“Kids Draw” at the Library

2014-07-08 10.22.30

 

One of the coolest and most unexpectedly popular programs I run at our public library is Kids Draw. Every Wednesday, from 3:30-4:30, I set up tables and chairs in the downstairs meeting room. Some paper, pencils, and crayons are laid out, along with a few cool New Books packed with fun illustrations, and I pump up some Chip Tunes music from Pandora. Kids and their folks show up, grab their gear and a seat, and doodle away.

That’s it. Instant art event.

As a librarian, this is a hit on a multitude of levels. It’s incredibly cheap, weekly cost consisting of just a few dozen sheets of computer paper and a some simple art supplies used repeatedly throughout the year. As far as planning and prep goes, there is practically none. I keep all of the gear in a basket, snag a handful of good picture books on my way over, and the whole thing takes barely ten minutes to set up, most of that just lining up chairs. And since the focus is on social drawing over artistic instruction, there is no need for a lesson plan, or for the facilitator to even consider themselves an artist.

On a sappier note, it’s wonderful to see the interactions between parents and children. While some of the older kids get dropped off, at our library anyone under 10 must be with an adult. This has resulted in several parents that might not usually think to draw spending a solid hour sketching and doodling. Kids are so much more tuned in to something when they see their parents participating, and you can just watch a bond forming over shared art. As a bonus, the children have a tendency to talk and ramble as they work, and I’ve heard many parents getting a little extra insight into their young one’s day.

Beyond all of that, the educational value, the social value, the parenting value, I must admit that the thing that keeps me so invested in the program is the outright fun of sitting and drawing with these kids each week. We have a core group of regulars who show up for every session (even linger after and help pack up!), and as we sketch away on our monsters and robots and trolls we discuss current movies, favorite books, and general thoughts on life. I get instant Art Direction on what colors look best for certain space ships, and many is the time I’ve been prompted out of my comfort zone by a request for specific cartoon characters or someone’s favorite dinosaur.

If you’re a librarian, I highly recommend trying this out as an easy addition to your regular programs. If you are a parent, perhaps ask your local library to try something like this, or just set aside an hour at home for Art Time. If you’re an artist, grab some pencils and paper and go find some wee cousins, nieces, and nephews to draw with.

It’s worth it for everyone.

Sketch-A-Day on Tumblr!

Hi, Internet!

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I’ve been inconsistent on posting to this blog, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been drawing! For the New Year I gave myself a Sketch A Day challenge in 2014. I’ve done this in years past, with varying degrees of success, but it’s one of those things that I really think is more about the effort than the goal.

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Anyways, I’ve actually done pretty good so far, and haven’t missed a day in my first couple months. I owe a lot of this to my decision to not overthink it this time around. Anything that is drawing can count, be it quick doodle or comic page or full fledged solo illustration. I’ve started a Tumblr to document this effort, in addition to being a quick post blog. So if you’re wanting to get an art fix or check in on what I’ve been up to, that might be a good place to start!

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Halloween ComicFest 2012

This weekend debuted a new nation-wide event, Halloween ComicFest. A continuation on the Free Comic Book Day concept, the event gives local shops an excuse to give out free comics and candy. Mike of Mountain Top Comics decided to adorn the day with full FCBD extravagance, including inviting Bryan Boles and myself to hunker over a table and give out free character sketches to the attendees.

Here are a few of my favorites (apologies for the glare spots):

Thanks to everyone who came by. I had a great time, and am looking forward to next year!

Free Comic Book Day Sketches

Well, FCBD was a rollicking success. We had a crowd of folks come out to Mountain Top, and the line for sketches was encouraging. I was in the company of good artists, with great comic lovers all around, and it was an entirely pleasant way to spend a day, drawing until your hand nearly stops working:]

I did my best to snap some quick phone pictures of drawings as I did them, apologies for odd glares or blurs. I did these with a quick red pencil frame, and filled them out with some sharpie-esque Tul pens and a set of delightful Crayola Super Tip markers (a lot of fun to color with!) These were all quick sketches, none longer than 15 minutes I think, and some as few as 5 minutes. Thusly, rough edges abound:]

Missile Mouse, first sketch of the day!

Captain America

Spidey

Ted Robo (first request for an original character!)

