All Killer, No Filler

A few weeks ago I announced I was working on a Retros comic strip with the ambition of getting it into newspapers.  I am well into the artwork part of the process, having inked the 15th of the daily 20 pages required for most syndicate submissions yesterday.  Some syndicates require samples of longer, fully colored Sunday strips, so once I am done with the last few daily strips I’ll jump into those.

One of the things I like about The Retros webcomic is the sometimes brutal restrictions of the format.  Trying to tell a portion of a story in four panels that are about 2 1/2 inches wide/long isn’t easy.  Four panels really demand concise pacing and storytelling, the square shape demands re-thinking layout and the size requires a lot of planning in terms of what to add and what to leave out.  Some cartoonists hate any sort of restrictions when it comes to creating but I really like them.  Most of the time.

Doing a newspaper strip also requires adhering to restrictions of a format.  I am working with a horizontal layout as opposed to squares, for example.  I think the biggest parameter I need to work with is creating a submission that walks the fine line of a strip I think an editor would like and a strip I would want to do.  Since I’ve been doing comics the only thing I focused on was having fun and not worrying what others thought.  I mean, I hoped that people who read what I was doing liked it, but I figured if I wasn’t having fun, it would show in the result and no one would like it.

But this is new territory for me.  I need to show that this concept can work in a newspaper comic format.  The strip is really a throwback to the popularity of adventure comic strips from the 30’s and 40’s where daily episodes told a bigger story, but I am working in more comedy elements since most current newspaper strips focus on jokes and gags.  I think I am doing a pretty job marrying these two genres and still staying true to the spirit of The Retros while doing a strip that I want to do.  I suppose I have the chops to do a gag-a-day strip about a family or a wacky animal but I just can’t see myself having a lot of fun doing something like that long term.

I’ve been told that daily adventure strips don’t sell.  I also know that the likelihood of actually selling this thing is a trillion to one.  Combine the two and my odds are astronomically incalculable.  But this is the strip I want to do and I’d rather get a rejection letter for a strip I love working on than a strip I’m kinda meh about it.

Working on the artwork is part of the process, the other part is the pitch itself.  I am terrible at describing my work but I know that I need to work on that.  I think I am close, though.  The summary of the The Retros is coming down to something like…having to save the world with your coworkers and ‘all killer, no filler’.  Having such limitations with the format is requiring me to cram as much storytelling and action into a daily strip.  I have some daily strips that have as many as six panels in them.  Again, this goes against what most strips have but it falls back into my ambition to do a strip I want to do, as opposed to what most strips look like.  The 20 pages are a single, self-contained story that I think shows what the strip would be.  I can’t believe how much happens in the finished 15 pages so far and I am almost intimidated by what needs to happen in the final 5 pages to wrap it up.  So far there’s a new villain named Tankface, two battles with vampires, shopping for groceries, an attack at a power plant, some science, typical Retros bickering and bantering and more.  Oh, and a missile.

Although this project requires more forethought and planning and wondering if an editor will like it or at least “get it”, I am having a blast with it.  I’ll post better pictures of the finished strips soon, once they are scanned and Photoshopped, but here’s some of the panels so far.

-Bob

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Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat and pick up books at MSP ComicCon last week.  I have known so many of you since Uptown Girl was in its infancy, long before even the first trade paperback came out…and here we are, at the end of her adventures, together.  Talking to so many people about the final book and the last 13 years (or so) is very bittersweet and rewarding at the same time.  Thank you for coming and for being there for so many stories.

I am also thankful to have gotten a few emails from those who have read the last book.  I am so glad people liked it.  In some ways it is a darker book.  Some unsettling things happen, a lot changes and…well, characters died.  I have never written a death before and it wasn’t easy.  How George R.R. Martin does it I’ll never know.

But what’s next?  It’s all about The Retros for a while.  Of course, the webcomic will continue, God willing, for a long time.  I have the next four to five years planned and the seeds for future story lines are all over the current arc, especially the five pages I did last weekend.  Things get weird and dark pretty soon.

