Tag Archives: paint

Ms. Kitty’s Heart

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You know what would have helped? If I had any idea how to paint. 

Well over a year ago Ms. Kitty was extolling the virtues of her heart collection–a series of paintings by various artists, which she’d acquired over the years, and which all featured prominently the image of a heart–and asked if I would contribute. But I don’t paint all that much (the last really big painting project I did was like 18 years ago) and I didn’t have any real canvas and it just kept getting bumped. But she had asked me again a little before Thanksgiving, and during Thanksgiving my sister was cleaning out her room at my parents’ house (my parents are retiring and threatened to throw all her stuff away, which is something they would totally do and had already started doing) and she was going to toss a painting she did in high school, so I just painted over it.

I know that’s not how you’re supposed to do it, but, as I said, I don’t know how to paint. Unlike me, my sister has taken painting classes, and she told me to cover the canvas in gesso, but I skipped that step and just laid the paint on thick enough to mostly obscure the original image, although you can still see a prominent line on the left side (through the wrist) and there are a couple places where her textures or colors peek through.

For all that, I think it came out decently, even though when I look at it all I see are its myriad flaws and I’d like to paint over it again and do it right this time. But Ms. Kitty seemed to like it. At this resolution, you can’t see the 6 ghost cats hidden on the bottom right.

The canvas itself is about 18″ x 24″ and the paints are acrylic, just the common stuff you can get at Michael’s or any art shop. I think the brand might even be called Basic. Most of the paints were fairly old but still seemed fine. I had to acquire 2 new brushes and 1 new paint. Even in acrylic, painting is a really expensive hobby.

This took me about a week, working between 2 and 5 hours every day. I imagine, if I knew how to paint, it could have gone faster.

Painting made me want to paint more, but I don’t have more canvas. I was actually thinking about trying that thing where you buy terrible landscapes at Goodwill and then paint monsters into them. I bet I could make a killing if I painted Pokemon into them. But actually, getting paintings at Goodwill is not as easy as you’d think.

In other news, The Man decided to give me an early Christmas present by teaching himself bookbinding and creating a hardcover version of The Hermit! I am astonished. It’s really remarkable work. If you’d like to see the step-by-step tutorial of his process, you can follow this Reddit link (and upvote if you’re a Redditor and you like me and you think his work is worthy, which, of course, it is). Now that the paperback version is available, the ebook will be offered, for a limited time, as a free download.

More Magical Paintings from the Past

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The mythopoetic tree serpent ascends. 

Before all the webcomics, and the Trickster’s Hat, the first couple months of this blog were just scans of every piece of art I’d made prior to starting the blog. Not everything, of course, but everything I still had that I still liked, going back to when I was 11 years old. But still not everything, because I keep remembering, for example, this photograph of a painting I did when I lived in Israel, in the fall of 1997.

The original’s probably long gone. When I left the kibbutz, I gave it to the volunteer coordinator because he had admired it once, and I was going to bum around Europe and didn’t want to carry it, but about 6 hours after I gave it to him, this guy I knew told me about a terribly racist thing the volunteer coordinator had done and I wished I hadn’t. He probably didn’t want it anyway. For my purposes, the photo is probably sufficient.

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The Fabulous Butterfly Screen

This butterfly screen is definitely the biggest thing I ever painted, and the most complex. Actually, paint costing what it does, I’ve done very little painting in my life, and this is the only piece that took me more than an hour or two to finish. I think it took close to a month, actually, but it was a labor of love, a gift for an old friend. This is Christmas 2000, I think. Maybe 1999. Wonder if this screen still exists.

It’s hard to imagine painting this by hand. How much more righteous would it have been if it were done in Photoshop?

No one ever goes back to the beginning of this blog but it’s still nice to have everything uploaded to one place. Although if I could go back and do it again, I would have made this blog a Tumblr.

 

I have a headache and now you can have one too

Alien world or weird filter? You be the judge.

Alien world or weird filter? You be the judge.