Moon Knight

Smurfette

Lego BatmanSuperman, choking Captain Marvel and slamming him into a wall. 

Newman Xeno playing chess against Cobra Commander

M.O.D.O.K.

The Shadow

Wile E. Coyote as a hopeful Blue Lantern, with Flash Roadrunner

Classic Ironman

Hal Jordan with a Tuba

Cap

Elmo and Four Duckies

Thor

MagnetoRocketeerDerpy Hooves

Daredevil

Megaman

 

These were a blast to draw, can’t wait until next year!

FCBD and My New Book!

Hi guys! I’ve got all sorts of exciting announcements for you today.

Right off the bat, I want to pass along a bit of good press received for myself and my art in the local newspaper. It was a great article written by the talented Megan Trotter, and I really appreciate it.

Even though it is mentioned in the article, here is another reminder to schedule in some time for Free Comic Book Day tomorrow. It’s an amazing worldwide event, entirely free, and is a great way to support comics, get yourself reaquainted with current stories, find all new favorite books, and to introduce someone new to the medium. Every year there is a book I add to my list purely because of its FCBD sample, and I would never have found these gems otherwise. Do yourself a favor, find a shop near you.

And if you are in the Upper Cumberland area, why not come on out to Mountain Top Comics in Cookeville? There will be an all day event, with all the usual free comic wonderfulness, as well as several local artists (including myself!) doing free sketches for those who come by. I will also have free copies of my new mini-comic, “Frolic Not The Mount.” It’s a good’un! And since the shop is located just a few minutes from the movie theater, you can drop by on your way to see The Avengers (which was so good I have not the words to properly express myself:)

Now, my Big News is the formal announcement of my new book, “Sadbot: A Lackluster Love Story.”

Here’s the official back-cover-blurb: Ted Robo isn’t naïve about love, he’s just rather inexperienced.  A brutal breakup leaves him crestfallen, dour and discouraged from ever romancing again.  But even a sad robot can be pulled from the bitter depths of heartbreak.  With the help of his farcically benevolent buddies, a few wayward blind dates, and one tiny but true aquatic friend, Ted reluctantly embarks upon a quest for happiness.  And who knows, if he keeps his antenna up, he might even find it.

It is an 84 page large format (8.5″x11″) black and white paperback collecting a variety of the Sadbot comics I have posted online over the past five years. Included are the “Origin,” “Barbot,” and “These Three Dates” stories, previously only published at Inanimate Shorts. There is also a brand new 11 page Sadbot story, “Monstrorigin,” detailing how Ted came to meet his fishy friend. And there is an Author’s Note, by me, the Author, detailing the history of Sadbot and including, for the first time seen publicly, the original notebook doodle that gave birth to Ted. This is a professionally printed book, which I am self-publishing through Lulu.com, and I am quite excited about it!

On that note, this Saturday at the Mountain Top event, I will be pre-selling Artist Editions of A Lackluster Love Story, to be received at my upcoming book signing on May 19, also at Mountain Top (more details to follow). These Artist Editions are $25, which will include a signed copy of the book, an exclusive Sadbot mini-print, and an original ink drawing of our hero, Ted, or the cast member of your choosing. There are only 20 of these editions currently available, and they will be reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis at the FCBD event (Where I will also have a proof copy of the book to show off!) If any are still available afterwards, I may try to offer them online somehow, but no guarantees!

And since this Is an art blog, here is a small excerpt from the “These Three Dates” story. As far as set-up goes, Ted Robo has just been shang-haied into an online dating service by his “dear” friends:

 

 Have a comic-tacular weekend!

 

Photo Smorgasbord

I’ve had these bits and pieces from assorted projects  bouncing around my hard drive, thought I would post a bunch of them together. Enjoy!

A set of owl plaques drawn as a gift. Ink and watercolor on stained pine.

I promised my sister a trio of drawings for Christmas, entirely her pick. What did she go with? A list of six animals, to be combined however I saw fit into three new creatures. Slothkey, Hippoplatypus, and Sea Giraffe. She knows my strengths! Ink and watercolor on paper.Mass Effect commissions. Had a lot of fun playing with some colors. Marker on Bristol.

Kitty Ballerina for a friend. Cute x10. Ink and watercolor on paper.

