Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Peek at Pics in Progress

Here's a peek at some of the stuff I'm working on right now...

This picture shows a progression for one page of the science comics I'm doing for the Montshire Museum of Science and Dartmouth College - This is a few days worth of work! And, yes, I DO the actually experiments.

It starts with some written directions, lots of web research, then my sketches in blue-pencil, then inked lettering and drawings, scan and clean up in Photoshop with text instructions added, then a color version (the one shown is for Rock Candy as I haven't done the color version of DNA yet).

I've also started on the watercolors for "Ready, Set, Gorilla!" - a picture book by Melissa Stoller that I'm illustrating for Clear Fork Publishing. 

I put the sketch on my light box and do the watercolors...

Here's the same piece, off the light box, with all the blocks of color painted in. No details yet.

I do about four or five spreads at a time so pages can dry completely. The page in the back, with the slide, is finished. I added the details and shading with colored pencils. The slide ended up being changed to bright yellow after I scanned it into Photoshop. 

Tomorrow is a Snow Day - so I'll hole up in my studio and finish off these pages (and a couple more). I love this stuff - but I also think it's nice to have these two very different types of projects to go back and forth between!

My idea of heaven... drawing and coloring in my studio... no distractions or interruptions and the most pressing decision I have to make is... "hmmm, Prismacolor pencils or Inktense pencils...?"

Friday, March 2, 2018

Give me some Sugar!

Last week I did a really fun project for Red Kite Candy's "Candy Lab" - I designed the candy box label for the latest winner - Apple Pie Caramels. They are only available for a limited time and the money goes to Food4Kids.

And, NO, I don't get paid extra for promoting this - I just wanted to show off my artwork - and I think this is a cool way to raise money for a great program...

oh FINE - I admit it... I'm hoping someone will order some of these amazing caramels and SHARE them with ME!!

Nyum yum yum....

Get your Apple Pie Caramels before they're gone. Support FOOD4KIDS and order yours before midnight Sunday.

(As always, 100% of profits go to our Candy Lab partner, 
currently FOOD4KIDS)

Your idea. Our know-how. 100% donated.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It's Not Like I Just Sit Around Coloring All Day!

Coping Skill #165 - It Is Better to Color Than to Curl Up in Bed and Cry

Shocking, but true.
The last few weeks have been really difficult for me. Because Depression. Sure, there have actually been Things that have been giving me trouble (see recent posts) and I am perfectly justified in being cranky and unlovable.
But, also, Depression.

I recently watched an interesting TED Talk about Depression by a 19 year old guy. A lot of what he said really resonated, and I felt bad for him that he still has his whole life ahead of him - to be Depressed. I liked his simple explanation of Depression...
When everything is going Wrong in your life, and you feel Sad - that's Normal.
When everything is going Right in your life, and you feel Sad - that's Depression.

I can spend an entire day trying to climb out of my own head. There were two days that I actually made it -not only out of my head, but out of my house. I got all the way to my Studio in Concord!

And I sat and stared at the wall.
Luckily - and this is on purpose! - my walls are filled with inspirational quotes. One kept catching my eye... "Get out of the briar patch."

So I took out my friend Judith Moffatt's coloring book (mandalas for kids! I wrote a review of it a few years ago), and my long neglected Prismacolor pencils. I filled my cat-shaped oil diffuser with Bergamot. I switched on my SADs Sunlight. Smeared some peanut butter on a few dark chocolate Kisses. Stuck my noise-cancelling headphones on my ears and turned on the final book, FYRE, in the Septimus Heap series.

And I colored.
For hours.

I love coloring.

And it helped. I felt calmer. And I started thinking about the projects I had been excited about. Lilah and I had started working on a coloring book before I went to Cartoon School. I think we had about 70 plus pages! I had forgotten... And I had been working on a revised version of The Tangled Fashionista... and of course, the projects I was supposed to be working on RIGHT NOW! The Gorilla picture book, the Science Comics for Montshire, and two of my own picture books... and the comics... OMG! I don't have time to be Depressed!

Bumpity Bump-Bump, Look-it Frosty Go!

This is me lately...

You just KNOW that when it warms up around here, for real, that is going to be one truly disgusting pumpkin!

Sunday... I was walking through my house and stopped to give Minou a snuffle. When - WHA!!!! I saw The Fireman building a Snowman outside my window!!?

Yes, yes, I AM still mad at him... but, that's kind of sweet, right? I don't think anyone's ever given me a snowman before...?

