Art year in review: Focus focus focus! in 2016

Summary of 2016 art with a picture for each month

Another year, another art retrospective! The end of one year/beginning of the next doesn’t necessarily make me more reflective, but the transition, the downtime, and all the “ritual” associated with this time certainly seems to pushes me to actually document that reflection. What that means is that I really need to write some more blog posts throughout the year so that this place doesn’t become a continuous chain of Christmas cards and art summaries…

Above are:

Behind the summary

Compared this year with my 2014 and 2015 summaries: I noticed in 2014, 9/12 images were fanart. Last year and this year, only 2/12 images were fanart. It’s a bit misleading though, as there were a ton more Yu Yu Hakusho (OK, Yusuke and Hokushin) drawings I could have thrown in; I was consciously aiming to show more polished, original works when putting the summary together.

But reality is I’ve been pretty focused on Now Recharging, and it shows. The days of bemoaning about not caring about my original characters seem so far away now! In March and May I couldn’t even find any other decent polished artworks to use aside from the comic pages. As the webcomic progresses and more characters are revealed, this may increase the artwork since it means I’ll be able to show more characters interacting in fun/cute/frivolous ways!

A few other things you can’t really see from the visual summmary:

  • I did some experimenting with a couple of mixed media on wood pieces (see January) and probably destroyed a couple of pens in the process. Whoops.
  • I got really into fountain pens. Went to the Scriptus fountain pen show, scoured Taipei’s fountain pen and stationery shops. I currently have 12 bottles of ink and 7 pens. Ahhhhhh…
  • In the first half of the year I did quite a few brush pen and gold watercolour pieces, using this approach for on-site commissions at Anime North as well. The striking simplicity and loose expressiveness of the mediums greatly appealed to me.
  • I (master of el cheapo art supplies) finally graduated from Reeve’s student watercolours! The main reason was because I no longer wanted to use tube paints due to my inability to keep them from messing up and becoming next to unusable when the caps get stuck. I switched to Daniel Smith watercolour sticks for my comic and a container with Peerless watercolour sheets when travelling (though the latter doesn’t work as well outdoors/when it’s windy, so I’m partially debating dropping this in favour of Muji pens+waterbrush for travel in the future…).
  • I find the three-colour palette I use for Now Recharging so enjoyable and flexible that I sometimes use it for other sketches and paintings as well (see July’s Entourage painting).

What I did (and didn’t do)

Technically speaking, I didn’t meet any of my 2016 art goals lol. But, last year I was going on and on about focus, and I definitely did that this year! A few experiences that stand out in my mind that were especially exciting and amazing to me:

  • Actually managing to hit the third chapter of Now Recharging and introduce Morio. I’m honestly amazed. When I made the resolution last year to finish three chapters, even finishing the first chapter felt like a long haul with the end nowhere in sight. This has made me a lot more confident in my ability to stay disciplined and continue moving forward.
  • Being able to launch Now Recharging on GoComics and being interviewed about it by Basket Case (who was very gracious)!
  • Being part of the OFF-PANEL TCAF x Nuvango print show with so many amazing local and international artists.
  • Completing a special print edition of Now Recharging chapters 0 and 1, with foil stamping ooh ahh! (You can get it at the Page & Panel TCAF shop at the Toronto Reference Library; I’ll be putting it online in the new year)

I did manage to complete Wash My Dreams With Ink – Tokyo Daze for TCAF 2016, and I actually did start a few pages for a Taiwan zine as well… though I need to get back to that!

2017 art goals

The last few years were much bigger shifts for me in terms of my thinking and approach to my art. Now I’m in the “let’s keep this ship on course” phase. A one-year span of a to-do list doesn’t seem to hold the same weight to me anymore. But I still find it fun and worthwhile to take the time to look back at my art over the past year!

There will always be things I wish I could do better, but for the most part I’m in a pretty happy place right now. I feel I’m oriented in a direction that’s right for me, I’m progressing and being productive, and most of all I find meaning in what I’m working on. Much of the research and reading I’ve been doing as I’ve been working on my webcomic is also helping me to better shape/cement my thinking and values on many things beyond art.

With that said, I’m pushing for these things in 2017:

  • Pass 200 pages in Now Recharging. Finish chapter 2, and figure out/get through/whatever another 2 chapters.
  • For the love of god, get that Taiwan book done. DO IT. Or at least make a few more My Life As A Maiji minizines, that’s fine too.

With Now Recharging taking up such a solid chunk of my energy and focus, I strongly suspect any art summaries and objectives in the near future will likely sound awfully similar to this year’s… but hey, who knows for sure by the time 2017 comes to an end and 2018 rolls around?

Thank you to friends and family for their love, patience and support, and to everyone following my art and all the encouraging voices keeping me going! I hope 2017 is a mindful, productive and fulfilling period for us all!