Still Alive

Everything’s an unexpected mess for me right now.

The details won’t be interesting to anyone so I’ll just leave it at that except for the most recent mini-mess: the heater isn’t functioning this morning and it’s 59 degrees (F) in the house. Today was supposed to be a get-caught-up-online day but, instead, it’s a shivering-while-waiting-for-the-heater-tech-to-arrive day. I’ll reply to your lovely comments and be around to say “Hello!” to everyone as soon as I can.

The faces above are small sketches I made while testing the iPastels app on my iPad. The app is free, has a tiny footprint, and wonderful tools. There’s a desktop version, too. I’m sure that my goofy faces aren’t displaying the full power of the app so if you’re interested in checking it out for yourself, here:


Clicking and Hoping

Today I found time to sit at my Mac and try to make progress with Affinity Photo.

The good news? I learned quite a bit.

I’m now able to open several photographic images as layers, compile and edit them, then turn them into one new image – using Affinity Photo. That may sound like nothing but it isn’t nothing if the program you’re using now is nothing like the program you’ve used to perform those actions for the past 16 years. I lost Photoshop Elements when Big Sur arrived. I know Photoshop Elements. Affinity Photo is new to me. They’re nowhere near as similar as I’d like them to be. But, as of today, I can create a multi-layer digital compilation again.


Earlier attempts to use Affinity Photo weren’t as successful. My preferred method of learning is to click and hope. Instructions? Step-by-step videos? Nope. Just let me open the program and TRY STUFF. If it’s possible to get there I’ll get there. But I may do a lot of grumbling along the way.

Anyway…today was the big day when all that clicking and hoping paid off. I took a few micro setup shots of plastic in sunshine with the camera, transferred them to the computer, then began working with Affinity. The result was decent. I still found it awkward to work with the image as a whole in Affinity Photo because selecting it takes me places I don’t want to be. That difficulty made the composition weak and I’m not satisfied with it for prints. But taken in pieces or tiled, for products? That could work! The image (above – as a product mockup) looks good. I may or may not post it for sale on Redbubble; still thinking about how to re-compose the thing without losing the features that I like.

After Affinity and all those synapses crackling in my brain I needed a break with more tactile toys so opened a storage box I haven’t looked in for years. I knew it was art supplies but I packed it up so long ago I didn’t know what it contained. It was acrylic markers! Ooooo…those fat, slurpy plastic tubes filled with liquid acrylic paint and fitted with felt tips! What a find! Luscious acrylic gooeyness!! Tomorrow is all about the markers!


Affinity Photo:

The markers:



Can Vectors Be Messy?

Trying to find a way to use vector art is all I can handle right now, art-wise, so I’m still working with the Amadine app when I can. The image above is my most recent. I thought about adding a nose and mouth but the face didn’t want one. Her expression seems to come through the way things are, I think, and it’s not a terrible result as is. So: progress.

But I still miss the rough edges and uneven colors of the non-vector work I usually do. The perfection of vector edges eventually annoys me. Right after I finished the face above I reached for some sketch paper and watercolors, and painted what I felt:

The paper was too thin, I used too much water (as usual), and the colors were bad choices so I desaturated the image in editing. But I like this face. It’s rough and uneven and gritty and unfinished but it already says what I want it to, in part because of its messiness. Can vectors ever be that way? Am I asking for too much? 


Amadine app:

Vector Joy

“The Morning of the Last Day” (©️Robin King)
“The Weight of the World” – Note: The title isn’t part of the image. (©️Robin King)

In the past few weeks I’ve been working with vectors, teaching myself how to use them.  As learning curves go it’s been a bumpy one. This weekend I leveled the curve a bit and make significant progress. Several of the vector tools/techniques/features still elude me but with what I learned I was able to create test images [above] that are “me.” Now I see exhilarating ways to incorporate vector work into my art – wonderful news! 


Amadine app:


Thank you, Amadine! I’m beginning to understand vectors!

Every day, I try a little more with the Amadine app. It infuriates me, it thrills me, it coaxes me, and it encourages me – and then, suddenly, it reveals its power. Wow! For the past week I’ve been trying to duplicate layers and then fill the objects with colors. Nope. That’s not how Amadine does things. I’m still thinking non-vectorally (that’s probably not a word but I don’t care). I need to think in VECTORS. Today I did and had big success with Amadine. See that pink and yellow image above? That’s it. You may look at it and think, “What the fuss about?” It’s pink and yellow blobby squiggles that could’ve been hand drawn in Photoshop Elements. Or with colored pencils on paper. The difference is that it’s a vector-based drawing and I managed to do it in very few steps. That’s a big step forward for me.

To celebrate (and to test the layout) I uploaded it privately to Redbubble, where I put it on a tee shirt. Tomorrow I’ll go back to the image in Amadine and make some adjustments, then upload it again to Redbubble where it’ll be a pretty, decorative design for sale on lots of products.

Thank you, Amadine! What shall we try next? 

EDITED TO ADD: Today I made the design available for sale in my Shop on Redbubble. Its new name is “Playing Pink and Yellow.”




Tropical Storm Elsa & Aggravating Art


We’re in Tropical Storm Elsa’s path, bad enough. Shortly after Elsa arrives there’s a “cold front” coming through – it won’t be cold enough to make me happy but 80 degrees is much better than 97 degrees with high humidity. A cold front means more storms, though. Probably.

Today I’ll be doing storm prep (again) and tonight I’ll be hoping for the best. Thought I’d share this vector thing while there’s still power. I made it using the excellent Amadine app. Yes, I’m learning more about the tools and what’s possible with vectors. And yes, I still have a long way to go. But there’s an irritating aspect to vector art (other than its freaky sleek edges): I’m constantly tapping! Tap! Tap! Tap! Everything needs a tap! It’s so SLOW!* Sure, I’m not good at it yet but faster tapping isn’t the answer. I want less tapping.

I don’t have the patience for it, so far. Right now it reminds me of knitting a pattern where you have to keep changing needles or yarns, or putting stitches on other needles and then knitting them off those needles onto other needles. GAHHHH!! You can get faster at that kind of knitting but it’s still aggravating. Vectors are like that. For me, anyway. 

Maybe I’ll change my mind but not today. Elsa’s stopping by. 


*Just to be clear: Amadine runs fast! The slowness I’m talking about is the added time all that tapping adds. It’s distracting, too. Draw, tap. Draw, tap. Draw, tap. Move, tap. Draw, tap. Move, tap. Draw, tap. Over and over and over again.