After the last couple of conventions, I was surprised to come home with only a handful of our little monster puppies…I thought I was done making them…until I realized that they’re kind of relaxing to make. And as long as I enjoy it, why not, eh?
So I sculpted and cast couple of new faces to add a little extra to the group. I’m not sure I’m as attached to them as some of the others, but they do make me smile.
But what I realized, talking to people at the conventions, was that although the dolls themselves were weirdly cute, it was the story BEHIND them that people seemed to enjoy the most. So I’ve been working on a little foldout flier to put in with each of my orders (and eventually to have at conventions) that explains the story of how the Dream Creepers came to be.
This is the story I usually tell in person, over and over again, several times a day during the span of a convention, to anyone who ever seemed curious about them. It was nice to make it into an easy little flier with cute little drawings that better explained it.
So I thought for fun, I’d share the little pages with you right here, right now…
So there it is! The mostly-true (because–alright, I’m not ACTUALLY a doctor, and Myla’s name isn’t really “M”) story of how the Dream Creepers came to be. As I said, people seemed to find the dolls interesting, but once they heard the story, and learned that Myla named them, they would nearly always find them a little more sweet.
Myla has about 9 of them (she’s not obsessed or anything, she just thinks they’re all cuuuuuuuute), and whenever she starts to worry about something at night, I pretend to suck out her bad thoughts and feed them to the Creepers. Weird, sure, but that’s at least good for a bedtime smile.
I only have a few guys left in the shop right now, but I think I’ll be making more soon, for as long as I find it fun. I don’t really like to do customs with them, as they usually come together based on what fabrics I have, what fur is available, and what faces I’ve cast. They’re much more fun when I get to play!
If you’re interested in adopting the ones I have left, take a look at the Etsy shop and get them while you can–I’ll be closing the shop next week for family visits, but then opening again on the first week of December! I’m not sure how quickly I can build more for the holidays (as I still have my own gifts to work on!), but like I said–for as long as it’s fun, I’ll be sure to do more.
Last month, as if I didn’t have a million other things going on, I decided to join in on Inktober. Have you heard of it? I had seen artists do this last year: a drawing a day for the month of October, usually spooky-themed, and usually done in ink or pen. And just because I wanted to make it a little more fun, I asked Myla (the 6-year-old) if she’d like to join me. This was a challenge because 1) I wasn’t sure if she’d be able to keep with the theme for the whole month, and 2) it sort of limited what I drew, as I had to sort of keep it within something that fit both of us, and wasn’t TOO creepy for her.
I made my own rules, so it didn’t feel like pressure: if I wanted to add color, that was fine, and if I didn’t get to it one day, I wouldn’t stress it too much. But Myla was already full of enthusiasm, so we got started.
Day 1: VILLAIN. Elle Driver from Kill Bill, and Megamind (who’s she said is special because he’s a villain who turns nice).
Day 2: BEETLEJUICE. This is one of those characters that she didn’t really know, because she’s not so into creepy things…but with things like that, I tell her about them, and she gets the jist. My Beetlejuice is wearing a shirt of a guy named Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern show, and hers is the cartoon version, holding beetles in his hands.
Day 3: WITCH. Bellatrix LeStrange from Harry Potter, and the Playmobil witch from a show Myla likes called Super4.
Day 5: WEREWOLF. Old school Teen Wolf and Aisling, the little wolf-girl from Secret of the Kells, who’s sniffing another girl…like ya do when you’re like a dog.
Day 6: EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. Another character she doesn’t personally know, but she’s always been fascinated by. I told her the story, and she loved it. (Hers is crying because he has no friends, poor guy…)
Day 7: WEDNESDAY ADDAMS. It was a Wednesday. It was another character she didn’t know. I used to LOVE the old Charles Addams drawings as a kid, and devoured his books and drawings. I told her about the movie characters, which cracked her up (especially Thing).
Day 8: HELLBOY. Again, I did NOT let my 6-year old watch Hellboy, but she’s seen him around (especially at conventions), and always liked the fact that he’s a good guy who was supposed to be bad but CHOOSES to be good…and she really digs that he loves cats.
Day 9: VAMPIRE. I drew Vampira–and here’s a little trivia break: I learned that she created the character and hosted a show of horror films in the 50s and added campy comments to them. In the 80s, studios wanted to recreate her show, but cast the actress who now plays Elvira in her part, pulling her look and the style of the show directly from hers. Since she created the Vampira character (based loosely on Charles Addam’s Morticia drawings!), she tried to settle in court but lost. Strange, the things you learn, when looking up references. Aaanyway, for Myla’s piece, she drew Drac, Mavis, and the curly-baby from Hotel Transylvania.
Day 14: ZOMBIE. This one was tricky, since they’re one of Myla’s absolute creep-outs. So I tried to keep it harmless with Michael Jackson from Thriller (she even liked the video, although I didn’t show her the full beginning skit). She drew the zombie “Bad Guy” from Wreck-it Ralph.
Day 15: MUMMY. Myla has a thing for mummies–they fascinate her! She even has a bedtime book on the whole ancient Egyptian embalming/mummification rituals (yeah, for some reason, THAT doesn’t freak her out at all! Haha!). Old school Karloff and Akhmenrah from Night at the Museum (she has a little crush on him), both catching some Zs.
Day 16: Another WEREWOLF. Eddie Munster, and the wolf-dad from Hotel Transylvania, covered in his wolf-pup kids. (Side note: I can’t see Eddie Munster without thinking of Ben Stiller playing a grownup Eddie in a skit on SNL…)
Day 19: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. I had initially planned on drawing the kid from the movie, but then remembered I had once made her a Max Halloween costume when she was 2 or 3, and decided to draw her now, as a wild thing, roaring her terrible roars. She drew the goat-one…plus a flying wild thing she made up.
