Category Archives: blah blah

This Blog Isn’t Dead…

It’s just stuck in a place that is neither humorous.

Nor inspired.

Nor relevant.

Nor the least bit entertaining.

So, sorry for that.

Also, the database got corrupted. So, everything disappeared for a while.

That sucked.

If anyone out there is still checking in here, the best I can offer you is this ($20 Monster and Dragon hats that I am clearing out of my Etsy shop).

And I guess that’s about it. See you on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More cool stuff:

Moose-norah & Christ-moose Tree

I am not a huge fan of holiday cards (for reasons that I won’t get into right now – although, I do have a GREAT story about Christmas cards/letters that we have been receiving from total strangers for the last 6 years. Maybe I’ll share it soon. It’s hilarious, I promise.). But all the other illustrators are doing it, so I did too. Because I’m a follower like that, ya know.

So, yeah, I designed one. I went so far as to almost order them. Then my efforts stalled.

Do I really want to spend the money on cards that I may or may not have the motivation to actually address and mail? My track record for making it to the post office in a timely manner is not so great (probably because the nearest post office is filled with surly aging postal workers and lunatics of varying degrees. That, and I’m lazy.)

I could always sell them in my Etsy shop. But, I’m going out of town in two days and my shop will be closed for over a week.

Hmm. I don’t know. This is what I get for bandwagon jumping.

Anyway, here’s the card…

More cool stuff:

Whatcha Gonna Do With All That Junk?

So, as I so subtly hinted yesterday, I am getting rid of most of what is in my portfolio. If I’m ever going to get anywhere, I need to create an almost entirely new body of work and/or fix a lot of my existing work. That means I am left with a bunch of prints that I have no real use for.

Do you want them? Do you know someone who might? Make me an offer.

I accept many forms of payment – pocket lint (only the high-end stuff), chocolate, undue praise, wine (preferably the kind one wouldn’t drink out of a paper bag), magic beans, poultry and/or livestock (in accordance with local ordinances, of course), things you found on the subway, your art (because it has to be better than mine), or change you found in your couch cushions.

Here are the illustrations that I have prints of and their sizes:


Izzy the Dog Sings a Duet – 8×12″ print (this print is currently spoken for)


Izzy the Dog in the Rain – 8×12″ print


Izzy the Dog Picks a Flower
– 8×12″ print (this print is currently spoken for)


Sleeping Izzy the Dog – 8×12″ print

How to Fight an Evil Carrot – 6×8″ print

Bad Teeth – 6×8″ print (this print is currently spoken for)

Prints are available unless otherwise noted.

More cool stuff:

One Man’s Trash…

I’ve been dreading this.

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say about the whole portfolio review experience. The following anecdote probably sums it up pretty well.

When I got home from the conference on Sunday, my husband was helping me bring my things in from the car.

He: I wasn’t sure where you wanted your portfolio.
Me: In the trash.

Now that a few days have passed, I realize just how ridiculous that statement is. I mean, throwing out all that paper would be wasteful and environmentally irresponsible. I should probably just give it to one of my cat-owning friends to line their litter box with.

My portfolio review was with an AD from Abrams. Among his accomplishments are art directing the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and giving two workshops at the conference. He also finds bacon delicious.

Sorry, I felt the need for a non-sequitur there.

He was friendly. Seemed to like me. I mean, why wouldn’t he? Everyone loves a neurotic Jew. Well, except for maybe Mia Farrow. But, I digress.

From the beginning, I got the distinct feeling that he didn’t much care for my work. Not that I can blame him. I wasn’t happy with most of the pieces I included. But unexpected surgery (and a decided lack of talent) kind of put the kibosh on my plans to clean up my older work and create new, better work. So, he was mostly looking at (to put it nicely) junk.

Izzy the Dog did not go over well. He was lukewarm toward Everett the Owl. The only pieces he really seemed to care for were what he called the ‘funny stuff’. Also, known as the not-quite-kid-appropriate stuff and the there’s-really-no-use-for-this-other-than-to-put-it-on-my-blog stuff.  He also told me there’s no money in this business.

