Oct 062016

Spirit Fox

ArtSnacks is a subscription box service I get. Every month they send you a small box with a few art supplies in it, along with a tiny snack. The snacks go immediately to Slick each time, but the art supplies are my kind of candy. I also subscribe to SketchBox, which does the same deal of art supplies, but no snack. Clearly, I have an art supply addiction. Anyway, they have a challenge every month to create a piece of art using only and all the supplies in the box and this is the first one I’ve played along with. At first I was having trouble with an idea because it is October and I kept thinking of Halloween (skulls, bats, pumpkins) and autumn (trees, leaves, wind) and being stuck. Finally, I pushed the seasonal thoughts aside and thought about what the materials would fit and this idea bubbled right to the top. A spirit fox in a dark wood.

I’ve had a number of animal helpers in my dreams, but the first one I really remember was a snow fox (Vulpes lagopus). Of course, I’ve never seen one and they aren’t telepathic like mine was, but it was snowing in my dream and it was a dream so it made perfect sense, in the way dreams usually do. Seemed like if I was going to draw a spirit animal, I should choose the closest thing I had to one. I thought of using a different animal because foxes are “so hip” and “on trend” right now, but that isn’t fair. If you change your behavior due to a trend, whether for or against, it is still influencing you. Ignore it, that’s the best. So, I ignored it. Of course, you can’t tell that my fox is a snow fox because it is glowy spirit white already, but whatever.

As the ink was drying, I went right into button-making mode. After that 30 day challenge, it was almost a habit; it felt natural.
Spirit Fox Button
The button badge is good, but not great. Some of the fine, light details are lost and the spirit floaty sparkles are barely visible, so I put a spot of micro-fine glitter ink on it before the mylar layer – not that you can see it here, only IRL.

This was a good evening art playtime, especially since I couldn’t do what I was supposed to be doing, which is hand stitching on the latest quilt. I’d taken it to work with me so I could stitch during my mandatory lunch hour, but I was a bit stressed and had terrible posture while I was doing it. That made my neck so sore I had a headache and could not bear any more stitching, good posture or not. Inking was easier, despite a similar pose. Maybe I was just that much happier to be at home in the workshop making art.

Sep 212016

Nighttime jackalope, with moonflowers.
The Jackalope, 2.25″, Copic markers on Strathmore marker paper.
The last button of the challenge, and one I reserved my most favorite character for – the Jackalope. This guy is depicted on a moonless night, surrounded my moonflowers and the soft glow of stars. The Copics decided to spit blobs of ink out again, but it was an easy PhotoShop fix in post production. This button is tied for my favorite. It is too soon to really decide; I have to let them sink in a bit. Soon, I’ll post a Lesson Learned about this challenge, but for today, I will relax and let the last button of the challenge be the last.

Sep 202016

Honey Bee button.
Western Honey Bee, 1.25″, watercolor.
There is a lot of (justified) hype the past few years about honey bees dying out, colonies collapsing, etc. These are true and research is determining the causes of this. However, along with that hype comes your typical modern-day-news nonsense that hasn’t been researched or even understood before being plastered all over the media. Honey bees are not responsible for a third of our food supply, or any of the other magical, multi-billion dollar industry crap you may have heard or read.

What are honey bees responsible for?
First, obviously, is honey. Sweet, delicious honey and useful beeswax are direct products from honey bees. Don’t forget that mead comes from honey = yum! Indirectly, they help pollinate many flowers, veg, trees, etc.

What does it mean if honey bees vanish?
It means that tasty things like strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, onion, lemon, lime, almonds, chestnuts, pears, peaches, apricots, apples, plums, allspice and cardamom and more (not a complete list) would not have the help of the honey bee for pollination, and therefore production. Other insects pollinate these items, so they wouldn’t vanish with the honey bee, but they would become harder to produce, therefore more rare, which means more expensive to get your hands on.

So, the collapse of our food system (horribly flawed though it may be) is not realistic. The rarity increase of many bee-assisted delights is totally realistic. Throw a couple bee and butterfly friendly plants in your yard and (provided you’re not using industrial grade neonicotinoids insecticides) you’ve done a good part to help. With so many massive, awful problems facing humanity and our entire planet, this is one easy thing that you do to stem the flood of doom and gloom and thus, perhaps help you get to sleep at night and worry less in general.

