I rarely update, so I now it's about time I let you know how Christmas went and moreso, my hopes for 2017. Now that this shitty year is finally coming to an end.
I’m not someone who anticipates Christmas a month in advance. Deep down I wonder what there is to be excited about. A part of me always thought I was never going to fully enjoy Christmas again after my Gran’s death. In a sense that’s true. I can’t get excited for presents, cos my family never know what to get me, my nan’s gotten me the same foundation and moisturizers as she has the previous two years (which I strongly think is because of how much my blemished skin often disturbs my family members and I’m always being pestered to wear more make-up) and last year my mum got me a top-hat shaped ice bucket for champagne. Weird considering at no point have I ever needed it and even mum says she doesn’t know why she bought it. My family doesn’t know me that well to know what I want/need anymore, I’m at an age where you don’t ask what you want and I usually get myself anything I need every other month of the year anyway.
BUT strangely enough, soon as 1st of December rolled around, I got into the spirit like it was nobody’s business. One very big advantage of Christmas is to just stuff yourself and be as hedonistic as possible. I can certainly get behind that. However ever since my gran’s death, I’ve gotten into the habit of spoiling people, if only to make sure they don’t feel as shit as I often do. I’ve gotten good at knowing what people like and what will make them smile.
I didn’t just get presents for my family. Down the road from me is a riding school for the disabled, run by friends of my mother. The owners have taken a shine to me and they’re always saying I should pop ‘round for a cuppa whenever. I just rarely have the time to with both my work and reluctance to leave the house unless I REALLY need to. This year I bought in various presents for them, their two sons, their dogs and the horses. For everyone else who volunteers at and attend the riding school, I made either 37 or 38 chocolate cornflake cakes. Decorated with edible glitter and Cadbury snowballs. It seemed to make them happy and they went down a treat.
When you get to my age, the magic behind Christmas is long since gone and I can’t blame some people for dreading it. But as I said, I like the opportunity to just brighten other’s people’s day and make them feel like little kids again when they find a present that seems specific for them.
I arrived at my parents’ house the night before Christmas Eve. Dad popped out to the pub and so mum and I spent the night in watching films. Meaning I finally got to see the Jungle Book remake, Zootropolis and Finding Dory. Not a bad way to spend a night. Especially funny to hear Idris Elba, three films in a row! Much to mum’s delight. Zootropolis and the Jungle book remake I found especially impressive. The former for its excellent writing, pacing and depth that I haven’t been as impressed by in a Disney film since Wreck-it Ralph, (both having Rich Moore’s involvement, so you can’t go wrong). The latter I couldn’t help but admire for its spectacle and creativity. Such as how most of the animals were made either twice their usual size or gargantuan. Which proved brilliant in being impressive from a visual point of view and heightening the tension and mood. Also, I was surprised at just how scary and visceral the movie proved to be at points. Having myself and my parents legitimately scared. I wouldn’t be surprised if this gave kids nightmares.
But back onto Christmas. When the day finally came, it was a treat! I’d been eagerly awaiting all month to see my family’s reactions to them opening their presents. When the moment finally arrived, it didn’t disappoint. One of the gifts I got for my mum was a travel pillow to support your neck in the shape of a fox. She couldn’t stop saying about how comfortable and what a relief it was for the constant pain her spine is usually in. One of the presents I got for my dad was a dressing-gown made to look like Jedi robes, right down to the insignia, long sleeves and hood. As soon as my dad saw it, he made a bee-line for the kitchen, much to mum’s confusion. He came back in having donned the robes, pulling the hood right over his eyes. He was beyond exited to have it. Only taking it off to do the washing-up. I got my uncle a bronze statue of a lurcher (dog like a greyhound) given how many he’s bred. And he kept saying how pleased he was with that and according to mum, kept holding a stoking it when she drove him home.
As for myself, I got the usual lovelies of new boots, a lush furry collared cape, chocolates, whiskey, and a stand-out item is a snow-globe/music box. It is incredibly beautiful, a silver base having various carvings of London landmarks, stars and royal guards around it. The inside is a silver carving of the London Eye. The music it plays is “Green Sleeves” composed by Henry 8th. When my grandad was alive, he made a music box for me that played that same tune. So, it was touching that my mum remembered that when she got this one. I’ve barley put it down.
