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New Daily Journal

In the first blog post of this series detailing how I organize my time, materials and ideas for art making, I wrote about the daily journal that I maintain. Having my daily journal keeps me mentally focused and moving in one direction. At a glance, I can easily see what I’ve gotten done, and where I need to apply more of my time and energies.

My daily journal is last thing that I touch on my desk at night, and the first thing I touch in the morning. It’s important that it be at my right hand when I sit down to work in the morning. This morning, I finally had to come to terms with the fact that my current daily journal will ‘run out’ as of the 31st of March. My new daily journal would have to be put together. The sooner the better!

New daily journal:

A few weeks ago, I picked up a new blank journal at Suomalainen Kirjakauppa. It’s a little different from my current daily journal. The book itself is a little larger. The paper is thicker, nicer paper too. There’s also a dot graph, instead of a grid on the pages.

The covers are hard book board, with a large wire spiral as a binding. The spiral is large enough for a pen to fit into, which I like. There are red roses illustrated in red ink on the covers, which I’m not fond of. But, it’s not a big deal, because I can just cover it with something I like better.

Large wire spiral bindings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. My husband detests all spiral bindings. He’s left-handed, so they can be terrifically frustrating for him to write in. I like how the spiral binding allows the book to lay completely flat. I just can’t seem to trust the bullet journals bindings. There’s a part of me that feels as though it’s going to snap shut while I’m writing in it.

Additional parts:

This particular blank journal holds only four months of the year. Believe it or not, this was a point in the books favour. I knew that I would be adding a few new features within my daily journal. These four months give me some time to see if I like the new categories and slightly altered layouts without committing to an entire year.

I’ve added a page at the beginning of each month that is simply a list of the days of the month. There’s also a sticker with the month for 2021 for reference as well. One of the things that I wanted to become better at was long-term planning for the different projects that I work on. This page will let me know (again, at a glance) when I need to post the twice weekly blogs, Go Marielle, a new monthly newsletter as well as other yet to be revealed projects.

The layout for each individual day has also been altered. I’ve added new, separate sections for Go Marielle and the monthly newsletter. And I’ve changed around some headings for each of the different sections so that they better reflect what they actually are about. “Computer Work” was too broad a term. It’s now “Social Media and Marketing”. This just makes more sense.

Colour coding:

Colour coding has always been something that I delight in creating. My favourite element of art is colour. I know when I see green in my daily journal, it has to do with art production. I’ve made yellow the colour for the blog entry category. There are a few new colours have been added for the new categories too.

When putting together my new daily journal, one thing that I wanted to make neater was the colour coding for my categories. My previous daily journal was a little scribbly and less precise than I wanted it to be. I use Stabilo highlighters to colour code my daily journal. Sometimes the highlighters smear the ink if I write first, then highlight.

The solution was to create a template that I would use to add the coloured highlights to each individual page first. Creating the template wasn’t difficult. A page from the back of the new journal was removed. The grid on the page allowed me to easily see where I wanted to create the rectangular holes in the template. The paper template was transferred to a heavier piece of paper and was ready to use.

Blue, green, purple, pink, yellow, yellow, repeat:

The template came together quickly. It took much longer to add each colour to four months of pages. The template was cut so that I just had to align the bottom edge and the first vertical row of dots. Then I added the highlighter colours. While the colours are applied in a much neater manner than my current daily journal, it doesn’t bother me that they aren’t perfect.

The paper is thicker in this new daily journal, so the highlighter doesn’t show through. This made me happier than I thought it would. I use the bright shades of Stabilo highlighters. Sometimes the ink can pop-through the paper a little, especially when you go over something twice or more.

Writing in everything:

By the time I had finished using the template to add in my colours for different sections, they were dry enough to write on. Here again, I decided to make some changes. Stabilo Point 88 Fine Line pens in colour are being used to write over top of the highlighter in each section.

I’ve written each individual day of the month at the top of each page in black permanent fine line pen. I’m also using this same pen to write the list of days as well. I need to add the numbers of the week on the individual pages. As of the time that I’m writing this blog post, I have a lot to write into my new daily journal still!

So, now what?

Well, I need to finish all of the writing for starters! There are also some additional design elements that I want to add, like divider lines between different categories for one. I’m confident that I’ll be ready to use my new daily journal on 1 April 2021!

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Tuesday!

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Computer Filing

Keeping my tools, materials and supplies relatively organized is easy for me to accomplish. The deluge of photographs and graphics I create is another matter entirely. While the aforementioned tools, materials and supplies are three-dimensional and more or less, in my face all the time. Computer files are formless little strings of numbers that I only see when working on my laptop.

I freely acknowledge that I need a better ways of organizing myself in the digital realm. For heaven’s sake! I’m still working on an old MacBook Pro I purchased used seven years ago! Don’t get me wrong. I’m not belly-aching about wanting/needing a new laptop. My laptop has done yeoman’s duty for me. And I’m very thankful for Omena (Her hard drive name).

For me, it’s not necessarily about the computer I have to work with, but what I can accomplish with said computer. The big question is, how can I do what I want to do right now, with the equipment that I have. Not the equipment I ‘wish’ I had. So, here’s how I do what I do.

Laptop:

From the ‘About this Mac’ window, my computer is a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2010), with a 2,4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It has a 4GB 1067 MHz DDR3 of memory. And  NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256 MB graphics. I’m still working with OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite.

