journal

Entering 2016 - New Goals, New Hopes, New Intentions

I'm normally not one for resolutions.  Too often people put off self-improvement until they have some artificial "starting point" they can use as a milestone, and then quickly forget what it was that they were trying to do, and just put it off until the next artificial milestone.  I'm no exception.  Still, I make them, mostly at the prompting of others; generic stuff, like "work out more" or "cut back on fast food" or "communicate with humans more often".  

Still, I've done a lot of thinking about where I am, what I'm doing, and where I'm going in the last year.  I've had a lot of false starts, beginnings of things that went no where, and goals I had at the start of the year that got pushed aside when life got in the way. The fact is that I'm NOT happy with where I am now.  I've spoken before of feeling like I'm treading water, just sort of drifting through my life without making any (to me) noticeable change, and it's exhausting to the point that making any effort TO change seems almost insurmountable. 

Still, I'd like to make the effort.  Not just for me, but for you guys.  I do what I do - ya know, the whole "art" and "comic" nonsense - because I like sharing it with others and feeling like I made someone else's day just a little nicer.  It's a promise I made when I first started posting art online over 10 years ago, and one I renewed when I started BPD in 2009.  And it's a promise I feel like I've been breaking recently.

So in short, for full transparency (and so maybe you guys can maybe help me out with these), here's my list of Things-I-Want-To-Change-Or-Improve-Or-Do-Differently-That-Aren't-Necessary-Resolutions 2016 Resolutions:

  1. I need to fix my brain.  I've had problems with depression and anxiety for YEARS now that have only gotten worse with time, to the point where it's affected just about everything in my life.  It's a matter I've done everything I could to not bring up publically, because I don't want to open myself up to either ridicule or pity.  But given how it's affected so much of not just my personal life, but my professional artistic life as well, I feel you SHOULD know, if only to explain "where the heck the art/comic is".  And now that I have health insurance than can cover seeing a professional, I intend to do just that.
  2. Once item #1 is addressed, I intend to post online more often.  I have a YouTube Channel, LizardbethArt, where I would like to post videos on a regular schedule.  I'd like to do the same here, and for my Patreon.  I'd like to get back into comics too, either with BPD (if there's even an audience left for it) or for something else entirely.  I can't expect any of you to support me if I don't make good on the expectations of that support, so hopefully once I can clear my head of this depression fog I can actually give you the content you guys all deserve.
  3. I need, NEED to get healthy. I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my entire life, gaining steadily, and I just don't like what I see in the mirror every day.  I feel tired and lethargic all the time as well, so it's not just a vanity issue.  I've never been any good at keeping up with a work-out routine, and apart from completely cutting out soda and almost all high fructose corn syrup, my eating habits are pretty terrible.  Something needs to change; I just need to find where to start.  Advice on this one, if you have it, would be appreciated.
  4. on a semi-related note, I want to start taking a little more pride in my appearance.  I've always consciously seen caring about how I look to be half unnecessarily vain, and half a waste of time because I will always be unsatisfied.  Still, I feel that maybe getting a nice haircut or maybe putting a little effort into some simple make-up, just so I don't absolutely hate my reflection in the mirror, isn't a total waste.  I doubt I'll turn into an appearance-obsessed Barbie doll, but I think I'm done with the "slob" look.
  5. I want to make progress towards my Tiny House.  The finances are the BIGGEST hurdle for me right now.  To even begin the process, I need the trailer base itself, which would easily set me back $6k+, plus professional plans which could cost a few hundred dollars more or less depending on where they come from.  There's other concerns as well - will I be able to build it here? Will I have access to the right tools? Will neighbors complain?  If I'm able to start building this year, will I have enough finances to get it at least enclosed and weatherproof by next winter?  I don't have to be DONE this year; but I do want noticeable, tangible progress.  For those that might want to assist with this (no obligation & no pressure of course), I have a GoFundMe page set up for taking donations here: https://www.gofundme.com/InfinityTinyHouse
  6. I need to up my "Me Time" game.  And by that I mean, I need to find a better way to spend my solo time than "play Skyrim for 3 hours because I can't be bothered to Human right now".  I need to get out and do more fun stuff.  I need to allow myself some guilt-free time to work on art & creative projects that can't/won't make me money.  SOMETHING.  This may be easier to find motivation for once #1 is fixed, but it's something even then I think I'll have trouble with.  I'm so used to the mindset of "I have A Thing I need to do because if I don't someone will be pissed off at me", which is why my default "me" activity usually revolve around shutting down completely and dissolving into a videogame or mindless web surfing.   Joyful, free creativity is a learned skill, and one I'm sorely out of practice with.

