Sunday, December 10, 2017

"Bed-Head for 'Bous"

One of an upcoming series dealing with both antlers + caribous. Also the unwashed truth of any artist who works from home, or whose basic hygiene isn't the highest priority when it comes to public appearances. I swear it has absolutely nothing to do with inspirational moments of domestic tranquility shared over the kitchen table.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

"You've Changed"

Not that cartoons ever make for good therapy (laughter maybe, but certainly not the drawing part), but anthropomorphized critters do help in better understanding different aspects of human behavior. Or maybe that's why I'm a better artist than boyfriend.

I grew up having this soap running in the background, which was in turn an inherited habit passed on from my grandmother to her four daughters, one of whom was my mom. It's been seven years since As The World Turns ended its fifty-four year run, but it's such a stereotyped phrase it'll probably be at least that long before it fades from the public's communal consciousness. At any rate, more folks will get that reference regardless of its obscurity than knowing basic biology of the Snowshoe hare's seasonal pelage.

Bonus wash variation below...

Friday, December 1, 2017

UAF Museum of the North: Opening Tonight!

Been sitting on this one for quite a while, but now it's official... twenty-four framed pieces were hung yesterday, and it looks absolutely awesome. I'll have a much more detailed process post to follow, but wanted to announce it here along with a teaser image of the installation.

Opening reception Friday, Dec. 1st 6:30 – 9pm (show runs through March 2018)
Selected panels from the beloved “Nuggets” cartoon feature by local artist Jamie Smith in the CafĂ© Gallery.
See the official Facebook event page for more information!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Edit: Turkey Shoot

You'll notice an irreverent them over the holidays, well, more than usual... this particular panel didn't grace the pages of anything anywhere else other than here as a special bonus to you, faithful reader. "Only shoot what you are going to eat" and "Use every part of the animal" and other noble platitudes don't excuse the slob "hunters" that unfortunately abuse and tarnish the tradition of subsistence. And don't get me started on the horrors of modern factory farming (we go the Alaska grown route). Anyways, the cartoon's not overtly violent (after the edit), since all the action takes place off-panel, though there is a lot of gratuitous gravy. Mmmm... gravy.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


I got this idea while just driving around. Happens a lot, and it's pretty cool to live in a town where there are any number of establishments I can pull a pit-stop and duly record the concept in the omnipresent sketchbook. Usually involves libations of some kind, and having any number of conversations with folks. Also this works as an early Thanksgiving panel too.

h/t Houlette

Time and time again I’ve seen random, spontaneous and unfinished doodles rate far, far more popular on social media than when I post what I think is pure genius. It’s all funny. Also you know I think the reason I put those little darker pads on the bottom of their feet is has been a subconscious thing: just connected the dots and realized they be traced back to wearing footsie pajamas as a little kid. Man did I ever love the red suit I used bum around in.

Sometimes simply amazed at the random, weird + wonderful paths to ideas. It's not so much where you get them (a question which gets asked a lot) but more like it's the process, the "how" you come up with ideas that's always a marvel to me. The trick is in trusting to let go and letting the mind wander, off the leash, sometimes with absolutely with no connecting threads: the untethered mind roams, and bisociations form in the mental Jacob's Ladder.

Remember that it’s what doesn’t make sense that’s funny – so when you think about coming up with new ideas, like during a brainstorming session: stop making sense!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Threat Display" + Inky Goodness + Checkered Demon

Recent panel for the newspaper feature, and another installment in the growing beard series. Doesn't really matter what the implement, there's something so inherently satisfying in rendering lots and lots of hair. I'm living in the right place it seems.

Speaking of textures, I really love pen + ink, and to be able to let that come across in a classroom studio setting is always a real treat.

Seeing results in the work of students just feeds right back into the loop and inspires in turn. Posted here are some sample excerpts from the critter spot illustration assignment, a favorite time of the semester.

And what could I possibly add to the years of posts on how simply awesome it is to see it all channeled into comics. Just outstanding and wonderful.

Not to mention the pure practicality and relative cheapness of the medium. Nothing like sharing living space with, say, a potter for example, to make one have a keener appreciation at the logistics and convenience of being a cartoonist - at the least when it comes to storage of your art.

Besides also being a great place to hang out and draw, conversations can sometimes be thought provoking. No shortage of issues and opinions in the art world, especially as of late.

Recently busted a student working on her math homework while it art class. One way to get a gold star.

