Category Archives: The Art Project

Spring Cleaning my Computer

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As you can tell my computer is under construction at the moment, so it’s hard to make any digital drawings come to life right now. I’m learning how to insert additional hard drives, format stuff and taking the time to sort all my 200 000 images and photos. I can’t say it’s fun, but it was well needed and long overdue. Having the perfect backup and everything from 2003 neatly organized in folders is…extremely satisfying, haha! I organized my Art Project sketch books while I was at it and started filling my 7th book. I actually feel quite inspired, and as soon as I got my computer up and running I want to paint some nature stuff. Doing digital studies of fruit, trees and flowers makes me relax.

Other than that I’ve been preparing the Art Contest for Nordic Game (stop by and say “hi” if you happen to be there this week), mixing some smoothies and visiting the amazing mega aquarium Den Blå Planet in Denmark last weekend with my childhood friends! It was super awesome, my favorite species there has to be the Common Sea Dragon. It looks like a tiny version of the dead horses pulling the carts to Hogwarts. It’s also the inspiration for the Pokémon Dragalge (I guess?!).

More art next week, just wanted to make a post to tell you guys I’m still alive : ) Write me a comment if you know about any additional cool creatures living in the sea, I love weird looking animals!

A Different Mindset

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Found a pack of water colors in my drawer last week, so played around and explored a bit, making some rough quickies. Pretty soon found out I did not have the right kind of paper to make it work, but it was fun non the less! Been doing some thinking about creativity and art. Actually meditating a bit on my workout routine got me thinking. I mean, why is it that I make progress, have so much fun and just get into flow with the workout, but all of that seems to be lacking in my art at the moment? I really feel nothing when I put pen to paper, and I get easily distracted.

The funny thing is, I enjoy the workout so much, but I almost never post about it, talk about it or share it with others. When it comes to art I document it all, and mostly I think about a reason for doing art. I got two widely different mindsets for my art and my exercise, and one seems to be working much better. It’s like making an image in itself isn’t enough on it’s own (which it should be, as my friends pointed out when posting about this on Facebook). When going to the gym, each time there makes me feel…good. I feel like I had fun, like the workout on its own was worth something more than just the act of lifting heavy junk or running fast. I think I might be looking at the wrong place, when it comes to art. Earlier when posting about the Art Project I mentioned that the end goal was to level up my skills to be able to express myself trough art. I think that might have been the goal in the beginning, but the goal has changed somewhere along the way.

I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but I think there is no “end goal” for my art. I think it has to be viewed on it’s own, that the process is the most important thing, just like with the gym sessions. I don’t have an end goal with working out, except that it will help me stay healthy in the long run, and it makes me feel good for the moment. Thinking about art as something that I need to grind is perhaps wrong. Of course I need to practice if I want to get better at it, but I think I need to look at it from the other way. I got a passion for working out, and I view each session on its own, and therefor I get better at it. I lift heavier and run longer as a result. The passion becomes the driving force, not the need to level up or the grind. When I think about it that’s the very reason I started drawing as a kiddo. I had a passion for making images, never thinking about if they were good or not, and the passion made me do more images, and as a result the images got better and better. I do knowledge that the push I’ve done the last 2,5 years has made a huge difference for the quality of my images, but I do think it’s time to step out of the cave and start focusing on the joy in the process.

Now I just need to figure out how. It would be interesting to hear your toughs on this, so feel free to write me a comment.

Sketch Book Pages

 

Here’s a batch of my sketch book pages, along with a digital study of a face and a page full of ideas for a horror game that’s probably never going to get any further than this. I’m slowly starting to feel motivated to create art again. Last few months there has not been to much art business going on, for several reasons. Mainly I need to focus on paid work, and I honestly feel too exhausted when I get home. I guess my creativity is in some kind of hibernation at the moment, but two weeks ago I finally felt like I got both the time and the motivation to draw and paint again! Also, my apartment is pretty much a mess since I’m refurnishing and cleaning absolutely everything. I figured it was about time to make it more like a home. I’ve been living here for more than a year and haven’t even set up the lamps, haha! The place looks like a dump right now, and my computer has been tucked under my bed for a week, along with my art gear.

