Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Voyage to a New Blog!

I'd like to invite you all to travel with me to my new "official" blog! Actually, it isn't new at all-- over six months old-- but I wanted to work out a few bugs before I made the formal move.

I think things are in order now, & with the end of the AlphaBots project, this seems like a good time to travel onward. I won't take this blog down, but probably won't be updating it, so I do hope you'll join me over there. You'll see a lot of duplicate content from the last few months at the moment, but I promise there will be new stuff coming soon!

Monday, July 29, 2013


Wow-- the end of another Alphabet Project! Of course I still have a few stragglers to fill in, but I must say I'm happy to be (nearly) done with this one. Over the past six months I've certainly learned a lot about Adobe Illustrator,* but frankly I've lost much of my zeal for vector & robots, & I'm itching to get back to more organic artwork, both in subject matter & technique. I have a completely different & fun new series in my head & can't wait to get started! I'm hoping to have my first piece up in the next week or two-- stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out everybody's AlphaBots from A to Z here!

*I just learned about the Distort/Roughen effect, which I used (twice) on a zig-zag path, to make the zap of electricity on this guy's head look more convincingly random.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cartozia Tales Sneak Peek

I'm excited to be a part of this inventive new comic! Conceived by Isaac Cates, it is co-created by a team of writers and artists who take turns telling fantastic stories about various sectors of an imaginary world, Cartozia. It's really a fascinating system-- read more about it here. The first issue should be coming out in August, & can be pre-ordered now.

Monday, July 22, 2013


I’m not sure what this bot is yearning for, but I’m yearning for more time to do all the things I need/want to do (including catching up on the missing AlphaBots)!

Monday, July 8, 2013


You may have noticed a glaring lack of UV in this alphabet-- no, it's not due to excessive sunscreen use! The last couple of weeks have been a brain-frazzling swirl, but I do intend to fill in the gaps at some point. (I've done the sketches, just didn't have time for AI.)

This is not the time of year when I'm prone to wistful reveries-- they usually hit me when the days are short-- but this song can sometimes bring them on, especially when I'm chained to the computer!

Monday, June 17, 2013


I'm not sure if a tantrum is an emotion, precisely, but it's definitely an emotional outburst.

I'm happy to say that my life has been pretty much tantrum-free lately, but I certainly remember them vividly from the days when my twins were toddlers. I was pretty lucky even then, really. The boys weren't excessively frequent fit-throwers, and usually they were kind enough to take turns, but once in a while they'd gang up on me with a tandem tantrum, & that was pretty miserable!

But you know, I always felt their fits were at least as hard on them. After all, kids have it rough-- they're always being told what to do, with very little say in the matter, & that would make me cranky too! Besides, their outbursts were mainly triggered by exhaustion, hunger or over-stimulation, so I tried to minimize all as much as possible, & it helped.  Still, those days were wearying, & my heart goes out to those of you who are still living in the tantrum era!

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Surprise! I did an AlphaBot this week after all!

We had a surprise flood situation this weekend that put me behind in everything– only the basement was affected, but with both sons home there was a lot of stuff stored down there. Luckily nothing truly precious was destroyed, but it still took many, many hours of clean-up. And it happened on my birthday, too, hmph!! The nerve!! This bot pretty much captures my mien upon discovering the situation.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Oh how I identify with this wiggly bot! It's strange that someone with a severe case of the fidgets would choose a career that requires hours on end of near-immobility, but making art is just as irresistible as movement, so my two obsessions fight it out every day. Usually I start with the art & when I can't sit still another minute, I get up & hoop-dance madly for a while. Then back to the desk or drawing table until the wiggles take over again.

I'm very tempted to animate this little guy, but that would mean sitting here a lot longer, & I really need to go hoop!

Monday, May 27, 2013


A supposedly useful thing I may never try again: Adobe Illustrator's perspective tool. I thought it would save time, but there were many things it didn't seem able to handle-- although I must admit the problem probably exists "between chair & computer" as my brother the electrical engineer likes to say. :-\

I had to fake the y-axis eyebrow curve, for instance, & the eyes came out looking excessively flat. If anyone knows any tips on how to make AI render curves in perspective, I'd appreciate hearing them! (I have tried the 3D tool, by the way but I don't like its color-deadening nastiness.)

After all that fussing, I remembered that I've never actually felt satisfied with mechanically accurate perspective in a drawing anyway. It usually makes it look a little stiff & dead to my eyes.

All in all, the experience has left me quite querulous!  Should've seen that coming, I guess.

