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1. This holiday season, oy.

My "Red Scott Tartan" watercolor from a few years ago.
No new Christmas art this year, sorry.

This is a heavier post than I usually do, but I need to vent, so here goes.

The Holidays. (insert heavy sigh here) This year they are more challenging to get through than usual. 

The past several months have been difficult, with the last two being particularly hard. My Mom went into the hospital with 'aging issues' (sparing you the details), which was traumatic and exhausting. She is now mostly better, but I've had to arrange care for her, and that's been another huge emotional and physically draining experience. It's been a couple months of 'intense, concentrated, every day, too much pressure, too many heavy decisions, too many physical demands, too much of everything, all piled on top of each other, and on me alone' with no relief. If you've ever gone through this, you know what I'm talking about. If not, I sincerely hope you never have to.

So now, I, too, am having my own physical problems as a direct result of the stress and strain of it all. I think "nervous collapse" is a valid diagnosis, which has manifested itself as a pretty debilitating case of fibromyalgia-ish stiffness in various body parts. It started when my Mom started having health problems back in May, flaring up every time she had a new episode of something that required an extra doctor visit or blood test or more care on my part of some kind. As her condition intensified, so did mine. And now its 24/7, and I am officially handicapped. Add depression and wow! are we having fun yet?

I've always been fascinated by the whole mind/body connection. What I'm going through now is so clearly something that manifested itself because of stress. I've had some health issues in the past that thankfully finally healed or cleared up (and never returned) once I got to the bottom of what was bothering me, so with this, too, I'm hoping that getting my head screwed back on right ("its all going to be OK"), and some decent rest and relaxation (well, at least just a normal amount of 'every day stress' at least) will eventually put me right again. Meanwhile, a cane, Advil and lots of 'lie downs' are getting me through. Barely. In very slow motion.

But at least I'm not a Syrian refugee. Those poor Aleppo people, I can't even.

And then there's everything else to make you just curl up in a ball and not want to get up again (pretty much all the News, am I right?)

All the homeless people. They are everywhere, on every corner, sitting in fast food restaurant parking lots, lined up alongside buildings that give a bit of shelter, coming up to the road from where they've been sleeping in the bushes, wrapped in blankets, huddling in bus shelters, dragging their cobbled-together carts and wagons, heaped with their meager belongings, and the ones that have a dog omg its too heartbreaking. Now and then I give a few bucks to someone, but then agonize over giving to this poor soul and not that one over there, and how do you choose, and its just a drop in the bucket. 

Trump. I am soooooooooo disturbed by his becoming our next president. Read anything anyone critical or worried or disturbed by this has written and it will mirror my feelings, I'm sure. This impending sense of real doom is such a heavy weight. I just pray to who or whatever can help, to please help him, somehow, not completely lead us into WWIII or some such. And my heart goes out to all the people who are in the crosshairs of the xenophobic, homophobic, "fill in the blank"-phobic new administration and whatever it might dish out. 

But I believe in HOPE!
We have to, right? I'm hoping that all this gloom and doom will bring out the best in people, and maybe lead to a new, better, more caring and compassionate society. 
I'm also hoping that personally, as an artist, I can go deep and figure out what it is I'm really supposed to be drawing and painting. I'm waiting for some sign, some inspiration, and once my hands and wrists heal up a bit look forward to launching into some new projects.

So my prayer for the world this Christmas is that all the guardian angels, and healing angels, and unemployed angels looking for something to do, please pool your powers and sprinkle, or better yet, pour loads of grace and healing and mercy and hope on all of us here on Earth, and on poor Earth herself. Keep us all going, and going in the right direction. Away from the darkness. Away from disease and hate and sadness and gloom and doom. Into a new and better and lovely future full of light and nice things. Please.

Wishing Peace and Joy and Good Health to all of you for the holiday and new year and beyond, infinity.

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2. Fall Gourd

My homage to Fall. Someone on FB suggested I call this one "Squans". (Get it? squash + swans) I love that!
This was drawn with Prismacolor pencils on Bristol vellum.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In other news, I was featured on the colorindaily website for my drawings of knitting. Its a nice little blurb about me and my kitties and drawings. I appreciate the attention, so thank you Nadia!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And in other other news, of a more personal nature, I'm starting to face the music about my elderly Mom. She's been in failing health, and is teetering on the edge of needing to be placed in care of some kind. She's been falling (with no serious injuries by some miracle - yet), and is a tough little lady, but at some point you have to come in and make some hard decisions. So I'm anticipating being caught up with that in the coming months, and not looking forward to it. My art production will certainly be down, but I will soldier on and do my best to keep up with things. I really want to get my next coloring book finished, and of course will manage whatever actual work comes in, but I most likely won't have all the Christmas cards and other new art I've been planning, done in time for the holidays. Sometimes "life" just gets the upper hand.

I AM happy that its Fall though! It means wearing socks again, and putting the down comforter back on the bed. We don't really have Fall Foliage happening here much, but the change in the weather and anticipation of the holidays is always welcome. The kitties are more snuggly that usual as well, which is the best. 

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3. Knitting Gift Tags

Fall just arrived, so of course that means I'm in panic mode about Christmas. !
I finally managed to get the first set of gift tags into the Drawings of Knitting etsy shop, which are all pretty Christmas-y. I'll be adding some sets, and some other non-Christmas colored ones (Navy Blue and Gold) in the coming days.

