from the jazz age to the space age

The Golden Sigil ~ inspiration

I had a breakthrough with my health. Things are looking up and I am back to creating art. I’ve been reading books about my beloved Pre- Raphaelites again as a distraction. For my birthday, Mikael got me, Rossetti: Painter and Poet, by J.B. Bullen.
It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve done anything artistic. Between the stress of being sick, buying a house, and moving, I haven’t felt like creating anything. It can be especially difficult to create when you feel paralyzed with fear.
To break myself out of this stasis, I turned to one of my dependable art tricks: take a painting you love and reinterpret it. This time I chose, “Bocca Baciata,” by Rossetti. I especially wanted to capture a feeling of the turned head, distant eyes, and voluminous hair. At first I gave her peonies in her hair, but the Autumnal/Old Summer color scheme of Rossetti’s painting didn’t fit with the blossoms. So, I switched out flowers for turkey tail mushrooms. At that point I realized that I loved the idea enough to not just make a pencil drawing, but to turn it into a painting- quite possibly using egg tempera.

The initial drawing~ “The Golden Sigil.”

The next step was to make a sketch (as opposed to a drawing) with the new information I wanted to convey. I figured out hand position and placement, motifs, and color map. 

Rossetti’s magnificent, “Bocca Baciata.” 

I also had to make a Value Map. This was especially important because in “Bocca Baciata” Rossetti’s model, Fanny Cornforth is blonde against a dark background. Since the woman in my painting is brunette, I have to make a decision. Do I want to paint a dark background, which when combined with dark hair will cause the milky face to advance- or do I want a mid value background which will showcase the voluminous dark hair, as well as the pale face? I sketched a mid value bg, but I’m still undecided. Luckily, I can start painting a mid background and change it to a dark background easily. 

And that wraps up the initial planning stage. Even though I tend to be struck with inspiration and “see” a painting, I still like to map out my ideas in detail. It’s very easy for me to get so wrapped up in one part of the painting that I forget to leave room for something I really needed to start painting earlier in the process.
My next steps are-
make a larger finished drawing
scan it and make a Color Key in photoshop
print a copy and transfer it to my background
paint it. (so easy to type, but so many hours to do)

I am fascinated by the creative process. I read everything I can on how my favorite artists made art. Mostly, I keep this blog (too infrequently for any kind of audience) to remind myself of the steps that I all too often forget in my impatience to get “something” done.



Bowie Station One, Mars Hab: Aquired

We bought a house. Going from Northern California, in an extremely crowded suburban area to a much, much sparser suburb in Southern California feels like we’re on another planet. We’re in a valley, surrounded by snow capped mountains. The desolate earth on the mountains is orange with pale green shadows. It looks like Mars. I love it.

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Star Wars - New Tatooine T-Shirt

Patterns for Sale- Colette

As I’ve been cleaning and packing I took a good, hard look at my sewing supplies. I haven’t sewn in years and I’m going to blame the baby. Realistically, it’ll probably be another 3 years before I have the time. And to be honest, when I do start up again, I’m not going to want to fiddle with doing a SBA. So, I’m selling my Colette patterns. I’ve already sold one, but I have the Anise coat and the Rooibos dress left. I’m selling them for $12.00 if anyone is interested. You can check them out in my etsy shop, or email me at if you don’t want to mess with etsy (some people don’t like it).


News and “Fox Face”~

Spring and Summer were stressful and busy. Spring brought me 1, maybe 2 kidney stones and the continuation of my inflamed, painful joints. I wasn’t sure, exactly if I was going to be okay. The good news is, I may have found out my problem and how to treat it. Due to my alkaline kidney stone(s), I asked for a magnesium test. Sure enough, I am magnesium deficient. I started taking a supplement and using a lotion. It takes a long time to safely build up your magnesium stores, but hopefully it’ll all work out. I think there’s a possibility that my sigmoid colon was damaged while I was pregnant and that interfered with my absorption of magnesium, which in turn messed up my calcium, and gave me serious constipation, which then irritated my intestines to the point that I had serious problems with digesting a lot of different types of food. Those are just hypotheticals because neither of my doctors have okayed a GI, despite the crippling chronic pain I was dealing with. I’ll have another test for kidney and magnesium in the Fall and hopefully they’ll be good. In any case, the pain is gone* (slight twinges maybe once a week) and I’m able to tolerate different foods. Who knows? Maybe in another year I’ll be able to flat out eat bread again.

Being so sick made me reevaluate what I am doing with my art. When it was really bad, I took everything out of my store. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to hold a pencil or paintbrush to create any more art. I decided I wanted to leave some things to my children. Now that I’ve improved, my feelings haven’t really changed. I don’t know how I feel about selling my art. For one thing- people are not banging on my door to buy it, despite offering payment plans. So many galleries have folded in the last 6 months that that seems incredibly sketchy, not to mention incredibly expensive– It is incredibly expensive to send a painting to a gallery show. Say I have a painting for $200. I have to buy a frame $20-50. I have to ship it $25+ (in the US, much more overseas). I would get 50% and the gallery would get 50%. So on a $200 painting I would make about $25 if I’m lucky. And yes, I know you’re supposed to build the price of the frame and shipping into the painting, but that would make the painting $300+.

The point is, I realized I could make a lot more money with a lot less stress just going to work at a regular job. I’ve never been super interested in being well known. Despite keeping a blog, I’m very introverted. I just like drawing and painting at my own pace. I keep my blog because I like reading about art and artists’ inspirations, process, and techniques, and I think other people like reading about that too. It also helps me to look back on old posts if I forget why or how I did something in one of my paintings.

I do contribute to a bi-monthly art swap on Instagram, “Special Delivery Art Swap,” which is very fun. I was also invited to join an art group on Instagram, The Poison Candy Artist Collective. I’ll be making a drawing or small gouache painting every other month to go into their auction. I think that will satisfy any stirring that occasionally pops up to try and sell my work. After I move and start working full time, and after I amass a larger pool of personal art for my children, I may change my mind and seek out some themed gallery shows near where we’ll be living, so I can just drive the painting over instead of shipping it.

Oh- Also, we are moving. Originally is was going to be August, but now it’s January. One third of our apartment is packed, which makes things very chaotic!
Here is a new drawing I finished this morning~
The original sketch was from a few years ago. I decided I wanted to try and work through and finish some of my old ideas. I redrew her on heavier paper, changed her pose, and changed her mask from a cat to a fox. I would like to make a sister drawing still of the cat girl.

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Fox Face

Air and Alchemy

gouache and pencil on Canson 185 lb paper20160622_140204

After being sick for the last few months- (kidney stone) I’m finally well again. I still have to be very careful with what I eat, no wheat, very few grains, and now low sodium, but as my large intestine has improved, my hands have improved considerably. They still burn every once in a while, but it’s incredibly minor. My labs are great.

But the forced inactivity made me think about what I’d like to do in the immediate future. I’d definitely like to illustrate a book, but in order to do that I’ll have to retool how I work in order to become faster. At the same time I’ve been growing restless with the limitations of gouache. You have to be very, very careful when you overpaint, because it becomes active when it comes in contact with water. I hate oil, so that’s out (not oil paintings, but using oils myself), but I have always LOVED egg tempera. A lot. And my painting style is essentially drawing with a brush which makes it a good fit. So, that’s on my immediate future list.

In the meantime I went back to one of my earliest inspirations, medieval manuscripts. They inspired “Air,” up above. Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 5.46.00 PM I made a simple outline drawing. Filled her in with a gouache base. Drew on top of the paint. And then painted the details. It was incredibly satisfying. So satisfying that I ordered “Alchemy & Mysticism”. Sure I have books on symbolism, mythology, and magic symbols, but this book is gorgeous. It also keeps my on track, style wise. I don’t want to fall down the rabbit hole of spending 2 months on a small painting anymore. I think this will help me divide my work between projects that are smaller, on paper, in gouache and pencil- and projects that are medium sized, in egg tempera, on gessoed board. 20160622_170911

I have a Pinterest board of evening gowns where I found the dress and color scheme-
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This one is Gucci. I think she looks like she could have walked out of a modern Decameron.

On being an adequate mother~

Oh Mother’s Day, no other holiday fills me with as much ambivalence as you.
So here’s my two favorite mothers and their words of wisdom:
tumblr_o1s3kqlOKS1ubc3b0o2_1280royaltenenbaums1“How long have you been a smoker?”
“22 years.”
“Well I think you should quit.”
(yes, I know the second picture is from a different scene, but I love her expression.)


“If the clothes from that dry cleaning bag are on the floor of my closet, you’re going to be a very sorry young lady.”

