On Comics, Slacking, and Stink Bugs

This blog has been filled to the brim with photos of wedding plans, home renovations, and foster dogs for the past year, but I’ve been neglecting one of my main interests — illustration.

With a full-time job that keeps me happily busy and a wedding photography business on the side, I’ve been struggling with the focus of this blog. Despite a closet full of art supplies, I haven’t drawn anything substantial in over a year, so I’m going to try to ease back into a routine and start sketching again. Baby steps.

Since my job made the move to Center City, I’ve been enjoying running into some fascinating characters to and from the train station. There was the woman who pulled me aside a few steps away from my building’s front door to tell me to “stay sexy, scrumptious, and healthy” while blowing bubbles in my face. I liked her. There was the man leaning against the food cart who yelled, “Look at you in your tight tights, look at you jiggle.” I’m not sure how one can see any jiggling under a million layers and a winter coat, but I’ll assume he had some sort of x-ray glasses that I wasn’t privy to.

Then there’s the 45-minute train ride. I fancy myself a QuietRide kind of girl, but I’m constantly amazed by how many people don’t obey the no-fuss conductor who yells “THIS IS THE QUIETRIDE CAR. IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE QUIET (long pause), DON’T RIDE THE QUIET RIDE CAR,” repeatedly. My evening conductor always has a tie that lights up in some fashion, whether it’s snowmen or star-spangled banners. I like him too.

Despite valiant efforts in train obedience, I have managed to make a fool of myself on a daily basis. Last week I was deeply reading my book when a stink bug scuttered across the page. I literally jumped out of my seat and shrieked, while almost smacking the poor woman next to me in the face with The Girl With Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. On the QuietRide car. I felt like a QuietRide failure. There was a lot of staring. I convinced myself that it was something that would have happened to Liz Lemon and got on with my day.

My point is, life is much more entertaining now that I’m traveling to and fro and exchanging conversations (or embarrassed QuietRide glances) with actual human beings. Gone are the days of working from my couch in my pajamas and playing Dawson’s Creek in the background for company.

Not to get all resolution-y on y’all, but a change is going to come…especially now that I’m out of new Boardwalk Empire episodes to watch with the hubs in the evenings. I’m going to start writing down any out-of-the-blue anecdotes that happen in my day-to-day, to turn them into sketches for a weekly web comic (it’s been a while). While I collect ideas and sketches, I’m going to save up for this bad boy. Once 2013 hits, I’d like to produce one comic a week with my Wacom tablet. I can’t promise they’ll be any good, but at least I’ll be trying.

Kvass: Veggie Drink Drawings

A few months ago, my friends at Curious & Co. reached out to me for some freelance illustrations of veggies for the labels of Zukay Kvass, a natural, fermented vegetable drink. For you raw foodies out there, you’ll be able to see my illustrations in Whole Foods and other specialty natural foods stores. I wanted to give you guys a glimpse of some of the veggie sketches and inked drawings I provided to Zukay.

Here’s a snapshot of the final product (professional promo photos to come!), which the client ended up simplifying, rather than going with my more detailed, inked versions.

As a side note, I promise I’ll start picking things up around these parts again! Last week was my first week at my new job at Generocity, so I’m excited to share stories and all of that good stuff with you guys.

What’s new with everyone else these days?

Oktoberfest Photo Op Board!

Three days later and the Oktoberfest photo-op board is complete! I’m pretty excited to see it in action this weekend with people’s faces poking through. Be on the lookout for photos of Pete and I wearing Bavarian garb in the days to come…sorry in advance to my German BFF for my dirndl attire.

We moved the plywood to our basement last night since I didn’t want it getting ruined by the rain, which meant braving the huge mustache-ish centipedes. I had to finish it up while painting sideways, since it won’t fit standing up in our house. Betty White wanted to demonstrate the size of the board by stretching out and strutting her stuff. She’s totally doing her version of the downward-facing dog on the yoga mat…don’t judge her brown feet, she can’t help but eat them.

Anyway, happy drunk pig thoughts to all of my readers! Thanks again for all of the blog love lately!

