Monday, December 31, 2012


2/3 are of the high caste, but a different 2/3 are going to the festival in their lifetimes. What's the deal?

A rough tidbit of a scene I'm working out. Also: FABRIC.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!

I love organizing my drafting table. It's now in a nice, sunny corner. Potted plants on one side and an aquarium on the other. The hubbs cut up some corkboard for me and mounted it quite creatively to maximize space for actual posting. I also got a hand mirror to test out expressions without running to a door-mounted frame. Domo is there for motivational purposes.

Also been filling up my worldmaking binders and making a real push toward having enough background to arrange a real draft. (But WHICH CHARACTER. OH NO. I really cannot choose!) I think one of my main hangups has always been trying to start from the beginning. It's important to sketch out scenes that occur throughout the story so you can identify unifying themes and styles - and potentially find those plot holes! So I've been doing that. Anyway. Rings, tabs, stickies, highlighters, notes, xerox copies... takes me back to school reports. Except this is more fun and its application actually makes sense. Thanks, eighth grade!

This stack weighs over 7 pounds now. And there's oh so much left to do.

I recently discovered the ao yem and I love, love, love it. As much as I love huipils, saris, and turbans? Probably not. But it's wonderful coming across ethnic (I'm still allowed to say this as a homogenized white person, right?) fashions. The way cultures use fabrics to achieve universal goals, sometimes so different and sometimes very much the same... super intriguing.

Here's my Giftmas present. Are you shocked that I didn't own it before now? Me too. It's already littered with Post-it flags like an evangelical's bible. And that's basically what it is, really. DOES ANYONE WANT TO BORROW MY COPY. BECAUSE IT WILL ROCK YOUR WORLD. That said, I'm extremely happy to have it. I've already pinned one choice page on my board for reference.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

More hypomania!

I've been rapid cycling this past week. At times I'm sobbing into a bowl of ice cream; at other times I am exclaiming "I AM AWESOME!!" and coming up with a dozen new ideas for artwork - faster than I can write them down.

It's exhilarating feeling the charge that I did when I was 16... notating a jazz piece, not even really knowing anything about jazz. Or 20... decorating my wall with Post-it notes detailing the plot structure of my latest epic. It's not all glorious, of course - for example, the alternate days spent in bed crying, refusing to eat, and thinking that I am totally worthless and just want to die. But when I'm sitting at my art desk and there is magic in my fingertips, I wonder what the hell I've been doing trying to level my moods in the first place. (Don't tell my psychiatrist I said that.) Could all the suffering be worth it just to have that occasional spark? Today, the answer seems to be "yes". If I can just learn to harness it and think through the proper stages of a project...

I'll feel differently tomorrow, of course, like I always do. It's just been a few enchanting days of glimmering hopes, changes of heart, and grandiose plans. I'd like to at least allow myself to feel some joy. I'm getting somewhat closer to making sense of how to ride those waves without being pulled into a rip tide. At least, I'd like to think so. I would so love to figure out how to channel my energy into actually getting something done. There are so many stories I want to tell!

Here's a dancing silver woman that appeared on my paper.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hold that thought.

Coming up with story elements on a walk is a delightful, heartening experience. Sometimes, your mind is rich with ideas. Maybe this bout occurred because I didn't eat breakfast?

Gotta come home and script them out ASAP!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Market bag.

I signed up for a secret Santa group made up of a network of neighborhood ladies. We were to craft a homemade gift, the materials of which were to cost no more than $10. I drew a 70 year-old woman. What the heck do I do with that!? So, I procrastinated until this past weekend, when I pulled myself together and sewed the day away.

I ended up with a reusable tote bag - a nice, big size - to reflect her crocheting supplies, out-and-about-ness, and who even knows! I finally conquered my fear of gussets by watching this completely wonderful tutorial. I finally feel like I can move on from my flat messenger bags.

Another $3/yard pattern from the warehouse room of my favorite store.
Also, buttons!

Holds two shoeboxes. That's what I'm talking about!

Cross-stitching is a possibility I often entertain. The same goes for rainbow thread.