Sigh. The old ‘don’t quit your day job’ routine. Well, the joke’s on you, Mr. Art Director, I don’t have a day job!

There were a few positive nuggets amidst the rubble. He was impressed by my ability to give myself assignments…and complete them. He also said I had interesting stories (talk about a non-sequitur). And he complimented me on being able to (water)color inside the lines. Okay, even the positive stuff is starting to sound bad now, so I’m just going to stop.

Oddly, when it was all over, I didn’t feel so bad. I went to my next workshop, schmoozed with another artist, sat through the final keynote. All was right with the world. I left the conference, started driving toward home, let it all sink in, and…bawled like a baby.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

More cool stuff:

Fused, Slumped, and Pretty Sweet (if I do say so myself)

Hey, kids, I have finally emerged from my drug-induced haze! Hooray!

The post-surgery pain hasn’t left me completely, but it is manageable with just a little Advil here and there,which means I can now spend (most) of my day in an upright and un-looped condition.

To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot from last Tuesday through about Saturday. It’s all kind of a jumble of painkillers,  blood,  Arrested Development, ice packs, and pudding cups.

While I was convalescing, my husband was kind enough to go and fetch my finished fused glass pieces from the class I took two weeks ago. I was so excited to seem them. (Well, as excited as one could be while biting on a giant gauze pad and randomly passing out.)

They turned out even better than I expected! In fact, I loved them so much that I used one of my few moments of semi-lucidity to get online and start shopping for kilns. Let’s just say that it is a good thing I didn’t have access to my wallet (and it was time for another pain pill) or I probably would have made a very expensive impulse buy. Instead, I passed out.

Crisis averted.

I still desperately want a kiln, but they are far too pricey and would most likely fry the wiring in our old house (we can’t even turn on the microwave and toaster oven at the same time, lest we trip the damn breaker).

Aaaaanyway, I wanted to share how I made these in case anyone else wants to give it a try. I found a pattern online for something similar, but it didn’t really give the best instructions. If you know how to cut glass, this is actually a pretty simple process.

Square Fused/Slumped Dishes

The first thing that I did was cut three 5″ squares of glass to serve as the base (I used an aqua color for two of them and a swirly blue/light blue for the third).

After I had my bases, I started cutting random squares and rectangles out of several different colors of glass (in shades of blue and green). I was advised not to stack the glass pieces more than three high (including the base). So, I arranged the larger squares/rectangles on the bottom and then put a smaller square/rectangle on top (you can see this in the process photo at right).

I continued arranging and fitting the cut pieces together until the entire base was covered. I tried not to leave any large gaps in between pieces, but a little extra space is fine. It is hard to cut pieces that will fit together perfectly.

Then came the fun part (that took me for-freaking-ever to finish). I pushed the top two layers of glass of the base and began cleaning the pieces. You want to use window cleaner and paper towel to get any fingerprints, bits of glass, etc. off.

After each piece was clean and dry, I used a toothpick to apply some hairspray (yep, the instructor gave us each a little cup of hairspray to stick the pieces together) and then put each piece back onto the base in the original arrangement.

Since I don’t have a kiln (yet…heh, heh), the instructor took the pieces with her to fire in her kiln. I am told that the process involved firing each piece until it fully fused and then firing each one a second time in mold (this process is called slumping). This second firing is what gives the dishes their raised sides. Otherwise, they would have just been flat squares.

The whole process is fairly easy if you have glass-cutting experience. Even if you don’t, it is all a series of straight cuts, so very beginner friendly.

Here are a few more photos of the finished pieces…

photos : fused glass dishes by yours truly

More cool stuff:

A Vote for Me is a Vote for…Well, uh, Me. Yeah.

Kids, today I’m here to talk to you about something very serious.

Winning.

Now, I’m not talking about that crazy Charlie Sheen tiger blood coke-fueled erratic behavior type of winning. Nope. I’m talking about my own special brand of crazy Coke (and other caffeinated beverage)-fueled erratic behavior kind of winning. The kind that forces me to look at each and every one of you with a suspicious and judgmental eye while trying to determine whether or not you’re telling me the truth when you say you voted for me (in all three categories) in this year’s Mobbies competition.

