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.
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.
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. 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.
This one is Gucci. I think she looks like she could have walked out of a modern Decameron.
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.
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.
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!
“Is that supposed to be you?”
“Why do you always draw/paint yourself?”
“Yeah, but do you KNOW it looks like you?”
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.
That crazy cat guy? That’s me too.
My 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?”
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.
All 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.
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.
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.”
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.” At 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.
Unfortunately 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”.)
(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.
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.”
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.
A 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. Two 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.
I finished the drawing and transfered it to paper. I use a heavy duty 185 lb Canson paper that’s actually made for acrylics.
I love drawing hands. 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. 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. After laying in the background color in gouache, I used burnt sienna acrylic to paint the outlines with a tiny brush. Next I did the coloring book colors. This part is always very hard for me because it looks like such a disaster. I felt much better once I had a chance to work on the background. The long process of creating the wings starts. I was inspired by iridescent raven feathers to use green to contrast with the red-orange.Sirins 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.
Hanging out with Van Eyck’s Mary for inspiration. My photo reference is up so I can get the pink on her hands right.
I added gold paint to a few places. And some gold on her sunflower.Fin~
“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!”
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~
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″
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.
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~
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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! “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. And 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!
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.
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.
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 (batworld.org)
I donated a postcard, “Elstir.” I love her and hope she finds a home.
“Come and play with us, Danny. Forever… and ever… and ever…”
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.
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: http://www.twitch.tv/xredjayx/profile
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!
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!
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.
Next up I’m working on a T-shirt design for myself!
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 😀
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
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~
I was lucky to be asked to contribute my illustration, “Power Animal” to Black Hill Press’s anthology, “The Cost of Paper: vol. 2.” !
Friday 6/5: 4pm – 8pm
Saturday 6/7: 12pm – 4pm
Sunday 6/7: 12pm – 4pm
Ponce City Market
I got an early Mother’s Day gift from my husband, a book called,”Wonder Woman- Amazon-Hero-Icon- ” Which was fun because I’d just finished an illustration of Princess Diana on Paradise Island before she becomes Wonder Woman- sort of a “what if?” Anyone following my Instagram knows how long I’ve struggled with this picture. It took forever to come together, but I’m finally happy with it.
A few years ago I was drawing superheroes with my son Karl. When I drew Wonder Woman I drew her costume a little differently each time (she’s had so many). One was a variation of this one & I really liked it. I love “Gladiator” and wanted to incorporate a Greek/Roman look, without falling prey to over designing it. While I’m also not a big fan of everything in comics having to be realistic or somehow “make sense,” I’m not opposed to a created world having its own logic.
Wonder Woman’s costume is constantly redesigned. For some reason people can’t deal with her swimsuit. Personally I love it. But the redesigns are usually a mess- not even a hot mess because there’s nothing hot about them- they’re just a mess. So, I set about figuring out why WW wears what she wears. I hit upon the idea that the Amazon’s think America worships Zeus bc of the American eagle on Steve Trever’s uniform. I expanded that to the Amazon armor having the animal totem of each Amazon’s patron goddess. In Diana’s case, a stag for the goddess Artemis. When she wins the contest to become Wonder Woman and travel to Man’s World the Amazons make her American armor with Zeus’s eagle.
Oh, and my dream Wonder Woman went to 1940s America with Steve and then went back to Paradise Island, only to eventually return to the US in the present day. Something she can do bc the Amazons are immortal- DUH DC Comics. Sheesh! Each reboot makes everything so ridiculously convoluted. She’s a magical princess! It’s so easy!
Anyway, here’s the lovely Princess Diana as she goes to investigate the mysterious crash off the coast of Paradise Island. (Yes, I know it’s Themyscira, but Steve can’t pronounce that so he just calls it “Paradise Island”. Poor Steve. He’s such a hot, good natured himbo.)
My sketchbook project, “Princess Witch” is online over at the Sketchbook Project: https://sketchbookproject.com/library/16064
I have trouble expressing how happy this project made me. It provided me with final drawings for future paintings- one in the works right now- and crystalized my vision of this little world that I’ve been working on for the last 5 years. It’s a wonderful feeling to get to a place where you’re finally happy with something you’ve created (until you look at it the next day ;D ).
“Princess Witch” explores the 4th dimension intersecting with our own, time perception in animals, pictorial language, identity, and magick with a K- all wrapped up in a pop culture love letter to Twin Peaks and clothed in pretty 1970s Biba -esque dresses.
