Monday, November 28, 2011

Gearing up for the holidays!

I've been busy the last couple days putting up Christmas decorations, and have a few commissions lined up to finish by the Holiday.  Busy as I have been, I still have an itch to do some Christmas paintings.  I loved drawing pictures of Santa as a kid- I even went so far as writing and illustrating a young reader book when I was about ten called Doppy the Christmas Elf- which will never see the light of day again! I love the Coca-Cola vision of Santa created by  Haddon Sundblom.

I eventually would like to do series paintings for my other favorite holiday too- Halloween, and some classic fairy tales like Snow White and Hansel and Gretel.   One thing at a time I guess.

Yesterday I finished reading The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen.  Loved it!  It was also nice to have a cameo of Claire and Bay from Sarah's first book, Garden Spells, which has the honor of being my first Nook Book purchase before my deployment, and which I got a bunch of my fellow soldiers to read after a generous donation made by Sarah herself last year for our company book club.  I hope many more soldiers overseas have enjoyed them as much as we did as we donated them to the camp MWR before heading home. Hmm, maybe I could do some paintings inspired by some of my favorite books.  This is why I have such a hard time getting projects done- always so excited to start the next one!  Yes, one thing at a time.  :/

Monday, November 21, 2011

putting on my game face

So, I have some up with my New Year's resolution early.  Next year I will gather up my courage and participate in at least one art festival. If nothing else, there is the fair in my home town that I never missed as a kid.  If none other, I will definitely be there, especially since it falls on my Mom's birthday weekend and I had planned on being up there anyway.  This is a big step for me since the first and last time I participated in any type of art show it was a complete disaster- horrible turn out and stuck all night with the worst violinists ever!
Since my main focus has become doing custom portraits, I really don't have much in the way of original paintings to offer.  I have through June to build up my print inventory and some more paintings.
I have been doing some hefty research and found a great site to find lots of venues throughout the year.  Flourish canopies are the best I've seen so far that offer what I really envision as a professional, functional, and appealing booth to display my art.
Now that I am back to work full time, I look back at the month I had to work on my art, wanting to work on my art, but was still struggling with the whole reintegration after my year overseas.  I am only just now really getting myself back into the swing of day to day life, and find myself without the amount of time I really need to focus on painting.  2012 is going to be a rough year, but I am determined to come through it as more the the artist I've always wanted to be.  Being committed full time to my art is currently just a dream, but I am hopeful that the effort I put in over the next year gets me that much closer to the dream becoming reality.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Things are going great in the new studio.  I finished a new piece yesterday and have a few more lined up to finish by Christmas.  A friend of mine had wanted a painting for a long time, but never requested one due to finances. Well, I did one for her anyway, and was inspired to off up one free painting every month.  Some periods are slow or I just don't know what I want to paint, and this will keep me busy during those times as well.  Since I currently can only claim painting as a hobby, I don't always have something on my easel.  I want to share my work with everyone, and this is an awesome way to do it.
On my website is a simple entry form for the contest.

This is "Make A Wish"  inspired by Olivia.

It's kinda late for this year, but I've wanted to do a classic horror series for Halloween  Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man, ect.  Oh well, Christmas is right around the corner though...!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Everything is ready to go!

Lots to update!  Since I have finally been back home the past two months, two main things have gone down.
1)  The studio is finished!
2)  I've got new projects finished and under way!

For the studio, I went with adjustable shelves to fit my canvases and supplies, and just an mdf desk because I make a mess :)
The wall color is Behr's "Buzz Blaster Blue"  It is a Disney color- I picked it to match the colors in the rest of the garage where my girlfriend grows african violets.

 I went cheep with the curtains and used pieces of black felt I bought at Michael's. These are great for blocking out the light.
My rock chick corner, including a cross made by Cherrie Currie that I got for my birthday.

 Now that it's all set up,  I am ready to paint!  I did finish a couple of pieces when I first got home though.  Also, I've come up with a fun project to keep me busy on slow days.  On the last Friday of every month I will be drawing a name of people that enter throughout the month to win a free painting.  The only rule is that no one person can win more that once every twelve months.  Enter to win!