The Wacom Inkling: Christmas Can’t Come Soon Enough

Blogs were buzzing yesterday about the new Wacom Inkling, which is set to release in mid-September for $199. With 1,024 levels of pressure, it’s the perfect drawing device for anyone who loves sketching. If you’ve ever used a Wacom tablet before, you know that the majority of the time you’re applying a pen to a blank plastic surface while looking up at the screen to see what you’re drawing. This process comes with a significant adjustment period and doesn’t really feel like drawing on paper. With the Inkling, digital drawing feels like old-school drawing because it in fact is (but better!).

Another substantial difference in this tool is that the pen captures every nuance in your drawings and can store thousands of pages. Once you’re done drawing for the day, you simply connect the receiver to the computer via USB and browse your drawings, exporting the ones you like to Photoshop or Illustrator.

Drawings can be rasterized at print resolution, or better yet, you can export them as a vector illustration and rework your lines in any way you want. Plus, with vectors you are able to scale up a tiny doodle and print it onto a billboard with no loss in quality (for those of you who want to dabble in billboard design).

I am all too familiar with the fact that scanning artwork can become very tedious. With the Wacom Inkling, illustrators and designers have the ability to create layers by simply tapping a button. No joke, all you have to do is tap a button and you can start a new layer right there in your sketchbook. Pretty ridiculous. This is Jetsons type stuff that I wouldn’t dream of being able to do in my lifetime.

It’s not often I go crazy over gadgets, but I am definitely marking this one down on my Christmas list once the holiday season rolls around. Imagine how much faster working on a graphic novel would be when you could load storyboard sketches onto the computer with a few clicks of a button. Mmmm, a girl can dream…

Artist of the Week: Hollis Brown Thorton

I love this nostalgic tribute to the 80s by Hollis Brown Thorton. These permanent marker drawings make me want to play Excitebike on Nintendo while watching some old VHS tapes (my favorites were Weekend at Bernie’s and My Best Friend is a Vampire!).

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Did anyone else grow up with an entertainment center filled with VHS tapes of movies recorded from TV?

Currently Reading: French Milk

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French Milk is an autobiographical graphic novel by Lucy Knisley, who travelled to Paris with her mother for their 22nd and 50th birthdays. For more than a month, the humorous memoir follows Lucy around as her and her mother explore France—taking photographs, eating pastries and drinking French Milk. The story blends real life photos by Lucy with her drawn depictions of their days together, as a travel diary of sorts. For those of you who might not have ever read graphic novels before, I would definitely recommend browsing Amazon or Half.com (where books are often sold for less than ten cents) for a starter book. Persepolis, Maus and Epileptic are just some of my favorites, but if you’re less of a bookworm and more into movies, there are often wonderful film adaptations of graphic novels released as well, such as Persepolis or Ghost World.

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Lucy’s portrayal of life as an art student visiting back home with her quirky parents reminded me of the graphic memoir I started inklings of in college (see a snippet below). Once wedding photography season passes, I’d like to begin concentrating on starting the graphic memoir back up. For these frames below, I used home videos as a reference to capture my dad’s dialogue word-for-word (yes, he lovingly called me “little shit” as a pet name, we’re special like that), so I think I may have some home video-watching in my future.

Our family is probably a bit of a rare case, because we have almost every occasion from my youth on video. Ballet recitals, birthdays, holidays, sledding adventures, talent shows—they’re all captured on camera, so when referencing moments from my child and adult life, I have a lot of materials and images to pull from. My brother, who is 9 years older than me, also has loads of blackmail-worthy home videos including: my dad stalking him and his date on prom night, his questionable mustache/hair phases (I’m guilty of a mustache and pseudo-mullet as well, no worries big brother), modeling in an 80s fashion show with me at the mall…the list goes on and on.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to getting back into graphic novel gear and re-exploring some of the funnier, slightly disturbing moments from my youth and beyond. French Milk was just the kick in the arse I needed to get inspired to mesh family anecdotes with real-life photos and illustrations.

What are some of your favorite graphic novels? I think Blankets by Craig Thompson is next on my list!

