Monthly Archives: September 2011

Illustration Friday : Ferocious

Years ago, when the Mister and I were still in college, we started on a long journey of ill-fated impulse buys. This illustration was inspired by one of them.

About 15 years ago, shortly after moving into my first apartment, we were strolling through the aisles of Meijer (as we were often wont to do), when we happened upon the pet department. Oooo, I thought to myself, I want something soft and cuddly and cute to love and take care of! And now would be the perfect time because I have my very own apartment! Yay!

Ugh, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve been able to rationalize, on the spot, a bad idea…well, I’d still have less money than I have spent over the years on said bad ideas.

And so, the deal was sealed. I was buying a hamster (and all of the supplies required to care for a hamster, which is really more than one would think). We flagged down an employee to fish out our new little fluffy friend and in no time, he was in his travel box and we were headed back to my dumpy lovely little apartment to get him all set up for his new life of adorable unbridled cuteness. Aww.

On the way home, we named our new ball of love and fluff Fulford. Aww.

Fulford sat quietly in his box as we carefully set up his new abode, complete with running wheel, water bottle, food dish, and toys on a bed of comfy wood shavings. We even tossed in a nice toilet paper roll for him to hide in, because, well…aww. Yes! He was to be the cutest pet on the face of the planet. And we would love him and feed him and play with him every day. Aww.

Then, the screaming started.

Neither I nor Big Sir had ever owned a hamster before, so we were both blissfully unaware of a hamster’s ability (or in Fulford’s case, propensity) to scream. As I attempted to pluck him from his travel box, he backed himself into the corner of his cardboard prison and began screaming in a most unnatural and high-pitched manner. Then, the little f*cker bit me. And he drew blood! WTH?

Now, I’m not sure if this was Fulford’s first taste of human blood or if he had played his vampire game with unsuspecting pet department employees in the past, but one thing became clear very quickly. This hamster was bloodthirsty and EVIL. He was not the cute little pile of fluff we thought we could put in a ball to cavort happily around the apartment. NO. This hamster was not to be trifled with.

Any attempt to put a hand in his cage, whether to feed him, give him a toy, or fish him out for cleaning purposes, was met with constant screaming and teeth-baring. It was so bad that I had to buy a pair of leather gloves to wear when taking him out of the cage in order to protect my hands from being peppered with hamster bites.

Eventually, Big Sir and I both began to fear him.

Aside from giving him food and water, I mostly ignored him. I dreaded cleaning his cage and after the deed was done, I went back to completely leaving him alone. I didn’t even make eye contact with the little bastard, lest he begin screeching like some kind of crazed fur-covered banshee. He hated us. And we hated him.

Sometime in October of that year, he began a regimen of extended wheel-running. He would run for unnatural amounts of time. I’m not sure, but he may have been bulking up in an attempt to escape from his cage and kill us in our sleep. Fortunately, his plan never came to fruition.

On Halloween night, I went to bed as Fulford was entrenched in one of his wheel marathons. In the morning, I awoke to find him dead, an ex-hamster, if you will. He was still in his wheel, his legs outstretched in running position, as if his Dark Master had come to retrieve him in mid-stride…on Halloween night (because, you know, he was evil).





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Happy Birthday(s)

Today is my dad’s birthday. I’m not sure he ever has occasion to visit my blog (unless, of course, he’s looking for my perogie recipe), but here’s a little birthday message for him anyway.

Dad at Michigan State sometime in the 1960s
(little did he know then that his daughter would spend a lot of time in this very spot)

Dad and the aforementioned daughter (me) in 1977

Dad and his dad in 1982

Dad and Sir (and Lake Michigan) this summer.

Also, if you didn’t know, it’s this cool chick’s birthday too. Be sure to leave her some birthday love on her blog.

illustration : by yours truly

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It’s Done, but I Still Don’t Love It.

I had some time to myself on Saturday (I know, I couldn’t believe it either), so I decided to buckle down and finish my magazine holder.

