Posted in Generic Ramblings

The End of the Sketchbook

By sheer coincidence I have reached the end of a sketchbook at the same time a month closed for the Sketchbook Skool daily sketching challenge.

Dear readers, I am going to be making a change.

For well over a year, I have done a sketch a day either thematically, or (since late July) using the Sketchbook Skool prompts. By “sketch a day” for most of that year it really was sit down one time a day and make a sketch. Occasionally, I would work a day or two ahead, but it was genuinely a sketch a day.

Once school started back up (I am a teacher), this became overwhelming, so I would do seven sketches over a weekend, usually all in one day, to get the week of prompts in. This exacerbated a problem I have that I dismissed or ignored when I first started drawing and blogging once a day.

Here’s the thing. I would never throw the term OCD around lightly. I have seen the deep struggles those suffering with this go through and would not even jokingly say I had it. However…I have some tendencies. Once I start something like this it begins to control me. I can’t NOT do it. This has begun to turn an enjoyable activity and learning experience into a chore. I turned art into a chore. Who does that?

The “weekend warrior” version of daily sketches didn’t mean I wasn’t learning and improving but forced me, since I was generally in a rush, to do several things.

One is to only just one or two mediums – too much work to get others out. I got better at those I used, but there are other things I like, prefer, or would like to learn, and I wasn’t doing that.

Rushing was another problem and meant that I wasn’t taking very much time with most of the sketches, which means I really could have done more of them better. The pressure made me accept less than great work just to move on to the next…

The prompts – especially those not self-imposed – were beneficial in that I often had to think outside the box and to draw things I would not normally draw. This is good because it stretches me. But it also means less time to draw things I would prefer and did not always enjoy my new art chore.

In addition, that rushing meant that I did not always take the time to do my own thing. I looked up so many models in other places by other and better artists. I am not sure I have managed to start developing my own style.

The biggest thing, though, was that I turned art into a chore. It’s not supposed to be a chore. It’s supposed to be enjoyable, relaxing even. It’s supposed to be self-expression. And I have strayed far from that.

Here’s the change I am making:

I will no longer be doing a sketch a day (or 7 in a weekend). You will no longer see a post from me every day, either.

But I am not going to stop completely. I will still do art, and I will still post about it, when I have it. You will see more variety, and hopefully you’ll see more that’s me and less that is modeled after the work of others. Even when I do get inspiration from Pinterest, art classes, the internet, etc., since I am allowing myself more time, I should be able to do more with putting my own spin on it – and to produce better quality.

My first focus will be a return to photography. Last year (yes, 2016) I started the Dogwood 52 week photo challenge. I did well for the first few weeks, started to get stuck, got sporadic, then got really stuck and really behind, and did, maybe, about 1/3 of them. I planned on finishing it up this year and got, I think, two more done.

My first goal is to finish as much of that as possible for the end of the year. I do not think I will actually achieve ALL the photos I have not yet done by December first, but I am really going to try. And then finish as we go into 2018.

Thank you for sticking with me through this essay and on my daily posts. You’ve all been so supportive, and that support has helped give me a small bit of confidence that I never used to have in art.

(The image for this post is not my own work.)

Posted in Generic Ramblings

Some Thoughts on DW #13 – Read at Your Own Risk


With the recent reveal of the new regeneration on Doctor Who, I have had a difficult time. I cannot escape posts and tweets about it and resisting the urge to respond is something I have not yet accomplished. Here are most of my thoughts, compiled from many of my Facebook and Twitter posts/responses. 

