Notes From the Road

Just for Fun


We were, as you might guess, on the road this past weekend, specifically to and from Mobile, Alabama, for MobiCon. It was #3 on the circuit of 6 conventions I’m taking my book to this year and we had a fabulous time.

We usually try to drive over the night before any given convention so we’re not road-weary when the show opens (usually around noon on Fridays for most cons), but that means grabbing dinner somewhere on the road. Since travelling is one of those times I try to be especially careful what I eat (so I don’t end up ill between points A and B), we try to find a sit-down place to eat rather than an drive-through.

Did you know Cracker Barrel has salads?

And not just the side salad or coleslaw variety. It’s not what you usually think of when you see the wooden rockers on that wide front porch, but they’ve apparently added some lighter fare options including this Chef Salad that was quite tasty.

Chef Salad from Cracker Barrel

Chef Salad from Cracker Barrel

Dinner salads are my default option for dining out while keeping the FODMAPs low.

Trying to get back into the Illustration Friday habit.

Ages ago I was among the first wave of artists to sign up for Illustration Friday prompts but my participation has been lacking for most of that time. I’d sketch some of them out but seldom would I get around to posting them. Friday’s prompt was “Universe” and immediately the Beatles started playing through my head. That song was stuck in my head all weekend long, but I didn’t mind.

Across the Universe

Across the Universe

I’d seen (somewhere, I failed to bookmark it) a coloring style that concentrated on outlines and corners (for lack of a better description), more a suggestion of color than anything else, and I was curious to try it. It worked especially well with colored pencils, and I like the composition enough that I might recreate it digitally for prints. Maybe. It was fun to have something to draw just for fun in the moment.

A little detour on the way home.

While I’m generally content to snooze my way home while Todd drives (I generally fight sleep if I’m driving the return trip, so we’ve just given up trying at this point), this time we made a little detour to the Tanger Outlet shops. Now, usually I stick with the outlets that are right off the Interstate but this one was 20 miles down a state highway and then had the nerve to more mall than outlet. What is up with the prices being just as high there as they would be in a non-outlet store?! My bargain-loving self was not amused.

I did, however, manage to find a good bargain on a handbag from Wilson’s Leather; $200 bag for $50? I’ll take that deal! But most of our time was spent in the kitchen stores (no surprise there) where we picked up a couple of Snap ‘n Stack Cupcake/Cookie Carriers at essentially 2 for 1 and the hope is that they will make taking our samples to conventions that much simpler.

The cupcake inserts flip to make 2 tiers per container.

The cupcake inserts flip to make 2 tiers per container. (image via Amazon)

It was a fun, if exhausting weekend. Our next convention isn’t until mid-July. That’s a good thing as now we’ve got to get on the ball and start packing!

From Stick to Chick

64 Arts

aka: How to go from drawing stick figures to drawing people.

That’s right, folks, I’ve put together a handy little exercise for those who think they can’t draw! I was working on these examples and a few other things as I was getting my oil changed this morning (gotta love being able to sit in your car while the SuperLube guys take care of everything else) and the mechanic noticed my scribblings.

‘Did you draw that?’
‘Uh, yes?’ (sketch pad propped up on steering wheel, pencil in hand…)
‘Wow, that’s nice, I can’t draw blood with a razor.’

I had to laugh at that one–hadn’t heard that particular phrase before. Incidentally this was while I was working on a different sketch, I doubt the early steps below would have been as impressive, lol.

But here we go:

From Stick to Chick, er... Chuck

From Stick to Chick (or Chuck) Copyright 2010 Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

Step 1: Draw your basic stick figure. A circle for the head, a vertical line for the neck/spine, a horizontal line for the shoulders/arms and 2 diagonal lines for the legs.

Tip: A human adult is, roughly, 7 heads high. So, if you draw a 1-inch circle for the head, the legs need to end 7 inches from the top of that circle.

Step 2: Add the basic muscle groups. The head is actually more of an oval than a circle, with a small cylinder for the neck. An inverted triangle covers the shoulders and comes to a point somewhere in the groin area–don’t be too worried about that. Small circles for the shoulders (just inside the corners of the triangle), elbows and knees with ovals for the upper and lower arms, thighs and calves. A horizontal oval works for the hips.pelvis and some open triangles (flat end out) for the hands and feet. It’s starting to look more like a person now. Sorta.

Step 3: Since most folks don’t go around hanging out in Vetruvian Man pose, let’s redraw the shapes with the arms akimbo, flipper-hands somewhere in the hip region, and draw the legs a little closer together. That looks like a slightly more normal pose, doncha think?

