Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Its a new year

Hope springs eternal. Even though we're looking at a train wreck happening at 12:01 on January 20th, my hope is that the little message these kids are sporting will somehow come to pass. Like I said - hope springs eternal. I think I'm going to stick my fingers in my ears and do "lalalala I can't hear you" for the next four years. I think that's the only way I'll get through. I'm going to try to concentrate on positive things instead of obsessing over . . . all of that.

I managed to scritch out this little piece over new year's, even though my hands and wrists are still stiff. I'm looking forward to getting better one of these days, but until I do, I have to find a way to work with this new handicap (fibromyalgia - read my last post if you want too much info). It takes me a lot longer than normal to get going every day, and I can work for a shorter length of time, and need more breaks, etc., but I'm determined to keep going. Actually the worst of it is my feet and ankles, which just hurt, and I can't walk or stand for too long, but luckily drawing is a sitting down exercise. So hopefully I'll manage to crank out some decent new art before too long here.

Hope you all had nice holidays, and are starting your new year off well. We just finished a super awful rain and wind storm - holy moly! - and I'm so thankful its over. A couple of years ago we were having  a drought, with absolutely no rain at all. Talk about from one extreme to the other!

So happy new year to you all. I hope its a good one, for all of us.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

This holiday season, oy.

My "Red Scott Tartan" watercolor from a few years ago.
No new Christmas art this year, sorry.

This is a heavier post than I usually do, but I need to vent, so here goes.

The Holidays. (insert heavy sigh here) This year they are more challenging to get through than usual. 

The past several months have been difficult, with the last two being particularly hard. My Mom went into the hospital with 'aging issues' (sparing you the details), which was traumatic and exhausting. She is now mostly better, but I've had to arrange care for her, and that's been another huge emotional and physically draining experience. It's been a couple months of 'intense, concentrated, every day, too much pressure, too many heavy decisions, too many physical demands, too much of everything, all piled on top of each other, and on me alone' with no relief. If you've ever gone through this, you know what I'm talking about. If not, I sincerely hope you never have to.

So now, I, too, am having my own physical problems as a direct result of the stress and strain of it all. I think "nervous collapse" is a valid diagnosis, which has manifested itself as a pretty debilitating case of fibromyalgia-ish stiffness in various body parts. It started when my Mom started having health problems back in May, flaring up every time she had a new episode of something that required an extra doctor visit or blood test or more care on my part of some kind. As her condition intensified, so did mine. And now its 24/7, and I am officially handicapped. Add depression and wow! are we having fun yet?

I've always been fascinated by the whole mind/body connection. What I'm going through now is so clearly something that manifested itself because of stress. I've had some health issues in the past that thankfully finally healed or cleared up (and never returned) once I got to the bottom of what was bothering me, so with this, too, I'm hoping that getting my head screwed back on right ("its all going to be OK"), and some decent rest and relaxation (well, at least just a normal amount of 'every day stress' at least) will eventually put me right again. Meanwhile, a cane, Advil and lots of 'lie downs' are getting me through. Barely. In very slow motion.

But at least I'm not a Syrian refugee. Those poor Aleppo people, I can't even.

And then there's everything else to make you just curl up in a ball and not want to get up again (pretty much all the News, am I right?)

All the homeless people. They are everywhere, on every corner, sitting in fast food restaurant parking lots, lined up alongside buildings that give a bit of shelter, coming up to the road from where they've been sleeping in the bushes, wrapped in blankets, huddling in bus shelters, dragging their cobbled-together carts and wagons, heaped with their meager belongings, and the ones that have a dog omg its too heartbreaking. Now and then I give a few bucks to someone, but then agonize over giving to this poor soul and not that one over there, and how do you choose, and its just a drop in the bucket. 

