Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oh no! I fell on Half Price Books

I am sure I am not the only one who has this problem, but Abe sure isn't one of them. Whenever I go to a book store, I can easily find a dozen books to get. I don't even have time to read, so I mostly get reference books. Particularly art reference books. So when I have time to read some day, this problem will be even worse. You know what Abe came away with? Luxor 2 (an awesome video game). This weekend, Half Price Books had a 20% off sale and I fell for it hard. I thought we weren't going to go, but Abe got off work early on Sunday and we made a day of it. Including finally get me some pants. But no one wants to hear about pants. What about the books?!

Gnomes by Huygen, 1976; Giants by David Larkin, 1979
I love all these books from when I was a kid. I don't know if I have the fairies one the my mom had when I was little, but now I have the Giants and Gnomes books. The art in these is just amazing and if you have not looked through and read these books, you really need to. They are so creative and fun. I love how they are written like the creatures are all real. Definitive facts rather than myth.

A Master Class in Drawing and Painting Landscapes by Sarah Hoggett and Abigail Edgar, 2009
This book actually covers a variety of mediums: graphite, charcoal, ink, colored pencils, pastels, watercolor, gouache, oil, and acrylic. There are different landscape objects: clouds, trees and bark, grass, rocks, water, light, rain, etc. Then there are a bunch of projects to practice grouped by the natural and those invaded by people. Looks like a fun book to work through with lots of handy information.

The Printmaking Handbook by Louise Woods, 2008
This, I can tell from the images on the cover, is a small version of the Complete Printmaking book my mom has. It includes lots of different printmaking, too: relief printing (monoprint, linocuts, and wood blocks), intaglio (engraving and cutting, which I thought would include linocuts and wood blocks), lithography, screenprinting, photocomposition, and alternatives. I am particularly interested in the section on paper since that is the problem I am having with the crow comic and the reason I haven't printed it yet. I am a bit confused about the organization after a brief look, but perhaps it will make more sense after I am more thorough.

Watercolor Tips and Tricks by David Norman, 2009
I have only briefly flipped through this book, but it surely looks handy. I didn't see anything on painting grass in particular, but there is one on hair and fur. I think that could be applied to grass, which is the fur of the earth, right? :) But it has sections on different things you might like to paint and then often a demo. Like realistc skin color and then a demonstration of a woman in glasses. Painting smoke and mist includes a demo on painting the bridge at Brantome. It also includes information on techniques, like washes and painting wet-on-dry or wet-into-wet. I'll have to glance through this book closer before my next water color.

Sumi-e Kit by Shingo Syoko, 2002
Wowie-wow-wow. This is a kit that comes with a little book, that actually looks pretty good. But the best part is that it is a kit. A few pages of rice paper, three smaller brushes, an ink stone, and two ink sticks (red and black). The book includes all things in brief: history, materials, how-to, and practice strokes. Then it has lessons! Bamboo, plum blossoms, orchids, chrysanthemum. Though the lessons mostly focus on plants, there are a coupl pages on wild life in general, and the carp and lobsters in particular. The final section is about experimenting. I think this will be a great book to restart with. Once I get the hang of it from this book, I can move on to the slightly more complex and detailed Complete Sumi-e Techniques that I used with my mom on our vacation. And now I get to try the ink stone instead of teh sumi ink bottle. Which I think will make a big difference. Sounds like a lot of work. Grinding the ink takes a few minutes, but the book mentions "this quiet and repetitions actions has a calming effect, helping to clear the mind in preparation for the painting you are about to do" (19). And it looks like not a single thing has been used, even though the section with the ink and brushes has been opened. Though it has some bad reviews on Amazon, I think they expected more than a simple starter kit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I painted this a while ago and have been a huge slacker in getting it posted. I think we will eventually be selling prints of this. Specifically, they should be available at my booth at the Bellingham ComiCon, Saturday, October 24, in Ferndale, WA!

Anyways, I sketched this out at work in bits and pieces. Then enlarged it and transfered it to cold press water color paper, did the water color and then inked it. I chose the cold press because it is smooth compared to the hot press, but when I actually tried to ink it with a nib, it was much more difficult than the hot press paper I used for the inked water color of Umbrella Girl. So I will try more on the hot-press paper.

I was unsure what to draw last night as I antsily waited for Abe to catch up on The Jerks thumbnails so I could finally catch up on the buffer (I like to have 8, which is one month).  So I drew these from The Sartorialist.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sue C. Boynton poetry contest

My mom, Anita, was so kind as to let me do some illustrations for the broadsides she made up of the winners and honorable mentions in the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. And they have all been announced and displayed and whatnot so now here are my images. They look even better on the actual broadsides which you will be able to see on the buses and in some libraries and banks in Bellingham, WA, this summer. I wasn't able to go to the opening event, but from the reviews I have heard second hand through my mom and brother, they are being well received. Which is totally awesome.
First up is the angel or handless woman statue/headstone from the cemetery for Bellingham, written by my brother's friend's girlfriend, Rachel Mehl. So it's pretty cool that I got to draw an illustration for someone I know.
 Next up is the illustration for a poem called Your Blue Shirt. Apparently, this was quite a popular one that night. People found it really cute. I think it was the way my mom put it on the broadside and colored it.
 A Day at the Lake was a poem by sixth grader Alyssa Gallant. This was a fun one to do, let me tell you.
 Pencil Elves was a pretty cute poem by fifth grader Kobe Woodruff. I hope I did it justice. Jim, who MCed the event announcing all the winners and stuff, pointed out the teethmarks to Kobe while MCing.
Finally, Pete was written by my brother's friend and my friend's brother, Caleb Barber. So for that I got to draw a really cute dog. I got a call from my mom and she got to tell Caleb and Rachel today that I was thrilled that they were thrilled with my illustrations for their poems. (For some reason the scan got screwed up and you should be able to see all his feet.)
All in all, what a cool project I got to work on. Maybe I will get to do more next year. I hope so.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Corgi sketch

I worked this in while I was at work the other day.
I am pretty pleased with that little drawing. Corgis are just the best. Fun to be with; adorable to look at; great to smell... oh, wait. Very often not great to smell. :) Yeah I'm talking about you Ernie.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Drawering time. Drew me up some corgis. But I kept getting distracted with how cute an entire page of corgis is. These were pretty fun. The top two are from photos on google. Then there's Ernie. And the bottom two are based on a 'how to draw a corgi' tutorial that I found super helpful and used to draw another cute corgi at work today.
 Then I needed something else to draw because I was a bit spacey and kept forgetting I was supposed to pencil the next two Jerks comics, so I went to The Sartorialist.
In my personal life, I am doing C25K (Couch to 5k) on my bike. It seems it might be a jinx to put this in my blog, since everything else I said I would do I didn't, but oh well. It is pretty fun. I did it tonight and instead of biking the last 5 minutes for the cooldown, I walked around the apartment while my gross organic artichoke finished cooking because my butt hurt from the bike seat. But I was on it for 25 minutes, so that is good.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sumi-e practice

So when I was on vacation, we took an evening to do some sumi-e painting. Well, to practice sumi-e technique. I found out later that some of my favorite paintings that I thought were color paintings in a sumi-e style are actually wood cuts! Sumi is a type of ink (the kind I use for my inking, acutally) and e means painting or something, so it just means painting with the sumi ink. Pretty fun. I got a book on painting sumi-e from Henderson's in Bellingham nd got some Sumi-e brushes at Daniel Smith and brought them up to the Silver Lake cabin. So we didn't have a full set to work with and I start out with a large brush. I practiced the different strokes first. Just loading the brush with ink took some practice. I don't know if we ever got it right. At least, not consistently. The solid lines are what you would use for the outline style paintings. The wide one that are dark on one side and light on the other are the boneless style, or Southern style. And when you use both, it is the Northern style, which I personally like best. For looking at. Since I have never done it.
Then we practiced circles. I didn't really understand the directions in the book (Complete Sumi-e Techniques by Sadami Yamada), which involve twirling the brush between your fingers. Because of this, I would like to be able to take a class on Sumi. I learn pretty quick from watching. Though I suppose most people do.
 Then we tried the flowers. I am not sure if the problem was the paper or self-teaching, but this did not work so well. I bet it was a bit of both. Each petal should be dark in the center and light at the edge. They were when I first put the ink on, but there was so much water and the paper wrinkled so mu that the ink spread over the whole wet area. Anyways, I want to try this again, but it is simple and would make a nice little picture in teh end. Just need to try a different paper. We were using paper ripped out of my mom's sketchbook that she bought when she was in college.
 Then I switch to a smaller brush, which helped. I think we were using letter size or smaller, so the page filled up super fast when I used a large brush. After a few more practice flowers with the small brush, we moved on to grass. Not sure I get it. I should read that part again. I think my hands wants to draw the same line over and over, but the grass blades should each be different.
 A few more practice grass, and then leaves. Which ended up looking a lot like lips or fish sometimes. Good thing to note. But I guess on this page I was getting a little better handle on the grass.
 More leaves! I think at this point I was starting to get frustrated with how to ink the brush properly. The book talks about using an ink stone and we had a bottle of sumi ink. So maybe that was part of the problem?
 Finally some roses. At this point, after an art deco style rose, I was sick of it and we went to bed. Drinking and learning. Good combination.
I do like the tiny rose even though it is all light gray. In the end, it was pretty fun and I would like to try it again, but I would also like to try it on some good practice sumi-e paper. Whatever that would be. Not too expensive, I hope. The book says newspaper can be used for practice. I have to see if I have a roll of newspaper from my mom or if we imagined that I took that. Someday there will be more sumi-e up here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Drink and Draw sketches