These are all instant downloads, which means you'll receive a jpg and pdf file of the art, which you then print out yourself. You can print as many as you like or need! 
I may do some note cards, too, we'll see. 

I bought some cool gourds yesterday to draw, for you know, FALL, but am not sure I'll have the time. We're having another heat wave, so it doesn't feel very Fall-ish yet. I'm looking forward to feeling that cool nip in the air, and being able to wear socks and sweaters again. Soon!

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4. Colonial Family

I just finished this one. An American Colonial family is gathered together to listen to the Father read a letter from a loved one far away. Its all done with Prismacolor colored pencils, one black Verithin pencil for a few details, and the clone stamp in Photoshop to pick out a few pencil crumbs that ended up where they shouldn't. I'm pretty happy with this, and figured out some technique things that have been bugging me. 

Here are a few close ups:

Yes, I love doing woodgrain. That rug was fun, too.

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5. SCBWI Draw This! - ROYAL

This month's SCBWI Draw This! prompt was ROYAL. I've never participated in this before, not sure why. They usually send out the new prompt on the first of the month, but this month it didn't arrive until the 15th, I'm sure because of the SCBWI LA conference. So that left way less time than usual to get the art done. I love all things "royal", so felt compelled to draw a little something.

This is another one done with a black Polychromo colored pencil. That's all.

Notice that the crown has one jewel missing.
I think there's a story here waiting to be told. . .

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6. Wrapping Presents

I used three black Polychromo pencils on this one. Almost - two are total stubs, and one has a little life left in it, barely. This was a lot of fun to do! Its all colored pencil - no digital at all. All I did at the end was use Photoshop to clean up around the outside edge (erase the paper texture), and a weird blob that's on my scanner that I always have to clean up on everything I scan (sigh). This stayed remarkably clean, otherwise. I resisted the urge to 'nudge' a few values here and there, because I figured I'd end up redoing the whole thing once I get started. That's the good and bad of being able to fuss with things digitally - you can go on forever. No, I decided this was done, and left it alone. Onto the next one!

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7. Purrs for Peace Party Candidates

Tom and Catrina are the Purrs for Peace Party candidates. They believe every kitty should have a warm place to sleep, nice treats, and that catnip should be legal. They're getting my vote, for sure!

OK but seriously. These guys were fun to do. Even if you don't follow politics, unless you're living under a rock, you know what a crazy election campaign season we're having here in the States. At this point I kind of think a couple of cool cats wouldn't be a half bad choice, given our current options.

Tom and Catina were drawn by hand with colored pencils, then I added the whiskers with Photoshop.

I'm still working on the drawings of knitting Christmas tags and whatnot that I promised in the last post. Too many irons in the fire!

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8. More drawings of knitting

I've been busy making a lot of drawings of knitting lately, for various projects.
People are commissioning me to do custom coloring pages to promote their knitting sites and projects, which has been a lot of fun.
Here are two I did for verypink. They are both free downloadable pdfs on the site, to go with a knitting pattern for the cowl, and the boot cuffs. Staci has a youtube channel with videos for these pages and the projects they were done for. Check it out!

This is a snippet of another custom coloring page I just finished for another client that will be for kids to color. 

 I'm also working on getting some Christmasy things in my Drawings of Knitting shop on etsy. These are both gift tags, which are downloadable pdfs (or jpgs) that you can just print and cut out yourself. You can make as many as you want! I'm moving at kind of a snail's pace at the moment, just trying to do too many things at once, work-wise, but hope to have these in the shop in the next week or so. I have lots of other ideas for cool holiday crafty things (stockings!), and am working on those too. If you have any ideas or suggestions about things you'd like to see in the shop, please let me know.

I really love doing these drawings, but they do take forever. I'm getting a little faster, and am getting smarter about using Photoshop tools to change the colors of things, or cut and paste. But still, most of it is very fussy and fiddly and s-l-o-w. 

I'm still working on the next coloring book that will be fair isle designs, and argyle.

That's it for now. Back to 'knitting'! 

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9. King Boggen

Here it is all finished. If you saw the last post where I was still in the drawing stage, you'll remember I had him with a pitchfork, flinging pancakes off the roof. Yeah - this is way better. Consider that a peek into the mind of an illustrator, somewhere in the middle of the 'brainstorming and tossing out all ideas' phase of putting together an illustration. You have to 'go there' and sit with things for a while. Sometimes they're weird ideas, sometimes they work, and sometimes you wake up the next day and go "whut?" and keep going.

So this is a style I used to do a long time ago, and for whatever reasons, started evolving into doing other kinds of art for children's books (and other things). I'm going to back to this, because its what I love to do. I consider this a kind of 'warm up' piece, feeling my way back to this. Its all colored pencils. And what I love about it, and is a kind of healthy breakthrough for me, is that its not perfect. You know, like my photo-realistic food illustrations. It was a relief to just have some fun with a piece for a change.

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10. A king and a coloring book - Works in progress

I decided I need a nursery rhyme for my portfolio.
So I found a sort of obscure one - King Boggen.

"Little King Boggen he built a fine hall.
Pie-crust and pastry-crust, that was the wall;
The windows were made of black puddings and white.
And slated with pancakes, you ne'er saw the like!"

It has food, architecture, and is a children's book thing, which hits three of my sweet spots!