 

I think that about covers it.  2016 has just as much potential to be amazing as 2015 did, but only if I can find the will and the means to make it so.  Otherwise, I'll find myself in this same place a year from now, making the same promises as I am now, because somewhere along the way I lost track of what I needed to do.  This is going to take work on my part, I know.  I just hope I'm up to the task.

To all of you, with your own hopes and goals, I wish you all the best in 2016 and beyond.

-Lizzy B.

2 Personal Projects : One Small, and One "Tiny"

Hello, everyone! I've been back from Anthrocon for about a week now, and (mostly) recovered.  Thank you SO MUCH for everyone who came by to say Hi!  And if you're one of the folks that were like "OMG BPD IS BACK AAHH!!", than welcome to the new site.  :)  The new comics can be found over on the "comics" tab to the left.  (side note: I know brokenplotdevice.com has exploded.  The old comic archives will be brought over here soon, and the URL will be updated.)

Now, on to the purpose of the post: along side BPD and other public commissions, I'm trying to allow myself time to work on some "me" projects.  It's been YEARS since I've really allowed myself the opportunity to do things that were purely selfish creations.  Art I wanted to make for ME, and not simply art I chose to make that would then be resold as prints or whatnot.  I've decided I want to let you guys in on those projects, with the idea that in the future I may come to you guys for advice/input, and because I genuinely like sharing what I'm doing with you. :)

The first project is what I'm referring to as The Bohemian Grimoire (though the name may change as time goes on).  The idea is that it's inspired by the Wiccan Book of Shadows.  If you don't know what a BoS is, it's sort of like a cross between a religious text and a journal, kept by practicing witches & neo-pagans to explore and record their spiritual journey.  I am NOT Wiccan/Pagan so that description is likely insufficient (and also why I'm not calling my book a BoS, as I don't feel it appropriate to use that name if I'm not practicing the religion), so I DEFINITELY welcome Wicca/Pagan folks to elaborate in the comments.  

The BohoGrim's living in a Simple Stories scrapbooking binder for now, but eventually I'd like to make a fancier cover for it.  The sticker is from the Sticker of the Month club at stickerofthemonth.com; the piece is called "3 of Hearts", by Dan McCarthy - DanMcCarthy.org

The BohoGrim's living in a Simple Stories scrapbooking binder for now, but eventually I'd like to make a fancier cover for it.  The sticker is from the Sticker of the Month club at stickerofthemonth.com; the piece is called "3 of Hearts", by Dan McCarthy - DanMcCarthy.org

The idea I'm going for with the Grimoire is that over time I'll collect interesting stories, quotes, information, recipes (aging paper, making home-made natural dyes and inks, etc), and collect them with illustrations in the book.  I'm treating it half as an art project, and half as a visual life journal, with possible dabbling in the spiritual.  I don't consider myself a religious person, but I am fascinated with a lot of the old fables and tales of different cultures and I'd like to explore that too.  Basically I'm just gonna fill the book with whatever feels right and just sort of let it evolve over time. 

The book itself is pretty small.  The pages inside are only 8.5" x 7". The bulk of them are blank right now, though it feels better to keep them in for now for the bulk.  There's even some divided pockets that currently just have random memorabilia in them, which may or may not stay as-is, changed, or get taken out entirely.  Not sure; it's still evolving!

The book itself is pretty small.  The pages inside are only 8.5" x 7". The bulk of them are blank right now, though it feels better to keep them in for now for the bulk.  There's even some divided pockets that currently just have random memorabilia in them, which may or may not stay as-is, changed, or get taken out entirely.  Not sure; it's still evolving!

I would like to ask, for those of you who ARE Wiccan/Pagan, for any sort of advice/tips you might have, specifically if you currently keep or have kept a Book of Shadows.  What types of things do you keep in it?  Do you have a particularly favorite page/section you think would be nice to keep?  I would love to even see samples or flip-through videos, though I know some see their BoS as very personal so obviously only share if you feel comfortable.  My general theme I'm pushing it towards is right now is that "Every Perspective has Value", so I'd love to include bits and pieces from all over inside it.  That is entirely up to you of course; but if you would like, I would absolutely love to hear your input and thoughts on this project.

