Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat Kitties!

I tried to capture their respective personalities, but in reality my cats are rather ambivalent to Halloween… of course, in reality I would never try to dress them in costumes. Well, “never” may be a strong word…

The truth is, that while my tuxedo cat Simon may very well frolic in a costume, he’s equally likely to become inexplicably terrified of it. The end result is more-or-less the same: running around the house like a maniac, except in the latter case he will end up under the bed, with his impressively bushy tail even more bristled out than usual.

And my little tabby Tinkerbell? She wouldn’t even be in the picture, because the instant I attempted something like this there would be just a puff of smoke as she vanished, never to be seen again (until dinnertime).

I suspect that I may have to come up with a project that forces me to draw Simon over and over again until I get over my hang-ups about drawing black fur… I’ve used him and my previous black-and-white cat as body doubles in past projects, but usually chickened out and made a light-furred cat rather than dealing with their actual coat color.

This was a quick ink drawing on 9×12 inch smooth bristol paper with my micron pens. I was going to practice my brush pen with this one (it’s usually great for fur) but was already dealing with having no power or heat due to Hurricane Sandy and had to make do in the room with the most daylight instead of the one with my drawing table in it. Oh well!

PS: Be safe this Halloween! And please keep your cats indoors tonight, so they can be safe too.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous New Year!

Holiday Mischief

Ordinarily I try to wait and post my holiday card artwork after they’ve all been received, but a welcome overload of freelance work meant they were printed late and those heading to recipients are either in transit or being hand-delivered this weekend.  Because of this you can probably tell from the caption, I’m sort of thinking of them as “New Years’ cards.”

This year’s artwork is a bit sillier and self-indulgent than usual: a portrait of our older cat Tinkerbell and our new “teenager” cat Simon. The only meaningful difference between this picture and the daily situation at our house is how static and quiet it is. In reality, this tableau would be immediately followed by yowling and a pair of furry projectiles rocketing through the house. The two cats are actually getting along rather well after two-and-a-half months, except when Simon really, really wants to play… whether Tink does or not.

Holiday Mischief, detail

This artwork was drawn with Micron ink pens on bristol paper and colored digitally.

Here’s wishing everyone out there a wonderful holiday season!

The last of the little flock

Tiny Gryphons #5 Goldfinch by Stephanie Smith

I saved the most colorful of my little house-gryphons for last. I think these are my favorites from the set. If you missed the previous installments, they’re here and here. I hope to make some little notecards with these after the holiday, but I’m not sure whether to leave them with the watercolor pencils or recolor digitally… I have the scans of the uncolored ink drawings just waiting on my computer. What do you think?

Tiny Gryphons #1 Cardinal by Stephanie Smith

Tiny Grypons #2 Blue Jay by Stephanie Smith

Artist Trading Cards: Tiny Gryphons

Tiny Griffons ATC #8 Chickadee

Where did the summer go? Oh, that’s right… between client work, an illustration-heavy project at my day job, and general craziness all the way around, I’ve had very little time for “just for fun” drawing. That’s one of the reasons I like the Doodle Swap Project, a little club of artists and designers who all make tiny trading-card-sized artworks for each other. It gives me an excuse to do some quick, small, simple drawings that I don’t have any time to overthink because they have to get out the door fast.

This time around the theme was “hybrid animals” — chimera, creatures made up of two or more different unrelated animals. Perfect timing for me, since:

a) the idea for little gryphons that are a cross between songbirds and housecats (instead of the more traditional eagles and lions) has been kicking around in my head for a while, and

b) “Backyard” and household fantasy creatures are the theme of my Sketchbook project book. More about that one later…

So, this was a little bit of two birds with one stone. Or something like that. Here are the first few of the cards, I’ll be posting the rest soon. They’re all 2.5 x 3.5 inches, drawn with ink and watercolor pencils on bristol paper.

Anyone else think that these will make nice little notecards? 🙂

Tiny Griffons ATC #7 Crow

Tiny Griffons ATC #6 Robin

Drawing Day part 1

In case you didn’t know, yesterday was Drawing Day! Actually it’s the whole weekend, which is good for me. Yesterday had the most perfect, beautiful weather and I just couldn’t stay inside drawing… or even hunched over a sketchpad outside. By the end of the day, I was as exhausted as my cat, who for a change sat still long enough for an extended portrait.

Tinkerbell sleeping

She’ll be showing up at my RedBubble site shortly (and yes, that’s not all just “fluff,” the little tubbo…) I did a few scribbles in my sketchbook too, trying to decide on what sort of things to put in my Sketchbook Project book. I fear the challenge there will be picking subjects that I can draw in such a relatively small space… good practice for the pet portraits I’m doing for my MS fundraiser (this is the last week to participate, now with lower donations for art!)

Drawing Day 2011 sketchbook page 1

Today is “exercise and more gardening day,” weather permitting. But there will be some more drawings tonight… especially if it really does rain today, which looks like pretty good odds at the moment.

IF – Focused

 Focused Feline
click to enlarge

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 – Confined

 Cat Contained
(click to enlarge)

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: Rambunctious

 The Mighty Hunter (page 4)

Another one from the archives for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, a page from a short story I wrote and illustrated a while back called “The Mighty Hunter” It’s told from a housecat’s point of view and was inspired by my own cat’s antics, particularly his intensity and focus when he’s in “hunt” mode, and his obliviousness to how goofy it may seem to us. Click the image to enlarge!

I’m actually not sure if this is actually the final version of this piece, but the source files are offline at the moment. That overdue archiving project keeps coming back to haunt me!

Holiday shopping alert!

Right now my CafePress store is featuring a wide variety of items with my drawing “The Holiday Courier” just for the holidays. Today is the last day to get express shipping for free in time for holiday delivery!

I have several pieces on display and available for purchase in my RedBubble Gallery too. Although it’s too late for Christmas delivery from there, keep it mind either for yourself or your next gift-giving occasion: I’ve purchased a few items from this site already and they are all gorgeous! If you’re a member, look me up!

I’ll be adding more pieces to both galleries over the holidays. If there’s anything you’ve seen here that you’d particularly like, let me know!

Illustration Friday: Island

Island of Tranquility

Just a quick sketch for this week’s Illustration Friday topic: my own personal island of tranquility. Click image to enlarge.

Our household is in a bit of chaos at the moment. I just finished all the craziness for my best friend’s wedding, and now we’re dogsitting for her while undergoing our first major household renovation: a complete bathroom remodel and some carpentry work in our attic. But in our den we can hunker down with all the pets and watch TV and not think about the chaos in the rest of the house. It’s a little sanctuary for us, where we can watch our new 3rd Rock from the Sun DVDs and snuggle up and relax. In fact, that’s what we were doing while I drew this.

(I’ve been slacking and missed the last couple of weeks, but I’ll make up for it soon!)