Illustration Friday: Propagate

 Bunches of Bunnies sketchbook page
click to enlarge

This week’s Illustration Friday is straight from the sketchbook. When I think of something that propagates like mad, I think of rabbits! But that’s not the only reason I’m posting this one.

This week I was going through all of my bunny references trying to brainstorm on fun Easter ideas. I usually try to have some idea of what I want before I start looking for reference material, but when I’m stuck for a concept I just try to find as many images I can and start doodling, hoping that propagating familiarity with the subject matter will spark some greater idea. Occasionally something comes out in this stage that makes it wholesale into the finished illustration, but more often it’s just a seed of an idea and at the very least it’s good practice for the anatomy. Still not sure if I stumbled across a winner yet, I’ll have to keep sketching…

In the meantime, if you want to see one of my finished rabbits, he’s lurking in my online shops:

Year of the Rabbit Small Postage stamp The Year of the Rabbit Mousepad mousepad Year of the Rabbit Beach Tote

 Prints, cards and shirts at RedBubble

Ornaments, keepsake, boxes, pillows, water bottles, and more at CafePress

Shirts, magnets, keychains, postage stamps  and more at Zazzle

SALE: Zazzle is having a sale this week: 22% off two or more mug, apparel, or hat items if you use the code TWOTWENTYTWO at checkout, whether you’re buying from me, someone else, or making your own custom items!

Illustration Friday: Adrift

 Mouse Adrift
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This week’s entry for Illustration Friday was a super-quick sketch based on a story concept I had a while back which I have yet to get to. It was drawn on regular-surface bristol paper with a Pitt brush pen, 9×12 inches.

And for the word “adrift” I really had to fight the temptation to do something about all the dang snow around here! I just wasn’t in a punny enough mood this week, I guess. 🙂

I’ve been going through my small-size bristol like crazy lately! This was my last sheet of 9×12, although I have some other types of paper in this size. The tip of the brush pen had gotten a little bit loose and blobby, but I thought it worked here since it’s a relatively rough drawing and the paper’s a little rougher than I’ve been using lately too. My wrist needed the change of pace after working on all those snowflakes, which were inked last week and which I’ve been coloring like mad ever since. Update on that little project to come soon!

Illustration Friday – Muddy

Rhino Wallow
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For this week’s Illustration Friday I went pillaging my photos. I love to go to the zoo and I always take tons and tons of pictures to add to my reference file. When I saw this week’s word was “muddy” I immediately remembered a day where the rhinos were having a grand old time wallowing in their huge mud puddle. (On an unrelated note, I really need to get my files set up in some kind of catalogue that lets me filter on keywords… I’ve just been reluctant to spend the effort committing to a proprietary system that might not be cross-platform. Any suggestions?)

It further fit the theme this week to stick with a pencil drawing instead of breaking out the inks — it takes a fair amount of effort to make technical pens seem “muddy” and I’m still trying to keep these quick. The original was drawn with graphite pencil in my 9×10 inch sketchbook; it seemed appropriate to tint it a bit in Photoshop but it’s otherwise unretouched.

SALE at ZAZZLE: Monday February 8 – Tuesday February 9 at 6pm EST Zazzle is having a discount of 50% off of express shipping on all orders of $25 and up if you use the discount code ILOVEEXPRESS at checkout. Whether you want something from my Critterwings Shop or anything else Zazzle offers, check it out! 

IF – Focused

 Focused Feline
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Cats have this habit of snapping into razor-sharp focus at the drop of a hat, ancient hunters’ instincts always at the ready. It doesn’t matter if the object of that focus is a live mouse or a scrap of paper or random dust motes, because just as quickly they snap back out of it again. This week’s Illustration Friday drawing for “focused” is our cat Tinkerbelle, who has a little kitten face but can be sooooo intense it’s a little unsettling.

Ironically, the primary source I used for reference is incredibly UNfocused.

Focused Source Photo

Why is it that in all of my cats’ photos they either look annoyed or zoned out?   The sketch was drawn with a Pitt brush pen on regular-surface bristol paper, 9×12″

On an unrelated note, there’s a sale at my Zazzle store:  30% off cards, 20% off stickers, and 10% off mugs if you use the code ZAZZLEVDAY10 at checkout. I’ve been adding new items to the Chinese Zodiac line every week; if there’s something missing that you’d like, just let me know!

Make a personalized gift at Zazzle.

IF – Clumsy

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Despite years of dancing, a new focus on fitness that includes cardio kickboxing, and a general effort to the contrary, I’m still rather clumsy. My habits of running into inanimate objects and tripping over microscopic bits of dust are not nearly as bothersome as my perpetual case of butterfingers. I try to take care when handling items that are particularly precious and fragile, but I’m not always successful. So I could relate all too well when the Illustration Friday word this week was “clumsy.”

Case in point:  I was cleaning up after we had a simple dinner in our den one night last week. It was a nice stew my husband made, and we were using the pair of lovely Japanese bowls his father had given us a long time ago. As I was approaching the steps I stumbled over a bit of lint and the empty bowls slipped from my hands. One landed safely on our plush carpet, but the other must have hit the edge of the step in just the wrong way because it broke apart, the bright white ceramic forming jagged edges against the glossy black glaze. They were our favorite pair of bowls too, the perfect size and kept the food nice and warm.  (Sorry, dad! There’s a reason why most of our drinking glasses are plastic tumblers…)

This was a quick drawing from life with a Pitt brush pen on regular bristol paper, 9×12 inches.