What's great is the realization that I will be getting a handmade gift of my own! What a treat!


Yeah, so I'm doing this now! Practice practice practice. It is a good way to relax and tie up the loose ends (ha. ha. ha) of an evening.

My first creation. Wark!

I'm also making dishrags.

Really, my goal is to make socks. I'm sick and tired of buying socks - especially those that crap out. Wool socks are pricey on our budget, and I need to know that they'll be worth it. At least if I hand-knit, I can figure out the materials (what works, what doesn't), and - gasp! - mend them! I hear that hand-knitted socks are amazing. And we all know that I love colorful socks, right?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oh, and...

We all know how I tend to make comics, right? I sit down and think about the general story point, and then kind of sketch up a page randomly and it tends to work out. I think I have a generalized talent for comics, and tend to ride that as far as I can go. My problem has always been that I coast on talent and then panic when I actually have to develop technical skills. I hate being "told what to do", and fear that following standardized lessons or others' advice will somehow taint my own creativity. Really, I am kind of a lazy artist when it's all said and done... and a bit of a puritan, which I'm trying to cure, because I miss out on a lot of really helpful concepts.

So I finally sat down and did something I never really do:

I sketched out 8 pages of comic on 1/4 sheet of paper each. Thumbnails. Notes. And when I had finished all this, I realized that there were issues that would require further drafting. IMAGINE THAT; the best result might not magically happen on the first try. Is that enough self-loathing? Okay, I'm done.

This was really great. Of course it's always been my dream to have full-length, fantastic graphic novel;  I feel like I'm getting closer.

I want an avocado fridge.

I got 1 1/2 yards of fabric yesterday for a project, and it turned out to be completely, utterly, miserably wrong. This is what happens when you walk into a fabric store with no real plan and mill about for over an hour looking at everything from batiks to upholstery fabrics to calico. At several points I literally laid my head on the bolts and groaned aloud from mental exhaustion. I just broke down and picked something so I could leave.

Again. Completely wrong and not tasteful at all.

So I made the stuff into a not-tasteful-at-all kitchen valance! We have a hilariously ugly kitchen - in a rental, no less, so our hands are tied - and have been trying to figure out ways to embrace it... maybe giving it a '70s look. You just can't fight wood paneling. GIVE IN TO IT. So this fabric certainly helps.

And matching potholders! Bwahaha.

Fit to a tee.



I'm now a pretty regular volunteer with our public library. It's great! When I discovered video games my reading habits pretty much went into the toilet. Don't get me wrong. Video games are a valid medium, but books will always have that special little place in a healthy, tranquil life. So I've been reading a lot more. Public transit is awesome for this. And my husband and I have - almost obsessively - been buying discarded library books. We're going to need a third bookcase.

You seriously need to go check out your library's discarded book collection. Right now. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Our "Friends Of The Library" group organized a big event whereupon we'd drag carts and carts of books from the basement and sell them at the rate of 4/$1 for most and 8/$1 adult fiction. Apparently anything with the subtitle of "a novel" stacks up quickly.

I got first dibs. Awesommmmmme.

 Here's what $3.25 looks like. Hergé AND Eisner included. I just about peed myself.

Another aspect of the book sale that I wanted to push is the greatness that is paper crafting. I found an old reading textbook and cut it up - it featured lots of children's stories in the 6-8 year old range. Perfect! I actually made a birthday card for my dad-in-law (who loves children's books) with the best stuff. Then I made a few other greeting cards, clippings to put in 2x3" frames, pasted covers for notebooks... then I also grabbed a random paperback and made paper cranes, as well as cutting out phrases to make a poem. Go figure - as soon as I'd cut up the thing I realized that I might have actually liked to read it.

Ironically, the book was rife with conflicts and anger directed at the main character's mother. I, myself, share this conflict. Yet somehow this gooshy poem came out.

My sign and stacks (by genre, naturally) put up before opening day. I am crafty volunteer prime.

