News for the ‘making’ Category


Art Bugs

Tonight I dis­cov­ered that a cou­ple of boxes of art sup­plies and art objects in my stu­dio spare bed­room art room were infested with the car­casses of many, many small larvae-type bugs. EW. I thor­oughly grossed myself out pick­ing thru to see what was sal­vage­able. Unfor­tu­nately, a hand-felted wall hang­ing, a felted rock made from my friend’s dog’s fur, and pos­si­bly some wooden boxes were among the objects that were beyond repair. Bugs eat nat­ural fibers, who knew?

This is actu­ally not the first time I’ve had an art bug prob­lem. Let me recount for you the times I should have learned my lesson.

1. Honey is Sweet

In the first assign­ment of the semes­ter for Fiber Arts class, our pro­fes­sor gave us three yards of muslin and instruc­tions to use ONE other mate­r­ial to cre­ate a sculp­ture. I cut my muslin into 5″ squares and chose honey as my sup­ple­men­tary mate­r­ial, stack­ing the fab­ric one piece at a time like a honey-muslin lasagna. It turned out pretty awe­some, but then the honey dripped onto the floor and the local ant pop­u­la­tion moved in.

Photo on 1-30-13 at 9.47 PM #2

2. Peter Paul Reubens and The Gath­er­ing of The Beetles

Later in the Fiber Arts class, our pro­fes­sor took us to see the Peter Paul Reubens car­toons at the Rin­gling Museum and asked us to recre­ate an aspect of the  paint­ings out of fiber mate­ri­als. I chose Gath­er­ing of The Manna, recre­at­ing the burlap bag held by the crouch­ing fig­ure at the bot­tom. My twist, though, (and I can’t believe I did this) was to fill the bag with manure that I dug out of the New Col­lege com­post pile. Ahem. Do you know what lives inside manure that has been decom­pos­ing in a com­post pile? Lots and lots of bee­tles and creepy-crawlies.


3. Regina and the Resin

Another artist who shared my stu­dio space was doing awe­some cast­ing work with resin and soaps, embed­ding things like hair and My Lit­tle Pony parts. She had a bunch of pieces cur­ing — or so I thought — near the sink in a tup­per­ware con­tainer, so I lifted the lid to take a peek. The objects which had not fully embed­ded in the resin this time were chicken hearts. Upon expo­sure to light and air, squirmy lit­tle white crea­tures (I will not say the name) that feast on rot­ting, non-fully embed­ded organic mat­ter swarmed out. SHUDDER.

4. Frog Tonics

I did a whole series of small bot­tles with linocut labels. They were filled with var­i­ous odd objects such as teeth, wool, hair, and well, a frog skele­ton I found in the library park­ing lot. Let’s just say there is a rea­son that peo­ple bleach bones before mak­ing art out of them. Luck­ily, this issue was well-contained in the bot­tle, and the bot­tle is now well-interred in a land­fill somewhere.



5. You’re Bring­ing What in Here??

In my New Col­lege senior the­sis show, I used hay bales in lieu of sculp­ture stands to dis­play my work. I remem­ber Gail, my advi­sor with whom I had a love/hate rela­tion­ship, ques­tion­ing me with a frown. “You’re bring­ing what in here??” she asked. Three weeks later, I was bat­tling ant colonies and bee­tles as I cleaned up. (Oh and yes, that is a giant horse hide shown below).



As much as I hate to admit it, Gail’s and oth­ers’ con­cerns about the mate­ri­als I used in my art were war­ranted, and not just from a bug per­spec­tive although that is cer­tainly an issue as I dis­cov­ered today. I have mul­ti­me­dia pieces where I used wood glue to attach mate­ri­als to the sur­face, and the glue has yel­lowed in an unpleas­ant way. I have paint­ings that incor­po­rate latex rub­ber which is now dry and crack­ing. My encaus­tic pieces have suf­fered a good deal of dam­age over the years being moved from one house to another, and while some are repara­ble, oth­ers are not. And some have clouded due to sun exposure.

