I’ll be posting updates there while this gets all dusty. =)
This will be the last post in this particular blog and at this particular address; I’m going to be doing some website renovation and some rebranding, which I will come back and post about when it’s all finished so URL’s can be updated and all that. This place won’t be going anywhere, I just want to start using a Blogger blog again for the social-networking tools and ease-of-use.
For now, I’m celebrating finally getting through a waiting list for fanart commissions that at one time stretched six months ahead of me, try as I might to keep up. Again, I thank everyone who commissioned a picture from me – I learned so much from each one and truly enjoyed getting to know all your characters so well. All in all I did thirty-one fanart commissions since I officially opened up for them late in 2011. I remember each one of them so well!
I finished up with the two on the end there, both featuring draenei, which I’ve always found lovely and interesting to draw. The first showed ancient priestess Anatevka visualizing her homeworld of Argus, for which there is very little reference, even in writing. I put it together through lots of screenshots of various draenic structures and environments and some extra resources supplied by the client. The composition was influenced by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, generating a newfound appreciation for his use of perspective and realistic details.
The very last World of Warcraft commission seemed especially fitting; three Alliance races gathered around an Alliance steam tank, featuring a lot of classic Blizzard armor full of whorls and bevels. I always try to balance realism and WoW, but this one just seemed to sing WoW to me, which was perfect for a swan song. I don’t know if Warcraft-inspired work will figure much in my future right now, but I’m glad I rounded out my fanart commissions with one so true to the source.
When I say I don’t know what I’ll be doing in the future in regards to Warcraft fanart, I don’t want to say I will never do any at all ever again ever. I don’t play WoW anymore so it’s no longer really a world I’m interested in, but I still have a lot of nostalgia for it. The one thing I will say is that I will probably never do commissions of such detail and complexity again, at least not at the prices I was. The hours that went into some of these were pretty insane.
While finishing up those fanart pieces I also finished some fine art pictures. I had been working through various studies for the kids and their puppy for several months, and it finally came together on a big 20″x24″ canvas.
It was really fun to paint them again, as I had first painted them in 2003. When I looked back I couldn’t believe how little paint I used then, how much white and how much black (I didn’t even put black on my palette for the one above) and how timid I was with value.
Lastly is a lovable pup for the same client I worked with last year doing pastels of his dog and a friend’s. These are so much fun to do and I almost hate sending them away and no longer having that sweet face in my studio. This is pastels again, mostly Conté pencils, on tinted paper.
I have a few drawings to do this coming week, and then I’m going to start tearing my studio apart to give it a coat of paint and a new floor, as well as an ergonomic desk and chair so my lower back can function properly again. In the meantime, I’m going to be completely rebooting the way I approach drawing and painting as well, because I finally – just last month! – figured out the bridge I need to cross to do what I really want to do. All of those fanart pieces actually helped me to see it was possible, too, and I’m in the middle of writing up an explanation for it all. Suffice to say, it’s one thing to know what you want to draw, but quite another to figure out exactly how it needs to be done.
But that’s another blog for another… blog.
Winter is really being winter here in the northeast. We had an extremely mild winter last year so I was welcoming the cold and snow, but now that it’s February I’m starting to get nostalgic about those warm summer evenings when birds and frogs and insects are making noises outside and the breeze is cool. And the sun goes down a little bit later than 6PM.
January was still productive despite winter and despite a week-long battle with the flu that set me behind a bit. I’d gone to see The Hobbit and ended up seated right in front of two people coughing, and thought, oh dear, it’s the end for me. Three days later I was congested and then spent a week on the couch watching Food Network, the Travel Channel and falling in love with Top Gear. So some good things came out of it, and they were otherwise very good seats for The Hobbit.
I completed two more World of Warcraft Fanart pieces, for the same player, who I’ve known a long time and watched her characters through her writing and roleplaying when I was playing WoW. First we have Lirriel, the young human priestess:
And then we have Daevra the Draenei mage and her little friend Blossom. Of all of Blizzard’s races I’ve always liked Draenei the most; to me, at least, they were very original, and brought a neat sci-fi flavor to the usual fantasy elements. Plus they were beautifully designed and I enjoyed playing one (or two or three) for a couple years. So it was great fun to revisit them and tackle DEM LEGS:
I have two more Draenei pieces to do in February, and then I’ll be taking a break from World of Warcraft fanart. Now that I’m no longer playing I’ve got so many other worlds and ideas in my head, some original and some from other places, and I really want to take some time to study, too. I rounded off my collection of Andrew Loomis books this past Christmas (at least from the new reprints from Titan Books, save for Fun with a Pencil which I don’t think is out yet) and I really want to go through them slowly and carefully and apply all that to my work. As well as just draw. Like spend a whole month just drawing. Speaking of Fun with a Pencil!
