Recently, we were scheduled for a new puppy appointment at our vet’s office, and the thought occurred to me: the office had been so sweet and helpful with the passing of my hairy baby, Adie. They had helped me in a rush when I brought her in, seizing, and helped make her comfortable in her last moments. Along with the regular sympathy cards they send out, they sent a Christmas card at the holidays, recognizing how difficult it must be without her. I wanted to show my appreciation somehow.
This is when art skills come in handy. But what could I do? I talked to my mother. A sign? I suggested. Some sort of drawing? The old stand-by of cupcakes? She said she had always wanted to give an office a gift of a decorative pen set, like the ones you see that have giant silk flowers that customers can use and not be able to walk away with.
I decided it was the perfect idea, and got to work straight away.
I wanted to do the design on the pen cap, so that once the pen runs out of ink, they could still use it and just replace the pen. I rolled a ball of aluminum foil around the pen cap, and sculpted a base color in Super Sculpey around it. This not only helps the clay cook thoroughly, but gives it a strong base, and makes it so you don’t have to use as much clay.
Since I was doing this in honor of my sweet hairy baby, Adie, I sculpted one of the pen toppers with her little face, using beads for eyes.
I made a few others…some cats, a dachsund….
And even our other dog, our boxer Scout. Once they were cooked, I glued the heads onto the pen caps with E6000, and glued little strips of ribbon around the base to hide the seam leading from the clay to the pen cap. I then glued little paper flower from the scrapbooking section of the craft store to hide the ribbon seam.
All in all, they turned out pretty cute!
Since I figured they’d be getting a lot of wear & tear, I tried sealing them in clear resin, but honestly, it might have been better not to. Even painting on a thin layer, it dripped down and kept rolling down the pen as it dried. It sealed over the ribbon as well as the flowers. It wasn’t TERRIBLE, it was just difficult to manage.
I found a mason jar and filled it with tiny rock sand from the gnome-garden section of the craft store, and wrapped a ribbon around the whole thing.
I brought it to the vet’s office when we had our new puppy appointment–it was my first time back since I had rushed in there with Adie a couple of months earlier. They unknowingly gave me the same room, but it was okay. I couldn’t remember who exactly was there the day I brought Adie, so I described the attending vet (who I only remembered was male) to the vet at this new appointment, and told her why I had brought them; that it was a thank you for their kindness with Adie.
The vet seemed very surprised, happy, and touched. In my disarray, I had forgotten to put a card with it, but she said she would tell the staff and what it meant to me.
It was a fairly easy craft that I already had most of the supplies on hand for, and the things I had to buy weren’t very much at all. Silk flower pens are wonderful too (I’ve seen some beautiful ones), but I loved how these turned out. I bet they’d be cute with some little felt heads, or needle-felted faces!
Have you ever used your creative skills to show your appreciation to an office? What kinds of things have you done?
This year was a rough one for me–I hit a stumble. I tripped and fell down a bit. I won’t go into a whole list of sob stories, but as a highlight (lowlight?), the two biggest things have been living with a lot of pain because of spinal deterioration from Ankylosing Spondylitis (which really eats away at your morale). Also, I watched my best hairy baby, Adie, get sick and pass away. I was heartbroken.
Christmas was spent surrounded by family and lots of love, but I also felt Adie’s absence. I spread her ashes near the lake where we used to love canoeing together at my parents’ house.
At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, my heart hurt. And as silly as it sounds, I asked the Adie in my mind to help us find a new puppy to love. Before she died, I didn’t know if I’d want another. After she died, there were so many sad spots in the house where she used to be, I needed to fill them. And I knew she could steer us in the right direction.
And it worked! We hadn’t really intended to buy a puppy just yet, but we started casually looking for fun with family, and of all the little pups we looked at, a family breeder had one nearby in Oklahoma that was so pretty and supposed to be a cuddler, so we made a little stop there on our way back home to Texas. Turns out, she was JUST what my heart needed….sweet, and so VERY cuddly and kissy.
