Comics on the cheap!

When I drew The Ruby Machine I was sitting in the hospital waiting on the results of an operation my mother was having. I was not only severely cramped for space, I was also out of the vellum bristol type stuff I generally try to use when making comics the traditional way. Then I thought “I’m planning on toning and lettering this comic in photoshop anyway, so why not just use any old paper and scan it in?

So my cheapskate method of using typing paper folded in half to draw one panel at a time was born. Here’s some progress shots I took of the process. The one above is from the hospital, I made those roses while I was waiting too. Some of the others are from continuing my cheapness at home. I still have these papers jammed in the bottom of my collage-paper box somewhere, where they are getting even more wrinkled and messed up as I type. Hooray!

Well, all things are transient anyway…

The Art Vault 2: Old acrylic paintings

It’s kind of funny, you’ll be thinking by now that all the old art I made was abstract. Actually, most of it was representational. Back when I was learning the basics I mostly drew people and mythological subjects. But for whatever reason I keep digging up images of old abstract work!

These paintings were actually rather large, being about 24×36 gallery wrap if I recall correctly. The orange and blue one was called “Blaze” and was commissioned as a gift for an entrepreneur/millionaire friend of my grandmother’s. This man, who had no doubt seen (and bought!) just about every fine thing imaginable in his lifetime acted absurdly impressed and happy about receiving my humble painting. He was very sweet.

The purple/tan painting, “Thistle Brae,” was commissioned as a gift for Sir Sean Connery. (Yes, that Sean Connery. What can I say, my grandmother gets around.) I used my mother’s potato masher thingy for the grid pattern under the thistle blossoms. I think it was the first time I ever used it…though now I frequently demolish carrots with it to sneak them into my children’s pasta. Anyway…if Connery hasn’t buried this odd painting in the back of a closet or given it away, it’s still knocking about his private collection somewhere.

Humorously, I used to do a comic called Things Fall Apart for a local entertainment rag that featured Connery as a recurring character, and it was these comics he professed to like the best among my art. “The ones with me in them are the funniest” according to him. He might have something there.

I’m particularly proud of one image I drew once of him astride a unicorn with laserbeam eyes, riding next to Optimus Prime. Perhaps he treasured that one too. Sadly, I still haven’t gotten to meet the man after all these years. At the present time a big stack of my comics autographed with his distinctive (huge!!) signature are all I have…

The Art Vault: Old monoprints

blue and orange abstract monoprint using embossed folds of satin to create a form.

I just love looking at old pieces now and then. These little beauties are probably from 2000 or 2001 at the latest. Simple monoprints using an inked plexiglass plate, I created the different shapes and patterns on them by using the ink roller itself. In the print above, I also tried taking a swatch of satin from an old bridesmaid gown of mine and running it under the press with the plate, creating the above pattern on the paper. I liked how it worked and went on to use the method in another monoprint, Achyra. Once I find some record of that one (if I do) I’ll show you. It left me at last year’s Hand Prints.

an orange green and blue monoprint created by making patterns on the plexiglass plate with an ink roller.

Another creepy character…the Plague Doctor

a plague doctor callously ignores a pleading victim tugging at his waxed robes.

Yipes! What have we here? Well, he may look like the Boogeyman, but this is a plague doctor. He’s a character from a comic one-shot I’m working on called The Ocean. Back for November NaNoManGo I did 30 concept drawings for this comic, I’ll post them soon.

But to continue, the doctor is covered in voluminous protective robes treated with wax. His beak is simply the medieval version of a respirator or gas mask, in this case a cone filled with herbs and potpourri that are supposed to protect him from airborne disease and I would imagine from the stench of the mounting population of plague victims. The gloves, goggles and hat are further protective measures, basically the man is in a Hazmat suit. The smoke in the background is from the incense burning in an unseen censer he carries on his person as an additional protective measure.