I’be been traveling like crazy past three weeks, almost 5 300 kilometers all in all (Earth’s radius is ~6 300 kilometers, just to put this in some context), which has taken its toll on me. I totally love my family, but they are really spread out across the Nordics, so it’s always a bit of a hassle to go see everyone. In one week I’ve been to Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

To kill some time on the train I decided to activate Instagram again, so if you’re on Insta and like to see some drawings in your feed, feel free to follow me!

Rocky Rivers

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Spent some hours painting tonight. Wanted to do this on Sunday, but was a bit too hung over after drinking cheap drinks with my girls on Saturday night. Trying to learn some very tricky stuff, to improve my process, following this tutorial. It’s the same as for the rock I posted a few days before. Making baby steps. Painted for 3 hours before I realized I had done it all in the wrong order, haha! Well, posting these notes and studies anyways. Better luck next time ^__^ Top image is a note study of Shaddy S’s amazing art. Sorry for butchering it, bro.

Living With Dyslexia

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First things first. I’m no expert on dyslexia. I’m no doctor. If you think you got dyslexia please contact your doctor and ask for options to help you deal with this learning disability. I’m writing this to share my story. Perhaps this post can help someone else, at least I hope so : ] Let me know in the comments if you have dyslexia and how you deal with it.

Just writing this post in English is a major accomplishment for me. I absolutely hated learning English when I went to school as a kid. I’m native in Swedish and Finnish, and learning three languages at the same time can be a real challenge for any kid, not only for those suffering from dyslexia. I started to attend my English classes when I was 10. To me learning this new language was like trying to break the Enigma code. Frustrating, boring and to me totally impossible. Nothing made any sense, everyone else seemed to get it while all my exams came back with red ink all over them, cruelly highlighting every single mistake I made. No matter how hard I studied, no matter how much I tried I just felt plain out stupid. I drew lines on my table during class, one for each minute, then stared at the clock an erased them away as the minutes passed, a simple sort of progress bar until I could get out of class and on with the rest of the day. I guess I don’t have to tell you I was not my poor teacher’s favorite student.

Let’s rewind a bit, back to when I was 6. I remember a lot of the kids in my preschool had started to figure out the basics on how to read letters or spell their name at this time. Everyone were so excited to start school, and my friends tried to read out loud all the signs and letters we could see when walking to the park with the class. I was so jealous. Looking at strangely shaped letters and actually seeing a word or a name seemed like pure magic. I was very exited to start school, I just couldn’t wait to learn this awesome new skill!

However, starting school proved to be a very frustrating and at times very overwhelming experience. I’m not really sure when, but after a while it became apparent to both me, my parents and my teachers I was falling behind, my spelling, reading and writing was not developing like it should. I tried just as hard, even harder, than the other kids to learn, but something in my head just seemed…broken. After a while I started to hate reading, I hated the mandatory weekly spelling tests (yeah, we had mandatory weekly spelling tests at my school from when we were 8 or 9 years old and upwards). My teachers tried to help me, they would read out loud my failed attempt at spelling words like “katt” (Cat in Swedish) and said stuff like “but can’t you hear it’s pronounced [katt], with two t’s. If you only use one it’s pronounced “kaaaat”. This made zero sense to me. After a while I just pretended I to understand so they would leave me alone. Mostly I just guessed how to spell.

My brain did it’s best on its own to come up with creative solutions and to make up for what I was lacking in reading and writing. One example is that I loved the idea of writing a diary, but since I just couldn’t get the words right I resorted to drawing each day in my diary, instead of spelling it. I guess my passion for drawing and painting was really born somewhere at this point. I had the best grades in gymnastics and drawing, but I loathed the Swedish classes because they they made me feel stupid, like I was not an equal to my friends, like I had a broken brain. It’s very easy to start feeling alienated and then panic when you realize something is wrong, that no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to fix it. Especially as a child. Feeling inferior, stupid and of less value, almost every day for years or months, is not a good thing for any kid.

