A Weekend of Comics

I haven’t talked much in this blog about comics, but it’s true… our house is full of them. My husband has been collecting since he was 12, while I discovered them later in life. I’m not a big fan of the traditional superhero genre tho, I usually prefer fantasy stories instead, and have become a voracious reader of various online comics. So while he was eager to crawl through the bins at Baltimore Comic-Con a few weeks ago, I’d been saving up my mad money for this past weekend, and my annual pilgrimage to Bethesda, MD for the Small Press Expo.

Attendance badges 2010

SPX is one of the longer-running conventions for independent creators and small-scale publishers of comics of all kinds, and increasingly the webcomics folks have been joining in to sell their own “dead tree” editions. This year I also made a detour to a brand-new conference taking place just up the street, Intervention, which was focused more exclusively on the webcomics crowd. Both had authors in attendance I wanted to meet and books I knew I’d want to purchase — Intervention had a few folks who rarely come to this area — so I bit the bullet and paid the separate entry fees… and then spent WAY too much on books! Both also had their share of vendors selling artwork, small crafts, and other fun stuff. The set of tetris magnets I bought is already racking up points on my refrigerator. 🙂

Comics loot 2010

Yup, I’m glad I brought the backpack! (I was also hauling around my own sketchbook and camera… not that I ever took either of them out, I guess they were just there as extra ballast) If anyone I ran into this weekend is reading this… HI!!!! It was great meeting and talking with all you wonderful artists/writers! I envy all of you with the drive and dedication to your artform, especially knowing how hard it can be to make a living at it. Kudos!

Would I attend both again next year? Well… honestly the higher entry price for Intervention made it a little hard to justify for me. I don’t generally hang around for the programming at these things. I think I’ve attended 3 panels/presentations in all the years I’ve been going to SPX. I do a round or two through all the tables and then call it a day. And this year in particular I had to leave around 4pm to meet friends for “The Day the Earth Stood Still” which was showing that weekend only at the AFI Theater. Yes, it was an all day geek-fest. I guess I’ll have to see what happens next year. For now I just have to figure out where on my groaning bookshelves these are all going to fit!

If there’s any interest, I can go through my stack of books in more detail… 🙂

Last of the flower trading cards!

O is for Orchid T is for Tulip V is for Violet

I’ve finally scanned and posted the last of my flower trading cards. I’ve already started working on the full-size versions, and have the first few scanned. I’m in the process of cleaning them up and coloring them right now. Some of the final artwork will be a bit different from these small ones, but that was part of the point of making them: to see what worked and what didn’t work. In fact, I’m still not 100% decided on which flower to use for two of my letters, so I did both:

G is for Gerbera    G is for Gladiolus
Gerber Daisy     or        Gladiolus?

S is for Snapdragon     S is for Sunflower
Snapdragon       or        Sunflower?

Decisions, decisions… there are just too many flowers that begin with “S!” Any opinions out there?

To see the whole series, check them out here and here and here and here and here…. or just check out the whole set in my Flickr account.

With the intense heat wave the Atlantic coast has been having, it’s hard to think of something as fresh as spring flowers! Even the summer-blooming flowers in my garden have been wilting in the sun, despite my efforts to keep them watered. And I’m feeling a bit squirrely from hiding indoors so much… I miss the outside! We had a respite this week with some much needed rain, but now the hot is socked in again, with extra humidity on top. Even knowing we’re not having the worst of it is poor consolation. Thank goodness for air conditioning!

…and still more flowers!

U is for Ulster Mary X is for Xeranthemum


Z is for Zinnia Y is for Yarrow

I’m getting to the last of the trading-card-sized sketches from this series. The last few remaining letters are the ones that have been giving me trouble… either in deciding what flower to use, or in how I want to draw them. If you haven’t seen the rest of the series, you can check them out here and here and here and here….

I’ve been doing an unusual amount of traveling in June, so in July I’m very much looking forward to some time to sit down and draw the final versions for this whole series. Stay tuned!