I am SO against this choice, that I REFUSE to put an image on this blog post. For those that disagree, you may hate me when reading it.  Do know that I put a lot of thought into this and that I am not sexist (that would be self-destructive), just a traditionalist, and there are many things on which we CAN agree, if you stick through and read the entire thing. Here it is:

This whole gender-switching crap (and it is crap) is a NEW thing that Mr. “Agenda” Moffatt has been grooming fans for but DOES NOT EXIST in the remaining 45ish years of canon on a long-standing, established character. Why is it ok to ignore that?! (It’s not) 

Moffat is a mediocre writer and AWFUL show-runner who has been dismantling the mythology of this beloved character ever since he took the helm. The ONLY canon change I can forgive him for is granting Matt Smith’s Doctor another set of regenerations. Without it, there would be no show after he left. (It’s dead to me now, anyway, but we wouldn’t have had amazing Capaldi.) Although it’s not a surprise the show went this direction (it may not have been his choice but it’s his agenda and he’s been paving this for years) it’s a poor choice for this show.

Gallifreyens (the Doctor’s species), although they regenerate & can change appearance, are like every other species – born male or female. And though their appearance changes, the biology stays the same. Romana was a Time Lady, not a Time Lord who chose female. And she regenerated within the same gender. (off screen and by choice, so the 70s apparently did not require “death” to start the process) If they can’t change the fact that they have two hearts, they should not, logically, be able to add/remove other organs. I didn’t like it when it happened to the general, but that wasn’t a character that mattered. Missy bothered me more but again, major villain but minor character. (Didn’t show up until the 70s). If Gallifreyans historically switched it up, I really wouldn’t care. But they don’t. This was too much AND to put the cherry on top she’s (Jodi Whittaker) not a great actress. I’ve see her in several things and she plays it all the same.

Worse? Anyone with this opinion automatically becomes a sexist misogynist, and that is untrue and unfair. My reaction to this has nothing to do with the gender specifically and everything to do with crap storytelling and a blatant disregard for what has been established.

I’m all for a strong female lead, especially in science fiction (which this show no longer is for many reasons with the gender change but one example) but wedging them into existing shows is not the way to go. They need their own – and lots of them, especially in science fiction where there are so few. BUT THEY NEED GREAT WRITING AND CASTING TO SUPPORT THEM, something that (most of) the attempts to do this have failed. The fight for equality will not be won by hijacking what is already established and beloved. We are not going to win over any men (or even some women) by stealing their stuff, any more than boys could win over girls in grade school by pulling their pig tails.

DW has come a long way in opening minds – heck, they were one of the first to do away with the damsel in distress (thank you Sara Jane, Leela, Romana 1, the Rani, and others). But they did it by working it into the storyline and obeying their own established rules. Even fiction needs boundaries. They can be crazy unrealistic ones but they have to exist and BE CONSISTENT.

And like it or not, she WILL be judged more than any other regen and not just from two angles (the change itself and the gender) – she will also take the hit for any poor writing and directing. We already know they cannot write or direct a strong woman lead. Most of Rose’s run was passable, but that was lead by RTD. Look at poor Martha, all but Amy’s last couple of episodes, and the entire Clara saga. Bill was the strongest and best written female companion in ages, with the strongest dynamic seen with the Doctor since Sara Jane (or maybe Leela), and now she’s a robot.

And on the subject of writing…any time we have a female antagonist it’ll just be a good ol’ cat fight, although I think we’ve progressed beyond the mud…

She will also take the blame when the show tanks – even for reasons that may not be her fault – and it will be as a representative for all women. And thus a woman will be blamed for ruining an awesome show and the longest running SF show in history. This, in turn, will make it more difficult to cast/write a female lead in future similar projects. It’ll be the “New Coke” debacle of the SF world.

I wish it didn’t matter, I really do, but it DOES. (For the show AND society.) Gender is a major contributor in dynamics, so the entire show dynamic will change. For 50+ years, the Doctor’s sexuality did not matter (even with Rose & River and the woman in 1996, though putting him in relationships is also a poor choice), now it does. And while a take-charge male is seen positively, a strong a leader. A take-charge woman? Well, she’s a b$&@*. I hate that society views it this way, but they do. And all of that is bad for the show. The show won’t change society’s view on this but instead will prove their point.