Sep 192016

Two birds, chatting in the moonlight button.
Night Birds, 1.25″, Tombow markers on Rendr paper,
We had an excellent full moon this past weekend which was made even better by cool breeze and leaves turning golden and crispy on the trees. The turkey vultures are closing up their breeding season – they are part of our fall experience since they favor an enormous pine tree about five blocks from our house. They’ve worn the branches bare on that tree. Crows are more plentiful in our trees; they like to complain at me on morning walks. The drawing is of crows, with their rounded sweep tails. Ravens look similar but have pointy, shovel tails. They are less common at my house, too, so crows in the moonlight it is!

Sep 182016

Ganesha button.
Ganesha, 1.25″. Super Black ink, Strathmore Marker paper.
Ganesha, Lord of Obstacles. Ganesha is one of my favorite deities. As the Lord of Obstacles, he will help remove things from your path, if you’re worthy. Alternately, if you’re full of yourself and being a brat, Ganesha is the one to put obstacles in your way.

Again, this is the second attempt at the art, the first is below:
Original Ganesha button.
Same problem as before, I made my work too big. I was excited to try out some new supplies I’d received from Artsnacks, a Kuretake Sumi ink, with a new nib and a new notebook of ink-friendly paper. My original Ganesha was about 7×9″ with very fine lines. After scanning it and shrinking it to button size, it was partly invisible. Using PhotoShop, I thickened the lines, but scale was still the problem and it simply didn’t look good enough to me. I redrew it much smaller the next day and it was good.

Sep 172016

Button Badges, Cat Faces
.875″, watercolor.
Since the first cat head button was so much fun, I revisited the subject, but with watercolor this time. I may have gotten carried away and did ten of them; seven were usable for button art.
I might make watercolor sketching and doodling time a more regular thing. Simply water coloring for fun, without a deadline or end goal is a pleasant, satisfying, and relaxing creative pastime.

Sep 162016

Button Badge
.875″, Stabilo markers on Rendr paper.
More companion creations. I thought this first bug button needed company. It is included in the upper left corner in the above photo. the wonders of the internet allowed me to select close up photos of a number of unusual looking bugs (after many clicks) to use as a drawing reference. Only did their faces, one could get WAY carried away doing more with art of bugs.

Sep 152016

More baked treat bluprint badges.
More Baked Treat Blueprints, .875″, acrylic.
The first badge with a slice of cake needed some companions, so I thought about the other delicious treats and made three more. Cupcakes did have to be called out for the messiness, and I almost never come across macarons, but they are treats I enjoy anyway.

This set of four is now carded and bagged, ready for travel. I’m listing them in my Etsy shop, in case anyone out there wants to pick them up. One of my goals this year is to list more items, more often, in my Etsy shop and this feeds that goal.

Sep 142016

Autumn color papercut button.
Autumn Papercut, 2.25″, black drawing paper, scrapbooking papers, Xacto, .125″ hole punch, spot of glue.
This is a companion to the first papercut button. I have to say I don’t like this one as much as the first, but Slick prefers this one. Funny how these things go. It was nice to get some papercutting in again. Sometimes I focus on some methods of creation so much and for so long that other methods fall by the wayside. I like them all and I want to do them all, but I need more time. You know, more time than everyone else has. Got spare time? Give it to me!

Sep 132016

Spirit of Coffee
Spirit of Coffee, 2.25″, Caran d’Ache Neocolors II on black Canson paper.
I decided to pay tribute to my favorite legal drug again, to pair with the first coffee button. This one is less of a demand and more of a visual to how coffee makes me feel.

~ Begin art supply talk ~
Thought I’d play with those Neocolors again, since I had a slightly better feel for them. They are very good for fast, expressive and broad strokes. They work the way I always wanted pastels to work. The creamy texture is responsive, the layering qualities reasonable. I’d like more colors (always); I have the 40 set, but would like the 84 or even 126 set. I won’t get it since I will probably take the rest of my life to use the current 40 and it would be a pricey new purchase. I swear these things have gone up in price since I got mine, although that was probably five or six years ago so it makes sense. I wish more companies would sell second tier upgrade sets. Personally, I’m not going to flat out buy a large set of expensive anything until I know I like and will use them, which takes me three or four tries, usually. I would do exactly as I did, buy a middle grade set to play with, then buy the secondary, add-on set to get all those 44 or 86 more colors I didn’t get with the initial set. But, they don’t sell those additional colors in a pack. Grrr. I might be able to get up to half of the others singly, if I sit down and sort out what I have compared against the list of singles available. Annoying.
Copic is good at selling chunk color sets without too much duplication. Companies should make some effort in this area – they are certainly losing some business from me because of this. On the other hand, I imagine other artists have a narrower range for supplies than I do so I am once again the long tail/outside edge/minority.
~ End art supply talk ~