We named her Winnie, after a sweet Boston terrier named Winston in a Pixar short called “Feast.” She’s pretty scared of my husband, though, and still needs to get the hang of potty-training, but she’s wonderful. She plays with our boxer, Scout, and cuddles with Myla. She gives me so many kisses and cuddles that my skin is super dry (I’m not complaining though! I love puppy-kisses).
Adie will never go away in my heart. It’s so sweet to see similarities and differences. Winnie lays next to me while I draw, snorts like a piglet, and has terrible gas, like Adie used to. And she likes to be by my side, following me around the house all day. But she loves sweaters and doesn’t like blankets wrapped around her. I got myself a super cute Boston bag for Christmas with a face that looks just like Adie’s. (Later, I even added a little heart on her snooter). I love it. It makes me smile.
And it made me realize how I’ve been trying to comfort myself lately with cozy things. Fuzzy blankets. Warm cardigans. Soft pajamas. I even drew this portrait that Myla added to, filling it with cozy things, snuggling up like a hibernating squirrel.
I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions–I think you can make resolutions ANY day. But I’ve decided to be a little nicer, a little more patient, a little gentler with myself, and work my way outwards. As I shared on Instagram, I sometimes get so caught up in checking on others’ well-being, I forget to check in with myself. I want to surround myself with good actions, with gratitude, with good thoughts, with good words.
Be kind to yourself, and have fun. Celebrate little things. Even if (ESPECIALLYif) it’s just something silly like a pair of Chewbacca jammies to match your daughter’s…
Recently, a reader shared a poem by Hallie Bateman with me that pretty much summed it up:
And I love it. The bit about becoming love instead of pain? The part about cherishing yourself as your mother did when she held you as a baby? So much YES. A little kindness–especially to yourself–goes a long way.
So here’s to not only a happy new year, but a happy new day, a happy new moment–right now.
As the holidays draw closer, I’ve been trying to get a clean start of things. Get on top again, get my mind sorted out, and move forward with clean, clear steps.
I’ve been loving these little tiny sketchbooks lately. Although Moleskines are my standard faves, these Ranger Dylusions are fun because of their shape, the little pocket inside, and the fact that I can draw on the covers (although the paper inside is meant more for inkwork and stamping, and doesn’t hold up well to much waterwork). I get the 5″x8″ one, and it’s nice to be able to carry it around and have it with me wherever I go. The binding even has a spot to hold my pen!
But what seals a sketchbook for me is being able to draw on the cover. I used to spend countless hours (pre-child) giving meticulous thought and detail to the front cover of a new sketchbook. I overthought it–I had to be sure it was “exactly right,” as if it determined the future success or failure of the work it would soon have inside.
Now that time is more limited and precious, I’ve had fun letting the daughter draw on them with me. I start with a roughly-drawn simple face, and she adds the rest.
Like this dragon gathering…
These cute little girl-gnomes, building robots and taking care of things…
This amazing xenomorph queen (Myla has a great love of xenomorphs and their whole lifecycle, although she’s never seen the movie) with mutant aliens, a chestburster, and facehugger…
And this fantastic little Harry Potter, complete with other little characters from the movies we love so much…
When I’m really pressed for time and anxious to start a new sketchbook, I turn to my collection of stickers I’ve amassed over the years. I LOVE stickers! Friends send them, I have some of our own artwork. I even got a giant grab bag of mixed retro stickers from a seller on Etsy once.
Sometimes I cover the backs, because they make me smile…
Here’s a glance of the insides, with the pocket, and the spot for the pen that is my favorite feature…
And to look at them makes me smile.
I hear from people all the time, such humbling stories about the struggle of finally getting back into art after a long dry spell, especially after having a child. Maybe it’s not drawing, maybe it’s sculpting, or sewing, or music, or dance.
Whatever it is, maybe it’s time to start fresh. Maybe you don’t have to start at the new year–resolutions can happen today. Open a new book and fill the cover with pretty things that invite you in every time you look at it! And if you do, share it with others, because in my experience, sharing helps. Sharing makes people feel connected, even from miles away.
And here’s to the hopes for a wonderful new year–a new, beautiful blank book for each of you to start decorating…
These past couple of weeks have been a little rough, getting used to the loss of my beloved Boston, Adie. It’s still strange not having her here by my side every day, following me from room to room, especially by my bed when I wake up every morning.
