Back in January 2017, I started a skill improvement exercise of digitally painting human portraits, something I was struggling with a bit. With the goal of completing 10 paintings, I could then compare and see if the exercise helped improve my skill over time. I’ve been hesitating to share because looking back, I’m almost embarrassed by the 1st attempts, but… learn from the past right?
Decided to revive my old blog/sketchblog and dig up some art to share.
I’ve been playing around with ProCreate most recently on the iPad Pro. It’s pretty nice, once you get used to it, though the coloring is more akin to coloring in Photoshop than it is to coloring in Paint Tool Sai or Manga Studio/Clip Studio Paint. I miss the blending that Clip Studio can achieve, but for an inexpensive app that runs on an iPad Pro? This is really nice.
Hi again. I missed a month’s update. Oops. Well, here’s my update for the last 2 months then. 🙂
June and July, the summer months that see a lot of street festivals, food festivals, and all sorts of activity in the Bay Area. I’m still recuperating from long-term illness (at least I think I’m healing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell), so didn’t partake in the outdoor adventures of my area. Really, I was looking for something relaxing that I could share with people I love as the ideal summer experience. So, after booking an extended trip home to my family, I also started hunting for local adventures we could have in the area.
Ohio has fun things to do, but when you’ve lived there for years, the tourist attractions lose their appeal (I think I understand the New Yorkers who never visit Ellis Island now). And at least for me, it’s the little hidden gems that become the highlights of a town anyways. The biggest “gem” being right at home… mom’s cooking, warm sunny days on a patio with lush grass beneath and a vegetable garden starting to produce. It’s a picturesque American life in my eyes.
We went to Amish Country once, being very close to my family’s home and a common stop for the locals b/c of their traditional foods and crafts. Hartville Kitchen is always a good stop for “country cookin'”, though beware the butter and lard used in EVERYTHING. The portions are also quite huge for the prices too. Tasty, but you know… stomach issues.
And then as a new treat for both me and my mom, I booked a spa trip at the Spa Walden in Aurora. It’s… a bucket list item for me (if I could say I have a bucket list) to experience a resort spa. This wasn’t technically a resort per se but it was a full day of pampering at a quality venue and I figured, since I’m not booking any international flights or tours, let’s splurge on this one thing that not only benefits me, but also lets me pamper someone else (my mom deserved some relaxation). Spa Walden is a lovely venue in the middle of nowhere. I try to think of it like the spas in Napa, just with grass or corn fields nearby instead of vineyards. The spa room was decorated with real luxuries including a centered hot tub, a steam room (with the coolest shower ever!), areas to lounge, champaign, tea, snacks, and all the amenities you might possibly need during your stay. Most of it wouldn’t be used b/c of the time available in the room, but hey… it’s there to provide options for relaxation. 🙂
In the end? I’m glad I did it! But … I will likely never do that again. Expensive (with some unexpected fees in the final bill that really should have been listed up front (if you say gratuity is included, the price on the site better show the gratuity on it!)) and really, after 1 hour of pampering, I was done and wanting it to be over. Lol. Pampering is nice, but after an hour I wanted to be up and active.
By far my greatest memory, and repeated daily experience of this trip, was the puppy. Parents got a puppy last year that I did get to see during the Christmas Holidays (hyper and fearless ball of fur). Really a dog now, he still has the playfulness of a puppy, but is becoming more aware of his strength (and sharp teeth and nails). He folds his feet in when sitting on your lap (so his nails don’t scratch. Let’s ignore the fact he’s really too big to be a lap dog) and immediately stops playing if he accidentally bites too hard. I will always be amused at how he handles misbehavior. You can see the progress of logic in his actions as he tests his limits…. No I can’t bite? Ok, well how about nibbling? No? Can I lick then? No? Nuzzle? Ok. Nuzzle.
He still tries to sit on people’s heads, though won’t try to climb up you to do it (just be careful if you’re laying on a bed that he’s allowed on). It’s not a dominance thing or anything like that. He just likes to cuddle heads. And be in high places. Otherwise he is very attached to people, eager to please, and incredibly intelligent.
I watched him learn the word “leash” in 2 days after we started using it to reference “walk”. I saw him also learn how to open latch doors on his own and follow people outside. Super intelligent and makes me wish I had one with me always.
But back home in the month of July, I suppose gaming has made itself the highlight of my month. Steam Sale happened and this is the first time I took advantage and bought a bunch of games. Here goes!
Farewell to May. This month seems to have come and gone a lot faster than the others. I wonder what happened?