I found a couple of versions of the rhyme. One doesn't call him "Little" King Boggen, and there are other fiddly bits in the text that are different. But I decided to go with "Little", and make him a kid. I also toyed with the idea of making him a dog or other animal (well, it doesn't say the king is a person, does it?), but then stuck with the kid. I did like adding the dog though, and fell in love with the idea of the King being a chef, and the "fine hall" is a table-top size creation that they then enjoy eating.

So this was my first version.

An earlier incarnation . . .

And some revisions to the dog . . .

Then, after sitting on it for a day or so, decided it was too static and predictable.
So I sketched around a bit more, and came up with this ~

The Fine Hall is now a real building size, and everyone's moving around. I added the cat having a wash, and the bird making off with a pancake from the roof. The dog is leaping for a pancake (like a frisbee), and the King is just a weird little guy with a fancy pitchfork, picking pancakes and bits off the Hall and flinging them around. More fun, right? (and fyi, "black puddings and white" is blood sausage (black) and pork/oatmeal sausage (white), which will be the panes of the windows).

I have the dog just about exactly how I want him, and the cat needs a little refining.
But the King needs some work. Not sure exactly who he is - how old, is he jolly or bland or goofy, or what? And what exactly is his outfit? And let's get those legs just right . . .

And the hands - blimey. The top one holding the pitchfork is in probably the hardest position I could possibly create to draw. (Try holding a broom or something, and see how odd your arm/hand looks from this angle).

Still trying different things . . .

and that's where I've left it, for now.

Of course I googled this to see who else had already illustrated this, and found this 1915 image by Frederick Richardson (1862 - 1937) ~

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  

And then, I'm also working on the next Drawings of Knitting coloring book.
This next one will be full of more 'normal' drawings of knitting (not so 'arty'), and will have Fair Isle designs to color.

I'm going to do a couple of Fair Isle versions of each design, then have one, or maybe two, "blank" versions (like the mittens below) so that people can make up their own designs if they want to.

So here are some mittens ~

And here is a very work-in-progress Turtleneck Sweater. This shows exactly how I create these drawings. I sketch out the basic shape and design, then lay in the rows of stitches, very roughly, with "V's" to show where each stitch goes, then I painstakingly draw each stitch with the black 'ink'. After that's done I'll erase out the background guidelines, and clean everything up. There are always "overdraws" and bits that haven't quite joined up right, that need touching up. Its very fiddly, and I have to take quite a few breaks. 

Its Memorial Day weekend here in the States. Regular working people get a 3-day weekend. Not the rest of us though. I'll be doing more of this, and maybe some weed-pulling if its not too hot. I hope you all have a good holiday if you get to have one!

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11. Carl the Hipster Student Cat

Back to doing what I do best - cats in costumes, with colored pencils.

Carl is a hipster student in graduate school. He's pursuing a Master's Degree in Medieval Studies, while working as a barista and waiter to make ends meet. He also sings in a an a cappella choir, and enjoys making matchstick sculptures of fish and other marine creatures.

Here's a work in progress shot with the jacket and jeans part way done. I used all Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore Vellum Bristol for this. Its a perfect combo.

My arCATecture shop on Zazzle will have products available soon.

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12. Sheep Picnic

OK, well, its finished. But its not at all what I was going for. I started out to do a really detailed, 100% watercolor (which I'm rusty at) piece, and used Arches cold pressed paper. WRONG. Oh, its beautiful paper, but I should have used hot press. Cold press is bumpy and scratchy, and I fought with it all the way through this piece. At one point last night I aaaaaalmost took a big brush full of black paint and swiped it across the whole thing. But I packed it up and watched some TV instead, and looked at it fresh today.

I actually learned a lot on this one, which is good. I've been doing colored pencil work for so long now that I've forgotten how to paint a little bit, and have also changed how I want my paintings to look.

The checkered tablecloth came out exactly right. But do you know how long that took? Just the tablecloth? After I painted in all the squares, I went back and softened all the edges of every square so there wouldn't be a hard line. And it looks awesome! Then I did the grass. Every bloody blade of it. Then, I did it again (another layer). Then, did some shadows. Then, did a wash of yellowy-er green over the whole entire thing. Not bad.

Then I started on the flowers. When they were kind of finished I still had the sheep and all their stuff to do. The paper was driving me completely insane. I was kind of doing dry brush, but on bumpy paper - yeah, no. You'd think I'd have enough sense to just stop, but nooooo.

I ended up adding some colored pencil over the top in a few places just to get 'er done (and had to resist the temptation to go over the whole entire thing with pencil, and essentially re-render the whole thing.

So there you have it, my whole whiney story. But like I said, I learned a lot, and next time I tackle something like this (and have the right paper), hopefully it'll turn out better.

Its Spring, and totally perfect beautiful weather. The kitties are all lounging about all day outside, the birdies are singing, plants are blooming (the jasmine just started today), and other than this illustration, everything is pretty good.

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13. Spring Sheep

Its officially Spring!

I've dusted off an old illustration that never got too far past the drawing stage a while back. I couldn't figure out how I wanted to paint it - with 'paint', or colored pencils - so put it back in the drawer. I decided to revisit it and got out my watercolors, and am having another go at it.

A family of sheep is having a picnic out in a nice flowery meadow. The older sheep girl is coloring (back when I first drew this, the coloring book craze hadn't started yet, so this is very timely now).

I started with the red gingham picnic blanket, to get myself into it. I first did the lighter rows, then came back to do the overlapped squares, which are very red.

