over the river and to the beach

snow-transparent-2017

For the past four years or so I’ve sent illustrated Christmas cards to friends, family and clients.  Last year I also made ecards, basically, adding snow and creating a gif then emailing or texting to the people that cheer me on throughout the year. Since we’ve moved to a new house I decided that I’d feature my furry babies with a packed car and Christmas tree, 2017 on the license plate. Not to get too “deep” about it (yes, I know it’s “just” a cartoon) but it’s a transitional time for us and a the car makes sense in this way…the inside of this year’s card continues the theme with an illustrated version of our new living room:

2017-card-©AimeeMcEwen

It’s Saturday and I’ve got a million things to do but first I’ve got to get dressed and drive out to the beach to talk with a client about a new project – which sounds much more glamorous than it actually is, really. Then I’ve got to go to the tiny townhouse to continue packing. Can’t get the big stuff until next weekend so I’ll be cramming boxes into my teeny Nissan with all my might.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, guys! ♡

 

downtown

This was the song I sang (quite poorly) to myself today while I was trying to figure out what to do with that extra hour we got from Daylight Savings time or as I like to call it…the “the only reason I am on-time for work this week” time.

Since inktober ended I’ve been catching up on sleep and (finally) brushed my hair. I sketched a little over the weekend and thought about creating a series of wonderland works…maybe including prints/printables. This is the time of year I usually start thinking about diy (giftable) projects, calendars and my holiday cards. We’ll see, still feelin a little sleepy.

Went to Target yesterday to peep the Hearth and Hand collection by Chip and Joanna Gaines (Fixer-Upper/Magnolia Journal). I loved everything, I’m such a sucker. I’ll probably get this Galvanized Metal Tree Collar and a couple of their mugs – I’m still looking at moving out of the tiny townhouse (away from downtown) by the end of December though. I’m focused on getting rid/editing my belongings – trying not to add to the mess, you know? Some of the other Hearth and Hand seasonal items I loved I’ll include below for your perusal. ♡

 

sketch therapy

white-light

In August I bought myself a small chunky sketch book with light brown kraft paper pages. Since then I’ve been choosing random pages in it to sketch people and animals. The first thing I drew was a horse, then some faces, then a frog and some more faces.

I do use references sometimes, especially for the animals. Even then the references are used quite loosely as recreating something exactly is paralyzing for me. When I sketch faces/people I’m not using references except when I’m having trouble with the expression/emotion. Most of the time the expressions are sadness, or grief.  No, I don’t know these people. That question comes up sometimes: Who’s that? I just shrug and keep drawing or I’ll smile and say: a ghost…as if they live in my brain and I’m just remembering them. Which is creepy, I suppose. If I’m happy with the sketch I’ll add flowers, filling up the page with tangled leafy vines and vaguely familiar blooms, it’s a meditative process for me. I prefer low color work, maybe because color tends to overwhelm me or because…you know, ghosts. ♡

white-light1

 

images © Aimee McEwen, if shared please link back to this post.

inktober

I set an intention for 2017 to share more of my work. Personal work, not so much the day job stuff I have to do. Graphic design is not as glamorous as one might think…(gasp!)

Self -initiated work is much more gratifying somehow. It helps stretch your brain and, honestly, I often use it to cope with my anxiety and depression. I’m not in a habit of sharing my “process work,” but I’m working hard to become more comfortable posting it to instagram. A lot of the time the work is so personal (or sad) I feel a bit vulnerable about sharing.

To help me get over that feeling I’ve decided to participate in inktober. I’m not as comfortable with ink(or color in general) as I am with plain old graphite so it’s going to be interesting to see how things progress. Today (day 1) I did a pencil drawing then inked over it:

inktober_1

Everyone tags their submissions with #inktober and #inktober2017 so when you have time for a scroll go to instagram and take a look. ♡

images © Aimee McEwen, if shared please link back to this post

ugly babies

I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.  –LLOYD DOBLER, Say Anything

I recently watched the movie  Say Anything, in which John Cusak is impossibly young and whatever happened to Ione Skye? It’s okay, I googled and she seems to be doing just fine. Hoo.Ray.

Over the weekend I rebooted my Whole30, which was derailed by that flu/bronchitis thing I had for a month. It’s day 2 and I am nauseous, tired and headachey. Which means I’m right on schedule!

mackenzieisfourThere’s not been much (web development) learnin’ going on the last week or so, I’ve been working on some freelance jobs and spending quality time with my dog who turned four years old on Friday.  He seemed a bit disgruntled this morning when I got up for work, refusing to leave his crate, then refusing to eat breakfast. I felt guilty leaving him. Yes, I’m very attached to my animals.  We talk constantly. I tell them jokes, ask them questions, use them for pillows to hide my eyes during scary movies. Mac hates dancing so don’t even try dancing with him. Misha loves it though (gawd, I’m lonely). My elderly cat has taken over the office (parked it on the storage ottoman under the heat vent) and even made a play for the sunny corner of the bed on Sunday (little rebel). He’s been acting strangely for a while now and I’m guessing he is in the early stages of feline dementia. Poor old thing.

kitty

In other news…Pinterest killed my Etsy shop. Not really. But, kinda. If you want printables…FREE printables, Pinterest is probably the best tool to search for decent quality free printables. I SELL printables and some of the stuff I see for FREE (by way of Pinterest) is comparable, if not BETTER than what I offer. So, for now, the shop is just on vacation. I love Pinterest, so I can’t feel too bitter about this. And, I can’t blame the slow business entirely on Pinterest. Etsy has changed. I’m not sure how any shop gets noticed anymore – unless it’s just through relentless self-promotion, which I don’t take part in.  I also admit I have not dedicated enough time to creating new work for the shop since my day job took a left turn in August. My current workload leaves me feeling drained and uncreative.