This past week, her ashes were returned to us, which I knew would be a little rough, but when I saw they had included a set of her pawprint impressions, I broke down all over again. I had gotten an imprint of her nose before she passed, but I didn’t think to get one of her paws. I didn’t think I even needed one, but it was such a lovely surprise, it makes me smile.
There are several ways I’ve been trying to feel better. I’ve been drawing portraits of her before she was ill, because I knew it’d be hard afterward. I tried drawing her later, but it was difficult, and made me sad, and just didn’t look right. So I went to a different medium, and tried embroidery, stitching this little portrait of her, surrounded by her favorite thing, popcorn.
I loved spending time with all the little pieces of her face. I like that the popcorn ended up looking like little flowers, in a way.
Someone on Instagram sent me a message, saying “maybe you could make one of your Dream Creepers for yourself that looks a little like Adie?” It was a good sign, as I had already been tossing the idea around for a little while. I chose the fabric, something soft (because Dream Creepers make great neck pillows for long trips), and my husband helped me put it all together.
If you look closely, you can even see I added a little something on her snooter: a little foil heart on her nose, sealed in resin. She ALWAYS had something on her snooter from sniffing the floor for crumbs, and people used to laugh at my photos with the same caption over and over again: “Adie, you’ve got something on your snooter.”
I started to realize that those funny moments, the ones that made me smile, were where the healing was. The best memories were the happy ones, and instead of dwelling on how much I missed her, I started remembering all the funny things.
Recently I visited a friend who is a tattoo artist. Annie and I have known each other for awhile, and she knew how special Adie is to me. She drew up the most perfect design of Adie with her favorite thing–popcorn–and added a piece to her snooter. She tattooed it on me, and I was floored at how wonderful it looked (because Annie is an amazing artist). I love it immensely, and I love that I get to carry her little happy face with me wherever I go. Instead of being a super serious portrait, it makes me smile.
Like the time I sculpted a goofy portrait of her, and she was less than impressed…
One of the biggest realizations for me was this portrait I drew. Initially, I wanted to draw her sitting in her “old man” pose, with her little pink belly hanging out, which always made me smile. But it ended up looking sad.
…Until I added a fart. Because my hairy girl could clear a ROOM. You wouldn’t expect something so small would make a smell so obnoxious, but it always made me laugh as I was gasping for air. And it didn’t bother her in the slightest.
So that helped a lot. For some reason, something like that goofy drawing makes me instantly remember the funny side of her, and makes me feel happy. It wasn’t something I expected, but I’m grateful for it, that something so little helped me heal with a smile.
And in a perfect moment of great timing, my husband sent me this image, which happened to be in his Instagram feed DIRECTLY after my post of how a little toot-doodle made me smile again…
And it’s the truth.
I had to say goodbye to my sweet dog this week, and my heart is broken. It’ll get better in time, but it hurts a lot right now. I won’t flood you with every detail of my dog’s life, but I wanted to share the process of my memory bracelet, and how I made a mold of Adie’s snooter.
Adie was 11 years old and had been sick for awhile, and battled both cancer and seizures. And while medication was helping, I didn’t realize my remaining time with her would be as short as it was. In the very end, I held her face and kissed her snooter, but she had had so many seizures that her little body couldn’t handle it. She was already gone before they told me she was gone.
Adie (named “Awesome Dude” after a line from an SNL skit–A.D. for short) was my baby before I had a baby. She was pretty sure SHE was my baby, too….
She was a tiny thing when we first got her, only 2 pounds (and rescued from what I’m pretty sure was a puppy mill), and we brought her home with worms and ear mites, and made her good as new. She grew up around our gentle boxer, Scout, who was so sweet and careful with her, that Adie lived her life assuming she was as BIG as her.
She licked my face constantly, because I loved her doggy-kisses. She followed me EVERYWHERE. She cuddled with me CONSTANTLY. She had to sit by me ALWAYS. And she could clear a room with her toots.