I am finally almost all caught up with Sam’s Friends and did a batch of kitty charcoals in January. I’ve enjoyed these so much and just need to sort out some things to offer more in February. I want to get a website up for Sam’s Friends just to have everything in one place, and of course I’m arguing with myself if I should wait to offer more until the website goes up or just offer them and handle stuff as it happens. I’ll probably do the latter. More kitties need to be saved!
So heading into February head down and into this chilly, snowy wind. But it won’t last much longer, and it’ll be good to have it done. Spring always brings in all kinds of new things.
Twenty fan art commissions. Two digital paintings. Three pastels of pets. Two oil paintings. A bunch of drawings in pencil and charcoal. A couple of tutorials. A fundraiser for cats. And a partridge in a pear tree.
Okay, not that last one. Let’s not get crazy here.
2012 was a busy year. It was my first year back to work in the art field since 2005. I went from painting airplanes and portraits on canvas and illustration board with an airbrush and oils to working primarily with a Wacom and a computer screen. But there were some traditional media pieces mixed in there. Enough to let me know I won’t be going all digital any time soon, and in fact might be heading back to the easel and brushes more often in the future.
I learned the most, of course, through the challenge of doing the fanart commissions. Never knowing what a client was going to throw at me, every single one of them presented me with an obstacle course filled with “Can I draw that? How do I even begin??” They each taught me something, and each brought more familiarity with my tools and my process. A few stood out as landmarks for learning certain skills I’d been seeking:
Setting the Scene: Alynore
Early on I was given the opportunity to paint this World of Warcraft paladin in her purple Judgement gear, and I was lucky to be fairly familiar with the character and her history. I could clearly see her walking out of her bedroom in the morning, all geared up for the day, but pausing before a picture of the Outlands, where she was born. This was the first picture where I really felt the environment and the character came together to tell the story, in part due to some accurate perspective work. I remember sitting on the floor measuring the angles of a bookcase I have just inside my studio in order to figure out hers. It remains a favorite of mine for its simplicity and clarity.
The Perfect Figure: The Flame Witch
Sometimes, not having a background can be a very good thing. For Lady Kaienna, whom I renamed The Flame Witch, release from the complexities of an environment allowed me to concentrate entirely on the figure. Everything about her, from her skin tones to her pose to her portrait to the way her clothes hung on her frame, came together to create an eye-pleasing whole. It remains my favorite character painting of the whole year, and proved to me I could create a strong, original character design without depending on a reference photo. More like five or ten reference photos, to be honest, all used together to create a person who hadn’t existed before.
The Subtleties of Light: Hathrien
The key to my fantasy paintings lies in visualization, sometimes hours of it, wedged into those times of the day when we really don’t need to be thinking of anything else: teeth-brushing times, showering, exercising, going to sleep at night, cooking and cleaning. Sometimes I visualize things I’ll be really excited about but have no idea how to actually do. Such was the case of Hathrien, Blood Elf mage perched on a ledge in Ulduar, lit by a starry sky, a glowing orb off-canvas behind him, and the magical frost in his hands. I had never given two light sources equal importance before; this wasn’t just a matter of tossing on some rim lights. I ended up using some elaborate lighting setups in my bathroom to take some pictures of Sweet Bartholomew, my handy 12″ man, and carefully translated what I saw real light do into the painting. Light is one of those things that demands the utmost respect. In fact, there wouldn’t be any art without it. I don’t think I honestly revere any other aspect of art quite as much as the interplay between light and shadow, and for that alone this painting remains dear to me.
Chaos Composed: The Spider, the Shield, and the Architect
For the longest time, I have had a dreadful fear of composition. My beginnings in art were rooted in drawing one thing or another; I would copy a photograph or I would draw a still life of a houseplant, but I never tried to make a picture. Since my first classes in the art field in 2007 I lived in honest terror of my lack of composition skills. Sure I knew about the rule of thirds, the Golden Rectangle, all that jazz. I knew about balance and cropping and negative space, the geometric lines behind every form and how they interact and all that other weird abstract stuff that I never could seem to put to use, mostly because I was too busy trying to accurately draw what I wanted to draw.
