Live Q&A Hangout at Sea this Friday

Greetings, friends! It’s me again, your friendly neighborhood Artist-at-Sea-on-a-Research-Ship-with-WiFi-in-the-Middle-of-the-Pacific.

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This week we’re doing something really fun: a live Q&A on Google Hangouts! I’ll be sharing illustration work from the voyage so far on R/V Falkor, talking about the joys and challenges of drawing comics at sea, and answering YOUR questions! If you want to ask something, fire away in the comments on this post, on the Facebook event page, or on Twitter. I’m collecting questions all week.

You can also hop in the chat box during the call to ask questions in the moment, but the more I know about ahead of time, the more I can prepare to show you, like my mobile drawing setup:

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It’s all happening this Friday, January 13th at 11am HST/1pm PST/4pm EST. You can RSVP on Facebook here, or just join the call directly by clicking this link when the time comes.

See you on Friday!

Light in the Eyes

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Something a little different today: a process GIF from a recent illustration commission! This cat portrait was done start-to-finish in Manga Studio with Frenden’s blue pencil and Hairpin Sable inker brushes.

You notice how the cat really comes alive in that last frame when the white highlights in the eyes come into play? Every time I add those to a piece I get this really vivid memory of going to art classes as a kid.

My teacher’s name was Sharon Butler. She was a realist painter from South Africa who painted waist-high stones to look like living cheetahs, crouching in the greenery outside the studio. The two rooms in her establishment were filled with the perpetual, chalky scent of pastels and Prismacolor pencils. We’d get pieces of illustration board handed out every time a new project began, cut down to the appropriate size. I completely lost track of time every session I spent there. My only job was drawing, as well as I could.

This was pre-internet, so Sharon kept a morgue file in the inner room. It was a metal filing cabinet—dull beige and taller than I was at the time—crammed full of photos and magazine clippings. There were folders for horses and dolphins and birds and architecture and chairs and people and costumes. Every manilla folder had a grouping by subject, and since Google simply wasn’t around yet we’d fight over who got the best picture of the dolphin to draw from.

I drew a lot of animals when I went to those classes with Sharon. She’d stop by while I was struggling to render a hummingbird as something other than a crude cartoon, giving suggestions on how I could better train my eye to see what was actually in front of me. The second-to-last touch, before the fixative stopped our pastel smudges from scattering off the page, was to add a dot of white in each eye. She taught us to use a Q-Tip or the back end of a paintbrush.

At the time it felt like wizardry—the amount of life that tiny dot of white could bring to an otherwise flat animal.

It still does, kind of.

The 100 Day Project

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Those of you following me on social media may’ve noticed a new series of drawings going up over the last couple weeks! I’m participating in The 100 Day Project, which comes to us via Elle Luna and The Great Discontent. The premise of this project is simple: make something every day for 100 days. That’s all. Could be anything; a written word, a cake, a joke, a drawing, a button. I’ve actually been pitching it as a do anything for 100 days project—so one could even eat an apple a day or something similarly arbitrary. I think it’s the regularity of the ritual that’s important. There’s also value in creating something small every day and using the exercise to break down our inhibitions around perfection, but regularity breeds ritual, and ritual can take many forms.

Anyway, I’ve opted to use up the many, many Scout Books and Field Notes sketchbooks I’ve been accumulating from various events by chronicling 100 objects in my possession with words and pictures.

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Notebooks from Linework NW (designed by Lisa Congdon), XOXO (designed by Brendan Monroe), Reid Psaltis, Scout Books, and Erika Moen.

The format involves a drawing, however crude, and as much context about the item as I can cram on the page. It started here:

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And has continued apace for the last couple weeks.

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I love projects like this that require relatively little commitment on the day-to-day, but add up to something vast over time. I’m really excited to see where this goes. If you’d like to follow along, take a peek at my Instagram page or follow along on Twitter.

New Merch: “Fair Winds” & “Blissful Indifference” Postcards

I’m releasing two new postcard designs this week!

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They’ll be coming in sets of 5 for $5—a mere buck-a-postcard—so hop over to my store to pre-order, or read on to learn more.

Many moons ago I drew this in a sketchbook to celebrate the passage of time and its marvelous effect on giving a shit about things.

GiveaShitWho among us has not encountered a previously fraught circumstance, only to find that the anxiety, stress, and strain surrounding it has completely dissipated? What a relief. So I’m printing up a batch of glossy, UV-coated 4×6″ postcards to celebrate the sensation. Preorder a set here to ensure you’re in the first wave.

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Postcard mockup!

For the more nautically-minded among you, I’ve whipped up this illustration of the brigantine Irving Johnson of the Los Angeles Maritime Institute, sailing away with a classic sailors’ valedictory phrase. Send it to far-flung friends or keep it for yourself as a reminder that calmer times are ahead.

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Both cards feature space for an address, stamp, and message on the back, like so:

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Tres chic! Check out the whole selection of postcard offerings here. Enjoy!

Emerald City Comicon Pre-Show Commissions

Hey gang! I’m trying out something new for Emerald City Comicon this year: pre-show commission slots! This hopefully means I’ll be able to deliver a higher calibre of work to those of you looking for original art, while prioritizing my time talking to everyone on the show floor rather than hunching over my sketchbook desperately trying to complete larger art pieces. Everyone wins!

There’s a couple different options for con commissions. Read on to find out which is best for you:

1. Little Paintings (Full Color / $20 – $40)

These cuties are done on high quality cold press watercolor paper and measure either 3″ x 4″ or 4″ x 6″. Featuring a bird or animal of your choice with an optional word balloon, they’re ideal gifts or tiny talismans of your favorite beasts.

2. Pin-Ups (Ink Only, Grayscale, or Full Color / $40 – $70)

These are larger pieces (generally 6″ x 9″ or 8″ x 10″, but I’m flexible) with minimal background elements and one or two figures. More figures or full-color generally equal higher costs, but let me know what you’re after and we’ll work together to achieve it!

3. Ships (Grayscale or Full Color / $75 – $100)

A handsome portrait of a tall ship of your choosing on a calm (or tempestuous) sea! 8″ x 10″, full-color, lotsa rigging guaranteed.

Sign-ups are limited since there’s only a couple months before the show, so shoot me an email at lucypcbellwood [at] gmail [dot] com and let’s get rolling! Payment for commissions is due up front via PayPal or your online money transference service of choice. All pieces will be ready for pickup at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle March 27th-29th.

New Essay: “Sexy Lucy”

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“So, I have a challenge for you.”

I’m sitting on the couch scarfing pomegranate seeds and ice cream while my gentleman friend looks up from doing the crossword.

“I’d love to see you draw Sexy Lucy. I mean, if you want to. If you think it would be fun.”

I laugh through a mouthful of dessert. “What? Why?”

“Well, I saw you draw Happy Lucy today and that was really adorable, and I’ve seen Grumpy Lucy and Goofy Lucy and Tired Lucy, but you never seem to draw Sexy Lucy.”

Some of you may’ve already seen the essay I posted last week on Medium about setting boundaries in autobio comics, but I figured I’d post a link here too just in case you missed it. This is a question I’m always navigating in my own work, but it took a particular conversation to get me to articulate my feelings on the subject. How do we skew our lives in their presentation online? Can I craft an alternative reality in my work that alters who I am in the physical world? What right do my readers have to my innermost thoughts?

Give the whole thing a read and let me know what you think. I’d be really curious to hear from any of you (especially women) who handle questions of intimacy in your autobiographical work. Where do you draw the line and why?

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Proud to say I’ve been back on the sketchbook horse this month after a lengthy fallow period, so I figured it was high time to show my work. Behold! Some nudes from a figure drawing session last week (five- and one-minute poses, respectively):

There’s also a bundle of progress shots from my work on the Charles W. Morgan travelogue, random sketchbook pages, and the odd outfit sketch or two.

Gosh you guys: drawing for fun is FUN. Did you know? I forget sometimes. I’ll try to do another of these before too long!

Panels, Podcasts, and Posts!

Hi gang! First off: big thanks to all of you who came out last month to say hello at Emerald City Comicon. It was incredibly cool to see so many familiar faces and get comics into returning hands. I promise I’ll keep cranking ’em out so you’ll have more to enjoy in 2015.

ECCCFaceNow: I have a whole bundle of audiovisual treats for you today, taken from various panels and speaking gigs I’ve done in the past few weeks.

First up is It’s Not Too Dangerous to Go Alone, a great panel run by Kenna Conklin of Geek Portland on having the guts to make your creative career happen. I got to speak alongside Erika Moen, Dylan Meconis, and Angela Webber, which was a treat in and of itself, but I also feel like we hit some great points about motivation and starting from scratch.

PanelHeaderSecond is Erika’s Freelance Like a Rockstar panel, with Steve Lieber, Dylan Meconis, and Amy Falcone. (I nabbed this recording on my phone, so the quality is a little less spectacular, but you can still hear everyone!) We discuss all the juicy freelancer topics like finding jobs, self promotion, pricing strategies, and *gulp* contracts. Valuable fun for the whole freelance family.

Finally, I got to participate in a panel on Setting Realistic Goals as part of the MakingComics.com Massive Open Online Course last week. I really enjoyed getting to digitally discuss project management, scheduling, and work/life balance with Jared Cullum, Jen Vaughn, Damon Gentry, Eric Shanower, Christina Blanch, and Patrick Yurik. Plus this one has video so you can see all our weird facial expressions while we talk.

Phew. That’s all from me for now — I hope these discussions are useful to you all!

Nautical Postcards Round 1: Swallows!

Getting boxes from the print shop always feels like Christmas — the excitement, the possibility, the wondering whether that thing you asked for is really as cool as you think it is in person.

The answer is yes: it is.

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These are my first proper postcards and I have to admit I went a little bonkers putting them together. If there was a bell, I added it. If there was a whistle, that too. These suckers are printed on silky smooth 16pt matte card stock with rounded corners and they look and feel SO GOOD. I couldn’t be happier. Here’s a closer look at the art:

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NitroRoundSwallowBackAs someone who tends to have a lot of art on her walls, I wanted something that would look lustrous and beautiful enough to display with or without a frame — even after going through the rigors of the postal service. These cards definitely fit the bill. They are both attractive and BEEFY.

I have packs of five available in my store, and I’ll also be throwing in a free card with any order for the next couple months! Shop around and stay tuned for the next installment of these prints — I’m hoping to roll out a whole sequence of nautical cards before the year is out. Have something you’d like to see? Drop me a line in the comments.

Vancouver Maritime Museum Installation

Some of you may recall I was doing some illustration work for the Vancouver Maritime Museum last month. Their Art of the Sailor exhibit opened this week, and Alina Anghel (of the Vancouver Trolley Company Blog) was kind enough to snap a photo of my giant poster on the wall!

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 The exhibit runs through October, so I’m really excited to see it in person when I visit for VanCAF in May. In the meantime, if you’re in the Vancouver area, be sure to stop in and check it out! There are a ton of educational and entertaining elements involved — including beautiful pieces of scrimshaw and many photographs of actual sailors showing off their ink. To learn more, check out this in-depth article on The Tyee blog.

I’m also excited to announce that the Museum will be stocking all three issues of Baggywrinkles in their store. There have been some delays, so they might not arrive for a week or two, but hopefully Vancouverites can pick up copies on site before too long.

More art to come soon!