Category Archives: art

Art-o-mat Adventures

Once upon a time, some enterprising artists decided to repurpose old cigarette vending machines to create art vending machines, and thus the art-o-mat was born. As badly as I wanted to visit one of these novelties, I knew I’d never get around to it until I added it to my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days. After a couple of failed attempts to find the DC machine (long story), I made a pilgrimage to Cumberland, Maryland, to visit the Saville Gallery. It was easy to find and fun to do. You purchase a token for $5.00, then use the token to make your purchase. The hardest part was deciding which to get! I ended up with a lovely pin by Freaks, Geeks & Beauties, but then had to do it again and ended up with an adorable Patron Saint for Modern Times created by Mike Goodwin. (I got Saint Hoopty, the patron saint for good parking.)

Art-o-mat Machine

Close-up of machine

Close-up of machine

The token

Freaks, Geeks, and Beauties


Patron Saints for Modern Times

Patron Saints for Modern Times

Later I finally (finally!) made it to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and once again purchased two pieces. The first was a rather puzzling, er, object by Scarab Art, then an itty bitty watercolor painting by Trish Randall.

Art-o-mat Machine


Trish Randall

Scarab Art

It’s probably good there aren’t any super close to me, because I evidently have no willpower whatsoever when it comes to these things. MUST BUY ART!

Have you ever visited an artomat machine? Maybe there’s one near you!

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On Composition and Negative Space

When drawing something simple like a stark still-life, composition – that is, the placement of the object in the frame – becomes very important. For example, when drawing an iris, it would be wise not to create something that looks more like a wilted cabbage in the process of fainting.

Just sayin’.

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When I was a kid, I anthropomorphized everything. Seriously: I even attributed personalities to the cards on computer solitaire. These days, inanimate objects tend to take on my current mood. For example, drawing boxes bores me to tears:

And drawing round objects in perspective frustrates me to no end:

I wasn’t really going anywhere with this. Just wanted to share. Do you anthropomorphize inanimate objects in your life?

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You can certainly do worse than copying the masters, but sometimes it feels a little weird to create art of other art in a different medium. For example, while the rest of my Basic Drawing class at The Art League in summer 2010 was creating spheres and cubes, my instructor wisely gave me (who alone had experience with charcoal, evidently) something a little bit more interesting to render:

My first attempt didn’t turn out too well, so I rotated it and tried again:

That was a little better, but the sad truth is that no matter how faithfully I copied it, it remained a pretty ugly statue.

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Draw ‘Til You Drop at VisArts (NSFW)

Warning: there’s a lot of nudity in this post. Just so you know.

Though I have not yet actually participated in a SketchCrawl, I am a member of SketchCrawl Washington DC. It was through this group I heard about Draw ’til you drop, a marathon drawing event put on by Visarts in Rockville, Maryland, this past Saturday, January 14. (Hat tip to the very talented Ricardo Pontes for letting me know about it!) I probably wouldn’t have gone but a friend went ahead and registered us both, and I’m so glad she did. It was quite the experience.

The format was simple: 12 hours, 6 models. Each model did five 5-minute poses, then one long pose for the other 90 minutes (minus some for breaks, of course). I figure I drew for about ten of those twelve hours, and by the end of it I was pretty spent.

I arrived an hour late, but that was more than enough time to capture the first model’s long pose.

I was still warming up, but she came out all right. I could have stood to redo her hands, though. They’re a touch on the small side.

A lot of people were doing amazing things with charcoal and conte crayon and heaven knows what else, but I found I was happiest with my plain old #2 pencil, and ended up sticking with it the entire day.

The second model was a man – the genders alternated all day, actually – and he did a lot of interesting short poses. I didn’t scan in most of my five-minute sketches because they came out pretty terrible, but I liked this one all right:

He was thin but had good muscle definition. His long pose was seated. I know we’re artists and aren’t supposed to care about these sorts of things, but I was kind of glad I didn’t get the full crotch view for this one.

Most of my drawings show people facing to the right because that was the front of the room, and few of the models faced the folks in the back. Which wasn’t a big deal – we were certainly allowed to move around the room – but I stayed put because I was comfortable. See, when I walked in I didn’t see any of the plastic folding chairs everybody else was sitting on, so I grabbed an upholstered divan from the corner that was probably meant for the models. I doubt I would have lasted half as long had I not been sitting on a cushion.

Anyway, by that point my friend and I were hungry so we grabbed a delicious lunch at Lebanese Taverna. When we got back, the next model was in the middle of her long pose:

I liked this pose. It was such an interesting angle to be drawing from. It’s kind of hard to tell from my drawing, but she was lying on a bunch of pillows. I hope I hadn’t inadvertently stolen her divan.

The next man was even thinner than the first. My husband said my drawing looks like Ricardo Montalban as Khan.

