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!
A million years ago, when Myla was four years old, we bought a plastic pumpkin (because the husband was deployed, and I didn’t have the energy to scoop the guts out of a real one). I got out the permanent markers like a good mom (ahem), and let my daughter go to town on it.
I drew a face on it to get her started, thinking she could add things to it. Instead of adding features to the face itself, she drew characters (mostly Batman–her favorite at the time). Which was still pretty cool.
This year (because I just don’t like the mess of a real pumpkin), we were looking at Halloween decorations, and instead of buying a new one, I went back to this old pumpkin, made sure I had a bunch of photos of it, and then painted right over it with acrylic paint.
And once again, we sat down outside with our markers in the warm autumn…sunshine (this is Texas, y’all), and filled it with all sorts of Halloween goodness. I thought this time, we’d draw characters that I could paint with more detail later (which Myla thinks is sort of like magic).
Once it was done, I used my acrylic paints to give it some quick paint detail. It’s a pumpkin, so I didn’t go TOO crazy with detail, but I had fun making the little doodles we drew come to life. (MWHAHAHAH! IT’S ALIIIIVE!!!)
It occurred to me that there was a pretty empty area to fill, and instead of drawing something new, I filled it with a quick lighting bolt, which is SUPER easy, and I’ll tell you how to do it, “step to step” (as Myla used to say).
Step 1: Draw a big ol’ wiggly line that takes up the area you want to fill. Step 2: Add another big ol’ wiggly line if the area is a wonky shape. (It doesn’t matter too much what it looks like–it’ll look fine when it’s done.)
Step 3: Draw wiggly lines coming OFF of your wiggly lines in random places, to fill out the wonky space. End the line in a sort of “branch” Y or V shape (depending on how you see it). Step 4: Keep adding little wiggly lines off of your wiggly lines. It doesn’t look great close up, but from a distance, people will get the idea. and BOOM! You’ve got lightning!
And it filled out the blank spaces in our pumpkin pretty well. Other space-fillers included spirals, rays coming off of the character, and spiderwebs….
(Myla later asked me why her skeleton was on a target…I was actually going for a sort of Twilight Zone-ish sort of spiral, but I guess a target is sort of spooky too, right? RIGHT?)
And there it is! You’ll notice my drawings are pretty indistinguishable from my 8-year old’s, despite my being a grownup, not to mention a fairly experienced illustrator. This is because Myla draws fast, and I have to draw fast to keep up with her. Which is why my “zombie” looks sort of like a green potato waving hello. That’s how I roll sometimes.
But the important thing is, we made a memory! We spent time doing something fun together without some grandiose end plan. Sure, we didn’t get pumpkin goo all over our hands, and we didn’t have to watch it decompose and liquify into slime this whole upcoming month, but we had fun drawing on our plastic pumpkin together, and we have a pretty cool keepsake for awhile now. And that’s totally okay, too.
By the way, if you’re into it, the kid and I will be participating in our own version of Inktober: drawing a spooky thing every day for the whole month of October. You can join us, and post your own thing on your own pages, too. No one wins any awards or anything, it’s just for fun to see if we can do it. We tried last year as well, but failed. We only really succeeded a couple years back–and you can see all our 2015 Inktober drawings HERE.
Happy upcoming October, everyone!
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but I LOVE making costumes for the kid. So far, the biggest, most in-depth one was Furiosa to go with my Immortan Mama, which we took to a convention to properly walk it around.
But Halloween is always tricky. When she was old enough to choose herself (age three?), the first costume she ever asked for was Max from Where the Wild Things Are. So I found a pattern and lovingly worked on the costume for over a month or so (I had never made a full body jumpsuit before), and then the week before Halloween she said, “Well, maybe I just want to be a bee.” Um…no, kid. It’s too late–you’re Max. Hahah! And so she was Max, and she had fun, and all was right with the world. So I always ask her to REEEEALLY think about it. And then I give myself plenty of time to start. And once she decides, there’s no changing.
The next year, I used cardboard, paper clay, knee pads, and gold spray paint to turn her into her favorite droid, C-3PO, and it was WAY cool. Then she learned about Falcon from the X-men, and freaked when she saw the pre-made costume in the store…so I decided to compromise (because it was on sale), and let her wear it to a convention we were going to near the end of October (Even though I reeeeeeeally wanted her to wear the C-3PO I worked so hard on). But Halloween, she was all droid.
The following year, she was all about teenage Nightcrawler from the cartoon Xmen Evolution, and I threw together a little 3-fingered and 3-toed costume for her. I glued simple blue ears to some hair clips and clipped them into the wig. I used red duct tape over cardboard and flip-flops for the boots, and I just traced around her hand and sewed a simple shape for the 3-fingered gloves.
Last year, she was Pokemon-obsessed. Well, more like James from Team Rocket-obsessed, and dressed as him. I used her old karate uniform, her rain boots, and a purple wig, and sewed her a simple Meowth doll with a painted face. Simple, but so much fun!
This year, she’s been all about the Giant King. We’ve seen the movie a million times–it’s a foreign film dubbed in English, and she’s in love with the big green robot Zork (which she insists on calling “Zorp”).
I let her think about it for months, and she settled on him for Halloween. No matter what came and went, she still chose “Zorp.” She even finally saw all the Harry Potter movies, and said she wished she could dress up as Harry some time at a convention or something, but she still insisted on “Zorp,” and he is her Halloween pick no matter what. “Maybe we can save Harry Potter for my birthday,” she said. (Oooooh, YES.)
So I got started by raiding our cardboard from the recycling bin, and roughing out a chest piece shape with masking tape and hot glue. Looking back, I could’ve probably done without the masking tape and just used the hot glue, but–live and learn.