I have three projects I am working on.  One I’ll chat about now, the other two at a later date.  One thing I will state is that the goal of these projects is publication.  Uptown Girl was a very personal work on many levels and I was always hesitant to shop the books to publishers.  Whether or not Uptown Girl was good enough to be published is another story, but that’s neither here or there.  I love The Retros, however it is not as personal of a comic that Uptown Girl was.  I’ve written before how Uptown Girl stories often mirrored my own life, whether it was falling in love with my wife and giving Ruby a boyfriend or the birth of my daughter and Jack and Diane having their own baby.  The Retros isn’t like that.  It’s action, satire, humor and to my surprise, social commentary on a few levels.  I think The Retros is ripe for other mediums that Uptown Girl wouldn’t work well in.

For example, comic strips.  I love comic strips and I was often asked why not try to adapt Uptown Girl to that format.  The truth is that it wouldn’t work.  If a story was a personal story, I needed the flexibility and space that a comic page would give me.  It wasn’t odd to have pages of Uptown Girl and Ruby wandering around a mall for a few pages talking about something that I was thinking about.  A four panel comic strip can’t do that.  Comic strips are supposed to be funny and/or tell part of a story in just a few panels.  I didn’t want to restrict Uptown Girl to a format like that.  However, almost two years of The Retros have taught me how to tell parts of a story (and hopefully be funny at the same time) in four panels.

So, my first project in my post-Uptown Girl world is a Retros comic strip.  More specifically I am working on a Retros comic strip that I will shop to newspaper syndicates with a goal of getting it into the funny pages.  This is a separate project from the current series, however.  I am writing and drawing a new, self-contained story that I will use to show editors what this comic strip would be like.  I have been reviewing submission guidelines for the major syndicates and most are looking for 20 “daily strips” and some ask for 2 – 4 “Sunday” strips.  The Sunday strips are usually a separate storyline from the daily strips since some newspapers purchase the daily strips and not the Sunday strips or vice-versa.

For the past two weeks I have been working on my 20 strips.  If nothing comes out of this, I will have a new Retros one-shot to print and sell at conventions, but make no mistake, the goal of this project is to get syndicated,  If anyone has any advice, suggestions or recommendations, please let me know.

In terms of the creative side of this project, I am having a blast.  It takes place outside of the continuity of the webcomic and features Alie, Lucky, Fly-Girl, Zoo and Sputnik.  Even though the team in the webcomic will change members, in my heart these five are the original and I love writing them together.  The story is about vampires and will include this little panel I drew years ago:

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I am halfway through inking the fifth strip and I am having so much fun.  I thought I’d share some pencils and some finished and unfinished panels.  Let me know what you think!

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See You Next Weekend

I first attended what is now called MSP ComicCon back when it was a one day event called SpringCon and held at the Maplewood Community Center over ten years ago.  That first show was a lot of fun and I sold a few comics which was a much needed confidence boost in the early days of comic booking.  I also met Mark and Susan who invited me to my first in-store signing and I have been lucky enough to call them friends to this day.

But things change and evolve and the show has a new name, venue and has grown to a two day extravaganza.  I have been fortunate to have been invited back throughout the years and I am excited to be back at the show this upcoming weekend.

It’s hard not to think about those early days when I go to conventions.  I didn’t even have enough comics to collect in a trade, I was single and renting a room in my friend’s basement.  I am sure this show will also be a little wistful as the final Uptown Girl book goes on sale and I see people this weekend that have followed her stories for years.  There’s so many people I know because of her, so many friends made, so many adventures of my own that I have had because of her…

I’ll have the new book and the previous volumes on sale along with some original art. I’ve been painting a lot this year and I will have some of my recent efforts at my table this year.  If you would like me to set aside a painting or if you have a request, please email me: gravitybob@hotmail.com or message me on Facebook.

I’ll be tucked away in a corner this weekend, so if you’re looking for me, use this handy map.  If you’re not looking for me, then beware the green star.

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See you soon!

Bob

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Finally Hit Me

Well, I think it’s finally sunk in.  Uptown Girl’s adventures are over.