Yes, Lizardbeth will have her own page.  :)  What, I couldn't leave out my personal mascot who's been mushing around in my brain for 15 years, could I?  

Yes, Lizardbeth will have her own page.  :)  What, I couldn't leave out my personal mascot who's been mushing around in my brain for 15 years, could I?  

The second project, while being a MUCH bigger project, is the one I'm referring to as the "Tiny" project:  And that is, to build myself a Tiny House.

The Tiny House movement is a little too big for me to go into here in one blog post, so instead I will provide you with a few links:

The big, obvious, McMansion-sized question, obviously, is WHY?  Why would I want to build a tiny house?  Why am I not happy with a normal house/apartment?  A lot of those questions can actually be answered generally in the We The Tiny House People documentary, but for me personally, the reasons why I want to do this are:

  1. I am an artist on limited income. Tiny Houses can be extremely economical; many people have build their own for less money than it would cost to buy a brand new car, and your annual utility bills are less than the average American pays in 1 month.  The cost of construction is the biggest expense, which can also be drastically reduced by being smart & thrifty; for example, CraigsList has piles of like-new construction materials for dirt cheap.  Do a search in your area for "windows" alone, and you'll see what I mean.
  2. I can literally do my work from anywhere as long as I have my art supplies and an internet connection.  I also have family and friends scattered all over the US and Canada.  A huge benefit to the Tiny House is the ability to pick up and move whenever I wish.  My aunt & uncle in Cali need help with their twins for a few months? I'm there.  I feel like spending the winter with friends in North Carolina? Find me parking.  Do I feel like taking a cross-country year long trip? Just need gas & toll money.
  3. A tiny house, to me, is security.  I plan on building it myself, so I will know how everything works, I will now how to fix something if it breaks, and if god-forbid I loose the entire house to fire, flood, or aliens, I can rebuild it.  And because it will not be paid for on a mortgage or by rent, I will own it outright from day one.  It will be mine, and no one will be able to take it away from me.  This is quite possibly the most important thing to me.  I spent nearly 2 years in and out of what was essentially homelessness, living by the generosity of family and friend-of-family, because an ex made a decision that was completely out of my control.  The tiny house, no matter what happens, will be mine.  Even if some day I do move into a "normal" house, the Tiny House will always be there as a back-up should something happen.

The Tiny House is a project that has been mostly in the conceptial & planning stages for over a year.  I've been able to do little more than doodle up floor plans and ideas for how I'd like my house to look (which I've pretty much settled on it looking sort of like This House, called The Lilipad by it's owner.)  

Building the actual house will, in all honesty, require outside help.  That help is not necessarily just in the form of money (though at some point I'll likely set up a GoFundMe page, in case anyone actually wants to help out that way).  I'd also accept barters for construction supplies/home goods (small oven, sinks, windows, hardware, a 250/350 TRUCK to tow the thing in the end, etc etc), construction advice, borrowing of tools and possibly even a location where I can build the thing (and possibly rent a room & stay during construction).  If you happen to know someone who has built a tiny house OR if you've built one yourself, get in touch!  I would LOVE to hear from you. I've been collecting as much information as possible over the last year as I can, but the more I get the better.

The most immediate assistance - and yes, this is a financial one - is to help me get to a Tiny House construction workshop.  Tumbleweed Tiny Houses holds them all over the country, and their Philadelphia one is coming up in late September.  They're holding a sale for 30% off tickets that runs out July 31st, and a $70 off until August 31st.  So as of this posting, I have 12 days to purchase my ticket at the lowest possible price of $279 (the full price is $399).  

I understand everyone is tight these days; I wouldn't be asking this if I weren't as well.  The Tiny House is something I've been secretly passionate about for a while, and I feel like this year is The Year I finally want to get it started.  If you could help me get it going, I promise I will be writing about and documenting the entire process here so you can see exactly what your contribution is going towards.  You can use the black Tip Jar link in the left side bar, or you can contact me directly at LizardbethArt@gmail.com.  