It was a Classic, Standard Model Snowman, with carrot and pipe, etc. Not bad. I would have given extra points if it had looked more like The Fireman - with a baseball cap or - EXTRA points - a flaming head!!

Lilah knows me well - and she gets the creativity points. SHE made a SnowRhino! That's my girl! 

I was a little surprised that she had gone to the Dark Side (playing in the snow with The Fireman when we had all voted him off the island...) but it was a beautiful snowy day, so I Let It Go.

A beautiful... warm-ish day. When Lilah and I returned from the Studio that evening, The Snowman was looking a bit tired.

My sister, Mom, Laurie, Lilah and I were all sitting around the kitchen table watching The Snowman desperately trying to hang in there bathed in the unforgiving streetlight.

We saw The Fireman sneak over and push him back upright.

But Monday was an even lovelier day and by this morning, The Snowman had lost it. His head, his carrot, pipe, and his buttons! So sad. He didn't even last two days.

The Fireman came and collected his parts.
I put him out of his misery.

The Snowman.
Not The Fireman.
I think He is still in Misery.

This whole incident reminded me of a greeting card I made (available with a tattoo inside!) It's done in watercolor and the poem is written by my sister, Jenn, although she won't admit it.

So tomorrow is going to be in the 70's. A nice day for the beach! Which is ironic, since The Fireman and I had originally been planning a mini-vacation to the seacoast tomorrow. But Irony is my middle name lately. There will be another snowstorm on Thursday.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lego My LEGOs

Thanks for all the encouraging emails!

And this one...

loscann has left a new comment on your post "Catharsis": 

Sending love, positive thoughts and lots of hugs. LOVE reading your list of goals and things to do...might just be the nudge I need to do the same. And where do you get your LEGOS??? I need! a LEGO city! 

OK, I agree - let's take a little break and I'll show you my passion!

This is one of my LEGO streets:

It starts with the Haunted House and ends with the Palace Theatre. On the lower level is part of my old Harry Potter world and bins with destroyed sets (mostly Friends and Elves). The rule was that the kids could mess with the lower shelves, but NOT my city!! If you have seen the LEGO Movie (It's actually VERY funny!!) - then you will understand the reference... at a certain part near the end, my kids yelled, "That's just like YOU, Mom!"  My response: "No! I don't glue my pieces together!"

On top of the Haunted House, the Ghostbusters are... busting Ghosts!

Meanwhile, at the Palace, Marilyn and Darth are arriving for the Premiere!

If you look closely - you can see Batgirl running across the rooftop of the Parisian Cafe to join Wonder Woman in a battle with the Penguin, above the Shop (a fancy department store, like Macy's). Epic Battles like this are common and remind me of those I witnessed in the dressing rooms at Filenes Basement (when I was a kid). Bargain hunting women are merciless!

Across the street is the Old Fire Station. They haven't updated their Eagle to a Helicopter yet and the chore of scraping bird poop off the roof goes to whomever loses the Ping Pong challenge.

(Look closely at the window below the "1932" to see the Ping Pong game in progress.)

Between the Fire Station and the Green Grocer is a lovely Art Park. I constructed it out of leftover pieces and it is popular for families to walk their dogs and push carriages.

The Bakery is run by Gertrude (with the Pretzel) and Cookie (with the red coffee mug). They met at culinary school. They provide snacks for the neighboring Hotel.

It reminds me of the Coolidge Hotel in White River Junction, VT.

And, finally, in the middle of my dining table sits the recently finished Bank with Laundromat (for laundering cash!) and the Detective Agency, Pool Hall, and Al's Barber Shop.

I may need to do a Kickstarter to raise money to buy the other sets for My Town. I absolutely MUST have the brand new Diner!

Seriously - besides the little juke boxes, it's got ELVIS and a pink cadillac! It's on my priority list to buy once I've sold the Wingdoodle building.

 And since I'm fantasizing with you all - this one, Assembly square...

Although it is absolutely, ridiculously expensive, so it's not really ever going to be part of my Town. Sigh.
And this Carousel would be lovely next to the Art Park...

No, I don't get any money from LEGO. I would take it, of course, if they offered. Or free sets...

I have a lot of other sets from... well... a while back - like the Islanders, Movie Monsters, Egyptian Adventure sets. And a bunch my kids don't even know about - like the Robin Hood series.

The one thing I love MORE than the Town sets, are the MINI-FIGURES!

I have hundreds. I used to have them lining the tops of most of the windows in my house. I got some of that amazing new LEGO tape and I'm going to put that on the windows and then set up all my Mini-figs again. That way they won't fall over every time someone slams a door!

