Archive for September, 2018


How I Became an Alcoholic

September 29, 2018

I have been drawing my whole life, but I’ve never been very comfortable using color, so I avoided it and secretly felt some shame that I was supposedly an artist but couldn’t paint.

In the rare instances when I did use color, I usually went with colored pencil or water-based Tombow markers. I enjoy working in both of those mediums, but I’ve never been totally satisfied with the results. The markers don’t blend well, and I can’t get much vibrance out of colored pencils.

Then one day last year I bought a small set of alcohol-based markers. I wasn’t really paying attention and kinda bought them by accident. To be honest I didn’t know the difference between alcohol and water-based markers. But I used those markers to make some photo-booth props for a party I was helping to plan, and I was thrilled with the results. They blended so well, and the colors really popped.

Photobooth mouths

I had long been toying with the idea of doing big head caricatures of old master portraits, and these rad new markers seemed like the perfect medium.

Right around that same time the Phoenix Art Museum opened a new exhibition called the Schorr Collection which had a bunch of old master portraits. So I did some pencil sketches of a portrait on location at the museum, and then went home, very excited to complete it in ink and color.

My set of alcohol markers only had six colors, so I attempted to add in some of my Tombow markers in order to have a wider palette. And that’s when I learned that water-based markers and alcohol markers do not mix…


My first attempt at an old master caricature was a total bust.

I returned to the store with the intention of buying four or five more colors to add to the mix, but ended up buying eighteen!

18 new markers

Then I went back to the museum, did more sketches of portraits, brought them home and markered the s#¿+ out of them.


I was really pleased with how some of them turned out.


Others not so much.


But I watched some tutorials online and learned some tricks on how to use alcohol markers.


It was by far the most success I’d ever had using color. Whenever I completed one I  felt excited to do another.


I lost my photos of the original portraits on these two. 😦


After I’d done a bunch of these things I decided to take another shot at that first Lorenzo Lotto portrait using my newly acquired skills. Here are some WIP pics…


I was much happier with the result this time around.


And when comparing it to my first attempt I could really see the progress that I had made. It felt good. This was the biggest leap forward I had taken with my art in years. All because of alcohol markers.

I hate to admit that I had to buy myself some new toys in order to become a better artist, but that is kinda what happened.

Here’s a before and after to show how much difference a few weeks of practice (and 18 more markers) can make. 🙂



Griffith Observatory

September 13, 2018

Last weekend I visited my little brother in LA. Turns out he lives within walking distance to the Griffith Observatory, which is a place that I have been wanting to visit for many years. It’s a steep little hike to get up there, but totally worth it.

Unfortunately the observatory didn’t open until noon and I was there at about 10AM, so I didn’t get to see inside. But while I was up there I did some pencil sketches.

After I got back from the trip I inked and shaded.

This is a bit out of my comfort zone. I mostly draw people, and I get really impatient when it comes to architecture and nature. I did kind of a sloppy hasty job here, but I still had a lot of fun.

I recently bought some brush pens and I have enjoyed experimenting with line quality. I think the brush pen is a great tool for drawing foliage and stuff, but I am definitely going to need more practice.

After I finished I remembered that my pal — rad artist, and lover of sharks– Jessica Hickman proclaimed September to be Sharktember, a drawing challenge where you draw a shark everyday. So I decided to put a hidden shark or two into everything I draw this month.

Here is the new and improved Sharktember version. See if you can find the sharks.


Sketchtober 2017

September 13, 2018

Every year during the month of October many artists participate in a drawing challenge called Inktober, which was invented by an artist named Jake Parker as a way to improve his inking and to develop daily drawing habits. I learned about this because many of the artists I follow on Instagram participate in it.

The rules are simple. Draw something in ink every day and post it online. Lots of artists create and share their own list of prompts to use as inspiration each day.

When I learned of this I became really excited because A) I love October and Halloween  and B) I love finding ways to motivate myself to do creative work.

I wanted to create my own list of prompts and invite people to participate. The only thing was that I did not want to limit the requirements to ink only. I just wanted to do something that inspired people to make art, whether it was in pencil, crayon, photoshop or whatever they want.

So I decided to make my own challenge called Sketchtober, and I invited my pal Jessica Hickman to help me create a list of fun Halloween-inspired prompts.


I have attempted to do nanowrimo many times but I never get far. Partly because nanowrimo is effing hard, but also because I put too much pressure on myself to write something “good”, or even “not horrible”, which is not the point of it at all. Nanowrimo is all about getting your ass in the chair everyday and hitting a word count goal, even if what you come up with is just gibberish.

That’s what I wanted to do with Sketchtober. Just draw something– ANYTHING– everyday. October was already a really busy month for me, as I was frantically writing a play that had a looming deadline, so I didn’t really have any extra time for other projects. I just wanted to do a quick little sketch every night to end the day on a creative note.

That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

On October 1st I did my first Sketchtober, which turned out to be a little cartoon. Even though the drawing is pretty crude, I already set a dangerous precedent by making a joke.

Uh oh! Now they all have to have jokes!




On day two I upped the expectations by adding shading.




On day three I used alcohol-based copic markers for the shading, instead of the water-based tombow markers I used on day two. I LOVE alcohol-based markers when doing full color, but I realized here that I don’t really like them so much for black and white work. The tombow markers just look a little cleaner or something.

I spent a little more time than I wanted coming up with a joke here. And then I had to look up pictures of Wolverine and Freddy for reference. Damn it! It was only day three I was already spending more time on these than I intended.




