Animals Digital art Drawing Gouache Sketchbook Pages

Herding Elephants? Rallying Rats?

Elephant & Rider, Ink & Gouache
Elephant & Rider, Ink & Gouache

I drew this elephant to illustrate an interesting blog post for my job last week. The post is about change and uses the analogy of an elephant and a rider. The “Rider” is our rational, analytical side and the “Elephant” is our emotional side and the author explains why you have to work with both to make a change.

Elephant, ink drawing painted in Photoshop
Elephant, ink drawing painted in Photoshop

I drew the elephant in my sketchbook, scanned the line drawing and painted it in Photoshop. That’s the one I used for that post. Later I painted the line drawing at top with gouache in my sketchbook. Which do you like better?

Rats Rally the Herd, Ink & Gouache
Rats Rally the Herd, Ink & Gouache

I did this illustration for the same article, but it got rejected, theoretically because two pictures were too many for the one post, but I suspect it was because rats are a little too creepy, even though it is the acronym of a group that was highlighted in the post (RATS: Reading Apprenticeship Teachers and Supporters).

RA Rats, ink drawing recomposed & painted in Photoshop
Rats Rally the Herd, ink drawing recomposed, painted in Photoshop

I used the same line drawing for the final illustration above, but cloned/altered some of the rats and painted and sketched more in Photoshop. This is the one I proposed for the post and got rejected. I didn’t mind, it was fun to do.

Drawing Ink and watercolor wash People Sketchbook Pages Subway drawings Urban Sketchers

Subway Drawings: BART Riders

Shaky train, shaky pen; ink with digital coloring
Guns Before Butter; shaky pen & digital coloring

This lady carefully marked up her cheesy crime novel, “Guns Before Butter” with her pencil as she read.  The train ride was really bumpy and so my ink line got pretty squiggly. I switched to drawing her after a big guy with a bike got on and completely blocked my view of the man above her.

Two guys in green, ink & colored pencil
Two guys in green, ink & colored pencil

I experimented some more with the brown craft paper sketchbook, drawing with a black brush pen on BART and (above) adding white pen and colored pencil at home.

More Brown Paper People
More Brown Paper People

And below, some ink drawings done on BART with watercolor added at home later.

Waiting patiently, ink & watercolor
Waiting patiently, ink & watercolor
Elderly Asian couple, ink & watercolor
Elderly Asian couple, ink & watercolor
Cartoon art Digital art Illustration Friday

Illustration Friday: Geeky (Computer Geek/Circus Freak)


Sketched on paper, traced manually in Painter and then automatically in Illustrator, colored in Painter, converted to Photoshop and “saved for web”.
Click here to see larger.

This weeks Illustration Friday challenge is “Geeky.” The original definition of a geek is someone from a circus or carnival freak show who ate live animals such as mice, including biting the heads off live chickens. How the word Geek came to mean someone who is into computers and nerdy, I don’t know. I guess it’s the social outsider thing. So I just took it a step further and made it a freak show guy who eats computer mice and other computer parts. I made myself stop playing with this illustration so that I’d still have time to do some real painting today, so it’s not as clean as I’d like it to be.

I’m a bit of a computer geek myself, and have recently been studying color management theory and practice between devices and software programs. It’s really complicated. This time I was able to embed my monitor and color profile in Painter so that when I converted it to Photoshop they had fairly similar color.

Refrigerator Update
For someone who prides herself on being a techno-geek, I definitely don’t have it when comes to large appliances. It turns out that whole disaster with my fridge was caused by the dial in the freezer (which I didn’t even realized existed) being turned to OFF. I don’t know how it got turned off, but that’s all that was wrong. The skinny, weasel-faced jerk of a repairman tried to charge me $98 instead of the $65 I was quoted over the phone for a diagnosis, claiming he had to charge for his (5 minutes of “labor” too).

I told him the guy on the phone said there’d be an estimate before any labor was charged and he said, oh yeah, they always tell you that. But I have to charge for my time starting with when I walk in the door.” I called Sears back and the guy on the phone confirmed I was right so I asked him to talk to the repairman. They chatted for a bit, the repairman said “OK” and handed me the phone, which I hung up. He said, “No, you were supposed to talk to him–he was going to tell you to pay the $98 and take it up with Customer Service later.”

