iPad and Procreate

For those of you that follow me on social media, you should know by now that I recently got myself and iPad Pro. I did have a big, clunky Ugee tablet, it just didn’t work for me how I wanted it to. After speaking to a couple of my artist friends, I decided to invest in an iPad Pro. There are a few reasons the Ugee didn’t work for me. Firstly, it took up too much space on my desk. Secondly, I could ONLY use it at my desk. In my house I can’t always be at my desk just because other people need the space as well, so this limited time I could be drawing.

‘‘Why not use paper?’ I hear you yell. I just don’t like it. I’ve always preferred digital. The iPad means I can carry it around, draw whenever I want, and even use it for other things. I’m writing this blog on it right now.

now the 2nd gen Pro’s with the Apple Pencil rack up about 800 beans. I paid 319 for mine. How? It’s second hand. And from CEX so I traded in a bunch of stuff to go towards it as well. My old Ugee tablet, some old DS games, and a whole mess of DVDs I don’t watch anymore. Managed to save myself some money.

I would not however recommend using CEX online. They are terrible. Go in store if you’ve got something to trade. It took nearly a month for them to sort out my payment and things.

Anyway. Back to the iPad. The pencil is stupid expensive. Even second hand it cost 70 quid. But it is annoyingly good. It’s got a good weight to it. And the rubber tip gives just enough friction it really feels like you’re drawing. Really impressed with it. Only downside I can come up with is that there’s no way to see how much charge the pencil has until it dies. So that’s rubbish. But apart from that all good!

Procreate is also good. It’s 9.99 from the App Store. I haven’t done a lot with it yet, just a doodle and a sketch or two, but it’s fairly intuitive and nice to work with. When I have some time I fully intend so sit and watch some tutorials and download some extra brushes.

I drew this:

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Created in Procreate on IPad Pro

This was just a warm up using the basic pencil setting. I reckon without too much scrutiny you get away with this being ‘traditional’ art. It also automatically records time lapses, which is amazing, and really useful since I’m doing my degree in illustration and submit most things digitally. I’m sure seeing my work being done will earn me some extra brownie points!

All in all I’m pretty impressed with it. And I’m even more impressed with myself for getting it all without giving apple too much money. They don’t anymore. I’m a starving artist, not them!

Does anyone else use this set up for artwork? If so what are your thoughts on it? Are there any other apps I should be looking at to complement Procreate? Leave me a comment!

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The C-word

With Christmas around the corner, I thought I’d talk about what that means to me. I come from a completely non-religious family, so it’s certainly not about that for me. I think the most ‘religousy’ thing I’ve ever done for Christmas was when I was still in Primary School and sang in the school choir. There’s a massive church in my home town and we did a thing there. It was pretty cool. But only in the sense that it mean I got to stay up late and the lights were all awesome. I wasn’t filled with any holy light or anything, it was just fun.

Nowadays it’s an excuse for the family to all be in one place at a time, usually my parents, open presents, eat loadsa food and just generally hang out. Me and Chris are already living at my parents while we save for our boat, but both my younger sisters are away now. Hayleigh, the middle sister lives and works in Bournemouth, and Cleona, the baby has recently started Uni at Oxford Brookes. My Nan and Grandad will most likely be over as well which is nice.

Normally, and if I have money, I am AWESOME at buying gifts. And I mean literally amazing. I always find cool stuff. This year however with money being an issue Chris and I have opted to make our gifts, which means I’ll be making them, and he will provide moral support. Weirdly I’ve decided to try something new for gifts, instead of what I already do. I want to enjoy making them and not have it feel like work. Hopefully I will have enough time and energy to get them all done, because there is a lot this year.

I’m also doing something new this Christmas, and going to Chris’ Mum’s for dinner! A couple of Christmas’s ago I spent it away from my Family, and it suuuuucked, so I’m a little apprehensive about it, but Chris’ family are all cool and I like seeing them, so I reckon it should be good. Will just be weird not having Christmas dinner with my fam, but we’re spending the morning with them still, which is good.

I know plans can change, but this is what we have planned so far. It’s Sky’s first Christmas with us as well, and since he’s pretty smart and sulks if he doesn’t get enough attention, we’ll have to come up with a way to keep him entertained as well. Should be interesting.

So whats your plans for Christmas? Staying at home? Visiting family? Or something completely different? I’m always interested to hear what other peoples traditions are so shoot me a comment and let me know!