Pinocchio plaque commission. Ink on stained pine.

Wicket E. Warwick commission, to accompany a Boba Fett and Vader I made earlier. Ink and colored pencil on brown paper.

A Christmas present for my gaming group, The Nerdhouse. I caricatured us all as some of our favorite characters, doing single watercolor paintings to give to each of them. Then I scanned them all in and collected them for a digital print.

Omnicon Aftermath: Con Report

Recent blog silence has been due to the frantic workload leading up to my hometown con, Omnicon!
In preparation, I produced a run of Dungeon Monster prints, a brand new sketchbook collection, and a massive wooden story mural entitled “A Hero’s Journey” for the art contest (that one gets its own post later:). After a several week haze of sleepless nights and coffee-addled days, the con was upon me!

 I had a variety of wares on display at my table, including many of the prints I showcased at the Art Prowl, as well as a new one featuring my art from the official Omnicon 2012 poster, entitled “Cockroaches and Nerds” (also soon to receive a dedicated post). There was a selection of larger sketchcards I had produced, with themes including Marvel Heroes, Disney Pixar, and Hogwart’s Faculty. Also, a series of small watercolor paintings, inspired by my Tiny Link drawings. To further the videogame theme, I offered some brownpaper drawings of Mario, Mega-Man, and Zelda characters.

My favorite item, however, was the Dungeon Monsters print series, available exclusively to those willing to brave the DIE OF DESTINY! Although only a handful had the guts required, we saw both a Critical Hit and a Critical Failure, both accompanied by the appropriate whoops and lamentations.

By far my most popular items were the mini-sketchcards, both pre-drawn and custom made. I had a sampling of characters from Adventure Time, Star Wars, Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon, as well as many original doodles. And I was also asked to draw several unique characters (including a couple Derpy’s:) but easily my favorite commission of the day was a pairing of Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla, complete with Electric Pigeon Soulmate (fascinating backstory here).

All in all, it was a delightful weekend. I can hardly wait for next year! And if any of these pieces catch your fancy, let me know, they might still be available, even if they haven’t shown up in The Shop.

 

Mario Sketchcards

I recently started building up my sketch card reserve (in preparation for Omnicon, more on that some other time) with some quickie pencil sketches that I later use as inking warmups.

Most are just random monsters and whats-its, but somewhere along the way I got on a kick of doing Mario bad guys. What made it extra fun was doing them very impulsively, in my own personal style, and completely as I remembered them, without reference material (well, except on the Lakitu, I just couldn’t get a resemblance on his face without checking how those glasses looked:)

I think they turned out pretty cool. If any catch your eye, well, you might want to mark your calendar for Omnicon, March 17th &18th …

Hourlies and Dailies

 It’s nearly upon us! The Day draws ever nearer! Put your affairs in order and ready yourself for The Event!

No, no, not the Apocalypse. Much better. Hourly Comics Day!
For those unaware, HCD is an annual web event, created by artist John Campbell, where individuals all over the world (artful and non alike) chronicle every hour of their own February 1st with a very quick and and simple comic.  More details can be found here. In edition, be sure to check out archives of the last several years on the forum, which is also where this year’s comics will be submitted (thread forthcoming.)
Regardless of whether you consider yourself a cartoonist or you are bashful to post a play by play of your life to the entire internet, I highly recommend doing these. Even if just as a personal log. I’ve participated for the past three years, and these comics have become some of my most valued creations, capturing both an entire day of my life and the mindset of myself whilst chronicling it. It is like a multi-layered journal entry, a mental landmark if you will, to which I can look back now and judge just how far I have traveled and grown. Yes, that is a bit deep and sentimental, but truly, these things are pretty cool.
In addition, after I finished last year’s Hourlies, I so enjoyed the journaling effect that I decide to go on with it for the rest of the month. I find the idea of day to day Hourlies to be quite daunting, so instead I decided to jot down one moment from each day throughout February. As you can see below, I didn’t quite make it, somehow dropping the ball just three days short (whether from inability or apathy, I cannot remember) but I’m steeling myself to try to meet the goal this year.
Last Year’s Dailies for February
(click for a larger image, and previous and next from that page to navigate)
Wow, my handwriting really doesn’t hold up to that much magnification. Toddler scratchings!
Anyway, I hope you’ll consider doing some Hourlies yourself this year, and let me know if you do!

