New painting of a cuddly fox

How is it possible to feel this productive and lazy at the same time? I’ve got so much I was planning to do during this weekend, yet I end up here painting a cuddly fox. But, damn it was so much fun painting it. I’ve been in the zone for hours and managed to color this one all in one sitting. Again. One can’t fight the urges, you just gotta hold on as long and enjoy it while it lasts ;)

Painting light and shadows is so much fun, I remember how excited I became when things slowly started to click and I actually understood better how light works. Still not perfect of course, but better than 10 years ago ;)

cuddly fox sketch

Here’s the initial sketch I finished yesterday before coloring. Guess I was thinkng a lot of Zimba while working on it. Maybe he was a cuddly fox in a past life.

Oh right, I remembered to record the process of this one! Just need to find a nice video editing software for PC. Any suggestions? :) Is After Effects and Premier still the thing?

 

Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Talk to you soon.

 

January recap: Watercolor hype, frost and a cute and cozy school

Why hello there, it’s me again. Almost end of February already? Really? What’s going on?  

It’s time for the first monthly recap to check on how I am doing wth my goals for the year. January has been really fun, consisting of lazy and snowy days(haven’t have this much snow in Stockholm in years, yay!), some freelance work, losing myself in watercolors.

So how did I do with the goals so far? Let’s have a look:

snow leopard watercolors noukah

Traditional painting

I’ve been really busy with my brushes and paint these past weeks. There’s something about watercolors that gets me so enchanted that I forget about time and space when watching the wet colors mix on the paper. After struggling a lot, practicing and sweating, I managed to finish my first watercolor painting in January. The one with two lynxes chasing each other.

I’ve got another one in progress already, which is the one you can see above :) Yay! We’re making progress!

frost

Getting out in nature

I can proudly cross this one off my list as well. Visited a beautiful nature preserve here in Stockholm during one of the coldest days here so far. So worth it.

I’m planning to do a smaller field trip again probably this weekend or next week. I still got some time to decide upon where to go next :)

Speaking in front of a large audience

This year will be the one when I become better at public speaking. I can feel it. I know, I’ve said this before, but Imagine how cool it would be to become really good at capturing your audience. Standing casually on a stage and say things that matter. Yes, I want that.

I had the great opportunity to keep practicing, as I got asked to be a guest teacher for two days at a boarding school that teaches animation. I arrived to a snowy town in south Sweden, and the school looked like this cozy little village consisting of red houses.  I was teaching character design, and had an awesome time. Once again – thanks for having me!

Writing and illustrating my own story

Hm, frankly I didn’t have time to focus on this goal at all in January. I still got time though, as I set an action point to finish an outline, synopsis and rough text for my story by the end of February. Will probably aim to finish that horse story. I do have most of the rough story already, so I might manage to finish all of it on time. I’ll try!

Active blog

Well yes. I would say that I’ve been more active on this blog and social media than ever. By being productive of course ;) I’ve posted on average, one blog post per week which I think is a pretty nice level.

But Youtube…? Heh. I do have videos in the backlog, and I know I said that the next video should be done by the end of February. We will se about that. Maybe I can do it, if I put myself together and really priotirised it.

All in all, I think I did pretty ok during January. Managed to keep focus and finish tasks in a humane pace.

February and March in particular, will be more about public speaking and story telling. I can’t wait to finish my stories, it must be so cool to have something that’s made all by yourself.


How was your January?

New speed painting based on my photos

I’m still living in that magical wonderland from last week in the snowy woods.  Who knew that a little frost, sunshine and minus degrees could do so much good. Been looking at the photos I took and long to go back. Hope we can have snow at least one more time before spring arrives. It’s all melted away already.

I remember walking past a section where some tree logs have fallen to the ground. That beautiful scene sparked my imagination and I heard my self thinking “Wow, that is so beautiful! That would be a perfect spot for the lynx and fox I want to paint. They could balance on those logs and play, having the sun shining from the side.”

Then I scribbled down this a couple of days later

lynx and fox sketch by NoukahThough it suited well for a speedpainting. Since I’ve been doing a lot of line art lately, and struggling with my watercolors, it felt good to push some pixels around in my beloved Photoshop. The finished painting took me a couple of hours, did everything except the sketch in one sitting.