Some days I struggle with the idea- “what is a good parent?” I had completely absent parents, so I have no real life, up close models to compare myself to. I usually describe myself as an adequate parent. My children are often insanely adorable, funny, and smart. But they’re also boring, unbelievably destructive, and occasionally mean. According to popular opinion regarding parenting, I’m responsible for both extremes. I know admitting, that for me, motherhood isn’t an “OMG! TREASURE EVERY MOMENT!!!!11111” experience probably makes people think that I’m not happy. But I’d say about 80% of the time I am. The other 20% though, holy shit. About 19 of that 20% was during Karl’s colic.
For me, being a mother has pried open parts of my psyche that I usually keep tamped down. (I’m now unbearably sentimental, complete with tears- curse you Harry Chapin!) While I try to keep things smooth and even, I find that most days I zig-zag between the smothering overattention of Etheline Tenenbaum and the exasperation/inattention of Betty Draper/Francis. But for all of that, becoming a mother has forced me to engage with the world in a way I’ve avoided. At times I’m both a better and a worse person than I was before- and an interesting side effect is, I’m a better, more inspired artist. I strive to create beautiful, meaningful paintings so that at some point in the distant future my children will have some idea of who I am beyond the “mother” they know.
So much of their personalities seem already set, yet I wonder what kind of people they will grow up to be. My secret desire for them both is that they are kind, but nobody’s fool- which is probably something I’m not supposed to admit in public. But I do. I want them to have the fortitude and wisdom to navigate life, and the grit to not be taken advantage of. That’s a quality I resisted up until I turned 30 and one of the few regrets I have is wasting decades of my life attempting to please people. I absolutely regret being “nice” and “cool” to people who didn’t merit it. And now I’m stuck with how to pass that lesson on to my children in way that they’ll embrace, rather than reject. They are already so far ahead of me than I was at their ages. They have so much confidence and determination. I can only hope I have many more years with them (even when they drive me crazy).

Yes, this song is ridiculously corny, but it makes me cry every time. Thanks a lot Mother hormones.

Disney Sleeping Beauty Princess Aurora Brigitte Bardot Original Art



6″x8″ Pencil and watercolor
I’ve been wanting to do something with Disney princesses for a while and have had a very specific idea that I wanted to get out. Luckily, Charleen Juliet organized “Storybook Sundays” on Instagram which gave me the push to get to it.
A few years ago, Mikael and I saw an exhibit at the Cartoon Art Museum which featured Sleeping Beauty concept art. Turns out she was originally based on Audrey Hepburn in “Sabrina”. They also considered making her brunette, but Walt decided to make her blonde to round out the princesses. Snow White is brunette, Cinderella is strawberry blonde/redhead, and Aurora is the blonde.
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I have a suspicion they based Aurora’s formal gown of Audrey’s Roman Holiday dress (which was also the inspiration for Bell’s gown in Beauty and the Beast).
But after Eyvind Earle created the amazing, highly stylized backgrounds, the characters were redesigned to match.
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Instead of basing Aurora on Audrey (who I am an enormous fan of), I chose brigitte Bardot, who I feel matches the sculptured backgrounds better. I think it’s her cheekbones 😀 She’s holding a briar rose flower.

She was available in my Etsy shop, but someone purchased her through Instagram.

Next up- Rumpelstiltskin!

“Do you know that looks like you?”

“Is that supposed to be you?”

“Why do you always draw/paint yourself?”

“Yeah, but do you KNOW it looks like you?”

Ad infinitum.

I have to admit, I’m always puzzled by this question and its variations. A man drawing his wife or girlfriend never has to answer this. No one would ever comment on it at all. As a heterosexual woman married to a man, I’m not 100% sure who the women in my paintings are supposed to look like. Sure I could paint my husband over and over again, but it’s no secret that paintings featuring men are hard to sell.

First off, I’m the only model I have. Second, models cost money. The hassle involved in finding & paying a model, as well as keeping their permission slips to use their likeness on file is something I’ve done in the past. But, I have two digital paintings that I lost both the slips to and the whereabouts of the women over a decade ago. Third, having an idea in your head and trying to get your model to pretzel into the pose is no fun- and usually that’s not how it’s done anyway.

And yes, I do portraits of other people, which I enjoy

But for my regular work, I have a streamlined, cost effective process which I’ve had for years-

I make sketches of an idea. Then I take photos of myself in that pose to use as reference. Primarily to keep from falling into drawing the exact same pose that I drew for another picture. It gives a slight difference to each drawing. I use the photos to draw from, along with whatever other photo reference I need- ie even though some wings may be stylized I’ll still used photos. Crowns, hair, dresses- and then on top of that, obviously imaginative stuff. The faces are usually from 15 years ago as I’m no longer a young woman, but the expressions are mine from now. I also print a black and white copy of the photo to aide in placing shadows. My shadows are not realistic, rather they are in the Medieval vein. I don’t do chiaroscuro at all. I like my paintings to have a flat, decorative quality, with slightly more 3 dimensional elements, like the hands and faces.

And here’s the thing- I pose for ALL of them. Those old guys eating donuts and beignets? Those are both me.
bluevsredThat crazy cat guy? That’s me too.
webCatman01My moon faced werewolf girl with the fluffy Jimmy Page hair? Me. Her sister that everyone thinks is me, she is me, but no more than any of the others. Not to mention that at the Autumnal age of 42, I haven’t looked like that in 20 years. Which is great. One day my hair will be completely silver and my wrinkles will be so deep that finally no one will ask if that’s me ever again.

Although they’ll probably say, “Is that your granddaughter?”

Wolfsbane and Wolf’s Paw – Werewolf Lasses -Paintings



I finished 2 painting last week! Wolfsbane and Wolf’s Paw are available in my shop. They are gouache and gold paint on Canson 185 lb. Acrylic paper. They are each 8″x10″.

I’ve written before about how much I love werewolves. I’m also terrified of them. There’s nothing as frightening to me as losing control- although the intense phsical pain of most werewolf transformations comes in at a very close second.

I’m also fascinated by hair and what it means to us. World wide and throughout history hair signifies 2 things- masculinity and animalism. The first of these reasons is why women have usually waxed, plucked, and otherwise depilated themselves- to create (or to be expected to embody) a hyperfeminity. The 2nd reason is why both sexes have frequently shaved. The middle ages was obsessed with spirituality and a separation from the animal kingdom in order to think higher, more godly thoughts. There is a 3rd reason people have historically gotten rid of their hair- the heat (hello Ancient Egypt!).
I am not a hairy person. I have sparse eyebrows and short eyelashes which has no doubt fueled my obsession. I wanted to do a couple of paintings that explored some of my favorite themes: transformation, animal nature, and secrets.

Each painting shows a woman in an ambiguous state. Sitting placidly in their virginal white dresses and Mona Lisa smiles, we are unsure if they are about to transform or have already danced under the moon. Both wear gold embroidered dresses because silver is deadly to werewolves, and both have long rippling hair like ocean waves or fire.
Wolfsbane has a repeating motif of full and crescent moons- her eyebrows, her lace dress, her full face, and her pearl ring.
Wolf’s Paw has sharp edges- her diamond print dress, the diamond stars in her hair and her triangular palm sign. Yellow can mean sunlight, but it can also mean sickness and madness. For her palm symbol, in folktales werewolves often have hair on their palms, but the connection to masturbation would narrow and limit the interpretation of the painting. Similarly, the original symbol I chose was the “wolf’s mark,” but I recalled that the Nazis appropriated it for (big surprise) their werewolf soldiers. Long story, anyway I did a quick internet search and unfortunately the thing is still used by white power groups. Obviously I had to choose something else. I settled on an alchemical symbol for Silver, which I feel leaves the meaning of the painting fairly open.

With these two paintings I feel Winter has come to a close. I’ve already started on my Spring inspired work.

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Alice in Wonderland English Rose


englishrose72 englishrose72view2All in the Golden Afternoon- English Rose from Alice in Wonderland. Based on Marianne Faithfull. Pencil and watercolor on thick Canson Acrylic 185 lb/400 g paper. She is sealed with Krylon Matte Finish spray. Available in my shop~

I first read Alice when I was 8. My school library had a volume with both Wonderland and Looking Glass in it. Of the 2, Looking Glass was my favorite and inspired me to play chess with my brother non stop. I’ve drawn quite a bit of Alice’s world over the years and I keep coming back to a wonderful mash up of 60s mod/psychedelic England. That inspired me to draw a lovely Wonderland Rose that bears a resemblance to the amazingly talented Marianne Faithfull. If you love the 60s I highly recommend her autobiography. 

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I participated in the Instagram #80scartoonartfriends art party this month. Once I saw Jem was on the list, I knew I couldn’t say no. She’s 6″x8″, pencil and watercolor on 185 lb, Canson Acrylic paper. She is unframed and available in my shop.
I straight up fell in love with the cartoon when it came on, in tiny 10 minutes segments. Luckily it got picked up and increased to a half hour (including commercials) and dolls came out. The dolls were glorious. I quickly had nearly all of them, minus Rio bc I thought he was boring. I still have them at my Aunt’s house in Southern California.
Over the years I’ve day dreamed and doodled Jem art and thought a lot about the characters.
My inspiration for Jem is none other than one of my teenage idols, Debbie Harry-

Yeah, I know. I drew Jem slightly more wholesome.