First, an update on my health. The new doctor was very helpful (and very prompt!) and we got the medications I needed right away, which I took for the last few weeks or so. So I would say that my health is improving for a change, but let’s keep the fingers crossed with hope that improvements continue to have an upward path. 🙂
This month there were a couple of events, the first of which was the Google I/O conference in Mountain View. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I work in mobile apps as a UX designer and thought it might be beneficial for me to attend this conference since I was one of the lucky few to win access (Google I/O is notoriously exclusive b/c of high demand, so Google distributes tickets via a lottery system. I got accepted from the wait list last minute, so went).
This is where my opinions of Google I/O take a negative turn. I’ve never gone to a Google I/O conference before, but their reputation as an important, exclusive, event with nice swag and developer experience persuaded me to attend, even though the online schedule didn’t exactly have a lot of panels of interest to me. In the past, Google I/O was held at the San Francisco Moscone Center but this year, Google decided to host it closer to their headquarters in Mountain View by making it an outdoor event at the Shoreline Amphitheater.
To summarize the experience, I would say that the content of the conference was interesting, but the logistics and location were poorly designed. Outdoors in 90 degree heat for a tech conference where most people will have laptops and intentions to do business… set in a location that is difficult to get to by car (and does not have hotels in walking distance) is not a good idea. Unless you were press, there was no place to sit besides the ground and it was a hunt to find any place not directly under the sun. The panel sessions were in closed tents with A/C pumped in, but unfortunately, every tent was way smaller than the number of attendees present at the conference, several only fitting about 50 people at full capacity. You had to line up 30-45 minutes in advance in the heat (on tarmac!) to get in. And the sessions were all back-to-back so if you went to one, you weren’t getting in to the next. I felt sorry for anyone who was there in business casual clothing actually planning to do some legitimate tech networking that day. 2nd day was better, but again… I really missed the presence of actual tables with chairs to sit a laptop on and network.
Unfortunately for me, all this meant I could only get in to half of the panels that I wanted to attend. And the heat made things difficult on my health so I really had to shorten my stay and just go home early when I could (Being in the heart of Google country, traffic around rush hour (which start at 4pm and end around 7:30pm) is near impossible to get through). I heard the concert and after party were great, but without a place to rest or an easy way to go home and come back later (traffic, and lack of parking), I didn’t have the energy to stick around to find out. So for me, even though I wasn’t footing the bill, $900+ for Google I/O is just not worth it, especially when all the talks (the important takeaways) are available for free online.
Swag-wise, I got a t-shirt and a sports bottle. Not quite the “new phone” or “chrome book” of past conferences that Google is known for. We got credits to the new Google Cloud Platform later on via email, but that’s not useful to me at all. Bummer.
But… The following weekend, I went to Clockwork Alchemy!
Clockwork Alchemy is a steampunk convention (convention, not conference… There’s a difference, Google!) held every year in conjunction with Fanime, the anime convention of San Jose. I intended to only go for 1 day but after arriving, I impulsively bought the weekend pass and am so glad I did.
Clockwork Alchemy is small, at least in comparison to its sister conference, Fanime. Held at the Double-Tree Hotel, it takes up several of the conference rooms and the ballroom with various activities and displays. The small size allows them to coordinate some uniquely fun activities, like a scavenger hunt coordinated by the Sacramento Steampunk Society, where you had to find certain vendors (not all of them labeled either!) and perform a task for them (usually something silly, like reciting text) to earn a stamp. Completing the hunt earned you a prize! Which for us (Nite was with me), was a wooden fan and a bullet pen.
I loved the tea parlor too. And the writing panels I went to were really useful! The war room was a little silly, and a little dangerous (I nearly got whacked in the head when a pole arm ricocheted off someone else’s stick during one of the “games”. The lack of moderation and training made me decide not to stick around for a round 2), but fun if you picked the right panels. Again, I didn’t partake in the after hours activities due to exhaustion, but I think next time I’ll book a hotel room to share with friends so we can retreat during the slow hours and return for the parties later on. I hear the Emperor’s Ball is the highlight event of the entire convention. Personally, I loved the mix of cultures and fandom here. Fanime being a conjoined convention meant we had some people coming in and out of each
My favorite event had to be the fashion gallery. What an eerie display! Models stood behind wooden frames and either took a still pose, or moved slowly as if they were animatronic figures instead of real people. It reminded me of that scene from Firefly where they go to Persephone and Kaylee ogles fancy dresses on models in a display window. Very posh-feeling. Of course, the models and attendees eventually started talking to each other, which was less posh, but who cares. It was all done in fun and fantasy. 🙂
A little late this time, but here’s my update for April.