Pens and Potter

As a follow up to my earlier review of the Pilot Parallel Pen,  I thought I’d tell you about a few other fountain pens I’ve been using and enjoying lately.
 A new standout for me has been the Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen line. They make several different nib sizes, but the two I’ve been using are the 03 and the 05. The 03 gives a nice, slim line, and has quickly become my first pick for most inking tasks. The 05 is obviously a touch wider, and that little bit makes a big difference on line fineness, so I usually only grab it for bolder outlines or larger projects. The pens themselves seem very well constructed, especially considering the absurdly low $3 price tag (at least at Jetpens, where I do must of my pen shopping, really a very wonderful and useful site, and not one with which I have any formal affiliation:). And what’s most amazing is that these aren’t disposable pens, instead using a proprietary Platinum refill cartridge. To be fair, I have not actually tried the included ink. Instead, I followed these instructions found on Jetpens’ site and converted mine into eyedroppers. (the instructions are spot on, it’s a really simple and highly recommended mod) Now, I can just pour the ink of my choice straight into the barrel, no fuss with syringe filling cartridges or finagling around a pen not meant for refilling. The Black Star Hicarb I’ve mentioned before would most likely work wonderfully, but out of stubbornness and loyalty to an inanimate substance, I first tried my standby Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Black. It actually flows much better than in other pens, leaving a good, consistent, super black line. There is a little work required to get it flowing again after any extended pause, and if I let it set for a day or two I might have to do a minute’s worth of wiping and scribbling, but overall it is a good experience. I may play with combining the two as a future experiment.
The third pen I’ve been toying with is the Pilot Penmanship Fountain Pen. This one has a super-fine nib, and is great for small details and intricate hatching. A bit more expensive than the Preppy, coming in at $8, this one is also a value since it is designed for refills. I actually tried the cartridge that was included, though to little enjoyment. It would be fine for everyday writing or doodles, I suppose, but it was a bit grayish for my taste, and not at all waterproof. After burning through about half of it on busy work, I finally emptied the cartridge and used a syringe to refill with the Black Star. Now it draws like a dream!
I wanted to do a few sample drawings to show off the line quality on all of these, and since I’ve been listening to a lot of Potter books lately (the Jim Dale readings are Absurdly good, and it’s a fun way to re-live the books without spending all the page time) I went with a Chamber of Secrets theme.
(The majority of these were done with the 03, but I used the 05 for Myrtle and the Penmanship for Ginny. All my gray tones were added with this wonderful little marker)

Man, I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the second book. Now, off to Azkaban!

Edit:

So, it’s been a few days, and I went back to use my trusty Preppy 03 full of Bombay and…nothing. Not even dust. Just etching my paper. Apparently I let the ink be for too long, and it dried up good and solid. So, I disassembled and drained, cleaned all the obvious bits and blew some water through the works (also, I’ve found ammoniated glass cleaner makes India Ink run for the hills, great to clean pens) let it all dry, put it back together and refilled with a Bombay/Black Star half and half mix and…still nothing. Cursed a tad, grabbed some pliers, pulled the metal nib off the end, scrubbed it real good and ran a pin through the ink trough on the pen itself (which was just Filthy with dried gunk) reassembled again and…I’ve got ink. Looks to be working again as well as before, I’ll check back in regarding the ink mix after some experiments.

Further Edit:

Yeah, that whole “Half and Half” ink mix was not the best idea. When everyone on the internet says “Don’t use India Ink with fountain pens”…listen to them. The pens dried within the week, and I couldn’t get anything through them. After another thorough cleaning (getting pretty good at that part!) I have refilled them with just the Black Star ink. It is just a touch lighter than the pure black of the regular Bombay, but it doesn’t much trouble with the fountain pens. The 05 Preppy, really none at all. Might take a couple seconds of practice strokes when I first pick it up to get everything flowing, but fine after that. The 03 is still a bit finicky, sometimes requiring a bit of flexing and shaking after it has been in the pen box too long, but it will start flowing eventually. I am also using this ink in my Pilot Parallel pens, and it flows immediately, nice and smooth. Black Star it is!