And who is my fantasy Jerrica? Who indeed…
905ba50527050a7ab8defc3437d58f18I have everyone cast and I’d like to do some more drawings!


retold by Leontyne Price, based on the opera by Giuseppe Verdi, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon




Aida is the story of the beautiful Nubian (Ethiopian) princess who is captured by Egyptian soldiers and made a slave in the palace.




She keeps her identity a secret, but her nobility, gentleness, and beauty shine so brightly that the Egyptian warrior, Radames falls in love with her. However, the Egyptian princess Amneris loves Radames as well.


imageAida’s father, King Amonasro, invades Egypt to free his daughter, but is captured by Radames and his army.

Aida and her father are determined to escape and Aida begs Radames to come with them.


But Amneris was watching and calls the guards. 

Radames is sentenced to be buried alive for treason.

But Aida has hidden in the tomb. She has resolved to die with her beloved.

The princess Amneris prays to the gods of Egypt that they forgive her and grant rest to Radames.

I have quite a few books by Leo and Diane Dillon- one of which, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” you can see here. The illustrations were done in acrylics, on acetate and marbleized paper. The metal frame was created by their son, Lee Dillon.
The Dillons are primarily famous for their sci-fi/fantasy covers, which are spectacular. They also often portrayed black/african looking people in their art, which is a rarity on book covers, even when the characters are specifically written as darker skinned (such as in Le Guin’s Earthsea books). -Note, an illustrator is usually given the briefest synopsis to work with, or something even worse like, “a young woman in a futuristic setting.”
But, the Dillons initially flourished during a time when there was an interest in African culture and black beauty, which enabled their work to break out of the common stereotypes of sci-fi/fantasy art. I’d like to do a post soon on Afro-futurism, which is one of my favorite genres, where I go into this in a little more depth.
In the meantime, please enjoy the Dillons magnificent art.

And, the story was retold by the famous soprano, Leontyne Price. Here is a video of her, singing “O Patria Mia” from Aida~

Cupid and Psyche

Retold by M. Charlotte Craft. Illustrated by Kinuko Craft.
I know everyone hates Valentines Day because it makes them feel horribly alone, but I can’t help but love it. Not because I’m married either.  I’ve always loved it,  even when I was single.  There’s so much candy! And, to be perfectly honest,  I love when others are happily in in love. Valentine’s is also about showing love to your family and friends.  People hate holidays,  but as long as you don’t go totally fucking insane trying to create perfect moments,  they’re actually just nice reminders to reach out to the people in your life, whether those relationships are romantic or platonic.

I first read “Cupid and Psyche” as a chid. I immediately recognized it as “Beauty and Beast”, which is one of my two favorite fairy tales ever. I’ve had plans to illustrate it for 20 years, but until then we can gaze at the beautiful paintings of Kinuko Craft.

A note inside tells us that the art is oil over a watercolor base.
imageRoughly, “Cupid” means “desire” and “Psyche” means “soul”. These are the names by which the characters are best known, however, Cupid is Roman and Psyche is Greek. In Greek, Cupid is Eros and in Roman, Psyche is Anima. Together they form the ultimate in love. Note the Morning Glory flowers on the left. According to Victorian tradition, Morning Glory meant a love that never dies. And of course we have Psyche holding a butterfly- psyche also meant butterfly in ancient greek. 


Beautiful embossed cover. You rarely see covers like this anymore.



A King and Queen have 3 daughters. All are lovely, but Psyche is so beautiful the people believe her to be the Goddess Venus come to Earth. Her sisters marry, but Psyche, prized her her beauty, remains unloved.



Venus sends her son, Cupid to shoot Psyche with one of his arrows of desire and make her fall in love with a monster.


He gleefully goes to do her bidding, but upon seeing Psyche accidentally pricks himself with the arrow meant for her. The Oracle of Delphi proclaims that a monster so fearsome that even the Gods fear him has fallen in love with Psyche and wants her as his bride. They are to take her to a mountaintop where the West Wind will spirit her away to her Bridegroom.


But once there, Psyche finds a beautiful palace filled with invisible servants. Every night, in complete darkness her husband comes to her. He is so kind and gentle that she forgets that he is supposed to be a monster. But still, she is lonely and persuades him to allow her sisters to visit her.


The West Wind brings them, but even though they are both married to rich and handsome kings, they become consumed with jealously at their sister’s good fortune. When they discover she has never seen her monstrous husband, they convince her to break her promise to him and light a lamp to see what he looks like.


After they leave, Psyche decides to follow their advice. but instead of an ugly monster, she discovers that her husband is the beautiful God of Love. She is so shocked she drips hot oil on Cupid.


Heartbroken that she has broken her promise and wounded from the burning oil, Cupid leaves her.


Bitches get stitches.


Psyche beseeches Venus to have pity on her. The Goddess tells Psyche that all the stress that Psyche has put her through has dulled her own beauty. She sends the girl to the Underworld to borrow some of Persephone’s beauty. This painting reminds me of Kay Nielsen’s amazing illustration from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”.  That fairy tale is another variant of this story.


The beautiful and dreaded Persephone, queen of the Underworld. Persephone gives her a box containing a bit of her beauty, but warns Psyche to not open it. Note the pomegranate from Persephone’s own myth.


Psyche is really bad at following instructions. Like, really, really bad. She worries that her travels have made her look terrible. She wants to Cupid to see her in all her beauty and so she opens the box to take just a pinch of Persephone’s beauty for herself. But Persephone’s beauty delivers only deep, deathly sleep. Luckily, Cupid had been watching for her. Healed from his wound, he flies to her side and puts the sleep back in the box.


Psyche delivers the box to Venus. Cupid entreats Jupiter, king of the Gods to grant Psyche immortality. Jupiter and the other gods are happy to do so, thinking that Cupid will be so busy with his lovely wife that he will cause far less trouble for both gods and men. Even Venus is happy. With Psyche in Olympus instead of on Earth, mortals once again resume their worship of her.
As for Cupid and Psyche, they have a beautiful daughter they name, “Joy” and they all live happily ever after.

Sirin ~ Pinterest Inspiration

Most of my inspiration for my painting “Sirin” came from my general love of Russian Fairytales and Medieval painting. I spent a lot of time looking at 3 books I have on Russian Lacquer Miniatures. The art is usually on a black background with strong red and orange colors, with some lovely blue and green accents. This one in particular was very inspiring- “Sleeping Beauty.”
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But I also used a few Pinterest pictures for reference and keeping me on track. With children about, I’ve found it easier to have a board rather than my usual pile of books. I still work with books of course, but I’m able to cut down on how high the stack gets by having my board up on the computer. –I made a separate board called, “Sirin.” Screen shot 2016-01-16 at 10.23.42 AMAt the top you have the “Maiden Tsar” from the Russian animated film, “The Magic Pony.” When I was a child, they used to show this movie all the time on KTLA’s Sunday Family Film Festival. In what seemed like a sea of wide eyed blonde princesses, she was a lonely island. Between her brown hair and her long, dark eyes with heavy eyeliner, she hit every mark on my childhood “pretty” target. Everything in this film is gorgeous. Don’t even get me started on the horses! Below, the two Ivan Bilibin pictures, as well as the image between them were helpful in my process of narrowing down my colors. I briefly considered a cream background. You’ll notice the Sirin on the left is holding a flower. She is proably a Gamayun, which were more likely to be shown with arms in addition to wings. I found this picture after I’d made my final sketch, but I still feel quite indebted to it. I gave my Sirin a sunflower to tie her to the Slavic solar god, (Dazbod or Belobog) as well as possible slavic solar symbols embroidered on her headdress.
Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.21.33 PMUnfortunately Slavic mythology is still much of a mystery. A few beliefs which used to be taken for granted, like the Belobog/Chernobog dualism, are now questioned. (You may remember Chernobog from Fantasia’s amazing “Night on Bald mountain”.)
nightonbaldmountain530(PS- This is not a Danzig logo)

The Sirin in the center, with the red sun stayed with me, because for many decades I’ve had a reoccurring dream of a world lit by a black sun, black, not red like this picture- a sun that looks like an eclipse. The last time I started having the dream again was when I first got sick in the Fall of 2015. I made a few drawings and took some reference photos, but they’re somewhat sad and make me uncomfortable. It’s still there sometimes, that world lit by a black sun.
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Russian headdresses, often called kokoshniks, vary from region to region. I have a little notebook with all the ones I’ve collected so far which I’d love, time permitting to turn into little paintings. Headdresses from the north usually feature freshwater pearls, while those from the south are more likely to have copious amounts of gold embroidery. I chose the more crown-like one on the upper right as my main inspiration. I loved the contrast of the blue ribbon and gold embroidery on the bottom left, which I incorporated, changing the blue to pale green. The totally bonkers beautiful bird woman in “Sadko” makes me want to track that movie down. The colors in the center picture made me change the background from black to a softer grey. The “Last Unicorn” has been on my perma watch list this winter. Amalthea has the best hair in animation, along with Aurora. The bottom center picture is a favorite of mine- midcentury art is the last time we saw art with small, dark eyes on a regular basis. Not soon after this, the adorable Dollybird’s with their saucer eyes began their beauty domination. And finally the amazing iridescence of raven wings. It helped me to be brave and add blue and green to the wings.