I took the outfit design from an old engraving, including his curious winged-hourglass staff. Supposedly plague doctors used their staves to prod their patients instead of touching them, and perhaps even beat them or force them off if they threatened to get too close. (My doctor is doing so here.) Other things I read suggested that plague doctors were drawn from the most untalented and untrustworthy members of the medical profession, and that their casualties from the disease were very heavy.

I personally don’t know what’s true and what’s myth, but whether he is a kind man or callous and neglectful, the Plague Doctor and his fearsome alien appearance play a part in the beginning of my story.

Resurrection Men

Two skeletal men look down from a mountain as the sun is beginning to rise, adjusting gloves on boney and fleshless wrists. From the novel The Cradle of the Worm by artist author Heather Landry.

I mentioned comics the other day. Here are a couple of characters of mine from a long-format comic I have on the docket. They’ve been around in my head for quite a long time! I call them “Resurrection Men” and after a couple of famous unsavory resurrection men (body snatchers) from the past I affectionately refer to them in my head as Burke and Hare. Burke is the one with the striped scarf and black hat and Hare is the one with the odd “brass magnolia” glasses.

I’m sure you can tell there’s something wrong about these gentlemen…this old post also features a sketch from the same comic. I’ll post more concept art from this work as I dig it up…in the middle of an equipment change!

Comics are finally coming!

one girl clutches another to her chest and swears nothing will separate them in this black and white comic panel of the killing of dreams

I’ve been spending the past few days wading through the policies, requirements and so on of various comic publishers and have finally settled on the right fit for my mood/horror comic, The killing of Dreams. Digitally, I will be making it available on Kindle and Comixology. “Paper” comics will be available on IndyPlanet.

I’ll announce the links once they’re up! Now I’m in the arduous process of preparing the files so they’re in the right format for each place. But I’m incredibly flattered to say I’ve now had several inquiries to the effect of “how do I buy your comic?” and it finally got through my thick skull that I should…actually make my comic available for sale…

Gee! What a thought!

I’m trying, guys…

A Girl and her Mod Podge part 1: Rex

Yep, I made an Angel Rex tray. He didn’t stick around long, I can assure you, he was snapped up pretty quick…but in the time I shared with him, I loved him.

You might notice some black streaks or faint smudginess in the red of the tray. That’s because I used a block print of Rex as an experiment. Not surprisingly, the ink smudged! I would caution anyone against decoupaging a block print for this reason. If, like my little rex tray here, the piece still looks pretty nice with streaking, go for it. But I would not recommend the approach if you desperately want a crisp, clean-looking piece. Gritty pieces only!


linoleum block plate carving

I recently found some old snapshots I took of my plates as I was working on them for Eurydice, Daedalus, and my tentacle raccoon. The first two were block prints carved from linoleum. For the raccoon, I printed out my design on typing paper and then cut it out with an X-Acto knife and taped it onto inked plexiglass, which I then printed onto an old monoprint I had soaked in water. Enjoy!


bright and delicate duct tape roses in different colors

I have more roses I made since these, but for now here’s a garden of some of my early duct tape roses. I always bring these babies with me to every show I do, so yes these will be at the Earth Day Art Crawl this Saturday April 19th as well!

When I find my new roses I’ll make an even more gargantuan gallery! And then I’ll keep making more…and more…haha! (Seriously they’re fun to make, I want to decorate my house with them)

Bait, or the Keyfish!

See that little black fish blockprint on the right? That’s the real-world form of these little guys:

a cute playful fish with a keyhole in its belly is enticed by a key on a hook

As you can see, he’s pretty cute in color too, huh? I’ve intended to use COPIC markers to add color to a few of my “Bait” block prints before now, but haven’t done so. Perhaps in time for the art crawl!

