20 Feb 2013

Illustration on your arm!

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I just passed the halfway point of my class to learn how to develop apps for iOS (Apples mobile devices), and if I’ve learned anything, which I have, but primarily… I am built for drawing pictures, not programming! I am keeping up with the class, I find it interesting, and I SWEAR I will not loose my cool before I succeed at it. But is sure doesn’t come naturally. I don’t think I’ve done so much analytical thinking since maybe college? Scratch that, I went to art school. High school Calculus perhaps? But I’m managing to not loose all of my spare time to studying and doing homework. The 2013 comic conventions are just around the corner, and I’m starting to prepare. This year, I’m going to have…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…





Fun rub on tattoos for your arms, hands, anywhere! … ahem.

I was feeling squirrels on these so here you have it. One happy squirrel, and one pin-up squirrely girl.  I might still change up some of the color, I have a bit of time before they need to be ordered.  What do you think, a pink squirrel maybe?

So I hope you are planning on coming to C2E2 or Chicago’s Wizard World Comic Con this year to get one of your very own. :)

15 Feb 2013

The Process of Illustrating

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How do you beat the winter blues?

February is not a good month for me.  I tend to get overwhelmed and under-inspired.  Not to mention super cabin-fevered.  Midwest winters are not my bag, baby.  I’m working on about a million projects but none of them have immediate deadlines so I’m not doing so hot on staying focused.  I need to prioritize and find a way to get excited about something.

My idea to help get myself on task is first of all to clean up my studio.  Organize, rearrange, and clean.  It’s hard to want to get busy working when it’s not a space I want to be in.  Also, I might just need a little distraction to clear my mind.  Maybe I’ll bake something or do some more yoga.

Do you have any tips?  What do you do to beat the winter blues and get yourself back into the game?

Perusing other artists amazing work sometimes helps me…

I love seeing the processes of other artists and illustrators.  Seeing the way that somebody creates is like getting a glimpse into their very brains and they way that they think.  It’s inspiring; it can give me a new perspective or trigger an idea to use a medium in a way I never had before.  Or even make me think of a new way of problem solving, which is a lot of what illustration is.  It is my own personal peeping tom to know what other artists are doing.

I’ve come across some great posts online that show the behind the scenes of other illustrators doing what they do best.  A few pictures to a finished product certainly simplifies what can be a long and arduous process, but they give you an idea.  Here’s a couple of fun ones…

Michelle from Creature Type did a guest blog on All the Live Long Day showing her process on a winter illustration.  Click through to see the whole process.



Erik Jones, artist and illustrator, posted on his blog, The Iris On, a step-by-step snap shot of how one of his illustrations developed from concept to finished work on a Red Sonja cover.  Click through to see a blown up version of the clip below.

red sonja process

I met Erik and found out about his work at a Chicago Comic Con that must have been about four years ago.  I was immediately impressed and have followed his work since.  It’s been fun to watch his technique and style change in that much time.

And here’s one from one of my favorite blogs about all things illustration, Muddy Colors.  The Making of “Grattis” by the awesome Serge Birault.  I love his colors and touch with digital media.


And last of all, a little visual walk through from Brian Kesinger on the steps behind his piece “Otto Laces Up.”  Click through for snapshots of each step of the way to finished.



06 Feb 2013

Playing with a Different Brushes in Photoshop and a Special Deal

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I love painting.  Real paintbrush to canvas painting.  But I’ve moved toward doing a lot of painting digitally due to time and space constraints over the last few years.  Just like painting with, well, paint, everyone has a different touch and approach to working with digital medium, and my painting approach has been pretty graphic.  I usually use a hard brush.  I decided I wanted to push what I was doing and try some new techniques, so I decided to try playing with the soft brush and working in a lot of low opacities.

Hard and soft brushes are essentially the most very basic brush set that comes in Photoshop.

Hard and Soft Photoshop brushes

Here’s an example of a piece that I created using mostly hard brushes and a close up.

Under the Surface

It tends to give it a graphic almost Adobe Illustrator quality.  Besides the scattered textural brushes I used on the mines, which still have a kind of hard edge, just more detailed, and a few loose highlights in the hair, all colors and shading are more or less shapes, which you can see in the super-close-up below.

Close-up detail

Here’s my recent go at using only a soft brush (outside of the background splatters) and a close up.

Bride-of Soft Brush


Bride-of super close up

This piece was an exercise for me, but it was fun and I think I will play with this method of digitally painting more.  Also, I plan to play with some of the actual ‘brush’ brushes that Photoshop has now a little further to see if I like them.  And just to keep things rounded out, I’m working on some sketches for an acrylic painting as well.