I don’t know that I would have done it dif­fer­ently, entirely. I embrace the idea that art, like life, is tem­po­rary and fleet­ing and prone to decay. Joseph Beuys, who is my most inspi­ra­tional artist of all time, talked about how his sculp­tures are not fixed and fin­ished such that “every­thing is in a state of change”. I’m not inter­ested in hav­ing a legacy as an artist (so, like, the stuff doesn’t have to hold up until 2179 or any­thing). Part of the rea­son I am no longer much of a prac­tic­ing artist is that I can’t bear to keep bring­ing things into the world and to become respon­si­ble for where they go and how they last. But, in some small way I want to acknowl­edge that Gail was right, and that she was not just pick­ing on me or being mean like I thought at the time. I made that felt piece with my hands, first card­ing the raw wool for hours and hours and then felt­ing it on the dri­ve­way out­side the sculp­ture stu­dio with a hose and a lot of Dr. Bron­ners soap. It had to stop exist­ing at some point, but at the hand (mouths) of bugs? That just kind of sucks.

Posted: January 30th, 2013
Categories: adventures, making
Tags: , , , , ,
Comments: No Comments.

playa to-dos: 61 days until the man burns

research how to make pan­cake tutus
buy one mil­lion yards of tulle in rain­bow col­ors
comb out my tutu dreads from last year
be excited
inter­rupt john learn­ing david low­ery songs to ask tutu length
order EL wire for bikes

Posted: July 2nd, 2012
Categories: adventures, making
Tags: , , , , ,
Comments: No Comments.

A Personal History of Fire

here i came to the very edge where noth­ing at all needs say­ing… and every day on the bal­cony of the sea open fire is born and every­thing is blue again like morning”

— Pablo Neruda

It’s too hot.

I made 6 pan­els of a comic tonight but it’s too hot to finish.


Posted: June 24th, 2012
Categories: comics, making
Comments: No Comments.

Bad Carpet

When I draw I sit in a spe­cific place in my liv­ing room: against the loveseat on the floor. I just noticed the spot is turn­ing blue from my jeans. Can you see it in this photo?


Posted: April 27th, 2012
Categories: comics, Daily, making
Tags: ,
Comments: No Comments.

Big Wheel

J and my dad are schem­ing on how to build a big wheel for Burn­ing Man.


Posted: April 8th, 2012
Categories: burning man, comics, making
Tags: , , , ,
Comments: No Comments.


What’s the term in print­mak­ing where your coun­ters get filled in? I’m way out of practice.

Posted: April 1st, 2012
Categories: making
Tags: ,
Comments: No Comments.

Staedtler-Itoya-Micron-Rotovision (Comic Process)

I am work­ing on a new comic, but it’s tak­ing a while since I’ve been busy at work (for­tu­nately I’m play­ing with mark­ers there as well but in a much larger size).


My process is start­ing to get a lit­tle more delib­er­ate so I thought I might try to describe it here.

My kit of equip­ment is really really spe­cific. I use letter-sized paper specif­i­cally for draw­ing comics that I get at Meininger, because I have found that nor­mal printer paper (which is what I started with! so easy! so acces­si­ble!) has too much tooth and the ink is more bleedy. The kind I have is Can­son Fan­boy Manga & Comic sketch paper.

I have a deep love of mark­ers and my favoritest most awe­some won­der­ful kind are made by Staedtler: the Lumo­color per­ma­nent pens in black in B, M, F, and S sizes. I think they might actu­ally be for writ­ing on over­head pro­jec­tors so I am a lit­tle wor­ried they won’t make them for­ever. Dear Staedtler, if you are lis­ten­ing please make sure to keep man­u­fac­tur­ing your pens!

I have also found myself in need of smaller tips as I get bet­ter at draw­ing, so I have a set of the Itoya Fine­point Sys­tem pens in .5, .3. and .1 and I like them pretty well. I have never been a huge fan of Micron pens but I did need an even smaller size so I got one in 005 and I got a brush pen as well.

For my draw­ing sur­face I use a hard­cover book about brand­ing from when I was in school for design at RMCAD. :D It’s not even a good book but it’s the per­fect size to hold on my lap (I draw sit­ting on the floor with my back against the couch). I always put 5 or 6 sheets of copy paper under the sheet I’m draw­ing on, which gives the per­fect “squishi­ness” to the sur­face and helps man­age bleed-thru.