My book is currently on tour!
I thought I’d missed the deadline to send in my Sketchbook Project, but luckily I haven’t! It’s due in March. Last night I stayed up and collected all my doodles (they hardly qualify as sketches now) in one place. As soon as I have a final count for the book then it’ll be on to the next step: reference photos.
My work flow goes something like this- look at photos, movies/tv, & paintings for general mood. This helps a lot with composition. I have numerous Pinterest boards dedicated to inspiration.
– next, I doodle a general layout
-followed by a sketch
– then I take reference photos of myself. I’m going to be laying on our kitchen table for one of them which means my husband is going to have to snap a couple pictures.
-At that point I print them out on black and white, and start sketching in earnest. Sketches get cut apart, taped back together, & stuck up to the light so I can see them in reverse. I can do this in Photoshop shop too. It depends on how much tweaking the initial sketch needs.
-I trace over my rough sketch and draw. This drawing is still very simple with no shading. If it works for me, I transfer it to my final paper, which for paintings is Canson Acrylic paper and for drawings is Strathmore recycled drawing paper, which I prefer for the cream color of the paper itself.
Sherlock Holmes: Love is a 3 Pipe Problem
is available as a tee shirt for adults, children, and babies-
It’s also available as a phone case, ipad case, pillows, mugs, and skins.
Despite what the calendar says, September is the beginning of Autumn! The days are hot, but the afternoons already show the long shadows typical of my favorite season. Fall also means I’m feeling invigorated. My table is full of projects that I feel great about. The work of the past year is finally coming together. It’s so nice to create something and be satisfied with it.
A few things I’m working on-
Clothed in her retro 70s Biba style dress, Kora is busy adjusting her black gloves in a grove of abstracted, shimmering Art deco trees…
Here’s a work in progress shot that I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago-
Generally, my work flow is something along the lines of first getting visual inspiration. I watch my favorite movies or shows (like Twin Peaks), browse books and magazines (my favorite drawing books, Rackham, or Pinterest), &/or listen to music (Of Monsters and Men has been on perma play). Then I make a quick sketch in a small notebook (upper left). I take photo reference & print it out (upper right). And then I make a sketch in my large sketchbook. Sometimes that gets scanned into Photoshop, tweaked, and printed. But even then it may not still be right, so I’ll cut up the print and move things around, taping them until they finally look right. After that I transfer the drawing to thick Acrylic paper or canvas.
The color process involves going back to my sketch in Photoshop & slapping some color on there for a general idea before I actually put paint on the paper or canvas.
Some more wips (works in progress) in this same series-
As well as the dolls that are part of the same series-
Sigh, I have been dreaming of Pumpkin Spice Lattes! I’ve already had 4 so far. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but I explained to him that they’re seasonal and so they’re gone after Thanksgiving. He was tempted, but decided to stick with his ice coffee.
If you’re in St. Louis, MO please check out The Bees Knees Show at the Alexi Era Gallery.
“Public Opening Reception : July 19th 7-9PM
The Bees Knees is an awareness and fundraising exhibition for Honey Love, urban bee keepers and activists trying to help our honey bee population. The Exhibition will feature 100 artworks on postcards from artists all around the world. All postcards will be priced $5-$50, and available to take home right away showing your support along with a honey tasting feature local harvested honey. On the back of each postcard is a special message about how you can help the bees. 100% of all sales go to HoneyLove and their commitment to save the bees! We aim to raise awareness, bring hope and also create a dialogue about the importance of bees.“
I contributed a postcard to the show~
4″ x 6″
It depicts two of my ladies communicating a message in the language of flowers.
In retrospect, I wish I’d made the background something other than blue. I feel it clashes with the purple. The background should have been cream or lilac. I’m thinking of doing a larger version with greater detail for myself, so we’ll see how that pans out.
I was ready to start making doll clothes before I’d even finished my doll. I’ve been drawing their clothes for the last couple of years and going to fabric stores & picking out fabrics & trims. Basically endlessly geeking out.
Concept art of Posy Rabbit’s clothing. She wears a Biba inspired outfit. As you know from this post- I love Biba.
Working on the slopers in Photosop. If you haven’t seen “Moon” starring Sam Rockwell and directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son), then you need to.