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When I finished the last book in February, I felt the same way that I felt whenever I finished a book.  Relieved, happy, proud and a little worn out.  Finishing ‘The Lazarus Heart’ didn’t have the emotional oomph of the conclusion of the series on top of it.  I prepped the book for printing with getting it proofread and made the corrections, brought it to the printer and then picked up the proof.

Paging through the proof was when it hit me.  About two months passed between drawing the final page and seeing the proof in my hand.  It’s not uncommon for me to take a little time off after finishing a book but I always would return to the world I left.  But with this, there was no going back.  Then I got depressed.

I am keeping myself busy with other artwork and I will be announcing the next project in the next couple of weeks, but it is very melancholy to feel the elation of having another book finished mixed with knowing I am not going back.

I am also feeling a little bewildered and stunned that the book itself is finished when a few months ago I never thought it would be completed.

After I picked up the book from the printer I put a copy on the shelf next to the others and just looked at them for a while.  Not counting the monthly series, this was the result of years of work, countless panels, hundreds of pens, over a thousand pieces of bristol board and an ocean of ink.

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Thank you to everyone who patiently waited for this book.  I am excited for you to read it when it goes on sale in 2 weeks at MSP ComicCon.

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With A Little Help From My Friends

Although I finished the last page of Uptown Girl about six weeks ago, I don’t feel like it’s all over.  In the weeks since I’ve been prepping the book for printing.  This was a bit of a scramble as I needed to have the book back from the printer in early May in order for it to be ready for MSP ComicCon on May 20th and 21st.  The prep work is a group effort in reality.  I count on my friends for this.  I have been working with two really excellent proofreaders, Kristin and Antony, for the past few books and of course my friend Ben who has taken my drawings and turned them into beautiful covers.  I am very lucky to have such excellent friends with these talents.  They make my work better and I cannot possibly thank them enough.

After I finished the book, I sent the cover to Ben.  The cover took about five tries to get right.  It was hard to come up with an idea that really represented the feel of the book yet didn’t give away too much.  Normally I would post the earlier versions but I still think they are too spoilery.  I sent the cover to Ben and received the final version a week or so ago.  As usual, a expected, Ben did an amazing job.  Even after years of collaborating he never fails to make my jaw drop.  Gaze upon his work:

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The idea here was to add stuff that would make people wonder what the heck is going on.  What’s with Rocketman’s helmet?  Who is that dashing photographer?  How does the mayor from the second book tie into this?  What is up with that fish?  What does the Walrus have to do with this story?  And why are all the main characters separated from each other..?

The final few pages of Uptown Girl – A Longforgotten Fairytale may provide some clues.

I love this cover and I am amazed at what Ben did with the original drawing:

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While Ben worked his magic, I printed off the book and sent to Kristin and Antony.  This was nerve-wracking, to be honest.  I had worked on this story for over two years and now someone was going to have to read it.  Not only did I have the pressure of doing a good book, I also had the pressure of creating a satisfying end to 13 years of Uptown Girl’s adventures.  I was encouraged and relieved by Kristin’s initial feedback:

That was amazing! Thank you for taking us along for the ride. Love the ending so much.

Thank God.  The final scene and the conversation had there was really written about three years ago.  I was determined to use it and I as pleased that it was still appropriate for the story.

I soon received a fat packet in the mail with countless Post-It Notes pointing out typos, missing words and needed Oxford commas.  I got to work correcting these errors.  Any misspellings and grammatical errors are mine and mine alone as I may have missed a correction.  I printed off a second copy of the book with the corrections, double checked all the pages were in the right order and delivered it to the printer.  I should have the proof this week.  I’ll review this weekend and make revisions as needed and then approve the proof.  A week or so after the proof is approved, the final book will be ready.

I think when the book is placed on my shelf next to the others will be when I have that sense of finality.  There will be nothing more that needs to be done.  No typos to fix, no panels to redraw, no new stories to tell.

