Whoa buddy, we out of ideas now

I’ve always liked this self-portrait, even if I never finished it. But I suppose that’s simply another visual clue to my personality.

And/or work ethic.

(As is the — I’m just now realizing — related fact that Pine&Meyer Ch.6 also remains unfinished, despite a page and a half yesterday and a few more sentences tonight.)

The Annual Round of Christmas Art

This year’s Christmas gift(s), broken into pieces across each family unit–save for Mom and Dad, who got an original of them with the grandkids and then a copy of all four together, laid out like so. (As an aside, I stole their 11×14 frame from the wall, which was housing last year’s version of this annual present, so that I had something to wrap it in. The best part? They never noticed that it was gone, even though we didn’t end up exchanging gifts until three days later.) Here’s the progression of the drawings from sketches through inks to color, and the closest I’ll ever get to livestreaming my process:

The inked version of the set were photographed separately, which is why each photo looks like it was taken in slightly different lighting. I swear I put it in the same place on the carpet, but either I work very slow or the sun moves very fast. Or the camera in my phone makes arbitrary decisions about how it feels about the lighting at a particular moment. (Oh yeah, and I started coloring the inks before I realized that it would be prudent to keep a copy of the black-and-white in case I lost my mind and just totally muffed something up in the coloring process. This year’s coloring tools featured Twistable Colored Pencils from Crayola, because that’s how the real artists roll.)

Word Count Report: Pine&Meyer, 971

My excuse, ladies and gentleman

I owe you guys a followup from my last blog post, but I’ll get to that another day. For now, here’s my excuse for not working on Pine & Meyer:

I created this book cover for Linda Young, whom I “met” (online) through my brother-in-law. “Letters of Commentary to Fellow Believers on the Epistle to the Romans” by Dr. Carl Manthey Zorn, Lutheran pastor and theologian, is a series of letters written for a lay-audience on the book of Romans. Originally written in German, Linda Young’s father, LCMS pastor Richard A. Riess (credited on the cover) took on the job of translating these letters as a personal project following his retirement. Rev. Riess has since been called home to his Lord, so Linda took on the task of making sure that her father’s work saw the light of day.

The handwritten notes on the front of the cover are all his. “He literally wrote and re-wrote the translation in longhand,” Linda wrote to me in an email, speaking of her father, “most of it on legal-sized yellow sheets, using both sides and often the margins, too! (He believed in using every inch of the paper.) It carries the idea of ‘letters’ forward, too, which is key in the title and the book itself.”

You can purchase a paperback copy here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1725981637.


Brick, but mostly mortar

Because I spent the evening putting off “Pine & Meyer: Chapter 5,” I’m going to throw everything I have at the wall to see what sticks.

First off:

A snapshot of Thomas the Tank Engine’s downward spiral into convoyeurism. I boxed up the toys I had borrowed from the Seminary’s version of Goodwill with plans to return them tomorrow (now that my sister is back on the road and her children no longer need entertaining), and holy bananas this about gave me a heart attack the first time I caught him peeping at me from across the room; I’m only just now realizing that his name is actually Tom, appropriately enough. Even better, I somehow repressed the memory each time, and it kept on startling me every time I walked past my front door this afternoon.


This is the first time I’ve ever agreed to a put together a logo project (not counting the graphics from the law firm), and only because my church was the one asking. Though I ultimately find drawing frustrating, I have to admit that the end product is satisfying, especially since it was a way to help out my church using those talents I am tempted to bury in the ground.

[And on a semi-related note, my next picture book is still nearly five months out. I will not publish a new one until December, followed — finally — by a properly illustrated version of “Apples are Apples” in May/June (around Trinity Sunday), with very tentative plans for a currently unwritten piece called “Thunk, Whunk, Ker-CHUNK” for release in the Fall of 2019.]

And finally, two paragraphs of an introduction I will never develop:

The sixteen-year-old hung upside down from the tree, thick auburn hair reaching for the ground, thinking about life, the future, where he was going, where he had been, and wishing someone came this way more often.

He was a round-faced boy, several inches below six feet (and currently twenty feet above it), cheerfully aware of the fact that he could afford to lose ten pounds and as equally unconcerned about doing so. Though his current predicament had him rethinking both his weight and height. He was either too tall, too short, too fat, or too skinny, and either way it meant that he was exactly the wrong shape for getting out of the tree, and precisely the right shape for getting stuck in it.

I do not know where I was going with this; despite the fact that I remember writing this in college. I had a very vague idea that one of the popular girls in his class was going to wander by (if the follow-up line underneath [He wasn’t sure he’d been stuck in the tree long enough to warrant ruining-his-life-forever.] is anything to go by — and it is, I don’t forget where my bits and pieces fit into my schizophrenically organized story-building easily), but then…nothing. I have no compelling reason to continue this.