Step 4: Using a heavier line, draw the basic shape of the body using the shapes as a guide. Arms and legs tend to start wide and taper to a joint; look at your own as an example. The head gets some slight dents about a third up on each side to show where the eye sockets would be, before the cheekbones flare out a bit. For a woman, take the top third of the chest out a bit before curving in to form the breasts (hint: they should be midway between the shoulder and elbow at their perkiest) and curve the waist in a bit. Men’s pecs also flare a little (but shouldn’t look like boobs!) and there’s usually not as much of a waist, it’s more a slope from the ribs to the hips.

The rest is just window dressing! Clothes (unless spandex) should be a little bit bigger than the figure that’s wearing them. Fitted clothes, of course, follow the natural lines whereas baggy ones tend to exaggerate and hang different. Look at magazines or catalogs to see the way this work, maybe even drawing your stick-to-chick shapes over the photos to get a better idea of how it all fits together.

Hope you give it a try!

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Daily Doodle 3.5.10 Copyright 2010 Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

Daily Doodle 3.5.10 Copyright 2010 Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

And here’s Friday’s doodle, posted a little late as Saturday was a busy one for me–I’m going out of town late next week and had some errands to run, materials to prepare (more on that tomorrow) and, of course, I’m still trying to get my schtuff together for taxes, too.

I was thinking about needing to get the oil changed so the top of the hat actually started out as an oil filter. But I’d flared the bottom corners a bit and decided they looked more like a hat. I’d just seen (another) ad for the new Alice and Wonderland so it became a Mad Hatter’s Hat with the card in the brim, but I decided I wanted it to be a woman, so this is Maddie Hatteress.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

You still have until 6:59pm EST Sunday the 7th to submit links to your daily doodles. I can’t believe NO ONE wants to win a hand bound journal…

If you’re looking for some inspiration as to what to doodle, check out Illustration Friday. Every Friday a new theme word is posted. It’s a fun exercise to brainstorm what a word brings to mind πŸ™‚

Lines, Boxes and Rules

64 Arts

Can I just start by saying how absolutely exhausted I am by the phrases “coloring outside the lines” and “thinking outside the box”? (Of course I can, it’s my blog!)

  1. I like to color inside the lines. It looks neat and tidy and everything is in it’s place and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  2. I like my box: I know where all the walls are and it’s roomy enough that I don’t feel claustrophobic.

If it’s your first time here or you’ve somehow failed to notice: I’m a very creative person. Both sides of my brain stay quite busy and I come up with way more ideas that I’ll ever be able to use. The above points don’t interfere with that one iota. Why?

Because I don’t feel the need to buck authority or tradition at every turn. I have a lot more time to create because I’m not eternally focused on how to disrupt convention or be a renegade, I’m in my box, doing my thing, and bringing in whatever I need when necessary. (Not that I think all who employ those catch-phrases are, but I’ve met a lot who think just that.)

Comforting things about lines, boxes and rules:

  1. They give us a framework to create in. Sometimes having all the options in the world is a hinderance instead of a benefit. You can spend way too much time picking out a dozen colors that will just look muddy when all combined into once piece whereas if the rules say you create with 2 complimentary colors, your options just narrowed. You pick between half a dozen pairs and get on with the creating instead of changing your mind a handful of times and then having to fix the mess the unlimited options led you to.
  2. A line is a path, a road, and just because someone already mapped it doesn’t mean there’s nothing for you to discover as you travel it. There’s 2 sides to each of those lines, too, the inside and the out and there’s nothing that says you can’t decorate on both. Sometimes our work looks better against a blank wall whereas other times it’s nice to have a background that coordinates and enhances. But the lines are there to show someone who can’t read our mind what parts go together.
  3. A box can be the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced (in a good way). Whether it’s a deadline (self-imposed or otherwise) or a set of parameters you cannot deviate from, it’s a challenge to be creative with limited time or materials. But it can be done. If you concentrate on what you have and immerse yourself, instead of bellyaching about what you could be using if you had your own way and one other thing, you might just be surprised at what you can come up with.

But, Scraps, what’s the big deal? So what if people “think outside the box” and go a little off-plan?

What if those plans are for your house? What if the contractor thinks the architect was nuts and moves a wall here, a beam there, takes out an eave here and puts in an arch there? Not only are not getting the house you wanted, it may not be structurally sound!

Now I’m off to color a picture. That I drew. Those lines are exactly where I want them πŸ™‚

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Daily Doodle for Thursday:

Okay, so it was harder than I though to come up with something to draw each day. But, with the topic above bouncing around in my head, it did get the pencil moving, at least.

I don’t always do weekend posts but I have one last drawing topic in mind so at some point Saturday I’ll have something ready to go. Time is uncertain as there will be visual aids that need creating. Best way not to miss it, of course, is subscribe to the RSS feed πŸ™‚

Seize the Scribble!

