Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Send Some Holiday Love

Christmas is almost here, and we're all running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get all the obligatory gift shopping and merrymaking crammed in. But please, take 5 minutes and do this one little thing.

It's so easy- just drop a Christmas card in the mail, addressed to

Ed and Betty Vogel
425 E. Coleman Rd.
Clare, MI 48617

Why? Well you can read the whole story over at the blog of their granddaughter, Mrs. Greene. It's Miss Betty's last Christmas, and her family is trying to harness the power of the internet to brighten her days and show her how much she is loved, even by total strangers.

One of the things Mrs. Greene has requested is for people to send drawings from their children to cheer up her grandmother. Obviously I'm a little old for that request, but I decided to send a drawing anyway. I couldn't help myself. As a kid, when my grandparents' health was failing toward the end of their lives, I would spend hours making art to hang in their hospital rooms. I've never had the right words in times like that, but I could at least make them smile with my little gifts.

cardinal watercolor painting

I hope this makes you smile, Miss Betty. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Scientific Illustration: Cicada

cicada scientific illustration

Take a look at my latest piece, a small painting of a Costa Rican Cicada. I've always loved scientific illustration and this little guy was super fun to paint.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Grinch's Guide to Holiday Shopping: Support the Arts!

Well, the holiday shopping frenzy has begun for another year! As a retail survivor, I must admit that I am not a huge fan of the holidays. Blasphemy, I know. But something about hearing the Macy's holiday playlist repeated three times a shift broke me, resulting in 'Nam-style flashbacks whenever I hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas."

Holiday retail PTSD aside, I swear I'm not a total Grinch! I've always loved making or finding the perfect gift for friends and family, and the holidays are a great opportunity to support the things you believe in: handmade gifts, local businesses, and the arts. So for all of my fellow Grinches out there, I'm going to be sharing my suggestions for awesome holiday gifts.

As we all know, the last few years have been hard on the arts. Why not support your local arts programs and treat your loved ones to an actual experience? Memories last forever and don't take up space in your house. It's cheesy, but come on- your mother-in-law doesn't need another kitchen gadget or decorative vase. Instead of the latest fleece onesie/sartorial embarrassment, consider: 

How do you support the arts at the holidays?

photo by Jessica McGowan via High Museum of Art on Facebook 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dragon*Con Art and a Gallery Wall!

Every year at Dragon*Con, I go through the same routine. I tell myself I'm not going to buy anything, I'm going to save money for once, I don't really need anything anyway... And then I wander into Artist Alley and all self-control goes out the window. I've discovered quite a few new artists that way, and this year I went a little crazier than normal and bought a gazillion prints.

I finally got them into frames, and, along with some of the other framed arty things we had lying around, my husband and I hung them all up on one super awesome gallery wall. The enormous blank space over the couch had been empty for way too long, so we decided to throw everything up there and see how it looked. It definitely outs us as mega-nerds right off the bat, but anyone we invite over probably knew that about us anyway!

(Please pardon the awful phone photos in this post!) Since you can't really see them well, here are the prints I bought at Dragon*Con:

ShiShi by Leslie Ditto

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Silencing the Critic and Other Advice for Creatives

One of my favorite events at this year's Dragon*Con was part of the art show programming. Shocking, right?

5 Lies to Bust for Freeing Your Creativity was a lecture by author and illustrator Janny Wurts. While I was not familiar with her work, I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and wanted to share some of the points that really struck a chord with me. These are the heavily paraphrased nuggets of insight I took away from her much more extensive (and eloquent) presentation.

No one has your unique viewpoint except for you. Don't deprive the world of that. Put in the work and time to do justice to that unique viewpoint. 

You must form the neural connections you want to use. That means practicing every day, whatever your medium. 

The thoughts you're thinking right now create your future. Banish self-doubt, self-pity, feelings of inadequacy- whatever negative thoughts are impeding you from creating the future you want.

Realize that depression is anger you think you're not supposed to have.
[Whoa. This was probably the most personally relevant thing I've heard in a long time.]

Good work is an investment in your future, so no excuses. Low pay or other less-than-ideal circumstances are no excuse for doing less than your best. Every piece is an opportunity to add to your portfolio and build your skills. 

You can't create and destroy at the same time. Silence the critic while you create. 

What you think is perfection is actually mediocrity. See item #1, re: your unique viewpoint. 

Good stuff, right? Afterwards I had the artist equivalent of that feeling you get after a really good church sermon; chastened, but inspired.

Today I saw a quote from David Bayles that relates really well to that last point. Since I'm obviously on a self-help kick today, I figured I might as well throw it in for good measure!