Magical things happen the more practiced the basics become. This year gave me a lot of confidence in drawing figures, in lighting figures, in creating settings in accurate perspective. When released from worry over all *those* things, I finally could sit down and play with a composition, sometimes mentally, sometimes with lines and shapes in thumbnails. Although all my pictures from the past year have some aspects of composition applied to them, this one, finished right at the end, really proves its worth. There is no way all these things could be chucked into a picture and *make sense* without having a strong composition behind them. Is it the triangle made by their heads? The lines of direction created by their gazes, or by the light? The horizontal separation between light and dark? All these things? Composition is subtle and it is silent – moreso than any other artistic foundation I’ve worked with – it happens without words. The right brain knows exactly what it’s doing though, if given the opportunity to go to town. When I first gathered lists of details and mountains of references for this painting, I had NO IDEA how I was going to make it work. Yet somehow, work it did.
In the end, now entering this year, I feel like I’ve been given a gift. For the longest time I’ve said I don’t know what I’d draw if people didn’t ask for drawings; I don’t know what I’d paint unless someone gave me something to paint. That was never really true. I’ve been writing stories for a very long time, and my head has always been full of things to draw and paint. I just never had the tools to bring them out of my head and onto the paper or canvas or monitor. But this year proved to me that I do have the tools, and the ability to use them well.
So in 2013 I’m going to be taking a distinct turn from what I’ve always done with my art. I’ve been painting for other people for a long time; now I’m going to take some time to paint for myself. I’d like to develop my personal style, which I still think is lacking, and polish up some aspects of movement and expression. I have a few fanart commissions to finish up, but then I’ll be concentrating on filling out my portfolio with some original, personal pieces. And we’ll see what happens after that. There are lots of stories to tell and pictures to create, and certainly not all of them mine.
Oh, and let’s not forget THERE ARE CATS TO RESCUE. Very important.
So November passed and I finally got things into gear. You know all my experiments about finding the right time to work? Getting up at 5AM and all that? Well I did some real studying of my routine and finally found the sweet spots in my day. It is incredibly helpful – if you have the ability in your work – to plan your day around your energy and concentration levels. Ends up I’m more of a “day” person but my prime hours are sort of scattered through the mid-morning and early evening. Breaks get distributed, motivation remains high, and stuff gets done.
Those two Warcraft paladins from October got to fighting, and I went crazy with a blazing sunset behind them:
Then we moved forward to another backlit Blood Elf, the Ranger Theronil:
And after him, lovely Stormwind event hostess Wendy:
These are all World of Warcraft fanart commissions for players, and I’ve got a handful more I’d like to finish up by early next year. Then I’m going to go back to the drawing board for a while and figure out some new approaches. I’d like to offer some different things that are a bit more punchy while at the same time being a bit more time/cost effective for me. So stay tuned! Cool things are coming.
I also did a little oil painting for Sam’s Friends fundraiser. I haven’t done an oil painting of an animal in oh, probably eight years or so. Boy, did I enjoy it! I really enjoyed painting, too, compared to digital painting, especially since my working computer has been struggling some lately. I’m seriously considering trying some illustrative art in oils, just to see what it would be like. For now, we have Ralphy:
Speaking of oil paintings, I also finished a digital rough for the kids and doggie painting I’ll start on in January. It’s going to be big and is fairly complicated, so painting it out digitally helped me figure it out and “experience” it in a way before heading to paint and canvas. Now this, I have to say, is a great use for digital painting. No brushes to clean, either!
Last but not least – it’s December! And I dearly love the holidays. I’m doing a little thing for Sam’s Friends kind of like Heifer Fund and some other charities do – make a donation as a gift to someone, and I’ll send them a special holiday greeting card. You can find out more at the Art for Cats Facebook page at www.facebook.com/artforcats . Plus I just wanted to put a hat and scarf on Sam:
With that I’ll wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season! And hopefully a productive December despite the eggnog.