April was a good month, I think. For the most part anyways. Aside from the usual Drawing Meats meetups and errands, I actually took a trip outside of California this time!
I went to Seattle for 4 days, an opportunity that I snatched up on short notice and then took advantage of by using the time to visit old friends and say hi to the people I miss.
I didn’t do much visiting of tourist sites since I’ve seen most of them multiple times from living there, which is one of the nice things for people living in Seattle. The tourist attractions aren’t just for tourists. Cultural festivals happen frequently by the Space Needle. Pike Place Market is an actual functioning marketplace frequented by locals for groceries, hip food stops, and random artsy finds in its lower floors (I’m personally a fan of Storyville Coffee. While not my favorite cup of brew in the whole of Seattle (that still goes to Caffe Ladro, and then that one special barista at Aura Bakery in Kirkland), I love the “secretiveness” of the shop itself, and the ambiance of the cafe’s interior. If you’re in Pike Place Market, a block outside of the main marketplace building, find the small circular sign of a boy playing with a toy airplane. The coffee shop is upstairs). You don’t need to drive or hike far to see those special natural scenic wonders (like waterfalls). Seattle is small enough that its tourist attractions are really just part of its daily life.
Now the downside to Seattle is its traffic. And perhaps its urban planning in general. If you ever do the underground tour, it helps to explain why the streets are so weird (urban planning seems to be summed up as a “oh… I guess we should have done it that way” afterthought and then a “let’s just build on top of it” solution). Seattle traffic is like LA traffic; What looks like a short distance on a map will take twice as long to get there due to street layout, road conditions, and backups. Seattle is a city that has grown far faster than its infrastructure can handle, and it seems its increase in population and urban planning needs still surprises its leadership every year. As a result, there’s always construction. Not to mention in spite of being in a climate that does see snow every year, they do not salt the roads, which leads to water expansion damage, so the roads are continuously in disrepair in spite of their heavy amount of construction zones (to be fair though, the non-salting of roads is due to their proximity to the large body of fresh water that is Lake Washington. Hey, at least Seattle is very conscious of its environmental impact). Construction plans seems random too, or uncoordinated. Random streets will be one-way or be split in two by a railway pillar, making it extremely dangerous to merge lanes. It’s a Seattle residential “thing” to have a circle with a tree planted in the middle of intersections, turning them in to mini round-abouts. Oh and the busses use the same tunnel as the light rail! Did I mention that their 2 busiest bridges actually have hours where they are down for boat crossing? And the 520 tends to be down for full weekends b/c they’ve spent the last 3+ years working on it to expand the bridge by 1 lane. The traffic in Seattle always reminds me why we pay income taxes in California. Highway 101 may be congested on most weekday commutes, but at least the culprit is singular (a lot of people) and the infrastructure tries to mitigate it.
Not that the Bay Area doesn’t have its commuting issues (like the Caltrain being above-ground and crosses roads in some pretty dangerous-looking intersections for a train system that’s so actively used), but I don’t know… perhaps it’s geography that colors my opinions of driving in these two different areas.
I stayed at the WAC this time (Washington Athletic Club). I didn’t know my hotel stay included access to the athletic club facilities… I think I would have liked to check out the women’s floor with the pool and hot tub (^_^!), but likely would not have had time. The hotel itself is very…. elitist? Not really my cup of tea. It felt like their luxury was based on a culture of exclusivity, not necessarily elegance. Oh well. Clean and quiet. That’s all I really need.
I did manage to visit the Starbucks Reserve, which has a convenient Serious Pie located inside! So good. 🙂 I didn’t drink any coffee (I can’t! The acid doesn’t play well with my stomach), but the aromas were awesome. And the atmosphere. And the pizza. 🙂
Otherwise, my entire time was visiting friends, grabbing food with them, and just catching up!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to really eat much in a lot of those cases. While in Seattle, my health problems jumped back up in intensity again, but with a pile of medications to dull the symptoms I was able to get through the weekend in relatively decent shape. So I bided my time and enjoyed the company until I got home to see my doctor. Which…
I feel like I could dedicate a whole post to the anger and hatred I feel for Palo Alto Medical Foundation, but I don’t want to turn this update in to a big rant. Just know that PAMF, in spite of its shiny buildings and centralized locations of doctors, labs, surgery centers, and specialists, is first and foremost… a business.
I found another facility that’s local to me with a relatively well-reviewed doctor. I’m going to be trying them soon.
In the meantime, recouping from the trip, getting back to my routine. Working. On to the next month!