Well, did you? Did you vote today? Will you vote tomorrow and every subsequent day until voting ends on November 10? Do you really love me or would you rather see me sitting in a corner softly weeping and drowning my sorrows by gnawing on a wheel of smoked Gouda? And, if the latter is the case, would you be willing to send me a wheel of smoked Gouda (because it’s my favorite)? Also, crackers. Preferably with sesame seeds in them.

Wait, what?

Oh, yeah, winning. If you want me to win, then vote for me…because, trust me, the last thing anybody wants is for me to be replaced by Ashton Kutcher.

Click here (or on the badge in my sidebar) to vote for the 2011 Mobbies. Voting is open through November 10 and you can cast one vote per day in each category. Go! Now! Unless, of course, you plan on voting against me. In which case, please disregard.

 

More cool stuff:

The Good (Teeth), the Bad (Teeth), and the Ugly (Teeth)

So, I currently possess three traits which, when combined, can make for some pretty unpleasant situations – bad teeth, a high pain threshold, and a knee-buckling, heart-racing, dry-heaving fear of dental procedures.

Now, I don’t know if it is physically possible for one to be born with bad teeth, but my own life experience has told me that it has to be. As a small child, I began visiting the dentist religiously – every six months. And every six months, without fail, the dentist would find a cavity.

Now, I should mention here that my mother was a world class sugar rationer. My brother and I were allowed very little sugar in any form – cookies, candy, ice cream, pretty much anything that would make a child’s eyes sparkle with the sheer joy of a potential sugar high. So, it wasn’t poor diet that caused my teeth to crumble like the delicious cookies we weren’t allowed to eat.

My mother, frustrated with having to drag my whiny little self to the dentist for fillings all the time, instituted a toothbrushing routine that we were made to follow. It involved an hourglass shaped egg timer. I hated that thing. My brother and I were forced to stand in front of the bathroom mirror brushing our teeth non-stop until all of the pink sand flowed from the top chamber to the bottom. No amount of toothpaste drool or sore arms could get us out of brushing until the last grain of sand had fallen. And you know what?

I still had cavities.

The dentist started sending me home with little pink tablets, which I was made to chew in order to show where the plaque was on my teeth so that I could see where to focus my rigorous brushing efforts.

And I still had cavities.

Fillings, surgeries, braces, root canals, more fillings – honestly, who could blame me for my general distaste for all things dental?

As an (anxiety-ridden) adult, I found ways to avoid going to the dentist. When my teeth would start to hurt, I took advantage of the aforementioned high pain threshold and employed a wide range of methods for ignoring the problem. When I was pregnant with Sir, I was stricken with an unbearable toothache. The pain was so intense at times, that I would literally fall to the floor. After several sleepless nights, I broke down and had an emergency root canal. Shortly after Sir was born, the same type of pain developed in the adjacent tooth and I had yet another root canal. But this time life got in the way and I never had the tooth restored.

It was fine for a while. The temporary filling held and all was right with the world. And then, one day, as I was eating a turkey sandwich, the whole thing just broke right at the gumline. I was horrified and hugely embarrassed, but I decided to hide it rather than face the dentist. I mastered the art of talking out of the side of my mouth. I never smiled fully. And I would always do my best to sit to the right of people so they wouldn’t accidentally catch a glimpse of my awful disfigurement.

Recently, I have been experiencing some very intense pain coming from two teeth that had lost their fillings (yeah, all those fillings that were placed years ago when I was a kid, are now starting to fail). For a while, I quietly subsisted on a diet of Advil and silent-agony. Then, the sleeplessness started. I knew I had to do something.

Fast forward to two days ago.

There I was, sitting in a dentist’s chair with my heart nearly beating out of my chest – toes curled, hands clenched – awaiting the bad news. And bad it was. Four of my teeth are a total loss. Two wisdom teeth and two molars (the ones causing my pain) are broken beyond repair and have to go. Even worse, the dentist was fairly sure that my other broken tooth was also a loss and that I would need an extraction and an implant (unless, of course, I wanted to spend the rest of my days half-smiling and jockeying for position in social situations). He asked me to come back so that he could take a closer look before making a final decision though.