Trump. I am soooooooooo disturbed by his becoming our next president. Read anything anyone critical or worried or disturbed by this has written and it will mirror my feelings, I'm sure. This impending sense of real doom is such a heavy weight. I just pray to who or whatever can help, to please help him, somehow, not completely lead us into WWIII or some such. And my heart goes out to all the people who are in the crosshairs of the xenophobic, homophobic, "fill in the blank"-phobic new administration and whatever it might dish out. 

But I believe in HOPE!
We have to, right? I'm hoping that all this gloom and doom will bring out the best in people, and maybe lead to a new, better, more caring and compassionate society. 
I'm also hoping that personally, as an artist, I can go deep and figure out what it is I'm really supposed to be drawing and painting. I'm waiting for some sign, some inspiration, and once my hands and wrists heal up a bit look forward to launching into some new projects.

So my prayer for the world this Christmas is that all the guardian angels, and healing angels, and unemployed angels looking for something to do, please pool your powers and sprinkle, or better yet, pour loads of grace and healing and mercy and hope on all of us here on Earth, and on poor Earth herself. Keep us all going, and going in the right direction. Away from the darkness. Away from disease and hate and sadness and gloom and doom. Into a new and better and lovely future full of light and nice things. Please.

Wishing Peace and Joy and Good Health to all of you for the holiday and new year and beyond, infinity.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Fall Gourd

My homage to Fall. Someone on FB suggested I call this one "Squans". (Get it? squash + swans) I love that!
This was drawn with Prismacolor pencils on Bristol vellum.

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In other news, I was featured on the colorindaily website for my drawings of knitting. Its a nice little blurb about me and my kitties and drawings. I appreciate the attention, so thank you Nadia!

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And in other other news, of a more personal nature, I'm starting to face the music about my elderly Mom. She's been in failing health, and is teetering on the edge of needing to be placed in care of some kind. She's been falling (with no serious injuries by some miracle - yet), and is a tough little lady, but at some point you have to come in and make some hard decisions. So I'm anticipating being caught up with that in the coming months, and not looking forward to it. My art production will certainly be down, but I will soldier on and do my best to keep up with things. I really want to get my next coloring book finished, and of course will manage whatever actual work comes in, but I most likely won't have all the Christmas cards and other new art I've been planning, done in time for the holidays. Sometimes "life" just gets the upper hand.

I AM happy that its Fall though! It means wearing socks again, and putting the down comforter back on the bed. We don't really have Fall Foliage happening here much, but the change in the weather and anticipation of the holidays is always welcome. The kitties are more snuggly that usual as well, which is the best. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Knitting Gift Tags

Fall just arrived, so of course that means I'm in panic mode about Christmas. !
I finally managed to get the first set of gift tags into the Drawings of Knitting etsy shop, which are all pretty Christmas-y. I'll be adding some sets, and some other non-Christmas colored ones (Navy Blue and Gold) in the coming days.

These are all instant downloads, which means you'll receive a jpg and pdf file of the art, which you then print out yourself. You can print as many as you like or need! 
I may do some note cards, too, we'll see. 

I bought some cool gourds yesterday to draw, for you know, FALL, but am not sure I'll have the time. We're having another heat wave, so it doesn't feel very Fall-ish yet. I'm looking forward to feeling that cool nip in the air, and being able to wear socks and sweaters again. Soon!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Colonial Family

I just finished this one. An American Colonial family is gathered together to listen to the Father read a letter from a loved one far away. Its all done with Prismacolor colored pencils, one black Verithin pencil for a few details, and the clone stamp in Photoshop to pick out a few pencil crumbs that ended up where they shouldn't. I'm pretty happy with this, and figured out some technique things that have been bugging me. 

Here are a few close ups:

Yes, I love doing woodgrain. That rug was fun, too.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

SCBWI Draw This! - ROYAL

This month's SCBWI Draw This! prompt was ROYAL. I've never participated in this before, not sure why. They usually send out the new prompt on the first of the month, but this month it didn't arrive until the 15th, I'm sure because of the SCBWI LA conference. So that left way less time than usual to get the art done. I love all things "royal", so felt compelled to draw a little something.

