2010.09.01

The salt and the sweet

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When writing about Trophy’s strawberry cheesecake cupcakes just two weeks ago I lamented the long-ago disappearance of their farmers market blueberry pie flavor, which I’d sampled (& loved!) back when their Bellevue store first opened.

Well, they’re back.

I know there’s a backlash going on against all the cupcake stores that have been sprouting up recently, and I’ll be the first to admit that there are plenty of flavors Trophy makes which I haven’t enjoyed (“Samoa” was a recent, surprising disappointment), but these are… Well, let me just say there’s blueberry filling inside and the bottom is made of PIE CRUST.

I’ll just let that tickle your synapses for a bit.

Oh, it’s every bit as delicious as it sounds — but totally dangerous, which is why I’m lucky they’re only available seasonally. Both for my pocketbook & my figure!


2010.09.02

Thirty pages, day 7

Day 7: It’s late, but I’ve been busy and didn’t want to half-ass another one.

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Am once again not feeling any desire to clean this up at all — finding the sloppy details fit my mood. Hands and feet are getting better each day, though they still need a lot of work. Not happy at all with what I was trying to do with the lower leg; something to work on for next time.

After scanning this, I was suddenly struck by the similarity to this piece. Feeling much the same sense of melancholy. I hope the long weekend brings renewal.


2010.09.03

Thirty pages, day 8

Day 8: Something something on my mind today?

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Mutant child alert! Mutant everything alert.

Tomorrow I’m definitely going to try and draw another man, because the last one ended up looking like Harry Potter & I don’t want that to be my legacy.


Why am I doing this again? I’m the biggest slacker ever, so without some kind of motivation I’d probably draw one thing every three years. But I want to get better, desperately so, and that won’t happen without practice.

It’s easy to get discouraged though.

The basic rules of my little project are: one sketch / cartoon / doodle per day for an entire month. Personally, I’m also applying the following rules, just to eliminate a few crutches: no drawing from life, no reference images for people (props, clothes are okay), and no eraser! That last one is killing me, but it’s also forcing me to own my mistakes. And whenever possible, I’m going to draw people, because, well, I want to do that comic someday. Someday soon, I hope!


2010.09.05

Thirty pages, days 9 & 10

Days 9 & 10: this will be a long one, so most of it is behind the cut. Day 10 first, revisiting a subject I tried a long time ago:

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For your reference, here is the original rough sketch, from April of last year:

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Not sure what happened to make the image go from hard-edged and cool to something out of the glamor pages, and I’m not especially happy about it, but I did let my pencils do their own thing so I think it suits the spirit of the project. And it’s just possible that the mood kind of survived, despite the changes in proportion, pose and viewpoint. Please let me know what you think.

Speaking of the rules from last time and “owning my mistakes,” this is a good example. My first take resulted a horrible Escher-esque contortion that was just painful to look at, and so ugly that I almost considered not posting it. Still, I had to fix it, and without an eraser. Here’s the before and after, side by side, so you can see what happened:

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What happened to day 9? Disaster. As promised, I tried to draw a non-Potterish man, and only managed to produce a portrait of someone I could only call “Mr. Dooouuuuche”:

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But there you go. Happy? Happy.


2010.09.06

Amoretto

If I weren’t creating a portmanteau, the word would mean:

amo·retto (am’ə retō)

noun pl. amoretti -·ret’ti (-retē)

an infant cupid, as in Italian art of the 16th cent.

Four years ago I wrote about how I missed my original ice cream crush, Häagen-Dazs’ Di Saronno Amaretto. Well, it’s back!

Kind of.

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The almond ribbon has been replaced with chunks of almond brittle, but the rest is pretty much, wonderfully, the same. I still miss my sticky toffee pudding ice cream, but this’ll do for now, oh yesses.


Thirty pages, day 11

Day 11: obviously, I’ve no idea what I’m doing anymore.

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Creeeeeeeeeeeeepy.


2010.09.07

Thirty pages, day 12

Day 12: back to the grind.

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Trying for more of a cartoony style this time, in light of yesterday’s visit to the uncanny valley. More than one person, too, though I’ll leave it to you to decide on the narrative I’m trying to create.

Not sure why the coffee theme keeps reappearing, especially since I don’t drink at all. I think it’s because I idealize coffee drinkers, which may be a reason why I find myself in coffee shops all the time (ordering a venti iced green tea, mind you). This may also be the reason I own a coffee maker that’s never been used.


2010.09.08

Thirty pages, day 13

Day 13: an unlucky number.