Fast forward to this morning.

There I was, sitting in the same dentist’s chair – slightly less frantic, but still quite scared – awaiting the possibly bad news. The dentist drilled, he inspected, he drilled some more, he sighed, he took a brief break to see another patient, he came back and drilled some more. Did I mention that I didn’t have Novocaine during all of this? Because I didn’t. Finally, the tooth was drilled down to what was considered ‘keepable’. He said it would be a challenge, but he thought that he could construct a new tooth for me.

And (with Novocaine this time) he did!

In less than an hour and for about 10% of the cost of an extraction/implant, this AMAZING dentist was sending me on my way with an actual functional tooth! It’s a little smaller than my original tooth and it’s not quite as strong, but it’s a tooth! And I highly doubt that anyone who didn’t know that it wasn’t a real tooth could even tell the difference. I am so thankful!

Now, I just have the rest of my bad teeth to contend with. But at least I can smile through the pain now.

illustration : bad teeth by yours truly

 

More cool stuff:

Hot Damn! I’m Freakin’ Nominated!

People, as you well know, I say a lot of things – mostly dumb things, but things nonetheless. Most of the time those things go unnoticed. So, I try to say them louder. But no one is listening and I end up just being a crazy person yelling in room by myself and, before I know it, Pandora starts showing me ads for antidepressants and online dating sites and I start to develop a weird following of dentists and pornographers on Twitter.

Wait. What the hell was I just talking about?

Oh yeah, things that I say. So, anyway, once in a while I say something and someone notices. And they think that other people should notice too.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned a *silly little goal that I had made for myself. **It was just a little daydream and ***I never really thought anything would come of it. But today, my awesomely huge little dream has come true.

Today, I was nominated for the Mobbies (a.k.a. Maryland’s Outstanding Blogs) in not one, but three categories.

Awesome, right? Right. But, you all know me, I’m not going to be one of these people who goes completely off the deep end with excitement (yes, I am). After all, I have worked very hard to cultivate an air of cool sophistication (bullshit) and it isn’t in my nature to, say, walk out my front door and scream something like, ‘Take that Baltimore! My blog’s the shit! Betta recognize!’ And even if it was, I wouldn’t be able to shout over the sound of my hippie neighbors playing the xylophone anyway. So, it’s a good thing I’m so calm, reserved, and not at all prone to emotional outbursts.

Yep, that’s me…good old even-keeled Ruth, sailing on a sea of tranquil waters. Ahhhhh(HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I WAS NOMINATED FOR THE MOBBIES!!!! WHOOOO!!!)hhhh…yep, cool sophistication.

 

* goal is neither silly nor little and my entire fragile ego is riding on this, people, so giddy-up and get ready to vote!
** oh, NO it wasn’t!
*** oh, YES, I did!


photo : yours truly by yours truly 

More cool stuff:

Eyes on the Prize…or Something

So, you may or may not have noticed that I haven’t been saying a whole lot lately. It has pretty much been all show and no tell around here. Sorry about that. I’ve really been focusing my energy on drawing every day and it hasn’t left much time for writing. I’m working to strike a balance though, so rest assured you’ll be getting regular doses of my insanity levity again soon.

I often find myself having trouble focusing my creative energy. My brain is always in about twenty different places at the same time and I have a really hard time accomplishing anything because I’m always thinking about what I want to accomplish next. I have actually seen this personality trait developing in Sir and it is kind of frightening.

In an attempt to rein myself in, I have taken some big steps toward getting focused and actually accomplishing my creative goals. First, I started working on getting my portfolio online. I have gotten hung up on a couple of steps in the process, but I am hoping to have it live in the next week or so. Second, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. This is something I had been debating about for a while. Honestly, I didn’t know if I was qualified to formally declare myself an illustrator. Then I discovered that my region’s conference is next month in Gettysburg (One of my absolute favorite places, I often go there when I’m feeling distressed and, for some reason, it calms me and helps me get centered again.). I took this as a sign that I should just bite the bullet and do it. So, I did.