The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides- valuable, objective, non-judgemental guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.
So what's your biggest obstacle to nurturing and expressing your creativity? For me, it's time management, but these ideas have me reevaluating my attitude as well. I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment about your struggles with living a creative life.

quote via Skinny Artist, photo by Patrick Feller via Flickr Creative Commons

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Finally Recovered from Dragon*Con...

Dragon*Con teris group costume
Yes, it has taken me a full week to recover from the epic annual nerdstravaganza that is Dragon*Con. Besides being a full 5 days of non-stop geekery, the con always falls on my birthday weekend, so add a hangover to the mix and you may be able to imagine just how much it sucked to return to work on Tuesday. (No offense to my fabulous co-workers, but y'all are kind of a letdown after being surrounded by Stormtroopers and superheroes all weekend!)

One of the highlights of Dragon*Con for me is always the Comics and Popular Arts Conference, which provides academic programming on a variety of subjects. I attended some great sessions on everything from misogyny in gaming to portrayals of black masculinity in comics to Buddhist philosophy in Serenity.

My husband also presented at CPAC, with an examination of diversity in comic books. Head over to Journey Into Awesome to check out his Superhero Census Abstract.

Needless to say, I had a fantastic time and way too many awesome and exciting moments to express it all here on my blog. Check back soon, though, because I have a few more Dragon*Con related posts in store!

crappy photo taken by me (also one of my favorite costumes of the weekend!)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Birthday Zombification: A Before and After

I have a new (weird) obsession: creepy 1970's statuary by the R & W Berries Company. These things keep popping up at my local Goodwill, and maybe I'm just lacking the sentimentality gene or something, but they creep me out in a major way. The bug eyes, the little knowing smiles... These are some sinister tchotchkes.

On my last junk-shopping excursion, I happened upon a particularly creepy one, like this:

Before: Creepy

but cast in bubblegum pink instead of beige. As luck would have it, I was in the market for a birthday gift. But not just any birthday gift; this one was for a friend who also harbors a weird obsession. She loves creepy dolls! Not one to stand in the way of fate, I decided to zombify this gal.

Et voila!

After: Still creepy

We have the zombified Happy Birthday girl, complete with grisly skull-topped birthday cake. Mmm, brains! 

I have a few more of these awaiting zombification, so check back to see more before & after goodness!

(Before image via Vintage Rescuer on Etsy. All other images copyright © Carolyn Horne.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Super Secret Awesomesauce

Yes, I've been absent from blog land, but this time, it's for a good reason! I have been super busy working on a project that I can't really share at this point. I mean, I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, and then there's the body disposal, and the cover story to think of, and it's just a hassle, and as previously noted, I'M BUSY. So. The secret remains.

I will give you a little bit of a teaser and reveal that it is comic book-related. That's right, my skills are far more random than you ever guessed. Or perhaps I am just overly ambitious. Only time will tell.

I'm going to be working on this secret project for a few more months, so bear with me. Posting might be sporadic, but I will be posting. If you get lonely, go check out one of my many talented friends' blogs. There's something for everyone over there on the blog roll. You could also leave me comments... Delicious comments. Like manna from the internets!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sketchy! Take a peek in my sketchbook

When you're an artist with a full-time, non-artsy "day job," it can be hard to actually, well, make art. In an effort to keep my drawing skills up to snuff, I've been making sure to at least sketch for a while every day. My husband has joined me in this endeavor, and we've made it over a month now. Woo!

I will admit, on some days when I'm too tired and/or lazy to come up with something super awesome, I just draw whatever happens to be close at hand. And more often than not, that is a cat. (Yes, I am outing myself as a crazy cat person a mere three posts in. As a certain obese Coloradan child would say, I do what I want!)

Cats make great models- when they're sleeping. Fortunately, my little chubsters are extra-lazy! So today, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few sketches of my teeny gray cat, Merle, doing what she does best- sleeping and being adorable.

And because I can't quite do her justice, here she is in all her fuzzy glory.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Time for Spring!

The weather here just can't make up its mind. Yesterday felt like spring; today was dark and chilly. I'm ready for some color, so let's hope spring arrives soon!

Here's a little something for those of you in need of a break from gloomy winter weather. I did this piece as a wedding gift for a friend- two cute little birds in a cherry tree.

Worst blogger in the history of blogging?

Writing this post is sort of awkward, like running into an ex or something. It's... been a long time. Almost 2 years, in fact. We've both changed so much. OK, maybe just me. But you look great. Great, really.

Awkward reunions aside, I am finally back! I wasn't able to log in for a while due to some technical difficulties, but honestly, the vast majority of my 2 year gap in posting can be attributed to good old-fashioned neglect.

In my last post I mentioned my boyfriend's BFA show; well, now he's my husband and we just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Awww.

Anyway, enough about me. Time for some art! I created this image for our wedding invitations. Enjoy!