Luckily for me I happened to be born in a time when dyslexia had just been “discovered” and starting to gain traction no just among researchers, but also among teachers in Finland. I remember I was so scared when my parents first told me I had something called dyslexia, but after learning more about this condition and taking some tests it felt very good to finally have a name for what I was experiencing. To know that I wasn’t stupid! In my case my dyslexia mostly affected my reading and writing, but I’m also notoriously bad at separating left from right and also have a mild face blindness. My overall coordination of hands and legs are also somewhat lacking (which was a huge challenge when taking ballet classes later). Doing jumping jacks is a serious challenge for me.

Dyslexia don’t affect IQ in any way, but it certainly made me feel less intelligent to my friends and the other kids in the class. Not being able to read or write properly did not feel half as bad as that feeling of being stupid. I know that everyone who has dyslexia probably experience it in their own way. In my case the condition made my spelling super bad, I mixed capital and letter cases, my hand writing was a mess, I flipped “d” and “b” when writing. I often wrote the same word twice and was unable to see this until someone pointed it out for me. When I was reading it felt super exhausting and I had to read every word out loud and slow up until I was 10, which was super annoying for my classmates. I read the letters in the wrong order. My reading was  slow, but I adored stories and tales. Instead of reading books I listened to tons of old tapes containing audio books from the library, sitting in my room, drawing. It was my way of getting into the amazing world of books without having to struggle for hours with each page. So all this time I was drawing stories in my diary, I was listening to stories and loved to craft my own in my head, I even made a small weekly news paper about what was happening in my made up land for my toys and sold it to my family members. I wanted to break into the word of letters and books, I just did not know how.

My school finally helped me out and I got to see a special teacher each week that helped me to understand my dyslexia. I slowly learned how to read and write, and when I was 11 we got computers to my school, which helped a lot. The spell check in Word was my best friend. I was slowly starting to crack the code, and it wasn’t long until I started to write my own short stories, which I absolutely loved doing. But learning a foreign language really felt like starting fresh again with all the issues.

I totally hated it and struggled to get good enough to pass my English exams with little to none extra points. This utter hate towards English (and sooner French) followed me until I was 16. By then I could read and write Swedish without problems, even if I still did a lot of spelling mistakes and performed below average in reading comprehension tests, but I was OK. I was actually more than just “OK”. I wrote two books and a short story at the age around 15 to 16, and even handed the short story to my Swedish teacher for feedback. She gave it back to me with “excellent, never stop writing, Sara!!” written on the last page. I still got those books saved on a floppy disk somewhere.

Then, when starting in my new school after finishing the mandatory one, after turning 16, something just clicked in my brain. It was like I was suddenly able to understand English. I found myself enjoying the English classes more and more. Playing video games certainly helped a lot at this point. I was still far behind my classmates, but at least I was finally understanding and I was making progress. I totally loved the course books that contained chapters from a variety of novels, and even went to the library and borrowed the books in English just to read the rest. Afterwards I held brief presentations for the class (in English) about the book. It was like that last piece about How To English had finally downloaded into my brain and I could run the .exe just like everyone else!

When I started studying video games at university three years later I noticed I was light years behind the average English skills of my class, but ever since I’ve worked hard to make up for all that lost time in school. I got great coaching from people around me, and writing this blog here is a way for me to constantly trying to improve. I still feel sometimes I need to make up to get to the same level as others, but I think I’m closing in on a good enough level quite soon.