All of this bookishness has got me excited because I've been helping the library so much that the staff there have offered to be glowing job references - especially if I apply for a job with the library. I've wanted to work for a non-profit or otherwise warm-and-fuzzy organization for years now. It could be my chance, if the new RFID tagging system doesn't obliterate the need for shelvers somehow. Here's hoping!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Overnight bag.

On Wednesday I arranged for a full day spent meandering around Kalamazoo, Michigan, as well as an overnight at my inlaws' place. Only 3 days to prepare! While only 40 miles away, this journey would be accomplished by public transit and Greyhound - no car. Urban gypsy-ing supreme. I really hate wandering around with an obviously overfull backpack (nearly got mugged once in Hartford, Connecticut), and yet my regular messenger bag is too small to fit everything I needed. Tote bags? Egh. Nothing was looking good. So I hurried to my sewing table to make something juuust right.

It's a take on my original super-easy design of a one-piece bag. But because it was so big, the material was so thick, and I wanted that "box" bottom... I had to make some adjustments.

Oh yes. It's a lovely size.

 I used 6-ply embroidery thread to hand sew the D-ring loops because it was somewhere between 8-12 layers of duck cloth, denim, and upholstery fabric. It'd be easier if I had a serger - instead of folding over all that fabric - but I loathe ever seeing edges and I wanted über strength. I push my poor machine so hard; the needle bent so badly it was out of alignment with the bobbin needle and wouldn't even enter the underbelly of the machine. So I fought and fought (ever tried to push a needle through a cutting board with your hands?) and eventually got those crazy thick segments stitched.

The strap is from a duffel bag I never use, attached with metal clasp thingies. After all, you gotta have a nicely padded shoulder strap if you're going to be carrying 10 pounds of stuff all day.

The keys and felt coin purse are attached to the D-rings with a ball chain. You may notice the ties there at the bottom of the bag; if you bring them up to the black loop just above and knot 'em, you end up with a "squared" bottom. Again, this was something I kinda came up with because it was all one piece and I needed a solution. It works! And if I want to carry flat stuff, I can just leave the ties alone.

In this thing, I carried:
• One spare outfit (2 shirts, pants, socks, underwear)
• Toothbrush, comb, pill case
• 2 comic books
• Journal and small pencil tube
• Water bottle, juice box, 5 oz can of V8, apple, 2 granola bars
• And a travel mug that I bought while I was out.

In its natural habitat, outside the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.
I added a carabiner to pull the straps as taut as they'd go so it would sit higher up on my back, bike messenger style. It worked really well!

Let's hear it for making it up as you go along!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Little tear, little tear.

I got a fabulous 22-volume set of full color animal encyclopedias from the library's used book sale for $5. Today I experimented with the concept of opening a book to a random page and sketching the animal for warm-ups; working with animal anatomy loosens me up and makes human anatomy less intimidating. Trufax.

Well, I am just a mite lethargic under these drizzly, gray Michigan skies, so I indulged myself with a quick pencil sketch of a melodramatic death scene. If you're thinking "Oh, MUFASA", well, you get a gold star.

Meanwhile. #24HCD has totally reinvigorated my love of the comics genre, and I've been coming up with all kinds of schemes for the future. I feel more confident and like my goal of a finished product is not insane, as I once lamented. Yet I haven't actually worked on a comic strip since I got back. It's strange. Maybe I need a break? I do not know what is up with my motivation and energy, ever. Maybe I need a damn life coach or something. You guys. Being unemployed and vaguely artistic is really, really hard.

Well, I'm typing from a pretty lethargic (and therefore easy to become Anxiety Girl) mindset, so I'll just wind things down here. Bye! I'm off to self-medicate with chocolate and video games.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The benevolent tree.

My favorite in our local park. One day when I was feeling extremely depressed, I climbed and just sat in it for about 3 hours. It is a very, very kind tree. And today was a perfect autumn day - the last before it starts getting really chilly and unseasonal.

I really just want to capture how intense the lean is... it's boggling to the mind. You can just about walk up the trunk. I think continuing the blue stripe along the X-axis would have been a better design choice than the current rectangle background, but it's too late now! You win some, you lose some.