I already have quite a few pieces  that I have yet to even start, so the first drawing won't be held until November 25.  Prices have dropped on all of my paintings, so if you definitely would like something by Christmas, there is the regular order form also on my website.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dust Jacket Studios is now on Facebook!

Dust Jacket Studios is now on Facebook!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thievery and copyrights

Finally home, finally back in the studio- and now I have about  a week before I go back to my regular job.  With so much going on this past month I really haven't gotten the studio time I had hoped for, though I did finish a portrait of my best friend's beautiful daughter.
Elliott Quinn
I had a 16x20 canvas sprayed silver, then sketched the portrait with charcoal before finishing it off with acrylic.

In other good news, I have a new site up!  Dust Jacket Studios is up and running online at an, albeit temporary, spot that at least gets the job done.  There is a gallery, spot to order, links to merchandise, and some good info.       It's not all of DJS, but so far encompasses my own art.  I am still working on a logo.  A problem I have been running into lately is  "rights to celebrity."  What this is doing is pulling any merchandise or prints I post using my paintings because they are recognized as celebrity portraits and companies like CafePress don't want to be held responsible in case someone wants to sue for using their face.  I guess I will just have to make these items personal and just offer them exclusively through my website, which kind of sucks since I won't have all the exposure of CafePress users, but I suppose it's better than nothing.  I did an awesome mug for The Legend of Billie Jean that I wanted for myself anyway. hehe.

Awesome, so, in looking for a link to just use, I came across another LOBJ item using my painting.  This is kind of like the whole rights to celebrity thing, only here is my argument.  If you are a celebrity, you expect your image to be everywhere, you even want it out there for advertisement.  The difference being, artistic interpretation belongs to an artist, and stealing that image is just that- stealing.  It would be different it the image was once again artistically interpreted, then it would no longer be my own interpretation.  The problem I keep running into here is that people just slap the image of my painting on their own products without giving credit to me or asking my permission.   All I did with the original movie poster image was Photoshop it until I got the look I wanted, then I painted that altered image.  I have found my painting on half a dozen unauthorized products the past few years when all these people ever had to do was Photoshop the movie poster the same way I initially did and leave my painting out of it.  Ugh.
omg, so I spent the better part of the past hour searching around and found two culprits- one on and the other on photobucket, where the other supposedly was linked from.  The original Photobucket image was one I had put up at least 6 years ago and forgot all about since I no longer use the site.  I rock. Well, hopefully it will now be taken care of and I will no longer see such thievery of my images.  Phew!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I am proving to be very inconsistent with my blogging.  In the last couple of months I haven't finished any new artwork, but have managed to make some good headway in my book project.  I have also been home on R&R and finally got to see my finished studio!  While I still have to make an actual studio out of it when I get home for good, I did make it a little cozy for the two weeks I was home.

backgrounds ready to go

working with what I got. 

working on a new home portrait using grid method

I love how the wall color came out, and plan on doing my desk and shelving with that same rosewood stain as the windows.
Also while back in the states, I came across this amazing artist in an unlikely place.  While visiting Olympia Candy Kitchen in Chambersburg, PA, I fell in love with the prints throughout the store by Ray Hendershot.  All I had was my phone to take pics, but I took one of every print in the store.
I actually liked how the lights on the Christmas tree reflected off the glass

so much to chose from!

Definitely making it a point to go back to make a purchase.  Actually, I already ordered a copy of his out of print book on Ebay.  I was, however, disappointed to find that the building I had been using to base my model of Dust Jacket Studios off of has been sold and will be turned into a parking garage.  It made me slightly ill.  Seeing it in person there were parts that would have been amazing as far as turning it into a gallery, but there was some structural damage that explained the low sale price.   Nevertheless, I always hate to see history torn down to "make way for progress."  Yuck.