After several hours and a lot of cursing under my breath (Honestly, have you ever started a project and wished you hadn’t, then felt compelled to finish it even though you just want to QUIT and trash the whole thing? That’s how I felt about 15 minutes after starting work on this project.), I finally had the whole freakin’ thing covered in polka dots. I was tired. My neck was sore. But, I had finished!

And I hated it.

I really, really hated it. It was WAY too bright for my taste and far too bright for my studio.

What to do? What to do?

After all of that work, I knew I needed to salvage the thing somehow. My vintage magazine and knitting pattern stash needed a home, after all. I just really needed to tone down the almost-neon thing that was going on.

First, I tried a silver acrylic wash. I really liked the way the metallic paint settled into the texture of the tissue paper, but it made the whole thing WAY too shiny and actually made the colors brighter.

Oy. Next!

My last ditch effort was to thin out some white paint and use it to cover the whole thing. I wasn’t entirely pleased with those results either, BUT it did tone down the colors and that is what I really wanted. So, I’m just going to go with it.

The reality is that, aside from occasional visits from Sir and Big Sir, I am the only one who is ever in my studio to see the thing anyway. It definitely serves its purpose and that’s all I needed anyway, right? Right!

Now, on to cleaning the studio!

Or not.

photos : by yours truly

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Daily Sketches : Aww, Kitties

These are some sketches for this week’s Illustration Friday topic ‘ferocious’. I know, I know, these kitties are cute, right? I assure you, these kitties are not what they seem…

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Friday Favorites : Mesmerizing

This week’s Illustration Friday topic was ‘mesmerizing’ and, honestly, there were many entries that I could have easily stared at for days. But, then I wouldn’t have been able to pick my favorites to share with you. And that would be sad. Maybe. Right?


Mesmerizing by Kathleen Jennings

This looks exactly like a page out of a vintage book. So well done.



Mesmerising by Suky Goodfellow

Wonderful use of colors and texture to create the swirling tendrils of smoke.



Sin Título by Belén Moreno

Beautiful and truly mesmerizing.



Mesmerizing by Caitlin Rose

Nice to look at and educational. It doesn’t get any better than that. Also, I love the expression on the little fish’s face.



Mesmerizing Koi by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

So tranquil and beautifully rendered.



Mesmerizing by Roberta Baird

I have always loved Vincent Price and his expression is captured just perfectly here.



Mesmerizing by Gynux

Such an excellent expression – truly captures the essence of being mesmerized.



Mesmerizing by Jane Grant Tentas

A great interpretation of the topic and so nicely done.



Mesmerizing by Nelleke Verhoeff

Completely mesmerizing. Just try to stop staring at it. Really, go ahead, try.



Mesmerizing by Bethanie Murguia

Such an adorable illustration – the dogs’ inquisitive posture is captured so well.



Mermaid by Audrey Ang

The colors, the textures, the details – what’s not to love about this one?



Mesmerizing by Ray Ferguson

If Smokey knows what’s good for him, he’ll back out the door very slowly right….NOW!


To see more great illustrations check out And if you’d like to see past Friday Favorites, just click here.

all images © their respective owners – if you wish to have your thumbnail removed for any reason, please contact me.

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So, There I Was, Cleaning My Studio…

First off, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who left such nice comments on my PPF post last week. I’ve been trying to stop by everyone’s blogs to leave a little note of thanks, but, well…I’m easily distracted. Heh.

Which brings me to the subject of this post…ooo, a bird! Wait, what? What was I talking about? Oh yeah, distraction.

Anyway, I headed up to my studio last weekend with the best of intentions. The mess up there has gotten way out of control and it was time to do some serious cleaning. So, there I was, cleaning my studio when this happened…

Just as I was beginning to fret over what to do with my unruly stash of vintage magazines, I unearthed a wooden magazine holder that I had bought at IKEA ages ago. All cleaning operations came to a grinding halt (and stayed that way) as I grabbed my trusty tub of white gesso and got to work.

I decided to use some tissue paper to give it some interesting texture. Then, I brushed on a thin layer of orange paint. I didn’t like the way the orange looked, so I painted over it with some thinned out magenta. I still didn’t like the way it looked, as I usually tend to shy away from bright colors. But, I decided to go with it.

