Archive for the ‘Museums and Exhibits’ Category


Old Frankie, New Frankie

October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!

Last year the gallery at my local library put on a rad Frankenstein exhibit.


Local artists created Frankenstein-inspired works. I loooooove Frankenstein. To me, that character is the epitome of Halloween. So I was totally psyched when this exhibit came in.

Even more so when I saw this painting was done by Dain Q. Gore, an acquaintance of mine. His style is very distinct and I recognized it right away.

dains frank

Another one I liked was this 3-dimensional piece by Luster Kaboom that imagined the Frankenstein monster as an old man.

lusters frank

I liked it so much (especially his Mickey Mouse t-shirt, nice touch) that I did a little sketch of it. Then about eight months later I came back to it and colored it with alcohol markers.

Eight months later!


I have been doing that a lot lately. Going back to things I drew a while ago, things that I had already considered “finished,” and coloring them in and sometimes adding a background. It’s been fun, making old things better with my newly acquired passion for color.

Same thing with my writing. I’ve been taking plays I wrote years ago, plays that have already been produced, and rewriting them using new skills and techniques that I have learned since I wrote them the first time.

A part of me feels like I should be focusing on making new things with these new powers, rather than messing with old stuff. But it’s really fun and challenging to go back to something I already put a lot of time and energy into, something I’m already attached to, and improve upon it.


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.



September 7, 2016

I love drawing statues and sculptures. Mostly because of the obvious reason: they don’t move. But I also love the challenge of trying to make them actually look like a statue. I rarely succeed at this challenge. Correction: I never succeed at this challenge. Every time I try to draw a sculpture of a person, it just ends up looking like a person, not a sculpture of one.

Here is one of those times when I failed. This is a drawing of a bronze sculpture at the Phoenix Art Museum. The PAM is one of my favorite places to take my sketchbook. The special exhibits are great, but the permanent collection is where I like to draw. And even though I been in there a million times, I always seem to find something that I never appreciated before. That’s what happened with this sculpture – Apache by Malvina Hoffman.

I went to the museum last spring with my husband Richard and my friend Laurie to see the Michelangelo exhibit. Afterwards we headed over to the permanent collection, and they wandered off while I sketched. I had just finished drawing this other sculpture which came out okay-ish, when Richard and Laurie came back and said they found something they thought I would love. Then they led me over to Apache.

They were right. I probably spent about an hour on this one. Maybe more, maybe less. I really don’t know, because it was one of those magical times when you lose all sense of time and place and just get lost in the thing you’re creating. It was almost like going underwater. Everything outside of me, the statue, and my sketchbook became blurry and muffled.

Apache PAM

When I finished it was like coming up for air. I remember looking around and thinking “Oh look, it’s the real world.” Then I looked at my drawing, as if for the first time, and thought “Oh hey, that’s really good.”

Or at least, really good for me. And that’s all I care about anymore. Doing the best drawing that I can do. Not trying to compare myself to other artist and then hate myself when I fall short.

My drawing still doesn’t look like a sculpture, but I like how the expression on his face came out. It’s actually a little different from the one on the OP*. I think my guy has a more suspicious look on his face than Malvina Hoffman’s does. He kinda looks like he’s giving someone the side eye. I guess it’s because of that dark line that goes up the slope of his nose and into his eyebrow.

I found Richard and Laurie in the museum cafe and showed them my drawing. They seemed genuinely impressed, which made me happy. Then they let me eat their leftover omelettes, which made me REALLY happy.

When we went on this museum visit I was in the middle of a very long period of creative frustration. Actually more like despair. A big writing project that I was (and still am) working on was not coming together, despite months (okay, years) of work that I’d been putting into it. And because of it, a low level bummer cloud had been hovering over my head for a while. Spending a few hours at the museum, hanging with two wonderful people, seeing lots of great art, and creating something myself–something that–

A) I was happy with


B) was actually complete

…was surprisingly soul-filling. It really lifted spirits that day. I think that’s why I love this drawing so much. Whenever I look at it, I am reminded of a really happy day in the middle of a pretty tough time.

Also, I just love using black and white conte on grey-toned paper. I really should do that more.


*OP – Original Piece


Comic Strip Dots

June 29, 2014

Yesterday Richard and I went to the ASU Art Museum to see some new Andy Warhol prints that are on display there. They were okay, but R and I both agreed that Warhol the person is way more interesting than his work.

Luckily they had another exhibit going on called Funny Papers that was really cool. It included prints from many 19th century political cartoonists like Damuier and Nast (the guy who basically designed Santa as we know him).

There were also a ton of original early American comic strips such as “Blondie” and a bunch of others that I had never even heard of before. I loved looking at those because you could see where the artists had put white out over their mistakes, and you could also see where they had applied Ben-Day dots onto certain areas, such as a piece of clothing.

Looking at all the different comics displayed next to each other, I really noticed how much more realistic the figures look in the dramatic strips than they do in the funny ones. There was a panel in one particular strip that I couldn’t stop looking at, because the artist had done a really good job of capturing the posture of a boxer resting against the ropes in a boxing ring between matches.

So while I was there I attempted to recreate that panel. Then when I got home, I remembered that I had a sheet of “Maxon Comic Strip Pattern” that an art store was giving out for free at a special event I attended last year. I had been saving that sheet for something special (translation: I was too lazy to try to figure out how to use it) and decided that now was the time.



Basically this stuff is a sheet of adhesive paper with a halftone pattern printed on it. You cut out the shape that you want, peel off the back paper, and apply the pattern to the section you want to have the halftone. Then you scrub it with a burnisher. Or in my case, the handle of your scissors.