Day 20: FLYING MONKEY. Easily my very most favorite characters in the Wizard of Oz. I went for a realish-version, and she drew the cutest, most adorable BABY flying monkey that I’ve ever seen. (Seriously, I LOVE that little guy! Can he be my pet?)
Day 25: Another SKELETON. She wanted to draw a skeleton again, so I chose a soggy little skeleton kid based on a character created by the talented Matthew Gordon. She drew a little guy from a book they’d read at school called “Skeleton for Dinner.”
Day 29: GOBLIN KING. We both love the Labyrinth. I drew Jareth and his goblins. Myla drew an “inappropriate” Jareth on the toilet (because bodily functions crack kids up)…then added another, drawing him when he transforms into an owl (so I couldn’t help but post them both).
Day 30: CREEPY OCTOPUS. A category she completely created, because she wanted to draw a vampire octopus from Octonauts. This one stumped me for a bit, until I remembered the COOLEST “creepy octopus” of all: Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean, with his heart chest.
Day 31: DRAGON. Admittedly, we were at the convention in Austin and couldn’t really go out with a bang, but hey–we tried! Myla drew a “rain dragon” (which is how she describes drizzly days), and I drew the sad little Gringott’s dragon from Harry Potter.
So there we are! A drawing a day for October. And honestly, Myla was the motivator the whole time, asking me excitedly every morning, “what’s our drawing of the day today?” We both picked the topics–she was so good at coming up with themes that we both could do.
Anyway, I hope you all had as fun an October as we did with Inktober!
So I’m back from Wizard World in Austin, and I thought I’d tell you a bit about how it went…
Friday, the first day of the convention, it was absolutely POURING down rain, and super windy. The staff actually let vendors park INSIDE the venue to download our supplies, because HOLY COW I don’t know how we would’ve done it otherwise. There would’ve been some soggy supplies!
After unloading my stuff, I had to go park my car in an actual parking garage a couple of blocks away and WALK BACK. In the rain. And wind. With a flimsy excuse for an umbrella. This resulted in a very soggy mockingbird. My shoes were soaked, as was my whole body, neck to toes.
They extended the opening time to noon, and although there were still quite a few people there, LOTS of people stayed home (presumably), because it was pretty slim that first day.
I was right across from the celebrity aisle, so I got to see glances of people as they came in. See that little speck? That’s Lou Ferrigno, the original Hulk. I felt really bad for him that first day, hardly anyone came to his booth. It’s a weird feeling, waiting around for people to come up to you. I felt a little bad for the guy.
But really, it was like that for everyone all day Friday. Pretty quiet, considering the weather. While I shivered in my soggy Converse, slowly trying to dry out, I had a chance to walk around a bit. The best part: since there weren’t many people there on Friday, I got to meet the fantastically magical Caroll Spinney, and talk with him quite a bit.
If you don’t know Caroll Spinney, and you’re at all interested in Jim Henson and the Muppets, maybe go right out and watch “I Am Big Bird” to hear all about his life. He’s played Big Bird and Oscar on Sesame Street since day ONE. I mean, Big Bird has ALWAYS been in my life! My mom attributes my learning to read at an early age partly to the fact that I watched a ton of Sesame Street. And as someone who has nearly been moved to tears upon seeing an original Kermit puppet in a DC museum, I was so happy to have spent some time with such an iconic character (I am in awe of everything Muppet).
(FLASHBACK: Here’s that photo of a MUCH-younger Me, staring in awe and fascination at that Kermit puppet in the Smithsonian, in awe of the stitches and the story behind him, and how much one little green guy and the guy who made him come to life could make so many people smile…)
But since it was so quiet on Friday, I was lucky enough to get to talk to Caroll and his wife Debra several times. I kept coming over to his booth, and he kept coming over to mine. At first I was giddy, but not like meeting an actor on a show–more like a meeting fellow artist, one that I admire, and I just wanted to talk and talk and talk to him. He was so polite and quiet and humble. He immediately noticed my little Dream Creepers and asked if I made them, and I told him the story of how I made one for Myla, and some girl told her it was creepy, and how Myla said they had to be a bit creepy to chase the bad dreams away. He said that was VERY insightful for a kid, and said he didn’t find them creepy at all, he thought they were adorable (a-thankyouverymuch).
I bought a signed copy of his book, with an Oscar drawing in it. I loved that when he accidentally spelled Myla’s name wrong, he wrote “Oscar made me do that.” I brought him a kid’s Sesame Street book like one I had as a kid, and he signed that for me.
And I even splurged, and bought an original from his little book of beautiful drawings he had for sale–finally finding a sweet one of Big Bird with a little baby bird on his beak, which seemed pretty fitting for me. It’s hanging now, framed and matted, by my bedside.
I was even able to give him the signed copy of our book, in which Myla had drawn a little Oscar and Big Bird for him. He absolutely LOVED it. I told them about our collaborations, and he and Debra were so kind and sweet, and just loved hearing how we worked together, and how the collaborations came about. He said, “She draws VERY well for such a young age!” He loved her creativity. He asked if I’d be sure to sign it too, and I was so distracted that I THINK I wrote something to the effect of “thank you for the years of inspiration.” (…At least, I hope so!)
We talked about the military, about art, about how I wrote to Jim Henson when I was 8 and I got a letter back, about Brian Froud (and how Debra is allergic to his cats), about caricatures and portraiture, about kids and creating, about living in Hawaii, about moving and traveling. Caroll started to tell me about how he and Debra met, when she giggled and said, “Oh, Caroll, she’s SEEN the movie!” (if you haven’t seen the documentary, the way they met was a very cute story) …In any case, I would’ve been just has happy not selling a thing, just to have spent the whole convention talking to the two of them. It was one of the things I really missed when the convention was over. He had been SO busy all day Saturday, but made a point to stop by before he left and said, “I REALLY wish I could stay and talk, but we have to go–we’re late to meet someone.” He said it was so nice to meet me and Myla, Debra said goodbye, and before he left for good, he turned around and said, “Please tell Myla I think she’s WONDERFUL!”