64 Arts

That’s right folks–you don’t think you can draw? Have I got an experiment for you! Meet the Gesture Drawing:

Gesture Drawings

In figure drawing class (the files of which I went and dug through tonight so I could have something to show you) we would start every day with a series of short scribbles. The model would hold a pose for up to 60 seconds (sometimes as little as 30) and we’d have to capture as much of the pose as we could in that time.

The idea is you put your pencil, crayon, charcoal, whatever down on the paper and scribble like mad to describe the shape and weight of the object in front of you; ideally without raising your pencil.

At first I wasn’t very good at it–I have a lot of unfinished gesture drawings and blobby squiggles. Eventually, though, I got more adept at describing what I saw, learned to fill the space and then go back to add weight to the edges and to trace the spine and limbs to get the most movement out of the fewest possible seconds. Then I started using charcoal or conte crayons for value gesture drawings (value being the relative dark or light qualities between the pencil strokes) and I got even faster because I could rough out the shape of the figure quicker, and spend more precious seconds adding definition.

Another trick (though that makes it sound like a cheat, and it’s not) is to think about the general joint and muscle structure of the body: the head is an oval, the neck a cylinder, the shoulder circles with narrow ovals for upper arms, little circles for elbows, and so forth. This still comes in handy (majorly!) when I’m trying to figure out a pose for my comics.

While you can practice gesture drawing from still photographs, live models really are better. My teacher suggested going to a park or playground and drawing children at play. If you feel a little odd about doing that and otherwise lack a model to pose for you (and, yes, it IS easier to draw nudes that clothed people–clothing obscures lines and confuses the eye-mind understanding of what we know is there), pop in a DVD and hit pause on an interesting pose. Yoga or pilates DVDs would be great for this. (And, hey, it’s not like they’re getting used otherwise, right?)

* * *

And now for my Daily Doodle.  (Still time to share yours, hint HINT! lol)

So this one came out of nowhere. I was really stumped about what to draw but I knew I needed to do something. I had colored in a stamped image the other night that had a fairy and butterflies and stuff, just fooling around with my colored pencils (okay, procrastinating working on the comic) so I was thinking flowers. Then I thought of that Dali-Disney collaboration (Destino) and the female with the bell-shaped dress (about 2:30 in) and that’s where this came from. I couldn’t decide if it looked more like a Tulip-themed cotillion gown (with little wheels under the tips of the framed skirt petals so that the shape would not be compromised as she walked) or a Dr Seuss Wedding Dress πŸ™‚ THEN (see the way this happens?) I realized it would be perfect for another project I have on the back-burner, and this drawing will get used again. Yay!

Suit Your Surface

64 Arts

There are more things to draw on than just paper…

Let’s see how many things I can come up with that are suitable for drawing on that are not paper:

  • Sidewalks (make your own sidewalk chalk!I bet those water bottle ice-cube trays would be perfect molds for them!)
  • Chalkboards
  • Whiteboards
  • Walls (if you have permission of the wall-owner, of course)
  • Nails (as in finger nails–I’ve always been curious about those polish markers for this sort of thing)
  • Silk (veering into painting a bit, but I think it’s an understandable deviation)
  • Appliances*
  • Cakes

Yup, I was totally leading up to that last one πŸ™‚ I used to do a LOT of cake decorating. I was mostly self-taught, then I took the Wilton classes so I could teach others. I could put anything on a cake, as long as I had a picture to go by. One cake in particular decided to test those skills:

1999 Camp Gordon Johnston Assn Fundraiser

This group used an old WWII cartoon by Bill Mauldin on their brochures and wanted it duplicated onto a cake.

This was a bit before the edible images were very widespread so there wasn’t much to do but draw it on.

I was able to transfer the primary lines using piping gel transfer and a piece of transparency film, then filled in the rest with a very tiny tip (a 1 and a 0, if I remember correctly) and black icing. It took hours, but the CGJA loved it!

What other surfaces do you want to draw on? And what types of preparation would you have to make to do it?

* * *

And, now, for the Daily Doodle! Again, I had a couple because it was my night to do my weekly life-comic. If you’d like to see the larger size of the left side of the image, click on over to Cocktail Hour and see how my studio got it’s name. The ones on the right are honest doodles, though.

The top right is a visual pun: Spur of the Moment. I was just thinking how this little exercise was just that–and into my head this image popped. Nice when the muse plays along, right? (My muse’s name is Tessa, by the way–but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) The bottom right, however, was inspired by the  Search for the Missing Cookies over at A Duck in Her Pond. The actual line she wrote was

And we all know a pig without Oreos is not a happy pig.

All I could think about was a sad little piggie (wearing pearls, of course!) shaking an empty box of cookies and looking terribly forlorn. I know we feel very sad when we run out of cookies, here!

Still plenty of time to share your doodles and be entered in the drawing for the handmade journal. Each link gets you an entry πŸ™‚