Tag Archives: sketch

Embrace Me

Screen Shot 2019-06-25 at 11.36.02 PM


I’m working on something big again! No, not lizard porn. This is just a little distraction from the big project. I took a photograph of some lizards copulating in a bush and it was blurry and unusable but the arrangement of their limbs was so cunning I had to make this little sketch to memorialize it. Anyway, the thing I’m working on is much, much worse than lizard porn.

Laughing Deer

laughing deer_edited-1

I don’t know if that deer is laughing at me or with me.

You know you’ve spent too much time on the Wacom tablet when you try to control-Z a piece of paper.

This is just a quick sketch I did before I went to Florida (I’m back now) based on a selfie I took the week before. Although I still have some Dragon Comics to finish, I’m also working more in pencil lately, trying to be less dependent on the tablet and Photoshop. Been working on a big project that might take the rest of the year, but still trying to update this blog semi-regularly. Seriously, I drew this picture just to remind myself that I could draw.

The original photo was taken at a place called Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch, about 45 minutes north of Tucson. It’s a tourist attraction petting zoo where you can feed little deer, miniature donkeys, goats, sheep, bunnies, parakeets, lorikeets, ducks, and sting rays. I might be missing some creatures. Oh, yeah, the stupid ostriches, which I ignore, because the rest of the attraction is much more fun. You get a lot of joy for $10. The deer are my favorite, but the sting rays are pretty cool. And the bunnies are bunnies.

Old, Rolled Mandala


Ever have one of those incarnations when you feel like you’re just eating your own tail?

Whilst searching for some other document (never found; can’t even remember what it was now), came across this blast from the past: one my first mandalas. Not sure about the date, but probably from sometime in the mid-’90s, although it could be earlier. Sketching it out was meticulous work; I literally used a compass and a protractor to get all the curves and angles. The center part shows the phases of the moon, and the cardinal points are trees during the 4 seasons.

After putting so much effort into making the sketch perfect, I then became terrified to ruin it by trying to color it, so it just hung out in a tube for 15 or 20 years. No idea how it got stained…the stains are not as bad as they look, but rather amplified due to the Photoshop correction I had to do to the original image just to make the pencil lines clearly visible.

The whole this is pretty banged up, and, of course, held together with scotch tape, but none of that matters anymore, because now I do have Photoshop. I could draw a clean and more perfect copy in a relatively short period of time, and I could color it in a million different ways without ruining the original. Would make a wicked cool T-shirt.

Not that I don’t have 50 other projects.

Cats don’t comprehend insomnia

Cats recognize faithful servants and reward them well.

Cats recognize faithful servants and reward them well.

Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I walked through a darkened hall and stepped on something cold and slightly moist with my bare foot, and I knew exactly what had just been squished beneath my naked skin, because I’ve stepped on dead mice before. The cat helpfully leaves them in my path, on the only rug in the entire house, because, despite the fact that I feed her regular food and treats every day without fail, she apparently considers me a terrible hunter. The mice are pretty easy targets; they live in the compost heap and even I’ve killed one (by accident, with a pitchfork, while turning the pile). I can’t get myself worked up over mice living in the compost heap–they’re kind of cute when they’re alive, and even though my neighbor in convinced they probably carry the hantavirus, the heap is a pretty safe distance from the house–but the cat is vigilant about their community, and spends many hours a day sitting on the wall, gazing down at their home with dedication to an ultimate goal.

The dead ones are better than the disabled ones. In her quest to teach me how to hunt, she tried bringing me creatures with broken backs, still alive, but unable to walk. She must be perplexed when I let The Man finish them off for me. He grew up on a farm, and has more experience killing animals. In addition to mice, she has gifted me with many lizards, a sizable number of songbirds, and on one memorable occasion, a snake. It was a worm snake with a broken back, able to dart its head around, but paralyzed on the back end.