Instead of a recipe, I suggest some chocolate therapy via the Candy Kitchen online store.  Mmm... their turtles are my favorite!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Catching Up

Twelve hour work shifts don't really leave much time for anything else, especially 6pm-6am in the middle of nowhere.  Well, I am back on a more manageable 10 hour work day, so yesterday I finally broke out my new Derwent Inktense pencils.  I have always liked the idea of watercolor pencils, but hated the obvious pencil marks left underneath- especially on lightly shaded areas.  The Inktense pencils are much more what I had been looking for.  Whether deep and heavy colors, or just hints, once you apply water (I used q-tips and baby wipes- hey, I'm in the Army! lol)  all pencil marks disappear. Controlling the amount of water also changes the effect.  Obviously the more water used gives a more traditional watercolor look, but for just blending heavily covered areas, a light once over will get rid of all of those annoying little blanks spots and give you a smooth solid color.  My favorite result is today's Sketch of the Day.

Unfortunately, I am still stuck with just my phone as a camera.  The red outer bullseye is done with Inktense Poppy Red.  The black is sharpie that I had finished awhile ago.  This drawing sat incomplete for the past couple of months because I was sick of my Prismacolors breaking while trying to get an even solid color- that would be the inner ring.  That Prismacolor is now only five inches long just from that small part.
I also tested the Inktense on my old Leo drawing and paid homage to some classic David Bowie.

after Inktense
before Inktense

It will take awhile to find all of the techniques I like, but so far I am very happy with the Inktense.  I am also happy to report that in a few short weeks I will be going home for two weeks.  I have the studio plans pretty well laid out, so will be spending at least a few days constructing my custom canvas shelves and table.  I'm crossing my fingers that I manage to stay on budget.  At least my Home Depot experience will come in handy- cuz I have a few crazy ideas for pegboard and pvc!  

Friday, March 4, 2011

good grief

IT's been awhile since I've updated.  It's been awhile since I've really drawn or written, either, so that's why.  I'm trying not to let my environment get the best of me.  Isn't it my job as an artist to take advantage of this experience and use it to fuel my creativity?  I don't know.  Being homesick sucks.  I sit down to draw, and I get all depressed thinking about that brand new studio I have back home that I haven't even broken in yet.  I have a couple pictures my roommates took after they finished the window sills.
The color is "Buzz Blaster Blue" from Behr.  I had it on my wish list for the studio since before we had it rebuilt.

The new  studio is about the same size as the old one, only the ceiling doesn't slope down, which is my favorite improvement.  This is just a little 8x8 room on the side of the garage, but it has a sink, great lighting, and is all mine!  I'm not sure yet how I want to set it up inside.  Instead of choosing between a drafting table and a large work table, I'm thinking of trying to build a custom combination.  I love building projects!

In keeping with my sappy theme, here is the

This is my first home portrait. Literally, just a sketch to get my feet wet.  This is my own cute little house.  I've also done a couple even rougher sketches to test how I might like certain changes we are considering. Mainly landscaping, but I threw on a porch just for fun based on this pic:

Currently, I am reading The Girl Who Played With Fire.  No recipe there, so here is one inspired by my environment.


  • 1 package active dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (used when grilling)

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6-8 minutes on a slightly floured surface, or until smooth. (I just set my food mixer on 7 minutes, and let the machine do all the work.)
  2. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
  3. Punch down dough. Pinch off small handfuls of dough, about the size of your fist. Form into balls, and place on tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to double, about 30 minutes.
  4. While the dough rises the second time, pre-heat your grill to high heat.
  5. At grill side, form one ball of dough into a thin oval. Lightly oil grill with melted butter. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly brown. Brush the top side with butter, then flip the naan. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until the second side is also lightly brown. Remove from grill, and continue cooking all dough balls until finished. Cover the cooked naan with a towel to keep it moist and warm. Try not to eat too much!

This recipe came from  The local nationals that work on post share their naan with us all the time, but when I asked how they make it they couldn't really give details.  They make it by taste out of the habit of making it nearly every day for most of their lives- never written down, just passed from one generation to the next.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A step in the right direction

My desk arrived the other day!  yay!  Even though it is a piece of crap, it still gets the job done.  My studio is all set up.