You know those moments when it seems like your body is just going “f*** you!” and tries to pile all these problems on at the same time? Yeah…. >.> Previous illness is getting under control, but now new issues arise and my body is definitely trying to war with me. Thank you…. -_-”
But as highlights of the month, GDC week was in March. I didn’t go (I’m not in games anymore), but I did catch up with some old classmates and alumni from the ETC. It was nice seeing them again, strangely nostalgic and bittersweet (as it reminded me of the joys and trials of working at EA). I got a fast forward update of the gaming industry trends of the year and #1 at GDC… was virtual reality. Honestly? I’m not too excited about this. I’ve tried Oculus and Google Cardboard equivalents from other developers and while it’s fun and very immersive to see an environment react to the rotation of my head, the motion sickness it induces really reduces gameplay to just a few minutes. So while my fantasy would definitely be to immerse in a 1st person MMO and take on dragons from the perspective of my character’s avatar, that disconnect between what I’m seeing and what my body is really doing is too jarring to endure for any long-term session. A friend of mine who works in VR explained it to me once before (something to do with inner-ear fluid motion). If these new VR models can somehow mitigate that issue, then we definitely have a game hardware revolution on our hands. But… until then, I’ll just keep watching from the sidelines…
… And play more Guild Wars 2! 😀
My friends, sadly, are not inclined to join me in my in-game roaming (they’re all committed to other titles), so I’ve started reaching out to other online gamers, namely joining a public guild (it is a game called ” guild wars”). My first encounters were a little… creepy (apparently being female in real life is a novelty worth noting and oggling in the online gaming world… which is weird to me since most of my MMO-playing friends are female), but for the most part, GW2 players are very friendly. I ended up joining a role-playing group, RPcd. I’ve never really done role play before. The closest I’ve gotten is in my game design class back in grad school where we had to design one, and a guy in my group ran us through a mini D&D dungeon, but this wasn’t quite the same since the characters were given to us and no one was really playing out their roles. This group is very light on the “role-play” part, though some do play in-character. They are an action-based guild that likes to welcome new players and help guide others across the maps of Tyria, and they are flexible about having people jump in and leave as real-life calls, so it’s a good group to just find friendly faces to play with. Honestly you have to run & fight so much that it’s hard to really stop and type out a line… so to me so far, it’s just mindless roaming and killing of things with an occasional emote about the environment or pretending to drink water from a canteen. Some of them really do get in to the role-playing aspects, and I feel a little awkward witnessing it (intimate conversations that are emoted get seen by everyone), but for me, it’s really no different than getting immersed in a RPG’s story and then saying the lines you think your character would REALLY say in that situation. I mean, when u finally beat that dragon, don’t you want to cheer with the other players?
I have not gotten that deep in to the role-playing part yet. Maybe I will in the future since I do like creative writing (and maybe not with this group, b/c I don’t think it would be very easy for me with the given pace). This is kind of like the campfires back in writing.com days, I think. 🙂
Finally, here is an image of my new level 80 Human Thief, Sonieeee wearing some variation of a medium armor outfit (or what I could remember of it). Probably somewhere in Sparkfly Fen. The blue thing next to her is called a Quaggan, which I recently got as a stuffed animal from a friend who went to GDC and knew I was a GW2 fan. 🙂
February seems to have flown by fast! It makes sense (somewhat) because of the missing days, but that really did seem to disappear as soon as it arrived.
I’m still sick, but, I think, slowly improving… I was able to do more this month than the last. I’ll call that a step in the right direction. 🙂
This month’s social activities probably had more to do with game playing than anything else.
I went to a board game meetup in Palo Alto and finally got to try out 7 Wonders… a board/card game where you compete with your neighboring players to build structures and monuments for your ancient civilization by taking and passing around resources and cards. Surprisingly fast and simple, once you start playing. Probably the more advanced players will strategize the type of cards they hand off to the neighboring player, but since we were all noobs, it was a randomization, in a way. I liked the variability. The initial cards you take and the selected civilization you play for can change the strategy you take on for point collection.
Another day, a friend had a game night at his place where I introduced a bunch of friends to Pandemic. Pandemic is a collaborative board game where you take on the role of CDC members and fight against the rapid spread of a disease. It is extremely difficult and even on easy mode, is not easy to beat. After borrowing the board game from a friend months ago, I finally was able to crack it open and get some people to sit down and play. It can be a slow game due to the potential amount of collaborative thinking required, so finding time and willing participants is always a challenge. We lost at the very end, though I think we had a good battle going while the game lasted.
