Archive for the ‘Ink & Wash’ Category


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.



Wyldflower People

February 12, 2014

I did this one at Wildflower Bread Co, which is one of my favorite restaurants, as well as one of my favorite places to sketch. I just love the teeth on that guy in the background. I have a hard time drawing mouths in general, and it don’t usually draw teeth, so that was a pretty weird choice for me to make.

wildflower cartoon lady


Lady Liberty Lineup

June 30, 2013

I’ve been to NYC four times, and on each trip I’ve taken a midnight ride on the Staten Island Ferry and sketched the Statue of Liberty. The first time was in 1999 when I had just started carrying a sketchbook. As bad as this sketch looks, it was actually the gem of the trip. All the others I did back then were atrocious. I’ll put them in the next post, just for laughs.



The second one was from a year later. A lot less ink on this page which means I had gained some confidence in my line.



The third trip was in 2005, but I can’t find the Statue of Liberty sketch from that year. I think I may have given it away.

And here is number four, June of 2013. I often use a couple different gray markers as a quick and dirty way to give the effect of a wash. On this occasion the markers were running dry, which is why I didn’t do anything with the background to indicate that it was night.



If I could go back in time I would eliminate or diminish the black outline on that island in the lower left. That line confuses the background and makes me wince every time I look at it. I’m also not so crazy about the “windows” on her podium thing. Not so much because they are misshapen, but because there are no shadows in there, so it makes it look totally empty or something. The reason I didn’t put any shadow in there was because there was actually a bright light coming from inside, but since this drawing doesn’t indicate that it is nighttime, that part looks weird.

Anyway, I guess my point is that even after 14 years of carrying a sketchbook, I still have a lot to learn. I guess I’ll just have to keep going back to NYC.


A friend, a brother, some strangers, and a duck.

January 11, 2013

These sketches don’t share any sort of theme or anything. Just some random stuff from the past month or so…

Here is my friend Jess at her baby shower (obviously). Since I am neither a mother, nor motherly, I made sure to bring my sketchbook so that I would have something to do while all the other women were talking about boppies and rompers and whatever the hell baby parents are into these days.  Of course I totally forgot that a sketchbook is basically a kid magnet. Shortly after beginning this sketch I looked up to find a whole crowd of little girls sitting around watching me. The most common question they asked: “Are you drawing?”
jess shower

Here we have Richard in a waiting room. If you want to know why he is nervous, the answer is that he is always nervous. I like this drawing because I actually managed to pull off that whole across the page thing. Richard likes it because I gave him cool hair.
nervous richard

Here we have Scrooge McDuck. I copied this from the cover of an old comic book I found. Kind of a nostalgic thing for me. I first learned to draw by copying Disney characters out of comic books.

scrooge mcduck

Next up is a guy from a play reading that I went to a couple weeks ago. With this guy I was trying to focus on the wrinkles in his clothing, and in doing so I forgot to pay attention to the angles on his glasses. I see now that I’ve drawn them askew.
Sp55 reading man

Here is another gal from that same reading.

Sp55 reading scarf woman

This woman was also from that reading. When I did this one I was trying to capture her posture in the chair, and also her Chuck Taylors. I kinda blew the proportions. Her head is too big.

Sp55 reading woman

Here is a quick gesture of a couple eating together at a restaurant in Sedona. I thought it was kind of weird how close they were sitting together. They must have been a newly in love couple.

couple eating gesture

This is what my little brother Tanner would look like if he had an enormous chin. I don’t know what’s up with the chin. I think I was sitting at a weird angle or something. Yeah that’s it. The angle. Nothing to do with my lack of ability. Anyway, I remember a long time ago, like 10+ years ago, I was doing a sketch of my family one night when we were out to dinner, and I ran out of room before I got a chance to draw Tanner. So basically I had drawn a family portrait sans Tanner. When he looked at it and saw that he’d been excluded it made him cry (he was like 7 at the time). I felt horrible. So now I try to draw that kid whenever I get a chance.  (You’d think by now I’d get his chin right.)

tanner profile


Sloping Houses and Translucent Trees

July 20, 2012

Here is a really old sketchbook drawing I came across. It’s the view from the front window of our old house, and it must be at least 10 years old. I did this back in the days when I thought it was cheating to sketch things out in pencil first. One clue (aside from the fact that the house appears to be sitting on a hill that slopes downward from left to right) is that you can see the lines from the roof of the house showing through the palm tree. Since most palm trees are not translucent I must have added the palm tree as an afterthought. And look at that other tree. Nice big hatch marks, Carrie. Way to flatten out a drawing.

By the way, the candle in the foreground is fake.


A Few Random Sketches

July 4, 2012

Last year my friends, my husband, and myself took a quick trip to LA for the weekend. We went there specifically to see a couple of art exhibits, yet my best sketch from the whole trip is from this burger joint. That was a damn good burger. If I could go back in time I would have made that burger about four times bigger and really spent some time on the details. But then again, if I had done that it would have gotten cold before I could eat it. There are some sacrifices that I just won’t make for my art.