I have plans and sketches for more, but next I’d like to finish and paint my wolf girl sketches from November. Then, perhaps I’ll return to the “Land Beyond the Blue Mountains.”

Sirin ~Songs of Joy


gouache, acrylic, and pencil on 185 lb paper

I love Russian fairytales, folktales, and Slavic mythology. The Russian Sirin is thought to be a descendant of the Greek Sirin. Said to reside near the Garden of Eden, they sang beautiful songs of joy. Some stories tell that only truly happy people could hear the Sirin.
The Sirin often has two similar companions; the Alkonost, who sang sorrowful songs that inspired forgetfulness and oblivion in the listener, and the Gamayun, who sang songs of knowledge. All three birds were considered prophetic.

In line with my New Year’s resolution, I had planned on putting her up for sale, so that she could sing joyful songs to whoever wanted her. I even asked around to figure out a good formula for pricing my work. The “by the hour” doesn’t work for me. My work is too detailed. I ended up going with the “linear inch” model, which multiplied by our minimum wage gave me a fair price, at least fair in my mind. So, 9 + 12 = 21 x $12.00 = $252. But my husband ended up asking me to please not sell her. He’s grown quite attached to her, which is unusual for him. So, she’s staying here.

Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.22.03 PMA photo of the finished painting. Unfortunately neither the scan above nor the photo capture the creaminess of working with gouache, but I still thinks she’s lovely. If you’re not familiar with gouache, it dries to a matte, suede like finish. Not fuzzy, but incredibly soft looking. It’s quite unlike anything in its strange, subdued beauty. Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.17.12 PMTwo of my initial sketches (there were two more that may become different paintings later). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to show her feet as well, but I decided to focus on her face, so I went with the sketch on the right. I took a photo for reference and started drawing.
Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.17.30 PMI finished the drawing and transfered it to paper. I use a heavy duty 185 lb Canson paper that’s actually made for acrylics.
Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.17.45 PM I love drawing hands.Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.18.03 PM And here is the finished drawing on acrylic paper, ready for paint. I left out a lot of the details because I knew they would be filled in later by paint.Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.18.21 PM I scanned her in and created a color key. The color key helps me to make sure my colors have some contrast and that I don’t end up with some random color in there which would stick out like a sore thumb. I also created a color map (not shown), which is where I took these colors and rough colored the drawing in photoshop to get an idea of where they would go. In that way I balanced the deep red of her crown with the deep red of her sleeves. Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.18.37 PM Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.18.48 PM After laying in the background color in gouache, I used burnt sienna acrylic to paint the outlines with a tiny brush.Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.19.04 PM Next I did the coloring book colors. This part is always very hard for me because it looks like such a disaster. Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.19.22 PM I felt much better once I had a chance to work on the background.Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.19.59 PM The long process of creating the wings starts.Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.20.11 PM I was inspired by iridescent raven feathers to use green to contrast with the red-orange.Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.20.25 PMSirins typically have bird bodies, but I wanted it to blur the line between whether she’s wearing a dress or whether those are her feathers growing out of her body.
Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.20.49 PM Hanging out with Van Eyck’s Mary for inspiration. Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.21.02 PMMy photo reference is up so I can get the pink on her hands right.
Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.21.33 PM I added gold paint to a few places.Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.21.47 PM And some gold on her sunflower.Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 1.22.03 PMFin~

Happy New Year! ~Ode to Joy

Here’s hoping this year is beautiful. Good Luck everyone!

Books, Books, Books

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This year I’ve gone through my books and sold quite a few that I realized I was never going to use, mostly sewing related. As I did, I noticed some holes in my collection. I asked Mikael for a few and he ended up getting me everything, including a surprise James Jean book. We have a $50 limit on gifts which we both went over a little this year. We had a little extra bc this was the first year in 3 years that we didn’t have to pay for Karl’s pre-school. I kept wondering why I wasn’t as stressed out about money this year when I realized, oh right, we don’t have to cough up a pile of money right before and after Christmas.

“Wives and Stunners” is about the women who inspired the Pre-Raphaelites. Many of these women were painters and poets in their own right, but women were discouraged (to say the least) from a career in the arts. While I know quite a bit about Lizzie Siddel and Jane Morris, I’m very excited to read more about the others who I know only from their modeling.

“Surrealist Art” is a wonderful book I’ve read a few times through the library, but sadly never owned. It has a wealth of information, but the only downside is the pictures are mostly in black and white.

“Surrealism” remedies that. It has very little information beyond the title and artist, but each page has a beautiful, fairly large color reproduction of a painting.

“The First Fossil Hunters” proposes that fossils were the basis for many fantastic creatures in Greek myth, such as griffins and the Cyclopes. I saw a tv program on this a few years ago and have wanted to read the book ever since.

“Japanese Tales” is just that, and while I already have a book of Japanese ghost stories and two books on Asian myths, I do not have one dedicated to Japanese tales across the board. After I saw this in a store I put it on my wish list. I suppose I’m getting lazy in my old age bc it’s not always fun for me to have 5 books stacked next to me, bookmarked with the Japanese stories- that my baby promptly yanks the bookmarks out of. Sisyphean, I tell you.

And finally, “James Jean: Pareidolia” I have Jean’s “Memu:100 postcards” but I greatly wanted a large book so I could pour over his beautiful work. Like most people I was introduced to him through his exquisite covers for the comic book, “Fables.” And while I found the stories in “Fables” often lacking, the covers were worth the price of the books. Jean is an inspiration. There are times when I’m trying desperately to solve an art problem and he’s done it so neatly and beautifully that I can only sigh in admiration.
And case you were wondering what “Pareidolia” was: the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features. – 

Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat~ Elstir Wips


“Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!”
~Lewis Carroll

As I mentioned before, Elstir is supposedly an Irish version of Esther, which means “star”. I like that she’s my dark star. I finally scanned her in and tried to color correct her so that she’s close to her real colors, at least on my mac. And to wrap this painting up, here is a collection of my Elstir wips that were originally on Instagram~

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Escaping through painting.

A post shared by Jordan Wester (@nouvellegamine) on

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Elstir Pinterest Inspiration Board

Before Pinterest I used to have stacks of paper all over. I’ve written before about how Pinterest’s feed change made it useless, but it’s still very useful if you actually need a place to store images.

The idea, drawing, and color palette for Elstir came first. But afterwards I went through some of my favorite boards, like Magick and Princess Witch Palette so I would have a concise (for me) set of images to keep me on track through painting. Even though I painted her in September and October, I feel like Elstir is more of a Winter painting than and Autumn painting. Now that we are back from a ridiculously terrible family Thanksgiving trip, I can finally look through my sketches to see what to do next. Ideally I’d like to finish a couple of drawings before I start another paintings, but we’ll see ;D

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Elstir ~completed painting

I finally finished Elstir. She started as a postcard for the Bat World Sanctuary charity. I liked the drawing so much that I really wanted to make it into a painting. I’ll eventually scan her in and add her to my portfolio, but until then I took some photos. The top picture is the closest to her actual color- at least it is on my mac screen. The middle one isn’t too far off, but the third one I had to angle a bit because I wanted to try and photograph the gold paint, which is no easy task. Now I know why some of Klimt’s paintings look marvelous and some look terrible. When I captured the gold, the rest of the picture bleached out, but when I got the rest of the picture, the gold disappeared. Oh well. She’s lovely in person. Well, as lovely as a monster can be, I suppose 🙂

gouache, acrylic, white charcoal, and gold paint
12″ x 16″

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I wanted a name that meant “star” and stumbled upon an Irish version of “Esther,” which is “Elstir.” I already had decided that her bat ears would be wrapped like double hennins. She wears a thick medieval style crown with a bat cameo in the center. She has a shear white veil embroidered in gold stars and gold edging. Her eye makeup is actually a very deep blue.

Painting wise, I’m very satisfied with her. She hits that sweet spot that I was trying to express- my love of medieval illuminations, like “Tres Riches Heures,” Russian miniature lacquer box art, Andrew Wyeth’s lovely tempura paintings with their delicate hatching, Van Gogh’s beautiful movement, every Pre-Raphaelite ever, and obviously my beloved Klimt. Klimt with his long necked, long fingered women who are either beautiful or ugly, depending on who you ask.

I learned something very, very important from this painting, and that is, that I have to make smaller paintings. Elstir is 12″ x 16″ and she took a long time due to my meticulous painting style. My next paintings and drawings are all 9″ x 12″, like “Roxanne.” I do wish I could paint looser and in a smoother manner, but it doesn’t please me personally. Whenever I’ve painted in a smoother style things start to feel too soft and rubbery. I like all the hard little lines, imperfectly blending when you’re close. They give my eyes something to grab on to. It’s very much like the sensation I have when I watch the sea or a great mass of trees on a hill. I never get tired of looking at all the tiny colors.


It Rained Last Night

I always feel like listening to Nick Cave when it rains.

Taking a break from Drawvember this weekend because the world is crazy.

The Blood is the Life

After 8 years of vegetarianism I’ve started eating meat again thanks to my gluten intolerance. I’m also not able to eat tofu, so it was kind of a done deal for me. But I have conflicting feelings about it. I don’t generally talk about it unless asked but, I became a vegetarian because I’m not in favor of factory farming practices. I think it’s bad all the way around. Bad for the animals, bad for the taste of the meat, bad for the workers, and generally bad for the environment. But I’ve also been open to the possibility of having to eat meat sometime in the future due to health reasons. I’ve known a few vegetarians who had to start eating meat post menopause because their bodies just weren’t able to extract what they needed from plants anymore- and I’m talking dedicated, lifelong vegetarians. But I assumed that day would be far in the future if it ever came at all.

As for my husband, he thinks it’s really gross. He’s been a vegetarian and occasional vegan since he was 16. I’m pretty sure it’s like finding out that your wife was bitten by a werewolf. I mean technically it’s a medical situation- and I won’t get too personal with the details, but eating gluten free with no tofu was making me really sick in a totally different way. After my hair started falling out and my weight went into free fall it was actually my husband’s idea for me to start eating meat. Luckily my health has stabilized, but it’s still an adjustment for him. He’s not going full Darrin Stephens here, but he’s trying. He didn’t even get grossed out last night even though I reeked of bacon.

In case you’re wondering, eating meat is not super duper the bestest thing ever. It’s definitely been nice to have some variety, taste wise, but it’s not so fucking spectacular that I regret my vegetarian. I’d rather stuff my face with cookies and bread, but that ship has sailed. And eating the gluten free versions too often hurts my stomach, so it’s pretty much a twice monthly thing. They don’t give me a reaction, just a general feeling of being a child that ate too much candy. The thing eating meat has helped with is a feeling of fullness. I was just hungry all the time. All the frickin time. Like a crazy, “I want to eat your face!” kind of hunger. But it’s better now.

Btw- here’s a selfie of me at Five Guys-


Drawlloween is over but Drawvember is here!

I had an amazing time doing Drawlloween. It helped me loosen up and be less self conscious about posting sketches and off the cuff drawings. As soon as I finish painting “Elstir” I have a couple of these to refine and paint. I found it deeply inspiring and over all so much fun. And, it looks like I’m not the only one mourning the end of Drawlloween. The wonderful Hoap put together an awesome Dravember list.

But first, my Drawlloween drawings~
Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 8.18.26 AM“Haunted House” -Crimson Peak -I finally saw Crimson Peak. It’s basically a mash up of Fall of the House of Usher and Rebecca, which means I liked it. Nothing groundbreaking- but the costumes and sets are top notch. It’s definitely set in Del Toro’s universe and follows its rules, which is cool. I did find the story and characterization to be a little too slight. I thought that worked for Pacific Rim(one of my favorites) bc that’s essentially an amine that happened to be live action. But I would have liked more backstory on the Sharpes.
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“Demon” -and old, old one from about 15 years ago. I was reading A LOT of “Paradise Lost.”Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 8.19.33 AM

“Mask” – another old one from about 15 years ago. This is pretty much the genesis of me putting animal masks on people. The front is a cross between a noh mask and a kitsune, while the back is a storm spirit.
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“Candy”- 15 years ago as well. I had just started taking Paxil and had conflicted feelings about it, despite it helping me considerably. Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 8.19.54 AM

“Skeleton” -actually just a sketchbook study that turned into me being far more interested in her hair.Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 8.20.08 AM

“Addams Family”- “Morticia and Ophelia” -I wanted to show Morticia and her little known older sister Ophelia as teens. This would be shortly before they met Gomez. Ophelia was initially betrothed to Gomez, but he fell in love with Morticia. Ophelia was decidedly NOT brokenhearted. I gave them vaguely late 60s Biba era dresses, with Morticia’s dress being a nod to how she dresses her daughter, Wednesday. Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 8.20.22 AMScreen shot 2015-11-11 at 8.20.34 AM

“Witch” – I ended up posting 2 for Witch- “Striga” and “The Great God Pancake”. I have more witch drawings than I know what to do with!Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 8.20.44 AM “Black Cat” -I haven’t been since they changed it, but the original painting featured a beautiful woman who partially turns into a panther. I can still remember how beautiful her white dress was and how deeply thrilling it was to see her change. Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 8.21.00 AMAnd finally, “Skull” – Like everyone else from my generation I discovered the Death’s Head Moth courtesy of “Silence of the Lambs”. But, fun fact, there are different varieties of the Death Head’s moth and one of them is Acherontia Atropos. Acheron is a river in the Greek underworld, and Atropos is the Fate that cuts the thread of life. I’d like to do a painting of this one once I work out the kinks in the drawing. Her right hand holding the stork shears needs to be moved and redrawn.

And now I’m on to Drawvember!

Pinterest~ Realgar and Gold

The top left image is from the Halloween Tarot by Bajema. Even though I don’t collect tarot, I fell in love with this project and ordered them. Screen shot 2015-10-03 at 10.01.10 AM The golden film stills are from Fritz Lang’s two part epic, “Die Nibelungen.” Everyone is far more familiar with Wagner’s version, but the plot here is different. It’s based on a medieval varient. I’m going to post about this some more but if you can’t wait, it’s in the public domain and on youtube. Watch the golden one instead of the silvery black and white for the full beauty effect. It’s so incredibly beautiful. The first photo is of Kriemhild, the second is Siegfried in the forest. Screen shot 2015-10-03 at 9.59.32 AM

Drawlloween: Werewolf

If you’re already following my Instagram these are old, but what I love about my blog is that I’m able to talk a little more about them.

I love drawing werewolves. The first two are from about 7 years ago, inspired by the Warren Zevon song, “Werewolves of London.” I had read a great story before that that I’m pretty sure is apocryphal about what inspired Zevon’s song. The story went that he’d gone to England and saw a bunch of punks, hence, “I saw a werewolf walking with the queen of England…” Unfortunately, that story is most likely false and the song was actually just a nonsense song written while he was coked up.
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And this lady is their far more respectable aunt, Mrs. Norther. I created her for my Sketchbook Project. Her title is, “Dangerous Pleasures,” which is the flower meaning of the tuberoses she’s holding.Screen shot 2015-10-05 at 10.03.34 AM

Beauties of the Night~ tonight!

If you’re in the Mascoutah, Illinois area, please check out Alexi Era Gallery’s show: Beauties of the Night.

“Beauties of the Night” is an awareness and fundraising exhibition for theBat World Sanctuary. The Exhibition will feature artworks on postcards from artists all around the world. All postcards will be priced $5-$50, and available to take home right away opening night. All postcards not sold at the opening will be available online the following morning. 100% of Proceeds Donated to the Bat World Sanctuary! We aim to raise awareness and create a special connection with our audience.”

100% Donation to Bat World Sanctuary (

I donated a postcard, “Elstir.” I love her and hope she finds a home.


Drawlloween: Devil

Beelzebub, the Spanish Fly.
I’m painting and making Halloween banner today, so I’m posting an old, very old (10 years) pen drawing that I still love. He’s a saucy gent! I love his bedroom eyes.

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Drawlloween: Ghost

“Come and play with us, Danny. Forever… and ever… and ever…”

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The Shining scared the ever living crap out of me when I was a kid. I remember thinking that Jack Nicholson turned into a werewolf and was chasing his son through the maze. If you get a chance, watch “Room 237,” a documentary about people theories of The Shining. Some of them are completely insane, but quite a few of them are completely amazing.

For Drawlloween, I’m going to try to post Tuesdays and Fridays.

Drawlloween 2015!

Drawlloween is here!

I won’t be able to participate every day, but I’d like to do 2 times a week. Here’s the list in case anyone else would like to join in!