 

Me and ME

Over the last few months I’ve been undergoing loads of blood tests and been to a billion doctors appointments. My blood shows something but doctors don’t know what, so I’m being referred to a specialist for that. I’ve also been told I have ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, likely brought on by a viral infection I had back in May.

Since the diagnosis not much has change really. There’s not a whole lot that can be done apart from pacing and managing the symptoms. I am not good at pacing and will continuously push myself too far, mostly due to guilt. I can’t say no, and I always feel like I need to ‘keep up’ with everyone else. And I’m generally too scared to actually ask for the help and take the breaks I need. It’s hard. I also feel like people don’t take me or ME seriously as an illness and when I say I’m hurting or I’m tired, I get a lot of ‘awww, poor baby’ responses. It just makes me feel bad and I’ll carry on pushing despite being asked if I’m ok. It can lead to me doing damage to myself and genuinely not being able to function for a few days

‘Brain fog’ has been a bit of an issue for me as well. Forgetting words, forgetting doing things. Little things that throw me off. Trying to type and forgetting how to spell things, what order the letters go in. Drifting out of focus only to look back at my screen and I’ve typed a paragraph I don’t remember doing. It’s….odd. And embarrassing. I also can’t remember people’s names at work, and its even harder when I’m put on the spot or in a meeting or something. I don’t like it.

I’ve joined some self-help groups for ME sufferers on FB and they’ve been a good place for me to get advice on looking after myself and making a start on pacing, so that’s good. I don’t think there’s a lot of help out there for us so it’s down to us to look after ourselves and each other.

For those that are interested, this is a list of my current symptoms:

  • exhaustion, like, constantly. For no reason. No matter how much I sleep
  • back hurts
  • hips hurt
  • knees hurt
  • hands hurt
  • brain isn’t working
  • cant concentrate
  • cant find the right words
  • dry mouth
  • palpatations
  • confusion

All super fun things! Not to mention I’m still at work while dealing with this. I took a day off today as its a particularly bad one, and I’m terrified of my back to work meeting.

For those of you unable to comprehend a chronic illness, especially one based around energy consumption and pacing, the ‘Spoonie Theory’ is a good explanation of it.

The spoon theory is a disability metaphor and neologism used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness. … A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished.

Basically, we have a set number of spoons to use a day. Go to work? Uses 5 spoons. Shower? 2 spoons. Cook something to eat? 3 spoons. Eventually you run out of spoons and all you can do is rest until you get some back. In tough situations you can ‘borrow’ spoons from the next day. But you have to bear in mind that you will then have to get through the next day with LESS spoons to start with. At the moment, nearly all my spoons go on work. If its a stressful or busy day, it costs more. Every activity cost something, and I’m trying to learn how to pick and choose the ones that are important. Its difficult. And I’m not very good at it. But I’m hoping I’ll get better at it.

Anyway. Sorry if this particular post makes not much sense. I’m doing my best on minimal spoons. I have spent nearly all day asleep. Its taken me an hour to type so it’s all you’re getting!

If anyone has any questions about it, or any fellow spoonies can point me in the direction of any good blogs or self-help stuff I’d appreciate it.

A x

Have you met Sky?

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will have no doubt been introduced to Sky already. For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure, Sky is a parrot. An Orange-winged Amazon Parrot to be exact!

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We sort of, inherited him a few months back and I couldn’t be more happy. He originally belonged to Chris’ Dad, but they wanted rid of him. He spent all his time in a small cage getting terrorized by the dog, and pretty much did nothing but squawk and pull his feathers out.

The photo above is from a few days after we bought him home. You can see the poor regrowth of his belly fluff where he damaged the follicles from plucking.

The first thing we did was get him a new cage. Its about twice the size of his old one and is actually designed for bigger parrots like Sky.

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There’s an old built in wardrobe in our room that hasn’t been used as a wardrobe in about 20 years. We gutted it, painted it white to he’s have some light, and painted his name on it, because we are ridiculous.

The cage is on wheels so can be wheeled out for cleaning. The perch going across the whole thing can be removed as well.

We’ve added a whole bunch more perches and ropes and things in there for his to play with now. Not that he really plays with much. He has started chewing up cardboard and things now, which is good, as it means he’s actually behaving like a parrot now.