To her credit, we had a terrible cricket problem in here before she decided to move in, and, mysteriously, since her arrival, the house is no longer infested with crickets chirping their heads off all night in the walls.

In case it’s not obvious, this is another insomnia comics. Insomnia comics are drawn the night after insomnia, when the gears of my mind are sticky and don’t want to turn. I’m sure plenty of funny things happened today, but they didn’t want to be comics. There was the mom pushing a kid in a stroller even though that kid was clearly old enough to walk, and threatening to take away his dinosaurs every time he made a sound even though we were in a room full of screaming kids, for example. That’s weird, right? But I’m too tired to make sense of it. Oh, and then there was a conversation I had with my 86-year-old grandmother, during which she made fun of climate change deniers. And at dinner, we bumped into some friends we hadn’t seen in a while, one of whom is a physicist, who told me that his Ph.d. thesis disproved the concept of teleportation. There’s got to be a joke in that somewhere. Maybe tomorrow I’ll remember how to be funny. Right now I’m just kind of stressed out.

Today also should have been the day that I started my holiday bulletin board, but I was too tired to think of a picture or decide on any text. As my mother always said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Long Hair Kitties for the Fluff!

Soft kitty, crazy kitty, tangled ball of fur...

Soft kitty, crazy kitty, tangled ball of fur…

The problem with painting from live models when you want to paint a cat is that cats make terrible models. They have no trouble posing themselves; effortlessly, they assume all manner of provocative positions, seemingly begging to be capture for posterity. And then, just as you start to get the outline of a decent sketch, basically the moment they notice that you are looking at them, they move.

So I don’t know about this little painting. I did it about a month or so ago and of course it’s not quite right because the cat was done long before I was. You can sort of tell what it’s supposed to be…but it’s not great. Can’t recall my original motivation in using so much red in this painting. The cat in question, my current cat Lupin, is a real Halloween cat, almost completely black except for a few white hairs and a little charm on her throat. She does spend a lot of time lying splayed out in the sun, so her belly is bleached brown, but she’s generally hard to capture visually because she basically sucks light into herself like a black hole.

While I was working on my original painting and trying to make it into the one I published (and also covering up a lot of the red and some of the silver) the cat just randomly sat down in front of me in almost this exact post, but I decided to just ignore her, knowing that if I tried to make any serious study, she would immediately move.

Suna was a princess, or possibly a queen.

Suna was a princess, or possibly a queen.

Even though they look similar, this is a totally different cat, Suna, who passed away a couple years back. She was actually a tortoiseshell, even though here she looks entirely black. I knew Suna as a kitten, when the Bear and I went to school in Ohio, and then many years later as a mature cat when I came out to the Sonoran Desert. I can’t remember which moment in time this sketch is from, but it’s either 1997 or 2005. I suspect the former.

I was looking everywhere for this picture when I first started the blog; I wanted it for another post on cats last year, but it was just nowhere to be found. Friday night I ditched all my friends who wanted to go to a bar and randomly started cleaning some of the clutter in my office. This sketch was stuck in a transparent plastic report cover along with the design for my second tattoo and a bunch of Winsor McCay reproductions. Makes perfect sense.


I actually don't see what you did there.

I actually don’t see what you did there.

Another serving of strangeness out of my virtual sketchbook. A fish camouflaged as an eyeball with so many rippling little fins that it almost looks furry makes perfect sense. Also, it was fun to draw. The water effect for the background really did come out beautifully. Just yesterday I was watching the ripples of sunlight on the bottom of the swimming pool and thinking how difficult it would be to capture that effect in paint. But really it’s easy with basic Photoshop tools. The little tendrils look sweet, too.

Today was another non-starter for me, but my censorship article went up on Panels and got a great reception: retweets, comments, Facebook shares!. It’s called “I Expected Batman and Robin, Not Pornography” and it’s just a little rant about people who don’t get the concept of liberal arts education. Go on and click it you like comics, dislike censorship, or just enjoy stories about clueless people or straight up ranting.