I replied, “Congratulations, you now know what he looks like naked.”

Now, I’m a very impatient speedy artist, so I routinely finished my drawing within the first or second session of the long pose, and I rarely feel like drawing the same thing twice in a row. So I did a close-up of his head:

His hair was a little strange, with long bangs starting from a very receded hairline and combed forward over his eyes, but I did my best.

The last woman of the day seemed new to the modeling world. Unfortunately, she was neither muscular enough nor curvy enough to provide much in the way of shadows, so I found her difficult and unsatisfying to draw. I started out drawing her long pose with pencil, then busted out my pen and watercolor pencils to pass the time. However, I wasn’t using watercolor paper, so my poor sketchbook got pretty wrinkled:

By that time I was getting a little bored with drawing and my energy was flagging in general. There was still another full session after I finished this, so I drew the guy next to me:

He did not actually look like Beethoven-as-a-gangster in real life. And his drawings were gorgeous.

The final model breathed life into the last two hours of the day. His short poses were interesting and athletic, and he did a seated long pose in a position I’m not sure I could have gotten out of:

He was interesting enough that I drew him a second time:

…and somehow managed to shave several years off his age. Very weird. But I think I did a little better on the hair this time around. He had very complicated – but awesome – hair.

And that was it! Afterward my friend and I headed over to Dogfish Head in Gaithersburg and ate way too much yummy food. Good times.

Final tally: 10 hours, 9 finished drawings, 20 five-minute sketches, and a whole heck of a lot of great practice.

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Intervention Collage

Last weekend, my dear husband and I attended the second annual Intervention, an internet pop culture convention. This was also our second year: we had such a great time in the artists’ alley last year that we had to come back. And we were not disappointed.

While I do make a few of the items we sell (the 8-bit ornaments, mostly, though I designed a few of the buttons as well), most of my job description falls under the heading of Booth Babe. I sit and look pretty and try to get people to buy stuff. And I watch the table when The Artist has a panel or for whatever reason is away from his station. The hours are long and quiet times are inevitable, so I bring things to do, like stuff for gluebook pages I’ve been meaning to catch up on. As I’ve mentioned previously, I often create sort of collage scrapbook things out of tickets, pamphlets, and other detritus picked up while traveling. This time around I was doing a couple pages from a recent excursion to Cumberland, MD, as well as our recent trip to Dragon*Con.

By early evening on Saturday, however, I’d run out of things to do, so I did a walkabout the artists’ alley and picked up all the business cards, flyers, and other free paper matter I could get my hands on, and began glueing all that stuff into my book. Because I was doing this more to pass the time than anything else, I decided I wasn’t going to worry about keeping images with information, so I cut things into smaller and smaller pieces, sticking them wherever they fit, but making a concerted effort to include URLs and contact information for everyone, rather than just hijacking their drawings. I ended up filling fourteen pages. A few of the people I showed it to thought it was nifty, so I’ve scanned in the whole thing for your viewing pleasure.

[Click to embiggen.]

Folks represented (and if I missed anybody please let me know!): Abby’s Adventures | Adrastus | All New Issues | Anachronauts | Annie: a space western | Ansem Retort | | Ayla | Babies Love Comics | Bardsworth | Binary Souls / Other Dimensions | Black as White | Bored in the Basement | Brony | Capes & Babes | Clare Moseley | Con Goer Video Podcast | Copic Color | The Cow | Curls | Darkstar Studios | The Devil’s Panties | Dominic Deegan | The Draconia Chronicles | Escapement Studios | Fairy Magik | Finder’s Keepers | First Law of Mad Science | Fragile Gravity | Geeks Next Door | Grendel’s Den Design Studio | Grim Crew | Guilded Age | Hainted Holler | Honey & the Whirlwind | Ink & Toggery | Interrobang Studios | Intervention 2011 | Intravenous Caffeine | Kelsey Wailes | Lady Astrid’s Laboratory | La Macchina Bellica | LaSalle’s Legacy | Little Dee | MAGfest | monica h. | Monica Marier | My Pest Friend | The Octopus Treehouse | On the Bright Side | Paint Me a Perfect World | pendragonvamp | Peter is the Wolf | Plastic Farm | Quirky Crochet | Reality Amuck | Rho Pi Gamma | Rosscott, Inc. | Sex, Drugs, and June Cleaver | Shaenon K. Garrity | Short Story Geeks Podcast | Skyscraper Soup | Sledgebunny | Snow by Night | Spacetrawler | Squid Salad | Sticky Comics | Stuffed Sushi | Stupid & Insane Defenders Against Chaos | The Suburban Jungle | Super Art Fight | Tamuran | Tangent Artists | Technoangel Studios | “That’s So Cute” Buttons | Tummel Vision | Uncle Yo | The Webcomic Factory | Within a Mile of Home | Zorphbert and Fred

One person suggested I start a blog just about this sort of gluebook souvenir that I make pretty much every time I visit anywhere with a brochure. Granted, I’d be using other people’s art and design to make my art, but on the other hand, I’m actually in physical possession of everything (as opposed to just downloading from the internet), I’m not claiming any of it as mine, and I’m linking back whenever possible. It could be an unconventional (and thus interesting) approach to travel blogging. Then again, it might not interest anybody at all but me. Either way, I’ll continue gluebooking for my own pleasure regardless. The question is whether I should put forth the effort of sharing what I make.