Like all addicts, I resonate with the accessories of my addiction. Coffee cups and spoons, the right creamer, the perfect addition of sugar, the sounds of my potion brewing, a good mug, a pleasing routine. Coffee will definitely be a subject for me again and again.

Sep 122016

Sugar skull buttons.
More Sugar Skulls, 3@ 1.25″, Stabilo markers, Rendr paper.
These guys were created to keep the first sugar skull company. I had to add in the ear outlines for the animals, because their skulls were rather ambiguous compared to the ubiquitous human skull. Since there are four now, I think I’ll bundle them together in a pack.

Painting and cookies button.
Painting and Cookies, .875″, Uniball Signo, copier paper.
This quick sketch was to illustrate something I often say. When I get home from another long work day, Slick will ask what I want to do, and this is my response. Perhaps cookies aren’t the most nutritious dinner, but the milk has a little protein in it! Also, I am really good at not mixing up my cookie-milk and my paint-water. Total pro, this one!

Sep 102016

collage from desk trash bits, moon love bunny
Moon Love Bunny, 2.25″, paper bits, glue, Pan Pastels.
I thought the Journey Fortune Bunny could use a companion, so I dumped one of my desk containers over and sorted out some items. Of all the leftover trash bits, I used:
A snippet of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Israfel” from a book my sweet Slick got me. It was one of those huge, artsy books with illustrations alongside the poems – delightfully moody. This was a cut snippet leftover from the Halloween Chunky Houses I made back in 2011. I was surprised to find it in the tray.
A partly translucent skull.
Another inked bunny – There are seven or more left still.
Some punched and cut heart leftovers, a corner of masking tape that looks like a heart and a mylar star. I have no idea where these tiny bits came from, although I have figured out why I have hearts with holes. I think I punched some tiny holes, but found them too small to thread something though, so I punched over top of them with the little heart.
Some tree cutout scraps from my Autumn cards.
The small bit of poem is what influenced this piece to come together the way it did. I shaded the background with Pan Pastels, which I DO NOT LIKE, but I’m trying to use different art supplies that I have, so I buckled down and used them. Still don’t like them.
The skull looked similar to the moon’s visual texture, so I pasted it to a moon print.

I like this. It is just a teensy bit busy, but still fine. Perhaps there is another bunny piece yet to come.

Sep 092016

Ankylosaurs button badge.

Ankylosaurus, 2.25″, Tombow markers on Rendr paper.
I love dinosaurs. My most favorite, the Ankylosaurus is depicted here. They were armored dinosaurs, with spikes, plates of bone, scale, horns, and club tails probably used for defensive battle. Their genus name means “fused lizard” as a number of the armor pieces were fused together for greater strength, to make them a harder shell for the carnivores to crack. I will definitely do some more dinosaur drawings.

Sep 082016

Lino cut Raccoon button badge
Carved Gratitude Raccoon, 2.25″, my lino carving printed with Golden Acrylics onto cardstock.
A couple weeks ago, I mentioned I had a problematic print run which resulted in a lot of failures. I am loathe to throw things away if they can be used, so I saved the best of the print failures. Turns out that the raccoon face fits quite well onto the largest of my buttons.
He is a gratitude raccoon because he is on thank you cards, which I admit you cannot tell from the button version. I like this guy.

Sep 072016

Different Colorful Skunk button badge
Skunk of a Different Color, 1.25″, Tombow markers
This guy is a combination of a couple ideas. The biggest one is the hypocrisy I commonly see and hear spouted about how a person should “be different” or “be your unique you” or whatever inspirational garbage they’re recycling on Facebook that day. The reality it that you are mocked, shunned, feared, and generally disrespected for being “different” or interesting. The truth is that you don’t fit in the fat bell most people live in themselves, you are “crazy”.

But, the colorful skunk is cute. Skunks are damned cute!

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