Oh, and there’s something I’ve been wanting to post about for a while now and I figure I should just come out and say it: There is a lot of TERRIBLE design mucking up the internet. And, not JUST the internet. It’s something I see in my day-to-day as well, in printed materials. I believe DIY design can be fantastic, but poor design contributes to the propagation of poor design: People see crap print collateral and poorly executed web design on a consistent basis, it’s everywhere. Then they get a computer and they need a sign, or a business card, brochure or a website and they try to make it look “right”. Of course they have no idea what “right” is. **Familiar** is not the same as **right**. I’m tired just typing about it.

Is poor design running rampant throughout print and web too large a problem for me to solve? Yes, probably. I have a friend who acts like every critique I offer (example: a decal on the back of a truck with no less than 6 different typefaces used) is the equivalent of calling someone’s baby ugly.

Really? But what do I know, I’m not a landscaper.

Maybe I should start offering critique/constructive criticism as a service? Writers need editors, so  why wouldn’t designers need honest and objective feedback? Would that even be feasible given the overgrown egos insecure designers tend to develop? What I’m describing sounds like art direction, huh?  How about DESIGN COACH? I’ll have to think on this one a bit. Apparently,  I’ve got to reposition myself and “leverage the internet”…you’ll be hearing that phrase a lot this year…I’ve heard it three times in the last week and while I agree with the concept…

I’ve been observing trends in blogs and websites for a while and it seems the “best” way to be “successful” is to offer services to people (the masses) who want the secret to being successful. Let that twirl around in your head for a while. Content, knowledge, checklists, step-by-steps, worksheets, inspirational lingo, do what you love…it all appeals so much to the DIY-er turned entrepreneur. Nobody wants to work for a company and remain faceless anymore. They want their own show, damn it.

I love hearing success stories from indie business; *regular people* that make their own way and create a thriving business. I love it as much as the next person, but as an observer I can’t help but notice that, that lovely Stylist/Blogger/DIY-er/Jewelry designer that made a ton of money last year by teaching “how to be a successful Stylist/Creative Professional/Crafter/Inventor…” she’s not making her living being a Stylist, she’s selling you back your own dreams…and smiling all the way to the bank.

Learning how to be savvy, market yourself (your business), connect to your audience, your people, and create a business platform that’s scalable (i.e. that Pinterest cannot MURDER). ALL GOOD THINGS TO LEARN. I just think there’s a wee bit of an issue of transparency with all the “coaches” flooding the internet and our inboxes.

And, yet, I remain optimistic…and so should we all.

image credits: © Aimee McEwen, if shared please link back to this post.

please and thank you

I’ve spent weeks feeling under the weather. Feeling MUCH better now even though I’ve missed so much…stuff. I haven’t really missed much though, have I? It just feels that way. This tiny corner of the internet is visited by a terribly small number of people and I can’t say that bothers me very much. I’m not great with “attention”,  having a readership would increase feelings of obligation, and obligation makes me itchy. Still, I am happy to be posting here and catching all ten of you up on my happenings. Let’s see.

I read a book!
YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler
. It was funny and honest. And since I liked it so much I decided I would read one book each month for the rest of the year. A real-life book…no ebooks or kindle downloads. I covet books, which is HILARIOUS…since I’m not much of a reader.  Of course, I am open to suggestions if anyone has a book they loved…let me know. For me, shopping aimlessly in a bookstore is completely overwhelming. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE. It’s a bit nerve wracking so I usually choose a book…go to store…buy book…run back to my car.

newMAKEUPI switched my makeup!
It feels silly to add an exclamation point there and even sillier that I’m talking about makeup but it’s NEWS so, yeah, I decided to try airbrush (luminess) and I cannot lie to you. IT’S FREAKING AMAZING. I have scars, blotchiness and acne. The airbrush covers very well, lasts all day and the application is much more natural looking than traditional liquid foundation application. I’ve always had “bad skin” and my self esteem has suffered because of it. If this is something you also struggle with, I think you should give airbrush makeup a try.

I paid off a credit card!
This is a funny one, because I went a very long time without credit cards after my divorce and once I felt okay enough to get a credit card…I kinda went a leetle credit happy.  Just happy, not crazy…so I dialed down the happy and started to rein in my spendiness last year. After my beagle needed surgery, I realized that I have to be more frugal…in case of emergencies like dog surgery or car repair or gelato.  One card down…just a “few” more to go.