We are all connected

My blue period lasted until I was 35. Now I'm in my rainbow period.

My blue period lasted until I was 35. Now I’m in my rainbow period.

Here’s a few more sketchy flights of fancy from my Trickster’s Hat days. There’s something so soft about pencil drawings, and especially velvety about color pencil. When I was a teenager I used to spend a lot of babysitting money on artist quality colored pencils, but I think this drawing was done with school supplies. I used to covet colored pencil–any arts supplies–so badly. Now I have dozens of sets of colored pencils, and I spent most of my time on the tablet.

Don't mess with Little Red

Don’t mess with Little Red

Little Red Riding Hood again, this time a dark, brooding raven of a riding hood. Here’s one little girl who’s not afraid to walk through the forest. She’s more than a match for this brutally psychedelic world.

OK, back to the passion flower! When that’s finished, I may take a break from the tablet and get back to basics.


All Sharpies, all the time: black, red, silver.

All Sharpies, all the time: black, red, silver.

I’ve seen some people call this kind of free form, stream of consciousness, space filling doodle a Zen Tangle, but I was doing them for decades before I realized that people outside my family drew like this. My mom doodled constantly on the backs of envelopes and the edges of calendars, in a style similar to this. Typically, it’s an absent-minded thing: I would mostly do it on the edge of school papers and the margins of notebooks. Supposedly it’s a soothing, centering thing, like a mandala, but without the rigidity and focus.

This one I did in a single sitting. It took an hour, and it seems kind of threadbare to me, but it was definitely helpful in terms of getting my head out of video mode and into art mode. Usually, when I’m just doing it absent mindedly, a lot more ink gets on the page.

If there’s a pen in my hand, I want to use it, even if I’m just drawing hearts or writing the alphabet over and over. It feels good to draw

Further adventures in line drawing

Two more examples: on the left, black and silver Sharpies; on the right, the back of a save the date card from our wedding.

If you can’t make something representative, at least you can make something.

I’m working on a new T-shirt design, which should be pretty stunning when it’s done. When I started I said, “Hey, you can pull this off in a night.” After 3 days of drawing, I’m about halfway done. It will be a digital painting of a passion flower, which is an astonishingly bizarre sight, and more so because they only bloom a couple days out of the year. So that will be exciting. It’s been a while since I’ve uploaded a new design.

Yesterday, by the way, I sold 2 giralicorn pillows. They look like this:

This is what a giralicorn throw pillow looks like.

This is what a giralicorn throw pillow looks like.

I wish I could meet the customer who made this purchase. I imagine the person who wants to decorate their home with not one, but 2 of these creations, is probably a fairly interesting individual. Perhaps even more interesting than I am, because I drew this picture, but don’t see any way in which an item like this would fit in with my home decor.

Sketchy Stuff

You didn't hear it either.

You didn’t hear it either.

Submitted for your approval: a few more degrees of weirdness from my fevered brow.

The idea of invisibility is a tempting one, but obviously, people don’t use it for anything other than breaking the law. Sure, some of us are Harry Potter and we’re just employing our ultimately power for the purpose of sneaking into the restricted section of the library, but, by and large, people want invisibility for the purpose of spying. By and large, people want invisibility for the purpose of spying on people in various states of undress. The Invisible Man is not, in fact, someone you’d invited into your home. Of course, if I were invisible I would totally Robin Hood it. Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor would be my calling in life. For real.

I like his leather boots and gloves, and his trench coat and empty scarf. He’s totally inconspicuous in that getup. No one would ever look twice.

Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect 

Here comes Tax Day. This year I swore that I would file early. I really have no idea what to expect. We have with withholding incorrectly since we got married and there’s a strong possibility that we’re going to owe the federal government some sum of money we do not actually have on hand. The worst part is that I hire someone to do my taxes every year, because it’s cheaper than spending 3 days crying about how much I hate doing taxes. And I’m still not ready to file, even though I brought him our 1099s and W2s in February. This is 97% my fault.