Second thing we did was fix his diet. He was on one of those bagged seed mixes you get from pet shops that are generic and actually really bad for bird. They’re made up of essentially just nuts and seeds, which are really fatty. And parrots have a habit of going through it and just picking out the bits they like, so there’s no way to make sure they’re getting a nutritious diet. We introduced him to loads of new fruit and veggies. Peas, sweetcorn and apples are his favourite, but he’ll eat any veg as long as we are eating it as well. Amazons are social eaters, so really enjoy having their dinner with you when you have yours. Its cute. he usually gets his own little bowl of veggies, but would usually rather have them off your plate.

We switched him over to a complete parrot pellet diet. These are really good as they contain ALL the nutrients and minerals that a parrot needs, so you don’t have to supplement his dinner with anything else. Veggies are just a bonus.

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He’s also very talkative. Some of his favourite things to say are:

  • Hello
  • Hello darlin’
  • Hello boy
  • You alright?
  • Whatcha doin?
  • Clever bird
  • Pretty bird
  • Yeah?

He will quite happily chat nonsense to himself, and if you say something along the lines of ‘is that so?’ he’ll reply ‘yeah’. Again, pretty cute.

40752486_10160709207315263_4551078455013277696_nThis was the first time he sat on my shoulder. You can see how bad his belly was here as well. Only took him a day to settle and ‘step up’. He’s a little hand shy still, unless you’re Chris. Chris is his favourite person and the only person permittled to give him head skritchies. He often tries to use head skritchies to get out of stepping up, and will instead grab Chris’ finger and put it on his head. This is usually when he knows its bedtime and he has to get back in his cage.

 

He’s mostly a free range parrot. When we’re in the house hes out of his cage and does what he wants. He enjoys a fly around. He loves music and will ‘sing’ with you and do a little dance. Of course his idea of singing is squaking as loudly as your singing whilst headbanging, but is still cute.

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Here he is with his favourite person. You can see his belly feathers coming in here. They’re still a bit all over the place but are coming in nice and green.

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He’s about 10 years old. Amazons generally live to about 50, so we have some good times with him to come. I’m really glad we were able to rehome this little dinosaur, and I love him loads. We’re already thinking about adopting more, but will probably leave that until we’re a bit more settled and have our own place.

He seems much happier and healthier now than when we got him, and I hope that’s the case. He’s a special birb and he deserves the best out of life, and we fully plan on giving him just that!

I’m the Whittlin’ (wo)Man!!

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m sort of in to wood work and wood crafting. Whilst my current living situation (fiance and I are at my parents :/ ) limits what I can learn, I try and learn as much as I can with the tools and space I have. If you’re here you should already know I do a lot of wood burning and pyrography. I’ve done this for years but have only recently started selling bits and pieces online. I’m very unsure of myself and have zero confidence in my abilities, so the fact that people are actually paying money for my work is awesome! Admittedly I don’t do an awful lot of it anymore. And my shop might get one new item every month or so, but I do it around work, studying for a degree in Illustration and having a (potentially) chronic illness. More on that in a later post.

Something I’ve always wanted to try, but have never gotten around to, is wood carving. My Uncle Ian is a well established and successful wood sculptor, and some of his work is amazing. Check it out here. We don’t talk very often unfortunately. He’s a busy man and has some very young kids so we see him maybe once a year. I’ve tried reaching out to him a few times about going to wood carving festivals with him, or sourcing good wood for wood burning, but I never get anything back from him. I know he’s not really a techy person, so I don’t take it personally. He’s just probably not seen my messages. But irregardless of all that, I figured I would just give it a go!

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So despite today actually being my fiances birthday, we went to our local Axeminster and got me a couple of knives. Chris grew up in the country so whittled as a kid and knows his way around axes and knives. He’s going to show me how to sharpen them properly, and what wood is good to use. He’ll also show me the basics and how to do it safely so I don’t immediately cut my fingers off. Chris is very skilled in, well skills, but confesses he lacks the creativity to actually make anything with them. He’s super supportive of me though, and thinks that me eventually leaving my job and crafting/studying full time is a great idea. I doubt I would ever actually do that though. Not having a guaranteed income terrifies me haha.

I’m looking forward to trying something new. And am hoping it means eventually I can expand the contents of my Etsy Shop to some hand carved pieces. I already have a few ideas for some simple necklaces and keyrings, but I’m trying not to get a head of myself just yet.

Progress may be slow, but I am still here. Still crafting. Still working. Still living.