And I love when this happens: I found a whole box of brand new Turner watercolors that I totally forgot I had. I have tins full of tubes of Winsor & Newton, Schminke, Holbein, Daniel Smith, etc., all in different stages of usefulness (one tin is labeled "old but still usable", meaning they're dried up but if I cut the tube open I can use them like pan paints). But oh, a brand new tube of squishy fresh paint is just so much more fun (and easier) so I decided to dig into these.

And I'm using Arches 140lb cold press paper.

And in case you were wondering - these are going to be black sheep. I thought that would be fun, and nice contrast to all the flowers. I've just laid in some basic washes of color on them to remind me of the value, so as I paint the rest of the piece I can balance it off of them (did that make sense?).

We've had storms, and more storms (so unlike that past couple years of drought), then some sun, and a little more rain. I've had a couple weeks of being slightly under the weather with some combination of allergies, and general gloomy wet weather funkiness. The cats, too. But we're all on the mend, thankfully.

They're so happy when the sun is out, so they can relax on the back porch! Before you know it it will be too hot, and I'll be complaining about that. But for now, its Spring, and just right!

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14. Wedges and Fries

I'm into fried potatoes all of a sudden for some reason. 
(I mean to draw. I've always liked them to eat.)

Here are some potato wedges from KFC ~

And here are some curly fries from Jack in the Box ~

They're both 5" x 7", drawn with Caran d'ache Pablos on Strathmore 400 Bristol.
I have prints in 2 sizes, and the originals for sale in my etsy shop.

I'd like to do a couple more of these fried potato pieces - maybe some crinkle cut fries, and some regular straight ones. I also love Tater Tots. And then there are hash browns, "country potatoes", waffle fries, the list goes on. I just thought it would be fun to do a little series, and then people might like to get a couple of their favorites to frame up on the kitchen wall. 

A fun thing I'm doing is saving the receipts from these 'french fry purchases' for taxes. I mean, they are reference material, right? 

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15. Baboushka Kitty

I finally finished this gal. She was going to be my Christmas card last year, but I started her too late, then had some 'real work' deadlines and had to put her aside. 

She is a Russian Baboushka. The traditional baboushka outfit is just a crazy mix of patterns and color, with seemingly no regard for what might go well together. Therein lies its charm. So I pushed that as far as I could and had a lot of fun. The black floral border is a Khokhloma pattern, which is also a Russian thing. 

I could do this same 'look' digitally, and might if I decide to keep going with this kind of art because boy howdy this was fussy to do with pencils, and was s-l-o-w. I also had to burnish (press really hard) to get the colors saturated enough, and that does bad things to one's hand after a while. I wanted to have an original piece though, rather than just a digital file, so I kept going with it.

Here are a couple of details, so you can see that yes, it is in fact colored pencil ~

I will make cards and prints and put them in the arCATecture etsy shop soon, and maybe make some stuff on Zazzle too.

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16. New year

Happy New Year to you! I hope yours is starting off nicely. 

Mine started off with a bang! a few days in. One evening I had just turned off the computer (early) and was minding my own business, quietly knitting, and bang! something exploded or blew up in the back yard, and the most blinding bright light lit up the back window. I dashed out to see a raging fire in my flower bed by the back fence! and had absolutely no clue as to what was going on. I could tell it was an electrical fire (it was making "zzzzzt" noises and sizzling), but I was baffled (and panicked).

911 was called, firemen came, and we figured out the overhead power line had come down. How or why is still a mystery. The power company turned off the power - to the whole entire neighborhood - for hours, and men with big trucks came and climbed telephone poles to fix it all up.

Long story short, it was put right eventually and no one (or kitties) were hurt. A nice big rose bush is completely fried, as is part of my Japanese Maple. Some paving stones have holes burned into them, and fence boards are blackened, but all in all, we were very lucky. It remains a mystery as to what this was all supposed to accomplish!

In other news - I'm still coloring, and making drawings of knitting, and doing actual knitting.

This is a work in progress in colored pencil of my baboushka kitty. I started her in watercolor, then decided to go back to my pencils. She has a ways to go, but will be a riot of patterns and color when finished. I'm doing a lot of burnishing to get the colors really saturated on this one, as opposed to my softer look I do with other drawings.

Drawings of Knitting is now a shop on etsy and a page on Facebook. I'm still doing all the 'behind the scenes' set up duties and all for the shop, but hope to have some actual listings up in the next few days. I think I'll start with downloadable pdf files of coloring pages from my coloring book, then go from there.  I have so many ideas for cool things to make with my drawings! I am in serious need of a clone, because I just can't do everything I have in my head. (I'm still trying to get arCATecture back in gear after its big debut, then sort of fizzle.)

And then there's real knitting. Working with yarn and needles is a nice relaxing 'brain rest' thing to do in between drawing and coloring and computering. One of the things I make are these old-fashioned hand knit cotton dish cloths. People really like them and I've been selling a lot and getting custom orders for them. So lately, if I'm not doing art of some kind, I'm probably knitting a dish cloth.

I'm really glad Downton Abbey is back and look forward to 9:00 Sunday evenings. Its the only night I can manage to be sitting down ready to go on time for a show! I'm always finishing up working or doing 'one more thing' and then finally sit down in time to get the last 5 minutes of Charlie Rose (and always on a night when he's had someone really good on).