I’m not ready to say a final goodbye quite yet.  I’m sure once the book is next to the others on the shelf I’ll blog a little retrospective and look back on the years but I’m not ready to do that quite yet.

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Where Do I Begin?

So I’ve been pretty quiet on here since I wrapped up Uptown Girl a few weeks ago.  There’s still some stuff that needs to be done, but the book is being proofread and the cover is wrapping up nicely.  I will bring the book to the printer hopefully this week and have it ready to go in time for MSP ComicCon in May.

I wrote how weird it was, and how weird I felt when I finished the book a few weeks back.  The first time I went to draw after completing the book was also weird.  I put my daughter to bed, went to my studio, sat down and…did nothing.  I didn’t want to jump into a big project, or an ongoing project for a few months and wanted to spend some time just…drawing, doing whatever and playing at my desk.  But that first night I sat there for about ten minutes just…staring at my desk.

What it comes down to is I didn’t have a plan about what to do once Uptown Girl was finished, and that was intentional.  But for the first time in over a dozen years, I didn’t have anything to work on.  Nothing that HAD to be done.  And it felt weird.  It was a little sad.  I felt a little lost.  Who am I now that I am not the Uptown Girl guy, as so many people have called me?

I knew that I would be embarking on new projects, new things to define who I am as a cartoonist and I was/am excited about that, but moving away from something that defined me for so long was…well, also weird, I suppose.  I suppose it’s not unlike a musician quitting a band to go solo.  It’s exciting, but you are also starting from the ground up, but with more experience than when you joined the band initially.

Am I the Retros guy now?  Mmm…not quite.  I’ve been doing the Retros for a almost a year and a half now and I can’t say if The Retros is as well known as Uptown Girl was after the same period of time.  But it’s not really possible to compare.  When Uptown Girl was around a year and a half old, this was before Twitter and Facebook and it was all in print.  I sold comics in stores and at conventions so it was easy to gauge her popularity, but The Retros is all online, so it’s hard to tell.  I suppose I could look at followers on social media as a measuring stick.  I currently have 119 followers on Twitter and 117 with Facebook.  Not exactly lighting the world on fire, but then again, I haven’t promoted The Retros as much as I had Uptown Girl back in the day.  I miss the optimism and enthusiasm that I had back then.  But I always planned on holding off on really promoting The Retros until Uptown Girl was done, lest I was consumed by it.

So now what?  What’s next?  Where do I start?  I’m kind of going through a lot right now, to be honest, and some of it is related to this rebirth of sorts as a cartoonist and deciding on a path, and some of it is general…well, I am not sure if it’s depression or what, but I’ve been feeling discouraged and hopeless on a few levels.  Nothing serious of course and it will pass, but I think I need a project to work on.  I know I am happy when I am working, especially when it’s something that has a definitive start and a definitive end.  I will always have The Retros but that is an ongoing project.  I am still painting everyday and building a portfolio to (hopefully) send to prospective publishers or art agents and this is also ongoing, in a sense.  It will take some time before I feel I have enough samples to show.  But I need something to start and something to finish.  You know, like a book.  I thought I’d be happy to not have anything to work on for a while and you know, playing a video game for a bit, but I’m happy when I am working.  I like projects, I like to start and finish things.

So, although they it is too early to announce formally, I am in the early stages of two projects.  Both very different, and both are collaborations.  I am a little exhausted when it comes to writing at the moment so I am pleased I am working with two talented writers.  Who knows what these projects will become, or if they will go anywhere, but I need to work on something.  Work makes me happy, especially when the work is so much like play.  I am excited about these projects and here’s a peek at what I am doing.  I am looking forward to talking about these in greater detail soon-ish, but for now, I am happy to show off this art.

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I like both of these pieces a lot, and I like working on two very different things right now.  I am excited to start the work on both of these projects in earnest.  Work makes me happy and I think it will help snap me out of this funk I’m in right now.

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Something Weird I Wrote Whilst Feeling Weird

After almost 13 years and almost 4000 pages, I have finished writing and drawing Uptown Girl.

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It feels as weird as I thought it would.