Monday, May 20, 2013


I've been trying to learn to code lately, so I've been experiencing plenty of puzzlement! However, I thoroughly enjoy the tutorials, in part because it tickles me to hear serious-sounding British dudes saying "curly braces" repeatedly.

Still, I do sometimes wish I could remove my head & give it a good tune-up from time to time. For one thing there is loads of useless information in there that I wish I could dump out to make room for more!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


It's been far too long since I posted an actual painting! The Illustrator experiments have been good training, but my hand was itching to hold a brush. So here's the result:

I imagined a medieval monk patiently illuminating a manuscript, when suddenly an alien spaceship lands in the monastery courtyard. Surely his new acquaintances would make their way into the margins.

Acrylic on text on canvas, 12" x 6"

Monday, May 13, 2013


Sometimes it's all too much!!!

And before you say anything about the undeniably awkward title, there is NO really good noun form for "overwhelm"! I had a choice between a rarely-heard & semi-archaic word ("overwhelmedness") & a cleaner, more current, but non-standard one ("overwhelm" as noun). I rather liked someone's suggestion of "overwhelmment" but that wasn't in the OED either. So I went with the superannuated version, because that's how I roll! I mean, I use a dip pen every day. What did you expect? ;-) It would have been easier if I'd chosen adjectives to begin with, but too late now!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Sometimes these bots come along at just the right time. It happens that my parents are selling the home where my siblings & I grew up. It’s the right thing to do, but still a bittersweet moment. We had a family “house-cooling” last weekend where we all indulged in a good bit of nostalgia, along with some champagne, a few tears & plenty of laughter.

Do you think the electronic beings of today look back at vacuum tubes with fond nostalgia?

I must say crafting this one in Illustrator was quite the maddening experience. Although I felt it was the perfect program for all the mechanical precision, it kept selecting the wrong paths of the zillion & three I had to create for the circuitry. I was locking everything else down, so I don’t quite understand why. Any wisdom from the AI wizards out there?

On the bright side, I discovered Envelope Mesh. Man that was handy for tweaking the perspective!

p.s. Please forgive my electronic ignorance, all you folks out there who know how circuits really work. (You know who you are!) I’m sure this configuration is ridiculous & impossible. I claim artistic license!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Apologies for the miserably late post! I thought robot’s tears would be hard & sharp– tears do sometimes feel that way.  And misery can accumulate like a bed of nails, making it hard to find one’s way out without pain.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I have a quotation by Deena Metzger painted on my studio wall: “There is time only to work slowly. There is no time not to love.” It helps me keep my focus when I’m freaking out about a deadline or something. Whenever I get frantic & try to rush things, I end up making mistakes that set me back even more. And when my children were small & constantly interrupting, seeing that quotation helped me remember what was really important.

My patience was tested today (with gradient mesh, what a surprise!) & I’m still not happy with the results, but I’m trying to remember that this project is all about exploring a new program, & the only way to make progress is to keep learning from my mistakes!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I was late starting this week’s AlphaBot due to some last-minute tax snafus. Just as I was about to begin I found out about the Boston Marathon explosions. So the whole time I was doing this I was thinking of those who ran into the disaster area to help the wounded. I’m sure most of you have heard or read this quote from Fred Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
- Mr. Rogers

Monday, April 8, 2013


I have greenish eyes so I've always felt a little insulted by the phrase "green-eyed monster." How did jealousy acquire that moniker, I wonder? Ah well, I gave into the cliché for this week's AlphaBot anyway! Now I'm part of the problem, I guess.

I'm not very happy with the results either, but I ran out of time to tweak. I'm jealous (or more precisely, envious) of people who have plenty of time for everything they want to do. Luckily I don't know a single one of them!

Monday, April 1, 2013


I’m actually in a pretty great mood these days– even running late with my AlphaBot didn’t bring out the ire– maybe because this one didn’t need gradient mesh!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Yippee! It’s nice to have a positive emotion to illustrate again. I think this AlphaBot is happy for me because I have a much-needed new computer, all speedy & uncrashy & made-to-order & everything! Thank you, James!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guilt Bot

It's a scientific point of contention whether dogs can feel guilt.
What do you think?

I'm sure there would be similar questions raised about this AlphaBot.
But looking guilty is another matter. That's definitely in its programming, & I suspect dogs' & humans' too.