Lots of ideas for things for this year, as usual. I should do an inventory of supplies and do a good sorting out of stuff. I will probably do a 'good enough' attempt. Does anyone ever really do that properly? Really? 

Well I've prattled on about not much for long enough. Just thought I'd check in and wish you well for the new year. We're having RAIN, real honest to goodness, almost too much now, RAIN, so I think our drought may finally be over. I hope that's a sign of good things to come for us all. 

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17. Christmas

Christmas is upon us! I wanted to do a little update before I check out for a bit.

We've had some nice rain, which is so badly needed here, but last week one storm was accompanied by some super wind, which pulled over one of my gates and a bit of fence. No real harm was done, thankfully, and its all fixed now, but it was just one more thing in an already busy time of year that wasn't really needed. My curious kitty Phyllo came out to help me inspect the damage (while all the other cats stayed in where it was nice and warm and dry and not windy). I can always count on my little buddy here to help me out, especially if its anything going on outside.

Recently I finished a horse portrait for an old friend. She's my original roommate from college, and her husband commissioned me to do a drawing of her special horse for an anniversary present. I kept saying "I don't do horse portraits!" but then I relented, and did it, and she was really happy with it. It s all done with colored pencils. Corey is such a sweet looking horse, and he was a pleasure to draw.

So I guess now I 'do' do horse portraits, if you're interested. I've always done house portraits, and special food pieces, but will have to work out my prices for animal portraits and do a page on my website.

In the last post I was talking about my Drawings of Knitting coloring book. Its doing pretty well, and I'm excited! Thank you! everyone who's bought a copy. I hope people like it, because I'd like to do more in a series. 

And now comes the lame part of this post. I had this special Christmas art all worked out and planned to have it done to make cards and all, but is it finished? Noooooo. 

She's a Russian baboushka kitty, all decked out for the holiday. 

© Paula Pertile

I'll finish her up and just post it late I guess. This is what I get for putting off doing my Christmas art until the last minute. When will I learn? WILL I ever learn? 

So I hope you have a really nice Christmas (or Festivus, or whatever else you might be celebrating), with warm cozy beds and yummy food and and good health and happiness. 
See you next year!!

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18. Drawings of Knitting Coloring Book

Hello! Its been waaaaay too long, gosh. Time flies when you're slaving away on something, doesn't it?
I've been working on something I'm pretty excited about. 
I finally finished, and here it is:

My new Drawings of Knitting coloring book!

I did all the drawings, and created the book using Amazon's CreateSpace self-publishing tool.
This has been a LOT of work, but also a lot of fun. But a lot of work. 

Its a "Sampler" because the 20 drawings are of a little bit of everything: plaid, paisley, a quilt, some food, Fair Isle patterns, a sweater, and other things. (I'd like to do a series, with each book having a separate theme. Eventually.)

I've been drawing knitting in different ways for a while now, and have made cards, fabric, all kinds of buyable things on Zazzle, original drawings, etc. Some were done realistically with colored pencils, some were more stylized and digital. I had a vague idea about making a cohesive sort of collection or licensable 'program' out of "drawings of knitting", but left that simmering on a back burner while I went off to work on other things.

Then, recently, when the whole 'adult coloring book' thing became so huge and that Secret Garden lady sold millions of copies of hers, I thought well hey! As an illustrator, I should do one too, and OMG I KNOW I'LL DO ONE OF DRAWINGS OF KNITTING NO ONE'S DONE THAT! 

So long story short, I did it. My first challenge was to figure out how to interpret knitting as a drawing that could be colored. I had a plain page of knitting, but then what? Should I do it like a 'color by number'? But putting little tiny numbers in each stitch would have looked weird. Then I came up with the idea of doing a pattern with greys, which could be colored over. Like so:

So that worked OK. But then my brain took off and I started to get some ideas about drawing other things to look like they were made of knitting. My head exploded a little when I realized all the possibilities. And then I started to work on some of them.

I thought I'd share a little about how I did these drawings, in case you're interested.

It all starts with some doodles with a pencil and paper. 

These are the basic building blocks of drawing knit and purl stitches. If you knit, you'll recognize these. If not, I'll explain. The knit stitches (on the left) are what your basic knitted things look like - sweaters, socks, hats, etc. The reverse side of this stitch (or, the inside of those sweaters, socks and hats) probably looks like the drawing on the right. Those are purl stitches. Most of all knitting, even all the really fancy stuff, is done with some combination or variation of these two stitches. You can twist them and overlap them and reverse them and do all sorts of crazy things, which is why knitting is so fun. 

But I digress.

Here is one of the drawings from the book. Its called "Fancy Paisley".

Below is my rough pencil-on-paper drawing of the idea. I wanted to make a nice balance of knit and purl stitches, and have it still look like paisley. I'm not sure you could actually knit this (well, someone could - not sure I'm that good), but the fun of doing this with pencil and paper is that I can 'cheat', if you will, and add in stitches, or half stitches, where you normally wouldn't put them if you were really knitting with yarn and needles. I can also change the scale willy nilly, and have some crazy things going on.

After I get enough of the idea down on paper, I scan it into the computer. The one below is how it looks after I've redrawn it with my pen stylus and my Wacom tablet, using Photoshop. Its exactly like drawing it by hand with pen and ink on paper, only I'm using a 'computer pen' and drawing on a tablet, and the 'ink' is digital. So when I say its all hand drawn, it really is hand drawn. Its not some computer program where I push a button and "make knitting". I sit there for hours and hours and hours until my hand gets cramped and my eyes start to blur, drawing and erasing and re-drawing until I get it the way I want it.