Anyway, I’m waffling. As usual. What do you think?

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Recovery Time

As you may know, I try to schedule my blog posts in advance. Today it’s particularly important, since at the moment you are reading this I am probably still unconscious. You see, this morning I had surgery to repair the torn tendons and ligaments in my ankle. It’s been a long time coming, but I believe it’s the right decision. I still couldn’t walk very well – much less jog or hike – after three months. I simply wasn’t getting any better. So here’s to making actual progress.

I did a little art journaling (gluebooking?) over the weekend in anticipation of my upcoming convalescence. I know it’ll be a journey.

I’ve been preparing loads of ways to pass the time stuck in the recliner.

But I know there will be plenty of boredom and impatience.

And drugs. Mustn’t forget drugs.

In short, I don’t know how much I’ll be blogging over the next few weeks. But I’ll be thinking fondly of you all. (As much as I’ll be thinking of much of anything, that is.)

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Coats of Armses

I’m terrible at picking out presents for people. I’m not bad if it’s just a random little “hey I saw this and thought of you” kind of gift, but when it comes to Big Gifts for birthdays or Christmas or Major Life Events, I’m pretty hopeless. My family makes it easy, sharing wish lists with each other each year. Some people think that takes something away from it, but the way I figure it, if I see something that would be perfect for Mom, I’ll get it for her, even if it wasn’t on her list. I usually give my parents wish lists that are fairly long – not because I expect lots of gifts, but because I want to be surprised.

So you can imagine my terror at the prospect of Christmas gifts for two of my closest friends, Kate and Cookie. I wanted to get them something awesome, but I am just so awful at finding really great gifts. What to do?

Luckily, I happened upon a little inspiration one afternoon. Kate is a big fangirl of, well, a lot of things, but Harry Potter in particular. She’s a card-carrying member of Hufflepuff House and is quite active with the Harry Potter Alliance, a charity and activism organization created by fans of the series. I thought about the house crests, then pondered some of her other interests, and suddenly I was making lists and sketching and crossing-out and doing over. It was great. I started with the Hufflepuff Crest as seen in the movies because there was more room for embellishment. After a little discussion with Kate, who had absolutely no idea what I was up to, I came up with the following drawing:

Included here: Harry Potter, Eeyore, Washington Capitals, Highlander, writing, LBGT issues, BookCrossing, Markeroni, Virginia Tech, LEGO, Doctor Who, The Hunger Games, and Star Trek. Did you spot them all?

Now I had my momentum, so I moved onto to Cookie’s. She was a little more difficult because while she has plenty of hobbies, they don’t lend themselves quite so well to logos as fandoms. But I think I persevered.

Included here: BookCrossing, Bingo, Markeroni, PostCrossing, homeschooling, crochet, Girl Scouts, and assorted crafts. The dog in the middle is her mascot, Chip.

Both pictures were drawn with regular pencil, inked with black Copic Multiliner 0.3, and then colored with Prismacolor colored pencils.

What about you? What would go on your personal coat of arms?

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Sleepy Bill

Tip of the day: never take a nap while your wife has her art supplies out.

Sleepy Bill by *melydia on deviantART

My husband gave me two sets of Copic markers from Otaku Fuel for Christmas and another set for my birthday, plus my parents gave me a set of Prismacolor markers. My dear husband fell asleep on the couch while I was drawing, so I decided he was the perfect victim subject for trying out my new markers.

And you know what? It’s a pretty decent likeness. ¬†Even more amazing, he thinks so too, and even made it his Facebook profile picture. :)

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Thing-a-Day 2011

Thing-a-Day has begun again for 2011. The concept is simple: create one thing each day of the month of February. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be complete. I tried last year and failed about two weeks in, but I’m trying again. I’m going to attempt to have most of my “things” be drawings, but there will doubtless be days when I opt for something else. Everything will be posted over at posterous, but all new posts will be linked on Twitter too.

I’m feeling confident this year. Gustavo didn’t take very long to draw, and I really enjoyed it. My husband is always after me to do more drawing, so I know he’s thrilled for me to be participating in something like this.

What about you? Are you participating?

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