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 want...no...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!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Drawing with Kids - Apply as Needed

Yesterday was the first time in years that it did not snow on the day of my Dad's Winter Family Get-Together! I actually got to drive down to Massachusetts with my daughter and The Fireman and see folks I haven't seen in ages. And to top it off - my Sister and her Hubby had driven down, just for the day, from Bar Harbor!

But the bestest-bestest part was drawing with my little nieces. It's become a tradition. And for an Introvert like me, with party-phobia and a lack of social graces, it gives me a focus and a way to tune out the general overwhelm. And for the nieces, who rarely see me, I can be distinguished from the other relatives as "Aunt Sandy. You know, the one who draws with you."

We started out working on our own drawings, then started passing them around, adding on and trying to out-do each other in craziness!

The Fireman got down on the rug with us and started a few awesome pics too - but I didn't get any photos of them. Bummer.

Then Elizabeth started a project (Exquisite Corpse style) where she cut a piece of paper into flaps and folded it. One of us drew a head on the first flap, then folded the paper over the image and marked the start lines for the neck. Next person drew the neck, folded over, drew the start lines and next added the arms and body, next one did the feet.

When the final drawing was unfolded, we all laughed until we had to go pee!

Then - we did it again!!

The competition got kind of fierce as we started a round of portraits, again, adding to each others images...

Portrait of Lilah by Everybody, but mostly Sandy
Portrait of Sandy by Everybody, but mostly Lilah
The whole experience had us all gasping with laughter. We got quite rowdy... but it also helped me remember WHY I love to draw.

With all the Crazy that tends to pile up and block our creative flow, it's so easy to forget that drawing... especially with kids... is therapeutic. It doesn't HAVE to make SENSE (or CENTS!) It's collaborative, expressive, silly and just plain fun.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bauble Tree on Sale

I can still ship out books or the new card packs in time for Christmas - but I also wanted to remind you that I have ebook/PDF versions- Instant Downloads - of a few of the books too. You can send the books to your friends anywhere in the world!

And in honor of the Season, I'm offering the Inspiration Sketchbook #3 - The Bauble Tree at $3.00 off it's usual price! And yes - you can still use the coupon code found at the end of The Fright blog post!

The Bauble Tree isn't necessarily a "Christmas" ebook - it shows the thought process behind the design decisions and also offers insights and tips for composition and using colored pencils.

Here is the book description:

Inspiration Sketchbook #3: The Bauble Tree is a little ebook, about 35 pages, filled with great ideas for tangling or doodling. Unlike the first two Inspiration Sketchbooks, this one focuses on just one tangle, but gives lots of ideas and tips for composing, shading, and use of color. It shows the thought process behind two pieces of art and gives inspiration that you can apply to your own artwork.

This tangle, Bauble, has been applied to a "Christmas Tree" image in the ebook, but the instructions and ideas can be applied to any image and any time of year.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

New Packs of Tangle Cards!!

I'm so excited to announce that I actually got my act together long enough to create something new!

Joining it's older sibling - the AlphaTangled Tangle Cards - please welcome the freshly printed - Tangles of Kells Tangle Cards! Yeah!!

This new card pack includes 40 tangles from my book - The Tangles of Kells - with new artwork on the front of each card, and step outs for drawing each pattern on the back.

They are trading card sized (like baseball cards) and come in a handy, clear storage box.

Yes, Virginia - they will fit nicely into your Zentangle stocking.

 Yes, they can be purchased as a set - the cards and the matching book (click here).

And, Yes, you can use the Secret Coupon Code I mentioned at the end of the previous blog post!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Fright Before Christmas

I thought I'd share the behind-the-scenes for another of my comic/picture books that is a perfect gift for the season!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away...  I started working on a warped version of The Night Before Christmas...

The text of the original story says, "And Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap, had just settle our brains for a long winter nap..." AAAAAHHH! Who would settle their brains... except maybe Frankenstein's Monster, right?

So I reinterpreted the text with the story taking place in the Monsters' world - and Our Santa accidentally stumbling into Their Santa - because the Monster world must have it's own Santa. And the books always show Santa riding off into a full moon - so Their Santa MUST be a werewolf!!

Seriously, the whole story makes MUCH more sense when you re-read it and keep this in mind. Monster Santa.

These next two pieces were from my first version of the story as a picture book. They're colored pencils on black paper.

When I redid it last year, I was still thinking of it as a picture book - I redrew it with full page images and was thinking of using color. Limited to red, green, and purple.

 But then I started thinking of it more as a comic. A mini-graphic novel. Probably because I was in Comic School at the time... The story broke up into more action. Some dialog. Multiple panels...

I kept redrawing and my classmates would suggest things (or question my sanity and sense of humor...)

Once I finally started drawing the actual artwork, I decided to stick with all black and white and to use ballpoint pen as I was doing with my journal comics.

 These are the thumbnails for four pages from the original (picture book) version - the brains being "settled" and the eight tiny reindeer scenes...

 and the following images show the same scenes as they were redrawn and rendered for the comic...

 The blue pencil sketch for Brains...

 and the ballpoint pen (inked) final page...

And this is the tiny reindeer scene (inked)...

Which I redrew to make it clearer that there were TWO sleds, hence TWO Santas! Agh - why was that such a hard concept for people? And the Big Sled was obviously the monster sled - it's a HEARSE! And those large, clawed footprints...?

I had intended to hand-letter the whole comic...

That intention did not last long. I found font that would look like Frank had written the whole story himself. And I only lettered the special titles and the dialog balloons.

I had a lot of fun drawing the Monster Santa (who treats Our Santa like a toy - stuffing him into a stocking). And his sleigh is just SO COOL!

For the cover, I looked at really old versions of the original book - most were called "A Visit from Saint Nicholas." I also played with the idea of die-cutting castle-shaped slip-covers!!!! Ooooooo!

When I came to my senses, I decided to try and mimic the old-time, "classic" feel of one of the original covers - in the background of the next picture...

I imitated the lettering and had to make up (guess) what some of the letters would look like. I turned most of the holly, into bats. And St. Nicholas was exposed to the full moon.

You can see the progression for the drawing from the inspiration and the image just starting to be inked to the image above, with all the lettering finished, to the image below - completed.

I scanned the art as well as some old paper and a book cloth spine, layered them together in Photoshop, and colorized it with an antique, watercolor-y feel.

For the inside title page, I re-purposed the cover art and added Frank's hand and pen writing the story...

Which continues onto the first page of the book, where Frank finishes writing the events that occurred. 

Which no one would believe. Really. Who would ever believe a tiny human Santa would get lost on Christmas Eve...?

And that's my book!

Someday, I'd like to get it published (for "real"), slightly larger and with a hard, antique-looking cover, book cloth spine, and embossed cover images. Ah, lovely.

For now - you can get your copy of The Fright Before Christmas at my Etsy shop: www.bumblebat.com   Put a note in with your order that you read my blog post and I'll include some really cute little stickers with scenes from the book!

And because I love you - and you read all the way to the end of this post! - here is a 15% off coupon you can use in my shop. Just enter the code: XMAS2017 where prompted in the Etsy shopping cart. Or you can click this link and it should do all the work for you:

The coupon is good for all purchases from my Etsy shop over $10 and will expire on Dec. 31, 2017.

You can use it to buy Fright, We Will Never Leave You, or any of the other awesome comics, Zentangle books, or card packs (fit in stockings!!)


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