Today I have learned how to deal with my dyslexia, and I feel very lucky that I was diagnosed so quickly, meaning that I was able to properly learn or write at all. I still make plenty of spelling errors, and I use the spell check of my web browser on every other word I’m writing in this post. I’ve kinda accepted I’m never going to learn how to spell certain words like because, sincerely, inconvenience, forest and unfortunately (among with välkommen, människa, känner or emot).  I know I need to check and then double check all emails I send  at work(approximately 40-70 each day), and I know I sometimes make spelling errors on my Twitter. To me that’s OK.

When it comes down to my clients however, if I post something for them, I usually spend quite a while obsessing about the spelling, checking and double checking and then triple checking and if I ever make a mistake with the spelling I honestly feel like my whole day is ruined and I get a a brief moment of anxiety where I briefly feel my arms and stomach go numb over the panic. I just don’t want to let others be affected.

On my private Facebook I regularly make spelling mistakes when posting an update, and it annoys me to death, but I just can’t seem to wipe away that last trace of dyslexia, I guess that’s who I am, and I choose to be grateful of all the other things this has given me, like my art. What makes me sad however are when people I know try to make “clever fun” of my spelling mistakes. It briefly makes me feel like when I was 8 or 9 and struggling each day not to feel inferior to my friends and classmates. I have never told my friends about this, but it really makes my heart sink when people try to be funny about my spelling. I’m sure they mean no harm.

I know many people probably judge me on my spelling mistakes as just not caring or being lazy, but the thing is I’ve been playing the game of reading and writing on “hard” my whole life, so honestly I probably put way more time into reading and writing than most people ever will in a lifetime : ) I’m dedicating this post to my 10 year old self, sitting in front of her English books, feeling stupid. I wish I could tell her not to worry : ]

 

Stoned

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Painting an imaginary rock when following a tutorial for how to get the best workflow, experimenting a bit. This means that I try to find a good way to get from sketch to done without wasting time going down dead ends in the process. I have a tendency to do a lot of “happy accidents” when painting, which is both good and bad. So trying to find alternatives and save time. I know the shadow sucks, just put it there to get some feeling of ground. Thanks for looking!

 

Angel of Death

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First thing I’ve painted in five weeks, inspired by the angel that killed the kids when Moses wanted to free his people from slavery in Egypt (saw “Exodus” today and it sucked LOL). I think my wrist has finally healed enough.

If you feel like ordering any of my stuff as a high quality print then here’s a promo link that gives you free world wide shipping until Sunday the 8th: http://society6.com/saracasen?promo=ZPM8YRNRZ9DX : )

Space Dog

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First proper art update in a while. I’m not kidding when I say I just got so much to do right now. Maybe a little too much, perhaps. I’m doing my best to prioritize important things that have to be done from the less important stuff. It’s super hard to find a healthy work/life balance, but I’m trying my best. Running my own has probably proven to be the most challenging quest I have even embarked upon when it comes to work. I totally love all the exciting projects I’ve been part of during the last 11 months, but sometimes it gets very lonely. The hardest part has been the isolation and the stress. I’m one of those annoying extroverts, I need a big dose of social interaction each day to function properly. I need a team and I need other people around me to perform on an optimal level. If you’re an introvert reading this, then imagine it like you chose to sit in a crowded open work space each day, spending a big chunk of your time in meetings, brainstorming. In loud music. Heh.

Also, I decided to cut my hair last week. Funny thing is that some people won’t even recognize me, while others they don’t seem to notice I cut away 2/3 of my hair. Feels really good to have it short. Less work maintaining and it dries so much faster after taking a shower : )
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Trains

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This week has been totally crazy and a tiny bit exhausting, to say the least! I went to Göteborg and back on Tuseday, Karlshamn and back on Wednesday and Ädelfors and home again on Thursday. Friday was spent catching up with all the needed paperwork, sending 1000 emails and the monthly breakfast with all the other teams sharing my office space. I always prefer to have too much to do over having nothing to do, but spending 17 hours on trains across Sweden takes its toll. Especially when I was planning on working those hours as normal on the train, but realized my 3G and the Wi Fi was of very poor quality at times…hehe.