IF – Wilderness


Wilderness Sketch
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One of the things I like about living where I do is that even though we’re near a big city, we’re also just a short drive away from a stroll in the middle of the woods. We’re a day-trip away from pathless forest and parkland, but just a 15-minute drive will take us someplace where we can forget all about the traffic and the city and all the people and wander under the trees for a while.

My sketch for this week’s word for Illustration Friday, “wilderness,” is from a photograph I took in Gunpowder Falls State Park, one of the more easily-accessible parts of of the massive Chesapeake Bay watershed system. I find tree-roots fascinating and these right on the shore of the lake were tangled in a confusing mangle that I spent much longer than I’d planned on puzzling through. (The fox was an addition; we used to get them in our neighborhood regularly but it’s been a few years since I’ve seen one here.)

Drawn with 05 black marker on regular surface bristol paper, 9×12 inches.

IF – Confined

 Cat Contained
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I’m hoping this isn’t a bad omen for my return to Illustration Friday: this drawing, “Cat Contained,” was conceived and drawn before I realized I’d mis-read the Illustration Friday word for this week. However, I think it still works, after all, I’d just have to close that flap and…

Just a quick drawing on evening while watching a movie. Both of my cats usually make a beeline for an open box in the middle of the floor, but tonight they decided it was the least interesting thing in the room so I had to wing the cat. This time it’s Tinkerbell, who is generally a far more “contained” cat than Tony, even though he’s the one who’s a fiend for squeezing into small boxes. Original drawing with 0.5 tech pen on 9×12″ smooth bristol, with a light pencil sketch underneath (erased).

However,  what is very much in keeping with the IF word this week is that today was Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  Modern slavery is a truly horrible and growing and largely invisible problem in the developed world, and several of my favorite webcomics artists have teamed up in a fundraiser to support groups trying to help the victims of this criminal practice. If you’d like to help out with this worthy cause, check out the Comic Creator Alliance this week!

Illustration Friday: Talisman

The Year of the Rabbit
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Buy art

This week’s Illustration Friday topic fits very neatly into my current project: portraits of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac. This is the Rabbit, accompanied by a symbolic stone with his sign. I’ve already posted the Snake and the Ox, and more are on the way. I debated whether to include the stones in these images, but I really liked having a concrete sign of why I was making them… a talisman of sorts. It turns a simple drawing of a rabbit into a symbol of something more, representing one piece in a whole intricate structure of meanings with an ancient history.

These images will all be for sale at my RedBubble page, if you want a card or print. I’ll be making more products available when the whole series is complete.

I’m about one third of the way through drawing the series, although I still need to color them all. It’s been fun using the brush pen again… if I think I can cat-proof the arrangements I’d like to start using a regular brush with ink again. Along with dip pens, they’ve been sidelined in the interest of keeping the ink on the paper and off of the floor.

Illustration Friday: Poise

 Dr. Sketchy Atlanta #2
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Perhaps an unusual choice for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, anyone who can model so unselfconsciously for life drawing strikes me as the epitome of poise. This model in particular managed to look positively serene while wearing french powdered wig in a very crowded and noisy bar while people were staring at her and scribbling frantically.

While I was attending the SWSX conference in March, I had the great fortune to attend an event which included a session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School.  There’s more info at the link, but in brief it’s like a life drawing class except instead of in a formal art studio it’s at a bar or club, and instead of a nude model you have a cabaret or burlesque performer in costume.

Dr. Sketchy Atlanta #1

In this particular case, the life drawing was going on in the back of the club, while an actual burlesque show was going on at the main stage. Because it was part of the conference it was packed, but I managed to snag a stool and pad of paper in the drawing area. The performers were lining up to model when they were between sets, they were so excited to participate. It was very cool!

We only did five-minute poses. It has been sooooo long since I did life drawing like this, much less while balancing a pad of paper on my knee sitting on a barstool, but it was great fun.

Dr. Sketchy Atlanta #3

Unfortunately, just as I really felt I was getting warmed up, the rest of my cohorts were ready to move on. But I got several very nice sketches done, and they even managed to survive the night intact.

There are Dr. Sketchy’s clubs scattered all over the country… if this sounds like fun to you, google to see if there’s one near you!

Illustration Friday: Intricate

Year of the Snake — Preview
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Even though this week’s Illustration Friday topic gave me several intriguing ideas, I don’t have time right now to make any of them! (sketches will be filed away for later tho…) Instead, I’m uploading a preview of a particularly intricate image I’ve been working on. I just finished the ink drawing this week, and I thought those scales were going to kill me. Scale patterns are so complex and regular, I had to deliberately simplify or I’d be working on it for weeks despite modeling it after a species with simple coloration. I’ll be adding some more details and color shortly.

I just spent the evening scanning in this and three others in the series… almost halfway done! For anyone who doesn’t recognize it, this is the Snake from the Chinese Zodiac, and will be part of a series of 12. Of course, I’ve changed direction slightly and will have to edit my Ox image to match, but that’s what happens when a control freak like me has no outside deadlines.