I thought for a moment and said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you the $65 I was quoted and YOU take it up with Customer Service” and crossed my arms and stared him down. He realized there was no point arguing any further and gave me a “discount” back to the original quoted price and left. Sheesh! What a scam!

Here’s the original sketch on a decorative notepad.
Original sketch for Geek

Digital art Illustration Friday

IF: Twist (second version) & feeling twisted

Twist 2

Drawn with pencil, scanned, redrawn and digitally painted in Painter

Apparently I’m suffering from an artist’s form of writer’s block–instead of working with oils or acrylics like I planned to today, I procrastinated by making this crappy illustration instead. I’m feeling sad and annoyed with myself that I spent my painting time today drawing on the computer. At first it was fun. I had another idea for Illustration Friday’s challenge of “Twist” this week that I had quickly scribbled in a little notebook. I intended to only spend an hour on the computer with it.

Skip the next two paragraphs if you’re not interested in boring technical stuff of what went wrong.

When I experiment with digital art I always try to learn something new. So today I tried starting with colored “paper” in Painter. Unfortunately, I discovered to late that it would prevent me from working in my usual way: preserving the line drawing as the bottom layer and adding color using the digital airbrush on new layers using “Multiply” as the layer type. The paper color showed through so I ended up working directly on the main layer, which kept erasing the lines. The colors were icky. I redid the colors a bunch of times, then redrew all the lines. Then messed some more with the colors.

I knew it was a losing proposition but I’d already invested a couple hours trying to fix things. Finally it was good enough and I imported it into Photoshop and all the colors turned way too bright. I guess Painter didn’t use the monitor/system calibration I did yesterday. So then I had to tweak it in Photoshop, making things less intense. But when I used the “save for web” command in Photoshop the colors got all too bright again. So then I experimented some more in Photoshop and learned how to use the “Replace Color” command. I’d always wondered how it worked and it’s really cool. But I could have learned that reading the manual, not spending my precious Sunday fixing a stupid drawing.

I’ve been unfocused all week, having finished all my work in progress and needing to start some new paintings–always a difficult time for me if I don’t have a burning inspiration. Clearly I need to stay away from the computer for a while and get some paintings started so I have some in progress. The problem is I have several ideas and couldn’t decide which to start. So tomorrow I’m going to start three of them, as soon as I get up in the morning and then I’ll feel much happier, I’m sure. I’m going to make the most of my last 3 days of vacation!

Digital art Illustration Friday People Sketchbook Pages

IF: Suit (Birthday Suit)

Birthday Suit (Illustration Friday: Suit)

The Illustration Friday challenge “suit” really didn’t grab me until I remember it was my birthday this month…

Birthday Suit original sketch

(above) I scribbled the idea for this on a handy notepad with pencil at midnight while I was waiting for my neighbor’s party to end so I could get some sleep. Then I inked over the outline today and followed the steps below to get to the finished picture. The color in the picture above comes printed on the notepad.

Techie notes:

I outlined the sketch in ink and scanned into Photoshop, using Levels to erase the background (paper had designs on it) and improve the contrast. Then I opened it in Illustrator and used “Trace” command to get clean outlines. I imported that into Painter, doing some more drawing and then creating layers defined as “Multiply” to paint it without losing the outlines. I mostly used the digital airbrush. Then I opened it in Photoshop to use the handy “Save for Web” option (Phew!) It took about 2 hours total.

This is my first project on my new electric sit-stand desk/computer workstation. It was a massive project requiring lots of computer and furniture wrangling in my studio to get it all set up and functional and some really late hours. That’s why I haven’t posted the past few days. Tomorrow I’ll post some pics of my new desk and write about the project, my ridiculous goof-ups, the fixes and the complicated but very groovy computer setup that my friend Richard, tech consultant extraordinaire, helped me plan and assemble.