Other impor­tant parts of my kit are a big chisel sharpie (ter­ri­ble not-true blacks but some­times you need a really wide marker), a Sumo mechan­i­cal pen­cil, and a 16 inch metal ruler. Oh and my lap­top and or phone for image ref­er­ence. Fin­ished or in process stuff lives in a folder (upon exam­i­na­tion it appears to be a Mead Five Star folder labeled Psych from when J was undergrad).


I think one of the things I like best about draw­ing comics is that they aren’t hard to write since they are usu­ally based on some­thing real: a dream, a mem­ory, or an event.  Though I orig­i­nally just drew them in real time, mak­ing them up as I went, I have started actu­ally sto­ry­board­ing them out in pen­cil first on a sheet of copy paper. This way I can fig­ure out what the words are, how many cells I need to say what I am try­ing to say, and what images would go along to tell the story.

When I actu­ally start mak­ing the final comic I start by draw­ing the black­ened edges and mast­head area with my ruler and the B marker or the chisel Sharpie. I started doing this because my scan­ner can’t scan all the way to the edge, but I like the look of the heavy bor­der. I then let­ter the mast­head (is it called a mast­head in comics? I think that word might be a holdover from my news­pa­per class days).

Finally, I draw each row of cells (with the B Staedtler marker denot­ing the bor­ders), mov­ing from the top of the page to the bot­tom, let­ter­ing in the story as I go in the Itoya .5. For more com­plex visu­als I sketch lightly in pen­cil first and then erase the lines once I ink. Oh yeah! Part of my kit is a big white eraser. I would say about half of the pic­tures are drawn in pen­cil first, but I would pre­fer not to have to do this because it’s slower and I hate pencils. :)

I always have my com­puter nearby to look up pho­to­graphic ref­er­ences for what­ever I am draw­ing. Okay and now the secret part. For images with per­spec­tive I will some­times put my paper over the bright com­puter screen and trace some guid­ing out­lines in pen­cil! I cheat! It’s true! But I am get­ting bet­ter at per­spec­tive in gen­eral and who cares any­way, it’s how the whole thing comes together than really matters.

Well, that’s about it, tried and true at this point. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my process and look for a new comic soon.

Posted: March 29th, 2012
Categories: comics, making
Tags: , ,
Comments: No Comments.

Butterfly head

i dreamed this: alternative universe burning man #2

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

Human-Centered Design Comics

I really can’t believe I:

  • did these in 2006
  • for­got
  • ever let myself get so dis­con­nected from the basic tools of being a designer (my brain, a pen, and paper. even tho these were actu­ally my brain, my wacom tablet, and illustrator.)


Posted: December 1st, 2011
Categories: comics, making
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Comments: No Comments.

The Many-Coated Man

The History of Reading, Volume One

super. ∞

I haven’t been dream­ing a lot, so instead I made a pic­ture of a camera:

Posted: November 15th, 2011
Categories: comics, dreams, making
Tags: , , ,
Comments: No Comments.

A found drawing of Mr. Kitty & a box

I found this draw­ing of Mr. Kitty on my pie pad tonight.


Posted: October 30th, 2011
Categories: comics, making, things i like
Tags: ,
Comments: No Comments.

3 things I spilled this week

Well, really it was last week that I had 3 spills…

This is my most per­sonal comic yet. It was this time last year when we lost Mr. Kitty to lym­phoma & kid­ney dis­ease. Octo­ber 17, I think. I don’t even care if half of this is drawn one way and half the other — we really miss him and it was super hard to draw about it but also very mean­ing­ful to try.


Posted: October 25th, 2011
Categories: comics, making, words to rest in
Tags: , , , , ,
Comments: 1 Comment.

john’s grandparents’ house drawings, by john

A draw­ing of J’s grand­par­ents’ house in Wil­low­brook (4 houses up from where I lived as a kid and on the ridge):

The pool room:

The neigh­bors’ house (they had a monkey):

Posted: October 14th, 2011
Categories: comics, making, My Life 1979-2001
Tags: , ,
Comments: No Comments.

I dreamed this: alternative universe burning man