Anyway, I know that was all a HUGE wall of text, so if you've gotten this far, THANK YOU!! I am trying my best to get back to being more active in posting online (falling back on my old shy-introverted ways ;^_^).  With these two projects gaining momentum now and in the (hopefully) near future, I will have a lot more to share.   So thank you for taking the time to read all of this, and as always, if you have any questions or things you'd like to share on either project, don't hesitate to post it in the comments!

It's the little things that keep me going. :)

-Lizzy B.

Sleep is a luxury, and Stress stole my wallet.

What am I doing.

The first night, I was so wide awake and stressed out about all of the work I SHOULD have been doing and how PRODUCTIVE I COULD have been doing if I weren't wasting my time lying in bed, I stayed up until 10 in the morning doing thumbnail sketches for commissions and outlining the script for the 3rd issue of BPD (I'm about 1/3 of the way drawing the outlines for issue 2).  I'd hoped that forcing myself awake at 2:30pm (only allowing myself 4 hours of sleep) would make me so excausted that I would crash into bed at a reasonable hour, which for me would be anywhere from 10pm to midnight.  

Yet somehow, I still found myself at 2am, wide awake, and mind racing about what a LAZY GOOD FOR NOTHING ASSHOLE I WAS.  Since it was that weird "I'm wired and yet somehow not able to focus on anything" drunk-ferret type insomnia, the best I could do was read the first 3 chapters of Ursula Vernon's Digger anthology before forcing myself to at least lie the fuck down and pretend to sleep.  The sun had risen before I managed to drift off.

Now, it's night #3.  It's currently 3:23 am as I'm writing this.  I have the "you haven't slept well in days" shakes (because well obviously) and my eyes feel the dry sort of tired.  I also had 2 glasses of wine at around 10:00 and felt pretty sleepy come 11:30, and yet once the head hit the pillow, NOW it's time for the brain to remind me "hey, asshole, you got nothing done today!"

Well, obviously I got nothing done today, jerk.  I haven't slept like a normal person in 3 days.

If I keep digging, maybe I'll find the sleep...

If I keep digging, maybe I'll find the sleep...

....ok, full disclosure: I haven't slept like a normal person in months.  But it's only been full-blown insomnia for 3 days.  Or at least I haven't actually called it insomnia until 3 days ago.

I'm pretty sure it's stress.

When I have a To-Do list that doesn't get done, it makes me feel guilty. Guilt leads to stress.  When I have a To-Do list with multiple things on it that all seem of equal priority to finish, I have a hard time deciding what to do first, because as I actively work on one, I can't shut off the guilt over not doing the other thing.  More stress.  Then as the To-Do list gets longer, the guilt grows, because things aren't getting done as quickly as they should and now I'm dreading all of the angry e-mails demanding where their work is and why it's taking so long.

I think you get the idea.

Here's the thing;  I got into being an artist because it was something I genuinely enjoyed doing.  It's been something I was passionate about since I was a kid. I knew I wanted to be an artist professionally even at the start of High School, and then later went to college to pursue this thing that, had my parents not been the type of people to save for that kind of thing since I was in diapers, I'd be in debt to my eyeballs.  This is a career I have very stubbornly pursued for the majority of my life.

So what is my problem now?  Is it because I'm not where I thought i'd be professionally by now?  Is it the fact that my audience and the demand for commissions has dropped significantly since I initially put BPD on hiatus?  Is it because financially I'm barely scraping by every month because of that lack in demand, and am at a complete and total loss at how to change that?

I started drawing because it was something I enjoy.  But I can't draw for fun anymore because even THAT joy is sucked out by the fact that I SHOULD be doing something else.

The only step I know to take at this point is to not accept ANY more commissions until my To-Do list is 100% empty.  I realize that will not help the "I'm totally broke" stress, but if I can at least not have to worry about a buyer becoming upset that their art is taking too long, or a BPD fan wondering when the heck issue 2 is coming out (which, by the way, will be done before I go to Anthrocon the 2nd weekend in July)... that's something I can control.  My income was never something I could predict, but at least I can try to get control of my workflow.

I'm not asking for charity.  Nor do I expect it.  Honestly, the greatest thing anyone who's reading this who enjoys my work and wants to show their support is to just post so in a comment.   The tip jar in Lizzie-Bean.com side bar is there if you feel inclined to use it, as is my Patreon subscription feed, but don't feel obligated to do either.  Any assistance you feel you want to offer, even if it's just a few kind words, would be appreciated more than you know.

