Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Card 2015

This year's holiday greeting card image:
That's old fashioned pen and ink with watercolor.  No digital enhancements.

I ordered the cards from, and I couldn't be happier.  The greeting I chose for inside this year is "Happy Winter!" Not everyone on my list celebrates holidays in December, but they all live in the northern hemisphere.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

This year's Christmas card

Here's what I've been working on today:

For my personal 2014 Christmas cards.  It took me a long time to come up with an idea for an image for this year's card.  I drew pages and pages of sketches of pffft before I settled on this.  Don't ask me how I came to think of doing a watercolor of Tudor style birdhouses, but once I landed on the idea, I knew it was the one.

Monday, November 24, 2014

New Zazzle shop

I have a new Zazzle shop at*

I have only posted two products so far -- a greeting card and a coffee mug -- both using the same holiday card image from 2011 (see below).  I am assured by the Zazzle website elves that the products will appear in my shop within the next 24 hours.

I created the shop for folks who've told me they'd like to be able to order batches of Christmas cards with this image.  If any of you do end up ordering them, please let me know about your experience dealing with Zazzle and your impression of the quality of their products.  I hope to be adding more items to the shop on a regular basis, but only if the company produces quality products and treats its customers well.

Now I'm off to design a Christmas card for my own use this year...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

This year's Christmas card image, brought to you by a combination of pencil sketching, Corel Painter 12, and Photoshop.  Have wonderful holidays, everyone!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

More sketches ... and plans

As you can probably tell from the subject matter, I do most of my sketching these days during church.


One month ago, I went from working a part-time office day job for a tiny non-profit to a full-time administrative position at a mid-sized university.  The increase in income and benefits are a welcome relief, and I get to interact with a lot of interesting people, but I do miss all the extra hours I had for writing and drawing.  

As I've been learning the complex systems of a much larger organization, I've put my own creative projects completely on hold (unless you count sketching during the sermon).  I wanted to be sure my new employer reaped the full benefits of my mental energy.  But now that I'm more accustomed to how things are done, I feel free to pour some of that energy back into art.  Yesterday, I began sketching from imagination again with a vague idea of producing a Christmas card design.  The pencil sketches, above, of kids making a snowman are from my first stab at getting into that mindset.  I'll do some more this evening and hope to have a Christmas card image ready to submit to an online company for printing by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.  

I also have a novel waiting for its writer.  It's one that I was deeply into writing this past summer, but had to set aside in mid-September when someone near and extremely dear to me had a stroke.  That special someone is now recovering nicely, and I will happily re-enter my fictional world during the university's generous Christmas vacation.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

IF: Moustache

This week's Illustration Friday topic has me dipping back into the archives for a couple of pencil sketches I did many years (decades even) ago of a former sister-in-law's cat, who happened to be named "Moustache."  Said kitty had this name because of the distinctive white markings above his mouth.

About a year ago, I scanned the sketches, then fiddled around with them using my new Painter software.  What you see above are the results of my play with the grainy watercolor brush.  Moustache, who died many years ago, was not a ginger cat, as my doodling would seem to suggest, but a seal point Siamese.  The white fur moustache really stands out against the familiar black-to-tan coloring.  It's too bad Moustache isn't around anymore to model his proper colors for me. 

(Psst, Blogger, you need to add the word "moustache" to your spelling dictionary. It really is an acceptable alternative to "mustache.")

Life changes my plans

Sorry for taking so long to post again. In mid-September, someone extremely near and dear to me experienced a medical crisis that, while her condition has improved somewhat in recent days, has not fully cleared. Circumstances have demanded that I make more use of a different set of skills for a while.  I did get a bit of sketching in before the crisis hit, however, and managed a few quick sketches during Sunday morning sermons, but getting a sketch done each day of the week has suddenly become a low priority.

Here are the sketches I did manage to get down before life changed my focus:

You might get the idea, from a few of the sketches above, that I was having some headache issues during the week of September 9th.  You would be quite correct.  Don't worry; they were not serious.  They seem merely to have been related to a combination of tension (as I was engaged in a search for a new job--having determined I need the full-time-with-benefits kind at this point in my life) and ragweed allergies.  The headaches seem especially inconsequential given what happened at the end of the week.  At any rate, I was clear-headed enough to have fun trying to translate the pain into drawings.

Here are the Sunday morning sketches from my little Moleskine:

You may notice that the last sketchbook page above is dated 10/6/2013.  That's because I have decided to revamp my September challenge to make it an ongoing one in which I attempt to average a sketch a day from here on out.  Here's hoping life will allow ...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Big batch of September sketches

As you can see, I was in a rather pensive mode in the middle of last week.

On Sunday, I did a bunch of quick sketches of people in church in my little Moleskine again.  It's a lot easier to draw the folks sitting in the pews than it is to draw the musicians and the pastors, who keep moving on me.  

When I'm out of the house, I'm usually drawing with a ballpoint pen.  At home, I tend to use pencil, at least for preliminary sketching.  I think I'll try practicing more with using the pen at the outset.  See if I can develop a more confident ink line.