Posy is a patient model during the fitting
Drafted & sewn tiny shoe prototype along with a sketch of Posy’s teddy or camiknickers
Well, tomorrow I have to get the apartment ready for out Wednesday night get together. I have a full day of cleaning, grocery shopping, & baking peanut butter cookies scheduled. Then, Mikael’s parents are coming up for a visit. They’ll be here Thursday which means I won’t have any time to work on the final versions of her dress, teddy, and shoes. She has a caplet too, but the drafting on that is obviously very, very fast and easy.
I have a couple of blog posts I’d like to work on about my favorite illustrated books that remind me of summer, as well as a post about Biba fashion. Hopefully I’ll get to them along with the Sherlock t-shirt I’m working on.
If you want to see my wip in a more timely manner, I’m on Instagram.
The Complete Book of Dollmaking by Pamela Peake. It’s a really simple introduction I picked up years ago at Half Price Books in Berkeley. It’s a great book for beginners who just want to make a cloth doll to get their feet wet while perusing other doll styles.
It gives a basic overview of different kinds of dolls, but if you want to really make something complicated, I’d pick up books specializing in just that particular kind of doll making.
This basic cloth doll has a separate head and a simple body.
My initial dolls used this basic idea- separate head & center seamed legs. It was a good learning experience.
This doll has a shaped bust that I tried out, but ended up rejecting. I did like this head shape more though & it introduced me to the idea of placing a stick to strengthen the neck. The pattern itself is missing a leg piece, but it would be easy enough to draft.
This felt doll is very cool. With a little tweaking you could get a really beautiful looking doll reminiscent of Dare Wright’s, Edith from the “Lonely Doll” series of books. In the future, I’d like to experiment with making my own felt masks. I haven’t yet though so I can’t say if this system works.
The book comes with patterns you can photocopy & enlarge.
Storybook Toys by Jill Hamor is awesome. Half of it is dolls & the other half is stuffed animals. It’s for an intermediate/advanced audience. Beginners beware.
Most of the dolls have “baseball heads.” See the seaming? Like a baseball. They were super popular in the 50s & 60s. Understandably, Jill doesn’t want you to use her patterns to make dolls to sell, but you can find similar vintage patterns online that are in the public domain & use them. I toyed with using the baseball head as the basis for my lady dolls, but the style is much better suited to children’s dolls, especially if you’re crafty and want to make a kid an American Girl’s style doll without the hefty price tag.
She makes the most beautiful yarn hair I’ve ever seen. It’s labor intensive, but turns out beautifully.
One of the first dolls in the book is a flat pancake doll to get you started. She’s really cute.
Some of the patterns are both in the book pages- to be traced or photocopied-
While others are on a pull out sheet in the back.
More Felt Friends from Japan by Naomi Tabatha. Nearly all of the items are felt animals, but there are a couple of awesome dolls.
Some of the patterns are inside the book, waiting to be traced, while others are inside the dust jacket, also needing to be traced.
Miss Kitty & her amazing wardrobe made me buy the book. Everything is made of felt, so hemming is pretty much nonexistent. It’s a great place to get the feel for constructing tiny doll clothes.
I LOVE Japanese pose dolls, so this was a big selling point. The dolls are anchored to their bases. There are simple instructions for wiring them that is way, way easier than what I’ve seen in other books. I wired a few of my prototypes, but the extra time and expense wasn’t worth it. Maybe if I ever convert one of my bookcases into a doll house then I might make posable dolls.
There were a lot of other books I found at the library. But they mostly focused on making cloth art dolls that didn’t appeal to me.
That’s about it. I’ve been working on Posy Rabbit’s tiny wardrobe. I love sewing tiny clothes!
I have two notebooks dedicated to doll ideas. My doll ideas have gone through an evolution from when I first started. Years ago, I wanted to do something with the 25-27cm Volks Dollfie bodies. They came in a range of skin colors, height, and bust size (recently discontinued). But, I knew with my schedule that it was going to be a while before I was able to tackle another craft like doll customization.
Flash forward a few years and while pinning away on Pinterest I came across this little beauty:
There was so much to love! The sweet little expression! The tiny detailed clothes! The utterly beautiful hair from wool roving! And, she was made of cloth. I’d seen and owned cloth dolls when I was a child, but none as sophisticated as this. I was instantly drawn to the idea of combining two things I love: dolls and sewing. How hard could it be? (famous last words)
I mulled over which dolls I really loved and of course Blythe was in the top 5. She’s very popular in Japan and if you’re lucky enough to have a Kinokuniya Bookstore near you you can find issues of “Dollybird” Magazine with clothing patterns and customization tips for her.
