Cosmic Doodle Art: Coloring with Alcohol-Based Markers

Cosmic Doodle Art: Coloring with Alcohol-Based Markers

Outer space is beautiful, isn’t it? Today I wanted to take a stab at cosmic doodle art. I used my Bianyo dual-tipped alcohol markers, and a 3-in x 3-in tile to see what I could whip up. I like how this turned out, and drawing it on such a tiny square kept me from getting too overwhelmed. Blinking cursors on a blank page haven’t intimidated me for a long time, but picking up tools to draw always scares me a bit. I’m usually worried I’m about to waste a perfectly good piece of paper.

Before I met Dan, I wasn’t really into much space or science fiction. It’s not that I disliked it, I just wasn’t in the habit of watching it. But after I met Dan, we started watching science fiction a lot. The first show I remember really enjoying was Stargate: Universe. I remember watching a couple of scenes from the observation deck of the Destiny and just thinking to myself how breathtaking it would be to see space from a vantage point like that.

I also watched the Cosmos series with Neil deGrass Tyson and started listening to audio books about space and astrophysics to lull me to sleep each night. Thinking about the vastness of space was a comfort for a lot of reasons, including that it made brain cancer seem so small and insignificant by comparison.

Anyway, from there I became interested in space photography and the art in science fiction and I thought: I want to try drawing something cosmic. And, well, here we are. I hope you enjoy the video.

MATERIALS

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Interested in seeing more art videos? Check out my series on Zentangling.

Falling Out of Chairs is My New Superpower

Falling Out of Chairs is My New Superpower

The plan is to start editing the memoir today, but I hurt myself cleaning my office on Saturday, so we’ll see how much I get done. Let me tell you about my injuries. It should be entertaining. But first, a little backstory before the whole falling out of chairs thing.

I’m not a neat freak. I like organization and I have my pet issues, but if I’m the only one to do the work of cleaning and organizing a room? Things can go long periods without being tidied up or sorted. The one exception is my work space. If I’m going to use my office and desk, they absolutely cannot be cluttered. Seeing that sort of mess (or just knowing it exists, if I’m honest) powers down my left parietal lobe.

Fun Fact: Back in the days when I could work 9 to 5, I would usually stop what I was doing every day at 4:55 to clean and organize my desk for the following morning. Because chaos on my desk always translated to chaos in my mind.

Well, as you may know, I spent a large part of January fighting bronchitis. During that time the office wasn’t just neglected, it became the de facto foster home for any object displaced by Christmas decorations or otherwise existing without spatial designation. That meant if I wanted to start using my office for writing and editing again (and I did) I would have to clean first.

Things were going okay until it was time to vacuum tumbleweeds of pet hair and traces of cat litter. I became fatigued (as I am wont to do) and decided that it would be easier to sit in my office chair and scoot around while I vacuumed Cat Box Corner . I’ve done this many, many times before.

Thing is, this time I leaned a little too far forward in the chair. As my weight shifted to the front of the chair, I pushed it out from under me sending it across the room behind me. I screamed, dropped the vacuum hose, and lay supine while the Shark blew hot, dusty exhaust in my face.

Yes, that’s right. I fell out of a chair. Vacuuming.

There were three cracks on the hardwood. My tailbone, my elbow, and the back of my head. No serious damage, nothing broken. Just a couple of bruises and one of those nausea headaches brought on by a minor concussion and head-to-toe muscle tightness. All exacerbated by the fact that my brain tumor already tells my nerves to record a response of PAIN to any and all stimuli.

Good times.

Anyway, I still hurt more than usual, but I’m excited to get back to work on my untitled memoir. (I actually had a working title for it, and then found out — after Google searching potential domains — that that title was already taken, and so now I’m back to untitled again.)

My Kind of Art Therapy

My Kind of Art Therapy

After any unpleasant dealings with insurance, I like to distract myself with a little art therapy. Lest I dwell too long on the bad stuff I can’t control. Yesterday, that meant breaking out a coloring book full of swear words my brother gave me and a couple of new sets of dual-tipped markers.

The smaller set of 12 Prismacolors were a gift from my parents this Christmas. I had seen YouTubers working with alcohol-based markers in their videos and was absolutely stunned by their results. But I was hesitant to ask for a big set for myself, because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to wield them so deftly and they’re kind of expensive.

Well, I started swatching them in a new notebook the night I opened them and immediately fell in love. The problem was, I only had 12 colors to work with. So, armed with an Amazon gift card, I went looking to expand my set. Long story short, I settled on a set of 72 Bianyo markers. They were only about $40, much less than comparable Prismacolor sets and the much-coveted professional Copic marker sets. Reviewers had said good things about the bargain markers, so I bought them. I’m so glad I took the chance on them. Because I love them too.

I’m still learning how the markers behave, so not wanting to ruin a page from my favorite coloring books, I made a copy with my handy HP and colored a plain old piece of printer paper. (The image of the two birds holding the banner that you see at the top of the page.) Working with them was fantastic. I mean, Crayolas are cool and all—until you try these.