This is another one done with a black Polychromo colored pencil. That's all.

Notice that the crown has one jewel missing.
I think there's a story here waiting to be told. . .

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wrapping Presents

I used three black Polychromo pencils on this one. Almost - two are total stubs, and one has a little life left in it, barely. This was a lot of fun to do! Its all colored pencil - no digital at all. All I did at the end was use Photoshop to clean up around the outside edge (erase the paper texture), and a weird blob that's on my scanner that I always have to clean up on everything I scan (sigh). This stayed remarkably clean, otherwise. I resisted the urge to 'nudge' a few values here and there, because I figured I'd end up redoing the whole thing once I got started. That's the good and bad of being able to fuss with things digitally - you can go on forever. No, I decided this was done, and left it alone. Onto the next one!

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Purrs for Peace Party Candidates

Tom and Catrina are the Purrs for Peace Party candidates. They believe every kitty should have a warm place to sleep, nice treats, and that catnip should be legal. They're getting my vote, for sure!

OK but seriously. These guys were fun to do. Even if you don't follow politics, unless you're living under a rock, you know what a crazy election campaign season we're having here in the States. At this point I kind of think a couple of cool cats wouldn't be a half bad choice, given our current options.

Tom and Catina were drawn by hand with colored pencils, then I added the whiskers with Photoshop.

I'm still working on the drawings of knitting Christmas tags and whatnot that I promised in the last post. Too many irons in the fire!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

More drawings of knitting

I've been busy making a lot of drawings of knitting lately, for various projects.
People are commissioning me to do custom coloring pages to promote their knitting sites and projects, which has been a lot of fun.
Here are two I did for verypink. They are both free downloadable pdfs on the site, to go with a knitting pattern for the cowl, and the boot cuffs. Staci has a youtube channel with videos for these pages and the projects they were done for. Check it out!

This is a snippet of another custom coloring page I just finished for another client that will be for kids to color. 

 I'm also working on getting some Christmasy things in my Drawings of Knitting shop on etsy. These are both gift tags, which are downloadable pdfs (or jpgs) that you can just print and cut out yourself. You can make as many as you want! I'm moving at kind of a snail's pace at the moment, just trying to do too many things at once, work-wise, but hope to have these in the shop in the next week or so. I have lots of other ideas for cool holiday crafty things (stockings!), and am working on those too. If you have any ideas or suggestions about things you'd like to see in the shop, please let me know.

I really love doing these drawings, but they do take forever. I'm getting a little faster, and am getting smarter about using Photoshop tools to change the colors of things, or cut and paste. But still, most of it is very fussy and fiddly and s-l-o-w. 

I'm still working on the next coloring book that will be fair isle designs, and argyle.

That's it for now. Back to 'knitting'! 

Sunday, June 05, 2016

King Boggen

Here it is all finished. If you saw the last post where I was still in the drawing stage, you'll remember I had him with a pitchfork, flinging pancakes off the roof. Yeah - this is way better. Consider that a peek into the mind of an illustrator, somewhere in the middle of the 'brainstorming and tossing out all ideas' phase of putting together an illustration. You have to 'go there' and sit with things for a while. Sometimes they're weird ideas, sometimes they work, and sometimes you wake up the next day and go "whut?" and keep going.

So this is a style I used to do a long time ago, and for whatever reasons, started evolving into doing other kinds of art for children's books (and other things). I'm going to back to this, because its what I love to do. I consider this a kind of 'warm up' piece, feeling my way back to this. Its all colored pencils. And what I love about it, and is a kind of healthy breakthrough for me, is that its not perfect. You know, like my photo-realistic food illustrations. It was a relief to just have some fun with a piece for a change.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A king and a coloring book - Works in progress

I decided I need a nursery rhyme for my portfolio.
So I found a sort of obscure one - King Boggen.

