Drawing My Dreams Daily Again

Girl with wildly matted hair on pretty deck off pretty kitchen. Old lady dancing for people while workmen powerwashing on a roof spray water than turns to hail.

LEFT: Girl with wildly matted hair on pretty deck off pretty kitchen. RIGHT: Old lady dancing for people while workmen powerwashing on a roof spray water that turns to hail. Ink and White Pitt pen in compact Moleskine, 5.5 x 7 inches.

I used to start my mornings by drawing images from my dreams but got out of the habit some years back. I got inspired to start again after seeing Nina Johansson’s project of drawing from imagination daily in a Moleskine daily planner. Her strangely beautiful pages are skillfully drawn scenes from a vivid imagination. I loved her idea of using a dated journal so I bought up a pocket-sized yellow Moleskine planner and started drawing my dreams again every morning.

Russian soldiers marching and big feet. Chinese vase with butterflies and lady bugs.

Russian soldiers marching and big feet. Chinese vase with butterflies and lady bugs.

I was pretty rusty at first, but with each drawing I’m feeling more confident about mostly drawing without references or props, and without worrying about accuracy. I’m using a variety of pens including Pitt Artist Brush Pens and their new PITT Artist Pen – White pen that works really well. I’m throwing out all the other yucky white markers I tried before.

The big screen kiss and lots of goats. Visiting my secret hidden basement room again and bowl of M&Ms.

The big screen kiss and lots of goats. Visiting my secret hidden basement room again and bowl of M&Ms.

The paper in the journal is thin so there is a little show-through from previous pages but the Pitt pens are great at not bleeding.

Woke with a migraine: shipwreck and monkey. Eat on Time.

Woke with a migraine: shipwreck and monkey. Eat on Time.

Sometimes if there are no visuals from the previous night’s dreams or I wake with a migraine, I draw what I’m feeling or something else related to life, like the two above, the migraine image on left and the reminder to eat on time (to help prevent stupid migraines).

Guy from Ace Hardware tried to take my dog and phone. Tall ships, bundt cake and a painting in progress.

Guy from Ace Hardware tried to take my dog and phone. Tall ships, bundt cake and a painting in progress.

Odd, the food items that appear in my dreams, mostly stuff I don’t eat.

No dream, just a sketch of a shitty migraine.

No dream, just a sketch of a shitty migraine.

From time to time I’ll post my favorite dream sketches here, but if you’d like to see them as I draw them, visit Drawing My Dreams Daily on Tumbler or my Instagram page, which I’m using to keep daily posting simple (no computer, just iPhone shots of the sketch).

Sketchercizing My Errands

Walking with my dust mop, ink & colored pencil

Walking with my dust mop, ink & colored pencil

I needed a new dust mop, a tube of silicon adhesive and some exercise, so I put them together and walked to Pastime Hardware, a large family-owned hardware store that has everything, including  their famously helpful employees.

The sketch above actually closely resembles me when I’m out walking, with my green backpack  that is so comfy, even when loaded with junk, my nifty purple cap, and old green shorts.

On the way to the store I called my mom on my iPhone, getting that task done as well. As she told me tales of her adventures with her new, and first computer, I stopped to draw some cacti I spotted along the way.

Cacti, ink and watercolor

Cacti, ink and watercolor

My last stop was at the video store to pick up a copy of Local Color which never came out in theaters in Northern California and is finally available on DVD. Then I walked home with the mop over my shoulder feeling like I should be whistling a little tune.

Strange Garden Ecology: From Birds to Mice to Wasps to Ants to Birds

Weird Ecology, ink & watercolor in sketchbook

Strange Ecology, ink & watercolor (click to enlarge or see big images below)

I used to love feeding the birds and seeing my little customers flocking to the feeder. But one day I thought I saw the wood chip ground covering moving under the feeder. When I looked closely I saw it wasn’t the tan bark moving, it was dozens of mice! By feeding the birds I was also nourishing a growing army of mice with all the seed the birds scattered!

1. Feed the Birds  2. Mice grow strong and prosper

1. Feed the Birds ---> ---> ---> ---> ---> ---> ---> 2. Mice grow strong and prosper

I called “Vector Control” (a euphemism for the county rat patrol) and an interesting female rat inspector came out and inspected. She told me the only way to get rid of the mice was to stop feeding the birds and that for each mouse I saw there were 50 more I wasn’t seeing. I was sad to stop feeding the birds but it was better than the alternative (which included multiple mouse traps, even sadder).

Meanwhile, the spilled millet seed grew into a lovely, tall, feathery bush under the feeder, which I left hanging in a bit of wishful thinking that one day I’d be able to return to feeding my feathery friends.

3. Millet grass grows under feeder. 4. Wasps move in.

3. Millet grass grows under feeder ---> ---> ---> --->4. Wasps move in.

A couple years pass, the feeder and bird house remain empty and the millet bush continues to be a pretty garden feature. One day I notice something odd: wasps are buzzing in and out of the feeder and have built a nest inside it. I learned that while wasps do not pollinate like bees, they are still beneficial because they eat insect pests in the garden. I decided to leave them alone and enjoyed watching them care for their  babies (larvae) in the nest.

Wasps eat potential garden pests including the venomous black widow spider. Adult wasps eat only pollen and nectar (or your soda at picnics). They only hunt for meat (insects, worms, your barbequed hamburgers) to feed their larvae. Wasps nests have only one purpose: to ensure the production of young. At the end of the nest’s cycle, every member of the nest, except emerging queens, dies.