They’re so cute! But I don’t make big head art, so after a few tries making dolls with oversized heads I realized that they weren’t going to make me happy. They are just too far from my own aesthetic, which is more mid century, 60s and 70s.
I started focusing on dolls that were closer to my artistic style~
Barbies from the late 60s to early 70s are my favorites (pre Superstar face mold). Characters such as Barbie, Francie, Casey, Julia, Stacey, & Christie. You used to be able to buy Barbie & her friends as blonde, brunette, or redhead- even as different shades of each. And characters like Francie, her mod cousine from England had brown eyes and a straighter body to reflect the Carnaby Street Twiggy look. I love me some side eye!
Les Petites Mains makes these lovely cloth dolls with wool roving hair. Her color palette is so dreamy.
The amazing Nadya Sheremet. Look at the face on this doll! The face embroidery is so fine and I love that the hair is made from embroidery floss.
Delphine Manivet This was a lovely little doll made for flower girls, but is no longer available. I flipped for this doll. I loved everything about it. The simple face, and the slim arms.
The mighty Momoko. Momoko is a Japanese doll who stands 27cm. She features the side eye that I go crazy for as well as the most beautiful clothes.
Japanese dolls in particular seem to be addicted to giving the side eye. I think what I love the most about this is that the expression is ambiguous from different angles.
And of course cloth dolls based on the doll patterns of Edith Flack Ackley–
It was the Ackley dolls and patterns that crystallized a few things for me like the neck construction. I also borrowed her foot construction as well:
Before that I had the typical cloth doll legs with the seams running down the middle. I’m too embarrassed to show you them bc they make me so unhappy!
Next I’ll post about some of the books and tutorials I used. I had never made a doll before and definitely needed help. The most frustrating part is that you don’t know how good your pattern is until the very end. You have to draft, transfer, sew, cut, and stuff before you can see the flaws. That’s why my house is littered with past dolls, half stuffed and then I had to stop bc suddenly there was a huge problem staring me in the face. Whew! I’m so glad to be done! Now I get to move on to the infinitely more fun part of designing clothes!
After an embarrassingly long development, my dolls are almost done. Posy the Rabbit is roughly 12″ tall, not counting her ears. I made her 12″ to fit into 1/6 scale furniture, in case I wanted to stick her in a Barbie sized apartment. For something so simple, these dolls took forever. It was a constant process of paring them down. I actually don’t like overly realistic dolls, which is why I like Barbies from the 60s & early 70s better than modern ones.
That sword I’m using to sew with is a doll needle. It’s 5″ long.
Tucking and sewing the rabbit ears.
Just like in my paintings, her extremities are also blushed.
And here she is next to her original sketch, which also shows her costume that I’m making. I’m having a lot of fun making early 70s inspired clothes for her. I love Biba and Ossie Clark so I want to explore that very lovely and romantic look.
I’ve been working on, well a million projects really, but I’ve been wanting to make some cool t-shirts for my son, Karl. He likes David Bowie, so I dug up one of my old characters, Major Tom, the space cat co-pilot to my space girl, Martine. Available here is baby, children, and adult sizes-
Obviously Major Tom is inspired by Bowie’s tragic, beautiful, and wonderfully weird and hokey song, “A Space Oddity.”
My Major Tom entered cryogenic freeze and was revived thousands of years in the future. He has a successful career as a space pilot and loves his new home planet, Mars, but misses his family. *kri*
After a year of futzing around, I finally got my doll pattern exactly the way I want it.
Pascale, Rose, Silvia, and Martine will be fitting together soon. My other dolls need some 60s dollybird company.
And WOW! Instagram just really does NOT want to show up. What’s with that?
I finished “Brooksie.” She’s gouache on 10″ x 10″ canvas. Unfortunately, this painting took me forever to complete despite its small size. I spent all of March with hives because I suddenly developed an allergy to rye bread. So, so weird. I’m not allergic to anything- or at least, I used to not be.
Anyway, I’m pretty happy with the progress from “Zelda.” This is much closer to what I had in my head. Now I wish I’d been bolder and more committed to outlines with “Zelda” but I’m not going back to rework it. I already have the next canvas for a new painting prepped.
As a teen, I discovered Louise Brooks in a book about silent stars and fell in love. She was so mischievous, passionate, and intelligent. I hunted for any of her films in the local video shops, but there weren’t any. I wouldn’t see her most famous movie, “Pandora’s Box” until decades later. If you’d like to know more about Louise, I suggest you read her memoir, “Lulu in Hollywood.” Peter Cowie put together an impressive and beautiful photo book about her, “Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever,” that is incredible. It’s expensive, so it may be a good idea to check the nearest library.