Incidentally, my “keyfish” idea started out with a simple photomanipulation of three objects in my house, a soapstone fish and two pendants from a broken necklace, a big key and a heart-shaped lock. I photographed everything and combined the keyhole with the fish, and history was made. I like this little fella and intend to make some sort of more developed digital artwork out of him!

a cute cheerful soapstone fish with a keyhole in its belly is enticed by a key on a fishhook.


the drift scrap version I made for EDAC 2013 sandpaperdaisy

In my last post I mentioned that DRIFT had gone through different forms. Here you see DRIFT:SCRAP, a piece I made for last year’s Earth Day Art Crawl. I took a copy of my digital painting and decoupaged it to a piece of scrap wood left behind by the last people who owned our home, then screwed in different bits of machinery from busted appliances. I wanted to both extend the lines of the reclaimed bits in the children’s home-made rocket and also explore the Earth Day theme of art made from found objects. Everyone loved it including me!

My pictures of the piece are from last year (read: last phone) and aren’t that hot, but I’ll try to get some new ones. I still have this baby and I’ll be bringing it to this year’s Earth Day Art Crawl on the 19th where it will be for sale!

Saga of a raccoon

tentacle raccoon photocollage

I started with the above image, which was a digital sketch I did thinking I might make it into a block print for the first Hand Prints traditional printmaking group show. I didn’t end up using it there, so I made a stencil print out of it instead and printed it in black onto an old monoprint of mine (like I did with Fenris!) and then added some watercolors and a few strokes of color pencil to give the original lines back some of their definition. The result below was the very first piece to sell at 2012’s Salon des Refuses at the Bower-Suhrheinrich Foundation Gallery! I like to fancy I got some art cred for that.

repressed tentacle raccoon monoprint and watercolor mixed media

A year or two later I FINALLY got around to doing the block print:


matted tentacle raccoon print_sandpaperdaisy

I love how it turned out!! Eventually I want to colorize this guy all crazy and put him up in my online shops. I’m sure I can make him look really cool!

Kings in Yellow

the king in yellow from the story The Yellow Sign by Robert W. Chambers

Robert W. Chambers wrote some amazing horror stories collected in a book called “The King in Yellow” where Chambers alludes to a chilling play of the same name but never directly reveals the plot of the play. He got the names “Hastur” and “Carcosa” from a couple of stories by Ambrose Bierce and continued the legend. H. P. Lovecraft and other writers would build upon his work, and later James Bish would actually attempt to create the text of the play in his story More Light. The result is a wonderful and creepy web of myths surrounding this forbidden play and the world it takes place in. I’ve been heavily influenced by these stories and over the years I’ve made different works based on them.

Above is The King in Yellow himself, or one version of him. Before that, when I had just gotten my first computer and was experimenting with digital art, I made this very rough photo-collage of the Tattered King:

very early unskilled digital sketch of the king in yellow

Ah, that takes me back!!

As I got more skilled I continued to make pieces centered around the play, including a portrait of the doomed queen Cassilda who is a protagonist in The King in Yellow:

cassilda the doomed queen from the forbidden play The King in Yellow

And I also made a Carcosa logo for a metal doorplate design:

carcosa, the doomed city of the king in yellow

This later got made into a new design for my God From the Machine solo show:

carcosa new collage with pen and ink and joss paper

Sadly my photo is kinda blurry but that tentacled thing at the bottom is Hastur, a kind of monster or evil god that lives at the bottom of the lake of Hali where the city Carcosa sits.

Anyway, that’s about all the art I’ve made about The King in Yellow so far, and all of it is based on earlier less-skilled work. I’m eager to make some more painterly pieces now that I’ve increased my digital painting abilities somewhat.

Road’s End

A dissected car with human internal organs shuffles towards the ultimate ending, a maya road totem beyond a precipice

This collage was originally intended for the December 2012 “Doomsday” show on that same date in the Mayan Calender, but another traditional piece depicting Fenris the wolf devouring the sun from the Ragnarok of Norse Mythology got in instead. (Look for Fenris coming up!) Road’s End went on to debut at the PG Gallery and Cafe soft opening in early 2013.