As much as I am looking forward to the conference, it also has me feeling a bit frantic. I opted to have my portfolio reviewed and that means, well, I need a freaking portfolio!

Enter the near-constant sketching and stressing.

I am currently working on some character illustrations while trying not to get too distracted by all of my other interests, ideas, and responsibilities. Wish me luck!

I will be sharing some of what I am working on soon. Please feel free to offer any thoughts, critiques, etc. Currently, Sir is my only source of feedback and, while he is my target market, it would probably be beneficial to hear from people who can offer a little more than ‘Those are owls. Those owls are blue.’ Heh.

photo : card-carrying member by yours truly

 

More cool stuff:

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

More cool stuff:

Back to School!

Today was Sir’s first full day of school, which means that I spent the last two days in a frenzy whipping up little First Day of School gifts for him and all of his new little friends.

At first, I had planned on just doing our homemade crayons (tutorial here) in handmade envelopes, but then (at the last minute, of course) I decided we should add a little something more.

So, I shrunk down some of the coloring pages I’ve designed, printed them out, cut them down to 4×4″ squares and tied them together with bits of colored string to make mini-coloring books. It really didn’t take much effort and it made for much better gifts than just a crayon or two.

I popped a little coloring book and one crayon into each envelope, wrote a quick note inside, and sealed them up with a sticker. Voila! Cute, useful, and relatively inexpensive (I determined that the whole project cost around $5 total – not bad for 11 kids) gifts. It was a tad time-consuming, but I’m sure the kids will love them and Sir was so excited to share presents with his friends, so it was totally worth it.

I am currently working on an envelope-making tutorial to share since several people have asked me about them. I’m hoping to have it up by early next week.

In other school-related news, I must admit that I was over the moon to receive our first Scholastic book order form today – probably a bit much, I know, but I used to LOVE ordering books when I was in school. Books and art supplies are the two things that we don’t really put strict buying limits on in our household, and Sir often reaps the benefits of this arrangement (despite the fact that every bookshelf in our house is practically overflowing). I can hardly wait to place our first order!

 Psst…this is my 500th post.

 

 

 

 

 

More cool stuff:

Lights On

Ugh.

So, here’s what happened after my last post…

  • Stocked up on ‘hurricane essentials’ – bottled water, salty snacks, chocolate, wine, calamine lotion (don’t ask).
  • Listened to the rain.
  • Put a pretty good dent in the ‘hurricane essentials’.
  • Listened to more rain.
  • Lost power (damn).
  • Tripped over several toys that were not picked up before power loss.
  • Spent several restless hours lying in bed listening to wind roaring.
  • Waited for tree to fall on house.
  • Got up at daybreak to assess damage (i.e. crap blown all over yard and power loss).
  • Uttered the following phrases numerous times ‘No, we can’t watch TV. We don’t have electricity.’ ‘No, we can’t listen to music. We don’t have electricity.’ ‘No, you can’t turn that light on. We don’t have electricity.’  ‘Sure, stick your finger in there. We don’t have electricity.’ (I kid.)
  • Was granted a brief reprieve by friends who still had power and were kind enough to invite us over for the day.
  • Returned to darkened house and refrigerator filled with spoiled food.
  • Consumed more ‘hurricane essentials’ (read: wine).
  • Purged refrigerator.
  • Dreamed of power coming back on.
  • Cursed another electricity-free morning.
  • Purged freezer. Argh.
  • Was granted another reprieve by friends with electricity.
  • Succumbed to stress and went on an art supply buying binge.
  • Stared lovingly at new Koi pocket field sketch box until bed time.
  • Slept in air conditioned comfort.
  • Started getting sick (throat on fire, so very tired)
  • Accidentally turned our hosts’ patio furniture over to trash collector (again, don’t ask).
  • Received text from neighbor – ‘We have power!’
  • Returned home to chisel/scrape/scrub melted popsicle from bottom of freezer.
  • Began daunting task of replacing all of the food that had to be thrown out.