This is the photo by Eugene Robert Richee that inspired my painting.
Work in progress pictures:
I’m very excited that my Sketchbook Project: “Here Be Dragons,” was chosen to go on the 2014 national tour. It was originally part of a small tour last year called, “The Mysterious Maps.”
I’ve pasted the tour info below so if you’re interested in seeing my book in person, please check it out when it comes to a city near you!
3/29 – 3/30
The Goat Farm Arts Center
Church Street Entertainment District
The Contemporary Austin
Fort Worth, TX
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Norman Arts Council
San Diego, CA
San Diego Museum of Art
5/30 – 5/31
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
6/6 – 6/7
1st Friday Art Murmur / Saturday Stroll
San Francisco, CA
SF Center for the Book
Portland Art Museum
Emily Carr University
Madison Public Library
Fergus Falls, MN
9/18 – 9/21
The Distillery Historic District
Maine College of Art
In January, I was chosen to be part of the pop up at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, New York. Afterwards, the kind people at the Wythe sent the participants a gift, a new Sketchbook Project! As soon as the tours open up in March I’ll choose where it’ll be traveling to.
My title this time is, “Princess Witch,” featuring my ladies of the Four Forests. The idea behind is, that here in the western world, women are often put into 2 categories, either a positive one, “princess” or a negative one, “witch.” That doesn’t even begin to describe a whole person, but sadly, it’s what we women are often saddled with. What I’ve been exploring is that we embody both. Our benevolent and malevolent sides are often less dependent on what we do and how we view ourselves than by how we’re perceived by others. I’ve experienced this first hand where I’ve been praised for being perfect when my desires jibed with whoever I was dating, and then denigrated as a “unreasonable” (aka, a crazy bitch) when they did something I didn’t like & I called them on it. Through art, I’ve been mashing those two sides together, featuring women who are conventionally attractive and horrifying at the same time. I’m so excited!
Feeling incredibly rejuvenated. Karl is back in pre-school. Finished a large job for a client. And I have personal projects organized and ready to create. Today I put on Grant Morrison talking on Keven Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast. I loved Morrison’s “Supergods,” which made me feel like I could accomplish anything despite my anxiety. I knew that since I was going to begin painting “Brooksie,” that I would need an extra shove to get me started. Strangely, the detail work on a painting is the least stressful for me. It’s actually very relaxing to take each piece and tap away with my tiny brush. But the initial laydown of color always freaks me out. I start procrastinating. But I knew Morrison’s unique abundance of creativity would inspire and loosen me up- and it did. So much so that I started putting together a muslin of Karl’s shirt while the layers of my paint dried.
And I finally signed up for Instagram. Yes, filters are fun.
“Zelda was very beautiful and was tanned a lovely gold colour and her hair was a beautiful dark gold and she was very friendly. Her hawk’s eyes were clear and calm. I knew everything was all right and was going to turn out well in the end when she leaned forward and said to me, telling me her great secret, ‘Ernest, don’t you think Al Jolson is greater than Jesus?’
Nobody thought anything of it at the time. It was only Zelda’s secret that she shared with me, as a hawk might share something with a man. But hawks do not share.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working on this and others like it for over 4 years. My early 30s were a time of feeling incredibly uninspired. I had focused on learning 3d which left me no time to express any ideas in the time consuming medium of painting. And my usual medium- india ink and watercolor on watercolor paper just wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted to both eliminate the india ink outlines I’d been working on to give my watercolors a greater softness and also make the jump to canvas and explore texture. Back in my late teens, when I first started painting large pictures in watercolor, I couldn’t get those really big, smooth flat areas of color that I wanted, so I began stippling the color in and fell in love with it. So artistically, I milled about in my early 30s but all that changed when I got pregnant with Karl. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with ideas- must have been the hormones- and worked toward trying to uncover a cohesive theme. Finally I realized my overriding obsession wasn’t just quirky surrealism, nature, and maladjusted ladies, but our connection to nature and how our world constantly attempts to sever us from it. Not in an eco- “let’s recycle” way, but in pretending that we’re not animals and that our marvelous brains should allow us to overcome our evolution through sheer willpower. It’s a message we’re constantly bombarded with- from the way we eat to who we have sex with- and if we don’t conform it’s regarded as a moral failure. I’ve always been more comfortable with being an animal than fitting in with humanity, so my chimeras make me feel right at home.