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What I was really trying to draw tonight fell through too horribly for words, but since there’s no crying in baseball, I started a little scribble on the side of the page. That’s all I have for you. I kind of dig her hair, but overall, boo.

Are these working for you? Is there a subject I’ve done that you’d like me to riff on a little more? Am feeling a bit withered on the vine.


2010.09.10

Thirty pages, day 14

Day 14: desperate measures call for fan art.

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This is clearly where not using photographic references will bite you. Oh, well — as if their faces were the problem!

I’ve been watching a lot of Bones lately. It’s not high art, and the science can be painfully bad at times, but the characterizations and humor are surprisingly addictive. It also helps that it’s on Netflix instant watch! I’m especially in love with the always-changing relationship between Booth and Brennan, although I’m not sure how I feel about some of the turns it took during the fifth season. We’ll see what happens when new episodes start airing (soon, I hope).

Anyway! There’s your backstory. Hopefully that distracts you from how awful today’s sketch turned out.


2010.09.11

Nine years save a day

I ran out of words long ago, so here are three you haven’t seen:

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2010.09.12

Thirty pages, day 15

Day 15: a.k.a. my first webcomic, or what happens when we’re halfway through.

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This probably reflects badly on my mothering skills, but I can’t be the only one who thinks thoughts like this, right?

On to Part Two


2010.09.13

Thirty pages, day 16

Day 16: A continuation of yesterday’s episode — which you should read first, or this won’t make any sense at all.

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The idea was suggested by potato boyo, and I loved it too much not to draw it. No idea if I have the stamina to keep doing these, but I can’t deny how much fun it is!


2010.09.14

Thirty pages, day 17

Day 17: Going retro.

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Wanted to get back to pure penwork & in a mood for some elegance, glamor. Plus! I didn’t have any good webcomic ideas and Halo: Reach took up some (okay, a lot) of my time last night.

Pretty happy with how this one turned out. Right arm aside.


2010.09.15

Thirty pages, day 18

Day 18: More fan art.

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In retrospect, this was inevitable, but for a reason I haven’t thought about in more than twenty years. I mean, Phoenix is the reason I wanted to learn how to draw comics in the first place — it was pretty much the second best thing to actually getting to be her. Unbelievably gorgeous, shiny costume, smoldering boyfriend*, phenomenal cosmic power, great death scene — what’s not to want? Or maybe I just had redhead envy.

This drawing isn’t perfect by a long stretch, but I don’t think I would have been able to do this at the beginning of this project (yay for results!!). My goal was to use ink in a more dynamic fashion & play with a pose that’s always given me trouble. Phoenix’s costume is great for practicing different textures and reflectivity, too. It was hard not to be working with color, especially when it was time to do her hair, but I think it works well enough without.

Rough, but getting closer! Maybe if I’m brave enough we’ll visit her at the Hellfire club someday.

*this was before he became a creepy tool in X-Factor. I mean, it’s possible he was always a creepy tool, but don’t tell that to the tween version of me!

If you’re interested, the original pencil version, as well as an experimental colorized version, are below the cut.

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2010.09.16

Addendum

I experimented a little with colorizing yesterday’s drawing of Phoenix in Photoshop. It’s tacked onto the end of the original entry.

Good? Bad? The lighting’s weird, I know. I’m so hopeless at it.


Thirty pages, day 19

Day 19: messing up with a pen is pretty near irreversible, so today you’re only getting half a picture. Sorry!

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I have two theories about what might be happening here. Either the Phoenix entity has taken residence in the body of Cher, or somebody is in a whole lot of trouble. Either way, things are about to get shiny.

This really didn’t start out as more X-Men fan art, I promise — things just kind of happened. Tomorrow I’ll try and mix it up.. And really, I take requests. Especially if it’s a webcomic idea!


2010.09.17

Thirty pages, day 20

Day 20: I wasn’t going to, but…

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I read Batwoman: Elegy last night. I liked it, but felt like there was some kind of something missing at the end. Does anyone know if this storyline is continuing, or was it a one-shot mini?

More importantly! J. H. Williams III (Promethea) may just be my favorite artist working in comics today, so … well, that’s what happened. Did only her upper body because it’s really hard to capture facial detail well on the tiny sheets of paper I’m using & I wanted to go in that direction for a change. Overall, I think this worked pretty well.

Might try coloring this too, because… well, having only gray brushes to work with is a bit of a crime when drawing redheads. Hmm, maybe it’s time to buy some more art supplies!

Full disclosure: I re-uploaded tonight after applying some more detail & “mood lighting.” If you’re interested, the original version lies behind the cut.