If you stuck with me long enough to read all through this blog post, I have something for you!  ;)  Special through February 10th: Free shipping on everything in my shop!

24 Jan 2013

Children are scary, but their stuff is fun.

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I am EXCITED.  UK artist Jonny Duddle has announced that his next book The King of Space is going to be released in March!  His books are so amazing and the character development in them is beyond fun.  His work makes me smile ear to ear and inspires me to get my but in the studio and work on something cool.  (click on the link for the book or the poster to pre-order at Amazon.)

King of Space Poster

I love sci-fi, so this is right up my alley, but his other two pirate books are not to be missed.  There’s The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door are also gorgeous and fun books that I swear you don’t need a child in your home to thoroughly enjoy and obsess over.  Here’s a pretty picture to give you an idea of the genius included…


Speaking of child related things, I’ve compiled a list of a few random ‘lessons’ that I’ve picked up over the last week and thought it might be fun to share.

  • Babies are foreign and scary.  I learned this when trying to buy a gift for a baby shower and stood in the baby isle of Target paralyzed with fear for an entire minute before grabbing the nearest item and high-tailing it out of there.  ‘Learned’ may not be right choice of word, maybe more ‘confirmed’ what I already suspected.  Maybe I have problems.  But I was also the youngest in my family and never had to babysit.  There.  Rationalization.
  • As much as I hate to admit it, I kinda want some wedge sneakers.  While being slightly fascinated by the trend, I also figure that if ever a high heel were going to be comfortable, it would be in sneaker form.
  • Greek yogurt, oh my god!  I’ve used it in salad and sauces, but never have bought the little cups with the bit of fruit for a single serving snack.  I was overtaken by a sale end-cap in my local grocery last week and picked up a few Fage yogurts.  A-may-zing.   Welcome back to my life, little packaged and processed foods.  (Especially the Mango Guanabana variety.  Yum.)  At least it’s a healthier snack, considering that I’m still recovering from holiday goodie overload.  I’m very nearly back to my pre-Thanksgiving weight.  So much sugar…
  • Coding is also scary, but I think I’ll be ok.  So far my app development class is going ok.  Despite my worries, a brain tumor has not exploded out of my skull just yet, though I’m still plenty of stressed and exhausted with the added hours of the class and homework to my already hectic schedule.  Makes me just want to sit on the sofa and stare at the wall for hours on end until I finally catch up with myself.  And oh, that monster pile of laundry growing arms and legs in the corner?  Ignore that…  I have an idea for a fun app I’d like to put together for you, so I’ll keep you posted on if or when that actually takes place.  My guinea pigs…  :)

What have you learned this last week?

17 Jan 2013

Growth of an Artist

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Being now 10 years since I finished my Art School education, it’s been interesting looking back at my development as an artist in about 5 year increments starting from high school.  That was about that time that I realized what had always been a creative and artistic leaning in me was more than a passing interest.  Art became a serious endeavor and escape all at once.  Looking back at what I created during that time of my life is, not surprisingly, fairly embarrassing.  If not for the lack of technique/anatomy understanding/composition, etc., it was for the utter angstyness of it all.  Go figure.  However, there are some things I can look back on and see in them a glimmer of brilliance.

High School Sketch Page

Sketch from a High School Sketchbook

Move up another 5 years to my college years.  The whole time I was there I was eager to be done and move on with my professional career.  Once school was done and I realized how isolating and difficult that could be, I completely missed art school.  Looking back, I really could have gotten more out of the experience.  But it was well worth the time and effort and of course, the cost.  (Yay student loan debt!  Only 5 more years left to pay…)

Ink Drawing from Art School

Ink Drawing from Art School

Watercolor from Art School

Watercolor from Art School

Acrylic from Art School

Acrylic from Art School

5 years out of college was a difficult point of development for me, because right out of school I made some not fantastic life decisions that really derailed my art in that time.  However, I did start to find a voice within myself, a way to communicate what was going on in my world.  I was frustrated that I didn’t progress with my work the way that I knew I should have, and wasn’t ready to start putting it out to the world.  I wasn’t yet confident in my portfolio.  Not that I don’t always question that things could be better and stronger, but there were significant weaknesses at that point that I couldn’t ignore.  However, that point in time started a transformation in the way that I worked and set me on a course of working much more seriously at what I loved to do.