I also got to try a new card game called Machi Koro while at work (a coworker of mine, also an avid board game player, brought it in for some Friday afternoon gaming). Machi Koro is a town-building game that mixes deck-building with dice-rolling. You buy cards with earned coins and roll dice to activate the purchased cards. It’s a nice blend of strategy and chance, planning out the best set of cards for bonus coin and attacks, hoping and praying for a rolled 8 (or 9 or 10) so you can collect the big money and clear the game. There are more types of cards in the box than you put on the table during a game, so each game can play differently depending on the layout.
Onwards to digital gaming! A coworker got me to take the plunge and buy a copy of Final Fantasy 14. It’s not my first time playing it, though this IS my first time creating a character on my own account. Initial reaction is still not positive. It’s very slow and full of Japanese game design choices, like excessive un-skippable dialog, silent staring, a crowded UI filled with text, and the purposely-added up-panty camera angles. The panties have lace trims, btw.
Coming from a year’s worth of Guild Wars 2 playing, FF14 just isn’t quite cutting it for me. The battle system is slow and there’s no sense of direction or purpose. I just don’t feel like I have the freedom of movement as I do in GW2. Nor the sense of an expansive open world as I did in GW2. The map is confusing and moving around in it is not as streamlined. Thus far, it just feels like I exist as a random character in this world. There’s no motivation (and I’m rather blocked by my low level anyways) to seek out some excitement. GW2, at least, made it very easy to feel drawn in with their many world events that chained with each other. The voice acting too, is very impressive.
That said, I know a lot of people like FF14 and I have more friends who play FF14 than GW2 (no one wants to return and join meeeee 🙁 ). I still have ~20 days on my subscription, so I’ll keep trying it until that expires, then likely back to GW2. FF14 just feels too much like a grindy chore.
I want to try and make writing in an online blog a monthly routine, if anything, to just share and reflect on the events of the month. Honestly, with how busy I get and how I want to use my time, this is really all I can and want to dedicate to in terms of consistency. Comic pages don’t draw themselves, after all!
That said… I have to admit January was not a good start in terms of page turnout. On the plus side, I’ve been giving myself more time to just draw for fun vs for a goal. But as a down side, the overall output of comic pages (or anything creative, really) has declined.
My culprit? Health. And computer games. One leads to the other, I swear!
Being at a suboptimal level of health this last month, fatigue and discomfort left me unmotivated to really DO anything. So instead, I played a lot of Guild Wars 2. And caught up on TV shows. And youtube… the greatest time sinker of all. ^^”
But as I slowly improve, I’ve started working out again, something I haven’t consciously done in a fewyears. I know its stereotypical to start hitting the gym at the beginning of the New Year, but rather than aim for some lofty weight loss or fitness goal, I think this time I am doing it for the right reasons. Rather than aiming for a goal like “lose 10 lbs” (anyone ever notice how all those health magazines like to advertise 10 lbs weight loss? why 10? why not 8? 15?), exercise this time is about restoring balance in my life. Creating routine in my daily schedule where i take time to care about my body and put some effort in to making it function efficiently. Goals are great things to have for many, but I think for me, creating habits is more important. And so far so good. I’m getting used to waking up early to work out and only avoid it if I’m particularly feeling awful that day.
So with health not so great this past month, the amount of activity I’ve partaken in is rather minimal. The highlights are mostly through visual technologies: My parents got a puppy (which even though it’s really theirs, I think I’ve already internally claimed it as mine too). Guild Wars 2 has been consuming the entertainment portion of my life. And I went to a couple of Drawing Meetups again just to see some faces (and otherwise claim that yes! I am a social being).
Other than that, just healing up and getting by. I am optimistic things will swing back to normal energy levels again, though I have no doubts that it is going to take me awhile to get back there. But perhaps future updates will have more news to share. 🙂
In the meantime, here’s an Alice In Wonderland-inspired tea party I drew. 🙂
My name is Theresa (also called “Ting” by some friends). I work in the tech industries but aspire to more creative endeavors. Pinning down what creative endeavor to focus my energies on exactly is really where the challenge lays. Lately I think about writing (I have a plot line mapped out that I’m eager to start working on!), but at the moment, I’m currently chugging away at the pages of a webcomic that is much larger than I probably should have done for a 1st project. I’m thinking about dropping it soon, but I want to at least finish it to 1 volume, just to have that accomplishment on my bookshelf. 🙂
So about me…
I draw, I write, I travel (when I can). I think you could call these things my passions in life.
This website is my way of sharing these passions with the world and consolidating each one in to its own channel. This website is like the hub where you can find access to the different channels I lurk.
Care to know more about me? Check out my Instagram for the more day-to-day adventures and other photos.
Want to see more art? I frequently share my doodles and sketches on my Tumblr.