Meditative markering is one of life's pleasures.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I survived 24 Hour Comics Day - my first ever. And I am really not completely sure how I handled it so well mentally. I was never really tired for the whole 24 hours (tried to sleep, but couldn't), had only 1/6 cup of coffee (I do not drink coffee), and finished my 24 pages in 22 hours, well before the deadline. Saint Yaktopher must have been smiling upon me. The more I read about other artists' struggles, the more weirded out I am. Uhhhhh. How did I do this?

But. There are some things that I think helped fuel my success.

1) A cooler full of food. Nutritious food. I brought yogurt, trail mix, snow peas, goldfish crackers, cranberry juice, a Bolthouse Farms protein shake, green tea, string cheese, apples, and bananas. A few fellow artists said that their main downfall, besides inherited sleepiness, was the Taco Bell they brought. That must have been unpleasant. I basically kept shoving snacks into my face the whole time and so I never got hungry.

2) Arrange your sleep schedule beforehand, if you can. The day before, I took an extra afternoon nap and went to bed as late as I could so I could wake up at noon or later to feel charged by the 6 p.m. start time. Of course, this is easier to do if you're an unemployed slob like me. I also "fasted" and didn't draw for the 3 days beforehand, just to build up my mojo.

3) A page an hour. That's what you need to do. suggests sketching for 15 minutes and drawing for 30 minutes out of every hour, leaving the other 15 minutes for breaks, meals, proofing, stretching, and attempting to shake off those RMIs. Seriously do not fuss about details or making it look completely realistic and amazing. You are not Jack Kirby... and even if Jack Kirby was participating in 24HCD, his work might not look like Jack Kirby. It's not wussing out to use a single broad Micron pen and do it in just black and white on 8.5x11" copy paper. Having a clock in sight is a really helpful reminder, too; try to keep just ahead of that hour mark. If you can squeeze a page into 30 minutes, that's even better. See #6.

4) A support person. My husband helped me set up and came to visit me around 2 a.m., and again at 11 a.m. to see me through to the end. He was able to come back with stuff I needed or had forgotten, and kept up my morale.

5) Headphones and enough MP3s to easily last the whole time and then some. It's even better if this is on a smartphone. (I don't have a smartphone, so I borrowed one.) I had easy access to Google images, which saved my bacon on at least a dozen occasions. You wouldn't know it because apparently I cannot draw lions to save my life, despite references. But like I said... details. No fussy-fussy.

6) Know when to employ artistic tricks that will save you time. A full page spread can break up the story and create an illusion of elapsed time - a breath of fresh air. Also, busting out of frames periodically will save you from doing backgrounds. Silhouettes are another big help. This all, too, displays your prowess with the comic form.

Hugh the elephant wants to be a pirate.
Breaking the 4th wall let me be creative and tongue-in-cheek in telling the story.
It was a lot of fun.

So that's about it for now. I hope to post the whole thing on my site as soon as I can withstand scanning, cropping, and color-correcting 24 pages... and submit it to the 24 Hour Comics collection at Ohio State University! What an awesome event.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


WOW. I have not updated for some time.

Things have been pedaling along. I'm currently organizing a 24 Hour Comics Day event here in my city of Grand Rapids. It's been very exciting, and I can't wait to mutually suffer alongside other local artists. I really have no idea what or how I'll do (you're not supposed to formulate any preconceived notion of a story) but it will be a trial, to be sure. I hope to meet new friends and learn just how much endurance I have in me when I don't have time for self-doubt or whining.

Though I'm up to my neck in a Top Secret Gifty Project, as well as video game sprites (though less so at the moment - ah, deadlines!), it's hard not to go back to the idea of a long-form comic book. It's a constant cycle of torture! At least once a month I'll do some sketches and decide This Time I'm Totally Going To Do It. Nevermind that I'm bipolar. THIS IS THE ONE. Of course, once the depression kicks in, it's not. I suck, etc. etc. etc.

But I'm getting closer, I feel. These last few years have meant a lot of getting-it-together for me, and everything's getting easier. I've been working out regularly, managing my time between desperately-neglected household chores and projects, working with our family finances, and hunting for a job. These are all things that either terrified me or lasted in short bursts before I fell back into chaos. Now they're lasting months with few tremors.