THEN. As if that wasn't enough. I re-trace the whole thing to clean it up and make the final copy. The re-tracing goes a little faster, but its still one stitch at a time.

Here are some enlarged little bits of each one so you can get an idea of how the drawing changes from one stage to the next.

These are some other pieces from the book:

"Under the Microscope"

"Slice of Pie"
(The piece before this in the book is of the whole pie. 
I know - how weird! but kind of cool, right?)

This one is  "Tartan Plaid".

Here's a step-by-step of another one - "Autumn Leaves and Pumpkins"

Again, it starts with a sketch. I did this one on the computer, saving me a step of having to scan a pencil drawing.

I did the leaves like this, separate, so I could repeat them in the drawing. That's where the computer comes in handy. Yes, they're all hand drawn, but I was able to take each one and copy it, then flip it or turn it upside down or something to make an interesting picture.

And here is that interesting picture. It was fun putting this one together. I liked making the 'vine' on the one pumpkin look like a piece of yarn.

And re-drawn and all cleaned up, and with a border.

Each piece has a title on the facing page, like this:

I put blank pages in between the art pages to protect against 'bleed', in case markers or other wet media are used to color with. I already know the paper that CreateSpace uses for their books is not as thick as what you would ideally use for a coloring book, but its OK. What's great about doing the book this way is that its a 'print on demand' book, meaning each one gets printed every time someone orders one. If I had these done at a regular printer, I'd have an inventory of already-printed books piled up in my studio. This way is a much better way to get started!

For every drawing you see in the book, there are others that were left unfinished on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Ideas that were cool, but need a little more work to make "work" as a coloring book page. Lots of super complicated Celtic knot designs, some florals, other weird food ideas, etc. Hopefully they will see the light of day in future books!

But for now, I'm just really happy to have this first book DONE, and actually published. Of course I'm obsessing over everything I think needs improvement for the next one(s), and am worrying over what kind of reviews the book will get (assuming people will actually buy it in the first place, let alone leave a review!). I'm hoping that in the sea of adult coloring books out there now, my little effort will find an audience. It might be a very specific and narrow audience, but I think that there are people with my same love of knitted things that will find it entertaining.

Things are turning to Winter here a bit, finally, with some rain and wind and the heater going. Hope its warm and toasty wherever you are. Don't forget to bundle up when you go online to buy my book! (sorry, had to get one more plug in there). 

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19. A mouse, cats and sushi

On the board ~

I love mice. This is how I think of them. So its really hard when my cats catch them and bring them in the house. I rescued one from under the lingerie chest the other day, which had been brought in sometime during the night (the mouse, not the lingerie chest ). I managed to corner him and get him in a box, then kept the cats in while I released him back into the shrubberies. I like to think he made it home to his little nest, where he recovered himself with some tea and snacks.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Speaking of bad kitties . . .
Here are the Catley Twins, Master Edmund and Miss Edwina ~

They couldn't resist goofing it up for their pictures. And they both got in trouble for it. Sent to bed without supper, the both of them.
Both have a bad habit of dropping mice and other small creatures off the roof onto the heads of unsuspecting people down below, so be careful if you ever visit Mewton Manor, and are walking around outside - be sure to look up once in a while.
These two are available as prints in the arCATecture shop.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~

I had the itch to do some dim sum and sushi drawings. These are all ACEO size - 2.5" x 3.5". 
(ACEO stands for Art Card Editions and Originals. Its a "thing". People collect these, as well as ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). The deal is, ATCs are traded, while ACEOs are sold. They are a nice way for artists to offer original art, and prints, at a more affordable price to people who might be interested in their work.)

And so ~

First up we have a Chinese Potsticker.

Then some Salmon Sushi,

And some Tuna Sushi.

I'm working on a Shrimp one too.

I could eat this stuff every day, that's how much I love it! But I know its not for everyone. So we'll see if anyone has any interest in these. I've put the originals in the shop, matted; and also have prints available, matted or unmatted.

I'm also adding some ACEO size prints for some of the other art I already have in the shop - the herb drawings, some other food, and some kids book art. Basically, if the art lends itself to be cropped into that size well enough, I'm doing an ACEO of it. It'll take me a little time to do them all, but bit by bit I'll get there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Its been very hot here. Over 100! I managed to get my two 'show pieces' of art delivered to their respective places the other day, in the 104 heat. One went to the State Fair Fine Art Bldg, and the other went to FedEx to be shipped. Its always hard to say good bye to your art, even if its just for a show. I hope both drawings will enjoy their adventures and have a good time being ogled by the public. I will be glad to have them home again in a couple of months!

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20. Happy

"Happy" comes in many flavors.

There is the "reading a letter and seeing photos of loved ones" happy. 

I'm doing a major edit on this illustration (which I showed you in the last post). I've added Mr. Mouse's wife, and embellished the 'story' quite a bit. He is still reading a letter, but now there are photos included. Mrs. Mouse is looking at one (no doubt of a Mouse grandchild or other special near-and-dear, and has her hand on her chest in that "My! how he's grown!" or "Look how beautiful she is!" or gesture.

There is also some stamp collector busy-ness going on there. You can see how I work here - layers of tissue, taped one on top of the other, with edits done, and re-done, and re-done, until its right. Lots of fiddling with the exact placement of things, overlaps, angles, etc., all to make it interesting and a good design. Its getting there, and hopefully I'll have finished art to show next time.