By day four I started brainstorming ideas for what I would draw as soon as I got to work in the morning. I’ve never seen That’s So Raven, but I went down a rabbit hole reading the wikipedia page so I could learn enough about the show to make a joke.




According to the baby book my mom kept, I was afraid of men with beards when I was a baby. So this one is a little autobiographical.




By day six I realized that it’s better to get the drawing done earlier in the day, because if I photograph it at night it looks yellow due to the lack of natural light.




For day seven I drew myself and my husband dressed as Gomez and Morticia. Richard is a huge Addams Family fan says every year that we should be them for Halloween, but we never do because we are lazy.




On day eight I made a Harry Potter reference. I can’t believe it took 8 days.




On day nine I just wanted an excuse to draw the lady Ghostbusters. This one took 2 or 3 hours to do, but I did it while watching Ghostbusters so it was fun.




On day ten I found a way to put Sho Nuff  and the Frankenstein monster into the same cartoon. This required looking up reference pics for both characters as well as the background. Again this took 2-3 hours total and it looked like there was no going back now.




On day eleven I took a shot at internet trolls, the scum of the earth.




Day twelve was basically an homage to my love of old time radio. This ended up being one of my favorite drawings from this series.




On day thirteen I spent way too much time making an underwhelming joke.




I used to think that Vampira and Elvira were the same person until I saw that movie Ed Wood. Then I fell down an internet rabbit hole and learned all about Vampira and how Elvira kinda stole her persona. So that’s what day fourteen is about.




On day fifteen I referenced Orphan Black, which is a super cool show. Well the first two seasons are super cool. After that the plot kinda goes off the rails. But the characters are fantastic, and they are all played by the same actress, Tatiana Maslany, who is rad AF.

Anyhow, drawing anthropomorphized cat versions of the clones was way harder than I thought it would be.




On day sixteen I did a haunted house because I looooove haunted houses. This one has a hidden Mickey. Speaking of haunted houses, check out the work of AZ painter Lew Lehrman. He takes commissions to paint people’s houses, but he makes them look like a haunted house. So cool.





We have a magnet on our fridge with a picture of Edgar Allen Poe, which I used as reference when I drew this one.




On day eighteen I did my other favorite drawing from this batch. The prompt was “Lon Chaney’s mom” so all I could think about was how she would be having to clean up the hairballs from her werewolf child. That made me think of vacuum cleaners, and then the next thing I knew I was looking up sexist magazine ads from the 1950’s for reference. This is such a weird joke, but I really liked how the drawing came out. This took 3-4 hours.




On day nineteen I came across a coupon for a haunted house that had a picture of this scary clown on it, which I used for reference for this one. It was really fun to draw.




On day twenty I put up a poll on social media listing several urban legends and asked friends to vote. El Chupacabra was the winner, so that’s what I drew. Every time I try to draw some sort of monster they just come out looking cute and not the least bit scary.




The word wicked made me think of Disney villain, so on day twenty-one I drew Ursula.




On day twenty-two I was really freaking busy and could not carve out any time for a Sketchtober drawing, but I did have lunch with my mom that day where I did a quick sketch of her. Later I added a cauldron and called it Sketchtober.




On day twenty-three I managed to put the peanuts gang, Wonder Woman, and a pro transgender message all in the same picture.




On day twenty-four I had a blast drawing the spice girls with pumpkin heads.




And then here is where it all fell apart. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t have a lot of time to put into these drawings, but I kept doing it anyway because I was having so much fun. But I had other projects going that month that were more important and I really had to focus on them.

I could have just done quick little five minute sketches each day, like I had intended from the beginning, but because the drawings had grown more and more carefully crafted I felt like I had to keep up that level, and I just didn’t have time.

So I let four days go by without doing any Sketchtober drawings at all. And then I felt completely overwhelmed by the idea of having to four drawings to catch up. But I also had been doing so well up until that point, that really I didn’t want to just stop when I was so close to the end of the month.

So finally broke down and did four dumb little sketches on the same page. The exact kind of sketches that I had intended to do when I started this project. Whew. Now I was caught up.




Throughout this whole time, my artist friend Manny Burruel, had also been doing daily Sketchtober drawings with me. Manny is a lover of sci-fi, especially Star Wars and Star Trek, so on day twenty-nine I made a cartoon about him.


29) SCI-FI


Most people are familiar with Garbage Pail Kids, the insanely popular collector cards from the 80’s that depicted Cabbage Patch-looking kids doing weird and gross stuff.

But guess what? There was a whole other set of cards out at the same time called Grossville High, which depicted high school kids (and staff) doing even weirder and grosser stuff. I preferred Grossville High to GPK because I thought the artwork was better. So on day thirty I attempted to do my own Grossville High character.




On day 30 I thought about all the stories from when I was a kid that people would put razor blades and poison inside trick or treat candy. It was a real scare back in the 80’s, right up there with satanic cults. Apparently, both the jacked up candy and the cults were greatly exaggerated rumors.

Anyhow, it made for a fun idea for my last drawing. After I finished inking it I felt like it was missing a little something, so I grabbed some nearby markers and did a very hasty job of adding some color, which I regretted immediately.




So there it is! Thirty-one completed drawings for Sketchtober! The whole thing ended up being waaaaay more complicated and stressful than it was supposed to be…

BUT I definitely achieved my goal of drawing regularly and staying creative. I learned a lot and I am really proud of a couple of those drawings.

When it was all over I was pretty relieved, but also kinda sad. One of the best side effects of this project was that a few of my friends on social media joined in and did daily drawings too! Creating that little community of sharing art and encouraging each other was super neat-o.