More flowers!

E is for Echinacea  I is for Iris  N is for Nasturtium

I’ve finally had a moment to scan in the next batch of artist-trading-cards/sketches for my flower alphabet. What I haven’t had a chance to do yet is start in on the final versions. This spring has been relatively insane, both at work and at home. I’m really missing my drawing table lately, but at this rate I’ll only be able to make brief visits until July.  *sniff* I’m keeping my sketchbook close to console me…

The first set from this series was posted in part 1 and part 2. They’re all the standard 2.5 x 3.5 size for artist trading cards, but they’re still basically first drafts for a series I’m making for my store. This batch isn’t colored yet, but I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do with them. Perhaps it’s time to start using that dusty and neglected Etsy account, hmm?

Drawing Day… only a week late :)

Drawing Day was June 5. I was excited to join in on the fun, but there was one problem: June 5 I was spending half the day on a plane ride to Denver, where’d I’d be spending the rest of the week at a conference.

Still, a plane ride is a long time sitting still with few distractions, so I whipped out my sketchbook and was faced with the usual performance anxiety when faced with “draw something!” and no other parameters.

Thumb for Drawing Day Doodles at RedBubble The result, a rather imperious cat and some happy little griffins. You can take a look at them in my RedBubble gallery, where there are some much nicer and far more finished works from other participants on display. What do you think? Do they deserve the full treatment and real finished drawing?

Later this week: something that’s not just a pencil sketch, I promise!

Back home from Denver

Someone Wants In

Denver kicked my butt last week. And all I can say is “thank you.”

I had an awesome time attending the InHowse Designer Conference in Denver, and it has left me visually and conceptually recharged. Overcharged, in some ways, since I’m still mulling over things I saw and heard. I attended some excellent speakers on various topics about design process and developed a minor hand cramp from taking notes. I’ll be typing up my notes soon so I’ll be able to comprehend them later. While there, I was able to meet up with some old friends and make some new friends, and had a wonderful time hanging out with all of you at InHowse and across the street at the How Conference. The photo above is me being slightly menaced by the giant blue bear outside the convention center, but it turned out he was just the curious type.

Outside of the conference, I walked. A lot. Denver was a great town to explore, and I’d like to visit again, even if it doesn’t include the massive HOWie pub crawl next time. The day I arrived I was able to swing by the Chalk Art Festival and People’s Fair, which were a nice surprise. Later I stopped by the Denver Art Museum and spent a few hours over at Red Rocks Park before my flight left on Thursday. And I took a ton of photos with my dinky little point-and-shoot camera, most of which are still dumped into a big heap on my hard drive. But here’s a taste of Red Rocks:

At Red Rocks, CO

I’m back home brimming with ideas and inspirations, and more than a little worn out. This week I’ll be trying to assemble all the little bits and pieces floating around in my head and form them into concrete plans for the future. Meanwhile… time for a nap!

Stickers! In Denver!

Yay, stickers

Look what arrived this week, just in time for me to bring with me to the InHowse/HOW Design conference in Denver! These are the new die-cut vinyl stickers from Redbubble, and they live up to my expectations. If you’re there, find me and I might have one to give you!
I’ll have a very limited number of these with me at the conference, but you can always order your own — without the website on them, I made these up special for myself 🙂  Any of the T-shirts in my RedBubble site can be ordered as a sticker instead of a shirt, just click on the “buy/preview” button and choose the Sticker option at the top of the screen. For reference, the dragon is about four inches tall.

I’ve also finished a super-quick but much-needed remodeling job on my main website. (This blog is next in line for a makeover, but it may take a while before I get to it.)

Stephanie Smith Illustration

Between preparations at work and at home for this trip, there hasn’t been much time for new drawings. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make up for in some part in between waiting at airports, spending 5 hours on a plane, and doing some sightseeing in Denver tomorrow. After all, June 5 is Drawing Day! I won’t have my scanner, but I’ll have my camera and my laptop, and will try to post *something* over the weekend on my RedBubble site. See you there!