Then, I got distracted for 4-5 days. Surprise, surprise!

I really need to finish cleaning my studio and I knew it wasn’t going to happen until I finished this little project, so today I gave it my best effort and…I got distracted. Seriously.

I picked some colors for the polka dots and worked out a little pattern in my head. As I started painting, I got distracted and totally screwed up the pattern. Then, I tried to fix it. And I screwed up again. Then my OCD kicked in and I got all flustered and just had to quit working on it for today.

So, as I’m sure you have surmised, my studio is STILL a mess. *sigh*

UPDATE: I finished it, phew!

photos : by yours truly

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Daily Sketches : Acorns

I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing some linocut prints and I finally got around to buying (some of) the supplies for it this week. I am now in the ‘sketching out ideas’ phase of the project.

I’m thinking the Detroit Skyline may end up as a linocut print too.

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Daily Sketches : A Little Porker

Sometimes I say things that get Sir laughing hysterically – things that I don’t particularly find hilarious, but are just side-splitting to him. Recently, I made mention of Piggle McWiggle. It was just a name I made up when he was being particularly messy one day. Now, he thinks it is the funniest thing ever. The mere mention of Piggle McWiggle sends him into uproarious laughter. So, I am thinking about developing him as a character. He needs a lot of fleshing-out, but here’s a little sketch I worked on this morning.

(and in a kilt – heh)

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Guess Who Finished a Painting!

On one of my recent art supply buying binges, I picked up several tubes of acrylic paint. I haven’t painted with acrylics in years, but I couldn’t resist the colors (or the price – sale!). In the interest of full disclosure, I totally got all the tubes out, arranged them according to color (in my obsessive way) and stared at them lovingly for several days before actually using them.

At some point, I had also picked up a tub of modeling paste. I was growing  weary of working flat all the time and wanted to try something new…eventually (when/if the muse ever decided to return).

Last night, I had a little time on my hands, so I decided to see what I could come up with and, lo and behold, I managed to start AND finish a painting!

First, I slathered an 8×10″ canvas with modeling paste. In the process, I also managed to slather my hands, fingernails, shirt, and who knows what else with modeling paste.


I wanted to incorporate circles and A LOT of texture. So, I started grabbing whatever was in reach and squishing it around in the modeling paste to create different textures. Some of the things I used include a bead, paint brushes, a Q-tip, an earring, bottle caps, and my shirt (purely by accident, mind you).

I’ve been a bit obsessed with copper and verdigris lately and I’ve been itching to use the copper paint that I bought. So, I decided to try to create a color similar to verdigris by first painting on a thin layer of blue paint.

I then covered it with a thin layer of green paint applied in the opposite direction.

After letting the paint dry, I took a small brush and filled in all of the white space with copper paint mixed with a little white paint. I started to realize that the green color was a bit too bright. So, to finish the piece, I applied a very thin wash of copper paint, which served to tone down the green and give a metallic finish to the entire painting.

Oxidation I

Oxidation I (detail – this is actually my favorite part of the painting)

Oxidation I (detail)

Sorry, I was a little late to the PPF party this week!

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Friday Favorites : Boundaries

This week’s Illustration Friday topic was ‘boundaries’. As always, there were tons of amazing submissions. And, as always, I had a hard time narrowing down my favorites. But, I did. And here they are (my apologies for the lack of commentary this week)…


Boundaries by Vincent Desjardins




Boundaries by Monica Indelicato




Boundaries by Corey McCarty




Boundaries by Maja




Boundaries by Wilme




Boundaries by Lori Weitzel




Boundaries by Bill Nagel




The Pequod by Ernie D’Elia




Boundaries by Aino Anto




Boundaries by Stephanie Smith




Boundaries by Carla Martell




Boundaries by Nikki Cooper



To see more great illustrations check out And if you’d like to see past Friday Favorites, just click here.

all images © their respective owners – if you wish to have your thumbnail removed for any reason, please contact me.


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