Then there's "YAY! Gay Marriage is finally legal all across the Land!" happy.

I did some creative editing on my striped candy colored pencil drawing to make it into a whole rainbow, in honor of the Gay Pride rainbow theme.

Below is the original drawing. I used Photoshop to duplicate a piece of it, then did a lot of flopping and reversing and erasing and fiddling to get it to look like two more candies balancing on top. Then I used the "replace color" thing in the Adjustments menu to make them blue and purple. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It's still all my drawing, just with some changes made.

I've made prints available in my etsy shop, in a whole bunch of sizes. 
These are some of my print layouts, all ready to go. I do layouts of the art in different sizes, all on 8.5" x 11" paper, with trim marks. Here you see the ACEO, 5" x 7", and 4" x 6" sizes all ready to print out. 

And last but not least, there's the "My art won an award!!" happy.

An Award of Excellence!! I'm so proud of my little Berry Tart.

This drawing almost didn't get finished. I did this last Summer, and wanted to enter it in the UArt Open Exhibit. The deadline was approaching, but I came down with the weirdest mystery illness that involved a lot of vertigo (where the level in your head goes wonky and you feel like you're going to tip over). I had that on and off for weeks. I'd work on this, then have a spell and have to go lie down. I finally finished the day before the deadline to submit art to the show - but because it was so close, I couldn't mail in the entry, and instead had to drive it over to the UArt store downtown and deliver it in person. I opted to drive the slower city streets route rather than the freeway, just in case. I made it there OK, and thankfully found parking right in front. There was a bit of a queue though at the counter, and while I waited my turn I felt myself start to go . . . I had a mild panic, thinking I'd topple over, but just in time it was my turn, and I handed over my entry packet to a nice man who wished me a hearty "Good luck!". And I was out the door and into the car, where I was OK again, since I was sitting. And I made it home again, slowly.

So long story short, the art did get accepted into that show (along with my Molasses Cookie, which won an award!), then came home again, where its been sitting in a closet all nice and safe until I decided to enter it in this State Fair show. There are some other really stunning entries in the colored pencil division of the show, so I was surprised and extra happy to find out mine had won a special award.

Here is the complete list of show winners, if your'e interested. 

So that's about it for me, here. Happy Summer!

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21. Cookies

How time flies. I thought I'd be back here sooner, but I think there's some sort of time warp thing that happens when its really hot. Like, everything slows down and days go by and you don't even know what you've been doing. It all kind of melts together, and next thing you know its been weeks since you've updated your blog.

So I said I'd have the finished art of the mice reading the letter done, but I don't. Its been worked on and changed and added to - a lot - and will be done soon! No, really. I've had to switch over to other things. And one of them I can show is this cookie art.

These are actually all individual drawings, which I did a mash-up of for a group portrait. This is what they really look like ~

They're all Prismacolor colored pencils on paper, and are all ACEO size (2.5" x 3.5").

I've already made prints available of the group shot, but am thinking of putting some of these originals for sale as well. If I can get my brain out of slo-mo enough to get it together. Really, when its 100 degrees, I have to do more 'lie downs' and everything is so much more of an effort. And I have good A/C! But still. 

When I was a kid, before we got central air installed, we had a regular air conditioner in the up-high bathroom window. I so clearly remember going in there and turning it up full blast, then laying down on the floor in the dark with the door shut, just soaking in the freezing air coming out, for as long as I could get away with before I either froze, or someone knocked to see what was up. 

Anyways. Yeah. Cookies! Please let me know if you're interested in any one in particular, and I'll put a listing together for you in the shop. The background on the originals is a warm white with some paper texture. I've cleaned all that up for the prints and made it very white - just fyi.

Hope its cool where you are!!

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22. BLT

15" x 15" 
Prismacolor colored pencils on Stonehenge paper

BLT stands for Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. I honestly don't know if that's just an American, or English-speaking thing, or if it translates to other languages or cultures. Here, you just go into a restaurant and order a "BLT" and you might be asked what kind of bread you want it on, and maybe "toasted?", but otherwise they know what you're ordering. 

Some places have fancied-up versions with avocado, which to me makes it something else altogether. A proper BLT should be on white toast, with mayo. 

I had fun putting together the reference for this! I fried up some bacon, sliced some nice 'off the vine' tomatoes, rinsed some leaves of head lettuce, toasted up some plain white bread, and cracked open a jar of Best Foods mayonnaise. (It HAS to be Best Foods. )

The other fun thing was shopping for the frilly toothpicks. I am now the proud owner of a box of 1,000 of them, since that's the only way they come, apparently. So I am well stocked for a lifetime of BLT making! 

This was the first work-in-progress scan I did. The toast was the most challenging part of the drawing. Lots of nooks and crannies.

And then the next, with the toast done, the toothpicks in, and the bacon and tomatoes partway there.

And then I didn't do any more work in progress shots. I wanted to just get it done, so I glued myself to the chair and didn't feel like getting up to scan.

I purposely did this drawing a little looser in style than my previous 'architectural food' pieces. It still has a formal layout, with the top, and section views. But I combined the "side" and "section" views by doing the individual quarters this way, and also let the sandwich itself be a little sloppy - the way they are in real life.

And then I thought it would be fun to show one of them eaten, with just the toothpick left.