Abe and I finally got to go to drink and draw last night. So I drew. We were all alone at first - we were upstairs and everyone else was downstairs. So I drew this.
Then we moved over to the table when other people came upstairs and had some great conversations that seemed to revolve a lot around pasties - not the British food.

I love that weird rabbit fella. Abe asked if he was my spirit animal. It is pencil, so it isn't really that dark, but it is hard to see at the light pencil color on a computer screen.

Then I couldn't think of anything to draw towards the end, and ended up with this poor fella.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

One Lemming's Loss

While on vacation, I finished printing One Lemming's Loss. Fraught with trouble, we eventually got it done thanks to hard work by Abe and my mom, Anita. I forgot to even draw a cover image or image for the bio page until I was on vacation, so Mom had to add those after Abe sent us a print-worthy PDF.

This full-color comic is about grief through an anthropomorphic lemming. Very short, the story is only 14 pages. Including the cover, the comic is 20 pages and the back has a brief explanation of lemmings. And since I learned all about binding books while I was on vacation, including the purchase of Cover to Cover, all of the comics are hand-bound. Simple saddle stitch, but I love the idea, which I got from Liz Conley at Stumptown. The finished books are 7.5 inches tall by 5.5 inches wide.

You can get them here:

  • Etsy, hard copy and, later, digital copy
  • soon, The Comic Stop in Lynnwood, physical copies

For your viewing pleasure, here is a brief preview:


Page 1:

Page 2:

And with One Lemming's Loss, I have four small comics available for purchase, including Hardly Kind (physical, digital on Etsy and The Illustrated Section), Harrowing Tales at the Bus Stop (physical, digital), and Arthur Loses His Mind, or small things are hard to find (physical, digital).

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vacation, Year 2

Last week was the second annual art vacation with my mom. I went up to her place and we stayed a couple nights in a cabin at Silver Lake. The rest of the time we just stayed at her house, but that is great because she has a wonderfully full art studio.

Thursday morning, Abe and I drove up with Le Poops (the dogs, that is) and I had a stack of 22x30" paper (wrapped in butcher paper) on my lap because that was the only place it would safely fit. It wasn't so bad though. I don't actually remember what we spent the day doing, but we had corned beef for dinner. It was Jim's first time cooking a boiled dinner and he did a bang up job. Except either the turnips or the rutabegga had a thick rind on it, but I just skipped those. That night, and nearly every night I was up there, I read The Elegence of the Hedgehog before bed. I am really enjoying it, though I feel bad for both characters. If you have read it, you might find it odd that I pity the concierge more.

Though I don't remember much of Friday, I do remember that Mom and I spent a large portion of the day making practice books. It was an interesting construction that she found in her book Creative Bookbinding. It uses pieces of cloth glued to the front and back of each page. This works really well for thick pages because you don't have to fold them - all the bending is in the cloth of the spine. But it takes a really really long time. I am going to do a bunch of linocut prints of the crow story and I wanted to bind some of the originals but the original paper that I boght is pretty thick. I might use thisbinding for some, but it is really time consuming. One, sure. But 10-50? No way.