I guess I haven’t had a real update post in a while. Things have been VERY busy. The Indiegogo fundraiser for NEPA Animal Adoption Network has had me drawing cats in every moment of my spare time, which has been great, don’t get me wrong; it raised $1,892 in donations, helping 40 cats get rescued from the abandoned trailer park and vetted, spayed/neutered, and helped on their way to healthy new lives in safe new homes. In the meantime, Sam himself has been growing and putting on weight and getting more and more comfortable as part of the family. He is still my little poster child for homeless cats, and our work isn’t done yet!
I still have a number of drawings and paintings to complete for the fundraiser perks, but once they are finished I plan on continuing to offer a limited number each month with the donations all going to NEPA AAN for their continued work. I probably won’t get to it until next year, though, so in the meantime here is a sample of some of the many cats drawn already (with many thanks to their owners for their donations!)
Even with all the cats, I did manage to get two parts of a three-part World of Warcraft commission finished, Hamlen the Blood Elf Blood Knight and Nevsky the Human Paladin:
Their armor was incredibly intricate and took forever to draw and paint. I’m currently working on a big scene of them dueling on a beach. It starts off something like this:
I’m hoping to finish it this week. It was scheduled for last week, but Hurricane Sandy swept in, took out our power for two days, and made everything a chaotic mess for a while. Now that everything has settled down I’m looking forward to getting into my commissions list and really getting some things done. I have fanart commissions scheduled solid until Christmas Eve (if I can hopefully get them all done by then) along with the cat drawings and paintings and an oil painting I’m prepping as well. I did get the composition sketch finished for it before Sandy hit:
I painted these same kids back in 2004, and it’s kind of neat to be revisiting them all these years later. This will be a big 20″x24′ oil painting, so I’m doing a couple roughs beforehand to make sure everything is set before I put paint to canvas. It’s nice to have some long-term projects to work on a little at a time!
For now I’m closing commissions, fan art or otherwise, for the next several months, not only to get caught up but also to work on some personal works to fill out my portfolio further. I’ve really enjoyed all the World of Warcraft and other gaming/fantasy fanart commissions I’ve done over the past year, and they’ve taught me a lot about process and painting. Now it’s time to apply all that to some fully realized illustrations and see what comes together.
It also happens to be my favorite time of year. A few little snowflakes were spinning down earlier today, and I’d just baked some fresh cinnamon rolls. A real boost to the spirits after everything this fall!
So Electric City is the arts and entertainment weekly newspaper for the Scranton area here, and they were awesome enough to interview me about Sam’s Friends and my art:
If you’re stopping by here after reading the article – thanks for looking in! You can find Sam’s Fundraiser right on the sidebar there if you’d like to donate or share (and please do share!) and if you’d like to join in the fun with Sam (and Friends) check out his Facebook Page, Twitter and Tumblr.
All my various networking things are listed to the right there! —->
Many thanks to Tom Graham and Electric City for the interview!
For those who read my blog but don’t follow me elsewhere, or for those who want to know more of what is going on with the cat thing, this is the story of a cat named Sam, his friends, and a big idea.
Things wash around on Facebook. We see photos of people’s vacations and pets and lunches, little inspirational pictures or humorous cartoons, so on and so forth. A lot of these just scroll by. I was scrolling along one day early in the summer when suddenly there were pictures of cats. Shared and re-shared, with a big block of text above them. Near the small town where I live, a mobile home park had been closed (I had read about this earlier in the spring) and as the tenants relocated, they left a number of cats behind. Not just three or four. More like thirty or forty.
A lot of cats. Cats who had once been housepets (one heartbreaking story told of a cat who was still in his trailer, using his litterbox like a good boy, waiting for his family to return) and cats who had lived on the fringes, relying on the tenants generosity. People feed stray cats. The stray cats got used to the people and multiplied. It happens everywhere.
Now the people were gone and the cats had no sure source of food and water. It was a hot and difficult summer. They started starving, fighting each other for food, and dying in the heat. It was utterly sad and tragic.
But it was all there on Facebook because a local animal rescuer was out there doing something about it. NEPA Animal Adoption Network was taking up food and kiddie-pools of water and humane traps to get the cats out of there. Skinny cats, beat-up cats, fluffy cats you wanted to put on your lap and wild-looking scared-to-death cats. One of the latter caught my eye, these big yellow-green eyes looking so sad and so lost as he huddled back in his trap. He was designated “possibly feral” but I still thought he was the face of the whole thing. Left behind, frightened, surviving the best he could, and so worn thin by the whole ordeal.