Sometimes I worry that when I do things like dishes, vacuuming, and preparing meals, that's time I'm not spending making art. I wonder if you have to lead a slovenly, hungry, poor-hygeined, single-minded life to make good art. Am I getting too comfortable in a well-rounded, generally fulfilling existence without a desperate need to create art?! Do I enjoy being a housewife?! Heaven forbid! But that conflict is a subject for another, more lengthy, time. Back to comics.

The main hardship is solidifying a unifying style for my work. What I always forget (amidst the thrill of development and ambition) is that I'm a cartoonist at heart; realism is not my forte. As much as I love hyper-realistic and beautifully rendered works like Age Of Bronze - and dream of my characters jumping off the page in a similar manner - I just don't have the training or desire to work on that kind of technical scale. Never have, in any art form. I'm a hyper-emotional get-the-idea-across-in-one-punch-and-move-on sort of person. I need to tone down my expectations. That said, I'm trying to distill my delusions of grandeur into caricatured visions of my world and decide on how to best present that. Don't Call Me Candy has helped a lot with this - under the pressure, I think I learned a lot about the most attractive and efficient ways to express my ideas. Which pens to use, where, and when digital helpers can save a lot of time and heartache.

I really cannot get over how I never, ever tire of drawing my dear Mae'houn.
I take it as a sign that I have it in me to tell her story.

Anyway, I have been on quite a kick lately. A lot of it is due to ArtPrize, which I actually made an effort to visit this year. There were a lot of strong and varied works. It feels great to be so busy at my drawing table, now positioned between a sunny window and newly christened aquarium. (And not covered in crap that's drifted over from my sewing area.)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Star-bellied cornhole.

I didn't know about cornhole until I moved to the midwest. It's not really a sport catered to yuppie Pacific northwesterners. But I've taken a liking to it. Recently, the dad-in-law asked me and my husband to make him a custom set. He would do the woodwork and general planning, and I would do the final painting and sewing.

To start with, we did a "test run" on a set for ourselves. I attempted a '50s pin-up beach girl thing with mixed results. We made a lot of mistakes. We learned what to do and what not to do. Well, mostly me. The boards are pretty "meh" artistically, but hey. You can still toss a bag of corn at 'em just fine. So, whatever!

Now that we've got our game faces on, we've done up the official set. Dad-in-law is a huge fan of children's books, and that means, of course, Dr. Seuss. So we decided to go with two teams: Sneetches and star-bellied Sneetches.

I used the lessons from the last set (yellow acrylic does not hide pencil lines! for the love of God, primed wood is not a sketchpad!) to dutifully reproduce some Seussimals. Something I have to keep drilling into my brain is that reference materials are there for a reason; you draw what's there, not what you think is there. It is, single-handedly, the toughest lesson for me to accept in all the art I do - but whenever I do accept it, my work instantly becomes 200% more awesome. I actually sketched a number of Sneetches yesterday, trying to grasp Seuss' linework and flow. So I felt pretty confident duplicating it.

Hard at work. One stroke at a time.

Because acrylic is... acrylic, I went ahead and did two coats of the outlines. Time-consuming, but totally worth it. Of course, I re-discovered a brush that does a mean chisel, but it was when I only had about 10 more strokes to do. Next time. Always next time: a fresh opportunity to do better. For now, I'm still super happy with the results, and pleased that I approached the work in a very thoughtful and successful way.

We had the idea of making star-bellied bean bags, too. Applique is super meditative.

My husband and I are an awesome team. Like Rocky Balboa says, "we got gaps". It's so great to have someone to work next to, on the same project, doing different tasks. And I think dad-in-law will enjoy the set.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

At the printer's as we speak.

Here's a preview of a poster you should be seeing around Grand Rapids in the next 2 months. It's a little nerve-wracking having designed a poster with actual artwork on it, considering that I want to put it up at places like, um, an art college!? But I have to just go with it.

Those of you who don't own any of the implements on which the poster is based may not "get" the humor of the word placement. But trust me, it's brilliant.

