A New Hobby

nick of time

I have a new favorite hobby:  I’ve been pausing the shows I watch.  That doesn’t sound like much, right?  Well, I’ll tell you a little story about that…

Once upon a time, a million ages ago, when I was an artsy kid, I didn’t have much for artistic references besides what I found in my local library and Teen Beat magazines.  This was the Stone Age, so I couldn’t just google what I was looking for; there was no internet.  Can you imagine the horror?

I remember really once wanting to draw Kiefer Sutherland from one of my favorite movies at the time, Lost Boys, and not having much to go off of besides the cover of the video (Yes, I said “video.”  For you young’uns, that’s like ancient technology, pre-DVD, streaming video, and BR…).  I often rented movies from the library only because they kept the actual cover jackets to the film tucked in the case (unlike movie rental stores, who just printed the title with their own blank logo).  THIS meant that if I strained my eyes very very very carefully, I might be able to draw one of the pictures or characters from the movie that was printed on the back.

Another fun task was trying to pause the movie at a particular scene, hoping to catch the actor in a certain pose.  Here’s a funny thing about pausing a movie in the 80s that is pretty much irrelevant these days:  imagine when you pause a show, there is about a 5-second response time from the time you push the button to the time it actually freezes…which is a long time when you’re trying to pause it right in a very specific spot.  Imagine not being able to get the right spot, and rewinding (also with a delayed response) and playing and pausing.  Rewinding, playing, pausing.  Over and over again until you get the right spot.  All delayed, all very very frustrating.  But say you finally are able to pause the film in just the spot you like….You grab your sketchbook and holy COW you’d better start drawing FAST because not only will the flimsy nature of VCR tapes only allow for a single minute or so of pausing before completely shutting off the VCR on its own, but also: the already low-res image will start to get shaky and warbled after a very short while before it turns itself off.  So once you finally overcome pausing a movie in the right spot, you’d better grab & draw like a madwoman, because you’ve only got a minute.

Ahhhh, those were the days!

Oh wait—no.   That wasn’t much fun at all, actually.  Also, I’m guessing this problem wasn’t really much of a problem for most people besides artistic teenagers like me, desperate for movie references to draw from.  Sorry.

Fast-forward (with only a few years’ delay) to the amazing awesomeness of blu-ray, streaming video, and the internet!  Looking for an obscure image to use as a reference to draw from?  Easy, just Google it, and I’ll bet it’s there, along with a million other obscure things you never asked for.  Or you want to draw a specific scene from a movie?  Easy:  if you can’t find the image online already, just push pause and take a quick picture of it with your phone to draw from later.  Boom.


A very cranky Vulcan, from The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen.

Can you believe it??  Of all the comforts of modern times, for an artsy teen of the 80s, this ranks up there pretty high in my world….but maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, this brings me back around full circle my new favorite hobby:  pausing my shows.  I have re-discovered, through AmazonTV, the wonders of the Twilight Zone.   I had seen quite a few episodes from when I was a kid, and they stuck with me for ages.  So many great stories!

filibustering death

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite things to draw are faces from black & white movie photos.  And lucky for me, they have every season of Twilight Zone on Prime (which means no additional fees)!  How exciting for me!   And yes, some of the material may be dated, but the fascination with it, for me, is a new story, a new strange tale in every episode.  New people, new characters, new situations.  Fun little snippets of strange stories that never fail to hold my attention.


So lately, after the kid is nestled in bed, I sit in front of the TV with my remote and my phone, pausing and snapping photos for later.  Compared to what I USED to go through to get references, this is nothing short of bliss.

talky tina

I’ve done this with some of my favorite movies and TV shows, too: Baron Von Munchausen, Time Bandits, City of Lost Children, Game of Thrones

time bandits

king of the moon


So.  You don’t have references?  You need some practice drawing from references, but can’t find anything to draw?  I beg to differ.  It’s SO much easier out there than it used to be, and there are SO many opportunities to learn something new.  There’s a whole WORLD of things out there to use as inspiration!  Sometimes, you just have to work a little harder for them…

If you have an Instagram account, I post a lot of artsy artwork over there (@busymockingbird), especially from the Twilight Zone, so come follow along, and join me in celebrating the weirdness!

11 responses

  1. Great drawing! The Twilight Zone is amazing. And talk about beautiful black and white, right??

    1. Thank you–I love Twilight Zone!

  2. Oh yes! I do remember those awful, er, golden days of video! I lovingly recorded every episode of Animainaics, and would try to pause it at the right moment to draw scenes of Wakko, Yakko and Dot. I also tried to make movies from recording video feed from Mario Paint, a Super NES version of a Windows paint type program. It had animation, but you could only save so many drawings and clips. So, paint paint paint, record, pause, paint paint paint, record, pause….! I consider your post a public service to the youth of today. “When I was a teenager, you could only pause for about two minutes, and we LIKED it!!” And I type all this from a device that can do all of those things now and more… Wow.

    1. Yeah, I know–from a very young age, it amazed me that our daughter thought everyday things had a touch screen–like the TV. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a VERY different world these days…I can’t IMAGINE what it’ll be like when she’s older!

  3. I used to do that all the time when I was younger. I would record an animated show on television, pause it, and draw what was on the screen. It was really annoying when the VCR would time out and I had to find the exact frame again.
    Your artwork is really great! I love the lighting and the compositions.

    1. Oh good! I figured I might possibly be the only one who had that problem! Thank you!

  4. Mica…you continue to amaze me!

  5. I do the same thing! Esp. when I’m sick in bed, but have just an twitch of energy!

  6. I so LOVE this! I’m a late, very late, bloomer to the open road of art. No. Really late… and I’m laughing here because I too got some ideas from watching movies, pausing characters, scenes – and copying from the jackets. I did the same thing with music disc(s) jackets, all from the library. Then, I hopped onto YouTube on my laptop. Jackpot. Full screen, pause…I’m in heaven. And I really got a laugh out of your taking a picture with your phone! Uh huh, me too! From Hulu. Scenes, people, things. But, what I did was email it to myself, save it in an art file and when I opened it, I could rotate and enlarge. It’s great to be able to rotate because sometimes I find it easier to draw from an upside down picture…it makes for being a bit more centered. Also, I discovered some brilliantly creative people on Twitter… photos, drawings…things around the world. Amazing!! I email those to myself also…and there I am! I so love your blog btw!!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m gad I’m not the only one!

  7. These are incredible! My fav is the Vulcan! Gail

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