As you can see, I have been drawing away.  Actually, in the middle of this drawing, I got the idea to do a video of my drawing process. About 40 minutes into it I finished the outline.  That's when I noticed it was so bright that you couldn't even see anything on the paper.  Live and learn- I will fix it for next time.  So now I am half way through two new drawings.  Neither of which is today's Sketch of the Day.  Here is further proof that I love Johnny Depp.


On a completely different note, I came across another person trying to sell t-shirts using the image of my Legend of Billie Jean painting.  wtf?!  This is the 4th or 5th time this has happened.  Before it was on Ebay, but his time I cam across it while looking for an avatar for my new Billie Jean Fans page on DeviantArt.  I really don't understand why people photoshop my copyrighted image when they can photoshop someone else's for those t-shirts that nobody buys anyway.  People suck.

Now for todays Recipe of the Day!  This one is simple.  I am currently reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, so, in honor of Prior Philip and the monks of Kingsbridge, here is the recipe for Horsebread.

"Take two bushels of good clean beans and one bushel of wheat, and grind them together. Then, through a fine [sieve], bolt out the quantity of two pecks of pure meal, and bake it in two or three loaves by itself. The rest sift through a meal sieve and knead it with water and good store of barme [yeast]. And so, bake it in bread loaves and with the coarser bread feed your horse in his rest."
(Gervase Markham Country Contentments, 1615


Monday, January 3, 2011

day off

So I have the whole day off to sketch and relax.  Too bad we don't get mail until around 1pm.  Hopefully my books and pencils I ordered will arrive today. Until then I'll be going through the Better Homes and Gardens and Food  Network magazines I was lucky enough to get my hands on at another base.  It may be a little cheesy, but  there is actually plenty of great creative inspiration (not to mention yummy recipes) to be found in them.  Plus, I am a sucker for Thanksgiving and Christmas decorating.  I also found a couple of recipes to try when I get home to see if they will fit well on the Dust Jacket Cafe menu.  I plan on having a seasonal menu to keep things interesting, and take advantage of the freshest locally grown foods.
I have considered having a "build your own float" menu to include choice of ice cream and soda flavor combinations,but I'm not really sure.  It would fit with my book, in which the main character renovates an old cafe, which used to be an even older soda fountain.  I guess I'm just not sure if it would be popular enough to be worth the cost of including it.  There was a restaurant in the Cleveland airport that had smoothies and wraps.  It was actually the closest I've seen to what I had envisioned the Dust Jacket cafe to be like.  I even looked into the cost effectiveness of the franchise itself.  I decided against it though because I believe the local and "hometown-ness" of the Cafe to be more important.  It still was helpful to get a realistic idea of what I have in mind might look like.
Sketch of the day!  Actually, this was part of a letter when I was stuck on duty in the middle of the night.  I think it's actually the only drawing I have ever done in pen.

wish you were here

Recipe of the Day!
Author Sarah Addison Allen was kind enough to donate to our book club out here, and included a sheet of recipes to coincide with her book Garden Spells.  If you haven't read it, please do- you will LOVE it!  Recipes like this, from books themselves, I hope to be able to include in the cafe.  I am always looking for new ones- and ones people have found in books and actually tried themselves.  I myself have made fried green tomatoes using the official seasoning mix.  I got it at K-Mart, but you can also find it online.  I gave it to my partner's mom along with a basket of fresh local tomatoes and she and her husband loved them so much she has made it multiple times since!

rose petal -- encourages love...

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1/3 cup unsalted coarsely ground pistachio nuts
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs rose water
2 Tbs edible rose petals - finely shredded
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine and sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda,
sugar, salt and cinnamon. Cut in the butter and mix until crumbly. Stir in the
pistachios. In a separate bowl, combine the cream and the rose water. Stir in the
shredded rose petals. Add the cream-rose mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until
a soft dough forms. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for
10-12 minutes or until golden brown