Time to eat something, and make a nice cup of tea. By the way, I’m so glad I’ve finally found my favorite tea again. Rosehip and hibiscus. There was one in the stores back in the days called “Morning Time” that I loved to drink as a kid. I’m an old lady trapped in a young persons body,  how normal is it to long home from school just so I could sit and drink tea as a 12 year old? :D

Then is suddenly disappeared from the shelves. Oh, the irony. Through out the years, I never managed to find that combo again. All I knew was that it contained rosehips. It was not until a couple of years ago, when a friend pointed out that the Hibiscus gives tea that beautiful red color. That gave me the best clue ever, as the tea I remembered was unusually red and sweet. So now I know, and luckily, I can find it again in regular grocery stores!

Happy ending.

Tomorrow will be a very fun and exciting day. I’ll tell you more later :)

Looking for inspiration during the coldest day of the year

Last Sunday was magical. I was predicting pretty cold weather, and have been eagerly checking my weather app over and over again so that I won’t miss the best opportunity for a field trip.

And I hit the jackpot, baby.

The air was crisp, the sun was shining and Stockholm looked like a winter postcard. Insanely Beautiful! This was exactly what I’ve been waiting for, as I need some photo references for some new upcoming paintings.

Enough said. I packed the camera, found the warmest clothes I could find and headed out in the foggy morning.

I haven’t quite used the camera outdoors yet, so I was thrilled to see how suitable it is for photographing nature. Well, it wasn’t too shabby I must say, I just need to practice more so that we click better (mjehehe, saw what I did there?).

noukah nature

You know I mentioned that one of my goals for 2018 was to get out to see nature more often? I’m not meant to visit a nature reserve at least once a month, and this time I chose to visit  one in Ängbyplan, in Stockholm. I’ve been here twice before(Thank you Sabina, for showing me!) but have only seen the forest during summertime. Now I’ve sene the Narnia version as well ;)

I walked along the path around the big frozen lake, and explored some of the paths that led into the actual forest for a couple of hours, until my body said “Nope” and my shoulders started to ache. Dam, one can really tell that I’m not 20 anymore… I really need to get back to the gym to lift heavy things.

Back home to the drawing tablet

noukah drawing

The photo session Went pretty well, and I now have a bunch of nice photos to use as references. Made a collage of my favorite ones so I can use them while sketching. Currently working on a new sketch that I will record the painting demo of, to show my favorite Photoshop brushes. Stay tuned for that one.

lynx and fox sketch by noukah

Again, I’m so glad I actually Went outside instead of being stuck on the couch for Another day. I’m very easily distracted, and often lose myself in something while the hours pass. Then suddenly when I look up from my screen, it’s pitch dark outside. But not this time! Not last Sunday. Well done, Andrea.

It would be fun to bring some paint when once it’s warmer outside, so I can try some plein air painting. Never done it, and I admire those who get out and do kickass paintings on the spot. Looks so cozy :)


 Have you done plein air studies? Any tips?

My first finished watercolor painting since forever

At last. Had to fail over and over again, but here we are – 5-6 attempts later. I like it enought to call it done. Feels awesome! :D

Been grinding for weeks now, “wasting” several sheets of expensive paper. But hey, one needs to make sacrifices in order to improve, right? I’m known for starting over rather than trying to fix a painting that dowsn’t work from the beginning, so this wasn’t an exception either. Especially when it comes to watercolors. So hard! I had to start over 3 times on this piece, the previous version almost ended with a complete disaster. Zimba decided to jump up on my choulders when I was the most busyapplying the tiniest details of masking fluid. He pushed me so hard that it resultet in puddles of masking fluid allover the table and the floor. Everywhere except on the painting, thank god.

Guess who behaved like a little angel afterwards? I know he’s a cat, but I think he actually felt guilty this time ;)

Not sure if I mentioned this Before, but I’ll probably make a review of what I’ve learned so far when it comes to watercolors. Showing all the failed versions and explain why I dind’t feel that they worked. Think it could be a nice way to document stuff, and not just showing my best work all the time. Plus, I can keep going on about how benefitial it is to repeat and start over in order to improve our paintig skills. Success is definitely built by failure.

lynx watercolor by Noukah

So excited to start on other paintings now! I have a few ideas in mind already, I’ll probably continue with my lynxes for a while. nd also squeezing in some of the 100 cats I’m meant to finish. I have this idea about a tiger and a fox playing in a snowy landscape for instance. Gosh, I love sketching different animals together, and imagine how they would behave towards each other. It sparks so many new ideas for future stories and art pieces.
lynx watercolor by Noukah
Did someone say “pancakes”? I’ve fallen into a pancake season, mmm how can it be so tasty. Gotta go make some, I’m starving.