Drawing Dreams People Sketchbook Pages

You’d think all I do is dream…

…it’s just that it’s been an exhausting few weeks at work and I haven’t had the energy or brain power to do much more with art at night than color in dream drawings (and sleep). Here’s a few more from the past week or two that I colored with Photoshop (though I prefer Painter for digital painting). At the end I’ll explain what I do to remember my dreams since people have asked.


(left) Dreamt I visited a kindly doctor who pinched my hand to test for something.
(right) Dreamt I kept dropping stuff and knocking things over in a store. (not too far from reality…I can be a real klutz sometimes)


All in one night
2. I was at some sort of spa/camp and people had to share beds. It was too crowded so I complained to the manager who told me to go find some other bed and climb in with those people. (maybe my 2 cats were crowding me off the bed?)

3. Also at the camp/spa the toilet tank was leaking and I kept trying to tighten the gasket but it just kept spinning and wouldn’t tighten

4. Walking down a dark street I saw a spinning lawn sprinkler that was shooting out fire instead of water and it was glowing beautifully in the dark, along with pretty blue lights on a police car blinking on and off. There was a weird gas leak in the house and danger of explosion so I ran in and rescued a cute, scared little dog.

Dream-May6 Dream-May7

(left) I was at a workshop and people were all talking and I couldn’t understand what they were saying and I kept telling them I couldn’t hear so they kept repeating but I still couldn’t understand them.
(right) My house and garage were leaking and flooding in the rain and my old gardener was trying to solve the problem and I was sitting with him like he was my sweetheart.


Dreamt Marcy and I were jogging on a beach alongside a cliff when a huge wave hit us and pulled out to sea and I was waving my arms and yelling and a strong, handsome guy pushed us back to shore.

How I remember dreams
The only way I’m able to remember my dreams is to stay in a half asleep state when I wake up in the morning without opening my eyes for a few minutes. At that point I can usually remember the dream I was just in and as soon as it comes back to me I quickly jot it down. As I’m writing the dream it will often segue into the dream before it, and the one before that so I just keep writing. Also, while I’m asleep and an interesting dream ends and I realize it’s just a dream, I’m conscious enough to tell myself to remember it. Once they’re written down I usually will draw them right then if there’s time and if not, I’ll draw them that evening. Often while I’m drawing more pieces of the dream comes back to me too. One other thing is that I don’t use an alarm clock to wake up (I have two cats instead).

By the way, I wanted to say thanks for commenting–it’s so great to know you’ve stopped by for a visit. I’ve not been able to visit others blogs much the past few weeks or respond to comments the way I’d like to because of back pain that is aggravated by sitting at a computer. I’m trying to get better fast and am learning to work smarter — no more using a laptop while reclining in bed, it’s definitely not ergonomic and ignoring a little ache led to a great big one!

Cartoon art Life in general People Sketchbook Pages

More Dream Sketches

These are all sketched in ink in my morning dream journal in ink and then colored in Photoshop. They can be seen larger by clicking image and selecting “All Sizes.”


Dreamt I was hanging out with Michael and a lovey-dovey hippie woman who was handing out crocheted flowers and I realized I was wearing ugly sweats.


Dreamt I was in the hospital and all I wanted was someone to bring my my toothbrush.


Dreamt I was painting and someone told me I should take out insurance on my paintings in case of fire.

1. Dreamt my mom was visiting and Marcy planned a hike but invited her friends and the hike was too hard for my old mom.

2. Really bad icky dream about people stealing from homeless bums.

Dreamt my mom called to tell me she heard on TV that if you go to a “Big 3” (?) college you make more money the rest of your life. She often reports random information (usually about celebrities) that she hears on the TVs that are contantly on in every room of her house.


1. Dreamt I was visiting my bubby (Jewish grandma) only she was Mexican and named Rosita and illiterate so I was reading a letter to her from a friend in Mexico. I was trying to translate it into Spanish but she told me to just read it in English.

2. Marcy and I were going to LA to visit our mother and I was packing and telling myself to pack light for once but I realized none of my pants fit and we had to hurry and leave and Marcy was still sleeping.
Hmmm, seems like my dreams are reminding me that it’s been too long since I’ve visited my mother and that I need to buy a plane ticket and go see her soon.