Sigh. A MUPPET, you guys. I made friends with a Muppet, and his wife. I miss them already. They were so kind that I suppose everyone feels like old friends when they meet them.
AAAAANYWAY. Another cool thing was that an old army buddy of mine that I hadn’t seen in YEARS (maybe 12 years?!?…holy cow..) stopped by, and we got to chat quite a bit. He had commissioned me to draw him a portrait of Ash from Evil Dead, and was going to get Bruce Campbell to sign it. So it was funny when he came back to show me this:
Hahah! He said he nearly gasped when he saw Bruce drawing all across the actual ARTWORK! I thought it would’ve been funny if he had gotten angry and thrown a big fit about it. “MY FRIEND drew that, dude!! WHat the HECK!??!” Heheheh! I’m not really an Evil Dead kinda girl, so it would’ve given me the giggles.
When Myla came on Saturday, we made some time to do our drawing of the day for Inktober. We didn’t miss a day! I’ll have to post all the drawings together, soon.
I left the convention with only a handful of Dream Creepers, but one of the big hits were these little figures…at the last minute, the week before the con, I sculpted this little guy, and made resin copies of him, had my dad (who was visiting) help me pour and then sand them. I made about 15, and they completely sold out. I’ll have to do more, they were fun.
Anyway, Friday was so busy that I hardly got pics of anyone in costume, but it’s fun to go to conventions to see people come as characters. I love being surrounded by art, and meeting other artists. I’m not always sure I fit in these places, but it’s fun anyway. Might have to see if there are more I can handle doing…
So that’s it in a nutshell! We just sent my husband off to another deployment, so I’ll be sure to share any projects we do related to that. We’ll definitely send him packages. Mostly, we’ll just hold down the fort til he gets back. The only good thing about saying goodbye is that you know a homecoming is on the way (if that makes sense).
Hope you had a great Halloween!
(This picture is from the last homecoming…We’ll see you soon, Babe!)
This Halloween is a busy one–my family is visiting because my niece is graduating from a nearby tech academy, my husband is getting ready to deploy for the third time, and I am preparing to spend the weekend at Austin Wizard World.
Thankfully, in the midst of everything, I was able to put Myla’s James costume from Pokemon’s Team Rocket together. Since I’ll be at the convention on Halloween, I tried to take Myla to our small town’s safe community trick-or-treat event, and had one of the WORST nights ever. Thanks to rain and overcrowding and traffic and LONG LINES OUTSIDE in the cold rain, we had an terribly, horrible, no-good very bad time. And we didn’t even get to go in! After waiting FAR too long, Myla finally made the call, shivering and miserable: “Mom, I just want to go HOME.” I was happy to oblige, poor kid.
We’re supposed to have bad rains here in Central Texas again this weekend, so who knows if she’ll be able to even trick or treat with her Dad on Halloween night?!? This week, there’s supposed to be a school Halloween party, so I’m hoping that’ll be better…
In any case, I’m pretty darn sure she’ll be able to get some costume time and trick-or-treating in at Austin Wizard World this weekend!!
Friday, I’ll most likely be solo at my corner booth in Artist’s Alley near the celebrity signing area, but Saturday, I’m pretty sure they have a fun Halloween day set up for the kids. Apparently, they’ll have a list of booths to “trick or treat” at for free things, stickers, art, and candy. Along with regular comic con awesomeness!
I’ll be selling our Dream Creepers…
And I’m crossing my fingers, wishing and hoping, crossing my T’s and dotting my I’s in the hopes that all goes well and Myla and I can meet Carroll Spinney on Saturday. They don’t always let you, but I’d love to be able to give him a copy of the book we made. Myla even signed one especially for him…
Anyway, that’s our Halloween weekend, in a nutshell. If you’re near us, come give us a hello on Friday or Saturday!!! I’d love to see you & say hello!
It’s nearly Halloween!
If you’re like me, and you’re horrible at decorating for anything but Christmas (I mean if you put a bunch of stuff UP, you have to take it DOWN, right??), I thought I’d share with you a couple of my easier Halloween projects that don’t take a lot of work, or effort, or even skill for that matter, but projects that still make Halloween fun, and make you ALMOST feel pretty Martha-Stewarty. …Almost.
First up: PUMPKIN PAINTING
I don’t know if I’ve told you before, but Texas is HOT. I don’t know how people can carve up a pumpkin without it turning all moldy & mushy before Halloween night (that’d certainly keep any trick or treaters away, if that’s what you’re going for, I guess), but painting is just as fun and creative with just about HALF the mess!
Since my sister’s young adult-kid is visiting, we all picked pumpkins and painted them. Now, I’ve seen the amazing things people can do with pumpkin carving and pumpkin painting, and in my mind, I can do a super cool thing too, but when it just came down to it, I went with the “ain’t nobody got time f’that” approach, and just made a big goofy face. Myla did the two on the left (I believe it is a golduck and a psyduck from Pokemon–of course). Maylin did a skull, and mine’s the giant big goof-face. BOOM. Happy Halloween.
Next up: DECORATING COOKIES
If there’s one sort of cooking I CAN do, it’s baking….especially when most of it comes from a box, and all you have to do is add butter and milk. The fun part was just getting out all the sprinkles and eye candies and decorative icing-tools and just letting everyone go wild. BAM! You just Halloween’ed.
Alright, admittedly, this isn’t very spooky, but hey–it was fun (especially since Texas’ version of autumn is for the wind to blow a little so you might have to put on long sleeves). Granted, you could chalk something spookier than we did. I drew a cute decorative little moth, and then realized that wasn’t really very Halloweeny, so I tried to spook it up by adding (and labeling, in case you couldn’t identify it) a “GHOST BAT.” Myla did Slappy the flying squirrel (because: Animaniacs), and Maylin drew aliens and stuff. But yeah, spooky stuff would work, too.
