problem was, but that’s something else I’ll have to look into.

Anyway, frustrated with both Paper and Sketches, I finally opened up my favorite drawing app, Sketchclub, and drew a cat in that. Sketchclub has a pen tool, excelelnt zooming, panning and rotating capabilities, layers, and shape drawing tools. It doesn’t have water color brushes, but it does have plenty of other tools that I think make up for that. And since at this point I was damned and determined to draw a cat the way I wanted to draw one, I ditched the whole idea of a simple doodle and pulled out all the stops to draw a Siamese cat. And here it is!


Again, not a doodle at all, and the complete opposite of the point I think Gemma Correll was trying to make, but this was the one cat drawing I was happy with, so there you go.

This is not the end of the cat saga, of course. I had not accomplished the goal of the tutorial, and I refused to be beaten by this, but I did set the tutorial aside for a while. I’ll show you the results of round two next week!