I’m also tired of being preached at constantly and having agendas forced on me. The writers, show-runners, and directors have been bad enough, but in recent years, the actors on this show have been allowed some input, and I know JW’s leanings, and I’m not sure I can handle that week after week while watching something that was once an entertaining escape for me.

Gender changes everything. In the case of this show, it’s not for the better. Call it pandering. Call it jumping the shark. All that matters is that the death toll has been rung for a show that has been deteriorating swiftly in the last few years. I AM a true fan and will happily rewatch episodes before my franchise failed me. Before it stopped being a true fan of itself.

Posted in Generic Ramblings, Week 33 More Pinterest Art 4/16/17 - 4/22/17

Happy Easter!

Regardless of your religion or faith, today was beautiful and I hope it was for you, too.

Literally beautiful.

We had some severe storms roll in last night: damaging winds, large hail…the worst was to the north, and they, thankfully, also have no damage reports. Today the sun shone gloriously. Seventy degrees, a bit of a wind – enough to make it too chilly for my husband to fish but pleasant otherwise – partly cloudy later in the day. Thanks to the rain, it smelled wonderful; I believe the word for that is petrichor (thanks, Doctor Who!), and for whatever reason the flowers and trees and all the colors were vivid and brilliant.

Like usual, I walked the dogs separately this morning. I’m used to seeing a lot of people out and about. Although I identify a Christian, we haven’t attended church in several years, so I rise later than usual on a Sunday, and it’s that time of day. Today there were significantly more than usual (and there are seven churches within three blocks – or less – of our house), and I attributed that to the holiday.

It was SO nice today, though, that I took my own walk just a little bit ago. And there were STILL a lot of people out and about. Some of that was weather, and clearly some of that was holiday, because a lot of people are visiting family. And I realized that I have never been at home, in town, for Easter. We’ve always been out of town – either in Cedar Rapids at my grandma’s house or in Johnston with my parents. 

What I’m going to write next is going to be very judgemental. (You’ve been warned.) It IS followed but a BUT, though, and as we all know when a sentence is followed with a “but” that second half is what you reallly mean.

I’ve never been all that impressed with the town I live in. Due to several factors, we have a higher percentage of folks that “live hard,” shall we say. We have pretty much the whole spectrum, but we have more “rough” families than most communities. 

BUT….this town always surprises me. 

Today, the surprise came in all the people I saw out and about this afternoon. Some were out walking their dogs, riding bikes, or just taking walks. There were kids on scooters, people grilling out (I almost want a hotdog right now, and I hate hot dogs!) and people just hanging out on the porch or on the flat beds of trucks – spending time with each other. I don’t get to see that side of the town’s values very often, and it was so clear today! And so refreshing to see1

At one house there was an Easter egg hunt going on. The adults counted down, then the kids all ran around. What was really cool is that there was a wide age range of kids, and the older ones did a great job of leaving the eggs that were out in the open for the younger ones to get, while they searched in trees and under lawn items and such. 

There’s a road closed not far from my house, and another family was using that open space to play baseball. This is such an Anatoly anywhere in this day and age, and it just delighted me to see it and what inspired me to write this post.

It’s not that I doin’t have a good time with my family when we go visit for holidays and such. Heck, we had a hunt for my nieces and nephews yesterday and played games. Except for the hunt, it was mostly indoor fun, since it was gearing up for storms all day and unpleasant to be outside.

But even when there was more family to gather, it didn’t look like what I saw today. Most of my family was kind of old. There was good food and good laughter, but not the level of activity I saw. I wasn’t jealous, but I loved what I was seeing. It was surprising because of my judgemental attitude, and it was surprising because I didn’t think anyone did stuff like that anymore.

I hope that you were able to spend time with someone important and had some fun today, regardless of your belief system, and I hope the weather was as wonderful for you as it was for us.

Posted in Generic Ramblings

Sterzings, A Taste of My Childhood

Sterzings are potato chips made in southeast Iowa, in the river town of Burlington. They’re shipped out all over the place, though I also couldn’t tell you how far. Heck, sometimes it’s hard to find them in other parts of Iowa.