I blame an unimaginative art teacher and a tough academic schedule in high school for my not having taken an art class after 8th grade. And, consequently, never learning that these kinds of markers even existed until I was nearly 40. You see, when my guidance counselor put me in 3D art because the pre-requisite 2D art didn’t fit in my schedule, the art teacher wouldn’t budge and said “No art for you” instead of “Let’s see if we can work something out.” She pointed me to the door, and I spent second period that year napping in study hall instead of creating art.

After that? Well, I didn’t want to learn art from her anyway. But I digress.

Back to the markers. You can shade the same color by laying down ink without the paper-chewing effects you get trying the same thing with water-based markers. You can also blend different colors together. (You can see this in action in the birds in the above coloring book page, where I layered a pink marker over an orange one in their bellies and blended different shades of brown for the rest of their feathers.)

There’s some bleeding of color that you have to learn to work with in all markers. So I experimented with some random colorings too. I showed Dan this teardrop doodle and his response was simply, “Wow.” As much as I’d like to take credit for the coolness, it’s all about the markers.

No matter what color I choose, subtle and muted or bold and bright, watching the pigments soak into the paper ticks neurons in my brain and makes me happy. And that makes me want to tell everybody about them. Kind of the same way I wanted everyone in the world to have access to pot the first time my medical marijuana made me high. Ha!

Update: I have taken up learning Zentangle patterns!

Uh, Why Can’t You Work Again?

Uh, Why Can’t You Work Again?

I had a new message in my patient portal at Barnes-Jewish Hospital / Siteman Cancer Center today, and since I hadn’t recently completed any tests or had any doctor’s visits, I was curious. I opened it to find this message:

Hi Emily

I have been working on your paperwork for [REDACTED], long term disability paperwork and had a couple questions for you. From reading your chart, it appears the last time we saw you, you were doing well and are not currently in treatment. What kind of work do you do? What kind of symptoms are you having that are causing you difficulty at work? Do you have any limitations to your daily activities? Also, do you have a new phone number? Both the number we had for you and for your emergency contact are not working.

Thanks,

[REDACTED] , RN

So, I rambled a reply:

I don’t know what doing well means. I can walk on my own, but the brain tumor can’t be removed and it limits my balance and mobility. I have frequent migraines, am unable to drive due to permanent dizziness/vertigo/nystagmus, and have chronic fatigue because where the tumor sits on my brain stem it interferes with autonomic functions. I am not dying, so that’s good. But I’m permanently disabled because the tumor cannot be surgically removed due to its location. My chemo therapy and radiation are done, but they didn’t cure me. I used to be a technical writer for a mathematics software company. Fatigue limits me greatly from doing the physical labor required just to get to a job. If I did do a job, I would literally not have the energy left to do basic things like load the dishwasher, cook a meal, take a shower, etc. I often have to pick one or two activities I can accomplish for the day and rely on my husband to pick up the slack. This is just what the doctors call my “new normal”. So, I’m not declining, but I haven’t gained back all of the abilities that the tumor deprived me of. Our phone numbers haven’t changed. Not sure what the issue is there.

My cell phone: [REDACTED]. My husband’s (Dan [REDACTED]) cell phone: [REDACTED].

Hope this is helpful, sorry if the response seems terse. I’ve talked to
[REDACTED] about this already. They only have like 5 months left to pay on the policy, and it’s an inoperable brain tumor. It kind of stresses me out. They don’t even have to pay the policy’s full 60% (or whatever the number is) of my former income because they subtract what I get from SSDI. Gah, sorry. I know this is not on you. Insurance stuff just makes my blood boil.

It probably doesn’t help my mood any that I am still recovering from more than two weeks of being muggle sick on top of the brain cancer. The antibiotics are helping, but they are strong and my gut is weak. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the bathroom despite downing multiple glasses of Tropicana probiotic juice several times a day. It also doesn’t help that losing this income in May weighs heavily on me. So much so that last night I dreamed we had to give up our house and move to a freaking dump.

I just want the insurer, WHO I FREAKIN’ PAID FOR THE POLICY, to fulfill their end of the agreement for what little time is left on it.

Silly me, plans are for healthy people

Silly me, plans are for healthy people

I had big plans for the start of 2019 involving Zentangle videos, regular website content, and editing my manuscript. But on New Year’s Eve I came down with a horrible bug that turned into a pretty serious infection and a diagnosis of sinobronchitis. Plans are for healthy people, not the chronically ill.

In total, about 7 of us that spent the holidays together at my Mom & Dad’s ended up sick. Initially, my plan was to wait it out, because I was less sick of the bacteria swimming around in various parts of my respiratory system than I was of seeing doctors. But then Dan came down with it–and when he could no longer hear, he said, “That’s it, woman. We’re going to Convenient Care.” It was Day 5 for him, day 11 for me.

Because we both had coughs, we were asked to sport those fancy paper masks. I got some pretty potent antibiotics (that are currently tearing up my digestive tract, yay!) and have been taking them since Thursday. I think I am feeling better, but it’s hard to tell. Recovery is not linear.

So that’s 15 days of being sick, which, sadly, is several years shy of my record. But terrible nonetheless.

Anyway, I will get back to posting videos and my #FaceADay stuff on Instagram again. I swear. I just have no idea when, because plans are for healthy people. Hope your 2019 is off to a much better start!

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