In fact, have one more glob of noodles to throw at the wall (a trick my dad actually tried once with spaghetti, mostly to entertain his three children that also totally worked — not to mention the unfortunate stain it nearly left on the wall; as he scrubbed at it with a washcloth he told us not to tell mom, who was at her father’s hospital bedside, four states away, at the time):

The Mad Earl

There was nothing in young Haversham’s face to indicate why he ought to be trussed up in a rather alarming vest of belts and bound to the chair in the yellow room, which, according to family history, had belonged to the first Earl’s daughter some hundred years back. He was a gentle looking young man, not above twenty three years old, with a shock of strikingly dark hair that may have looked dashing on a different man; on Ferdinand it only made his face more pale and drawn, which lent itself to his resigned, if strangely decisive, meekness. In truth he looked a trifle foxed, but he wasn’t; his Uncle, who stood watching his batman and a man from the stables tighten the clasps that bound Haversham to the chair, had forced his nephew, under a watchful eye, to take what he felt was an appropriate amount of laudanum, under the circumstances.

Lord Belling strode into the room, paused at the doorway for a moment, and then entered with an oath. Haversham graced him with a tired smile and said, “There’s a young woman on the bed.”

As there was no such person – indeed, only the young Earl and the Lord Belling appeared to be in the room – this was a rather alarming statement. Belling, however, only pursed his lips, a rather tight expression flickering across his face, and said, “Tell her to go away, Ferdy.”

Ferdy’s smile grew slightly larger. “I’m not mad, Bell.”

Belling, who knew perfectly well that he was but believed just as strongly that his cousin was no danger to himself or anyone else, said, “I know.”

You can absolutely tell I had just read fifteen Georgette Heyer novels before I wrote this piece of Regency era, I-see-dead-people shenanigans. Which is also the reason I will never write it. Only plagiarize less distinctive styles, kids.

In fact, I have nothing to say

I have a reason for neglecting my blog for nearly two weeks, and it is a good one: as soon as I posted again I knew it meant I had to get back on track with my weekly updates. Perish the thought. However, when nellOrex contacted me today to let me know, “I consider, that you are mistaken. Let’s discuss. Write to me in PM, we will communicate,” it was time. That sort of impertinence has to be answered.

I’m also turning into a mildly insane cat lady. Harper emerged from the light pouring through the blinds like a deranged angel out of heaven, and I took a picture and posted it on Facebook. There are probably more interesting things I could put on my social media page, but this is also the only one that demands food at six in the morning by batting my face. At that point you have to make an active decision to love or hate. I love, therefore I post.

I actually have more to talk about than my cat, if you can believe it. In fact, this is officially an art update. For Christmas I bought my entire immediate family the same present, and then had to cover that fact by including a drawing of each of their family units. Behold:

With the most people, Mom and Dad’s picture (top) is also the cartooniest. For years I’ve gifted them with a drawing of the family in front of the fireplace in their house in Havre (not every Christmas; only those years when we add another face to the crowd), but since they only just moved into their new house this summer, I still haven’t figured out where the new normal family pose shot is going to be. I had to feature the house instead, conveniently saving me time on drawing. I also drew my brother-in-law too tall, forgetting that my own brother is the tallest in the family. Sorry, IT Guy.

You’ll also notice that magically shrinking and growing children showed up in both my sister and my brother’s pictures. Like the Grinch’s heart, Miss AB in the striped shirt is two sizes too small, while Fairview, holding a picture of her little sister, looks like a third grader instead of a three-year-old. That is, however, the best picture I’ve ever drawn of my sister-in-law. I wish I could bottle that sort of effortless skill. I’m starting on a new project (more on that later), and I could sure use it.

Finally, this was the last present I drew for Christmas. This family has essentially adopted me here in Fort Wayne. They’ve fed me, run me through tabletop Zombie campaigns, binge-watched “Stranger Things” season 1 at least twice just so I could catch up, helped me escape an evil AI, and given me my first (and probably only) hockey puck. Go Komets!


Another yearly redux

Merry Christmas Eve Day! It’s still dark where I am, but I can see the horizon starting to lighten into a more promising blue as we travel further into Montana. This half of the trip has been infinitely better than the first half, and if I didn’t have to go through Chicago to get here, I’d probably do it again.

I updated the art for “The Reason for the Season.” I always meant to have a real illustration around this poem, but it took Christmas coming around again to get me to do it. To read the full poem, go to thestoryfolder.com/poetry/the-reason-for-the-season/.

An Unlooked for Update

As you can see, The Overlord’s on quality control for my newest project: a boardbook without the boards. I’m using the same print company as my previous two projects, and while someday I hope to have a real publisher backing me, until then boardbooks will come just as floppy as “The Hatastrophe” and “The Bump Under the Bed.” “Wanda Won’t” clocks in at 43 words and 28 pages, making it decidedly less wordy than the combined 2,298 words of the other two. Projected deadline is was December 1st, and now I’ve got my fingers crossed for the week of the 4th. I’m fantastically productive when I wait long enough for the panic to kick in.