Yes! After butting heads with library leadership, I found a host for this year's 24 Hour Comics Day! So far, the only official venue registered in Michigan. I'm working with the owner at the gaming store to build inquiry and anticipation to a frothing, insatiable lust for comic-making goodness. This place is right downtown – they have a ton of tables, sell snacks, and have that wonderful geeky vibe. It feels really good to get so directly involved with an event of this kind. Whee!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Filling a planet.

Our hero jumps, bugs fly around, carnivorous trees speckle the landscape, and the pipeline goes from offline to online.

As always, for Vox Venio updates from our mighty programmer, check out his blog.

Hearts on fire!

I've started a daily exercise regimen. It's easy to tell yourself you're in good shape when the doctor tells you your blood pressure is fine and you're skinny enough that older women with children your own age tell you so. But holy cow, I am out of shape. So this is feeling really good. My goal is to be able to confidently run for the bus, lift stuff, and maintain my current weight or lower. And I hope the endorphins will stave off depression and give me more tools to hopefully not be so dependent on medication.

Go for six blocks! You can do it!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Art therapy.

One of my family members has been struggling a lot lately, and so has taken to collaging and various forms of art therapy. She's really, really good at it (though she'd deny it).

I've had an emotionally exhausting couple of days, thinking about how there's so much suffering I wish I could untangle, fix, and extinguish - but ultimately feel like one drop of water on a raging fire. How can I get through? So, I thought: "hey, that's a collage I could try!"

What's probably most impressive here is that I was able to do it all with ONE Red Plum flier. What's most helpful is that, if you look at the orange triangles, you can find a Little Caesar's near you. And what's most awkward is... why did I use blueberries for clouds?? Sure, there's a lot I don't like about how it turned out, but it does the job.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Playing with the idea of an early colonist that's gotten fed up and turned into kind of a space hermit.

So I started with a photo of an old trailer and went from there. Likely lots more to add, but it's fun to think about. A shipping container, an old fuel cel for a rocket, some giant rover tires. What might you want out on your scrap-made Martian homestead?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sinise. In. Spaaaace!

Playing around with Gary Sinise as my model. Because he is awesome. Without saying too much, I might be on board as a story developer/concept artist for a video game. Potentially a pixel artist, too, but  you know my tendency to hop right into stuff without having a firm grasp on responsibilities. I need some time to really mull it over and figure out if I have what it takes.

For now: whee!

Dreamy McDreamboat.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

R-o-c-k U-S-A?

To sate my raging biological clock, I thought I'd try some quintessential "mom" crafts. Just to keep me distracted and shut up my damned ovaries already. So I thought, hey, what's more mom-ish than a quilt!? So here was my thought process.

1) There is no way in hell I am cutting out 3,000 tiny triangles; appliqué it is!
2) When I was a kid, I loved blankets, posters, etc. that had tons of cool patterns and details to look at and interpret.
3) I like maps.

Yup. It will be all 50 U.S. states, in quilt form, using different representative fabrics. Some of them are my own personal associations (bicycles for Oregon) or general cultural contexts (Idaho = potatoes). And then some are going to be input from friends, or something that reminds me of a friend that lives in a given state. (Because, honestly, I don't know anything about Virginia.) And then some of those little tiny states on the east coast are going to get whatever scrap fabric I have lying around, because screw them. Sorry, Maryland, I would make you out of crabs, but no one would actually know they're crabs, and I'm not about to buy a fat quarter for that buzzkill.

Anyway, this is going super well, which surprises me. No, it's not 100% geographically accurate, but you know what? Simplification keeps my sanity intact. Also, while I have a reference grid and actual-size guide, the rest I am totally winging. That's where I tend to have the best success. I'll deal with problems as they arise and just work my way across the country.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Now, there are lots of really impressive DrawSomething artists out there. The official Facebook page is proof of this. But what I am lacking is a huge iPad, and a stylus. So I like to think that what I do is pretty impressive, considering that it is just my sausage fingers on a little Galaxy Nexus (which I guess might now be in violation of a copyright? Anyhow).