Now I need to go do my sketch for today.  I'll post it with my next batch.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

200th post(!!!) and Sketch-a-day September: Day 1

Hello all!  It's hard to believe -- especially considering I haven't posted since July -- that this is my 200th blog post.  Thanks for visiting and making it all seem worthwhile!  Raise your coffee mugs and toast yourselves!

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted.  I've just started the first draft of a brand new novel, and it is consuming a great deal of creative energy.  I came up for air a few days ago and saw that one of my fellow bloggers, Coreopsis, is doing an art challenge: 29 Faces in September.  (You should check out the blog; there are some great pieces up already!)  That got me thinking about how I have trouble drawing with regularity when I'm starting into a new novel.  A simple daily challenge for the month may be just the ticket for re-instilling a daily sketching habit.

So here is my first sketch for Sketch-a-day September:

As you can see (or I hope you can see), I drew this in church during the sermon.  I keep this small Moleskine in my purse at all times.  (I wish more folks would sit in the pews like the guy at the top.  His was a much more interesting pose to draw.)

The Sketch-a-day September Challenge:  I have decided that my Sketch-a-day sketch can be as simple or complex as I feel up to making it or have time for that day.  I can spend just three minutes on the piece or three hours.  Multi-tasking is fine (drawing while riding the subway or listening to a sermon or sitting in a meeting or watching TV or talking on the phone). And any subject matter will do (I'm not interested in limiting my challenge to faces).  From life or from imagination.  Realistic or abstract.  The sketch can even be a half-assed effort, but it can't be so bad that I won't share it here. But I must draw one (at least) sketch per day, and I must post it on the blog. No whipping out seven sketches on the weekend and then posting them spread out over the week.  (Although it may have to be acceptable to sketch each weekday and post all the efforts on the weekend.  This challenge is about instilling a habit of sketching each day -- not scanning and posting each day.)  I WILL sketch EVERY DAY, even if I'm under the weather.

Feel free to join me, or join Coreopsis in the 29 faces challenge.  Perhaps you have some other trick you use to keep motivated.  If so, please share it in the comments!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Illustration Friday: Jungle

For this week's quick pencil sketch on the Illustration Friday theme "Jungle," I thought, jungle means lots of trees. Then I thought, trees means treehouses.  And as anyone who has followed this blog for awhile knows, I love to draw treehouses.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Illustration Friday: Equality

Jeremy wishes Mom weren't always so keen on keeping things equal between him and Melody. But he's not as miffed as he would be if he knew that Melody is pulling Mom's arm to the left.

Meanwhile, Mom is thinking, If this cake were chocolate, I'd so be splitting it three ways!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Illustration Friday: Surveillance

The above image is a Painter 12 pen-and-ink redo of an illustration I have done two versions of before.  I think it fits this week's Illustration Friday topic well.

The previous incarnations were to be sample cover designs for the portfolio, however, neither is up to that standard.  The scene is based on image I have in my head for an early middle grade work in progress.  (This particular scene, which would occur near the end, has yet to be written.)  As you can see, I was exploring (somewhat clumsily) with different media:

I did this first, rather heavy-handed, job using pen-and-ink, watercolor, and colored pencil on Arches hot press paper.  I (inexpertly) touched up the image in Photoshop, then did the (very amateurish) layout also in Photoshop.  

I have gotten bit better with Photoshop since then.  I think that shows a little better in my next stab at the cover:

Here I was going for a scratchboard effect.  I did a pencil sketch, scanned it in, then inverted the black and white. I used the eraser tool to scrape away the black, then added the color to a background layer.  I like the boldness of this style, but the characters need more expressiveness.  The layout is still limited by my inexperience with certain features in Photoshop.  I am hard at work on my InDesign skills, however, so that should be moot point soon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our Dad's Watches and Father's Day Memories

A few months ago I received a request from a new business to do a very specific illustration: a boy seated on his dad's lap and hearing the ticking of a watch for the first time.  I suppose I might have turned down a commission to do something that had to match a client's mental image so exactly, but this challenge resonated well with the general direction of my illustration work.  I took the project on, and I'm very happy that I did.

Business owner August Monteleone wrote a very nice blog post about the illustration and the story behind the image he commissioned.  You can read it here: Augie was a pleasure to work for. I got a strong sense of this being a man who cares deeply about what he does. (I expect that if you have a classic watch in need of restoration, or are interested in purchasing a timepiece as a gift for someone special, Our Dads Watches would serve you extremely well.)

I knew I needed to take special care as I was illustrating a memory for a man with great love for his father. I was surprised at how meaningful the work became for me too. I  used a batch of photos from a Google image search for sketching practice and working out the posing of the figures.  But then I needed to better visual references to nail the details of the watch and the shoes at specific angles.  I used the actual 3-D objects: my own dad's watch and shoes.  I drew the preliminary sketches in pencil, emailing scans to the client for feedback. I then revised the pencil sketches and emailed scans for approval. I finished the inking and coloring of the approved composition in Corel Painter 12.  As I worked, I felt a rush of warm memories of early years with my father and the little life lessons that slipped out in relaxed moments in the living room after he returned from work. 

Last Sunday, Father's Day, months after completing the Our Dads Watches project, my mind drifted back to working on this illustration and the warm feelings it engendered.  

Thank you so much, Augie!