After I finished the penultimate scene a few weeks ago, I knew I would need an epilogue with some exposition, a short flashback and the final scene.  As I worked on those parts, my progress slowed down incredibly.  It’s not that I didn’t want to finish, I just…thought hard and heavy about the scenes and the dialogue and the tone.  It had to be perfect, of course.  Perfection is not something to necessarily shoot for, but getting something just right is.  Everything had to be just right.

Last week the characters I needed for the final scene were all where I needed them to be and the scene was going to take place where I envisioned over two years ago.  This scene would be short, more than two pages, but less than five.  It had to reflect on the adventure itself, a little tip of the hat to the end of the series, a little humor and optimism.  I decided a few days ago I would need three pages for this.  Each page had to do something a little different but still flow.  I knew on Friday that this was the weekend to finish.

Like I said earlier, I wasn’t putting off writing the final pages, I just needed to be sure of what I wanted to say.

I took Sophie swimming yesterday, we had lunch as a family, Amy took Ryan to work and while my daughter was drawing, I knew it was time.  I was as ready as I thought I could be.  I didn’t know exactly what the characters would say, but I knew they would tell me.  You see, it sounds weird, but when you’ve written your characters for a while, you never have to think about what they’ll say.  The words and dialogue just come.    I sat down in my dining room and 45 minutes later, I was finished.  Amy came home, asked what I was doing and I told her that it had finally happened, the final page was drawn.

At first it felt like simply finishing another book.  Amy and I took Sophie to Target and out to dinner, I scanned and lettered the final pages, read Sophie her bedtime stories and went into my studio and for the first time in over a decade, I didn’t have anything else to do for Uptown Girl.  No new page to pencil, no new story to begin.

There’s still stuff that needs to be done, of course.  Ben Mudek, the wizard behind the previous Uptown Girl book covers is working on this cover, I will print off a copy of the book and send it to my friends to proofread, and then it goes to the printer.  I imagine once the book is back from the printer and I have it on my shelf, then it will truly feel finished.

It felt…weird yesterday, a different kind of weird last night, a different kind of weird this morning and I imagine there will more moments of different weirdness for a while.

More reflections and weird thoughts to come over the next few months, I’m sure.

 

 

 

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I Don’t Want to be Funny Anymore

I make myself laugh, and that’s okay, I think.  It sounds really conceited but sometimes I’ll write a line or look back on something I wrote years ago and smile to myself.  I think by nature I have a tendency to write things that are lighthearted or funny.  I can write my characters say or do or experience serious stuff (such as in the next Uptown Girl book) but I can’t stay away from the funny for very long.  I  admire comics like Maus, Persepolis or even Blankets not only for their brutal honesty and beautiful artwork, but also because I just couldn’t write something so serious.

I am surprised The Retros is as funny as it is.  I mean, it’s not the funniest thing on the planet, but I expected it to be more…I don’t know, well, less funny.  More action, less humor, I suppose.  But as the series has progressed, it just got a little funnier.  I just couldn’t stop myself from breaking the tension of an action scene or a dramatic moment and adding in something silly.  I suppose the idea of being a superhero is a little absurd, and superheroes are still human (well most of them). I can imagine them getting annoyed that they have to stop having lunch to go chase down a bad guy or making a mistake when they are trying to do the right thing.  The Retros have destroyed at least one major city on accident.  Part of being human is making mistakes and saying funny things so I like to attribute these characteristics to the team.

Over the last few weeks we have seen executive actions and walls being ordered and gun ownership safety measures being lessened.  The world is changing and it’s scaring me.  My Twitter feed is filled with activism, protests, and fear.  Lately I just…don’t want to tweet about my comic.  Things are too serious right now, there’s too much at stake.  Last week I woke up early on Saturday and as is my routine, will drink coffee, listen to music and draw The Retros while my daughter draws next to me.  But I just couldn’t get into it.  After reading tweets and the news from the day before, I just couldn’t find it in me to be funny.

