What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Well first of all, I didn't take a vacation. Turns out summer is the busiest season at my super secret real world job and my little part time gig became nearly full time for the last couple of months and isn't looking to slow down anytime soon. 

But that's not what this is all about! Well, tangentially it is, but more on that later. As I mentioned some time ago, I decided to take the summer off from writing and instead planned to mess around in the art world for a while. Aside from the occasional painting class with my husband, book cover silliness, or artsy gift, I haven't actually done any "art" in a good long time. There were a lot of reasons for that, including the obvious, that I decided to finally finish writing a book, which turned into 6+ years of book writing.

But there were other, less productive reasons as well. A real big one happened years ago when I managed to smack my wrist in a ceiling fan, which had the unfortunate side effect of making my already abysmal handwriting completely illegible, but also made it harder to hold a pen steady. But if I'm being honest, the biggest reason I stopped drawing, and the biggest reason there is little to no evidence of my older drawings(they mostly died along with my Myspace account), was a massive lack of self-confidence.

And I'm not going to pretend I had this sudden epiphany about all of us being a work in progress or anything like that, but I did have a moment where I realized that my doubts were not just unhealthy, but dumb as well. I only planned to share some "safe" bits of art. Simple doodles that couldn't really be critiqued because they were intentionally uncomplicated. Kind of like only posting those perfect selfies after deleting the 50+ attempts that weren't so good. I started with this one:

A mix of meows

After that, I went a bit bold and posted something that took a bit more time if not more skill:

I have a thing for tentacles, but not that sort of thing.

And then there I made this thing,which I was ridiculously proud of because it was my first time using water based markers as paint:

Plus who can resist a friendly hello from a squid?

After that, several things happened. First, I realized that because I have a job (see, told you it was related) and Michael's has coupons, I was no longer limited to clearance section art supplies and I was ready to experiment. But more importantly, a good friend of mine called me out on a humble brag I wasn't consciously aware of.

This is The Siren. She was supposed to have a whole story dedicated to her, but instead, she accidentally spawned my first OC and mascot, the Existential Dread Fish.

Basically, he asked why I kept saying I wasn't an artist every time I posted what was clearly a piece of art. And I had to stop for a minute and realize, this is a character flaw that is deeply ingrained in who I am. I did the same thing with writing back when I was starting out and if I am being honest with myself, I still do in many ways. 

Steampunktopus silently judges me for this.

What I've been doing, and what I've been working on not doing, is allowing others to set the parameters that define me. I'd been dismissed by other "authors" and "artists" on many occasions because I didn't do things the way they did, which is exactly as stupid as you'd think because here I've been preaching to everyone else to not do that. 

The Existential Dread Fish is my spirit animal, after all. 

And so, here I am, boldly claiming myself as much an artist as an author. This past summer, through both Twitter and Facebook, I've shared more of my doodles, both quick and dirty and full blown illustration, than I think I've shared in my life. 

On Twitter I have an ongoing hashtag called #80PagesOfRobots where I try to fill a cheap notebook with nothing but robot drawings. I was asked to draw a robot rampaging in a city once. This is the result.

I consider this post to be both a confessional and an art tour of sorts. If you've enjoyed the art, I'm happy and I encourage you to check out my Twitter feed where I post the bulk of it. But more importantly, I hope that if you, like me, have been suffering any self-doubt brought on by the restrictive views of others, that you take to heart what I've said here. You're no less worthy for being self-taught or breaking the rules. 

Some fan art I did of some of my favorite characters by indie authors. Clockwise from top left: Roodg from CB Archer's Annals of Gentalia, Gary from Ben Mariner's The Golden Hourglass, Slursh from Chris Jags' Tree Mouth, and a dragon bee from Bea Cannon's Spaceships and Magic series.

I can't even begin to count how many drawings I've done this year, but I can say that in happy with all of them, even the ones that just didn't work out.

Actually, this one did work out, but I haven't finished him. Maybe someday.

Because a huge part of accepting that I can do something is also accepting that I won't always be the best at it, but that won't make me any less than anyone else.

Sometimes even a swatch test can have artistic merit.

But one thing I can say I've gotten out of all of this extra art practice...
Seriously, I need to get rid of these books. Would free art entice you to buy?

...is even more silly ways to spam you with my books. ;-)


  1. I love your Art and always have. I hope your secret project turns out to be everything you hope it to be. Looking forward to seeing it.

  2. Good post, Christina... and good artwork.


Post a Comment

All comments are moderated. Please only post once.