One of the hardest parts of drawing webcomics, for me, is the constant staring into the screen. My eyes, as I’ve written before, do not work all that well. They certainly don’t work like normal people’s eyes, and sometimes they betray me. Migraines, nausea, that sort of thing. When I was just writing 4 or 6 hours a day, it didn’t bother me, because I touch type, and by and large I don’t look at the monitor anyway, but I’m a much better typist than artist, and drawing a hand, or something like that, means squinting at the pixels and erasing and redrawing and shifting perspective, zooming in and out and erasing and redrawing again.

I’ve got a big analog project I want to tackle, which I will share when it’s ready, and tonight seems like a good time to start. No webcomic, no eye strain. There will be tiny scraps of fancy paper involved, but they won’t be backlit.

Instead, feel free to enjoy this weird portentous beach scene I painted about a year ago. My painting always looks pretty rough and experimental, because it is. I know nothing about painting. If I could afford it, I would take a class, at least something basic about technique, because I’d love to paint more, but it’s an incredibly expensive past time.

For that reason, I’ll probably be sticking to my Wacom tablet. You can have any size canvas, and any color paint, and it’s free.

Dragon Comics 54

And we’re back! In retrospect, I guess I meant to come back on Monday, but for some reason I thought I had planned to pick up on Wednesday, so here we are.

When the muse sings, you better shut up and listen.

When the muse sings, you better shut up and listen.

My intention was to draw 5 or 6 comics over my break, but of course, I got sick on Christmas Eve and lost most of that week. At least there are 4 finished. Comic back to the comic after take a week off was sort of surreal. It was necessary to remind myself that yes, I can do this.

Inspiration for short fiction sort of comes at your head all the time. I probably write 2 dozens stories in my mind every week. None of them get written down, or even remembered, most of the time, but stories are everywhere. There are characters; there are situations. With the comic, the characters and situations are, by my own parameters, basically the same, but there have to be a million ways to get to the punchline, even if we always start in more or less the same place.

Pebber nodder is a kind of delicious Danish spice cookie, sort of along the lines of gingerbread, but usually smaller than cookies we eat in America (at least in my experience; I am not an expert on Danish desserts) and typically served (I believe) for Christmas. The real life owl is of Danish extraction, but I don’t know her feelings on pebber nodder. We did not eat cookies in the desert over the holiday, although I have hung out in the desert with the owl, without cookies.

The owl, the fox, and the rabbit are my real life writing group, and we do like to go away together to write in a new place. It’s a good form of inspiration, but of course you can’t depend on retreat for inspiration. You have to be able to create in your natural habitat as well.

Paint It Whatever Color

Papier-mâché is an interesting looking word if you spell it with the French accents. There’s something both gratifying and disgusting about the process of creating it, though. Although I am far from fastidious in my personal habits, I despise being actively, tackily sticky or dirty, particularly when it involves my hands and arms. But for certain things, like baking bread or making papier-mâché, I’m willing to make an exception.

Family photo, Montezuma Castle

Family photo, Montezuma Castle

The 9-year-old came home a couple weeks back with an assignment to build an ancient Indian dwelling based on the design of some group of people who lived in Arizona, and her first choice of dwelling was Montezuma Castle, the most striking ruins site we visited on our recent tour of Arizona. Immediately, my brain started kicking the idea around. How could this idea come to fruition?

Papier-mâché was the answer.

I can’t really count this piece as my art. I designed it, and I told the kid how to make it, and I made her do most of the work—say, about 90%—without my interference, although I did come to her rescue when something was beyond her ability, and I stepped in for some of the fine detail work: cutting windows out with a scalpel, the parts that entailed using India ink, and placing the buildings in the cave. I also mixed her paint colors. Otherwise, she was in charge of creating this thing.

This seems like a pretty successful project to my eyes!

Montezuma Castle, executed in paper and paste: probably the best ancient Indian dwelling in all of 4th grade.

 

I confess that she was having so much fun painting that I couldn’t stop myself from helping. Anyway, it was getting late and she’s so meticulous and I needed to clean up and make dinner. I especially love the little accents I did on the front when she pointed out the real cliff had a lot more texture. I love painting and am certain that I would not suck at it if given half a chance.

Later that night, after the kids went to their mom’s, The Man was fooling around with the leftover materials, specifically the other half of the balloon shape we used to create the cave.

The other half of the cave. Note its specific shape.

The other half of the cave. Note its specific shape.