"Little King Boggen he built a fine hall.
Pie-crust and pastry-crust, that was the wall;
The windows were made of black puddings and white.
And slated with pancakes, you ne'er saw the like!"

It has food, architecture, and is a children's book thing, which hits three of my sweet spots!

I found a couple of versions of the rhyme. One doesn't call him "Little" King Boggen, and there are other fiddly bits in the text that are different. But I decided to go with "Little", and make him a kid. I also toyed with the idea of making him a dog or other animal (well, it doesn't say the king is a person, does it?), but then stuck with the kid. I did like adding the dog though, and fell in love with the idea of the King being a chef, and the "fine hall" is a table-top size creation that they then enjoy eating.

So this was my first version.

An earlier incarnation . . .

And some revisions to the dog . . .

Then, after sitting on it for a day or so, decided it was too static and predictable.
So I sketched around a bit more, and came up with this ~

The Fine Hall is now a real building size, and everyone's moving around. I added the cat having a wash, and the bird making off with a pancake from the roof. The dog is leaping for a pancake (like a frisbee), and the King is just a weird little guy with a fancy pitchfork, picking pancakes and bits off the Hall and flinging them around. More fun, right? (and fyi, "black puddings and white" is blood sausage (black) and pork/oatmeal sausage (white), which will be the panes of the windows).

I have the dog just about exactly how I want him, and the cat needs a little refining.
But the King needs some work. Not sure exactly who he is - how old, is he jolly or bland or goofy, or what? And what exactly is his outfit? And let's get those legs just right . . .

And the hands - blimey. The top one holding the pitchfork is in probably the hardest position I could possibly create to draw. (Try holding a broom or something, and see how odd your arm/hand looks from this angle).

Still trying different things . . .

and that's where I've left it, for now.

Of course I googled this to see who else had already illustrated this, and found this 1915 image by Frederick Richardson (1862 - 1937) ~

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And then, I'm also working on the next Drawings of Knitting coloring book.
This next one will be full of more 'normal' drawings of knitting (not so 'arty'), and will have Fair Isle designs to color.

I'm going to do a couple of Fair Isle versions of each design, then have one, or maybe two, "blank" versions (like the mittens below) so that people can make up their own designs if they want to.

So here are some mittens ~

And here is a very work-in-progress Turtleneck Sweater. This shows exactly how I create these drawings. I sketch out the basic shape and design, then lay in the rows of stitches, very roughly, with "V's" to show where each stitch goes, then I painstakingly draw each stitch with the black 'ink'. After that's done I'll erase out the background guidelines, and clean everything up. There are always "overdraws" and bits that haven't quite joined up right, that need touching up. Its very fiddly, and I have to take quite a few breaks. 

Its Memorial Day weekend here in the States. Regular working people get a 3-day weekend. Not the rest of us though. I'll be doing more of this, and maybe some weed-pulling if its not too hot. I hope you all have a good holiday if you get to have one!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Carl the Hipster Student Cat

Back to doing what I do best - cats in costumes, with colored pencils.

Carl is a hipster student in graduate school. He's pursuing a Master's Degree in Medieval Studies, while working as a barista and waiter to make ends meet. He also sings in a an a cappella choir, and enjoys making matchstick sculptures of fish and other marine creatures.

Here's a work in progress shot with the jacket and jeans part way done. I used all Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore Vellum Bristol for this. Its a perfect combo.

My arCATecture shop on Zazzle will have products available soon.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Wedges and Fries

I'm into fried potatoes all of a sudden for some reason. 
(I mean to draw. I've always liked them to eat.)

Here are some potato wedges from KFC ~

And here are some curly fries from Jack in the Box ~

They're both 5" x 7", drawn with Caran d'ache Pablos on Strathmore 400 Bristol.
I have prints in 2 sizes, and the originals for sale in my etsy shop.