Been thinking lately about one of the underground cartoonists I used to collect (The Checkered Demon comix), S. Clay Wilson.
Referring to his and the Zap crew's status in art circles, S. Clay Wilson himself said:
“If you’re not good enough to be a cartoonist, maybe you can be an artist.” It’s the same old dirty coin. There’s all this snobbery involved in both directions. People want everything in neat, safe categories and have things explained to them, like this interview.
So you think being a “cartoonist” counts against you?
No, I think it’s favorable. Artists? Who ain’t an artist? But you meet a cartoonist. “Oh really?” Art can be anything, right? - The Comics Journal

Sunday, November 5, 2017

"Gotta Clean Up the Yard"

We've had (another) unusual winter in this neck of the woods: for the second time ever in as long as I've been teaching up here I actually cancelled classes on account of - of all things - rain.Now after a couple dumpings it's beginning to look more seasonally appropriate. At least the yard is all fresh & new again.

And here's an amusing juxtaposition: never thought I'd see the day that my work appears on (Update: no, not in) the New York Times Bestseller List!

Saturday, November 4, 2017


At the start of this blog the focus was on teaching Beginning Drawing, and documenting all the adventures that take place behind the scenes. Taking note of how classes would evolve over time – on both sides of the podium and desk - helped to develop a long-term perspective on teaching + art. I also used to post little artsy-fartsy quotes that shored up my observations and go hand-in-glove with the assignments and imagery.

So once again my classes migrated for the semesterly field-trip up to the Institute of Arctic Biology's greenhouse on Troth Yeddha' to harvest reference sketches for our upcoming critique piece on organic composition (see backlinks to 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2015). And in prepping this post I revisited Google to search for appropriate quotes about “art” and “planting” and, aside from some extraneous blurbs about Robert Plant, couldn’t find a damn thing that even came close to what it was I had in mind.

"I think that one's art is a growth inside one. I do not think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grows." - Emily Carr
Eh, no, not really. The “dissecting a balloon” fallacy doesn't really have any merit in an academic setting, as one is supposed to experiment + explore how and why these thing work. Art is no different in this context, and it's the time + place to study the roots of the matter.
"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed... Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders." - Henry David Thoreau
Nope,  not quite right either: one would certainly hope it's the responsibility and role of an educator to plant seeds along with the cultivation of talent.

The proverbial fruits of our labor

So here's my own:
"So much of teaching art is found in a greenhouse or a garden. Underneath everything is making the mental mulch-pile: loading up a good compost heap with manure + garbage… all for fertilizing later in the season. Then there’s the clearing, the tilling, the planting, the watering, the weeding, pruning, not to mention plotting & ordering from catalogs. Eventually, maybe, there’s a harvest to share, to sell, to eat, or to preserve for enjoying later. Nobody sees any growth all at once - in the meantime, you just keep getting your hands dirty." - Jamie Smith

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween 2017

I think that maybe I've done something similar to this before - at least the headless beaverman concept. Not so sure it was mounted on a moose though, and definitely not a zombie moose, nor wielding a chainsaw either. So getting all my tropes in a row plus an exquisite rendering in glorious full-color meant that I went a-head with it. "Return of Night of the Living Alaskan Chainsaw Massacre?' "The Headless Mooseman?"
Bonus post: had more fun playing around with a wash variation... BOO!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Little Cabin of Horror

My very cool boss - one of several between the three gigs I'm working this season - down at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center (downtown in the Morris Thompson Center) asked me if I'd lend my talents to creating a couple posters for our little cabin of horrors for this year's festivities.

It's always a bonus to get to have fun and create some art while on the proverbial clock, not to mention raising a coworker from the dead (besides using my morning pot of coffee). Granted a lot of doodling happens over innumerable breaks - making art is messy as far as not staying neatly inside the lines of any external schedule or serious activity. But having a legitimate excuse to raid the supply cabinets for office supplies is an opportunity to apply one's skills in a different way besides the usual demands of an 8-5 job. Utilizing fistfuls of highlighters, scented markers, poster paints + a couple sheets of foamcore, about six hours later we had a spiffy - if not downright spooky - display ready to install at the weekend event.

Speaking of which, this is part of an annual assemblage of local businesses and organizations (spearheaded by the Fairbanks North Star Borough) that temporarily take over Pioneer Park so as to provide a safe scene for families to do some trick-or-treating.

Shades of the infamous Zombeaver, I now have a great icon for this year's Halloween, and also discovered the existence of Sharpie oil-based markers, which I'm now a huge fan of. Boo!