ferociously realistic (part 2/5)

Of course, the best Halloween stuff is always the werewolf stuff.

 You’ll be howling at the moon in no time!

 “Maybe they are sort of ferocious,” said Iowa, “But they’re not very realistic.”

“Which kind is your boss?  A grey one, a brown one, or a black one?” asked Suki.

“I’m not sure which is closer,” said Iowa thoughtfully. “But there’s one way to find out.”


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ferociously realistic (part 1/5)



At the beginning of the last week of September, Iowa went the Big Box Home Improvement Store with her friend Suki to buy supplies for one of Suki’s art projects.

“Normally, I’d give you a rant,” said Iowa, “about how disgusting it is that the store is all Halloweened up while it’s still September.  But considering they already have the Christmas stuff out, including the illuminated plastic Nativity scene that is set up


so it looks like that one Wise Man is eavesdropping on the Holy Family and just heard that they’ve already got more myrrh than they could possibly want… well, all the purple tinsel cats and spiders don’t look that bad.”



“I think it’s cool,” said Suki, and she got out her camera.





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dust pans on parade

Today at Menards, an assortment of “High Power”dust pans.  (The red one is described as a “Big Dust Pan” and costs a buck more.)

Plus, square “U” bolts!  They are made of zinc, as are the regular U shaped “U” bolts.

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product design for the win

202eb939a34cee0c489db915a3f00852Best product name ever. And of course the logo for Not Poisonous is a photographer in a knickerbocker suit wrestling with a brace of sighthounds.

No, I am not the art director at the Vulcan Works. But I wish I was.

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dog portraits

imgp6948-blogA couple of weekends ago, I went to a local street festival and took a bunch of portraits of other people’s dogs.  Here are a few of them.






Photographic geekery:  the Pentax K-5iis and the DA*55 mm f/1.4, of course.  Dog geekery: from top to bottom, Lab/Rottweiler mix, Miniature Pinscher, American Bulldog (5 month old pup– he’s a Johnson type and he’s going to be huge and sweet) and Golden Retriever.


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in the addams family’s living room

The Addams are my favorite cartoon/TV family.  And why not.  Gomez and Morticia are radiantly in love, have two intelligent, lively and well behaved kids, a complex and loving extended family, loyal servants, cool pets, and a great house.  And plenty of money to basically sit around all day enjoying the whole range of domestic experiences.

To Addams family fans, their house is a familiar place. We think of it as delightfully crowded and cluttered, a Victorian cabinet of curiosities with a Gothic twist.  But the first version of the house, as seen in the original New Yorker cartoons was actually rather bare and desolate– a half abandoned “haunted house” rather than a luxuriously furnished one. (I won’t suggest that this simple set was easier to draw– Addams was a fine draftsman and could draw details like nobody’s business, so we can safely assume this was an artistic decision.)


It was in the first the Addams Family TV show that the familiar, heavily dressed version of the house was added to the original Addams canon.  Here, the family butler Lurch plays the harpsichord for the family gathered in the living room in a scene from the show.


And this is a photograph of the same set, from a different angle and with the props in different positions, from a “backstage” point of view.


Today, rather suddenly, a different version of this photograph has been circulating on the internet, rather to everyone’s shock.  Because, really, who thinks about the fact that the sets of black and white movies and television shows were in color in real life?


And of course they are.  It’s not like television production companies went around buying props and painting them in shades of grey.  A common reaction to this photograph is to comment about the walls and rugs being pink, or the colors scheme in general being heavily loaded with pastels.  But the more I looked at this image (it really is fascinating) the more sure I was that it was overexposed.  So I’ll leave you with this tweaked version, where I lowered the shadows a bit and the highlights a little bit more.  I see the colors of the old Oriental rugs as a little bit truer to examples I’ve know in real life, and the rest of colors just snap into place.


Just add a sketchbook, a big screen TV and a couple of corgis and I’m there.


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splash, or the risks of combining coffee and digital photography

Splash some water on the wooden floor of the front porch.  Add a phone camera,


and a large black coffee, a full pint of it, with a handful of ice,


and a photo editing app with all kinds of silly filters and frames.


The results can border on artistic irresponsibility.

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best of the drawing of the day: camp coffee


“The Camp Coffee earned a Skeptical Reaction from a Sphinx.”

The sphinx, in the Knotted Rope, is a strange(ish) kind of person with a human head, a quadrupedal but humanoid body with four large hands that double as feet, and an animal’s tail and ears.  The Knotted Rope sphinx has its origins in the sketchbooks as I tried to work out a “logical” (to me) solution to the “being with a human head and an animal body” trope found in so many cultures.  Keen observers will notice that I still haven’t quite decided how a sphinx’s back legs work.  I originally decided to make their legs two sets of arms, giving them four elbows as a riff on the elephant’s famous “four knees”.  But while that’s interesting in theory, I keep forgetting to draw them that way and most sketchbook sphinxes end up with knees in the back and hands instead of feet, as we see here.  It must be either more logical or just easier to draw them this way (or both), so I think the character design may end up yielding to the way the characters are actually drawn.

When I draw sphinxes, I seem want the emphasize that their hands are not just sturdy feet, so unless they are standing on all four of them I usually give them something to hold.  Almost always, it’s a cup of coffee.  I don’t know if this says more about me than it does about sphinxes, but they seem to like their java as much as I do.  Of course, the stuff that’s brewed over the campfire (and served in the slightly whopperjawed enameled steel pot sitting on the small crate) is not as reliably good as the coffee sketchbook sphinxes usually drink in quaint independent cafes, and small town donut shops and even, when forced, as carryout from Starbucks.

Other coffee drinking sphinxes on the blog can be found here and here.  Get all the sphinxes by typing “sphinx” into the search box.  There are quite a few of them.

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Let’s open the picture file labeled “imaginary history of Kekionga”, and  consider this vintage photograph.

69290ccec24234904c43aa818306f58c Its original caption reads “Miss Dorothy Tierney with porcupine, 1926.” We are taken by Ms. Tierney’s charming smile, her very chic cloche hat, and by how the old fashioned custom of wearing white gloves all the time was really quite sensible, especially when a lady was required to pick up small spiky creatures. We also wonder if this particular creature might be a hedgehog rather than a porcupine, and upon further thought discover that we are unsure how to tell the difference. We think that porcupines are normally much larger than hedgehogs, but speculate that this one might be a baby.

(In Kekionga in 1926, Miss Tierney was almost certainly a librarian at what was then the Kekionga Public Library*.  She would remind you that pets, and other animals, are not allowed in the library without written permission granted well in advance.)

*Now the Salt County Public Library, Kekionga Downtown Branch.

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bag of bones

bonestitle-blogHalloween Cheetos.  These are much better shapes for Cheetos than the regular shapes. bones-bag-blog-usethis You can make your own little cartoon skeleton. bones-skeleton-blog

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