Speaking of which, I'm feeling a bit guilty for taking extra shortcuts this week (I cadged a bunch of gradients & blends-- and even an eye-- from CuriosityBot for this one) but I'd feel even more guilty if I missed my work deadlines, so something had to give!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


This week's AlphaBot is a bit of a Fraidy-bot. I have a hyperactive alarm system myself, so I can relate.

I was working on a bunch of projects this week so I didn't have a whole lot of time to experiment with new AI techniques, but I did figure out that I could use the inner glow effect to make a nifty inner shadow in the eyeballs & head-bulb.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I blush very easily & whenever I'm the least bit embarrassed, or emotionally stirred in any way really, I begin to resemble this AlphaBot, glowing ears & all. Unfortunately I can feel it happening & that just makes me more embarrassed.

I had fun doing all the radiant gradients though! I'm starting to hate gradient mesh just a tiny bit less, though it's still weirdly unpredictable. It does allow for a lot of subtle mixing!

I also experimented with multiple strokes on a path here, to create a fake gradient for the fingers. It sorta works!

Thursday, February 28, 2013


It's been forever since I did a painting for Illustration Friday, & I almost didn't make it this week. The prompt was "whisper."  I started thinking about the kind of creature that would be adept at hearing whispers... hence this little fellow. Can you see the hidden message? It's kind of a giveaway. ;-)

Acrylic on text scanned from The Reason Why, a natural history book of questions & answers from 1860. It features a quote from Shakespeare: "Give every man thine ears, but few thy voice." Also an engraved diagram of the human ear that turned into a form of vegetation.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Here's the latest in my Artificial Emotional Intelligence series for AlphaBots. I'm learning quite a bit about emotions in researching this project. Except that I'm ending up with more questions than answers.

For instance, disgust to me seems absolutely fundamental & visceral, more physical than mental at least in its roots, yet some think it's an emotion that must be learned. I suppose that's true in some cases, but if you've ever seen a baby eat something bitter, this robot's expression will look quite familiar.

I recently read an article about people with trypophobia--  extreme revulsion at the sight of clustered holes. I found most of those images appealing actually, but I love all sorts of patterns in nature. On the other hand, hair in a bathroom drain gives me the major creeps, beyond all reason.

There does seem to be a fair degree of variability & irrationality involved in disgust. What disgusts you that others don't mind? What do you find tolerable that grosses others out? Do you think these reactions were "hard-wired" or did you acquire them over time? Do you find context important? Do you think disgust is always related to fear?

I tried to make this robot look something like a bitter pill, or perhaps a bacterium of some sort... luckily a shape that Illustrator's gradient mesh seems to comprehend a little bit more easily.  That gave me time to get a little carried away with a rivet effect using the dotted line stroke.

My Illustrator interest may have crossed the line into obsession. The other night I dreamed I was trying to control my husband's snore volume using Bézier curve handles, & getting very frustrated with Illustrator when it didn't work! Perhaps that's my subconscious telling me that I'm asking too much of this program? In this case an old-school poke in the shoulder was much more effective. ;-) At least I woke up laughing, which isn't always the case when the snore volume goes to 11!

Monday, February 18, 2013


Recently I was listening to the Brain Science Podcast, & the subject just happened to be The Origin of Emotions.

Jaak Panksepp was talking about the evolution of emotions, & to my surprise, he proposed that the very most fundamental emotion was the "seeking instinct"-- he didn't use the word "curiosity" but of course that's what jumped into my head. I hadn't even thought of this as an emotion per se, but it makes perfect sense! The same essential impulse that sends any animal out into the world in search of food extends to send me in search of interesting podcasts & new program skills,* for instance, or the Curiosity Rover to Mars, or this robot in search of odd little green thingies!

It was a fascinating podcast in general, & if you're not the podcast type there's a pdf transcript of the interview available here.

*For this Bot I learned how to use the star tool (for the pattern in the irises-- super-easy) & the object blend tool (for the goose-neck & arms-- quite a bit more complex but fun & amazing)!

And don't forget to check out all the other C robots over at AlphaBots!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Well, I'm mighty late with my AlphaBot this week, but at least I'm in time to wish you all a blissful Valentine's Day with Oddment 200!

In case you missed the last post, this is the second in an alphabetical robot series I call Artificial Emotional Intelligence. The BlissBot's wires tend to get a bit disheveled when in the throes of his eponymous emotion. But it's all part of his programming. ;-)

Speaking of programs, I'm using this series to teach myself how to "paint" in Adobe Illustrator. In this piece I made extensive use of the gradient mesh, which partly explains why it's so late! It's an amazing tool, but it can drive one a bit nuts, especially as a newbie. And of course I'm still not really satisfied. I hope one shining day to figure out how to make AI gradients tamely do my bidding. For now they definitely still have my knickers (& often my Bézier curves) in a twist. So much for my hope that I'd be as blissful making this bot as I was angstful for the last!