If you took a look through my 2010 Sketchbook Down My Street, you will have seen this same car in a less polished form. I was happy to be able to expand on my idea and do a more finished piece starring the car. I still intend to do a lineart version.

I envisioned a car with a human set of internal organs for my story “Sacrifice” examining the emotions I feel whenever I drive past a cross by the side of the road. The car is full of meat and organs which are of course, very vulnerable and subject to injury and destruction in a car wreck. Thinking of these tragic circumstances always reminds me of a passage from the Maya Origin Legend the Popol Vuh, about the death gods (Wing and Packstrap I believe) who determine that some people should die upon the road. I end the story by comparing the sad little road crosses with their touching floral tributes and stuffed animal offerings to a Maya totem containing the road (depicted in Maya art as a ribbon with footprints on it).

a dissected car filled with human organs hovers above a road cross and an article about a car crash

two demons or lords of xibalba emerge from the parts of a car engine, resembling something from a painting by hieronymous bosch

wing and packstrap from the popol vuh ensure people's death upon the road

And this is their domain: that people should die in the road. Then there is death in the road and suffering whether one is coming or going. And this is their domain. -Popol Vuh

a maya totem depicting a road shown as a ribbon with footprints on it along with a road cross and stuffed bunny erected as a tribute to a fatal road accident

The next story in the book, “R_VE_ _” also opens with the theme of the road demanding a sacrifice, this time an accident with a dog I witnessed in my childhood.

a car chews up a helpless dog in this, one of my most disturbing and vivid childhood memories.

I plan to do “R_VE_ _” properly as a black and white comic for an upcoming collection of one-shots including The Ruby Machine and The Stone Squirrel!

The many faces of Daedalus…how do you feel about re-using your art?

a repeating row of dissected mudpuppies combined with airplane blueprints in bright neon colors

This piece is one of many versions of this linoleum block print I did for the 2012 Hand Prints show:

linoleum block print of dissected mudpuppies melded with airplane blueprints.

A friend of mine had a lot of fun taking it and coloring on it to create three collaborative pieces as well:




And lastly, I recently used them in different pieces for my December 2013 solo show:

polygons and viscera, goya reference

The Sleep of Reason on Society6||Redbubble

Bone and syringe butterflies merge into black polygons which in return become flying lizards. An homage to Escher's Metamorphoses.

Ergo Sum

In other words, those mudpuppies really got around! I’m not sure when I first hit upon the idea of using my own art as collage to make new pieces, but I’m currently using the same approach on my Kaguya Hime piece in progress. Part of a totally unrelated piece (Moonlit Night, in fact!) is supplying the huge swollen moon behind the princess.

I personally like finding new ways to use different elements I’ve made that lend themselves to replication (mainly my digital and block prints) because that way, as an artist I still have the option of finding a better way to finish a work of art. If something I made doesn’t stand out in its original setting but later becomes much more successful in a completely different context, I feel very gratified. I have also done this with very old art, using amateur monoprints as effective and vibrant backgrounds for newer, more skilled block prints or incorporating crude paintings from my youth into new collage art.

How do you feel about re-using a piece of art or making series based on many variations of an element you’ve created?

Online reader for 2010 Sketchbook “Down My Street”

two demons or lords of xibalba emerge from the parts of a car engine, resembling something from a painting by hieronymous bosch

At the time I made this post my book had not been uploaded to The Sketchbook Project’s digital library yet. I’ve updated the link in the original post, but I wanted to feature this work again since I haven’t spoken about it here since 2011. My sketchbook “Down My Street” helped me get back a great deal of my artistic momentum and it also helped me practice writing a compelling, coherent narrative over a long format. As one kind reader put it,

Hello there. There’s some lovely work on this site, but your sketchbook is probably the most absorbing one I’ve seen. I found the imagery and the stories fascinating, and liked the way you put notes at the back. It made reading it a second time, a different experience.

Thank you, Raccoon906!! Your art is awesome!