Choosing one thing

WorkSpace October

It is a quiet day in October. Beautiful light, fresh air, wonderful colors outside my window. I just finished a piece of apple pie and I’m enjoying a cup of decaf. It’s silent around here. Boris is behaving. Things are good.

When you haven’t blogged for a while, it feels like you have a lot of catching up to do. But that’s just the old-fashioned me, who still thinks with nostalgia of the “personal blog”, and how one used to follow a stranger’s life mostly through their long-form writing. So even though I have a ton of posts in draft, I will discard them and take it from here.


This  month I’ve decided to take on Inktober and although there is an official prompt list, I decided I’d try to improve my portrait skills. Most of these portraits are sort of composites of images. To avoid doing any direct copying I’m gathering inspiration from Sktchy, vintage photos, imagination and sometimes pausing videos on YouTube. This challenge helps me work on these elements:

  • Proportion
  • Working loosely
  • Seeing value (my nemesis)
  • Limiting myself to one medium. On the first inktober drawing I added watercolor but then I decided to just focus on ink.

I hope I can finish the whole month. I might not be able to post all my drawings on four days because we’ll be going to a cabin with no Wi-Fi.


I have kept up my practice, mostly working with loose watercolors and creating textures. Here is where I really feel all my time and practice has paid off! I have stopped feeling constrained. My colors are finally as vibrant as they can be but also I’ve finally cracked the mystery of working in layers and controlling water.

To get to this point I have finally used that beautiful paper I had been safeguarding for “when I’m good enough” and this has been a breakthrough. DO NOT BELIEVE those who teach online and tell you to use whatever cheap paper you find. I know it’s tempting because we don’t want to throw money in the wastebasket but I’ve said it before. Good paper is important:

These are my top three choices:

  1. Cotman watercolor pads  for wet on dry $$
  2. Strathmore 400 Series  $$
  3. Fabriano Artistico  $$$

Anything below that is not going to work very well.


My latest illustration project:

Ilustraciones para Via Conexa

Illustrations for Via Conexa Language School in Spain


And working with two Theater collectives who will launch their websites soon.

Also, I’m working slowly towards designing a line of leggings for early next year. If you have a few minutes would you answer a short survey? I’m trying to gauge the styles that resonate the most.

The supposed blogpost part…

As you can see, the search of the creative outlet continues. Narrowing down and acquiring skills but there comes a moment in which I wish things would just click. Recently I listened to a Sean Wes mini-podcast: if you have creative block is because you give yourself too much freedom. It’s 100% true. This is the main reason for taking on Inktober. If I continue to look at everything I could do nothing will actually get done.

Why is it so difficult to choose one thing?

What are you going to do

I once did a brain-dump on a trello board. I put everything that was roaming in my brain, all the classes I had purchased, all the things I needed to learn both for illustration and web design, the “businesses” I wanted to create, all the personal projects, including a zine, an illustrated book, making prints of my work, etc and looking at how many columns this brain-dump spanned, I was aghast. Plus, one day I needed a scratchpad to take quick notes during a meeting and I opened my dreaded white box: out came all the  stories, ideas, notebooks and more unfinished projects.

You see, I keep feeling I’m not really doing anything and I don’t say this to get people around me to tell me: but how can you say that? You’ve done so much!

No. Actually I say it because it really seems that way to me. Scatteredness in my personal projects is painful to me. I’m capable to focus on client projects until the end and make my clients happy. But as I’ve been writing this post, I have simultaneously been working on a small painting because, you know, watercolor requires one to be patient while it dries. So the painting gets a layer and the post gets a paragraph. And since I started this post, I also left for half an hour to walk my dog, came back, made an appointment with the goomer, cleaned his backside and then added another layer to my painting.

And, as I walked outside I listened to another one of those podcasts that tell that same old story about someone who started a business and in three months they were skyrocketing into “success”. My husband tells me, of course nobody is going to record a podcast about people who failed or who are taking longer to get to where they want to get. And though I know this to be true, it still wiggles into the subconscious and plants question after question and demeans the little progress one makes.

But when I go through my archives, my sketchbooks and my pile of watercolors, I realize that despite all my neurosis and my hunger for producing good work, I have improved greatly. Day 4 of inktober was featured in Ello. My clipart is slowly picking up and looking at my watercolor textures brings me so much joy.

How do you get out of a motivation slump? Do you step back? Do you work harder?

I hope you can share with me!

By Luisa Fernanda

Artist, Illustrator, Cruelty-Free Advocate. Notion Geek.