She loved me, and I loved her, and she made me smile. She was a food-junkie, and constantly sniffed our floors looking for any possible scraps of food…which left her inevitably with some random scraps of paper or dirt stuck to her nose. Family would laugh when I’d post a picture with the simple caption–over and over and over again through the years: “Adie, you’ve got something on your snooter.”
I had the feeling she was getting pretty bad. We made an appointment to talk to the vet, hopefully about upping her medicine to help with the seizures. I started thinking of the worst, and what sort of thing I’d want to remember her by.
She didn’t wear her collar at home, so I didn’t have an emotional attachment to it. I’ve seen art made from whiskers or toenails, but that just didn’t seem like my thing. What I was going to miss most of all was kissing her little snooter.
I looked around the internet, and found that there are artists on Etsy that would send you a moldmaking kit, you’d send it back to them with an impression of your dog’s nose, and they’d make a lovely piece of metal jewelry. It’s a beautiful thing, but I wondered, since I have worked with moldmaking and resin, if that would be something I could do myself. I didn’t find much online, so I thought I’d walk you through the process I had of making my own, for those of you who wanted to give it a whirl, or–like me and Adie–whose time was short.
1. First off, I got this Amazing brand mold putty at our local craft store. It’s a nontoxic 2-part quick-curing mold formula. As you can see in the top right of the box, it comes in two tubs. You pinch equal parts of each, and squoosh them together in a ball and mix it until it doesn’t have any streaks in it. You have to work fairly quickly, as it starts setting once it’s completely mixed.
2. Next, I held Adie gently, and quickly pressed the ball up against her nose, making sure to keep her mouth open to breathe. She was tired and lethargic anyway, and didn’t seem to mind much. She just kind of let me hold it there for awhile, and if you press gently (not completely squooshing), you should be able to pull away after awhile with a decent nose print.
3. So here’s a picture of the nose print (minus a few shedded hairs–don’t worry, it didn’t hurt her at ALL and she’s shed WAY more than that in a day–but maybe be more careful if your dog has long hairs). Next up, I set the mold carefully in a messy container (because I knew it would be messy) and poured my resin mix in it, waiting for it to cure (the kind I got takes around 10 minutes).
4. And here’s the little resin cast of Adie’s lovely little snooter. I used my little hand-held dremel sander and shaped the edges into a smooth sort of oval.
5. Next up, I painted it solid black. I didn’t want it to be realistic or anything; this is just an undercoat of acrylic paint, in preparation for the next step.
6. I found this water-based Metallic Lustre by DecoArt in “Iced Espresso” to match the wrist bracelet setting I had found at the craft store, and painted it over the black.
7. Look how pretty! The black undercolor really makes the details pop.
8. Here is the blank bracelet base I found at the craft store. There are several options you can choose…this one is a leather adjustable band with a flat panel to glue things on. I knew I didn’t really want a necklace–I felt like it’d be comforting and easier to give her snooter a kiss if I wanted to, to have it on a bracelet.
It’s glued on with E6000, and I later went back and sealed it in clear resin, to avoid scratching it up (which is what happened the first day I wore it, even though it had been sealed with clear varnish).
And there it is. And two days later, she was gone. And I miss her so much, but I’m so glad I had a chance to do this.
Whatever people need to do to grieve, as long as they’re not hurting anyone else, it’s okay. There’s no “right” way to remember a loved one. For me, having a mold of her little kissable nose around isn’t nearly as good as her real nose, but it helps the hurt a little.
Myla handled it well. We cried a lot about it. She asked if I could make her a bracelet too. (The next day, a kid at school asked if she cut her dogs’s nose off….because kids can be insensitive jerks sometimes.)
So there you go. I miss my sweet Adie. I miss the spot by my bed where she slept. I keep looking down and forgetting she’s not there. It’s weird feeding only one dog instead of two, and the boxer isn’t NEARLY as excited about food as Adie was. It’s strange sitting on the couch and not having her snuggled up against my side.
I miss kissing her little face.
I got so many kind words over on Instagram about losing my sweet Adie. She made people giggle in the IG Story posts I made of her whining while she was waiting for dinner (two hours early). And many people asked me about the process of making the bracelet.