My halftone experiment was a little sloppy because I did it hastily on a cluttered desk with scissors too large to be precise. But I really like the effect, and I am glad that I finally gave it a try.

I am definitely going to incorporate this technique into more of my stuff, but next time I intend to execute good craftsmanship by taking the time to trace the area accurately, and cut out the pattern with an exacto knife rather than a clunky pair of scissors.



January 28, 2013

With that Lincoln movie up for an Oscar this year, it got me thinking about all the sketches I’ve done of Lincoln over the years. He was kind of an odd looking guy with that long gaunt face and weird beard, which makes him very fun to draw.  Lucky for me, there seems to be more statues of him around than anyone else in history. So whenever I come across one, I sketch it.

bust of lincoln

Disneyland art gallery, 2011

Rushmore 2

Mount Rushmore, 2003



Abe Mem 1

Lincoln Memorial, 2009


Abe Mem 2

Lincoln Memorial, 2nd attempt, 2009

Mount Rushmore, 2012

abe statue

A park in Portland, 2004

Great Moments with Abe

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Disneyland, 2012 (I did this one in the dark)


More Instruments

March 29, 2012

Last month I returned to the MIM to draw some more exotic instruments. As before, I had so much fun sketching that I forgot I was in a music museum. The instruments are so carefully crafted and so cool looking that it really is more like being in an art museum.

I also enjoy wearing the headphones because then when annoying onlookers try to talk to me I can just pretend I didn’t hear them. I often get lured into a conversation by someone pretending to be interested in the sketching, only to find myself trapped 30 minutes later as the person is talking my head off. Hey I came to draw, not hear your life story. Such is the burden of the urban sketcher.

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Carrie’s Big Adventure

October 18, 2011

Last March I went to the exciting metropolis of Cedar Rapids, Iowa to attend my little brother’s wedding. If you aren’t familiar with the reputation of this wild and crazy city, go rent the movie by the same name and you will get the idea.

I brought along my sketchbook so as to capture all of the important family moments.

Such as this gem that I did at the rehearsal dinner. By the way, I was drunk out of my gourd when I did this, so hey, not bad. I recognize some of those people. I also stole two glasses from the restaurant, and found out the next morning that I’d been unknowingly drinking doubles all night. Damn you, Annie!

Later that night the party moved to our hotel where we celebrated the upcoming union the Behrens way, by playing poker. Actually, I sat the game out. I was never allowed into the game when I was a kid, so by this point I figured, why mess with tradition? Also, I was still intoxicated.

Ah, here we are at the wedding. When I got married my friend Michael did a lovely little sketch of me and my husband saying our wedding vows that turned out to be the greatest gift we could have ever received. I had hoped to do the same for Brady, but alas, It just didn’t come out too good. That’s the problem with sketching. Or at least, that is the problem with me. I never know–or have any control over–when I’ll be on fire and when I’ll draw as though someone replaced my hand with a dead fish.

I did this one at the reception sometime after dancing the Macarena but before pocketing several fistfuls of M&Ms to ensure that I would have some food for the next day. Hmm. I really committed a lot of theft on this trip. I guess Cedar Rapids just brings out the criminal in me.

The day after the wedding most of my family left early to return to their various midwestern towns. But my flight didn’t leave until that evening, so I figured I had better take in all the Cedar Rapids I could while I still had time. I took a cab down to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, where I did sketched these three guys.

Fun Fact: Grant Wood, the guy who painted American Gothic (you know, the old farm couple with a pitchfork standing in front of a house) came from–you guessed it–Cedar Rapids! And while I was not fortunate enough to see American Gothic at the CRMA (it’s in Chicago) I did see another one of his major works: Woman with Plant.

By the way, in case you’re now doubting my skills (and really, I can’t blame you) I would just like to point out that in the real “Woman With Plant,” Grant Wood painted the woman’s black shirt to look extremely flat. Google it if you don’t believe me. My flat crosshatching of the shirt was an attempt to copy that. Also, does that poor woman look miserable or what?

After a few hours at the museum I spent the rest of the day walking across the entire city. I could have taken a cab, but that would have cost $20. And more importantly I would have missed out on an opportunity to experience the true flavor of Cedar Rapids. Some highlights include: Coe College, Mount Mercy Hospital, and at least two Hardees.

We have now reached the conclusion of the trip. I will close this post with a few scenes from the airplanes and airports as I journeyed to and from the great state of Iowa.


 Thanks for reading.


Ideal Conditions

July 30, 2011

These are drawings of old master paintings that I did while visiting art museums. Every once in a while the stars will align to put the following conditions in place:

1) Carrie has enough patience to stand still for a while.

2) The museum allows drawing.

3) No guards around to hassle Carrie.

4) No curious onlookers around to hassle Carrie.

The result = a pretty decent drawing. Conte crayon on gray paper.


No Pens Allowed

July 9, 2011

A few drawings from the Phoenix Art Museum, where it is absolutely forbidden to draw with a pen. They only allow pencil, which seems to be a rule enforced by only the lamest of museums. In the Louvre you can can take pictures with flash, you can set up and easel and do a painting right in front of the art, but in stupid old Phoenix Art Museum (which has a nice collection but seriously, nothing famous) it’s pencil only and even then you will have guards breathing down your neck. Same thing with the Guggenheim Vegas.

I actually enjoy drawing in pencil but it makes a big mess of the sketchbook and after a couple years of rubbing against the next page you are left with nothing but a large grey smudge. I have taken to taping a piece of wax paper over pencil drawings, and that seems to protect them  pretty well.