Anyone who loves and lives with cats knows this is just plain wrong. Cats are meant to be these gorgeous relaxed living furs that drape over your furniture and into sunbeams. Cats slide around your house on their daily patrols or trot up with tails up when you get cheese out of the refrigerator. They gallop down stairs and curl up like warm fuzzy pillows and brighten every room with their gem-like eyes. The Egyptians had it right to worship them. A cat at its best is something to behold.
And that’s not even counting when they like you. Dogs lavish you with attention; cats honor you with theirs. A rub from a cat, a cheerful chirp of a morning greeting, a deep-throated purr nuzzling into your arms – well, I needn’t say any more about that.
So I see these cats and this rescue effort, and I have to do something. So of all the photos popping up in my Facebook stream, I choose that one with the big yellow-green eyes and the sad face. ”I’ll do a drawing of him,” I say, “and auction it and donate the proceeds.” That soothed my conscience.
Then, a few weeks later, that same face appeared again. URGENT, the accompaning post said, NEEDS HOME TONIGHT. If he didn’t get a home, he’d be taken to a sanctuary with the other feral cats. He even had his ear snipped like a feral. But he wasn’t quite so untamed. He was rolling over for belly rubs. He was *purring* when he was pet.
There is enormous power in a cat’s purr. Just reading about it, I was in tears, and soon asking my mother if we could share the house with just One. More. Cat.
We’ve had two for the last five or six years. Two is manageable. Two is a good, sensible number of cats. They are both mature adults who get along. What if this thought-to-be-feral rescue cat ends up peeing all over? Or making our two nice calm boys pee all over? What if they don’t get along? What if he destroys the furniture?
But look at his Sad Face. He was PURRING.
So that night I said I would take him. I just had to. He was my poster-child for this whole emotional feline trip. I called him Sam and despite other ideas for names, Sam seemed to stick. Then I had to wait a week to get him because we were watching my brother’s three children and a house with three children was no place for an already traumatised cat.
I’m not good at waiting. I wonder if everything will work out. I get anxious that it won’t. I never second-guessed my decision to adopt Sam. I just hoped he would be there when I could get him, and I hoped my cats would be good with him, and that he could resume being a happy cat laid out in a sunbeam very very soon.
In the middle of this week, now knowing I was personally involved in the whole rescue effort, I realized just auctioning a drawing off wasn’t enough. That’s when I got the idea for an online fundraiser. I had seen it work for several others, so I thought I might as well try. There’s really nothing to lose.
So I planned while counting down the days to get Sam. I planned while setting up his room. I planned when I finally met him, and sat by him petting him and hearing that comforting purr for myself. It took a while to get together, but just this past Saturday I hit the “Go Live” button and “Sam’s Friends” went online at Indiegogo: http://www.indiegogo.com/samsfriends
I have no idea if it will work. I have no idea how much money it will make, but all of it goes towards helping the cats, and every penny is appreciated. I feel it’s something more, however; something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: Use my artwork to bring awareness to a cause. It happened to blossom into Art for Cats. And I have no idea where Art for Cats will go, after the 45 days of the Indiegogo campaign. I don’t want to stop helping Sam’s Friends and I also don’t know what else I might draw and paint for now, either.
It’s the start of something, thanks to a sad-faced cat and the amazing rescuers of NEPA AAN.
Please check out the Indiegogo campaign – it will stay on my sidebar here until it’s over. Donate if you can, and please share with friends and family. It’s not just about rescuing some cats. It’s about giving a little bit and seeing what good can be done. Like every warm purr at the end of a long day.
I’m not a big fan of summer. There’s something tedious about the warm, sunny days, interspersed only with the occasional bout of rain or thunderstorm. It might just be the constant heat, and I’m not a fan of heat. With September arriving I look so forward to the cooler nights, more variable weather, and shorter days. There’s just something so cozy about winter.
August was also terrifically busy for me, as well, with a lot of family and friends and non-artsy projects that slipped in and ate up my time. I always try to throw some new things into my life after my birthday, and this year was no different. I started the Couch to 5k running program, which I’ve been wanting to do for years, and three weeks in it’s still going great! I also adopted a new cat pretty spontaneously, but that’s a special story for an upcoming post, coming soon.