It’s not the same as having her back, but hopefully, if you’ve got a hairy baby, you can make a nose mold too, and have a snooter around to kiss goodbye.
Goodbye, sweet Adie.
Hey stranger. It’s been awhile.
I’ve been a bit in the dumpers lately, and trying to get out. Nothing big, nothing serious. Just the dumpy dumps. But while I work my way out, I thought I’d share this little frog rider with you.
It started when I was sick in bed. I have been getting back injections in preparation for a spinal ablation, and although it’s supposed to be a fairly speedy recovery, I have had a hard, painful road with it….so I’ve been spending a lot of my down time in bed.
Like Frida painting in bed, drawing is a really good way for me to be engrossed in something other than pain. For a time, I am so focused on what I’m drawing, that I don’t feel so bad. It’s like floating somewhere above your body, until someone or something reminds you that it’s attached to you.
I used to hate the feel of pencil on paper, like nails on a chalkboard. But you can hold a pencil upside down while you lay in bed drawing, so there are times when it has its moments. Plus, I’ve learned to make peace with a pencil, in a way…. A blending stump, some workable fixative, and some watercolors make for an old-fashioned illustration feel that I can’t always get with my pens. It’s not the right move for everything, but it has its moments.
So I drew a little frog rider. It’s our daughter, Myla, but it doesn’t HAVE to be her….it’s just that I have a million reference photos of her, and I love every one of them. I could draw her little face a million times and not get tired of it.
I try to get caught up in detail, but it doesn’t always work. I get lazy with backgrounds, but I love trying anyway. Even one of my favorite artists, Matt Gordon, says he “fakes” a lot of his intricately detailed backgrounds with squiggles….but somehow, I can’t pull it off nearly as well as he can…
But it’s a happy distraction. Maybe sometimes I use it too much, as a crutch to avoid discomfort…but it’s my happy place. My safe place. My place that doesn’t hurt so much.
My little frog rider might not know where she’s going, but she’s looking back a little to make sure the rest of it stays behind her. And that froggy–maybe she’s keeping an eye on things, too. Maybe they’ll get where they’re going one day, but for now, they’re trying their best to hang on tight in the instability of a bumpy ride…
Hopefully, that road’ll get a little smoother, froggy.
After weeks of working on this project, I would like to unveil how we made Myla a wonky little Animation Station….CUE THE FANFARE!!
AND NOW….a quick backstory: Myla is 8 years old and LOVES animation. The first time she understood it was at a children’s museum called The Thinkery in Austin, where they had a station set up where a camera was positioned over a flat surface, with a screen in front, where you could arrange the blocks, push a simple button for each frame, and see what you’re doing on the screen above. She was ENTHRALLED.
(There are usually various-shaped wooden blocks on the tray around that center “stage”)
She’s played with drawing animation apps like GoldieBlox for awhile, but this was the first time she really understood stop motion, and a fire sparked. These days, she uses Stop Motion Studio on her Ipad, which takes some getting used to, but is mostly user- and kid-friendly. You can also adjust it where it “ghosts” an image of your previous frame, so you can see where you were before.
In the past, she’s worked with clay, making stop motion videos…
But one day, while watching some behind-the-scenes LAIKA videos of Kubo and the Two Strings on YouTube, we decided we should try to build a simple-ish figure and set up our own portable station that maybe she could carry around and set up wherever she wanted. So here’s our wonky project, and what we’ve learned so far…
First off, I wanted it to be mobile–something she could use to carry accessories and things, and maybe the lid could flip up to be used as a background. I found this decorative holiday “suitcase” at our local craft store, and spray painted it a matte color and then decorated it with stickers…
We used Mod Podge for the inside, to “glue” a flat background to the inside lid. I figured she might be able to lay a sheet of paper over it to change out the background whenever she liked, but primarily, a “wooden” craft paper pattern served well to cover up the holiday cheer that the box initially came with.
Next up, she designed her character. She LOVES animals, and creates the most amazing little characters. This one is named “Zeen,” and is a little wolf-girl.