Pinterest~ Dark Fantasy

I am so in love with that first pin. I found it here: Sweet Leigh. The whole editorial is from Italian Vogue and it is just bonkers good. Total Game of Thrones, but better. If I wrote, I’d totally write a fantasy GOT rip off with a gorgeous black princess version of Daenerys Targaryen. Not that I don’t love albino Daenerys, but this would be awesome too.
At the bottom there’s a photo of Jean Harlow and Anita Loos. If you’ve never read Loos, I highly recommend her. She’s absolutely ruthless and hilarious.
We are having the most gruesome Indian Summer here. All I want to do is wear my Fall clothes and I’m still stuck in Summer wear.
Knock on wood, my health seems to be slowly improving and I’m back to work on art! I’ve had to make more changes to my diet. I had no idea so many things contain gluten. It’s ridiculous.

I know these Pinterest posts may seem redundant, but I actually do use them for inspiration 😀
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Red Jay


I had a great time working on this commission. I don’t get to draw men as often as I like. The client was very specific, but also incredibly easy going which made for a delightful working relationship. I’m fairly in love with the color choices. I originally have a deep, deep red background, but he asked if it could be made into more of a teal, which looked great. I got to choose the Blade Runner-esque type for an 80s throwback vibe and used a pencil texture to color it, giving it a rougher look.
If you’re a gamer, you can visit Jason on his twitch page:

Gluten is my Enemy

The oddest, scariest thing happened to me over the course of the last week and a half. My hands seized up and stopped working. I suppose it was actually my joints, but you get the picture. When I was pregnant with Tony I developed an allergy to rye. The kind of allergy where you break out in hives all over your body. It was bizarre. I’ve never been allergic to anything, let alone rye. I love rye! But no more, I cut out rye and wondered if maybe it would go away after the baby was born and my body went back to normal.
At the same time I noticed my right index knuckle was a little swollen. I put it down to baby water weight. But after the baby was born and I’d lost all the other water weight, the swollen knuckle remained. And then in April I began to have abdominal pain. I thought it was my left ovary which likes to form a cyst when ever I get even the tiniest bit chubby. But after a couple of months the pain was still there and my pinky knuckle had begun to swell. I was definitely going to have to have it checked out as soon as I figured out what was going on- and I kept bruising very easily as well. A sonogram with my obgyn revealed everything to be normal. A few weeks later I went to my gp. He wondered if maybe I had an abdominal adhesion which was causing a blockage. I went in for a CT scan. Nope. Some very minimal adhesions, common after a c-section, but nothing remotely major.
I went on a mostly liquid diet which resolved it. Then I ate some spaghetti and my stomach cramped and puffed up. Okaaaaaay, maybe I have to take it easy on the wheat, I thought. The next week I ate pizza made from Trader Joe’s herb and garlic dough. I broke out in hives. Turns out there’s rye seeds in the dough. Hmmmm. A couple of days later Mikael and I went to a pta meet and greet at Karl’s school. They had croissants and god help me, I ate 2.
The next day, Saturday, I couldn’t use my hands or wrists. The joints were frozen. I stopped eating much of anything. I went on an Anti-Inflammatory diet. On Tuesday I saw my gp who diagnosed me with osteoarthritis. Over the next few days I watched my joints blow up. It spread to my feet and back. On Thursday I tried getting a referral to a rheumatologist through my gp, which was the most hideous, Kafka-esque Gilliam-esque Brazil experience I’ve ever encountered.

Brazil-inline-06On friday my gp emailed me letting me know he’d sent the referral, but I had to have labs and xrays. I did the labs that day and the xrays on Saturday.
On Monday I called rheumatology, but my gp had never sent the referral. And he wasn’t at work. The amazing rheumatology nurse tried to book the appointment for me, but couldn’t. I had to wait for my gp’s fill in to make a phone appointment that afternoon to talk to me before they’d send the referral, despite my gp emailing me saying he had sent it. The fill in decided that she needed to hear my whole story before she’d send the referral. I was so NICE. I even took a deep breath and let her know that she seemed NICE and that I was going to TRY to be NICE about this. And afterwards with my HELP she found the email my doctor had sent me. She did have to grace to apologize.
de-niro-brazil1I really just needed Tuttle to fix everything.
I finally got an appointment from rheumatology for the next day, Tuesday. In the meantime, my hands and the rest of my joints in my body had been steadily returning to normal- including the first joints to swell months ago, my index and then pinky. But I still wanted to talk to the rheumatologist because I had a theory.
The rheumatologist was very kind. He informed me that my labs were normal and went through them. Next he went through my xrays and told me that they too were normal. I then told him that I had a theory, if he’d like to hear it. I opened my notebook, but didn’t actually need to consult it after all. It’s engraved on my memory. He said yes and I explained about my new rye allergy as well as what happens to me anytime I eat gluten. He examined my hands. There were still traces of puffyness in two of my joints, but my hands are normal. I have some slight bony growth on a couple of knuckles which is osteoarthritis, but it’s extremely minimal to the point where he would be surprised if it gave me any trouble in the next few years at all.
He thinks it’s likely I have a gluten intolerance, possibly brought on by pregnancy. Unfortunately in order to test for it, I’d have to start eating gluten again and there’s no way I’m going to do that. It was literally the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. Even scarier than my c-section scar becoming infected. Contemplating a life where I couldn’t use my hands was terrifying.

I know that Gluten Free is considered a fad and some people don’t think gluten intolerance is real, but all I can say is, my body hates it now and will do its best to immobilize me so I can’t ever reach for another croissant. Strangely enough, I don’t even miss it. Although I did celebrate yesterday with a gluten free cookie, I’m not rushing out to buy gluten free bread or pasta. I’m just going to let my intestines heal up over the next 6 months before I delve into the hoard of gluten substitutes. I’m also taking it very easy. The last few weeks have wrecked me. It’s light out at 9:30 for me. And I already feel so much better. My stomach is no longer swollen, my energy level is getting better, my happiness is improving- although the Zoloft may have something to do with that. After 5 years of being ssri free the perfect storm of my worsening health along with my Grandfather in hospice turned me into a perpetual motion machine of anxiety. I recognized the signs and decided it was time. I don’t enjoy feeling like a hive of bees has made their home in my chest. Hopefully I’ll be off them by January. In the meantime, I’m just so thankful they exist.
Of course, this means Pumpkin Spice Latte and I are breaking up. It’s a fucking Romeo and Juliet story, I tell you! I love you PSL, but we can’t be together bc no one knows if you’re gluten free. I’ll always remember our times together, though.

Brazil stills from:

Unicorns ~ work in progress

I’m working on my unicorns and quite pleased with them so far~
11947952_10207414958841951_7703698198325605605_oThis is Magnolia.11879239_10207417572987303_5353102471669995882_oAnd this is Rose

A few years ago I drew my disheveled unicorn, “Keeping the Dream Alive.” It was a bit of a joke on the perfection of unicorns. After all, it takes a lot of work to look that magical. Afterwards I sketched out my “Brunette Unicorn” to kind of continue the joke. Honestly, it was a bit how I felt growing up in the land of blondes, aka Southern California- a dark pool in a field of wheat. As I was doodling in my sketchbook it occurred to me that there would surely be a ginger unicorn or a black unicorn. I mean, why not?
These two ladies are finished, drawing wise, and waiting for paint. I have 2 more in my queue that I may be able to wrap up this week, leaving next week to begin painting!

Pinterest~ Indian Summer

Late August, September, and October are Indian Summer here. It’s humid with no breeze, esp at night. As much as I hate the heat I do love the pale blue sky with the golden green leaves. There’s so much to look at. I just want to paint it all.Screen shot 2015-08-30 at 10.53.34 AM Screen shot 2015-08-30 at 10.53.18 AM

So ready for Fall Fashion!

Last week we had a brief moment of cooler weather which I took advantage of. I mentioned that I inherited some clothes from my husband’s great Aunt, and here are a couple of them. The soft brown tea length skirt has wooden button that go down the side. I had to take it in about 4″ in the waist and body of the skirt. It has an elastic waist so there wasn’t going to be a really great way to do that without cutting the elastic on each side, trimming it, reattaching it and then trimming each side. Orrrrrrr I could take it out of the center back seam which would shift the side seams toward the back. I took it out of the back simply bc that way I only had to do it once instead of twice, which is what would have happened by taking from the sides. But, with this tightly gathered style, you can’t even see the side or back seams at all, so it all worked out.
My sweet Karl is too excited to get some vanilla milk at Target to bother staying 1 This is what I’m assuming is a home made brushed cotton dress. It had small shoulder pads that I cut out. The shoulders, even before this, were a little too wide for me & I contemplated taking the sleeve out and moving it in a bit. But that would change the sleeve length, which is like exactly where it is. So, I’m living with it. I cut off about 6″ from the bottom to make it a little more contemporary, otherwise it looked very “vintage drag”. There are pintucks running down each sleeve which really made me fall in love with this dress. ❤
My husband Mikael took both of these photos to send them to his mother so she could see that her Aunt’s clothes are getting a new life. And yes, they all knew I was going to have to alter them for a better fit 🙂
We are ready to go to the neighborhood diner. I LOVE diner food. Love it. Give me diner coffee, eggs and hashbrowns and I’m set!photo 2We’re in total agreement Agent Cooper damn-fine-cup-of-coffee-e1336535321587-290x290Coop is from Welcome to Twin Peaks

Pinterest ~cool Autumn mindscape

All I can think about the last two days is cool weather. It’s finally shown up, at least for the moment. I’ve already had hot cocoa twice. Screen shot 2015-08-20 at 4.12.04 PM Screen shot 2015-08-20 at 4.12.19 PM

Pinterest stopped working a while ago, maybe a year ago, when they changed their algorithm. But it was one of two platforms I actually like (the other being Instagram) and I’ve hung on hoping they would change it again. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, but I recently figured out how to make it kind of work. Basically you can either bookmark your favorite follows “pins” page and visit them individually or you can do the same through Pinterest, though that’s several more steps. I haven’t looked at my Pinterest feed in ages and now that I’ve found a way around it, I can’t imagine I ever will again.
It’s a crappy fix, but it’ll do while I spend 20 minutes downing 3 cups of coffee, bleary eyed in the morning and trying to turn into a human being, while my kids play on the floor.