So now it's 3:43am.  I'm currently debating if I want to try to sleep again now, or stay up as late (or early?) as possible and just get a LONG sleep Wednesday afternoon into night, as I have to be out of the house at 7am on Thursday.    Given that worrying about that is just another cherry-on-top of the stress cake, it'll likely be the later.

Anyway, um.... thank you for reading this.   I'm gonna go send out a bunch of e-mails and... I dunno... try to not feel like a lump. 

-Lizzy B.

Three Furries, Two Badges (plus a Job Rant)

Oh man, guys. I feel like I gotta be real with you. I don't wanna sound like a whiner, but man.... oh MAN....

I've got a new job at a local hospital, in their Electronic Medical Records department.  Sounds really important and official, right? Well, let me assure you that it's not nearly as interesting as it sounds. I basically sit in front of a computer, scanning pages from medical charts and sorting the files into folders.  For 8 hours. Now, It's not really that difficult, being I've dealt with computers for the majority of my life and know my way around, inside & out of a scanner. And the people I work with are all really nice and it's great to not be stuck all alone all day every day. However, the job itself is soul-suckingly boring and I hate it.  

The unfortunate thing right now is that I don't have a choice.  I needed some kind of steady income, as my commission income is unpredictable month-to-month, and forces me to spend all of my time doing one-off pieces for others and no time to get back to working on my own projects (like COMICS).  The catch is, now I come home so mentally drained that the last thing I want to do, after sitting for 8 hours in front of a computer doing work, is to come home and do MORE work, even if it is "fun" work.  

I miss drawing. I miss making comics. I miss having FUN doing this. I'm hoping that this is just me getting used to having a steady job after being self-employed for over 2 years.  If not, well... this IS just a temp thing. So we shall see. ;^_^ Let's hope I can get a new plan well in motion by then! 

In other more BETTER news.... Here's some things I did!  Hooray, things!

This first badge was done as a half-commission, half-favor.  One of my fans, who goes by "BrightTail", needed to raise money to help his cat with some health issues, and asked me if he could have an "auction" for a badge commission from me, with all the proceeds going to his kitty. I don't do things like this that often, but BT has been great to me in the past, and is one of my more vocal, chatty followers on twitter, so I decided to help him out.  Blackfoot was the highest bidder, and the above badge is his reward! It will print out to 4" x 6", and was done entirely in photoshop.

This next badge is easily the most complicated one I've ever done.  I've done badges with characters who have multiple heads or limbs, and a few simple ones with 2 versions of the same character (usually a male & female), but this is the first one I've done with 2 fully detailed characters.  The commissioner was fairly specific about how he wanted it, particularly when it came to D'Nae's body type, but it ended up being one of my better badges, if not my best. ^_^  If the buyer doesn't LOVE it, I admit I may cry a little. Ha! This one was also done digitally, and will print just about 6" square.

In case you are curious, at the moment I am NOT taking new work!  I want to make sure I finish everything I currently have before I accept new work.  I have no idea how long that will be, especially given my work situation explained above, but if/when I take new work, I will post about it here.  So if you're interested, save your pennies and keep an eye on this space!  

-Lizzy B.

Stay Safe

As of right now, it's just about 11 at night on monday in southern New Jersey (my power has gone out so it may be a bit before i'm able to post this).  The wind and the rain from Hurricane Sandy has been going on almost continuously for the last 24+ hours.  So far, my immediate area is doing ok; I still have power and there's no major flooding (although the drainage ditch in the back yard looks like a lake).  My only big safety-worry right now is one of those 2 really tall trees in the back yard deciding to do a flying elbow drop onto the roof.   

So thankfully, I'm doing ok. For now.  If anything terrible happens, you guys on twitter will be 3rd to know (after my father and 911). 

Some people aren't so lucky.

Atlantic City, NJ

Atlantic City, NJ

Please stay safe out there, guys. 

-Lizzy B.

Update: It's now 1pm on tuesday, and I survived the night dry, safe, and with nay a tree landing on my head.  I'm extremely thankful for this, as others weren't so lucky.  I want to do something about this, I'm just not sure what yet. Stay tuned...