A similar big company product would be Lay’s original, but these are much better. They have a distinct taste and just the right amount of salt. They have a crunchier crunch than Lay’s, too. Even though our store carries them fairly consistently, I don’t buy chips very often at all, and when I do it’s usually tortilla with salsa or quest.

I was driven to write about them, because I purchased some yesterday on a whim. (Never shop hungry, not even if you’re going at a weird time, on a weird day, just to avoid the Easter crowd.) Biting into one as part of this evening’s meal (paired with my grilled cheese sandwich), it brought me straight back to my grandma’s house.

Although she would occasionally buy Lay’s or Ruffles, it was almost always Sterzings. For grilling in summer or casual lunch, we’d have them with the meal. Usually it was part of an evening snack. Once opened, there were always stored in a “clear” Tupperware container, probably advertised for this use.

Now, although I dont’ eat them often at all, something about it this time took me right back. Maybe it’s because were I still a kid and living at home, it’s the kind of weekend where right after school/work, my parents would load us up and head to Cedar Rapids to spend the weekend. (They’re both from there and all my grandparents lived there until they eventually all passed away.) I mean, it is Easter weekend.

It was just such a pleasant and unexpected reaction to eating a potato chip that I had to write about it. (Although I did post date it until Saturday, just in case I didn’t get any art in, since we’ll be celebrating Easter with my parents a day early, so I won’t be home.)

Two interesting and related facts:

1 – That’s the same cookie jar my grandma had in her kitchen.

2 – When my husband and I went to Las Vegas and at at Batista’s Hole in the Wall, we were standing in line behind a couple – the man was wearing a Sterzings t-shirt. We had found one of our own! They were from Burlington (the original capital of Iowa and about a 20 minute drive from my husband’s hometown), we were seated next to each other, and became quick friends.

Posted in Generic Ramblings

The Last of the Biographical Blogs

I’ve been using blog ideas lists for my weekly posts, meant to be about me, my beliefs, ideas, interests, etc. I had two left before I had to come up with a new list.

 The first was “what’s in your makeup bag.” Seriously. When I saw that, I planned on skipping it, and I am. Aside from chapstick and a lip color of some sort (and something to tie my hair back), I am not in the habit of carrying makeup on a regular basis. And to blog about what’s in my collection is stupid, especially since I’m almost but not quite as far from a makeup aficionado as one can get.

The next was “why I blog,” I kind of already did this when I started this blog. The answer is: to make myself a better artist. I wanted to learn to draw and sketch. My goal was to do something every day. And I am. 

To hold myself accountable to doing something every day, I blog about it. I post my sketch every day – even the bad ones or the ones in progress. Sometimes I’m working ahead, but it still counts. Along the way, I intended to add the weekly bit so any followers I might accrue would get to know me better.

However, having that extra blog a week (such as this one) is getting to be too much. And no one cares. I’m not that interesting of a person, and if people are reading them at all, they’re not good enough to get likes. 

Now, I’m not in this for the likes per se, but I don’t like wasting my time or anyone else’s. My two best liked weekly blogs were the ones with the Ray Bradbury quote , and the one about places I’ve traveled. And I’m not hurt by this; really, I’m not. Plus, it detracts from the whole point of the blog as a whole – becoming a better artist.

So….I am retiring the weekly “me” post. That doesn’t mean this type of post won’t appear again; it just won’t be on a regular basis. If something that people might be able to relate to is going on in my life, or the world and I have an opinion or connection with it, or if something strikes me in any way, I will of course blog about it and share.  

To those of you who have read this and any of my other weekly posts (not just the daily sketch posts), even if you never clicked “like” (and if you didn’t, my feelings aren’t hurt and I’m not looking to make you do so), thank you. 

Now I can focus on the most important part – the art.