Sewing Dreams- Once Upon a Time- Mary Margaret

It’s summer and I have a baby, so that means that like it or not, there’s a lot of sitting involved. I decided to revisit the glorious train wreck that is Once Upon a Time. I got hooked on it a few years ago and it remains my favorite guilty tv pleasure. The acting is mostly good and in some cases very good/spectacular- Robert Carlyle clearly acts rings around everyone, going from manic to menacing to tender in the blink of an eye. But the writing suffers from one of my least favorite narrative devices- telling instead of showing.
Seasons 1 and 2 are delightful. Imagine Dynasty and Dallas where everyone is magical. ZOMG! Beginning with season 3 and going forward the writers seem to just churn out stories with some new novelty and forget about developing the characters we’re (supposedly) invested in. Season 4 in particular was a nearly complete waste until the very last midseason episode. Luckily the second half of season 4 picked up a little.
Seasons 1 and 2 also have some of the best costuming. I’m not talking about the Enchanted Forest scenes, which are pure Alexis Carrington run through Drag Race- in the best way possible. No, I’m talking about what they wear in Storybrooke, which is a twee girl’s fantasy.

Mary Margaret Blanchard is werkin’ the Amelie vibe so hard! Of course I love it.
number 1- buy a cardigan in every color. Every. Color.


I frequently page through my collection of Burda Magazines late at night and play dress up in my head. Can you tell I made a lot of paper dolls when I was a child… and a teen… and still. Anyway, Burda seems to have some holes in their pattern collections. I couldn’t find a simple shell with a lace inset collar. Obviously you can make one, which is what I’ll probably do. I don’t get paid by Burda, this is just because I love their patterns and find them incredibly reliable. But, I don’t spend much time on their website anymore since it turned into Craftsy.

I’ve recently figured out that the sewing world has changed enormously in the last couple of years- and not in a way that interests me. There are a lot of beginner seamstresses, which is great, but as a result there’s a trainload of money to be made is in simple, beginner patterns. And that’s trickled into every pattern company, including Burda. Along with the current fashion trend of simple shapes paired with expensive fabric this has resulted in the same ultra simple patterns all over the internet. It’s not that I hate simple. I just made a shift out of quilting cotton for crying out loud. But I’m definitely suffering from samey pattern fatigue. So, I’m consoling myself with my stack of magazines. These however I pulled from their website bc I’m not up for scanning everything.OUAT1x03_1838




plus blouse

I’m so into this outfit. I love the shoes. I used to have 2 pairs of lace ups that unfortunately wore out over the course of 15 years. I’m currently on the hunt for replacements. And how hot was Graham? He was on some British show I tried watching with Gillian Anderson, but I decided watching serial killers with my kid was a bad idea. 117A_tech_dwg_large



plus pants

OUAT1x06_0855 OUAT1x06_1068So many cardigans, right? Anyway, this was my least successful Burda find. While I enjoy a mandarin collar, i thought it was weird that there weren’t more sleeve options. I like the skirt pleats though. I’m so in love with both of the plus dresses.Jan_109_tech_drawing_large

shirt dress


plus shirt dress


plus 40s style shirt dress


Have I mentioned how much I hate pockets on dresses? Or anywhere on the lower half of my body. I think I’ve sewn one things with pockets and they were totally decorative. Oh- they work. You could put items in them, but never in a million years would I actually do that. Probably bc I don’t want to look like my saddlebags are giving birth to my keys. Anyway, this dress has been on my “easy make” radar since the issue came out. I love the Dior darts.117b_c_tech_dwg_large

strap dress


plus strap dress

This one was impossible to find! It’s such a basic design that it seems weird that it wouldn’t exist. But I’m thinking that since most plus women are rectangular or ovoid with waists close to their bust measurement that maybe it’s not a popular style? I do know that the plus sized women I know in real life won’t be caught dead in a dirndl skirt, so maybe there’s that too.

I’m not going to make any of these anytime soon, esp since I already have my Autumn sewing plan. But I do love to day dream. Between Mary Margaret in season 1 and Belle in season 2, I have lots of clothes pr0n to ogle ;D

Ugh- procrastination over!

Screencaps from

Meow’Dib -He Is the Hissatz Caterach!


I first read Dune as a teen and every few years I go back to it. It never ceases to put pieces of my life into perspective. For years I’ve wanted to name a cat “Muad’Dib”, which inevitably metamorphosed into “Meow’Dib” because I love puns and am obviously incredibly lame. I can’t recommend Frank Herbert’s books enough- although for your own sanity avoid the horrible “prequels” that came out.
I wanted to show Paul with the waterfat cut away and old, slightly sad eyes staring out from his still youthful face… but, you know, as a cat. Crazy kitten Alia always makes me laugh. And the cheering “Furrmen” atop the Sandworm shout, “Meow’Dib!”
Available as a T-shirt for men, women, & children, as well as a print.

Next up- Unicorns for everyone!

Autumn Sewing Plans

Even though it’s only August, the trees here have already started to turn. I’ve been thinking about Autumn and everything that goes with it: shorter days, cooler weather, beautiful foliage, PSL (and everything pumpkin- I don’t care! I love it!), and cute clothes. Ahhhhhhhhh the clothes! Karl will be starting Kindergarten which means I’ll have a few hours (sort of) to myself in the morning, provided Tony naps on schedule.
I lost the baby weight so I’ve been eyeing my patterns and daydreaming. But, after buying some fabric over the summer I’ve vowed to work my way through my fabric stash before I buy any more. I’m pretty confident I can sew at least 2 things.
photo 1

I like the neckline on the Eleonore (from the Republique du Chiffon book). I plan to transfer it to my Built By Wendy shift dress so I don’t have to make a toile for this. This is seriously the only way I can ever get anything done, sewingwise. These days I just don’t have the time to make endless muslins (esp from newer companies) trying to get a decent fit. The fabric is cotton from Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley.  I’ve been meaning to peek in there for the last few years, but never got around to it. I really love their selection. Someone complimented me on my geometric dress and collar! But I was too shy to tell her I’d made them. Unfortunately the aisles aren’t big enough to get my stroller through, even though it’s not very big- which I understand. Space is at a premium in Berkeley. I ended up taking the kids back outside, putting the stroller away, and carrying the baby. Unfortunately carrying a baby and trying to carry a bolt of cloth to the cutting table requires a bit of dexterity. I’m going to have to remember to pack the Babybjorn or more likely just wait until Mikael’s days off.

Karl has been on a dinosaur roll so I’ve been making him paper dinos to color. He’s been hogging the dining room table with them. Archeopteryx and Pteranodon like to nest in the flowers. I have nightmares of the vase overturning and destroying any books I leave on the table.

photo 2

I’m definitely going to have to make a muslin for this. It’s Burda 8/2009 #112 (BEST issue ever). I’ve had this pinwale, twee as fuck, corduroy laying around forever. I think it’ll be perfect for Fall. My son’s dinosaurs agree. I’m really, really excited to make this bc in the same issue there’s a more complicated version that I’ve been eyeing for a gazillion years. And yes, I have fabric for that too.

I also sort of inherited some clothes from Mikael’s Great Aunt. She was quite the beauty and a clothes horse. The clothes were shipped to my inlaws and I was given the chance to pick anything I thought might fit me. I’m also the closest to her in build, being tall and somewhat slim- although she had more of an athletic 1940s body as opposed to my pear shape. Her mother did quite a bit of sewing for her when she was young and turning the skirts inside out has demystified welt pockets for me like nothing else has managed to do. I picked out a few wool skirts as well as 2 Pendleton wool suits, a couple of beautiful day dresses, and a long cotton dress with a crazy puffed shoulder jacket that looks like something Rachel from Blade Runner would wear while picnicking with Deckard. I’m going to have to alter everything, but it’s doable so I’m incredibly excited. The best part is the colors! The most beautiful greens and deep blues. Gah! I feel incredibly lucky. The few things my Grandmother kept stopped fitting me when I turned 13 and grew into the kaiju I am today. I am happy I have a dress my Grandmother and I made together.