“It fits perfectly on your head,” he declared after determining that it was too small for his gigantic noggin. Then he stuck it on my head. In fact, it did fit perfectly.

Now, if you’re like me, in the sense that you really like dragons, and art, and the Internet, and have a lot of friends, you have probably seen/been sent this time lapse video of papier-mâché dragon being built. While I am not as good as the professional guy in the video (yet), I am not bad either, and after the second time the video appeared on my Facebook feed, and after wearing this paper hat around for a while, I decided to create a dragon hat. Yesterday I started the horns; today I hope to finish them and affix them, and then turn my attention to the problem of building something to fit over my head when I haven’t got a mold of my face and I’m not willing to get flour paste in my hair.

Of course, now the girl wants a Maleficent headdress  executed in the same style.

Since I didn’t really show you any of my actual work today, here’s another picture from earlier in the year, which was a request from some good friends who were getting married and wanted an agave sign for outside the venue. Aside from the Trickster’s Hat stuff, it’s really the only painting I’ve done in a long time. I’d love to learn more about the craft.

Their colors were springtime green and bubblegum pink.

Their colors were springtime green and bubblegum pink. It was windy on the hill; here we see the “ring bear” affixing the sign to the easel to keep it from blowing away.

 

Another Day, Another Dragon

Specifically, another day, another dragon painted on a wineglass at a rollicking good time Yelp event.

 

The head of the wyrm.

The head of the wyrm.

Technically, the Dragon painted on this wineglass is an amphithere: a winged, legless beast. The amphithere is a New World dragon. Purple mountains majesty!

The landscape is painted on the reverse side of the glass.

The landscape is painted on the reverse side of the glass.

The Yelp event at which I painted this glass was the Winter Zootacular, an event to benefit gibbons, according to the invitation. The glass painting table was hosted by a company whose name I immediately forgot. Not only can you paint wineglasses there, they will also give you wine to drink while you paint them. That is the business model.

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Closeup on the wing. Amphitheres are distinguished from European and Asian dragons by their feathery wings.

I’m interested in spending a lot more time painting. The Fox was with me at this event, and wasn’t interested in painting wineglasses, and I didn’t want to make him hang around. Plus, it was dark, and there were 50 other women crowded around me. I bet I could paint a way better dragon on a wineglass in more favorable circumstances.

 

All Dragon, All the Time

It’s not going to be forever.

Dragon Comics are definitely a finite thing. There’s no termination date or anything like that, but there are other projects in my mind, projects planned out more carefully than this one.

That said, there is a lot of Dragon.

Last week, at a Yelp Elite event, there was a wineglass painting station, and somehow, Dragon turned up there!

That snake would drive anyone to drink.

That snake would drive anyone to drink.

Then, because people were leaving and there were still undecorated wineglasses, I added a mandala to the night’s accomplishments.

Mandala wineglass is on the right, seen with Dragon and a bunch of other decorated wineglasses.

Mandala wineglass is on the right, seen with Dragon and a bunch of other decorated wineglasses.

I rarely drink, and when I do, it’s usually from my buddy Jeff’s Woodeye Glasses, so they’re just sitting on the bookshelf right now, but if I ever get that Kickstarter together, these glasses will probably be a reward.

There's nothing like other people's badly drawn rendition of your badly drawn characters.

There’s nothing like other people’s badly drawn rendition of your badly drawn characters.

But that’s not all the Dragon. You see, this little dragon is about to have a birthday. One of the big ones. And her kind friends threw her a rather intimate little party. And Dragon even turned up there.

I don’t eat vast quantities of cake, or dessert in general, since I have a very low tolerance for flour and sugar. But this treat came from a local bakery called Cakelab, which specializes in gluten-free desserts. So I ate about 10 times as much sugar this weekend as I would normally eat in a year. And I’m kind of feeling it, if you know what I mean. Ouch. The cake is delicious, though. 

So, Dragon is pleasing to people, and Dragon is a stepping stone to something else. But right now, Dragon is ubiquitous. I still have one more comic in this little arc, plus a standalone for Friday, with humor that’s terribly nerdy and not at all black. The world is dark sometimes, and so is my sense of humor, but it’s all in good fun. You’re having fun, right?