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2010.09.18

Thirty pages, day 21

Day 21: in honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

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Trying for an anime/manga style this time, so we’re not exactly swimming in verisimilitude here. Sorry, just wasn’t in the mood for scurvy and rotting teeth today. Maybe imagine she’s an sky pirate on a ship outfitted with a full-service salon, pillaging the penthouse suites of the rich and famous — I call her “Big Bad Stilla” of the airship “Le Mannequine,” in honor of my favorite sea dog.

Today’s main points of concentration: fabric, pose, foreshortening, costume design. If I squint, I think maybe my foreshortening works for once. Yes, I know her hands need something to do. I have no idea what a bad-ass anime sword looks like anymore — except for Cloud’s, which I think we would all agree would be a mistake. So! There you go.

Arrrrrrr.


2010.09.20

Thirty pages, day 22

Day 22: Have probably already said this before, but just in case there was any doubt: I’m on Team Thane.

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Romance! Romance is best done in pencils, I think.

I’m a day late, because this took longer than usual. But I’ve been wanting to do this subject back since day one, so I’m happy I got it done. Mass Effect 3 can’t come soon enough, and all I can say is they’d better find a cure, or I’ll be an angry panda.


2010.09.22

Thirty pages, day 23

Day 23: again with the comics.

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This is where trying to come up with poses without benefit of a reference image shows its disadvantages. Clearly I’ve a long way to go when it comes to action scenes.

X-23 for day 23. I’d never actually heard of her, so when David requested I try my hand I had to do a little crash course on the character. The short of it is that she’s basically a female clone of Wolverine. The long story is, well, I had to stop reading because my head hurt — never try to read a vita of any particular comic-book superhero, since they’re all pretty much insane. The perils of trying to find ways of saving the world on a monthly basis, I guess!

She doesn’t look much like X-23 here. In fact, I probably could have lied and told you this was Xena instead, or maybe Elektra on a bad day, and you would have believed it. Obviously I need to work on drawing cute goth clothes.

I also need to work on not taking two days per sketch. Eyes on the prize, Eden. You’re almost there.


2010.09.23

Thirty pages, day 24

Day 24: in which, dissatisfied, she tries again.

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Back to the pens & more of a manga aesthetic, I guess. Can’t really think of too much to say. I don’t love it, but no fixies is kind of the inherent problem with ink.

Oh, and clearly the blank stare is a facial expression I really need to grow out of.


2010.09.25

Thirty pages, day 25

Day 25: karaoke night. Only five more days!

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This is the third sketch I finished last night. Two of them were abject disasters and I’m not at all happy with this one, either. Also, what is she wearing, a black dress or a knit tank and sweats? When you can’t tell, that should maybe a sign.

Also I can tell in advance that David is going to have a problem with this one. In my defense, I can only say: television screen.


2010.09.26

Knit. Sock. Love.

Last March, I got a message from my friend Cookie asking if I knew anyone who would be available for a freelance photo gig, taking pictures for her next book. Cookie’s something of a rock star, so I briefly thought about doing it myself (who wouldn’t want to work with a rock star?), but the instant I saw the “mood board” she’d prepared to convey the look she wanted, I instantly realized I knew the perfect photographer for the job. It was a little heartbreaking, but I knew I didn’t really have the resources or, honestly, the talent to do better.

So it was Laura Kicey, meet Cookie A, Cookie A, meet Laura Kicey, and the rest… well, soon you can see for yourself! Their collaboration, Knit. Sock. Love. is now available for preorder at Amazon:

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Sock designer extraordinaire Cookie A chronicles her love affair with sock knitting and explores different methods to pattern socks by examining their underlying structure. Nineteen patterns ranging from simply chic to astonishingly intricate are arranged into three sections: Columns, Tessellations and Diagonals. […] These rich and seemingly complex patterns are broken down step by step into bite-size components that are easy to digest. Illustrations, diagrams and charts accompany each project, offering an invaluable guide for visual knitters.

Breathtaking photographs by Laura Kicey and styling by Sarah Beaver showcase the socks in dramatic locations, leading you off the beaten path just like the socks in this collection. This revolutionary compilation is sure to elevate sock knitting to new levels of sophistication.

I’m already in love with the cover.

If you know of either of them, well, this should be a no-brainer. If you know both, well, you probably checked out even before getting to this paragraph. I’m feeling a little maternal about this book because of my role as matchmaker, and I haven’t even seen a copy in the flesh, but I think I can stay pretty objective and say it’s probably going to be one of the best things ever, in the history of the universe. Or something. That was objective, right?