I’m learning web development!
I’m not a web designer…I dabble with WordPress (if 5 years can be considered dabbling) but it’s always been a lazy learning curve for me. I design for print and create files for websites and email marketing but I’ve never gotten into the nuts and bolts of website building.  It occurred to me a few weeks ago that I’m just not happy in my work if I’m not learning something and it’s about time to stretch my thinking apparatus and grow my knowledge.

I created a new website!
[This post has a cringe worthy amount of sentences that start with “I” and for that, I apologize. This post is one of those spontaneous get these words out of my brain so that I can focus on my work and get shit done posts and if I can just get through these few things I feel like I can begin the real work on the real stuff I WANT to be doing.] okay…where was I?

AAACK! I created a website  (step one of my learn cool stuff initiative)
When I have organized my thoughts into a more reader friendly format I will share more about the new place/space. While I was sick and fighting off bronchitis I struggled with a lot of negative self talk and discouraging thoughts like: WHY ARE YOU CREATING ANOTHER SITE? WHO IS EVEN GOING TO READ IT OR EVEN CARE ABOUT IT? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, ANYWAY? EVERYBODY HAS A BLOG AND YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL…etcetera, etcetera.

Point is, that crap is not going to stop me from creating something I love and sharing it with people.  My 2015 is about saying yes, being open, starting something! I’ll leave this list where it’s at for now. It was a busy day and my brain feels a bit wobbly. Just know that I am feeling better, I am doing better, feeling positive about future projects, and looking forward to sharing those projects with eleven, maybe twelve, of you. Thanks for reading about it.

image credits: Aimee McEwen

eat, drink, and be furry

beFURRYBIG SURPRISE. I put my beagle on this year’s Christmas card. It’s no real surprise. Mac is on the card EVERY year.  He’s my monster, after all.  The cats don’t know yet that they didn’t get spot on the card… 1. because they are cats and  2. because cats don’t give a sh*t.

So, I hope your holiday is awesome and you’ll Eat, Drink, Be Furry…

andVeryMerryimage credit: © Aimee McEwen

paper trees

My latest paper project is this Stacked Triangle Tree. It was easy, took less than an hour to come together and it’s a pretty versatile project. There are many options for embellishments. You can draw on them with metallic markers (like I did), paint (puffy paint!), spray them with glitter (of course!), or make them sparkle with glue and crystal glitter (Putz style), get out your glue gun and add tiny ornaments or mini pom poms, endless possibilities! Patterned scrapbook paper would also look nice, just use a different, but coordinating pattern for each tier. If you are feeling fancy you can place an LED votive underneath the largest tier (the bottom tier). You’re so fancy.

papertrees

How I did it:
First, I found an Advent Calendar Tree Box template on the Etsy blog via Pinterest, printed it on cover weight paper then cut it out (viola, instant template ready for tracing). I traced it in three sizes (free template has three sizes) on cover weight white paper.  The thing to note about this “box” template is that I did not add bottoms to my trees (the box closure), they are open on the bottom which allows them to be stacked. I just left that part of the original template off my tracing templates. Before trimming out the trees I decorated them with my metallic Sharpies (silver, bronze & gold). It’s much easier to draw on the flat trees (even before you cut them out) than to try to do it when they are 3-D. To glitter them… or spray them with a texture… fold them into trees first (do a few very light coats when spraying paper). My triangle trees are secured with one strip of scotch tape, very simple. I did not tape them to each other though, the top two tiers can be removed for play (or curiosity sake, I guess).

This would be a nice project to work on with children. The adults can do the hard part of tracing, cutting, folding and taping. The kids can do the decorating and then they can play with the triangle tree forest they helped create!

credits:
Images and Project Design © Aimee McEwen.
Not for commercial use. Personal use only.
If shared, please link back to this post.

Ina Hattenhauer

I love the holiday themed animated gifs over at Hello Heute (illustrator Ina Hattenhauer’s blog). Some of them she paired with songs. For example, the animation below was paired with Baby It’s Cold Outside. Too adorable for words. TOO DAMN ADORABLE.

Visit Ina’s blog for more of her more recent work. She’s wonderful!
(most of blog is in German)

image credits: Ina Hattenhauer

no peeking!

PrintHere we are in the first week of December and I have so many ideas in my brain right now for DIY projects and the blog and the shop and, and, and…I could BUST! TOO MANY IDEAS, TOO LITTLE TIME.

But don’t you worry about me… I’ve at least got these printable gift tags ready for you. There’s a red and a green version. Download and print them on cover weight paper (both sides), trim, fold (short side, top), hole punch, add ribbon, twine, or string. Once the tag is folded down you could snip off the top corners at an angle, that’d be cute. Spray glitter is my new favorite embellishment. I would spray the heck outta these. I’m spraying EVERYTHING WITH GLITTER THIS YEAR!

Print

Click here to download your printable PDF.

I’m taking one day at a time this month. Doing my best to complete at least one festive project (either personal or for the shop or the blog) each night. Oh, and of course there are some new printables available in the shop right now. If you use coupon code FALALA10 you’ll get 10% off your order.

Merry, happy, falala, and all that…

credits:
Artworks © Aimee McEwen. Not for commercial use. Personal use only.
If shared, please link back to this post.