And oh yeah: DECORATIONS.
This one I’m not so great at. I put a store-bought plastic sheet on the door that says “Happy Halloween,” and we got a giant spiderweb with a cute big black spider. That’s about it. Myla loved it. But that’s about all we did outside because did I mention you have to take DOWN the stuff at some point??
So my friend asked me what Myla’s going to be for Halloween, and it made me nostalgic for some of her older costumes. Like the time she was madly in love with C3PO, and the store costumes were lame, so I made her one, cosplay-style (I blogged about it here) which I think turned out SO COOL….and I threw together a quick sugar-skull Vader (because why have a Vader, when you can have a sugar-skull Vader?).
Last year, she was Nightcrawler (not that Jake Gyllenhaal movie about a serial killer), the teenage version from the cartoon X-men: Evolution, which she discovered at superhero summer camp. I made her little blue ears with hairclips in them (although she decided later that the wig was “too itchy.” I made 3-fingered gloves (she insisted on that, and thought it was so awesome). I made a tail to pin onto her black leotard, and a simple belt. The shoes were the hardest, as they were supposed to look like they had two toes (like one has, if one is a mutant).
Anyway, here’s what he looks like in the cartoon:
So THIS YEAR, she has decided to be James, from Pokemon’s Team Rocket. He cracks her up. She even knows the whole motto (say it with me: “To protect the world from devastation…to unite all peoples within our nation” –what, no takers? Just me? Hello?)
Here they are, from the cartoon (James is the one on the left):
See that little cat? That’s Meowth, the other part of their team. And to help better identify her as James, I whipped up a quick little Meowth doll for her to carry with her:
He was super simple, easy to whip up. Basically just a front-and-back pillow with appendages. I painted on everything. So if she carries him around, it might make a little more sense who she is….although I’m very aware of the fact that Pokemon was in its prime like 20 years ago. Still, you’d be surprised at how many of her school friends know EXACTLY what she’s talking about when she talks about Poke-stuff (which is quite often).
The funny thing is, she asked me if I’d be Jessie. Yes, Jessie from Team Rocket. Have you seen her? I’ll give you a minute while you scroll back up to look at that picture again. She’s the one on the right. Go ahead, I’ll wait….
…Okay, RIGHT?? Sorry, kid, I’m not exposing my midriff, I have NEVER worn a mini skirt, and my legs just don’t do…THAT. And the hair?? I have looked at what the cosplayers do, and again: ain’t nobody got time f’that.
BUT WAIT! I came up with a solution: I got a white t-shirt, painted a big R on it. I have black leggings, black boots, black gloves. As for the hair, I got a red Bettie Page-style ‘do, which will have to do. I’ll be “retro Jessie!”
In any case, it doesn’t matter. She doesn’t care about authenticity. She cares about fun. She doesn’t care if I make homemade cookies from scratch, or if I just add water. What she cares about is having fun together. She won’t remember that we never actually CARVED a pumpkin…she’ll remember that we had fun painting them. Kids don’t always know what they DON’T have unless you make them aware of your shortcomings. Just go with it! Have fun, and make some awesome memories. Even little efforts can make the long-lasting, forever-kind of memories.
And hey–if all else fails, and you haven’t got a costume, grab some eyeliner, and turn yourself into a sugar skull.
BOOM! You just Halloween’ed AGAIN! Easy peasy.
So get out there and have a good one! We’re doing a lot of our Halloween fun stuff this weekend, as I’ll be in Austin for Wizard World on the 30th and 31st. Myla will be there on Saturday. If you’re there, come see me–I’m giving out free stickers to kids on Saturday, so come & say hello!!
Since things have a way of keep on keeping on, I’ll share with you some good times we had at the zoo a few months back.
You guys, Texas is hot. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s really hot. It’s the kind of hot that makes me never want to leave the house. But one weekend, the husband & I heard it’d be a bit cooler that normal (a tiny bit less than “sweltering”) and left the house early to take Myla to the Austin Zoo. I like the Austin Zoo because it’s a rescue center, and it’s so small that you can get pretty close and personal with the animals there.
Ages ago, I suggested to Myla that we bring our sketchbooks on a zoo trip. We did, and we had a great time. She remembered that this time, and asked me could we please please bring our sketchbooks again? And, since I really really love when she asks me for easy things, I said yes, of course we could.
We made a bit of a game of sitting and stopping and drawing the animals. The giant tortoise was out & about, most likely wondering if we had any more lettuce, but also just as likely looking at us thinking, “what are they DOING?”
We sat and drew a bear cub rolling around with some chickens and a duck. And although she was a little annoyed that they wouldn’t hold still (“Hey duck! Stop moving around!”), she used her imagination to draw them for the most part, anyway…
The tiger was out, totally passing up her pile of meat to come over and check us out…and then sauntered over to a shady area for a nap.
Myla drew the “three little bears,” as we watched the bear cubs getting fed, and playing hide and seek for their veggies. Myla continued to “collect” animals in her sketchbook. “OH! a parrot! I haven’t gotten a parrot yet!”
Most times, collecting the animal wasn’t as important as using it to create something else. When we found the serval, she gave it spikes and a dragon tail…because: REALITY.
It didn’t really matter WHAT the drawings looked like. In fact, everything I drew ended up as just a little strip of a tiger stripe, or a rough doodle of the turtle’s eye. What I really enjoyed was watching HER excitement, and seeing things through her eyes. “WOW, mom! That pig is so big and cool and guhSKUSTING!”
And we also took time to put the sketchbooks down a bit and look around at all the beautiful things, and enjoy just being together.
But hey–you’ve got to find smiles in the little things! Those little things are truly what leave the biggest memories.
