Archive for July, 2009

A Wee Tutorial: How to draw a water droplet.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

I was friended on Facebook by a high-school chum who sent me this message:

“Hey Jess, this is G, class of ’95….You came up as a friend suggestion from Rye High so, I’m adding…if you don’t mind that is. Take care….Let’s see if you remember me; ’til this day I’ll never forget you taught me the trick on how to draw a perfect water drop, lol.”.

I had a total flashback of teaching G that water droplet technique. And I thought I would share it with you now.

First, you draw the outer shape of your droplet. It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact, it’s usually better if it isn’t. Then, near the top, you draw a small circle. That’s the light hitting the top of the droplet.


Now, when the light hits the top of the droplet, the light goes inside the water and spreads out near the bottom. That means the top of the droplet is dark. So next, you shade the top of the droplet.


The droplet also casts a shadow. First, you draw a heavy line under the droplet, thinner at the sides and fuller at the bottom.


Then you add in a softer shadow. And voila, you are done.


Water droplets like to hang out in herds, so I used to draw them in groups.


A neato trick: Draw the water droplets on a gray or colored board, and then hit the light spots with a white pencil. It really makes it pop.


Two art- and design-related things.

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

1. After seeing Marty the Sock Puppet Portrait-Maker, I was reminded of an artist I saw a few years back named Travis Louie. I don’t know much about him, except every time I see his work it makes me feel good all over. He’s famous for doing black and white slash sepia-toned Victorian-style portraits of people that aren’t quite… right. This wouldn’t work as well if Travis didn’t have such excellent painting skills. He really captures the misty quality of those early photographs. And he captures it with horns. And fangs.

picture-6-745418.png  travis-a-louie-2.jpg travis-louie.jpg

I’ve really been wanting to make vintage-looking work lately (see failed attempted at pirate tugboat and sea monster) and after seeing the sideshow posters at the Meadowlands Fair and remembering Travis Louie’s work, I’m going to try my hand at something in between the two. I don’t want to talk too much about it, mainly because I’m not really sure what I’m going to do, but keep an eye peeled for stuff of this ilk.

2. A few years ago, I was paging through a Martha Stewart Weddings magazine and I saw a great cake covered with little ferns and mushrooms made of marzipan and buttercream. I absolutely loved the little forest elements and decided someday, if I ever get married, I will have a cake similar to that. The other day, while perusing one of my design blogs, there was a link to something on Martha’s wedding site and I thought, well, since I’m here, I should see if they have that cake I liked. And they did! I was so very happy.


I don’t particularly like how squat the cake is, or how rounded the edges are, but the forest elements continue to be awesome. While I was looking at cakes there, I saw this forest cake as well. I am a sucker for branches (I like them in flower arrangements and wreathes and paintings and jewelry, just about everything) so, sho’ nuff, I liked this cake.


I would now like to amend my earlier statement: If I ever get married, I would like the branch cake, but with fewer branches and with moss and ferns and mushrooms and a couple snails and ladybugs and a few birds on it. Because it will be my special day, and if I want a cake that resembles a compost heap in the middle of the woods, I can have that. Thank you.

Marty the Sock Puppet Portrait Maker.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I was walking through Union Square this past weekend, and they had a wee art show but I was meeting Z. for lunch, however afterwards I made a point to check it out. I saw one small booth that caused me to laugh. It was for sock puppet portraits, but what caused the tittering was that underneath the primary sign was a secondary sign saying, “The Ultimate Gift of Love”. That was it. I now had to purchase some portraits. I got to meet the portrait-maker, Marty. This is Marty.


Marty has maybe the best hawker thing going. The sock puppets, while lovely, are not anything revolutionary. What makes them oh-so-special is that each one has a name, and a tale to tell, and a MySpace page. (As Marty said, “Even though MySpace is an all-but-defunct social networking methodology, it is still the place for sock puppets.”) I chose three nerdy portraits (Shock! Surprise! So out of character for me! Sarcasm!) which I will share with you now:

– Charles Darwin (from the “Three Guys Named Charles” series, the other two are Charles Dickens and Charles in Charge)
– Herb Bloomquist (a professor of something-or-other)
– Harold Speculex (an accomplished scientist and a model-plane enthusiast)

I must say, going to their MySpace pages and learning them is fine and dandy, but it is so much better to have Marty explain their life stories to you face to face. I believe he’s rockin’ the art booth scene in Union Square on the weekends all summer – if you get a chance, go check him out.

And here’s his site:

Oh, and here are pictures of my wee sock portraits:


The Meadowlands Fair.

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Oh, it was bleak. You remember the Bloomsburg Fair I went to back in the day? That had all those amusements and cool foods, but it also had local charm like pie bake-offs and 4-H club. The Meadowlands Fair, however, had none of those nice things. It felt like very con-artist-y and ripoff-y. It was all rides and impossible-to-win shooter games and sideshows. Yes, sideshows. Don’t believe me? I took pictures.