2010.09.27

The memory of wings

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Alex found him lying in the dumpster on Sunday morning, as she took out the long-overdue recycling. There, in the alley behind her apartment building: naked and white as marble, as perfect as a mannequin, but warm and pulsing with fire. She had felt the heat of his presence brush her cheek as she passed — a natural, intense warmth, not unlike sunlight, but noticeably out of place on an otherwise chill autumn day. There was an unexplained pull at her heart, and before she knew what she was doing, she found herself digging through discarded boxes and overstuffed garbage bags, and there he was, unconscious, beautiful. In that instant, all other thought left her mind, and she knew he was the most perfect thing she had ever seen. All she could think was: Angel.

It may have been the two very large, white wings which sprouted from his back.

She reached in, touching his arm, and found the actual flesh cold to the touch. Too cold. The heat remained, inexplicably emanating from somewhere just outside his body. He was breathing, she could see it; but shallowly, awkwardly, as if the action was somehow alien to the body. She pulled at his hand, not knowing what to expect, and he shifted easily, his body strangely insubstantial. Pulling him towards herself, she eventually had him cradled in her arms; what must have been a comical sight, given that his body — wings not included — dwarfed her own slight frame. As her arm snaked underneath his shoulder blades where feathery wing met skin, she felt their airy touch, as weightless as the rest of him: not cold like his skin, nor warm like the air around him, but something else, something undefined.

It was in noting the feeling of his skin on hers, touching at so many points, that she suddenly became intensely aware of his nakedness, and she laid him on the floor of the alleyway. Cheeks burning (and much more besides), she removed her sweatshirt — the only thing she could think of — and awkwardly wrapped it around his midsection. Briefly, she felt ashamed that she had seemingly spent an eternity staring at this man’s beauty in full, too entranced to notice the impropriety of it all. And while true that he was divinely beautiful, the potential literalness of that phrase was something else entirely. Involuntarily, she made the sign of the cross and gingerly picked him back up. In this way she carried him through the entrance of her apartment building, past the secure door and up the stairs to her fourth floor walkup, the recycling forgotten and left behind on the alley pavement. No one would notice; there would be no notes posted asking for courtesy. This was not a class neighborhood. Not like the one she in which she had lived with Anthony, once upon a time, with the underground parking and the doorman — and thank goodness for that. There would have been no explaining this situation.

She laid the mysterious man on her bed, sweeping aside her worn but comfortable blankets. Alex did a double-take as she realized that though she’d laid him on his back, his wings had somehow collapsed to the point of being almost invisible. In fact, the mysterious man seemed quite comfortable in the position in which he’d been placed. At the same time, the warmth which had surrounded him so strongly outside had definitely started to fade. Laying a hand on his forehead, she noted the same strange coolness of his flesh through the diminishing aura of heat. She didn’t know if he was ill in any kind of human sense, but something told her that his immediate needs were the safety of her apartment, and a blanket. Certainly not a call to emergency services. What could they do? Who would believe this?

She grabbed a fresh set of linens from the closet, and placed them at the foot of her bed. Suddenly conscious of the unaccustomed male presence in the room, she gathered the discarded clothing and underthings from the past couple days, currently draped over the footboard or strewn on the floor, and dropped them in the closet hamper. Here in her bedroom, at least while single, she had always allowed herself a little slack in housekeeping duties — but this was company, humanity or conscious alertness aside. She surveyed the landscape: acceptable, at least at first glance. On further thought, however, she opened the top drawer of her nightstand, removing her long neglected rosary beads. They had been placed there, perversely, more out of symbolic penitence for the other contents of that drawer than for any other reason. She dumped the rest into a trash bag, which she stuffed between the spare blankets in the linen closet. The beads she wrapped around her wrist as she eased the bedroom door closed, leaving the stranger inside.

Just in case.


Somehow I seem to have started a NaNoWriMo novel in 2006 (unimaginatively titled Dumpster Angel) but have absolutely no memory of doing so. Given what you’ve just read, maybe that’s not surprising. November’s approaching and I’m feeling that familiar twinge. Let this be an antidote!


2010.09.28

Thirty pages, day 26

Day 26: It’s morning light I dread.

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Symbolically, this would be morning to the night depicted here. At this stage, inevitably, I’m looking back and reworking old ideas. Things are taking longer than before as well — maybe my own standards are going up? Three pages discarded this time for the one that survived, and I want nothing more than to tear this one out as well.

Dreams have been fitful of late; I wake up more tired than when I went to sleep. I’m dying from exposure. From being exposed.



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