I draw The Retros weeks in advance.  I am about five weeks ahead of schedule so what I post is over a month old and rarely is it a reflection as to what is happening in the real world, especially when you are doing a year long story arc.  Last week as I was drinking my coffee and trying to write, I realized I just wanted to draw a jerk getting punched.  I thought it might make me feel better.  The problem with that is it would be tricky to make it fit within the story I was already doing.  I also didn’t want to break the flow of what was already happening so if I really wanted to draw someone getting punched, it would have to fit within the context of the story.  I came up with something and I think it shows a part of the world The Retros live in.

I established not too long ago that the leader of the team, Alie, is an alien, or at least not from Earth.  These days there is a lot of xenophobia and I am pessimistically  thinking that won’t change anytime soon.  I thought it might not be unusual for Alie to be confronted by someone who isn’t comfortable with someone who wasn’t born in the same town as them.

The trick is coming up with a way to further the story, add to the world of the characters, write what you feel needs to be written, not alienating your audience, and…well, just to keep writing.  Writer’s block is one thing, but feeling unmotivated and discouraged is also a tough thing.  I think I came up with something that more or less takes all those obstacles and objectives.  I think.

So, this is kind of a spoiler, but not really.  As this point in the story, the team is aware of and investigating a  weird, psychic energy that they are trying to determine the source of.  Here’s the scene I did:

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And that is that.  I felt better after I did this scene and I did a couple more pages after these three.  This morning I will tackle the next five pages in the story and then next weekend, the next five.  And so on.  Drawing does make me feel better, whether it is after a long week or when the world is ending.

 

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As the End Draws Near

‘Uptown Girl – The Lazarus Heart’ is about ten pages (or so) from wrapping up.  The conflict is over, life is returning to normal, rifts are being mended, dust is settling and their world is going to be funny again.

The end of Uptown Girl has never really hit me as I have been focusing on this individual story and on the pages I’ve been working on at the time.  I don’t get into a page thinking of the series as a whole, but rather what the current story needs.  It still hasn’t hit me and I don’t think it will until the first time I sit down at my table after finishing the book and realize that drawing her adventures are over and there’s nothing more to write for her.

I’ve never ended a series before so I don’t have any experience in terms of the right way to do it.  Some things end perfectly, some are disappointing and some can’t end any other way than they do.  I’ve completed a few books and many stories and I like how some end, and others I know I should have done differently.  I had a hard time wrapping up ‘The Long-Forgotten Fairy Tale’ and I knew early on it wasn’t going to be easy.  I never worried about it though.  I approach some things in life in a ‘we’ll figure it out when we get there’ attitude and I pass the the same line of thinking onto my characters.  For this story, I knew how the book would end from the start, but the middle has been all over the map.  Like ‘…Fairy Tale’, the characters get into a, well, let’s call it a jam, and real life needs to return.  When ‘…Fairy Tale’ ended, Uptown Girl, Ruby and Rocketman were stranded in the middle of nowhere and needed to return to Minneapolis.  I could have written and drawn them trudging back to their car through the forest I was really tired of drawing, but it didn’t add to the story and not only would it be boring to write and draw, it’d be boring to the reader.  Instead, I had the characters recap how they got back home through a conversation between Uptown Girl and her boss.  This is known as…

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‘The Lazarus Heart’ isn’t much different.  There is a lot of resolution (and some suspension of belief, to be honest) that needs to happen and it could have been ten pages of conversation but it would take away all the emotional impact that the scene had.  I had gotten to the end of the story and I had known how the conflict would end, I knew how the final pages would go, but the little bridge between the resolution and the last pages was a little unclear.

I knew the scene that I had to do write and draw next needed to accomplish a lot and I needed to do it right.  I had considered Uptown Girl and Mr. Mustard having another chat, but not only did I do that already in’…Fairy Tale’, it didn’t feel right.  I stared at the page I had drawn and wondered what was next.