We talked about how it would move, what we could and couldn’t do. We talked about how to make the face and eyes change, and how it would stand. I looked up some simple armature techniques online (THAT’S a rabbit-hole of possibilities), and started building a body that would be big enough to do what she wanted, but small enough to fit in the box and still be able to use the background.
I’m not sure the gauge of the larger wire that I used, but in hindsight, I might’ve gone softer, as it ended up maybe a little too stiff. I twisted two pieces together with a drill (which was a hilarious endeavor), and used wirecutters to twist it into shape. The legs are tightly hinged, but they can bend at the “waist,” which I thought would add more movement–but if you’re not careful, she does end up flopping over.
I used floral wire for the smaller appendages, and floral tape to smooth it out a little.
And after a bit of messing about, I finally came up with a basic structure that fit in the box, and still met all of her sketch ideas. (I have learned, with my kid, to be very clear about what is and isn’t possible, and to remind her that things in her head don’t always look the same in mine, so we do our best to talk about it in great detail beforehand.)
I built a base from balled-up aluminum foil to keep the head light, and wrapped Super Sculpey around it, embedding floral wire where I wanted the ears to be.
After baking it, I painted the face, and added fur. (Yes, fur is very tricky to keep consistent during an animation, but she doesn’t mind–she was excited about the fur, and it’s all about having fun right now).
I left the eyes blank, because we decided that she could stick a little circle of paper to the eyes, and that way she could “move” it in the animation like a pupil.
The next step was to make something for it to stand on. The professionals use this peg system, wherein they mount the feet over and over again into a board depending on what movement they need. Instead, I opted for ultra-strong neodymium magnets.
First, I mounted a piece of foam core to a little “stage”at the front of the open suitcase. I kept the top removable in case we needed to access the whole case or something.
I sloppily hot-glued the magnets to the bottom of her feet, and other magnets to the underside of the foam core sheet.
(Looking back, I might’ve tried finding some piece of flat metal for the magnets to stick to? Since I couldn’t get much coverage due to polarization, we have trouble standing her up in certain places.)
And finally, after much trial and error, she works!!! SHE’S ALIIIIIIIIVEEEE!!!! Mwahahahah….. Well, you know. SORT of.
There are, as is to be expected, some kinks to work out….
First, I might’ve tried finding some piece of flat metal for the magnets to stick to, instead of foam core (if only I could get it to fit PERFECTLY in this box). Second, the wire I used is a little to stiff (as I mentioned) so motion (especially small movements) are hard to manage without moving the whole character. Third, we need a better tripod stand for Myla’s ipad, because we just lean it against things, which works, but…could work better.
She’s been so excited by it, and has already animated a little, but we’ve only JUST finished it, so there’s still some practicing to do.
But the best part? When I posted it on Instagram, someone suggested I contact Kevin Parry. They said “he works with Laika studios and he is awesome.” So I looked at his page and sure enough, this guy was the EXACT SAME animator in the VERY SAME VIDEOS Myla and I had seen on YouTube, that first inspired us to make a character! He’s worked on Kubo and on Box Trolls, and I’ve even seen his personal videos (usually animation tricks, and silly-walking references) online, shared by friends. I just didn’t know his name. It’s such a small world!
I messaged him, and to my surprise, he replied and mentioned how cool it was that she was animating at such a young age, and that the details would come with time–that she should just enjoy animating as much as she can. He was incredibly helpful, and told me that a simple trick for the eyes would be to coat them in vaseline and stick a little paper circle to it and move that around. He gave me tips on structure and magnets, and practicing simple movements. The poor guy must get bombarded with the same questions over and over again and again, but he was so enthusiastic it was exciting.
And when I told Myla about it the next day, she was inspired all over again. And I was reminded of how good it is to share what you love with other people. It only helps, when you encourage others and help them learn. And it doesn’t take anything away from you–it’s up to them what they do with it.
And that’s the thing–It’s like when people ask me how to “become a good artist,” all I can tell them is if you love something, you’ll do it, and you’ll never stop learning. You’ll do it and do it, and soon you’ll find you’re doing it SO much that you’re getting better at it, and you don’t even realize it. It’s a passion. If you don’t have it, you’ll likely put your energies elsewhere, and that’s okay too. But if you’re excited about something, you’ll keep doing it, and you’ll keep learning, and you’ll just get better and better.