Dragon Comics 17

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Some monsters have a lot of chutzpah.

Maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but in general, I don’t think I’m the only artist who deals with bizarre distractions coupled with an attrition of art supplies. If I had a dollar for every time I had to stop what I was doing to figure out what happened to the stylus for the Wacom tablet, I could buy a new stylus every single day, and while I own literally hundreds of pens and pencils, laying my hands on one when it’s needed can become a bit of an ordeal. Poor Dragon has so much more to contend with.

Lisa and Robyn Got Married

Friday night we were out with some friends, dinner and karaoke (in case you’re wondering, I *rocked* “Only the Good Die Young.” The entire bar was into it), and then headed back to another couple’s house to chill out. I brought the Wacom tablet because sometimes I just feel like messing with it all day. (I almost skipped karaoke to go draw.) Demonstrating to my friend, I said, “Hey, I’ll paint a picture of you.” The first image I came up with of her was one my husband took on her wedding day a few months back.

“You’re really going to paint that?” she asked.

“Sure, why not?”

The “why not” would probably have been because she was wearing a birdcage veil, and her wife a necklace made of 10 thousand tiny beads. Those would have been reasons not to paint that particular image anyway, because those things were not easy to draw. But I was committed. And it took 3 days. And I did this.

So in love <3

So in love ❤ I had a WAY better background and Photoshop crashed as I was saving it! Tried to recreate but it’s so late and it’s not going well. 

I had fabulous plans for a background, but every time I attempted to execute it looked awful. I’m not 100% satisfied, but I’m not entirely certain how to make the pixels do what I want them to do here, so I’m sticking with this reminiscent-of-the-’80s design for now. The great thing about digital paint is that you can always come back. I can easily put the background in the trash and try a new one.

Eilat, Coral Reef Nature Reserve, August 1999

 

Under the sea, under the sea...it's the Red Sea, in case you were wondering.

Under the sea, under the sea…it’s the Red Sea, in case you were wondering.

I was living on kibbutz in the south of Israel, and a guy that I liked took me to Eilat to go snorkeling. He had bought a waterproof disposable camera and he was determined to get his money’s worth. The results were unspectacular. The reef was crowded. I was sexually harassed in French while standing in line (my French was not sufficient to defend myself, but the guy I was with was a native speaker, and when he came back and saw what was happening, he cheerfully chased my offender off and stood a little bit taller afterward: “I called him ‘tu’ and he answered me with ‘vous,’ he said, a little bit dreamily, as he was a small guy and not used to coming out on top in those situations). The reef was, sadly, dead. No one else seemed to notice, but I’d seen enough nature documentaries to know a dead reef when I saw one. There were fish, but hardly any living corals and no anemones, sea stars, urchins, or any of the fine little creatures you expect around a reef. 

My friend wasn’t confident in his ability to take good pictures, so he gave me the camera, and I did my utmost, but the only really interesting shot on the roll was the last one I took underwater, as we were about to get out. Approaching the steps, we saw hundreds of these beautiful striped blue fish swimming around the legs of the people who were about to get in. It was a magical moment.

As for this drawing, I have mixed feelings about it. If I had another 10 hours to mess around with it, it would probably be as interesting as the original. The perspective is OK, but the light was crazy hard to work with, and capturing the light on the water nearly impossible. I managed to get something there by lining the brushstrokes up, but overall it’s too dark and heavy to really give the appearance of water on a sunny day. However, just completing the exercise taught me a lot, and analyzing the piece now helps me learn even more. I could definitely revisit this at a later date and smooth all the light and shadows out, even if the ripples and bubbles in the water are kind of hopeless from this perspective. 

The thing is, I tried to commit to this blog for the purpose of seeing things through. Otherwise, I’d probably just chuck this image, give it up as too hard and feel like I hadn’t done anything creative today. I might tell myself I’d finish it later and probably not follow through. Promising myself to post something new every day gives me the freedom to suck. I don’t think this picture sucks, per se. It’s just that my skill doesn’t match my vision, and I’m impatient, and learning new things feels new and unusual still after spending almost 30 years obsessively focusing on learning one skill.

So I guess this picture isn’t completely done, but it’s after midnight, so up it goes.