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I think of my characters as very real and I try to write them realistically in terms of what they might need.  Ruby gets put through the wringer in this tale.  It starts early and gets worse.  I asked myself that if I were Ruby, what would I need or want after this was all over?  Sometimes we tell ourselves we need a drink or we need a vacation or we need something else.  I realized what Ruby needed and I gave it to her…and luckily it gave me a new way to resolve the lingering plot threads and explain how things settled.  It’s also one of the more emotionally and very real moments of the entire Uptown Girl series.

It’s safe to say I’ve been busy with a lot of life things since I started this book and I worried that things like job hunting, finishing my degree, launching The Retros and life itself would take away from this adventure.  However, as the end draws near I feel the book and the series is coming together in a fitting, appropriate way.

 

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First Week

A week ago I said I wanted to teach myself how to paint.  The best way to learn something is to just jump right in.  Sometimes.  It’s not good advice if you want to learn how to fly a plane, for example.   I ordered some new brushes and some gouache paint and got to work.  Learning how to do something in the art world is thankfully the same thing as playing, in my opinion.  I learned by doing and you learn not only how the materials and paper work, but also how the artist works.  For my part, I learned (again) that I work too fast and I get impatient but that doesn’t always work against you when you use watercolors.  Sometimes you make interesting mistakes and the colors run together and the end result is different but sometimes better than you expected or planned.

I am excited to see how something turns out so I sometimes usually will paint something over or next to a color before it properly dries and the colors run together and although it can create an interesting result, it doesn’t always and the painting is ruined.

It was a humbling week, trying to learn something new but I never felt discouraged or anything.  I was excited to show off what I did, for good or for bad.

Anyway, I wanted to do a quick run through of some of the art I did this week.

The first painting of the year was a fox.  It was this fox:

 


It’s okay.  I decided I didn’t like the mouth and when I tried to fix it I made it worse (I’ve had relationships like that) and the whole thing was a mess.  Before I could even try fixing the mouth I smudged it and tried to cover it with a gray box and then it just uuurrrgh.  I wanted to give it another try and it turned out a little better but it’s just…a little too cute.  The colors are better on the first crack but the mouth is better.  The two were done with acrylic on smooth bristol board with crappy brushes. Paint and smooth bristol board does not work.

1-2-fox

The next day was even a bigger mess as this was meant to be a kid leaning against a stegosaurus and I knew quickly this was not going to turn out well.  The idea was good, but this was not the right paint for this.  If I take another stab at this I’ll build layers of colors and use a different hue for the dinosaur.  I also worked too quickly on this and ended up sabotaging myself.  A disaster.  But that’s okay.

disaster

So I painted Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service.  This, as well as the dino-saster were both acrylic and although this looks okay, there used to be a bright pink mouth here but I wasn’t patient and when I when I went to touch up the black around it, the colors ran together and blended together.  More black paint was added and the mouth was gone completely.

1-3-jiji

Thankfully the next day my shipment from Amazon showed up and I got to play with my new paint.  The lessons I learned from the earlier paintings were applied and I slowed it down a little.  I waited until the orange was dried before adding the stripes to Hobbes here but the gouache dries faster and flatter than acrylic anyway.  This isn’t a great drawing but the colors are nice, bright and consistent.

1-4-hobbes

Princess Peach was next and I was excited to try a few different shades of pink.  It’s fun to blend and make new colors and I played around with the dress and the hair and I like how this turned out but until I get better (or slow down) I might need to use a pen for the black lines instead of a brush.  The black has some uneven weight lines and kind of ruins it.  But the colors are very pretty.

1-5-peach

We stay in the Nintendo world and move from the Mushroom Kingdom to Hyrule for Link here.  This is probably the best painting so far.  The colors are good and I think the black outlines are better than Peach.  I gave to my son who hung it in his room.  That was pretty cool.  1-6-link

After a week of playing around and learning the paint and getting comfortable and confident with the brushes, I wanted to try something a little different.  The below painting is a mess and it’s beautiful.   I wouldn’t change a brushstroke.  Well, except maybe the feet but whatever.

1-7-wonder-woman

So that was the first week.  Thanks for all the likes and kind words on Facebook.  I am happy with the progress and I’m having fun with this.

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