Wednesday, April 30, 2008


OctoPolly here was the second Painted Plush piece finished for Crammed Organisms, but she is one that has been an idea in my noggin since 2004.

Albeit, in 2004 the plans for an octopus girl Painted Plush involved a larger piece consisting of an octopod of sorts with worm tentacles, and a human head. As you can see, the idea evolved over time, and I happen to love the finished piece as is -- no human head, no worms. I was all about the worms a few years back...
She was made in the same manner as Lupe the Wolf Girl. Here she is in her ungessoed canvas form. Developing her pattern and piecing was trickier, however, and I did have a few trial runs for the body before getting it right. Her hair is made from ripped strips of canvas, which was fun to sew, but a pain to gesso.
OctoPolly was primed with a clear acrylic gesso, hair and all. I then put down base coats of acrylic paint, at which point she looked like the above snapshot.
I managed to get an action shot of myself painting here. Holy crap! Is it ever hard to take a picture of your right hand doing something, using your left hand to operate your right handed camera.
Here's a shot of her underside, which you can't really see when she's standing. It makes me think of watermelon.
And here she is all finished up, with a real mother of pearl beaded necklace. She has freckles and spots on her back side too, but the pictures of that were lacking in cuteness.

The idea behind the character of OctoPolly was inspired by characters who want to belong, who are a bit of the outcast, a bit of a 'monster' or oddity, and who are reluctant heroes or 'diamonds in the rough' if you will -- unaware of their potential courage, heroism, and beauty.

Anyway, it was another case of me telling myself my artwork's story while working on it, which is something I've done ever since I can remember...except as an adult, I know not to tell that story out loud while I work, like I did when I was little.

Two more Crammed Organisms to go! (but OctoPolly here is probably my favorite) Pin It

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lupe the Wolf Girl

Meet Lupe the Wolf Girl, my first creature made especially for the awesomeness that is the Crammed Organisms show.

I decided to use the opportunity of being in this show of both visual artists and plush artists to explore my 'painted plush' ideas, blending my love of painting with my love of soft sculpture and plush, creating a three dimensional painting of sorts. I've been wanting to venture down this road for a while now, ever since I made my worm girl and cat mama pieces in a similar manner.

This time I took photos as she came together, so you can see my process.
Lupe started off as a softie made from my own pattern in a loose weave, natural color canvas.
I then gessoed the entire piece, just as I would do priming canvas for a painting. For Lupe I used a black acrylic gesso. In the past, I just painted directly on the unprimed canvas (for the cat mama piece), but I think gessoing is the way to go. It doesn't use as much paint in the actual painting process, which affects the feeling (and the cost) of the final piece.
I then just proceeded to paint and block out the piece, as I would with any other painting. Here she is with a basic scumbling for her coat, and you can see her face sketched out as well. I used artist's acrylic paints - Liquitex soft body professional series - to avoid using oils, but maintain the texture, flow, and pigment I prefer to use while painting, as opposed to using, say craft paint. Of course, in terms of toxicity, this makes the finished piece more like a painting, and not a toy - so don't let your babies suck on it! That would not be good!
And here she is all finished, sitting on a gourd (because her tail doesn't let her sit flat). The idea of her character was inspired by animal transformations of characters found in fairy tales, as well as the idea of the whole tragic hero, misunderstood beast idea, and not on a specific tale. Brother and Sister, Jorinda and Joringel, Beauty and the Beast, Cat-skin and King Grizzle beard were some of the transformation/ugly hero tales I recalled from my childhood while drawing up my sketches. While working on the actual painting of the piece, I realized she was also inspired by San of Princess Mononoke in her temperament, wild child that she is.

Part of me would like to write her story out - you know, how she came to be a wolf, and what she must overcome to redeem herself and return to her human form, since it's loosely in my mind, and it became more developed whilst working on her. But, one step at a time. For now, let's just enjoy her as she is.

More Crammed Organisms to come! Pin It

Friday, April 18, 2008

J-Pop and Mmmbop

The awesome-o folks at SXSW pleasantly surprised me by sending over these pics of some musicians wearing one of my shirt designs from this year (the early 90's throwback neon shirt). This first one is of a band called Sodopp from Kagoshima, Japan.
This second one is of Taylor Hanson of Hanson fame - how crazy is that? I reckon 90's pop t-shirt aesthetics appeal to those musicians with a pop aesthetic themselves... Now I wanna know who else bought my shirts. Hmmm...

By the by, if you felt the need to get your own early 90s throwback neon t-shirt groove on, or an alien boombox kid's tee groove for that matter, I believe you can still pic one up over here.

And FYI, the Sodopp pic is by Ben Sklar, the Hanson pic is by Austin Tolin and both are used with permission from SXSW, so there you go! Pin It

Friday, April 11, 2008

Crammed Organisms!

Whoo-hoo! I am honored to announce that I will be participating in the Crammed Organisms plush art show in St. Louis this summer - which, by the way, will be the biggest and bestest plush show on Earth. Go check out the uber talented 140+ artists who will also be a part of this awesomeness.

Seriously, I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of a show with such talented artists as these peeps. Thank you, Crammed Organisms folks, for putting this show together!

Crammed Organisms - World's Largest Plush Show! Plush, Stuffed Animals, Plushies, Softies Pin It

Lady Rainbow

So, drawing up this month's Crafting a Business illustration made me crave for my halcyon days of drawing lady superhero after lady superhero. I whipped out the paints, and out came Lady Rainbow, a character I made up my freshman year of high school (though she was originally dubbed Rainbow Girl).

Yep, I was a nerd, but I'm really glad of it. It meant I was drawing, looking, observing, and learning all the time when it came to my art skills. Plus, that all resulted in my having a super fun time painting up this piece (gouache on panel, by the way).

From about 1991 until about 1996, I spent hours upon hours in a non stop drawing and doodling daze of comic book characters -- real ones and ones of my own. Painting this piece felt so comfortable and familiar. I would be so happy wiling away the hours drawing my old characters, revamping and redesigning their costumes, and interpreting them into my current style of drawing. Yep, I'm still a nerd.

Here's Lady Rainbow back when she was Rainbow Girl. She was intended to be a spoof sort of hero. I really fancied The Tick at the time she came along, if that helps explain it.

This drawing is from 1995, though she was created a year before that. In 1995, I decided one afternoon that I should go through all of my sketchbooks and doodles, and record every character I had made up and developed at the time, drawing them in full costume in chronological order of when they were created, all in one sketchbook. I ended up drawing over 56 characters of mine, all lined up, page after page, in chronological order. I remember doing this all in one day. Wow. I was sooo into drawing... Pin It

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Copyright Crusader

Here's the latest illustration for Jenny Hart's Crafting a Business column over on This time she dives into the world of copyright, and how one might go about protecting oneself from those greedy ol' copyright thieves.

Sock it to them, Jenny! Pin It