Anyways, Saturday I went to a Storytelling workshop by Doug Banner with Jim. It was pretty fun. It was about revealing involuntary memory to expand on your own stories. We eached grabbed an item from a huge amount of random items he had spread out on the stage and then we all wrote down the basics of the story that the item made us think of. The workshop was to then tell the story and the audience would ask questions with the goal of helping the storyteller to find more details and expand on the story. He, another lady, and Jim all told their stories. He told a story about his grandmother based on some rosary beads. She told a story about a time in a canoe in Belize with her friend and a fella with a lucky rastaffarian hat. Jim told a story, which I had heard before, about his brother poking the nose of a dead nun during a funeral. The questions people asked were interesting and at the end of each story and Q&A Doug pointed out what he would have told differently, such as where to try to add more detail to really get at the point of the story and about pacing.

Then, after lunch, Mom and I finally made it to Silver Lake. We unpacked (we had the only cabin with its own bathroom!) and went for a little walk to draw. We picked a nice little spot. I drew a tree and Mom drew some bushes next to it in the little books we had made the day before. When we were back and spending time doing art in the cabin, which was severely lacking in natural light. We started listening to Oliver Twist, which I had borrowed from the library especially for the occasion. (We didn't finish it until Friday!) For dinner, Mom made a delicious stroganoff from scratch. We had just a little too much to eat, but Mom made sure to finish off the meat.

Here's a picture I drew of what I thought the Oliver Twist narrator would look like before I learned it was a woman. She was great though!

Sunday was Easter and we were at the cabin for the whole day. We each drew our bunks in our handmade books and I painted a 5.5x8.5" watercolor from a sketch I had with me of Umbrella Girl. I think it turned out pretty well. The trees in the background are based on the pine trees outside our porch and the other tree is based on the tree I sketched the day before. For Easter dinner we had some lamb, potatoes, and brussel sprouts. Yum. :)

Here's a comic I drew about our time:
Panel 1: Attended a storytelling workshop with Jim.
Arrow pointing to fella: Doug Banner.
Arrow pointing to hand: Rosary beads
Doug: Stories
Panel 2: both: To Silver Lake!
Caption: Me and Mom (Anita)
Panel 3: Angela: I don't have the shoes for this!
Panel 4: Anita: Another jumping fish [note: there were a lot of fish pecking at the surface of the lake, but some actually lept out of the water!]
Angela: Wow. A bald eagle's nest. [note: we forgot binoculars. But there was a nest across the way with two or three babies.]
Panel 5: Angela: PB & honey like mom used to make
Arrow at speech: Mom made my sandwich.
Panel 6: Top caption: Birds we enjoyed.
Caption 1: Hummingbird
Caption 2: Robin that walked up the path nearly to our cabin
Caption 3: Eagles across the lake
Panel 7: Caption: Mom's pyromania reaches a head
Panel 8: Caption: Happy Easter!
Angela: To Son Frog! [note: we had gotten a growler of Son of Frog from North Fork on the way up - yum.]
Anita: And sumo! I mean, sumi-e. [note: she kept calling it sumo instead of sumi-e all weekend. dork. :) (more about the sumi-e later.)]

The rest of the time we spent in Mom's studio. I used her press to make some prints of the Crows in a Tree. We also made some handsewn books in the Japanese style, which is what I think I will use for the crow story and I will use a lighter paper. Mom showed me some mulberry, so I will take that around and see if I can find something similar. I also got One Lemming's Loss fully printed and did a hand-sewn binding, which was really really fun. Just a simple Saddle stitch. I also pencilled and drew a mini-comic about a sasquatch that I thought up on our drive back from Stumptown. We even got to spend an evening writing haikus (more on these later). I think my mom is intimidated by limericks. :) In the end, it was a mighty productive week, though it didn't feel like it the whole time. I had a great time and I can't wait to do it again next year.

When I got home, Ernie finally forgave me, which was nice. He hates when I leave. And we went to Fred Meyer's and bought some patio furniture. Thay were having a sale so we got $165 worth of stuff for $106: two folding chairs, a folding table, and two cushions. The folding table and chairs lock, so we don't have to worry about it too much. Though I did fall off the side of the deck while we were playing Bananagrams (which was our final Xmas present from Mom and Jim). I squealed, "Help, Abe! Help, help, help!" Abe just stared at me, chewing his lunch, while I flailed around. Eventually, after he had finished his bite and thought about what to do for a bit, he grabbed my arm and pulled me back up.

Phew! Now that I wrote it all down, I understand why I was so tired when I got home. I didn't even get everything. We played lots of Bananagrams. I really like it. Though it seems to be much harder to play with two people than three.