Back to work! I’m almost finished with a new illustration- then I have a painting I’m itching to do- and THEN I should be able to knock out the Eleonore dress and the Burda cape(let).

7 Years? Happy Anniversary!

August 2nd was our anniversary. Seven years of marriage! We think. We actually can’t remember. Two days before, I was lying in bed trying to nap while our baby Tony was napping- yes, sleep when the baby sleeps is the best advice ever. Suddenly I remembered and texted my husband in the living room- “holy crap! It’s our anniversary in 2 days!” Yes, I texted him bc getting up entailed trying to be a ninja across the squeaky floor to avoid waking the baby. “Holy crap!” he texted back. I’m pretty sure we’ve forgotten every year except the first one, probably bc having a young child/children means we can’t take off for the weekend. Luckily his parents were due in for a week long visit the next day. We spent our evening of freedom at the theater watching Ant-Man (so much fun) while eating chocolate and drinking beer (our movie theater serves beer on the weekends).
Despite the day to day of raising children, worrying about money, and never getting to watch what I want on tv, I’m still crazy about my husband.

All The Better to See You With!

Photo 879 Photo 880Well, these eyes have finally gone blurry. It’s pretty common for people in my family to need glasses in our early 40s, and sure enough I hit 42 and whammo! My eyes just gave up focusing up close. Reading and more importantly drawing and painting were giving me a headache.
I’d heard about Warby Parker through a friend and a few months ago we ordered some trial pairs for Mikael, who wears glasses full time and has since he was a child. I was hoping to find a pair for him that were dark on top and clear on the bottom- like these worn by Dr. Wells on The Flash (played by Tom Cavanagh):


Or these worn by Jeff Goldblum:


Sure enough, we did. The Huxley in Tennessee Whiskey. He looks even cooler- if that’s possible!

So, I looked through Warby Parker for myself and settled on the Ripley  in Oak Barrel. Not only did they make me think of Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien, but they were a winning combination of light and hugely owlish, so I wouldn’t be staring at the frames from the inside. We went into San Francisco to their store. Everyone was suuuuuuuper nice. We barged in, my husband, myself, our giant 5 year old Karl, and our stroller with baby Tony. Miracle of miracles, they didn’t act like they were allergic to children. We didn’t get any dirty looks at all from the staff, which was a welcome relief. The exact opposite. They had coloring sheets and crayons on hand, gave one to Karl, and seated him at a large central table. He was very happy and content. They even asked pleasant questions about our children and talked about their nieces and nephews. Shopping with children is stressful, and shopping with them in San Francisco is the stuff of nightmares, even though Karl is very well behaved. But people in SF hate children. They fucking hate them. And their parents. I know there are a lot of shitty parents who don’t control their kids in public, but damn! But no – Warby Parker was amazing! Mikael hit the nail on the head- they’re like an Apple store for glasses. And I don’t even care if it’s not genuine. It was great- like Mikael wants a second pair of glasses from them kind of great.

Also- I’m not shilling for Warby Parker- no offense to those who do- we’ve just had a genuinely great experience with them. And they’re inexpensive! Middle class Northern California inexpensive mind you, but yeah! And yes, I probably should have run my photos through a “make me pretty” Instagram filter, but it feels so gross to me. I know that’s really de rigueur for blogs, buuuuuuuttttt… I don’t go out of my way to post hideous photos of myself, but I also want them to still look like me. And I’m not a “blogger” so that let’s me off the hook. I think.

Anyway, wearing glasses, even a fraction of the time, is weird. I’ve always wanted glasses, but staring through them is taking some getting used to. And despite the adage that boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses, my husband keeps asking me to help him find a book…

One Year Later- Living a Flesh and Blood Life

-from an “The Art of Dan Clowes: Modern Cartoonist”

I read that a little over a year ago.
Afterwards I immediately asked myself, “Does the internet make me happier?”
The answer was, “no.”
The next question I asked was, “But does it make me a better- and by that I mean a kinder, more considerate, more informed- person?”
The answer was also, “no.”

And so, a year ago I started paring down my internet use. I said to goodbye to tumblr, although I created a new placeholder account with a scattering of illustrations. I hardly ever used twitter but at that point I set it up to just tweet from this blog and my instagram. I don’t use it for anything else and check on it about every 3-4 months. I quit my favorite sci-fi website bc I’d been finding their ethics dubious. Pinterest is a sea of serenity that I used to spend 30 minutes a day on repinning my friends amazing finds. Then they changed their algorithm. I no longer see everyone’s pins so I drifted away. I maybe spend 30 minutes on it every 1-2 weeks. Instagram is currently my favorite. I am privy to the wips of so many amazing artists.
Which leaves Facebook. Unfortunately it’s still the best way to reconnect with old friends, but I do a lot of scrolling at high speed bc there’s no good way to filter posts. And of course you don’t see all of your friends’ posts anyway so periodically I have to look them up.
The virtual pruning has improved my real life immeasurably. I like people again. And I’m happy to engage in the delusion that they like me.

I still love to blog and read blogs, but the drawing table beckons…

The Force is Strong in My Family


I have a painting in the Jedi July show at Hive Gallery in Los Angeles. The show opens July 11th.
The painting is titled, “The Force is Strong in My Family.” 9″x12″ Gouache and Acrylic in 185lb paper.
I gave Leia a green lightsaber to reflect her original last name, “Organa” and connect her to the element of Earth, as well as inverted triangles. I designed her costume to mimic Princess Yuki from “The Forbidden Fortress,” one of Lucas’s inspirations for Leia’s character.

I also wanted the painting to have the colors of a woodblock print. I scanned in a couple of my favorites, as well as my pencil drawing of Leia. Then I played around with colors until I had the whole color map. I use gouache so over painting isn’t really an option. If I completely screw up a color I have to start over.

photo (7)

The painting process is meticulous strokes and dots, similar to the medieval miniatures I love. photo (117)

 Next up I’m working on a T-shirt design for myself!

Murdock the Marvelous!

I created some art for the Murdock the Marvelous T-Shirt! Here’s the link if you’d like to pick one up~ 


A little about Murdock from his owner, Anna:
“Murdock was brought to the Sonoma Humane Society as a stray when he was only a few weeks old. He had a chronic infection in both eyes that had caused them to rupture. I took him home with me to take care of him & he never left.
I didn’t plan on keeping him while I was fostering him, but we went through so much & were very attached to each other by the time he was finally fully recovered. He was really sick for a long time & almost didn’t survive his first surgery. He had to have a blood transfusion & was hospitalized in an oxygen chamber.
Even while going through his trials, Magical Murdock has grown into a very loving and happy cat. His positive attitude and sweet disposition steal the hearts of many. He continues to thrive and doesn’t let his disability slow him down. He’s a true inspiration!”
Anna and her family are wonderful. She works full time and on top of that fosters animals 😀

Los Angeles Sketchbook Project this weekend at LACMA

My sketchbook will be in Los Angeles, CA
Friday 6/26: 4:30pm – 8:30pm
Saturday 6/27: 3:30pm – 7:30pm
Sunday 6/28: 12pm – 4pm
Los Angeles County Museum of Art



One of the things I wanted to accomplish with my 2015 Sketchbook Project, “Princess Witch,” was to actually use it as a way to narrow down which ideas I wanted to paint. I started with “Roxanne,” which although simple, is one of my favorites from the series. I chose “Roxanne” as a name bc one of its meanings is “bright” and I like the idea of a how a hypercube looks like a diamond.
9″ x 12″
Gouache and Acrylic on 185 lb. Paper

photo (7)Gold Acrylic

web11RoxanneThe original sketchbook sketch

photo (8)I’ve been wearing my new dress non-stop lately. The weather here has been bonkers- HOT-COLD-HOT! I find this little cotton dress to work in whatever temperature. I’m so in love with its pretty gold geometric print.
And now, some of my other favorite “Roxanne”s~

“Little Girl Blue” on Redbubble’s Found page

Screen shot 2015-06-13 at 2.25.17 PM

Redbubble Home Page

Thanks Redbubble! You guys are the best!

“Little Girl Blue” was originally published in “Lone Wolf” Magazine.

Black Hill Press: The Cost of Paper: Vol. 2

I was lucky to be asked to contribute my illustration, “Power Animal” to Black Hill Press’s anthology, “The Cost of Paper: vol. 2.” !blackhillpresspoweranimal

Artist of the Month!

I was chosen to be Contact Jupiter’s artist of the month! Thank you!Screen shot 2015-06-05 at 5.52.06 PM