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I refused to go into the sideshow, but my friends did and they said it was very, very lame. For example, the two-headed lady? One lady stood in back of another lady and rested her chin on the front lady’s shoulder. But it wasn’t a total loss. I saw an adorable ride in the kiddy section.


Aww, a teeny ferris wheel made from little pumpkin houses. And, of course, there was the food. I learned many new and exciting things. Like KFC did not invent the “meal in a bowl” concept.


And, in keeping with every fair’s policy that food must be served on an impaling device of some sort, there was a booth with some high-class stabbed cuisine.


But the redeeming item at the fair was, without a doubt, the deep-fried dill pickles with horseradish dipping sauce. Oh. Ohh. So good. It was my first time having this delicious fried delicacy, and it was so worth it. It was like the best components of fried food with the vinegary tang of dill pickles. French fries seem so blase next to it.

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Pirate Tugboat – Part Done For Now.

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Yeeeeaaaaaahh, I’m not happy with the way this drawing is coming out. It feels like there are too many pen styles and the focus is off, etc. However, it is not a total lost cause. I’m really digging the technique I used on the evil cephalopod.


See those lines in the background causing the octopus to pop out from the wavy background? I’m going to have to use that in something else soon. And the tugboat turned out really great, as soon as I figure out how to bring it all together with the ocean and the frame and whatnot, I’m going to redraw it.


So not a total waste. The new pieces will be like phoenixes (phoenii?) rising from the ashes of this drawing.

Runny ink print.

Monday, July 13th, 2009

A few years ago I saw a book by Augusten Burroughs in the bookstore. It’s called “Dry”, and I believe it’s about the author giving up drinking. I happened to notice the cover and how much I liked the idea of using something that is usually a negative (inkjet printouts that get wet and the ink runs) and turning it into a cool look.


Last night I watching something on TV and the commercial for the new horror movie Orphan comes on. Now would you look at this:


I think it looks pretty cool, and as always I’m always pleased to see people walk away from their computer screens and try to do things by hand. I wonder who will see this and be inspired and take it in another totally new direction.

Pirate Tugboat – Part 3. (We’re getting there!)

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Okay, we’ve got a complete pirate tugboat (arrr!) and we’re getting some ocean waves creating the illusion of depth. Note the evil mutant octopus in the lower right-hand corner. What a cutie.

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Pirate Tugboat – Part 2.

Monday, July 6th, 2009

It’s coming along fine. We got a flag flyin’ and some ornate hoodlyhoos to make it look 1800’s-ish. I’m pleased. Now I have to deal with the ocean, which I’ve been putting off because it’s going to be a royal pain in the patoot.

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Pirate Tugboat – Part 1.

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

My friend Z.’s father had worked on a tugboat all his life, and while we were talking the other day it occurred to me, hey, I love tugboats. I should draw a tugboat. A pirate tugboat, surrounded by lots of sea creatures and mermaids and whatnot. So, I’m making the drawing. Pen and ink on a sea-greenish board.

pirate-tugboat1.jpg  pirate-tugboat2.jpg

You can see the tugboat in the center there, but right now I’m inking the frame (seaweed and crabs). I find with drawings like this, I like to start from the front and work my way to the background. I’ll be posting updates as the drawing progresses.

A post. With chatting. And charting.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

This past weekend I went on my first business-related trip, to Orlando. I hear there’s some kind of amusement park there, but I wouldn’t know, because I was driven directly from the airport to the Dolphin Hotel Resort and Conference Center of Gigantitude. Seriously, it was a big big building, like the size of the entire Palisades Mall. To walk from your room to the conference area required thousands of steps to be taken. On my ride to the hotel I saw many pine trees covered with Spanish moss, some egrets, bog-type things and housing complexes. That’s it. The only way I knew I was near Disney-anything was when I saw people in the hotel wearing Mickey ear hats. Did you know there’s a variety of ear-hats? I saw someone wearing a pair that was covered in pink fluffy material and had a veil in the back, because apparently this woman was on her honeymoon or something wedding-y like that. Here’s the sad thing, though: the veil wasn’t white. It was an unpleasant shade of light yellow-brown, like it had been soaked in tea. An even more depressing possibility is the veil-n-ears were fifty years old and the lady wore it all the time, all delusional and out-of-touch. “I’m a bride today!” “Yes, yes, Grandma. We know, today you marry Pop-Pop and drive around in the turquoise convertible Chevrolet. Whatever you say.” I would like to talk to the marketing guy who thought that was a good idea. “Well, we could have a white veil, but everyone does that. Let’s make a color that looks like someone tinkled on it, that’ll really complement the faux pink fur.”

So, due to the fact that I was there for work, I saw nothing, not even the fireworks, so I can’t tell you anything about my trip that’s interesting (the hotel has carpeting! And complimentary soap! You can get room service if you want!), but in a semi-related point, I make a great many charts of various things here at my place of employment. That means I am always on the lookout for new and awesome ways to express information through charts. I’ve found a few ones on my travels through Ye Olde Internette that I will share with you now. They are from a website called Good.

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And not from Good, but a personal favorite of mine: