I’m a YouTuber Now (Kinda)


While I tend to talk about writing on this blog, I’m actually an artist. It’s what I do, it’s where my revenue comes from, and I talk about it everywhere but here – which is a little odd, honestly. If you want to hear more about art here, let me know! That said, I’m here to give myself an old-fashioned plug – where you can find my art around the rest of the internet!


FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/theartofmirriamneal

INSTAGRAM: http://www.instagram.com/theartofmirriamneal

MY STORE: http://www.mirriamelinart.storenvy.com

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCut73-Q5xVFu_jKqxpmXqrQ

YouTube is a brand-new venture for me, and I have a ton to learn + am very much figuring things out as I go. One of my goals this year is to get the whole YouTube thing figured out and have a high-quality, Aesthetically Pleasing™ channel for timelapses, paintings, Q and As, and general shenanigans.


If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in a comment below or shoot them to my business email, mirriamneal@outlook.com!

I’m looking forward to incorporating more of the art-side of my life into my blog here in 2019. I hope you come along!






& You’ll Be in a World of Pure Imagination (or, a brief workspace tour)

Things happen when you sprain an ankle and have a hard time hobbling anywhere – they pile up. Things pile up on desks and chairs and the floor and by the time you can walk easily again, your once-organized chaos has reverted back to a simpler form: catastrophe. Now that my foot has healed, I buckled down to clear out and re-organize my workspace so I can paint, draw, and write without using a ball of string to find my way out again. Since I love seeing tours (be they in video or picture form) of art studios and workspaces, I decided to make a small tour of my own. Commence away!

I need to keep my space whimsical but functional, with bits and pieces that inspire me. It all tends to gravitate toward the magical; like ‘if Gandalf had been a Ravenclaw Professor.’ Probably teaching the History of Magic and Charms.


On the right side of my desk I have a box containing all my watercolors (the top is decorated with a Celtic-style sun/moon emblem, made by my friend Ian). On top of that is a box that holds the pencils and pens I use for my artwork. Standing on the box are a little brass leprechaun from my friend Hannah George, and a rat skull from a coffee shop in Omaha. Sitting on the waterproofed slab of wood are various jars holding sea salt, water, dip pens, paintbrushes, feathers, rulers, and two magic wands for all my painting + spell-casting needs.


To the right of my desk, siting on my vintage steamer trunk, is the printer (covered with rabbit fur to help it match the rest of the room) and a letter tray; the letter tray holds all my ink bottles, water droppers, watercolor tins, tape, and odds and ends. It also features another jar of feathers, a volcanic stone mortar + pestle, a hornet’s nest, Boba Fett, the Ancient One, a Predator, a Galor-class Kardassian Warship, and AARRRGH! from Trollhunters (my favorite show in the world next to Prison Break).


On the left side of my desk I have a stack of Chinese calligraphy paper upon which sits some vellum envelopes, a box of colored pencils, a stack of leather-bound journals, a wooden raven, several bottles of glitter, my crystals, and Vortigern, the skull I use when give art lessons. (Leaning against the pencil box is George’s foot. George is a decorative skeleton whose body resides in Florida. George’s foot is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Don’t ask me why.)


After that comes the crate with my various pads of art paper, sketchbooks, envelopes, and extra journals. It’s guarded by Jareth, Newt, and Snart; as well as Gringott’s. Also seen are my waxes and seals, and two jars of miscellany, including my pipe and a fan (printed with samurai. It doesn’t get much cooler, iron war fans excepted).


Underneath my desk lies the rest of the artistic miscellany – the leather folder in which I stuff my completed artwork; old sketchbooks, jars of magic things (from Melody, who gifted me George’s foot), old sketchbooks, paper cutters, and the like. I also have my favorite art + design books lined up; John Howe, Alan Lee, Tony Diterlizzi, Ed Org, Alphonse Mucha, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, and others. Sitting on top of ‘The Hobbit: Art & Design’ is my Loch Ness Monster, Vincent; a gift from my bro Lauren and knitted by her sister. (His name is Vincent because he’s dark blue + glittery and therefore starry.)



The walls feature a unicorn, masks, Thorin’s map, a Carnival poster from when my dad was a sophomore in high school, a painting of Big Ben (painted by my sister), Studio Ghibli prints, keys, lights, and some paintings I’ve done for myself – Frankenstein’s Creature (specifically Luke Goss’s portrayal from the BBC Miniseries), Jareth the Goblin King, Prince Nuada, and Reylo.


And there you have it! My workspace keeps me inspired; not only because I curate things I love but because so much of what you see was given to me by friends and family (seriously I think maybe half of what you see was bought by me + for me).

What does your workspace look like? Please let me know in the comments!

I’ll Let You in on a Little Secret

Practice does not make perfect and your life is a lie.

Is your mind blown yet? I can explain. We all grew up hearing ‘practice makes perfect’ and believing if we put in the time, if we just Did the Thing over and over and over and over and over, we would eventually become experts. I became aware of something recently, as I sketched and sketched and sketched some more – but before I tell you what I learned, let me just quickly explain something to you.

Creative growth isn’t a straight line. The artists I know work hard, their artwork improves, and then suddenly—down it goes. It’s very much like a roller-coaster. Each rise to new artistic heights is preceded by an extreme dip down. It feels like you’ve lost 99.9% of your talent and you’re three years old again, except this time you’re terribly self-conscious and aware of just how bad your art is. This happens, because creative growth is wibbly-wobbly. That’s the scientific answer.

Recently, my favorite nomadic troglodyte sent me an email. Now, Hannah is a renaissance woman – you name it, she’s dabbled in it. (Except alchemy, I think; we’re planning to learn that one together.) She had a good eye for art, but felt she needed to improve. Her email was an excited one – she was making progress. Huge progress. Leaps and bounds of it, because she’d been watching a YouTube series on improving your art, and it was working.

The thing is, it wasn’t that she hadn’t been drawing steadily before. She had. She’s been involved with artwork since I’ve known her, and that’s been years (and years). But it wasn’t necessarily the practice that improved her artwork. It isn’t necessarily the practice that improves mine.

It’s awareness. See, I like to sketch. I like to doodle. If my mind is otherwise occupied (a documentary, a sermon, a lecture) in order to stay focused on that, I need to be doing something with my hands (hence growing up as a Church Serial Doodler, when I wasn’t eating a box of raisins). The trouble with ‘mindless’ anything is the lack of awareness that accompanies it.

You aren’t going to improve if you aren’t conscious of what you’re doing. Any savage can dance. Anyone can doodle, and lots of people do – but there’s a difference between sketching and mindful sketching.

Sketching looks like putting a pencil to paper again and again and getting similar results each time with no significant improvement, because you aren’t really paying attention.

If you could hear my thoughts while I’m sketching mindfully, however, it would probably sound something like this:

‘The line of his forehead is too shallow, I need to bring it out. That eyebrow isn’t dramatic enough; gotta fix that. The nose is kind of disproportionate – his mouth is good, though. Wait, I need to choose a light source so I can add shading in the right places. Hair doesn’t naturally fall this way, even if it’s voluminous – it does if it’s windy, so I’ll make sure his clothing looks like there’s wind as well. Hang on, his neck isn’t looking right where it connects to his back, I need to look at a reference – ah, there we go. That’s much better. Now to make these folds of fabric drape realistically.”

And so on and so forth. Mindful sketching means looking at your work with a critical eye. It also means you look at references. It means you’re aware of things like shading and environment and expression and weather. It means when you draw something you don’t like, you purpose to figure out why you didn’t like it. And it means, rather than tuning out of your drawing, you tune in.

Once you start to really see your own work, you’ll begin to see mistakes (and improvements). You’ll begin to see what you could do better, and you’ll work on those until you get it right, and then you’ll fix something else. You will always, always keep improving because there’s always room for it – and so no, practice doesn’t make perfect.

But mindful practice just might.

January, 2017
April, 2017

Let’s Talk About Art

I realize the tagline of this blog says writing, art, etc. but is 90% writing and 5% etc. Today, to shake things up a little bit, I’m focusing on the OTHER 5% (finally) and talking about art. Actually I’m asking you guys some questions about art, which is totally the same thing.  Lately I’ve been giving heavy thought to the question how can I make a steadier income with my art and my lovely fellow human on Facebook and Instagram have been throwing out some frankly genius ideas.


Here’s the thing – art takes time. It takes years of practice. It’s hard work – and people like art. Some of us even love art. We love seeing a favorite character come to life, or one artist’s take on a film concept. Art makes life better – but it can also be expensive. I’ve had so many people tell me, “If I had the money, I would so commission X piece from you.”

As someone who’s definitely never fallen into the ‘rich’ category, I can say from the bottom of my heart, I feel you. And I want to do something about it.

Some of the suggestions tossed out to me are as follows:

Why don’t you sell pages of your sketchbook once you’ve finished them?


What about blind date with sketches — someone buys a sketch from you and doesn’t know what they’re getting until it arrives? (This would probably be a monthly thing – think OwlCrate or BirchBox, but with sketches — possibly multiple sketches per ‘envelope.’)

‘Now that IS lovely!’ — John Howe, making my day/week/2017

What about accepting commissions for those color sketches you do?



What about offering custom trading cards? (These would be available in various mediums.)

I LOVED these suggestions, and when I publish my ‘commission info’ page on this site, you’ll see these options available for purchase. However, my Facebook and Insta peeps aren’t the only ones out there – I want to hear your ideas. What would YOU like to see? What artsy dream do YOU have?

Check out my art on….




And because I like to be a little unconventional, I’ll be open to unusual methods of payment. Have an unused Target/WalMart/WHEREVER gift card lying around? You could totally trade that for some art. Have a product you sell, or something unused-but-neat sitting in a dusty corner? Feel free to suggest a barter!

LEAVE YOUR REQUESTS, IDEAS, AND SUGGESTIONS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW! I’ll go over them and see what I can do to make my artwork more accessible for you.

January Giveaway!


For a while in 2016 I had a sketch giveaway for all my blog followers at the end of each week. While I loved the idea, it became too much – I would get caught up with writing, art commissions, editing, and life in general and before I knew it, I’d completely forgotten about the giveaway. So in 2017, one of my blog resolutions was to revisit the idea of art giveaways, but at the end of each month, and with more mediums. This being the end of January (it flew by!), I’m here to announce that the winner of January’s art giveaway is


Shoot me an email at mirriamneal@outlook.com and I’ll get it sent to you ASAP! See you all in February!