I'd like to do a couple more of these fried potato pieces - maybe some crinkle cut fries, and some regular straight ones. I also love Tater Tots. And then there are hash browns, "country potatoes", waffle fries, the list goes on. I just thought it would be fun to do a little series, and then people might like to get a couple of their favorites to frame up on the kitchen wall. 

A fun thing I'm doing is saving the receipts from these 'french fry purchases' for taxes. I mean, they are reference material, right? 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Baboushka Kitty

I finally finished this gal. She was going to be my Christmas card last year, but I started her too late, then had some 'real work' deadlines and had to put her aside. 

She is a Russian Baboushka. The traditional baboushka outfit is just a crazy mix of patterns and color, with seemingly no regard for what might go well together. Therein lies its charm. So I pushed that as far as I could and had a lot of fun. The black floral border is a Khokhloma pattern, which is also a Russian thing. 

I could do this same 'look' digitally, and might if I decide to keep going with this kind of art because boy howdy this was fussy to do with pencils, and was s-l-o-w. I also had to burnish (press really hard) to get the colors saturated enough, and that does bad things to one's hand after a while. I wanted to have an original piece though, rather than just a digital file, so I kept going with it.

Here are a couple of details, so you can see that yes, it is in fact colored pencil ~

I will make cards and prints and put them in the arCATecture etsy shop soon, and maybe make some stuff on Zazzle too.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

New year

Happy New Year to you! I hope yours is starting off nicely. 

Mine started off with a bang! a few days in. One evening I had just turned off the computer (early) and was minding my own business, quietly knitting, and bang! something exploded or blew up in the back yard, and the most blinding bright light lit up the back window. I dashed out to see a raging fire in my flower bed by the back fence! and had absolutely no clue as to what was going on. I could tell it was an electrical fire (it was making "zzzzzt" noises and sizzling), but I was baffled (and panicked).

911 was called, firemen came, and we figured out the overhead power line had come down. How or why is still a mystery. The power company turned off the power - to the whole entire neighborhood - for hours, and men with big trucks came and climbed telephone poles to fix it all up.

Long story short, it was put right eventually and no one (or kitties) were hurt. A nice big rose bush is completely fried, as is part of my Japanese Maple. Some paving stones have holes burned into them, and fence boards are blackened, but all in all, we were very lucky. It remains a mystery as to what this was all supposed to accomplish!

In other news - I'm still coloring, and making drawings of knitting, and doing actual knitting.

This is a work in progress in colored pencil of my baboushka kitty. I started her in watercolor, then decided to go back to my pencils. She has a ways to go, but will be a riot of patterns and color when finished. I'm doing a lot of burnishing to get the colors really saturated on this one, as opposed to my softer look I do with other drawings.

Drawings of Knitting is now a shop on etsy . I'm still doing all the 'behind the scenes' set up duties and all for the shop, but hope to have some actual listings up in the next few days. I think I'll start with downloadable pdf files of coloring pages from my coloring book, then go from there.  I have so many ideas for cool things to make with my drawings! I am in serious need of a clone, because I just can't do everything I have in my head. (I'm still trying to get arCATecture back in gear after its big debut, then sort of fizzle.)

I'm really glad Downton Abbey is back and look forward to 9:00 Sunday evenings. Its the only night I can manage to be sitting down ready to go on time for a show! I'm always finishing up working or doing 'one more thing' and then finally sit down in time to get the last 5 minutes of Charlie Rose (and always on a night when he's had someone really good on).

Lots of ideas for things for this year, as usual. I should do an inventory of supplies and do a good sorting out of stuff. I will probably do a 'good enough' attempt. Does anyone ever really do that properly? Really? 

Well I've prattled on about not much for long enough. Just thought I'd check in and wish you well for the new year. We're having RAIN, real honest to goodness, almost too much now, RAIN, so I think our drought may finally be over. I hope that's a sign of good things to come for us all.