So there you have it. I have prints in the shop.
Are you craving one now? :~)

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23. More cookie drawings

Cookies are fun to draw! Especially if they're good ones, because you get to eat them afterwards.

These were all kind of experiments, or 'practice' drawings. 

This first one is a 'stamped' design with chocolate on one side, some kind of creme filling, then a vanilla version of the stamped design on the reverse. I drew this on Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper, which is really textured, and sort of worked against me. But I wrangled it and got it under control and made it do what I wanted. The cookie is very dark, with the even darker impressions where its stamped. Doing a drawing where all the values are in the last 25% or so of the grey scale is rather challenging. I did resort to using some black, but mostly used dark browns, with a little greyed lavender on top to raise some highlights. This is small - about 4 inches square. But is still larger than the actual cookie!

This one is chocolate with peanut chunks. Not as dark a chocolate as the one above - more like a milk chocolate. This is drawn about actual size, and is also ACEO size - 2.5" x 3.5". This was done on Stonehenge paper.

This one is molasses with creme filling. Its very soft and squishy (the cookie, that is). Its the same paper size and materials as the last drawing, but the cookie is drawn much smaller than in real life. 

When I go grocery shopping I'm always on the lookout for fun little things like this to draw. I'll have a basket with organic greens, artisan bread, sushi, and then something like these cheap little trashy cookies. 

I'm working on something cool that I hope I can share soon. If you don't see me here for a while, its because I'm immersed in my secret project, drawing drawing . . .

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24. Strokes of Genius

I'm so excited that my Fried Egg on Sourdough Toast drawing has been selected to be in the Strokes of Genius 8: Exploring Textures book!

You can see the list of all the winners to be included in the book, here.

The Strokes of Genius books are compilations of contemporary drawings, with a theme. They are competitions sponsored by The Artist's Network, and the books are published by North Light Books. I've always drooled over the winning pieces, and this year I decided to enter. The book comes out in 2016, and you know I will be blogging and tweeting it all over the place when it does!

So this kind of marks a 'year of entering stuff'. I decided to enter some of my colored pencil drawings in a few shows, just to see what would happen. I did a rough tally of how it worked out financially, and have to say I'm fairly pleased. I entered 3 pieces in 4 shows (some were entered in more than one). The pieces were accepted into all the shows but one (an online show). Two won $$ awards. So after tallying up all the entry fees and framing costs, I just about broke even, thanks to the awards. The only cost that put me over the top was shipping to the CPSA show in Atlanta, and the cost of the shipping box. So all in all, considering I was doing this in in a rather casual way (not entering in every single 'important' show there is, and only showing 3 pieces), I feel pretty happy with the results!

I started a 'new year' of entering by entering this year's UArt Open show with my BLT piece, but it didn't get accepted. Last year I had two pieces in their show, and won an award! So you just never know. I know people who've entered a piece in CPSA and not been accepted, then enter the same piece the next year and win an award. So this entering shows thing is not for the feint of heart. It can really bruise your ego to not 'get in', let alone not win anything. Then there's the money part. You really have to be serious about this 'fine art' thing to do it properly and be successful. You also have to be very organized about what you're entering, and keep track of which pieces will need to be shipped to where if they get accepted, and how long they'll be 'tied up' in that show, which will make them unavailable for another show, etc. 

I haven't decided yet if I will pursue this whole 'show' thing more, or not. Right now I'm super immersed (obsessed) with a project that I'm excited about, and its taking up ALL of my time. But I'm having fun, and can't wait until I can share it! Hopefully in about a month? If all goes well.

Its Labor Day here today. I will be 'laboring', although I think the point is that we take a day off. I'm happy though to be working on something I love, so it doesn't really feel like work. Maybe I'll take a day off from housework in honor of the day - guilt-free! 

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25. Fall and stuff

OK, so its finally Fall. Yay! And it actually rained today. Double Yay!!! 

I've been super busy working on this secret project that I'm tired of keeping a secret but have to for a little bit more until I'm finally really done. I thought I'd be done by Oct. 1st, but it looks like I need a couple more weeks. When I'm finally finished you'll be sick of seeing it and hearing about it. But for now, I'm still staying mum.

The drawing of autumn above was a fun little diversion. I wanted it to look like yarn, and did it all digital, start to finish. I've done these yarn drawings before with colored pencils, but what happens is they're hard to clean up after they're scanned because of all the little 'hairs'. Its too hard to try and erase out the paper texture when you have to go around all those fine little bits. So I had a go at it with my digital colored pencil. 

Then I did this one. Its a little softer, and fuzzier. 

I work in layers in Photoshop with my special colored pencil texture brush, building up the color just as I would if I were using 'real' colored pencils. It takes a bit of fiddling to get the setting just right - opacity, scale, hardness, etc., but in the end it gets there.

Here's the top layer with just the fuzzy bits. Fun, huh?

I've also been doing some knitting, taking custom orders. It feels like knitting weather finally, and I enjoy sitting with my cats and working on a piece with a cup of fresh hot coffee. 

The stores are all bursting with pumpkin flavored everything, and its a little overwhelming. I did find a nice pumpkin ginger spice cake at Trader Joe's which is lovely, but I shy away from most of the stuff like pumpkin lattes and potato chips and beer (OK, I don't know about those last two, but I'm sure someone, somewhere has done them). I'm looking forward to a really good pumpkin pie before the season is over. Then we're on to mince meat! But that's another story.

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