Sketching at a concert…

… is that weird? Oh well!

Toad Concert Sketches

Last weekend I went to see Toad the Wet Sprocket at a very nice venue in Annapolis, MD, Ram’s Head Live. We had a table right in front of the stage. Between the good view, the nice convenient table, relatively good lighting, and the readily-available paper (namely, the daily specials menus) I just couldn’t help myself. 🙂

I’ve been trying to do more sketching from life instead of photos, but it’s hard with subjects out “in the wild” and moving around. I’m a bit rusty at that, I confess, most of my life drawing practice has been from still, posed models but it’s hard to capture gesture that way. The band was relatively easy since they’re moving but pretty much staying in the same place.  Even so, it was hard to get faces down; the dim lighting and the Strongbow probably didn’t help much either, although there was only minor damage done to my paper, lol. I drew some random pedestrians from a trip to DC last week that came out pretty well too, I’ll post them when I find them. Practice, practice, practice!

I DO have more flower trading cards to post, they’ve been sitting on my drawing board waiting to be scanned for at least two weeks. I’ll try to get some of them posted this week, but odds are slim: I’m heading out to Denver on Saturday for the InHowse Designers Conference, a part of the How Design Conference that’s targeted for in-house design groups like the one I work for. I’ve been trying to get things done at work AND put together a few things of my own to share while I’m there. (Oh, and try to bring a little bit of order to the house, so my husband doesn’t have to spend the better part of a week alone in a pig sty…) I have a feeling my to-do list is longer than my actual available time… isn’t that always the way?

Illustration Friday: Equipment

 Garden Equipment Sketch
click to enlarge

I finally had a moment to take a break from other things, sit down and do a quick sketch for this week’s Illustration Friday. Nothing fancy, just a fast still life in ink on smooth bristol paper, 9×12 inches. For all that I’ve been thinking about my garden lately, and puttering about in it with this very equipment when I have some time (and the weather cooperates), the yard is still pretty sad. My big accomplishment of the spring was pulling up a bug chunk of the ivy that’s devouring the back yard, but there’s still quite a bit. And it looks like the poison ivy has  made a comeback…

Still, this weekend promises to hold enough nice weather for me to get my tomato plants in the ground, once I clear their bed. And last weekend I had just enough time to plant some seeds before the gentle rains of the past few days started, just what those tiny seeds needed to get a good start. Bit by bit it’s coming together as everything — including me! — recovers from a freakishly snowy winter.

Meanwhile, I’m still hard at work on those flower drawings! Even though they’re not as time-sensitive as the real plants, I can’t wait to add them to the Critterwings store, especially for the new stickers and baby clothes available at Redbubble as I mentioned in my last post. I’m having far too much fun with these!

Flower Alphabet sketches continued

B is for Begonia C is for Columbine W is for Wisteria

It’s been busy around here with spring cleaning and getting stuff done in the garden. But just because I haven’t had the time to participate in Illustration Friday the past couple of weeks doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy on the drawing board. (In fact, I had an idea for “cocoon” I really wanted to draw, but the week ended way too quickly…)

M is for Morning Glory F is for Foxglove J is for Jasmine

Here are the rest of the first batch of  Flower Alphabet Artist Trading Cards continued from my last post, most of which were sent out as part of an art swap. The remaining cards may very well end up for sale, they’re all 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, drawn with ink on bristol paper with some quick colors added with colored pencil. I’m finishing up the rest of the alphabet in this format to make sure I like the layouts — most of them are just waiting to be colored and scanned — and then I’ll be drawing them all again to make finished art for the online shops. Anyone have any particular products they’d like to see with this art on it?

L is for Lily          K is for King's Spear

I guess it’s a sign of how much I want to whip my garden into shape, but I’ve been having a blast researching and drawing all of these flowers! Some of them have been difficult to find a good garden flower for (like “K”) and others have so many possibilities it’s hard to choose between them. And in the meantime, I need to get some of these planted in my real garden!