Then I’m gonna try to finish that blog header I’ve been working on whenever I got some extra time to spare. Been procrastinating for so long, mostly because I was unsure of what to draw. I mean come on, it’s not like I’m getting a tattoo :D So.. It’s going to be two foxes on a cliff in a forest – what a chock ;) You’ll see when it’s finished.

Hope you’re having an awesome weekend!

 

Did I finish drawing all the 100 cats?

Nice and calm day yesterday. I’ve spent so much time in the kitchen, surrounded by wet paint, brushes and paper. Gosh, been such a long time since I experienced this. Having the table covered in art supplies. Amazing.

I’ve just prepared a new watercolor painting. First I created a quick digital painting, the one here above, to use as reference for my traditional piece. Sketched it straight out of my head, as usual.

Wrote the other day on insta that I wanted to dedicate January to the majestic lynx. Honestly, It’s hard to believe that we have big cats here in Sweden!

If I’m happy with my ongoing watercolor paintings? Well, that’s another story. Already started over several times, and I’ll probably make many more attempts before things really click. I’m struggling a bit with gradients and washes. Not giving up though. Luckily, I’m very stubborn, so I’ll just keep pushing.

Speaking of stubborness.
Remember last year, when I talked about that I wanted to improve my cat drawings? In order to do that, I put up a goal to draw 100 cats. Repetition is key, and I was determent.

So, how did it go then?

Ehm. Well.

I’ve probably drawn around 30 perhaps? Lost counting to be honest.

Luckily(hehe) I never set a clear deadline for them all.

That’s why I brought this up again, let’s finish all the rest as promised. I’m just gonna pick up where I stopped. Plus, I can take advantage of the fact that I decided to draw lots of Lynxes this month. See what I did there? ;)

It will be a perfect thing to draw while taking short breaks during work and freelancing. I also just delivered that book cover illustration the other day, yay! 8 more illustrations to go. Can’t wait to see it published.

Hope you’ll have a great day!

The 2018 goals, this time I’m gonna keep them

You know I mentioned earlier that I never really accomplished my previous goals for the year? I kinda forgot about them. Then life happened, and so on. Didn’t estimate properly, realizing how much time everything takes, especially if one has to juggle work on top of everything. Artistic chaos. Oh well. New year, new me. Right?

I’m currently sitting at the kitchen table, sipping my coffee while enjoying a few early rays of the sun. And kickstarting one of my goals for the year. Those of you who follow my insta stories, have gotten a glimpse of what I’m up to. Watercolours :D

Can’t believe that I got some of these paints and brushes when I was 12. Have kept them ever since. Time flies.

Back to 2018. This time I’m gonna make it. How? With clear action points and deadlines. It’s on.

Here are my goals and action points for 2018

Go outside, see nature

Time to get real. I’m one of those who long for open fields, forests and lakes. As a person living in a capital city of Sweden, one doesn’t have too many options other than roads and concrete nearby. Sure, we got some smaller forests and parks, which I love. But never without constantly dealing with all the noise and buzz from the traffic. So, no more excuses. This year I’m going to plan for trips to  national parks with huge forests. Pack a bag with sketchbooks, camera and sandwiches. Get out there. Smell the wet moss, hear the birds singing. I miss that peace.

↣Action point:  Write a list of nice areas nearby, and start visiting each one of them. I will aim to make one trip every month.

Write and draw my first story

I’m simply keeping this goal, as I already had it for last year. Imagine how cool it can be, to have something on the shelf that you have made all by yourself. It’s a huge dream for me. I already have ideas for a few stories, but would like begin with focusing on two of them. One shorter one that I think could suit for all ages, and the other one is based on a true story about a very angry little pony. Both of them come straight from the heart, and this year I want to make them for real.

↣Action point: Make a deadline for everything. Write an outline, synopsis plus a first draft. I want to do this by the end of February. The first draft of one of the stories should be done by summer.

Keep this blog alive

I love this blog so much. Write thoughtful posts, and reflect upon things. I also find video really exciting, and would like to hone in more on that format. This year I want to aim for posting regularly, and to make more videos. Practice standing in front of the camera, so I can get rid of that funny feeling of talking to myself :D

↣Action point:  Keep writing down ideas for new posts and topics. Have at least 5 topics ready for Youtube. Write a script, rehearse a little, turn the camera on and hit “rec”. I want the first video to be ready by the end of February.

Speak in front of a big audience

I almost made it! Last year I put down a goal for this, that I’d like to speak in front of an audience of at least 200 people. Well, I thought that I would fail this goal completely. Then I got asked to do one talk at Women in Gaming, plus hold a lecture at Future Games. Sure, the audience was much smaller, but I actually did it. Despite being super nervous at first, I had so much fun! Time to keep building my confidence, so I can become really good at speaking and own the stage one day.

↣Action point: Actively look up and attend classes in public speaking. I will keep accepting offers that involves holding lectures or talks, and do my best. This also goes hand in hand with me producing more videos for Youtube, as I will force myself to speak and become more relaxed while doing so. I will find the first classes in public speaking by the end of March.

Paint 5 traditional art pieces

Yep. Keeping this goal as well. Kinda bothers me a bit that I didn’t manage to keep at it ;) I really miss playing around with my brushes and paint. What have I been waiting for? Why haven’t I prioritized this? Ghah. Bought myself a bunch of Arches watercolour paper before christmas in 2016(!), and haven’t touched it until now. Ehehm. About time to splash some colors on those sheets!

Action point: Brute force by scribbling down 5 ideas as fast as I can. Simply prepare everything so I can start painting right away when the inspiration kicks in. The sketch phase is always the hardest for me to get past. But you know what? I already made the thumbnails for my 5 pieces the other day. I just have to keep cleaning them up, so they’re ready to get traced onto the watercolour paper :D Plus, I’ve started painting two of them. The urge was too strong. I want to have all the sketches finished and ready by the end of December.

cornish rex cuddles

Let’s do this

Ghah, I really wanna make it this time. Going through this list once more, I can feel the fire up my butt and hear myself thinking “I NEED TO GET THINGS DONE BEFORE SOMETHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENS AGAIN; AAAHH!!”. But if that would happen, well, that’s still ok.

Anyhow, I will do a follow up on this once a month to see how things are going. 12 checkpoints in a year should be doable. Right?

Time to add all this in my beloved Bullet Journal, mark the calendar. Hype!


Do you have any goals for 2018?

lynx sketch by Andrea Femerstrand

First freelance gig of the year

Let’s do this. Started the day with coffee in my favorite cup, the one with blue clovers on it. And warmed up with a sketch I’ve been working on to save for something fun later. I’ll never stop loving drawing our pets. My head explodes with ideas whenever I look at these cuties.

sketch by Andrea Femerstrand

hope you had a fantastic New Years eve! Ready to take on 2018? I know I am, pretty excited actually. Got some goals I’m planning to present to you in a bit, and this time I’m gonna accomplish them.

Plus. I already landed my first freelance gig of the year. I’m gonna illustrate a new children’s book. Joy! Already read some of the script, and really liked it. Can’t wait to show you the final result later this spring. Gotta keep it as a secret until then ;)

sketch freelance gig

Allright. I know what you’re thinking

I blamed my busy year on freelancing not so long ago. And you’re probably sick of me repeating “this time will be different” over and over again.

I giggle nervously, while you roll your eyes at me. We know the drill ;)

But! I really want to try harder now, to find the right balance. It’s so easy to fall for tempting offers, and accidentally say “yes” to too many things at the same time. Is it even possible to master the skill to estimate properly, or is all hope lost already? There has to be a way :D

Zimba ipad procreate

Today is a good day though. There’s plenty of time to snuggle up and sketch. I’m gonna continue reading the rest of the script, and start sketching for the book, while juggling a clingy kitteh(Zimba has decided to move in underneath my shirt today…) See if I can find a nice audiobook to have running in the background. Dang, I really love doing this after all. 


How do manage balancing work and life?

My successes and setbacks in 2017

The year is coming to an end. So what has happened?
It feels like the shortest year ever. I mostly remember endless cups of coffee, back pain, lack of sleep and some frustration. It has not been only misery though, that’s for sure.

Let’s have a look at the setbacks real quick

Well. My biggest one this year that I haven’t been straight enough with myself. I fell into the freelance swamp. In general, there were endless projects, contracts that you never saw, misunderstandings, and so on. I’ve learned a few lessons. This forced me to drop everything else around me, which made me lose focus. My personal projects, like this blog, my youtube channel and my own art had to suffer.

That was enough. I’m going to be very strict from now on. Especially regarding my own terms and conditions. I’m going to start working on my own contract, and take help from lawyers. It should be super clear, and measurable. Everything that will make both parties happy and protected. Freelancing should be pleasant and fair for both sides, and that’s totally something I’m going to aim for in 2018.

And now, here’s some of my successes in 2017

3Dtotal books

Got published in two new books

This year I had the great opportunity to work with 3Dtotal, on their two new books that got released this year. I contributed with two articles, one for each. The books turned out awesome, so pretty! I feel very honored and humbled to be among such great artists. Some of them already familiar, and a bunch who I just discovered.

  • Character Design Quarterly – Vol 2
    I wrote about my approach on how I would design a guilty dog. Had a blast working on it, especially when I researched videos of dogs doing naughty things. Gosh they’re so cute, it’s hard not to laugh.
  • Mythical Beasts
    Among all the beasts, I got the chance to do my interpretation of the werewolf. Showing a bit of my workflow. It was quite a challenge, yet lots of fun!

I’ve been teaching

This year I’ve been both talking, and mentoring. Really enjoyed it, and I hope to get more opportunities next year. Even though public speaking is not my strongest side, I still feel motivated to learn how to do good talks. Imagine how cool it would feel to get rid of that stage fright, and actually enjoy standing on a stage. I’m so happy I said yes when I got the offer.

One of my videos went somewhat viral

Suddenly, earlier this spring, my inbox started to get flooded with notifications. People started commenting like crazy on one of my videos. The one above to be exact. It had a couple of thousand views, then suddenly spiked up to 30k within a few hours. Today, as we speak, it got over 400k views and still counting. Whoah. Thank you so much. At the same time, it’s been so frustrating not having time to make new ones. I’m currently planning to producing videos again, so it’s good to know that many of you appreciate my tutorials and walk throughs :) Can’t wait until I can start uploading again.

Give a warm welcome to our new bunny

This little cutie moved in last summer. I’ve always had a soft spot for bunnies, as I had one as a kid. Been thinking about getting one again, so when I got asked if I wanted to adopt Pärlan(means “The Pearl” in Swedish), I couldn’t resist. And I haven’t regret it :) Now we have two cats and one bunny at home. She’s a free range bunny, and roams in the living room. I let her hop around as she pleases, and she comes to us by herself for cuddles. Zimba is jealous of course but they get along most of the time. He will always be my number one though, or else he’ll have a nervous breakdown or something ;D

From fulltime to part time

This was probably the best decision so far. Last spring I got an opportunity for a new job, where they let me work part time. Now I work 3 days a week there, and spend the rest of the time on freelancing or personal stuff. Working from home. This lifestyle fits a social introvert like me perfectly. Being both available and productive has always been a real challenge for me. How do people do it? There’s been a huge difference these past months in my workflow, thanks to space I’ve been given. I’m a lot happier and effective. Life is good. Hope this way of working gets normalized and socially accepted in the future, I think everyone can benefit from it long term.

Despite 2017 being so busy, I still feel that it’s has been a great one. I’ve grown even more as a person, and learned a lot. Here’s to 2018, I think it’s gonna be fun. Won’t aim too high though, as I barely fulfilled any of the goals I had for this year ;)


That was it, how has your 2017 been?

Christmas coziness and Procreate love

Happy Holidays!

Hope you had a nice and cozy Christmas. Spending quality time with your loved ones, and bingeing yummy food until you pass out, all warm and fuzzy. I’m slowly coming back to reality. Feels like I’ve been hibernating, and despite a cold from hell, things have been just perfect. I’m currently finishing the last bits of christmas snacks and beverage. Slacker style.

Procreate sketch by Noukah

A date with Procreate

I’m so happy right now, got the best christmas gift ever from D. The Apple Pencil, so I can borrow his iPad for drawing. I’m really impressed I must say! Been lying on the couch, while constantly blowing my nose, playing around in Procreate. Insane, how much it reminds you of Photoshop. It has all the features I usually want when I paint digitally. Some of you may know that I’m not an easy person to convince when it comes to styluses. But this time. Wow, my mind is blown. Painted this foxy while getting familiar with all the functions, plus, I love the neat feature that lets you record your painting process. Sure, there’s still a long way to go before this replaces a descent computer, but just being able to casually sit here, scribbling down ideas feels amazing.

“The christmas tree will tip over”

Oh by the way! This is the first time ever that we have an actual full size Christmas tree. We’ve had a tiny one before, that we had to place somewhere high, due to curious cats. But this year, we thought “Let’s go wild!” and get a real one! Sure it’s plastic, but still ;) Anyway, we prepared ourselves mentally, imagining all the broken decoration we’ll have to clean up. All the frustration and f-words when the Christmas tree tips over for the 187265th time, and so on.

And guess what. The tree has been untouched ever wince we got it. All the worrying for nothing. Our pets have been little angels.

I’m planning to kickstart again tomorrow. I feel well enough to take care of the last stuff before the new year. I still need to post a summary of this year, so I can move on to the best part – planning for 2018. I’m really excited.

 

Wishing you all the best, talk to you soon