To be totally honest, a lot of the above just looks like gibberish to me. As a trained graphic designer I feel as though it should mean something to me. The memory bits do…to some extent. And again, being as honest as I can be, as an artist, not being able to touch or feel the aforementioned computer ‘stuff’ means that it’s completely abstracted to me.

Fortunately, I have a husband who does understand all of this stuff. And he guides me when I require assistance or explanations. It’s his jam. And I’d rather be sewing or painting anyway.

Files:

To say that I have a lot of photographs could potentially be the understatement of the century on my part. Between the photos that I take of my artwork (finished and in process), items that I have for sale in my shop, and Go Marielle, I have a lot of photos to organize and store.

To keep myself as organized as possible, I try and harness my love of filing and the contentment I feel when I put things ‘where they live’. There are two main file folders; Website and Go Marielle. Within each of those files are subfiles.

Website files:

I keep anything that I use for my website, including my online shop, in this file. Files for my inventory, pieces listed in the shop, photographic elements used in the design of my site, coupons, and miscellaneous items. Finding these files is easy. I prefer to use the icons instead of the list to find my files. I’ve also made the icons a bit larger, as my eyesight is getting a little wibbly.

When it comes to the items I have listed in the shop. Each of them belongs in a separate sup-category. Little Ladies, Creative Experiment Dolls, Tiny Animals, etc. Because each of the dolls I create has their own individual name. Their photographs are filed in a folder with their name on it. If I need to find Beanstalk, or Alice or Bernard T. Honkstorker, I just look for the name.

My inventories are maintained in a computer file (Excel) and in paper form. Changes are made to the paper version, then updated in the Excel file. I keep backups of this file in a separate hard drive used only for file storage.

Go Marielle:

The files for Go Marielle get a little more complicated. If you have read the stories that I post on Instagram, you know that I post a daily single panel, and a weekly 10+ panel story every week. There are an average of 80 to 100 photos taken for one 10+ panel weekly Go Marielle story. Each single panel daily post takes 3 to 10 photos.

So, how do I organize and store it all? Well, the first division is between the daily posts (I call them singles) and the weekly story posts (I call them long posts). Each of these categories has their own file folder. The subfiles within them are each named according to what they are. So, within the daily posts file, there are files named Marielle and the Frost or Marielle at the Bus Stop, etc. The same goes for the once weekly longer stories.

In addition to having separate files for these two types of posts for Go Marielle. I also attach a color tag to each file. Red for ‘posted’ and green for ‘not posted’. My rationale is red is for stop and green is for go.

Go Marielle complications:

Go Marielle is much more complicated than a single photograph of my finished artwork, or for an item in my shop.Each of the photos has to be processed. This entails choosing the photo to be used, cropping and color correcting it (GIMP and a Preview). Then story boarding the photos. Sometimes I need to add or remove a photograph to make the story flow better.

My rule is that if a photo is removed from the original story boarding session (meaning, it’s been cropped and color corrected), it goes into a file called ‘Photos not used’. I do this just in case I change my mind. No one wants to do a job twice. Any photos not selected for cropping and color correction go directly into the trash and are deleted.

So at this point, I have between 5 and perhaps 20 photos depending on whether it’s intended for a single panel post or a long panel post. Now it gets even more complicated.

More complicated:

The photos are run through GIMP and the faces are removed from the dolls used in the photos. Sometimes there are other bits of correction I need to do as well. It’s a lot of clone stamping and magic wand kinds of work. I also do any additional color correction work as well. At the conclusion of this, I now have two versions of the same photos. One with faces and one without faces.

I separate these photos within the file. With Faces, and Without Faces. Now, the without faces are ready to upload to another platform, Canva. One of the reasons I use Canva is because it’s cheaper than Photoshop or Illustrator. I don’t have to think about the dimensions of the pieces I’m creating either. It’s also off my computer, so it’s not a program taking up space on my hard drive.

Once is Canva, I use a palette of facial features that I drew myself. And processed through GIMP. I lay in the story as well. Sometimes I do the faces first, then the story. Other times it’s the other way ’round. Once the panels are finished, I download them to my desktop. I run them through Preview again, and make them a little smaller. This makes it easier to send them to myself via Gmail.

EVEN MORE COMPLICATIONS:

The finished Canva files. These are the ones that I will post in Go Marielle. They are the third set of photos that need to be placed in a file. They are kept in a separate file. Labeled with the story or post name. At the completion of any Go Marielle single or long post, there is a veritable set of Russian nested doll of files.

The individual panels for Go Marielle also hang around in my Gmail account for a week or so after posting as well. I do this in case something goes wrong with initial posting. And I need to do it again. They are eventually deleted. Usually two weeks after the initial posting.

Back-ups:

I have an external drive that I back everything up to. I tend to have a lot of copies of files in different places. Most of the reason for this can be traced back to my time in art school when I lost a ton of work and had no back ups at all. I had to build the entire project almost from zero.

Because of my Canva account, I can leave a lot of graphics there. Most of the announcements for Instagram Stories are created in Canva. I still back them up to my external drive. Always as a ‘just in case’.

So, now what?

The ways in which I work on computer isn’t by any means meant to work for anyone but me. I suppose that I wanted to show those who are reading this post that you don’t have to have all of the expensive computers or programs to get started on your own personal creative journey. Decide what you want to create, then figure out how to do it with what you have right now.

There are computer and periphery equipment that will at some point in the future will be purchased. Again, I’m very glad to have my husband’s guidance on the subject. But until then, I will continue as I have, with what I’ve got. It’s better in the long-run I think.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday!