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Monday, April 30, 2012

Take 10 Interview with Jade Macalla

My Take 10 interview is up! Sit back and have a cup of joe with my pal Jade Macalla (of stock art fame) and I. Learn a terrible, horrible secret of mine, tips on how to manage your online identity, plus other bits and bobs! I talk a lot about what has inspired me over the years, where I'd like to go as an artist, and what my current action plan is.

Also, there is talk of sanka coffee, pie, and badassitude! It was a fun time catching up with an old friend, in addition to being an interview.

For more interviews with Creatives, keep tabs on Jade Macalla (http://jademacalla.deviantart.com/) and his Take10 web show.

Linkage to my interview - http://take10.visualfiction.net/2012/04/take104-angela-sasser-illustrator-and.html


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Artists and Health Issues Part 2

I got some great feedback from folks on the last post concerning artists and health issues and thought I'd share some of the tips with everyone. I also forgot to mention a few other tactics that I'll go ahead and share here:

Get a proper desk! -  I didn't mention that half of what caused my neck and shoulder issues was working on a computer desk that was about 5 inches too low for me for a matter of years.   It was never meant as a computer desk and, as such, I was always hunching further over it in order to type.  My monitors were not eye level either, even though I had them propped up on books. Monitors should always be eye level or just below eye level so you are not looking down and constantly stressing your neck.  I've since gotten another desk, but damage had already been done.

As for art desks, try to get one that you can slant and adjust the height, which also helps you from hunching and looking downwards all the time.  Another tip if you have a desk you can't adjust is to get a tabletop easel to stand your artwork on so it will be eye level, or at least not laying flat on your desk so you have to hunch and look down all the time.

Get a proper chair!  - Kind of goes with get a good desk!  A crappy chair at the art or computer desk can do just as much damage to your posture as sitting like a gargoyle can.  High stools are great if you like to paint on an easel and want to sit down instead of stand up.  Your back should be straight while your elbows at a 90 degree angle to your keyboard.  Personally, I am investing in one of these kneeling chairs for when I work at the computer because it looks so comfy and encourages you to sit up straight to maintain proper balance.  Best of all, it seems you can get them for fairly cheap!  There are all sorts of fancy chairs that adjust to the human form, but they're almost all too expensive for my shoestring budget.

Go swimmin'! -  This was great advice from a commentor who is also a physician.  Swimming is low impact so there's less chance of pulling a muscle or hurting your joints doing some crazy exercise you're unfamiliar with.  Plus, it's fun!  I love to swim so I was glad to hear this advice.  I do so miss underwater tea parties from when I was little.  Time to bring them back!

Snack healthy - I forgot to mention this in the last entry, but some of my low energy came from just grabbing whatever was around when I felt like nibbling.  I've since replaced potato chips and chocolate with bananas and Greek yogurt. Both are extremely healthy for you, bananas providing tons of potassium and other vitamins and energy, while Greek yogurt has probiotic properties, the protein also filling you up longer than other snacks.

Nuts (like almonds and cashews) are also good to munch on and tide you over till the next meal time. I'm always snacking on these throughout the day to keep my energy levels up and it's worked wonders for me. There's still the occasional chocolate, for what artist in her right mind would give chocolate up completely??  Plus, dark chocolate has antioxidants so I can make exceptions for it.

As for my own health status?  It's the last week of physical therapy for me and I'm doing great!  I'll have to keep up the exercises for my shoulders, neck, and back even after our last session this week, but that's going to be good for me in the long run.  I have been using a lot of resistance bands for training and they provide simple low impact exercises I can do from the comfort of my own home.  Some of the stretches seem almost too simple, but the soreness is surprising!

I feel less like I'm going to end up like the humans did in Wall-E (ie. boneless blobs without social lives) since I started the physical therapy and started working from the studio as well.  I am doing great and I thank all of you for your well wishes and support!

Now, go forth and create! (And remember to take breaks!)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Studio Photo Tour

Last post I mentioned the fact that I was able to fanagle a studio spot in a small gallery in town where my mother and I are sharing a little work space (about 10'x10' all in all).  At $200 a month ($100 a piece), it's a pretty sweet deal!  I've spent all of this past week prepping it for display and the ensuing flood of art junk that will finally make it habitable for an artist.