That pretty much brings us to today. We still have very little food in the house, as I just don’t have the energy to tackle the enormous task of completely restocking the fridge/freezer. At the moment, I barely have the energy to keep my eyes open. We do have the ingredients for macaroni and cheese and that is enough to sate Sir’s appetite, so that’s good enough.

We were lucky to come out relatively unscathed, but I must say that the very thought of throwing out all of that food (much of it unopened) still turns my stomach. We filled the freezer and refrigerator with blocks of ice ahead of time, but it just wasn’t enough to save everything. Such a huge waste.

And there are still over 100,000 people in our area without power. It is estimated that they won’t be restored until Saturday. Awful.

photo : Koi watercolor field sketch box by yours truly

 

More cool stuff:

National Eat a Peach Day? Okay!

I would be lying if I said that I actually knew that today was National Eat a Peach Day here in the good ‘ol USofA. I had no idea until I saw it on Twitter this afternoon. Although, it could explain why I felt compelled to get a little crazy at lunch today and ‘invent’ a recipe using peaches in a somewhat non-conventional way and why I found myself drawing peaches this afternoon.

Honestly, I’ve never been much of a peach fan. As a child, I thought peaches only came out of a can – all mushy and covered in sugary syrup. Just the thought of eating those slimy things makes me cringe now. Then, when I got older and saw what a peach was supposed to look like, I was completely turned off by the fuzz. What can I say, I have texture issues?

Now that I have a little Fruit Monster in the house who demands any and all types of fruit, I have found myself buying a lot of things at the farmers’ market that I really have no experience with. Yes, that means peaches.

A couple of week’s ago, I made a peach crisp – something I had never made nor eaten. After kind of winging it on the recipe, I was surprised to find that it was actually quite delicious. Today’s peach experiment also went over quite well. So, I decided to try and illustrate them for They Draw & Cook.

This meant a) having to end my months-long drawing hiatus and b) figuring out how to draw a peach (among other ‘top secret’ ingredients). So, after avoiding my art supplies like the plague (mostly because I had somehow developed a fear of them – is that weird?), I busted out the pens, brushes, and paints and got to work on some peach sketches. You can see my progress below (don’t mind the little tub of cream cheese, he’s just hanging out for now).

photos : peaches by yours truly

More cool stuff:

Two Exciting Things (and some other stuff too)

Exciting Thing (the first): The powers that be at Illustration Friday have chosen MY suggestion for this week’s topic! Wow. I could hardly believe it when I stumbled across it on Twitter Friday morning, but there it was!

I have to say, looking at the submissions has been a completely different experience this time around. When I chose the word to submit, I had a specific set of ideas in my head. Seeing how others are choosing to interpret the word (which, by the way, is ‘swell’) has been very interesting. Probably going to be hard to narrow down my Friday Favorites this week.

Since my blogiversary, I have been meaning to post my list of goals for this year. One of them was to submit a topic worthy of being chosen for IF. Mission accomplished! Now, it’s time to conquer the Mobbies (a.k.a. Maryland’s Outstanding Blogs). Heh, I wish.

As an added bonus, the hits on my blog have gone ballistic over the past three days! I’d better step up my game.

Exciting Thing (the second): A friend of mine recently decided to awaken her muse by taking a drawing class. One of her pieces will be featured in the student art show in October. She can invite only 8 people to the show’s opening and she chose ME to be one of them!

I’m so honored (and excited)!

Other stuff: I don’t know if it is the promise of a week of temps in the low/mid-80s or the fact that the stores are busting at the seams with school supplies right now, but I finally feel like I may be emerging from my summer slump. I have even considered digging out my knitting supplies and getting to work on some monster, dragon, and owl hats. I’ve noticed more knitted items showing up on Etsy these days, so it may be time for my cast of wooly headwear characters to make their seasonal appearance. What do you think? Is it time or would I be jumping the gun? Are you ready to think about winter hats?

Lastly, a note to anyone who may have just stumbled upon my humble blog this weekend – I’m usually not this boring. I promise. Stick around a while, you’ll see. Heh.

photos : someday sweaters (my very first submission to Illustration Friday) and a purple owl hat by yours truly

 

 

More cool stuff: