Teeny Tiny Art

File_003 (2).jpeg

I just posted a number of my favorite teeny tiny canvas commissions, with a ruler for scale! Some of the pieces are only two inches by two inches, and they range from simple sunset studies to elaborate portraits. Also: cats.

Why do I like tiny art? I guess I appreciate the notion that someone can own an original piece of my work without the three digit price tag. The simplicity is appealing, and the result is adorable. It's yet another opportunity to be fucking whimsical. And even though I don't emphasize the product over the process very often, it's certainly appealing to be completely finished with a piece relatively quickly!

 

Color Theory

I love color. I have synesthesia, so I process color and sound and memory in a different way than many people do. I associate colors with certain memories and feelings, and sometimes sounds that don't always relate to the actual name or person or object. (I've written about this in TBYOML, btw.)

File_000 (8).jpeg

Sometimes when I paint, I exaggerate the colors to an unnatural level. I try to be mindful of skintone and facial expressions - those are usually part of an individual's identity, and my desire to add in some green could be perceived poorly. On the other hand, I recently completed a commission of two beautiful greyhounds done almost entirely with purples and oranges. Their owners were ecstatic.

I'm working on a series of cocktails for the holidays. They are mostly mono and duochromatic, from photographs I or my friends took. They feel more festive, more celebratory to me in this way.

The Tiniest Sneak Peek

File_000 (7).jpeg

I am neck deep in research for my upcoming story with Mindy Newell in the Mine! comics anthology that benefits Planned Parenthood, but here's just a wee ten minute skech of our narrator, circa 1969 New York City.

This is one of my favorite periods to draw. It's all Barbra Streisand and short frocks and opaque tights. Or maybe I'm just projecting because it's hot in the city and I'll be back there tomorrow. 

In any case, this project is exceptionally important to me. I hope you'll consider supporting it.

 

Introducing Artable

I am over-the-moon excited to announce my new collaboration with Abby from Tiny, Not Trivial: a line of wearable noteable, toteable, postable, stickable art we're of course calling Artable.

We're taking some of our favorite things - cats, coffee, Pittsburgh, cocktails, snacks, and more - and putting them on buttons, cards, totes, and magnets. Every image is hand drawn and watercolored by yours truly, and each series in the line is curated by Abby and I. Take a look at some of the Wearable Art pins we put together tonight.

Stay tuned for information about where and how to purchase pins from the Wearable Art collection. And, of course the answer to "do you take requests" is always yes!

Staying Busy

I try to have a lot of projects going on simultaneously. Sure, that helps prevent boredom, but it also challenges me to exercise my skills in a number of different ways.

I take commissions - right now I have three to complete in the next week - for watercolor portraits of mostly kids and pets. It sounds so conventional when I say it like that, but I try to make them anything but. Lots of color, and candid moments captured in a special way. I enjoy these when I have time to do them.

I draw two webcomics each week, Subjective Line Weight on Tuesdays and The Best Year of My Life on Fridays. Both comics are created almost entirely digitally now - a change from when TBYOML began in December 2016 - using Adobe Sketch on my iPad Pro. The style varies week to week, story to story, and I've talked about my search for my aesthetic voice in previous chapters of TBYOML. It's a process.

I paint and post two watercolor series each week, #sarahseries on Mondays and FWOW on Wednesdays. Painting from photographs - and translating from one medium to another - is excellent practice, but I don't let myself get too precious with this discovery. One hour, start to finish. Sometime I love the result, sometimes I cringe every time I scroll past the image. But the important thing will be the consistency of the exercise.

I'm working on greeting cards for the upcoming holiday season - a series of cocktails, some adorable mazes for Tiny Not Trivial, and a whole slew of Pittsburgh-specific images. These are a tremendous amount of fun, and I'm really looking forward to the final products.

And finally (maybe?!) I'm also doing a whole series of musical theatre/comics mashups to pair with my Old Hollywood Women of Marvel mashups. These will be available as prints in the fall. Niche audience? Certainly. But fucking awesome? Absolutely.

I'm heading back to the drawing board, but in a good way. Lots of things to work on. Stay busy. Stay focused. Be well.

 

FWOW July 19

Today's FWOW is from a photograph I took in Swallow Falls State Park, near Deep Creek, Maryland. The original photo is cool but nothing special, to be honest. I think I snapped it with my old iPhone 5s last year. 

I wish I could say I noticed that it's unclear whether the steps are going up or going down at the time. I wish I could say I noticed it recently and that's why I wanted to paint it. Turns out, I noticed neither of those poetic things, and instead concentrated fully on the color. Or potential thereof.

Here's my interpretation. Unsurprisingly, it's a lot more colorful. Purple shadows, orange sunlight, and of course the green trees and ivy.

The rule for each FWOW is that I can't spend more than an hour from beginning to end, including all sketching and painting. I'll break down my process for this one in another post, but it clocked in at around 47 minutes.

Subjective Line Weight July 18

This chapter of SubjLW is hard to read but beautiful to look at. It's more like what I aspire to do with these comics - to challenge readers to consider the feelings of the women contributing their stories by way of the design. One of the things I'm most proud of is the visual metaphor of mirror images, taken directly from Lauren's first sentence. 

I do most of my comics on my iPad Pro these days, and this is a screen shot of all nine pages before I finished lettering. The mirrored pitchers, the repetitive chairs and people in the crowd, the eyes, the feet...all were chosen to represent the almost claustrophobic feeling of being trapped in her own body that Lauren so eloquently describes in the text.

I've been working very hard to capture the truth of these difficult yet necessary stories with my artwork, paneling, lettering, and editing. More than half of the women who have contributed to this project have no experience in comics, and I work from their prose narrative. Lauren's story marks the first time I think I moved from simly a retelling of the story to a completely designed sequential comic. I am grateful to her for the opportunity.

TBYOML July 14

I wrote this week's comic while I was in Astoria, and then I got overwhelmed with the transition back to Pittsburgh so I didn't post it last week. I'm not going to apologize for being late to my own deadline, but it is always interesting to have a little bit of mental space in between when I write or write/draw a comic and when I ultimately finish and publish it.

I'm feeling both adrift and stable at the moment, which is a contradiction I find especially frustrating, as well. So much of my life is this or that, near or far, big or small, and living pieces of two lives in Pittsburgh and Astoria only adds to my internal conflict.

On the other hand, I really am stable enough to contemplate this intellectually rather than (exclusively) emotionally, so mad props to therapy and meds for restoring my baseline. I'm building a foundation, and that's about making choices. This past week of the best year of my life, those choices were just more clearly presenting themselves. And that's probably a good thing.  

 

Meet the Comics

I currently post two webcomics on my site and archive a third. Wondering about the differences?

Mom Privilege

I created this comic about a year after my mom died, and it debuted at the 2016 Small Press Expo. A copy resides in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. I'm not actively adding more to Mom Privilege, but portions of it will be included as part of a larger project I'm working on about my mom's life and death.

The Best Year of My Life

TBYOML is my primary webcomic. I update weekly, usually on Fridays. It began with an introductory chapter in December 2016 and is my primary autobio outlet in 2017. Why is this the best year of my life? I'd say you should read along to find out (and you should), but more simply, I've made enough progress in my grief process to feel confident about moving forward rather than only looking back. And yes, while that journey is filled with navel gazing and self doubt, it's still the best possible outcome of losing my job, my home, my mom, and my partner in the same six week period. Whew.

Subjective Line Weight

SubjLW is an ongoing project featuring women all over the country telling stories we're not often supposed to tell: fears and failures about our bodies, the shame of weight gain or weight loss, societal expectations of beauty standards, eating disorders, extreme (and expensive) lengths we go to in order to feel beautiful on the outside while neglecting the inside. This comic started as a whim and has now become one of the most important things I do. I try to update weekly, on Tuesdays. I am always accepting submissions from women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds, but I'm especially welcoming women of color, trans women, and queer women to submit their stories for an upcoming comic. You are not alone. We are not alone. We are all beautiful. Fuck the patriarchy, etc. Seriously. 

Process: Shadowboxes

I did a commission recently for a good friend's wedding anniversary, but rather than paint a conventional - well, conventionally fucking whimsical - portrait, I decided to build a shadowbox.

In one of the reference photos, the family - mom, dad, and their toddler - are walking hand in hand towards the Catalina Mountains, the clear blue sky above them. I started by painting the three figures with no background, and carefully cut them out. This would become the foreground layer in the shadowbox.

For the final step - construction - I used foam core to separate the layers and attach them firmly to one another. It was important to make sure the foreground, middle ground, and background were each separate and rigid on their own, so the shadowbox assembly came together quickly after that.

The shadowbox itself is 11"x14", and about two inches thick. Each layer is separated by 2 to 4 sheets of foam core. It's difficult to photograph, but the end result? Pretty fantastic in person.

 

Then I painted the middle ground, the largest layer of the shadowbox. I used the figures to set the shadows on the grass, and some other reference photos for the colors on the mountainside and the sky. Because the sun sets in the other direction, there's never a visible sunset above the Catalina foothills, but the sky reflects many of the beautiful colors from the sun onto the mountainside. 

I put together a quick mockup, to test the layers before building the shadowbox. I realized the pinks and purples in the sky were pulling focus from the family, so at this point I decided to tone down the background.

 

 

Fucking Whimsical

I was talking with my friend Abby of Tiny Not Trivial over coffee last weekend, and I jokingly mentioned in passing that my 'brand' is sort of, well, fucking whimsical. Except it turns out that isn't really a joke. It's pretty much exactly what I specialize in - whimsy, but with a dose of expletive (when appropriate). Okay, but what does that mean for my art?

I love color. It's the single most unifying part of the varied styles across my comics, illustrations, portraits, and other commissions. You may find the colors I use in my work unexpected; they may catch you off guard, but they'll also delight you. It's whimsy with an edge.

I've pulled over many times to watch a beautiful sunset. I never turn down an adorable cat video. I'll take pictures of flowers, shadows, abandoned buildings, bridge trusses, signage, rusty gates, peeling paint, fog, clouds, and anything else that strikes my fancy. I don't always use those photographs in my work. Sometimes they spend many months as ideas. But they all make me smile, in a wry sort of way. You know me, always on brand.

 

Here We Go Again

I've kept a journal, diary, notebook, blog, etc. for most of my life. I've even held on to the majority of them, though I can't in good conscience recommend anyone read The Middle School Years ever again.

But this one is different. This one you're going to want to read. Promise.

Here is where l will post my perspectives as an artist, or maybe a bit about my process on larger projects. I might offer advice or share tips about methods and products. And in the case of my comics, I'll provide a bit of commentary for each new chapter I publish.

I'll give you a chance to get to know me, and I welcome the opportunity to interact with you.