So with all that and more going on, I only got one fanart commission completed. I think it’s the first one that has involved two characters together, which was a challenge with posing and composition. It was a bit more dramatic than I usually go, so I had a lot of fun with it.
Early in the month I managed to post a giant tutorial on how to apply Classical painting techniques to digital work, which I posted over on DeviantArt. It was kind of a massive undertaking, and I’m not entirely thrilled with my example, but at least I got something out there. Examples can always be updated!
As much as I enjoyed doing both the painting and the drawing tutorials, what they really did was get me looking closely at my own work again. I think it’s easy to start cutting corners when you get into doing a lot of consecutive paintings, and creating the tutorials really made me pause and look at my own process. There’s always room for improvement, and with my next few works I’m going to push a little farther in the direction I want to go, with a greater concentration on studies and solid drawings and more subtle variations in color. I find the farther I go towards realism through good drawing and lighting, too, the more free I can be with the actual painting. That’s something I really want to explore, because I’ve always been a very tedious painter, all wrapped up in details and trying to make brush strokes disappear. I’d love to finally get into some more expressive brushwork.
So I’m looking forward to putting the busyness (and hotness!) of August behind me and really tucking in and getting some cool new stuff done in September. There are going to be cat pictures, possibly Star Trek, and a serious World of Warcraft triptych. Stay tuned!
Quick post, as I’m running behind a bit, but I wanted to post what I finished in July. I’m still in the process of doing some transitioning (my DeviantArt account is now dianekraus.deviantart.com instead of dekraus.deviantart.com and my website will eventually change as well, though the URL of this blog will remain the same) but things are in the works. You might notice some works signed “dekraus” and newer ones signed “Diane Kraus.” I figured I’d better start getting my name out there!
At any rate, I definitely got a good amount of work done this past July.
I started off with LOTS OF PENCIL. Which was kind of refreshing, especially since I hadn’t finished anything in pencil in a long time. Sketches just aren’t the same thing; to finish a pencil drawing requires, for me, a lot of tracing paper and slow building-up of detail. I think I went through six or seven sheets to get the final version of The Lambs, a writer’s cast of characters, early in July:
After The Lambs, I had another WoW roleplayer’s character to draw, and again with a bit of freedom from the game universe, which I always enjoy. This was inspired by a safari outfit, and then the horse was added, and the whole scene built up from there. It was great fun to do a horse!
After that I got back into the digitally painted WoW commissions, starting with Lady Kaienna, who earned the name The Flame Witch while I was painting her. I was especially happy with this one; everything just seemed to come together beautifully and was a joy to paint.
Between that fanart commission and the next, I revisited Theryl from June and repainted her face. I’m still not sure I’m in love with it, but I think it’s a bit of an improvement from the first version. Sometimes things just demand to be tweaked, especially after I’d spent all that time on her armor.
Lastly was another complex WoW fanart commission, of young elven mage Hathrien hanging out in the ruins of Ulduar, high up in the northern part of the world. Northrend and Storm Peaks especially had been some of my favorite zones in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, so it was great to revisit them for this painting. I also took the opportunity to experiment with using two light sources, one behind the figure and one held in his hands. The shadows on his face were a challenge but the final effect very rewarding.
Early in the month I had written up a tutorial on how to build a drawing, not focusing on any particular drawing techniques but rather the process of setting up, organizing, and working through a drawing. It ended up being my most favorited submission on DeviantArt, which I really appreciated seeing. Teaching the foundations of art is something I hold rather dear, as the topic of creating art can be so massive as to span initial inspiration and creativity to the finer points of Photoshop filters. What it really all gets down to, though, is a pencil and a piece of paper and taking the time to draw something simple like an apple or an egg. And then whole worlds open up once those basics are mastered. I’m currently in the middle of a tutorial on using classical techniques to paint digitally, again focusing on the basics of relating color to value and painting in lights and shadows. I’m not yet as comfortable as I wish I was in my own work, but I do find every time I explain something to others I work a little better myself. There is something about that “Learning from teaching” that always rubs off when I follow my own advice.
August is going to be very busy around here with birthdays and family events, but I have commissions lined up and some other projects I hope to get to as well. I am looking forward to September so much, not just for the cool weather, but for the change of pace the autumn always brings!