I even made mini-figs of Me, Lilah, Minou... and The Fireman!

OH - and the tables that the town is sitting on were built for me. I painted them with stones so I could set up my Hogwarts LEGO sets on there. But the castle got bulldozed to make way for the new Town. That's progress I guess.

I need a third table...

Additional Note:

Since Joyce mentioned (below in the comments) our LEGO experience at Mall of America, I thought I'd find those photos too!
Coolest store ever!!

Joyce - we should have asked Woody to take a group selfie!

Sunday, February 11, 2018


I'm going to whine a little, admit to being an idiot, and tell you how I humiliated myself....again. Then, I will wash my face and tell you some of the cool things I need to get back to work on.

I mentioned in the last post that Things have been Crazy. I should be used to that by now - but Big Disappointments, Family Dramas, and Financial Crisis - are only made worse by Depression, Anxiety Attacks and... let's just call it Lack of Support, for now.

I admit - I've been a mess.

I've never been good at multi-tasking or solving multiple emergencies at once. I tried to prioritize the emergencies...

I'm trying to sell the Wingdoodle Building, so I wanted to get all the yard sale junk from my mom's indoor sale (from last summer!) OUT of the building. Anywhere, but here.

I wanted the potential buyers to walk in on Tuesday and go, "Whoa! It's bigger and better than I remembered!? Wow - I can't WAIT to buy it!"

The Fireman said it was too big a project for one person to do - so he didn't want to help. On Monday - I started lugging stuff to my mom's barn (That's a second problem - to be dealt with at a later date). Laurie joined in. Then, I guess The Fireman must have felt bad so he helped too.

I went back the next morning and Laurie and I dragged more stuff to the barn. The Fireman watched me load the car up, arguing the whole time that I couldn't do it. (wtf?) After a few loads, he started tossing stuff into his truck. After that, it was pretty quick to get it cleaned out.

It looked so nice and clean (I vacuumed too) - I started thinking "maybe... I should keep it...?"

I've been so obsessed with selling the building and solving my Mom's crisis, that I've put my illustration projects on hold. I am WAY behind schedule. But I can't seem to focus on anything - ideas are all too ethereal and I just end up crying and with a migraine.
And Angry.
I feel very Angry.

Wednesday was a total wash. A blizzard. I had no way of getting into Concord to work at the studio. Which was fine. I was in such a deep Depression - I spent most of the day just staring at the wall and crying. I tried calling the Fireman, but he was busy. I remember my daughter asking me the next day if he was in Ice-head or Cricket mode? We couldn't figure it out, but it obviously wasn't On Fire for You mode.

Thursday, I got up early to dig myself out of the heavy, wet snow. I broke a shovel trying to get through the mountain the plow had made at the end of my driveway. As I stood there crying, I was cursing the boyfriend/neighbor with a snowblower, who no longer felt the need to help me.

I pulled myself together and went to a fantastic Women Inspiring Women luncheon at the Centennial Inn. Ironically - it was about Relationships. (As if I needed help?! ha ha ha!)
I sketch-noted the talk:

I met some VERY cool, fascinating ladies - and by the time I left there, I was actually feeling a lot more like my real-self. It was sunny out and I was excited to get to my Studio and start working on Work! Finally! Maybe things would be ok. And maybe The Fireman would calm down again and remember his promises. Maybe...

...crud. He had left a whole bunch of increasingly angry text messages assuming I was ignoring him on purpose. It was obvious he was still in Bad Boyfriend mode. I crashed down again. Eventually gave up on Work, and went home.

Friday, I stared at walls and felt sad. At one point, Laurie, her son, and I went out to try and clear more of the snow - and the Fireman yelled at all of us. No. He hadn't snowblowed. No, he didn't come over with a shovel and help. Just yelled.

My daughter saved the day for me. We got into a very silly discussion about Taylor Swift's Goat Song (Trouble) and that somehow led to the song "We Go Together" (from Grease) and we tried to memorize all the crazy lyrics and sing it really loud.
ShooDop Sha wadda wadda - dippity dipda DO!
Then we watched the movie GREASE - all the way to "Beauty School Dropout" when her Dad came to pick her up.
And then the house was really empty.
And quiet.

I looked out the window and noticed the Fireman had turned off all the lights in his house. Even the red heart he said was for me.

I crawled into bed with the cat.

Saturday, Got up early to take my Mom to Portsmouth to catch a Greyhound bus to Bangor, ME. She's going to visit my sister in Bar Harbor and organize her move up there next month. Laurie offered to come with me for company.