And it doesn’t have to be the zoo–It can be a walk down the street, kicking rocks and catching grasshoppers. It can be the crunch of leaves with each step on a walk through the forest. It can be in your backyard, drawing daisies, or splashing paint on paper.
You can try it right now! You can try it when the kids get home from school. You can try it alone, or with a friend.
Enjoy the little things, and be glad that they’re there…
Before anything, I want to tell you all how very much I appreciate all the wonderful comments I got on my “Pause” post last week. I was sincerely overwhelmed by all the support out there! Each and every comment was like a splash of fresh water in the middle of a marathon. It felt like smiles from new friends. It felt like a hundred hugs through my computer. People can be awesome, and there’s nothing more awesome than people being awesome to someone they don’t even really know.
For me, when the going gets tough, the tough get….drawing. And I have been drawing a lot. I wish I was the type of person that obsessively worked out and got super buff in times of stress, but I’m not. I’m quite squishy….because instead, I bury my head in sketchbooks, custom work, random doodles, and projects with the kid.
Remember those tiny sketchbooks I got a couple of weeks ago? Well, I’ve already filled one completely. And through the magic of the internet and magical blog-incantations (which I just spent some time trying to figure out), I can show you a little video of the sketches it’s filled with:
(Music by Bach)
So I’ve been drawing a lot. I’ve been working my regular job and taking care of my regular things, getting ready for a convention in Austin at the end of October, fulfilling custom portrait orders, and dealing with everyday things, and I fill every space in between with sketches.
So I thought that with my compulsive sketching surge, I’d join in on Inktober. Have you heard of Inktober? It’s basically just a drawing challenge…a drawing a day for the month of October. I usually don’t commit to something like that with the sort of random hectic schedule I keep, but I thought that if I got Myla on board (she’s six years old now), it might be a fun thing to try to stick with and see it through…
Similar to Drawloween, Intober’s subject matter is wide open. Some people have made posts with halloween-related topic suggestions (like “pumpkin,” “vampire,” “frankenstein,” etc), and some of my artist friends have made their own lists of subjects (BreakfastJones puts her own topic out every day if you want to follow along with her).
As for Myla and I, we sort of skip around. Here’s a little show of the first few days of Inktober we’ve done so far…
Day 1: Villain. I chose Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver in Kill Bill, and Myla chose Megamind.
Day 2: Beetlejuice. I drew Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, wearing a shirt of Beetlejuice (from the Howard Stern Show), and Myla drew Beetlejuice with a snake-tail and bugs in his hands (she’s never seen the movie).
Day 6: Edward Scissorhands. From the minute she saw a photo of him somewhere, Myla thought he was just the super coolest. She’s still too young to watch the movie (she’s pretty sensitive), but she gets the idea.
Day 7: Wednesday Addams. Since it was Wednesday, we HAD to draw a Wednesday! Again, she didn’t know who she was, but Myla was digging the idea of a creepy family.
So there you go. And there I still am, face-first in my sketchbook, getting through things the best way I can. Just like you are. Just like we all are. And it’s so, so good to know we’re not all alone…
I always think it seems silly to write “Sorry I didn’t get a chance to write a post this week,” as if everyone’s sitting around holding their breath, WAITING for one. It’s such a quiet, solitary task, writing these posts on my own, without real audience in mind.
But I know you’re out there. I’ve read wonderful, inspiring comments from people. Working distance from home the past 8 or so years has made me pretty solitary. I don’t talk to many people all day. I have my very good friends I text & call, and I have a wonderful family, but day-to-day is so quiet…I like it! I really do. I ENJOY time to myself; I soak it up. But since it’s so quiet, I often use the internet as an outlet; as a way to communicate. I know there are people who find wonderful things in the things I post, and I am so very grateful for those comments. That anyone would take the time to write something thoughtful means so much more than you can imagine.
The reason I started this blog was to share ideas with people, to encourage them to try new things, and not be afraid to jump in and do it, no matter what the outcome. I wanted people to know that art isn’t perfect. It takes work and practice, and sometimes even if you do the best you can possibly do, it doesn’t always turn out the way you planned it in your head…and that’s totally OKAY (and sometimes even BETTER!).
I put more pressure on myself than anyone else, I think. Don’t most of us? That makes my standards (for myself, at least) very high…sometimes unattainably high. I’ve always maintained that a positive attitude can change a LOT of things. After a lifetime full of military culture, I consider myself an “optimistic pessimist.” I live by my own Army Wife mantra: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
Having such high standards for myself means I don’t like to admit when I’m having a hard time. I’ve been reading Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking,” and it nearly makes me cry with each chapter, because it’s so absolutely FOREIGN to me. Although I have needed lots of help from time to time, my life has been all about trying to maintain self-sufficiency. It’s seemed shameful to me, to admit that I’m having a hard time, even to my family. In military culture, not being able to handle things just ISN’T AN OPTION. When my husband is deployed, I CAN’T break down–things would just fall apart for EVERYone. He would fall apart. Our family would fall apart. So you have to stay strong and hold it all together the best you can. Some duty stations, you get so very lucky (like we did in Alaska), and people pull together like family does, and we all help eachother–some even becoming lifelong friends. Some duty stations (like here), they just leave you out to dry.
In any case, I’ve always felt that spreading bad times creates more bad times. I don’t pretend they’re happy times, I usually just keep them to myself. I figure EVERYONE has rough times. Everyone’s got their own struggles. What good does it do to share mine?
But yes. It’s a hard time right now. I know it’ll pass. Bad things pass, just like the good things, so the best I can do is find gratitude wherever I can, and be thankful for what I do have. Gratitude has always gotten me through rough times.