Anyways, stuff is getting done and I met some very exciting people this week, especially when attending the meetings up in Ädelfors. I’m part of a board helping the Ädelfors’s school of game design improve their education. The education caters to young people with some kind of autism, and is meant to prepare and boost them for higher education.

I really feel like its super valuable all talent in a society gets the chance it deserves, not matter if you need special care or special attention or don’t fit into norms. All human brains are valuable. It may sound a bit strange, but I’m always thinking that if everyone gets the chance to participate we can all move towards a better place together, that we can’t afford to lose out on talent and individuals due to stuff like race, sexual orientation or special needs.

The next breakthrough in fighting cancer, or the next Picasso or the next stellar game developer could be out there right now, fighting to even get the chance to go to school or fit into society. If I can help kids with autism get into the games industry we might get some cool games we would otherwise have missed out on. To improve the state of video games we need to tell more different stories, and the only way to do so is to get different kinds of people into making games. I’m also pretty sure that game development in many cases could be a very nice fit for some of these kids over at Ädelfors. A lot of them are extremely creative and already super skilled with computers : )

Looking Forward

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My painting “Last Chance” is now up for sale as a high quality print over at Society6! Click here to head over to my page! I’ll love to hear your feedback on the delivery time, quality etc if you decide to get anything from the site.

I’m still a bit blown away by the reception this image got when I uploaded it to my Twitter and Facebook < 3 I want to extend a big, warm “thank you” to all my friends, followers, peers, Sketch Jam Group, former colleagues and Internet strangers who have cheered and supported my during my Art Project! You guys have been such a huge part of this. If there’s anything I’ve learned since I embarked on my quest to paint a little less sucky 2,5 years ago, it must be that it’s almost impossible to do anything like this alone. To really grow and learn something you need to be able to share ideas and learn from other, more skilled people. This goes for art as well as all other kinds of skills or hobbies. You absolutely need to put your stuff out there to get proper feedback in order to move forward. Find a way to make it work. The Internet is just packed with knowledge and communities, you just need to look for them. Take your time and don’t give up. If you really want something you’ll get it. And sometimes you don’t know what you want and you feel like everything you craft is the worst ever and you feel like giving up.

If you feel like that, then take a nap. Take a brake, go outside for a walk. Be easy on yourself sometimes. But even slow progress is progress. Sharing my stuff with my friends and other artists have often given me that boost I’ve needed to carry on, one image at a time, towards learning the basics of Photoshop and image making.

I do feel like I have a long way to go still, and that makes me happy! I realize how much there is to learn about light and color and form and shape etc, and instead of feeling overwhelmed I’m happy for the journey I have ahead of me : )

It feels like I’ve entered a new part of my Art Project. It’s no longer about grinding stuff, it’s about taking my time with each piece and also trying to put some emotion into it. It’s no longer about “getting better at it”. There’s something more to it now. Something deeper. Joined a Skype group of artists as well, some former students from a computer graphic school, and it helps to battle the loneliness I feel in front of my computer when drawing sometimes.

Other than that I’ve finally revamped my “Art” section here on the blog. Over the years I’ve tried different kinds of gallery plugins to display my images, and none of them has really been a perfect fit, so now I’m just going along with the standard WordPress gallery solution. Here’s a preview of what the “Art” page looks like after the update, I like it much better!

new_artThe images I’ve included are stuff that really means a lot to me, or that I’m particularly happy about. They are images that reminds me of my victories, insights and what I strive to include in my coming pictures. I know you should never feed your ego too much, but I think there’s a big difference between using your previous accomplishments to boost your motivation and help you stay on the road of progress VS settling down inside your comfort zone and feed your ego all day long (hint: settling down and feeding your ego is not the way to go). To finish of my ramblings, here’s a really old attempt I did at painting a landscape in 2011, hehe!

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