Happy Halloween! And with it, sadly, comes the end of the Mockinktober challenge Myla and I did, where we completed a spooky drawing each day, for the month of October. But we can call it a success!
Our goal was to complete all 31 days, and we did it! Myla’s goal was to try to make all of hers be original characters, and–whenever possible–make them female. She’s only 8 years old, but the expression she gets in her drawings and the unique ideas she has are already so amazing to see!
We jumped around a bit from our initial list, and bounced around (as I predicted) with our friend Mab’s Drawlloween list. Near the end, though, we chose a few categories of our own.
We had goofy ones…
We had a bunch of spooky teenagers…
And even some creepy kids…
We had “the Ghost with the Most…”
As well as a few gremlins…
And we even did a few extra ones, just for fun!
The Kid blew me away with this drawing of The Bride (not Frankenstein’s Bride–the Bride from Kill Bill). She’s never seen it–it’s WAY too violent–but she knows the story of the Bride as a ninja mama bear, fighting to avenge her daughter. One day while I was drawing Jules from Pulp Fiction, she asked to draw the Bride, and it was too good a category to pass up (and she couldn’t help but add some goofiness to it…hence the chicken and the tiny head-person in the Crazy 88 gang..).
As for Frankenstein brides, we covered those, too…
And we had such a great time doing it! Here’s hope you all have a safe and spooky Halloween!
(If you’re interested, most of my versions from this set are available in my Etsy shop online as small prints–you can go have a look here! )
I love when people decorate for holidays, I do. But EVERY DAY, we drive down the only road to the elementary school, and pass by what the kid and I refer to as “the Gore House.” No simple pumpkins or ghosts or skeletons here. This guy goes all out: customized with expanding spray foam painted blood-red, he FILLS his yard full with buckets of fake guts being poured onto a table, where plastic ravens eat them. There’s a full-size BBQ grill full of guts and fake bloody intestines, and something called “The doll house” (thanks to the giant wooden structure over his front door) with “dead babies” hanging from it. Fake bloody. There are disemboweled mock people, positioned into torturous poses, others getting electrocuted with their foam guts hanging out. This assault on my eyeballs, goodness sake! I mean, it’s his house, and he’s got a right to decorate it I guess. Myla always asks me to tell her when the house is coming up so she can turn her head.
Maybe I’m all sensitive now that I’m older, but gore is not Halloween to me. I mean, I guess in a way it is, but…seriously? On the only road to an elementary school? I don’t know. No, it doesn’t have to be all cute and fluffy, but DANG.
SOooo that being said, the kid has slowly come to enjoy the fun spookiness of getting lightly scared at the Spirit store by things that jump and pop up. Funny stuff. I thought it’d be fun last time we went to let her pick out a couple of prosthetics and see what she’d do if I let her just go crazy making me into something else.
She excitedly picked out some horns and an eyeball. Her goal? “To scare daddy right out of his pants!”
So apologies if this post is heavy with selfies, but I was trying to get good pics of what she was doing, because she learned so much. And she learned about spirit gum, and how you can use it to attach things to your skin.
She carefully did her best to make it “realistic,” as if I just sort of grew these horns straight outta my face. (We always use Snazaroo facepaints, because we both have sensitive skin, and I learned early on that it was the only one that didn’t break us both out in a rash.)
I helped a little around the eyes, and Myla did her best to make it as scary as her lil 8-year old mind could, saying “Daddy is going to be SOOOO scared!!” (…Considering my husband isn’t at ALL a fan of horror, her goal wasn’t exactly unrealistic…)
So there it is! Easy and fun, for any kid to do! Now’s a fun time, because those little Spirit Halloween stores have so much to play with. It doesn’t have to be much–I think both of these pieces cost around $7, and the fun we had making a monster was worth it.