Posted in Generic Ramblings

Places I’ve Traveled

I’ve been more places than some but not as many as even more. Here are the places I’ve been (that I can remember), state first in alphabetical order then countries. The list does not include drive-through and stopovers.

Alabama – stayed overnight in Mobile before a cruise

Illinois – Chicago for the Titanic exhibit and museums

Iowa – well, technically I live here, but I’ve traveled around it – for fun, even

Kansas – Kansas City, for debate nationals

Louisiana – New Orleans, college choir trip

Maryland – Annapolis and Washington D.C. And surrounding area – during elementary school (4th grade or so) with my parents and stayed with my great uncle

Massachusetts – Boston and surrounding area in 2016 (including Plymouth, Salem, and a cape)

Minnesota – Minneapolis several times – including to see A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie theater, college drama club trips, and a David Bowie concert, also to the Alton Alips ski place (not as far north as Minneapolis) in 8th grade

Missouri – Kansas City and St Louis – family trips (and band) to amusement parks and Hannibal

Nebraska – Omaha Zoo with Girl Scouts and Lincoln for a music competition

Nevada – Las Vegas with the husband, just for fun

New York – New York City, college choir trip

South Dakota – family trip to the badlands

Texas – San Antonio for a college choir trip and our honeymoon, and Dallas for debate nationals

France – high school trip, included St. Etienne, Lyon, and Paris, a visit to Mont Blanc, so I may have touched another country there, and I’m pretty sure the “country” house my host family owned and took me to is in Germany

Mexico – twice, once on a cruise (including Cozumel and Progreso) with my husband and his parents, once to a resort in Cozumel with my husband and my own parents

And in 2018 — Scotland and Ireland!!!

Posted in Generic Ramblings

Looking Forward to….

This was a hard topic, given that it’s the very last day of my spring break. Don’t get me wrong; I like what I do well enough and can’t think of any other realistic job I’d rather do, but if I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t. However, here is a non-comprehensive list of things/events I’m looking forward to, in no particular order.

-playing in the pit orchestra for Oklahoma!

-knitting night tomorrow

-my trip to Scotland/Ireland in 2018

-the arcade auction (in November and sometime before Adventureland opens again, although that might have been February)

-the return of Doctor Who in April

-the return of Stranger Things

-the end of the school year (i.e. Summer break)


-the Iowa State Fair

Posted in Generic Ramblings, Week 27 Poses & Shadows 3/5/17 - 3/11/17

Favorite Recipe

Although I love to bake (and am quite good at it, especially pies and cookies), I’m not a fan of cooking. I can do it, and it turns out good to middling, because I don’t have a flair for it. 

I once read something that went along these lines: Why does it take 2 hours to cook something, 1 minute to eat it, and three days to clean up? That’s me. There’s so much prep involved, and I just want to get things done and eat. 

It’s true of baking as well, but I think the main difference between cooking and baking is that cooking you pretty much have to do and at a really inconvenient time of day where you’re usually already tired and overworked. Baking, on the other hand, is mostly done for pleasure and at your convenience.

That’s a long and different way of saying that I don’t really have a favorite recipe. I have a few that I go to time and again, and my husband really enjoys my gumbo. However, it’s not real gumbo, and I wouldn’t want to shame myself to anyone who knows what real gumbo is. 

And the other recipes? You can find thousands like them all over Pinterest or with a quick google search. They’re quick, mediocre, and usually put out by food companies. 

However, if I had to pick a favorite, I’d choose something with one of the world’s two greatest flavor combinations. One is peanut butter and chocolate. Here is the other:

S’mores (most of this came from


 1 large marshmallow 

1 graham cracker 

1 (1.5 ounce) bar chocolate candy bar (Hershey’s plain is best)


Heat the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to brown and melt. Most people brown it lightly or just warm it up. Me? I light it on fire and blow it out, repeating several times until it’s nice and black and crisp. Do what works for YOU.

Break the graham cracker in half. Sandwich the chocolate between the cracker and the hot marshmallow. Allow the marshmallow to cool a moment before eating.