So in the spirit of change, instead of a complaint, I’m going to send out a hope. I want to send out a hope that the ones we love know how special they are to us, and will ALWAYS know they are special to us. I want to send out a hope that things will change for the better. I want to send out a hope that we can find a way to make the things that we love touch someone else in some small special way. I want to send everyone a warm hug from many miles away, and tell each and every one: THANK YOU. Thank you so much.
I’m gonna giving myself a mulligan. Let’s try this again next week. Or in another week. Let me dust myself off and get back to you, okay? Time heals everything, and gives you new perspective. I’m looking forward to that.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So a couple of weekends ago, I had a booth at Alamo City Comic Con in San Antonio. My friend Annie helped me setup and run the booth, and despite the ENORMOUS amounts of people there (I get VERY wonky in crowds), I had a great time. I thought I’d share a little of it for you, as a vendor, to show you what it’s like!
So I sort of planned out the look of my booth around the idea of a Craft Laboratory (since I have SO many different crafty interests). So that would make me….what? The Craftician? Dr. Mockingbird? The Art Mechanic? I took my old painting smock (which, despite its look, has seen very little action) and sort of designed it with the Organic Mechanic from Mad Max: Fury Road in mind. But less….grungy. Less…organic. More CRAFTY. I attached chains to my scissors, paintbrushes, pliers, anything I’d need to do my craft thing. Here’s my craft smock on the left, and Organic on the right:
And there’s my booth (which accidentally turned out way cuter than I intended. Hm.). If I had planned it better (or knew how, exactly), I’d REALLY want it to look like one of those things that wheels into town playing calliope music and sells you snake oil and moves on to the next down? THAT sort of feel! I wish I knew how to make that happen… I had copies of our Share With Me book there, sticker and postcard packs of our collaborations, but mostly I focused on the Dream Creepers, and told people the story about how they came to be. I was playing with resin faces and made Myla a doll. She loved it and brought it places. Some little girl said disgustedly, “Ew, that’s creepy!” and Myla smiled politely and said, “well they have to be a LITTLE creepy to chase the bad dreams away.” And that’s how they came to be. I also had necklaces and pins of the little monsters, and my handpainted teeny weeny things.
People say things and forget you’re there. For three days, the number one thing I heard the most was, “Those are soooo creepy…but now I really kinda want one!” That was always sweet, and I loved to hear it. I love that little conflicted space between creepy and cute, so I totally understand that comment. I also heard a lot of “That looks just like my DOG!” Also cute. But what I also heard was a bit of very open rudeness. “That’s stupid, who would pay for THAT?” “Oh, they’re probably made in China” (despite my having written “HANDMADE” as frequently as possible). “Those are gross, put those down.” “People BUY these?!?!?!?” I mean, really–I’m standing right here. In ARTIST’S ALLEY. Which means I MADE these things. Listen, I totally get that my little creatures aren’t for everyone, but remember that thing your mom always said about not having anything nice to say….?
Handmade artisan things are not quite as appreciated at a con. I discovered that when people saw the price tag on my Dream Creeper dolls (I priced them at $60), they didn’t always see all the time and effort and handmade work that went into them. They saw a doll. And I get it–these people just paid nearly $40 a DAY to get in (not to mention if they splurged for the $200-$300 VIP packages), and they probably have specific things they already want (including meeting celebrities, which ALSO costs quite a bit), they see a doll and they only see price. I’ve seen many vendors sitting there with AMAZINGLY beautiful handmade artwork and sculptures, and hardly sell a thing. I’ve learned from my mom’s craft show days in my childhood that it’s best to have a variety of prices, so that if someone couldn’t afford something big, they’d be able to buy something small. But the crowd, often young teens and tweens, don’t have the money to spend on handmade crafts, even if they DID find them “adorably creepy.”
People LOVE to see characters they recognize. The booth next to me sold all sorts of little handmade ceramic creatures, and then had one of a cute little No-Face, from the movie Spirited Away. And all day, despite her other unique characters, all day, I heard “OH LOOK! It’s No-Face!!!” (I know, because I said it, too!) When people saw my creatures, they’d ask, “Are these the goblins from the Labyrinth?” But when they saw my little handpainted necklaces, they’d get excited, because they actually KNEW those characters. “Oh look! Dumbledore!” “Hey, it’s Davy Jones!” “Oh, is that Kahleesi?”
GUYS seem to really like my Dream Creepers. I dunno why, but often the first person to be caught by my Creepers as they walk buy is often male. Plenty of girls and women enjoyed them too, but I thought that was a funny little tidbit.
Its great to be friendly to your fellow boothmates. Not only is it great to be able to walk around and see all the booths as they set up and talk to other artists and vendors before anyone gets there, it’s super awesome to be friendly with the people in the booths around you. Listen, you have to spend three days with these people–do yourself (and them) a favor, and make friends. That way, if they need a bathroom break and don’t have someone to watch, they can ask you to keep an eye on their booth. If you’re going out, ask if they need anything. If they see something fall off of your signage, they can let you know & help you put it back up. If they break down their booth for the night and forget something, you can let them know. Good times all around!
One of the ladies from another booth bought one of my little monster puppy brooches, which went SMASHINGLY well with her steampunk outfit!
Smile and say hello. As a vendor it’s always such an awkward thing to try to guess what people want. Some people don’t want you to talk to them at all. Some people want to hear more. Most people seemed to really enjoy and appreciate everything once I told them the story of Myla and her Creeper, and how she names them all herself. I try my hardest NOT to be on my phone (unless necessary), because I always think that’s awkward when you walk up to a booth and someone’s too busy on their phone to even notice you. And since I’m not a snazzy salesman (I’ve seen some really good ones that make you WANT to buy things actually in an awesome and not creepy way) and I’m not super chatty, so I just try to look at everyone and smile and say hello. “Hey, how’s it going?” “Hey there!” “How’re you?” This is my “friendly arsenal.” It doesn’t hurt much.
When I’m not using my super-magical friendly booth-powers, I sketch. Annie had a small sketchbook, and was asking other artists to sketch in it. And since she & I were sitting there quite often, I sketched quite a lot in her sketchbook. I try to lay my book flat on the table, in case people want to see what I’m drawing, because I don’t mind it at all, and sometimes it sparks a bit of conversation. I try to look up quite often, so people can see I’m still engaged in my booth. I even got a blank Mad Max comic cover (it has an actual comic inside, but they put a blank cover on it specifically for artists to create their own custom covers, and then some artists sell them…But not me, because: MINE).
So even as a vendor running a booth, I still got to enjoy one of my favorite parts of a Comic Con: the COSPLAY! I absolutely LOVE that people get crafty and make their own costumes, and love it even MORE when they mix it up.
I chased this little punk Ariel all over to get a picture, and finally nabbed her. She has Flounder in a net on her trident, and her crown was spectacular. This version of Flash (with Wonder Woman) had some whole routine that drew a crowd, because he had a yellow thong-thing around the back that made people laugh as he posed for photos.
This lady did a spot-on Goblin King with the stolen baby from the Labyrinth (even recreating Jareth’s awkward…um…”bulge.”) And Frodo posed with his Ring. His little feet were flip-flops with plastic hairy feet on top!
This Hawkgirl had a very impressive wingspan. And look, a lady Totoro!! She has the ears and little leaf on her head, and under her dress were attached several little soot sprites. So cute!
Jerry’s Artarama had a booth that demo’d bodypainting, hence the lady Predator. And here’s a VERY fancy lady in a beautiful and extremely ornate costume (who I thought was queen of hearts, but maybe now I’m thinking Joker?).
This cute couple dressed as Ghostbusters, and had their kid cleverly strapped on the back as one of the proton packs.
While walking around one of the days, I heard a very familiar “EXTERMINATE!!!” and turned around barely JUST in time to take a quick pic from behind of a CARDBOARD dalek from Dr. Who! People are so creative. (There’s the one from the show on the right)
And I practically YELLED at these two to stop and take a picture because OMG GENDER-SWAPPED MAD MAX AND NUX!!!
She had pretty amazing detail going on her costume, even down to the leg brace (which people often overlook) and her face muzzle was pretty realistic. And Nux had some great fake scars on his chest (the V8 “scar tattoo” from the movie). The chain with the bloodline attached was the icing. So shiny! So chrome!
And look! SPACEBALLS!!! Is that not a pretty hilariously awesome Barf?
There were SO many great costumes, but THIS girl blew me away. She came ALL three days in THREE different costumes she built herself. The first day, she was Lady Loki. The second, day, standing in line for Ron Perlman, I saw a Hellgirl and thought “she looks familiar…” Until we realized it was Lady Loki from the day before!!! She got a photo with Perlman in her Hellgirl costume, how cool is THAT?!?! And the last day (although my photo doesn’t do it justice), she threw on a last-minute Bellatrix costume from Harry Potter. She told us she was part of a cosplay group that dresses up and visits kids in schools & hospitals, and I wish I knew how to reach her so I could give her a long-distance hug for all-out awesomeness.
Anyway (because this post isn’t QUITE long enough yet), Annie had signed us up to get a photo with Ron Perlman (of all the great things he’s been in, one of my very favorite movies of all time has him in it: City of Lost Children). So I doodled him in her sketchbook while we sat at my booth. He has SUCH great lines in his face!!! Some people have bad feelings about their own lines, but they sure do tell a person’s story in a sketch…
But some of these photo meetings are a big rush job. Celebrities are part of the fun of ComicCons, and they charge different prices for photos or autographs (often in separate lines for separate fees). After waiting nearly an hour in our Perlman line, we were rushed in, and in the span of about 15 seconds, we were sort of shoved up against Ron, and ushered directly out. I had barely enough time to shake his hand and say “thank you so much,” which is why look completely unprepared and derpy in this photo. I mean, what is this face? Where is my neck? I didn’t even get a chance to show him my drawing of him as One with Miette, or the drawing of Hellboy at the petshop that Myla and I did. Poop.
In my experience, the better opportunity is to get something signed, because at least then you get to talk to the person for a bit. And if you’re going to meet anyone, a good bang for your buck (in my very limited experience) is Michael Rooker (Merle from Walking Dead, and Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy). I met him last year at Wizard World in Austin. He’s so super friendly to everyone, talks to you like you’re old friends, and makes you all around laugh. He’s got that Southern gentlemen swagger with a whole mess of cocky, but it sure does crack you up. Annie met him, got this drawing signed that I had given her of him as Merle from The Walking Dead. According to Annie, he said, “Did a girl or a guy draw this?” and when Annie answered a girl, he said, “Ah! Girls always seem to draw me much more better lookin’ than I am. Hahah!” He got a kick out of it.
And of course, EVERRRRRYONE wanted to meet Stan Lee, aka Stan the Man. Stan Lee CREATED all the superheroes everyone loves. He practically INVENTED the whole superhero genre, and he’s in his 90s, and he’s still coming to these things and meeting people! Thankfully (for him), they seemed to make it pretty painless for him, keeping him seated most of the time, and blocked off so that he wasn’t bombarded or overwhelmed. Neither Annie or I went to go see him (he was by far one of the most expensive guests to see, understandably), but she snapped this photo from quite a ways away. Still, good for him.
So there you go. That’s pretty much the whole experience of the convention, from my point of view at my artist’s booth! Myla and my mom came to visit the third day, but the experience was a bit overwhelming for Myla, I think, and after a little shopping and bouncehouse shenanigans, it wasn’t long before my poor mom had to drive her the two and a half hours back home. Poor girl was worn out.