5. The wasps move in next door ---> 6. The Greenhouse Effect

5. The wasps move in next door ---> ---> ---> 6. The Greenhouse Effect

I guess things got a little crowded in the nest because the wasps started hanging out at the neighboring empty bird house too. Then one day we had a scorcher of a summer day. The temperature in my usually cool and foggy neighborhood by the Bay was in the 90s (f). The clear plastic bird feeder turned into a greenhouse and cooked all the wasps in the nest. So sad. All those poor little larvae, all that building and hunting and gathering of food.

But it wasn’t entirely wasted…

7. The millet bush becomes a little ladder and the ants have a party

7. The millet bush becomes ladder to an ant party

The stalks of tall millet grass made a perfect ladder for the gazillions of ants who live in my garden (and don’t even get me started about the ants and their nasty aphid ranches). The ants were streaming up the grass onto the feeder and having a lovely dinner party of roasted wasp.

And because my garden is well stocked with ants and aphids, I am, in a way, still feeding the birds. They still flock to my garden, but now they eat the ants and aphids off the rose bushes and it doesn’t even cost a penny in bird seed.

Meanwhile…. Life Goes On

Zoom Magazine

I’ve been away from my blog this past week, for a number of reasons, including setting up a new computer, an extended family member suddenly hospitalized in a coma with no brain activity, plus other more positive family events.

So in this brief intermission, here is a page from Costa Rica’s Zoom magazine I received recently. My sketches illustrate an article about Leaf Cutter Ants (amazing creatures that live in Costa Rica). When the editor was looking for illustrations she came across my sketches on my blog and asked for permission to use them in the article. It’s fun seeing them in print:

Leafcutter Ants, in "Zoom" (Costa Rica magazine)

(Click image to enlarge)

I’m looking forward to some solid studio time for the next two days and getting back to regular posting. Meanwhile, life goes on…

Thank You Roz & Boris the Dragonly Critic

Thank You Roz! (Gouache & Ink)

Thank You Roz! (Gouache & Ink)

As second place winner in the International Fake Journal Month contest, I won this amazing t-shirt from Roz Stendahl, the inventor of IFJM. I tried to sketch myself sketching myself myself wearing it. I didn’t do the t-shirt (or myself) justice, but I do like the way the bird and I both seem to have the same expression! THANK YOU ROZ! I love it! (My IFJM posts are here and here.)

I’ve been having one of those crises of artistic self-confidence in my drawing the past couple weeks. I’m not sure if the drawing difficulties are real or I’ve just somehow allowed that nasty internal critic out of his cage and back on my shoulder.

Boris the Dragonly Critic, ink & watercolor

Boris the Dragonly Critic, ink & watercolor

I know the cure though: put him back in his cage and do a whole bunch of drawing until he is so bored he falls asleep for a nice long summer nap. And I’ll start by drawing HIM!  Here he is now, safely back in his cage and starting to get very sleepy….

Word Play: Hubris Meets Hirsute; Labial goes Labile

Hubris, Hirsuit: Excess Pride, Excess Hair, ink & watercolor, 7x6"

Hubris Meets Hirsute, ink & watercolor, 7x6"

Lying on the table, stuck full of needles in a room painted soft peach, with monks softly chanting in the background, my mind wandered to the acupuncturist’s use of the word “labile” in our pre-treatment conversation and the realization that labile and labial were not the same word. While the needles worked (or didn’t) their magic,  I pondered two other odd words I like to ponder: Hirsute and Hubris.

I’d finally looked those two up in the dictionary a few years ago. Hirsute, which  so perfectly sounds like “Hair Suit;” is defined as “excessive hair.” While the definition of Hubris is “excessive pride,” Hubris always makes me picture ancient Egyptian gods and hieroglyphics. Maybe a Horus/Osiris/Hubris connection?

As soon as I got home I grabbed my sketchbook and introduced the two (above). Then I looked up Labile and Labial to see which was the right word when describing fluctuating energy level or emotions.

Labile Labial, ink & watercolor

Labial Goes Labile, ink & watercolor

I was delighted to discover that Labial refers to Lips while Labile refers to Slips! (see the actual definition below).

Definition of Labile

Labile: Unstable, unsteady, not fixed. Labile comes from the Latin labilis, meaning liable to slip.

Definition of Labial

Labial: Pertaining to the lip. A sound requiring the participation of one or both lips is a labial (labium in Latin means lip) sound or, simply, a labial. All labials are consonants.

The word “lip” can be traced back to the Indo-European “leb” which also produced the Latin “labium” from which came the French “levre.” The German “lippe” is just a slip from the English “lip.”

I love words just as much as I love pictures!

More Fake Journal: “Who Am I” (Clues from Snoop Dog)

Who Am I According to Snoop Dog #1, Ink & Gouache

"Who Am I" according to Snoop Dog #1, Ink & Gouache

Continuing with International Fake Journal Month, and my (fake) search for my identity by listening to lyrics of songs titled “Who Am I.” Today my clues come from Snoop Doggy Dog’s (unlistenable, disgusting) song “Who Am I: What’s My Name.” According to his lyrics:

Now just throw your hands in the xxx  air
And wave the xxxs like ya just don’t care.

I step through the fog and I creep through the smog
cuz I’m Snoop Doggy (what?) Doggy (what?) Doggy [Dog].

The Biggest Nuts, Ink & Gouache

The Biggest Nuts, Ink & Gouache

Then he says:

“…with the biggest nuts and guess what?
He is I, and I am him, slim with the tilted brim.”

I listened to samples of Snoop’s catalog on Amazon while I was sketching and decided that he has an awful potty mouth, doesn’t make sense and therefore must discard his clues. Clearly, despite his claims, I am neither the one with the biggest nuts nor a dog.  But I loved throwing my hands in the air and waving ’em like I just don’t care.

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