The bus stop was outside...

It was very cold. The bus was more than three hours late!

Turns out, back in Boston, they couldn't find the driver... how do you lose a driver!? So they took a lady driver from a NY route and sent her to do this run. She had to ask my MOM for directions!!??

Laurie and I were so cold and bored and discouraged by the time we headed home - late afternoon. But we cheered up again when we stopped at the Lindt chocolate shop off of 101!

I think I am in love with THIS man       -----------------------v

We walked in and
He said: "would you like to try a free sample of our new flavor?"
Us: "Oh, YES, please!!?"
Him: "It's red velvet!"
Me: "Oh, no thank you... (sad)... I only like dark chocolate. sigh"
Him: "Then I will get you one of our new 70% dark chocolates!"
Me: "oooooooooooooo...... !"

It was fabulous.

 Laurie and I soaked in Lindt balls!

Then we bought ourselves TONS of (our own durn) Valentines chocolates!!

I was exhausted when we finally got back home. But, in a better mood.

Until I saw the Fireman's texts.
And emails.

He was angry that I was angry about him having been angry about.... ?

He wanted his key back.

And then... and this one I am still puzzling over... he wanted me to know that he had bought me the LEGO Diner that I desperately wanted. He had been planning on giving it to me for Valentine's Day. But he was going to return it or give it to his little nephew. What?!


SO... if I wanted the Diner... I was supposed to ... what?
Or was he just trying to hurt me by saying he was going to lick all the donuts so I couldn't eat them?
I don't understand? Hurt me all week... then instead of trying to make things right... hurt me all weekend too? Seriously. I have no response.

Once again, I crawled into bed. But this time, I binge watched "Continuum" while building my LEGO Bank!! And I had bought this set MYSELF!
It was actually my gift to myself for graduation from Cartoon School!

Isn't it gorgeous? I attached it to the Detective Agency I finished a few weeks ago.

On the roof, there's a huge skylight! And a bank robber - the chimney has a secret opening right into the bank vault! OMG! It's too cool. :-)

Today I was determined to get to Work! But the Depression slammed me again. At a very low point, I tried calling - Him - I make poor decisions when I feel that Bad. Of course, he didn't answer. He's blocked me. Probably that's for the best. In my mind, I have this image of him that he's this loving, wonderful person who can pick me up when I'm down. Always there for me. Helpful. Trustworthy. Whatever.

In reality - we are truly ill-suited to each other. My humiliation comes from allowing myself to be treated badly... over and over again. And again. Each time, he thinks he has convinced me that nothing actually happened. I'm making a big deal out of nothing. I was at fault. He's the perfect boyfriend. I'm crazy.

I argue with him in my head. But there's no point in answering his texts or whatever he's yelling from his window. I just feel so embarrassed. So humiliated. What was I thinking? How can this be happening - again? Why am I such an idiot? How can I get him out of my head so I can get to WORK!?

That's what I've been thinking all afternoon. Cry, cry, cry. Kick things. Cry some more. Then all the anger shifts completely towards myself. I think terrible thoughts. And then I realize - I don't actually believe them.
Maybe he's wrong?

Eventually... I get... bored... I need to DO something with the anger and disappointment. I haven't drawn comics about this stuff in - 6 months (???!!!) - because it's the same old crap. Just read the old comics. I need new material. Different characters. I need to get back to WORK!

My compromise was to do a brain drain. I figured, if I write it all down here... [As Anna Nalick sings in "Breathe"]

...If I get it all down on paper, its no longer
Inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
'Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud...

You all are used to my messing up, so I thank you for reading all of that and bearing with me. 
I will get my act together.
I WILL get my act together.
(rinse and repeat).

Here are the main things I have been (trying) to work on recently - I will write more about them soon.

• I'm working on the illustrations for a picture book for Clear Fork Publishing, called "Ready, Set, Gorilla!" by Melissa Stoller. (click here to read article)

• Montshire Science Museum teamed up with Dartmouth College to produce more science kits - and I'm doing the comics/illustrations again. (click here to read the newspaper article)

• There's a large studio space available in the basement of the Concord Community Arts Center and I want to turn it into a Creative Collaboration Art Space.

• I finished the dummy for my own picture book "Blue Roo" and need to find it a publisher.

• The Quo Vadis, calendar comics were updated to include a full 12 months and I need to find a way to get them printed.

• Sketchnotes. I have drawn A LOT of sketchnotes and want to make a website for them.

Alright. That seems to have worked. Now I am accountable to you all and I feel like I want to go and work on stuff! THANKS!


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