And so was I!! I haven’t been to many cons, and the couple I’ve been to, I’ve been to as a vendor. I like walking around and meeting other artists and vendors before it’s open so there’s not a huge crowd. I like sitting at my little table and meeting people. I like talking about my work, and hearing stories from other people about their work, and I love seeing all the cosplay creativity. But it sure does wipe you out!
(this is me early during and at the END of the 3-day con)…
In any case, I’m going to do one more this year: I signed up last minute for Wizard World in Austin Oct 30 – 31. It’s a short one, but I’m sure it’ll be fun.
AND OMG you guys, if all goes well and the stars align, I’m going to be meeting CARROLL SPINNEY (who puppetted Big Bird and Oscar from the Muppets)!!! (“I Am Big Bird” was such a GREAT documentary…) I am such a huge fan, and Henson and the Muppets have been such a HUGE inspiration that I might possibly babble incoherently and cry. I am hoping to talk to him and thank him and chat a minute. I am hoping he doesn’t cancel. (Hey, other people have their superheroes, I have mine…hahah!)
Myla’s going to be there the second day, dressed as James from Team Rocket (she’s WAYYYY into Pokemon right now). So if you’re anywhere near there, and you’d like to celebrate Halloween surrounded by cool costumes and great gear, COME SEE MEEEEEE!!!!
PS: Mike Tyson will be one of the celebrities there. Weird, huh? I’m afraid if he ever saw this (very very old) caricature I did, he may rip off my ears with his teeth, so SHHHHHH let’s just keep that between us…AUUUUUGHGGHGHGHHHH!!!!!
I’m unpacking (mentally and physically) from the 3-day ComicCon, and I’ve got a lot of cool photos to share from it. For now, I’ll mention a fun little aside that came from it.
One of the best things about conventions is meeting other people. I’m not so good at the “walking up and making small talk” thing, but I really really enjoy one-on-one connections, and a booth gives you a great chance for that.
So the first day of the Con, a guy named Kenneth Rocafort walked up and said he enjoyed my artwork, and that he had a table set up in the Artists’ Alley, and also that he works for Marvel or something. No big deal. :P He talked about how much he loves drawing in sketchbooks and tries to just draw a little every day. Then he pulled out his little tiny sketchbook, and I was blown away:
It reminded me (in a different way) of the sketchbook diaries I used to do, ages ago…
And although I draw every day ANYway, I thought that was a good habit to get back into; maybe carrying a little book around, and not making it so “precious.” Just drawing whatever I wanted, just for fun.
My friend Annie had come to the show to help with my booth, and–inspired by Kenneth’s tiny sketchbook–brought a little sketchbook, and was asking artists to draw in it. Usually artists at conventions will do this for a fee, but some will do it just for the fun of doing it.
Since we had watched Mad Max: Fury Road in 3D at her house the night before, I drew her a little Furiosa and Nux to kick things off:
Later, I added a Ron Perlman (since we were going to meet him for a photo later):
When we met him for the photo, we were ushered in there, snapped, and then ushered out. The whole thing took about two minutes (if that). I didn’t get a chance to show him the Hellboy drawing that Myla and I had done, or the drawing I did of him as One from one of my all-time favorite movies, City of Lost Children. But I DID get this derpy photo of me, unready for the camera, surprised at how normal-sized he was (I imagined 9 feet tall, at least), and making the most unintentionally goofy face, while everyone else looked great:
(I mean, what is that face? Really? Where is my neck? I don’t think I’ve ever even made that face before. I didn’t even have time to be awestruck or anything, so that face was more of a “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS”…..)
The day after the convention, my mom and I went to the craft store, and I found these cool little watercolor sketchbooks on sale, and thought I’d try one.
It was longer & thinner, which would make for a more awkward drawing space, which I found to be a fun challenge. That night, while my mom & I watched movies, I doodled Myla and some autumn moths in a pair of antlers.
Anyway, I liked the sketchbook so much, I went back and got more because they were on sale and they were trying to get rid of them. So don’t try to find them at the store in Killeen, Texas, because they’re all gone, I got them. I couldn’t help it, and I don’t even really feel bad about it at all, because they’re awesome, and there weren’t very many of them anyway. Sorry.
My mom had been giving herself a “drawing a day” challenge to get back into her own artwork, and bought she and my dad one, hoping to get him on board. I know another friend, who does amazing things with those drawing prompt books… (I’m talking about you, Kendyl…) I bought one of those books one time, and only ever drew one thing in it: a bulldog in a monocle. So there’s also that.
I drew Tuna from @tunameltsmyheart…do you know Tuna? His little face makes me smile. Anyway, there was a contest or a thing about drawing him, and this is what I drew. Because: TEETH. Tuna is all about that mug.
I wanted to draw more faces, so I drew a page of Rosanna Arquette….because why not? She’s got a cool face, cool lines, and her face always tells a great story…
Apparently, though, she saw it on Instagram and didn’t really like it….
And that’s okay, because you know what? I didn’t draw it for her, I drew it for me. I love her lines, and if she’s not comfortable with my version of her lines, that’s alright with me. (sniff). Of course, I’d have loved her to love it, but the thing that makes me enjoy making art is not whether or not someone else likes or doesn’t like it…even someone famous.
Because I learn from each one, and that experience is inexchangeable (that’s a word I just created. You’re welcome to use it). I learn something new and nonverbal each time I doodle, and that’s why the end result doesn’t matter. I used to hate people to look through my sketchbook if it was full of false starts. I wanted to say, “NO! I’m better than that wonky eye I scratched out!”
But it doesn’t matter. I HAD to draw that wonky eye to learn. All the struggles, all the mess-ups….at least it’s a STEP, right? You have to make those mistakes to show yourself, “nope. That’s not the way. Let’s try this way.”
So don’t be afraid of criticism or judgement. Don’t take that criticism seriously. They’re looking at the front steps without walking into the house. It gets better the further you go. You just have to PRACTICE it….
So here’s to new sketchbooks–hooray!