Then I built the head like a little hat, and sprayed it with green spray paint, and adding details in acrylic paint.
I painted up the details on the chest. The chest piece just slips over her head, and the headpiece has a bit of liner inside it to cushion her head a bit.
And finally, the arm pieces: The husband picked up one of those accordion-style dryer vent hoses, and I spray painted them green. I also had her try on the chest piece again (I’ve learned that it’s super HARD to get my kid to try on and size things!), and had to add some cardboard to the neck hole so it didn’t fall off her shoulders. The tricky part will be attaching the vent hose “sleeves” to the chest piece so they don’t just slide off her arms. I haven’t figured that part out yet (it will most likely involve a lot of duct tape), but I’ll figure it out in the next couple of days!
She’s so excited! So yeah, she’s probably spoiled with custom-made costumes, but I really do love making them, so it’s a lot of fun for me, too. I always think of it as a fun challenge to see what I can come up with to make it work. It’s a great way to keep the creativity flowing, and make something unique and fun! But really–whether you’ve got a store-bought or homemade costume, the whole point of the thing is FUN. It’s gotta be fun for everyone, right?
Myla asked me what I’d be, and I told her I’d probably just paint my face, robot-style. That’ll be fun. So keep an eye out on Facebook and Instagram for a Halloween update. And have some good, clean, safe fun out there!!! Happy Halloween!
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!!
I had planned on making my own R2D2 costume (at my daughter’s request), but since Halloween plans were dampened by a bad week-long case of strep throat for the little one, I was a bit distracted, and time sort of slipped away. Luckily, inspiration struck at the grocery store, when I found a sad little kid’s Vader costume for 6 bucks in the Halloween aisle. It came with a tiny cape that was way too tight around the neck, so I just extended it by sticking a longer piece of velcro to it where the ends met up. I mean, technically, Vader DID CREATE C3PO, so I think it’s a better companion piece than R2. …At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.
But Vader alone wasn’t enough–I wanted to spice it up a little, so I wore a sugar skull shirt (because it’s black and I already own it), which gave me the idea of painting the helmet. There are a bajillion sugar Star Wars characters online (which I love), so I just grabbed a paint pen (which I already had) and BOOM–two minutes later, my costume was complete.
The kid was feeling better, but still pretty sick, so we just went down the street & back. She had a chance to do her thing, and then she had fun handing out candy. People seemed to dig her homemade costume. We even saw a kid dressed as Vader, one as Yoda, and another as a Jawa! Star Wars still lives, if you ever have your doubts.
So if the costume giddiness is over and you’ve got the dressup blues, I present, for your consideration, a paper doll I made ages ago for an art show I once had. She’s got a mix of old-skool circus performer, pinup girl, derby blocker, and steampunk fanciness. And if paper dolls aren’t your thing, just head on over to that bucket of candy. There’s one in there calling your name….
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, our daughter was terribly sick from a flu and was relegated to basically lying in front of the television. We had watched nearly every kid’s movie imaginable already. It was my birthday, and I had just gotten the entire Star Wars series on blu-ray. I wondered…is New Hope too “grownup” for a robot-loving kid? I asked her if she was interested in a movie about robots and outer space. She said yes…
And that was where her love of C3PO began.
Funnily enough, C3PO was my favorite as a kid, too. (When had I painted our Munny family portraits well before her discovery, you may notice I was C-3PO.) Yes, R2 was funny and silly and snarky, but you wouldn’t really know what his beeps & whistles meant without the other half of the conversation. 3PO was silly and personable and charming. And our daughter developed a “crush” of sorts on him. All you’d need to do is say “Oh deah!” in that dainty little accent, and she’d giggle tremendously, as if she had just been spoken to by a movie star. This meant that she would often ask ME to pretend to be C3PO, which I didn’t usually mind doing (even in the grocery store).
When she asked for a doll, I decided to scour the internet for one I might make, and came across the idea to make one from a wooden artist’s figure model. Once painted and presented, he brought lots of kid-smiles.
I made her a shirt with sharpies.
I appliqued a shirt.
And she even made her own C-3PO shrinky dinks and drawings.
So this year, when it came to Halloween costume choices, she had one request from the get-go: she wanted to be C-3PO. Now if you’ve seen the pre-made costumes online, they look pretty goofy. So I decided to get abstract with this, and see if we could pull it off cosplay-style.
Since I didn’t want her face to be covered completely, I cut up a gold plastic craft store mask. I had seen all these awesome online tutorials about how to build your own cardboard armor, so I built up a chestplate and back with cardboard, masking tape, and paperclay (which is super fun stuff). When it dried, I sanded it and painted it gold. I got a black bodysuit, and used fabric glue to tack on little pieces of gold “plating” to the arms.
I got a super cheapo set of kid’s elbow, wrist, and kneepads and painted them gold. Got a pair of gold dance leggings for kids, to which, after putting them on for the first time, my daughter exclaimed, “Oooh! These feel soft to my legs!”
A pair of costume glasses spraypainted gold (with stripes on the eyes–she was VERY insistent that it have stripey eyes), and BOOM! We have a funky C-3PO costume.
So there you have it! Yes, it’s strange. And yes, it’s unusual. But you know, it was fun to make and she ABSOLUTELY LOVES it. She walked around with her arms stiff, saying “Oh DEAH!” Hopefully it’s at least a step above the storemade ones, and passable enough that people won’t make fun of her while she walks by (because if they do, they can expect my momma banshee to come out).
I was going to try maybe a little brown pullover and get by as a Jedi, but she asked if I could be R2 with her. Oh lord! I guess if she’s willing to go all out, I should too. But I think I might go a LIIIIIIITTLE simpler on mine. 🙂