Incidentally, I didn’t exactly scare the pants off Daddy (although he did say I looked terrifying), but he did get a good laugh out of it…
Especially when she asked if I could do the same to her, and I let her tell me where to put everything…She did her own makeup on this one, too…
So, yeah, a little paint-on blood? I can see that. I’m not a nun or anything. But this is about as gross as we get.
What are you all doing for Halloween? Does Halloween mean gore and guts to you? Or just spooky fun?
A couple of years ago, the kid and I did the Inktober challenge on our Instagram page, and called it “Mockinktober.” There are many versions out there, but the basic idea is to post a drawing or art project each day, with a spooky sort of theme.
(Our Blythe dolls, Mavis and Sweetie dressed up for the occasion…)
I like this challenge, because it always gets me started with other ideas of things I’d like to draw.
For example, I just finished listening to the audiobook for the Handmaid’s Tale (talk about a horror story!), and wanted to draw this one from the series…
As for WHAT to draw, there are so many options…
The originator of the “Inktober” idea puts out a general list of broad word prompts that are fairly open-ended (meaning each word could mean something different for each person):
Our dear friend Mab Graves put out this list for her event, she calls “Drawlloween…” and always encourages open mediums (not just ink) and friendly fun…
And Myla and I sort of do a little of everything. This year, we just wrote a list of all the spooky ideas we had. Then when Mab’s list came out, we sort of aligned the days that matched with her event so we could play along with hers too. And because Myla sometimes likes to do her own thing, we chose some other random things to fill out our list. And we might repeat some of them, if the category is good. And some days, we might do something else entirely not on this list, and it’s okay, because it’s just for fun, and we do what we want.
So basically, you just pick something, create it, and post it! If you want other art-people to see it, put the hashtag for each group on there in Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter–it sort of “files” it with other people who have used that hashtag. Click on a hashtag and see what other people are posting! There aren’t any prizes, it’s just a fun practice. And if you can’t do all of them, try to do a few!
It’s only been a few days, so here are ours so far:
Day 1: Werewolf. I drew MJ from Thriller (because I always loved watching the “making of” of that video), and Myla drew her own version of Professor Lupin (because she always thought he should have a tail)…
Day 2: Goblin. I drew Bob, head of the Department of Small Coins at Gringott’s, and Myla drew a goblin warrior girl.
Day 3: Vampire. I drew a sad little Claudia from Interview with a vampire, and Myla drew a quick teenage vampire boy before heading to school…
Day 4: Evil queen. I drew Queen of the Damned, and Myla drew a Goblin Queen…
And that’s where we are so far! I love browsing the hashtags to see what other people have done–there’s so much good out there! One thing I like is that as I’m looking for references to draw from, I come across so many others I want to draw, and sometimes I draw them too. So I end up getting extra draw-y during Inktober.
Here’s a cranky Elle Driver from Kill Bill…
And Myla won’t look at this next one, because it has blood. But blood splatters are spooky and also (I’m sorry) fun to paint. I don’t always draw guts or things that are too gory (that’s not my thing), but ink / red splatters always seem to brighten up a spooky doodle. So if you’re squeamish, maybe scroll past. I just use it as background decor, actually. It’s GoGo Yubari, another Kill Bill alum, who really knows how to wreck junk up.
I’ve been really trying to fill out the whole page, and be pretty sparce with my colors sometimes. It’s a fun challenge.
Myla got all excited a few weeks back when we made our list, and did the first few prompts early, just for fun.
We’re only a few days in, but here are a few pointer ideas:
- Have a sketchbook dedicated JUST to your Inktober/Drawlloween/Mockinktober drawings.
- Make a list of your own, maybe on the first page of the book, not only with prompts, but with what you might have in mind for each prompt.
- Gather any references ahead of time. I use a lot of pop culture references, and I can’t tell you how many printouts I have of references, and how many folders of references I have on my phone.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself! It’s not a job application or anything. If you don’t make it, no big deal. It’s just a fun challenge, so you’re the boss.
- POST IT! Share your artwork, show people what you’ve done, and see what other people have done! Communicate, comment on their work–it’s just a fun way to be supportive.
We.., there you go. Happy Mockinktober! And if you join in–happy creating! Aaaaaand if you want to share your creations, feel free to post them on my facebook page!