This is a stuffed dog that my brother won and then gave to me when we were at the Santa Monica Pier back in 2007. Notice I say “won and then gave me”, and not “won for me”. My bro has an addiction when it comes to carnival games. His desire to win stuffed animals borders on obsessive. But when it’s all over he doesn’t really want the poor creatures. In this case I was the lucky recipient of this floppy little dog. Ain’t he cute? We named him Thestral after the creatures from Harry Potter books 5-7.


I did this one at Royal Taj, a little Indian restaurant in Tempe. I guess it’s a teapot or something. It is definitely not a magic lamp because I rubbed it and no genies came out.


Fancy Steps

June 21, 2012

So I recently got to stay in a condo that had this charming little spiral staircase. It was so cool, I could not stop looking at it.

Here is my attempt to draw the staircase. It was quite a challenge with all the angles and things. I made a lot of mistakes. For one thing there were eleven steps but I could only make it work with ten. Also that railing at the top is way too short. Especially in relation to the light fixture on the wall. It took a loooong time to do. Basically all of Sherlock Homes, and about half of Star Trek (the 2010 movie).



Pub Sketching

June 8, 2012

I’m not big into music. I mean, I like it and all, but I don’t seem to appreciate it as much as everyone else does.

That said, about eight years ago I was walking back from Octoberfest and there was this band playing and they were so awesome that I stopped to watch. The next thing I knew, two hours had gone by and I hadn’t even realized it.

The band is called Traveler and they play all kinds of music inspired by the music of other countries. Gypsy, Celtic, Middle Eastern…stuff like that. When they play outdoors there are usually some belly dancers around. The lead singer, Scott Jeffers, plays the fiddle like nobody’s business, and sometimes he plays other some other cool-looking, instruments too.

The other night we caught them playing at the Dubliner and I did my best to document the experience…

I sketched these out in pencil first, then went back over with a pen. Then I used a couple different grey markers for a quick and dirty wash effect.

I always have a tough time drawing musicians because instruments are pretty intricate looking and if the person moves, even just a little bit, the angle of the instrument completely changes, so I either have to start over, or just fake it.

These guys are especially tough to draw because they have a lot of energy and they move around a lot. I was happy I managed to get anything down at all.

After I got home, I decided to add some color in order to better capture the mood of the evening. So I scanned a couple in and painted them with Corel…

See those fancy stars in the background? I spent a lot of time trying to create something like that in Photoshop. Then, after failing miserably, I discovered that Painter actually has a brush called “sparkly stars” or something like that, which created the exact effect I was looking for.

After I painted this second one, I started to think that it might actually make a better composition if I cropped the lead singer out and left just the guitar players.

Does that bass player look cool as hell or what? I had a lot fun trying to capture his chill posture and the serious expression on his face. I also spent a lot of time on the position of his hands.

Anyway, I still can’t decide which version looks better. But check it out! You can make polls on this blog. Please take my poll and vote for the one you think looks best.



June 3, 2012

Of all the people in the world, my very very favorite person to draw happens to be my husband Richard. I suppose you’d expect everyone to say that about their spouse, because they love them oh-so-much, but in my case it is just a coincidence. Don’t get me wrong, I do love him oh-so-much, but if I was married to someone else I think Richard would still be my favorite person to draw.

Aside from the fact that he is a very handsome guy (I mean seriously, just look at him) he also has this face that is really fun to draw…

His eyes and his eyebrows are pretty expressive and he’s got this awesome nose that is kinda big and rounded, and which I usually get wrong (see below).

Also, he wears a goatee, which makes him easier draw.

When it comes to faces, I say the more features the better. Beards, wrinkles, glasses, scars…all of that stuff helps map out the face. It’s a lot easier to judge the distance from this to that when you’ve got a lot of anchor points.

Another thing that’s cool is that as long as we’re together, I never get bored. If we run out of stuff to talk about, I just draw him. Which often happens at restaurants when we’re waiting to order.

Luckily his favorite hobby is “thinking”. So he thinks and I draw, and he usually comes out looking pretty thoughtful…

Richard is really good at sitting still, and he doesn’t seem to mind me following him around the house…

This one (below) I did at the bar at the Biltmore while I was very intoxicated. Not bad huh? Check out that hair. I usually have a tough time with hair, but that is some damn good sketchy hair right there.

I did this one when we went to see that movie The Artist and we were in the theater waiting for the movie to start. He looks really bored in this picture, which incidentally was something of a premonition because he thought the movie was really boring. (For the record, I loved it.)

Here he is at the zoo looking at monkeys. Even at the zoo I am more interested in drawing him than the animals.

Sometimes Richard sings in the car…

And sometimes he sleeps…

Sometimes he looks off into space…

But mostly he just looks cool…