In further adventures in technology with Leah, I have a (sort of) complete new website up! It's supposed to be all mobile-responsive & sharp & fresh & stuff, but I'm still adding images & I'm sure there are still a few snags to work out. In any case I invite you to have a look over there & report back to me with any problems or concerns. I'll be keeping this blog going here for a while until I'm sure I have the hang of things over there!

Monday, February 4, 2013


Here come the AlphaBots!!

I decided my theme would be Artificial Emotional Intelligence. Each bot will represent an emotion. Should be fun!

I also decided (probably very foolishly) that AlphaBots would be the perfect opportunity to teach myself Adobe Illustrator. (AI for AI, get it?) I've used it now & again for some type/lettering work, but I've never tried to make an image with it before. It's a whole new world & cranking out this simple little bot nearly drove me crazy! I'm still not at all happy with the gradients & such. I hope when I learn the ropes a little more I can touch him up, poor fellow.

Appropriately enough, I started the alphabet with angst-- I certainly felt enough of it as I was attempting this effort!

The background text/texture is imported from Photoshop, as is the little belt buckle ornament, but everything else is AI. Wish me luck with this project! I hope the next one doesn't take this long!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winged 8sy

Here's another of the 8sy BITsy Monsters! This one goes out to Lewis Carroll whose birthday was on the 27th. I meant to post it then but life intervened.

One of the many things I have on my plate these days is a website redesign... it's not quite live yet but when it is, I'll probably be migrating all my blogs over there. Just wanted to give y'all a heads-up! Of course I'll post a formal announcement when it happens.

Also, remember that AlphaBots begins next Monday, so if any of you would like to contribute, it's time to get bottin'!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Prepare for the Invasion of the AlphaBots!

I promised you another alphabet project & it's almost here, yippee! I'll be a co-admin this time along with Christian Sager & Gabriel Reyes, & we'd love to have any of you join us!

Christian explains it all so well on the AlphaBots site, I'll just quote his wording here:

"Who doesn’t like drawing robots?!? Now’s the time to break out your tools and show us your best robots. For 26 weeks artists from all over the world will be contributing to the collaborative social media art project AlphaBots!

AlphaBots will be the fourth Alphabet Press project since beginning in 2011. These efforts previously included Animal Alphabet, AlphaBeasts and AlphaBooks. Participating is a great way to share your work and meet other artists. We even had our own table at the 2012 Small Press Expo, selling books, prints, postcards and original art from the project.

Every Monday you can submit unique robot art, whether it’s from fiction, reality or your own imagination. Everyone is welcome, from professional artists to beginners looking to share their creativity. We begin our A–Z journey by drawing robots that begin with “A” on Monday, February 4.

Visit the AlphaBots Tumblr for more information on how to participate and submit your robots!"

Photoshop robot with imagery from Scientific American Handy Book, 1918, & Dietzgen Catalog, 1938.

Monday, January 14, 2013

8sy BITsy Monster

Andrew Neal recently introduced me to a great new art challenge called 8sy BITsy Monsters. It was created by Bec of Ginseng & Honey, & quickly adopted by a whole bunch of Tumblr artists because really, it's just too much fun!

Bec created a bunch of 8-bit monsters, then set the challenge to interpret them in full-res illustrations. This one (below) caught my eye because it made me think of Edward Lear. So here's my first contribution-- I feel sure there will be more!

Photoshop with text from The Practical Standard Dictionary.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Old Man Arrives!

At long last The Old Man & the Cat is available in the States! It may take awhile longer to make it to physical bookstores, but it's now up on Amazon. See, I wasn't making the whole thing up! ;-)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Farewell to 2012!

Apologies to all for my long absence from this blog. When I said I was over-stretched in that last post I didn't know how much more stretched I could get! Suffice it to say that I needed some yoga & meditation to make it through the last month.

But I'm back! This is just a silly little Photoshop piece I did as a joke for a couple of friends on Twitter who were talking about the art trends/memes they'd noticed in 2012. We decided to mash up a few just for fun. Of course they got theirs done by New Year's Eve, while I'm limping in a week later. See paragraph one. ;-)

Stay tuned to this spot for an exciting announcement coming soon! Hint: it involves the alphabet. (Yes I know that's not much of a hint in these parts.)