Without further ado, I present to you a photo tour!

Oh what's that nook shining in the dark?
Come closer, my pretties!  The shinies await!
Still filling out the walls. A banner will probably go there in the top-middle.


To the left, we have my mom's corner of the gallery where she makes shinies for
the magpies in all of us! She has an Etsy shop called Lee's Curio if you want to see more.

Inside of the door. An artistic shot of the print rack.

These look familiar to anybody? They were the 'bottled dream' jars from
my senior show at West Georgia! So far, I've gotten more questions
about what the jars mean than the artwork, itself.
Curiosity is funny that way.

Close up of my leather crafts! I have them stacked on top of clear
collectible cases that were meant to hold dolls that I found on clearance.
They're perfect for stacking for translucent tiered displays.

A close up of the print bins. Got the 3 bins on the left from Walmart in
the plastic bin aisle.  They're sold as 'shoe bins'.
The card bins on the right were from Michaels.  Clearance specials FTW!


To the right we have my little work space. That glowing immaculate spot on the counter is
where I'll soon be painting! I expect that counter won't be so clean in the near future. You can tell
I've barely had a chance to work in here because it's so clean and bare of art supplies.

The pictures on the wall are temporary placeholders till I can get some works in progress going.
Check out how awesome the print of Persephone came out!
Kudos to Photos2canvas2u for their awesome canvas print rates!

That's all for now!  Expect a video tour in the near future as well.
I suspect I'll have a follow-up photo tour once the studio has been nice and dirtied up with work!
I can't wait to get started. Bua ha ha!  What is your studio like? Feel free to share in comments!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Artists and Health Issues

There has been a disturbing pattern emerging the longer I work a creative job, one I'm especially beginning to appreciate now that I'm in my second week of physical therapy for 'repetitive shoulder stress' and an 'unstable shoulder joint'.  This occurrence after a year of ignoring shoulder aches and soreness was quite the wake up call for me.  The ability to use my arm is my livelihood and being incapacitated in any major fashion could be disastrous!  Luckily, my issue is only a moderate one which physical therapy is helping, but there is a bigger picture at work here.



Thinking back on things, I have gained about 15 pounds since I started working long hours at the computer and art desk.  I've had stretches of mental and physical fatigue caused by overworking, tight deadlines, and just being downright lonely.  Sometimes I'm so passionate and excited about my job, I just keep working and working without taking any breaks. Other times, I just can't get motivated. There is no inspiration, and worse, I start to lose hope that this job is not worth the mental and physical pain it causes me.

I can't help but feel much of the downturn in my overall health has come from a decrease in physical activity and social interaction.  I feel loads better this year now that I have made a concerted effort to change a few bad habits.  These are some of the things I've done that have helped to improve my health lately:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Anatomy Improvement Wishlist

In an effort to improve problem areas of anatomy, I present to you My Anatomy Improvement Wishlist, or exercises I intend to do involving the following:



  • Hands - I still have problems with fingers at foreshortened angles and the joint of the thumb to hand/wrist.
  • Feet - Less troublesome than hands, but still alien to me in their funkiness.
  • Faces - Specifically various facial expressions and different facial types.  To help me draw people who look diverse instead of like myself. Also concentrating on the planes of the face for better understanding of how varying light defines facial features.
  • Arms - Mostly the construction of the bicep/tricep area. The way these muscles interact baffles me.
  • Man crotches - Don't laugh!  The way pants and clothing drape over this...complex...area of anatomy always looks too tight or just plain flat and weird the way I draw it currently.
  • Man Waists - To help battle my bad habit of drawing men with feminine waists.

How will I fight these difficult areas of anatomy?  With practice...and chocolate (and coffee)!  I'd like to do the 100 drawings of each exercise and will probably shift my studies of life drawing towards planar breakdowns and contour exercises instead of the usual gesture and shaded drawings I've been doing with the Pixelovely tool.  They say you have to draw something, 10,000 times to know it completely by memory. I think I'll just try 100, for starters.

Once this month is up, I'll probably dump the best picks from my studies here for you all to see.  In the meanwhile, what areas of anatomy do you all have problems with?  How do you plan on combating your problem anatomy areas?

Stay creative!
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