Anyway, this ballerina, with her oddly muscular arms and her surely uncomfortable thong leotard had to settle for her second choice career. Stay in school, kids!

Clearly, we're missing out on a lot of things that excite dogs.

Clearly, we’re missing out on a lot of things that excite dogs.

Fire hydrants are like newspapers for dogs; everyone knows that. They read smells. I think I read that a dog’s nose is 10,000 times more sensitive than a humans’. I guess this dog is maybe a dalmatian/beagle mix. A dalmeagle? Or a beaglematian? At any rate, he’s picked up on something, recalled that it’s something he’s picked up before, but decided to resmell it. You know, just like some people do with books.

The hot and the cold are both so intense, put 'em together it just makes sense!

The hot and the cold are both so intense, put ’em together it just makes sense!

See, the fire spirit is hitting on the ice cream cone. And the ice cream cone is interested, but ultimately knows how things will end between them. Better safe than sorry, ice cream cone.

Yep. I have like a million of these things. And it absolutely doesn’t matter if anyone else likes them, or even understands them.

Basically What It Looks Like in My Brain

Walking Eye: So I'm a walking eye Green Vegetal Forest Spirit: Forest spirit. And my friend's a forest spirit too.  Wee Glowing Forest Spirit: Hey

Walking Eye: So I’m a walking eye
Green Vegetal Forest Spirit: Forest spirit. And my friend’s a forest spirit too.
Wee Glowing Forest Spirit: Hey

For a while now I’ve been doing a lot of the same thing, and I’ve learned a lot doing it, but ordinarily, when I’m just drawing to draw, I don’t draw the same thing over and over. There are definite themes, and there are topics that I mine again and again, but when I draw, for instance, Little Red Riding Hood, today’s Little Red is a different Little Red than yesterday’s Little Red.

I can tell already we're going to be the best of friends!

Little Red Riding Hood: I can tell already we’re going to be the best of friends!
Wolf: ::slavers::

Although, there does tend to be a lot of sexual tension between the girl and wolf.

There are lots of birds and fish and flowers and stars. Animals and fruit come up as often as fairy tales, and the style tends to be fluid. My friend the Vampire Bat once remarked that my art doesn’t have a recognizable style–this changes from image to image, I guess because I’m still searching for my style, or rather, I’ve never been satisfied with the way I draw.

This is basically the way I draw when I’m not trying to draw like someone else.

Turtle: I could absolutely *murder* a strawberry right now. Strawberry: Oh, god, please, no! I'm too ripe to die

Turtle: I could absolutely *murder* a strawberry right now.
Strawberry: Oh, god, please, no! I’m too ripe to die

Dragon Comics are fun, but these are the kind of comics that I draw constantly, without thinking about it. They don’t take hours. They don’t always make sense, although usually that’s part of the humor. They sort of make sense to me. And they always amuse me, which is the standard, right?

A snail licking the rim of a margarita glass for some reason

A snail licking the rim of a margarita glass for some reason

Usually I scratch stuff like this out on the backs of junk mail envelopes, keep them around for a couple months, perhaps thinking that the designs could aspire to be something greater, and then, eventually throw them in recycling when I find them jammed under the leg of my desk covered in cat hair. I’ve got dozens of notebooks from high school and college, the margins filled with these little guys. I’ve been thinking I should do something with my favorite parts and recycle the rest of those notebooks, too.

When I first started with the tablet, little cartoons like these would come out very rough and basic. I sort of advance in fits and starts: learn a few things, get comfortable with them, get dependent on them, then suddenly realize that there’s more to learn. Then I pick up a couple more techniques. Probably it would be more efficient to read a book about Photoshop and the manual for the Wacom Tablet, but that’s just now how my mind works. I’ve got to figure it out myself.