We face-timed my uncle and his family in America, as we usually do. My cousin Milly (12 years old) and I have gotten so close recently. In November, we saw each other again in London for my Nans’ birthday party. We spent a lot of time talking about animation, storytelling, writing and she-herself has gotten heavily into anime. Naruto being her favourite. While I’m not a massive anime fan, I know enough about it for us to have great conversations and I decided to introduce her to my favourites, Studio Ghibli and Satoshi Kon. I showed her this amazing video Hayao Miyazaki: The Essence of Humanity and she was so stunned. She got to see the films in a whole new light. Then we went onto to watch analysis video after analysis video. After finishing one, she would chant with such glee “Inspirational video! Inspirational video!” and we could watch another based around animation and storytelling. My aunt tells me she’s becoming more like me, having a love of Asian food, spending a lot of time in her room and spent $100 on art books. Of course, she asked me to draw a few characters from Naruto for her, her brother asked me for some Pokémon and FNAF pictures . When I did the pictures for Milly, I heard her go downstairs and proceed to jump up and down and squeal like a madman with excitement over the pictures to all the adults!
I can add this to one of the many times I wish I was a millionaire. Because if I could, I would just buy anything and everything for her. I’d purchase her all the best art equipment, books, DVDs, films etc. All to help on her artistic journey. I love the bones off all my cousins, I do. When I was face-timing the family, Paul told me she has an idea for a script for an animated film. I can’t wait to hear what creative endeavours she’s been up to. The sooner I can chat to her, the better!
I got a couple hours to myself on the night when my parents went to a party at a neighbour’s house. I’d also made another batch of cornflake cakes for my family, nearly 50 this time! There was so much that mum took them to the party in question. I always enjoy time to myself, so to have a couple of hours on the night allowed for some great reflection for the year ahead and just revelling in the satisfaction of another successful Christmas.
ART AND WRITING:
I realise I haven’t been updating much when it comes to art. For various reasons: One is my laptop’s been on the blink and without Paint Tool Sai, I haven’t been able to do any proper line-art pieces. Hence why my Two-Face picture was done with traditional ink pen.
I have a few plans to remake some older pictures to better reflect my skills. Including, but not limited to, this Lord Shen piece. I also have plenty of new pictures planned along with remaking my old one.
The second reason being, as per usual, much of my artistic efforts have been focused on drawing up the concept art for my graphic novel. Which I can’t show in such early stages.
As some of you will know, I did try to set-up a business to start taking commissions for my art. However, I hit a wall when I was rejected from my working support allowing appeal when they said they couldn’t see my business making any money for them to invest in. I had to give up on it and now I’m back on the dole, much to my indignity. It was demoralising, to say the least. But I was already in a tough place because of family matters and some very terrible things happening this year that pushed me to my emotional limits. I was probably closer to just giving-up on life this year than I had previous years. The thing that got me to stick around was the reminder that I couldn’t abandon the characters I’ve created. I’m proud of a lot of them and I think some could appeal to others. So I’m bound by a sense of duty to them. To the point where I keep a sticky note below my Mac screen as a reminder. Undertale-style.
Not one to fall into the “New year, new me!” bollacks—but I know I want 2017 to be more productive for both my art and writing for my graphic novel. I’m in the stages of doing the summary, concept art and thumbnails simultaneously. This is nothing if not hard work. At the end of most days I’m often exhausted and anxious as hell because I’m realising it’s difficult to predict that readers will find interesting and emotionally engaging. Since ATM I can only look at it from the author’s perspective.
I’ve had a few mini successes with recent concept art for a few characters, including my peafowl characters. Doing those is certainly helping me gain confidence to become more productive. My graphic novel is still my no.1 priority in my life. MY biggest hope is to have the summary and basic outlines finished this year, ready to write the final script.
The aforementioned films my mum and I watched made me realise just how much I need to step-up my game in terms of how I’m writing my own graphic novel. Since ATM I’m a little worried about getting second-act sag, tonal issues and being torn between wanting natural pacing and having a slow build-up but allowing for what I call a “Candy-trail story” wherein you find little snippets of something intriguing to be expanded upon a little later in the narrative. On the other hand, I’m still worried about it being too slow and not having enough in the way of character development and intrigue to keep the readers’ interest before shit gets real.
As you might have guessed, it’s not a great priority. But every so often I’ll come back to it when I want to. But films I’m apathetic about don’t light a fire under me as much as things I’m passionate about. That said, I do have some rather strong opinions on the film that I have every intention of sharing. Rest assured a video on my thought will be made, I’m just not in a hurry to do so.
So, to that one person who keeps repeatedly commenting on all my videos, demanding I review it and subscribe to their YouTube channel, please stop it.
OTHER PLANS FOR THE NEW YEAR:
My neighbour is in Switzerland with his daughters, so I’ll look forward to seeing him again and hearing how his Christmas went. As well as giving him the presents I’ve bought him.
As for tonight, I’m just sitting in with some whiskey, finishing off my chocolates, making a slap-up meal of prawn and scallop-fried rice and some sweet-chilli salmon on a bed of Pok Choi. Watch some telly, give 2016 a two-fingered salute and hope against all hope that 2017 will be a better one for me.