“Am I OK?” Ink & Digital 2006


“Sweet” Ink and Digital 2006

That brings me to today.  Another 5 years out.  Still too far from my expectations and goals, but on the right path.  I look forward to looking back to this time in another 5 years to see how much further I have progressed both in skill and career.  I think if an artist ever reaches a point there they are no longer learning, bettering, experimenting or somehow pushing the limits, they should consider themselves ‘done’ and hang up their brushes.  There’s so much more I want to try, and to work at and maybe one day perfect, that I have a lifetime to keep busy.  So here’s to constant improvement!  (Clinking my water bottle to cheers the monitor.)

What are you working towards these days?

11 Jan 2013

The day I nearly blew up.

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bad day

I spent the last two days trying to learn (all of) JavaScript, and I think I gave myself a brain tumor. And more than a little anxiety.

I present exhibit A.)
A short while ago I went to the kitchen to make myself a hot tea. Put the tea bag in my cup, and walked nearly all the way back to my office before I realized I didn’t bother putting any water in.

Well, we’ll see how the rest of the day goes; tomorrow I start a 5-hour Saturday morning class to learn mobile app development that runs for 12 weeks. More brain mush!!


Combat Garden Gnome


Combat Garden Gnome says ‘Get over it!’
By Thorssoli at Etsy.com ($66.00)

04 Jan 2013

Monster Illustrations on My Mind

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There was never a monster in my closet or under my bed.  When I was a kid, when bed time came around I would get the assured idea that anywhere in my bedroom that the hardwood floors were exposed, the floors could dematerialize that monsters from some other dimension could reach through them to grab at me.  I had a careful scheme of climbing over furniture to reach my way to the bed without stepping so much as  toe on the wood floors.  I never screamed or became afraid and made a fuss about it, in my mind (at the times that I believed this) it just was so and I’d just go about my way avoiding any contact with these floor monsters.  I wish I could tell you where I got that idea, however over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to understand how young ones believe or say what they do is futile because they are simply insane.

I’ve been drawing a lot of monsters lately, you may have caught my New Years post with the Monster Party Gone Bad art here.  I’m working out pages of sketches and ideas to put something comprehensive together possibly.  Here’s one more that I just did for fun, playing with some colors and lighting a little differently that I usually do.

Little Monster Illustration

If we’re afraid of monsters under the bed (or in the floor), what terrorizes little monsters at night?

What are your monster memories from childhood?  The standard fair, or something a little stranger?

31 Dec 2012

Happy New Years all you mosters!

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Monster Lineup

Monster New Years’ Bash Got a Little Out of Hand

Is it really New Years Eve already?  This year has really vanished on me.  I’m not usually one to assign New Years’ resolutions because I’m making and revising goals all of the time.  I have many that will hopefully take flight in 2013, for one I’m starting a brand new marketing champaign to try to get a little momentum going with my illustration universe.   Also, I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a children’s book for a long time now, and actually have some ideas that are beginning to flesh out with a little help.  The biggest objective is to stay motivated!

I hope you all have a rockin’ New Years Eve, and be safe!

28 Dec 2012

Tablet Day has arrived

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So I mentioned that I was going to get a tablet after the holidays…  3 days after Christmas counts, right?  Thanks to contributions from my loved ones as a Christmas gift, today I marched myself to the local Apple store and walked about about 3 minutes later with my shiny new iPad.  I decided to go with the newest model so I’m not completely outdated in another year.  I just got the wi-fi, I think that will be sufficient and not add to my monthly bills.  Wow it’s gorgeous.  I’m in love.  The retina display is incredible.

My new iPad

My new iPad

I’ve already downloaded a few new sketching apps that I’m going to try to use to see if I can’t make this guy a viable medium and sketching platform.  I did get a stylus already, but still would like to get the pricier pressure sensitive one later sometime in ’13 as well as a bluetooth keyboard.  All in time.

I also ordered a Gelaskin for protection, which I should receive in about a week.  I really like the artwork by Audrey Kawasaki, Dishonest Heart.  In the meanwhile, I need to keep my klutziness in check and try not to scratch or damage it!


Gelaskin, artwork by Audrey Kawasaki, Dishonest Heart

I can’t wait to put this bad boy to good use!  Oh Apple, I really did take the blue pill.

What did you get for Christmas?

25 Dec 2012

Merry Christmas!

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The best part of the holidays to me is all of the wonderful baked goods. I don’t eat a lot of sweets usually, but the closer we get to Christmas, the more intense is my need to bake an obscene amount of cookies and candies. The rest of my family does the same, so for the last several days I’ve been eating myself into a sugar coma. I don’t know about you, but it’s going to take some time for me to work it all off.
I’ve taken off the holiday from the studio, but I’ll be getting busy again in a few days. I hope you are all having a fabulous Christmas with family, friends, and lots of sugar. ;)