Crafty Rambles & Pooch News

I’ve been staying busy working on various non-house-related projects lately, including drawing a calico bass, of all things. My dad has a pair of fish cut from wood which my grandfather made back in the day. My late grandpa had painted one of the fish, but never finished the other, so my dad asked that I complete his project. I decided to gift it to him for Father’s Day, so now he has his two bass happily swimming in his basement.

In other artsy news, I made Pete’s brother a customized Peter Venkman Munny as a housewarming gift, since nothing says “congrats on homeownership!” like some Ghostbusters love!

I was happy to have these two pups keeping me company during my crafty time over the past week. Luckily for Admiral Ackbar, I received a call from his owner on Monday morning and was able to return him to his family. Turns out his name was niÑo and likely only understood Spanish commands, which would explain why he gave me a “wha?” face when I asked him to sit. His owner also has a small poodle mix pooch who greatly resembles Miss Betty White, so I think Betty might have been niÑo’s rebound when he was missing his main squeeze. Nothing says love like letting someone share your toys and treats…and bed.

This whole experience made me realize that I really love working with dogs and helping animals in small ways. Today I filled out an application with the PSPCA to become a foster volunteer, which I’ve been thinking about for months and Pete has agreed is something he is up for as well. Since I am currently home during the day while job hunting, it seems like an appropriate time to give a little back while I can. Every time a dog is placed into foster care, two lives are saved–the life of that pooch and the life of the dog that now has space in the shelter. Although it is a lot of responsibility, it’s well worth the reward of finding a loving dog a happy home (sorry if I sound like I belong in a SPCA commercial). I’ll be sure to blog about our experiences and will be sure to keep you posted if we are accepted as a “foster family.”

I hope you guys enjoy your holiday weekend…I’m really looking forward to fireworks and popcorn on the beach with my favorite person.

Crafty Balboa April Showers Recap!

Well, we survived our first craft fair this weekend at Crafty Balboa! Thanks to everyone who visited and stopped by our table, it was a fun time and we’d love to do it again next year. Betty White helped us get some visitors by making her sad Eeyore eyes at strangers, so I credit her with any sales I may have gotten. She even made friends with the oh-so-talented Jay McCarroll of Project Runway fame, whose designer shirt she has been sporting ever since (photos to come, she is shy right now).

Here’s a photo of the table setup, which included more duct tape than I had originally anticipated since the wind was a bit feisty that day. Thank goodness for ginger boyfriends who remember essentials like duct tape and paper towels. I owe him my first born. Or a smooch. Either one will do, preferably the latter though.

“Make an ugly face at the camera! That’s your ugly face? Are you serious?” -Me to a squinty-eyed boyfriend.

Here’s the owl nesting doll I made for the show, but didn’t manage to sell (le sigh). Although they were quite popular with the little ones, anyone under the age of 8 seemed fascinated by them, so at least I know what audience I should be shooting for! I plan to make more detailed nesting dolls in the future, so look for more of those soon! I’d like to start painting more children’s furniture as well, so look for more of that in the next few months as well.

I’m kind of pleased that my narwhal + jellyfish jewelry box didn’t sell at the show, because now I have a home for my jewelry that I was previously storing in a Ziploc bag in my dresser. I’ll probably list the nesting dolls and jewelry box in my Etsy shop within the week though, so if you know of anyone who has an owl/narwhal/jellyfish weakness, you know where to send them!

Crafty Balboa is here!

Crafty Balboa is tomorrow, so be sure to stop by if you’re in the area and want to check out some local talent! It looks like we’ll be lucking out with some absolutely gorgeous weather, so I’m pretty darn excited. I’ve been sick all week so my ambition to create new work for the show during my free time has been pretty low. I promise to keep knocking out these new “two word” paintings I’m doing, using phrases my Twitter and Facebook friends send me. Feel free to comment below with more suggestions and I’ll do my best to make as many as I can within the next month or so!

In other news, our house settlement has been pushed to late next week, oi! We’re not sure on the exact date yet but we’re crossing our fingers that things will be finalized soon so we can dance around like happy homeowners.

I hope to see some of you at Crafty Balboa tomorrow! Pete, Betty White and I will be at our table from 11am to 5pm at Tasker & Passyunk Avenue in Philadelphia, so be sure to say hello!