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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Screaming Fun Comes to an END, bwahhahahah!

Well, children, it is time, at last, for the one-sentence ghost story to come to its conclusion, and I have to say I was torn -- torn, I tell you - by the truly macabre entrees. In the end, I settled on four finalists, all of  whom are deserving of prizes. As were others (and if you didn't win anything this time, please keep entering these contests, because your time will come -- I swear).

As usual, thank you for entertaining me. I had fun. 
The winners will receive bribes for reading my blog, to the extent that I can reach them. Although, I do not know who "Roark" is, and that person is first up on my list. So if you are "Roark," and you want to identify yourself, I will have a  prize for you.

First Prize for Meshing Sex, Love and Bone-Chilling Fear in a Sentence of Splendid Rhythm And Cadence goes to Roark o' the Blogosphere for this:

"Windshield steamed and their lust sated, the two lovers fell back in joyous exhaustion, then turned to gaze at the clouded moon that silhouetted their car in the remote cornfield -- and saw a row of bright eyes peering through the half-open passenger window."

First Prize for Writing an Entire, Especially Sinister Episode of the Twilight Zone in a (kinda) Single Sentence goes to John Campanelli for:

“Piece of shit raccoon -- I just had these aligned,” muttered Frank as he squatted next to the tire and waited for his eyes to adjust to the county-road darkness and make out the torn remains of the creature that had sent his Cadillac into a rattling rage back there on 57; instead, wrapped around the treads, Frank saw mud, blood, and a sparkling swatch of shredded leotard.

First Prize for Brevity and Unspoken Evilness goes to Stylissima Kim Crow, who seemed like such a nice girl till I read what lurks behind those smiling eyes for:

"As the limping mailman lurched his way onto the front porch, she realized the stained bag slung over his shoulder held items far more than letters and bills."

And -- last but definitely NOT least -- the Edgar Allen Poe Special Prize for Writing A Really Long One-Sentence-Story That Resembles Pen in Hand's Own Nightmares During the Spring When Our Allergies Are At Their Worst goes to Debbie Parker for:

"I woke up the Eve of Halloween to a loud crash coming from downstairs, afraid, knowing that I was the only one home at the time, laying there listening to what was to come next, beginning to shake hearing footsteps coming up toward my room; heavy footfalls that sounded like no friend of mine, with a sudden bang of my bedroom door being opened by the intruder about to enter my quarters only to find that I am awaking from a dream of being awaken by a loud crash coming from downstairs, afraid, knowing that I was the only one home at the time, laying there listening to what was to come next, beginning to shake hearing footsteps coming up toward my room; heavy footfalls that sounded like no friend of mine, with a sudden bang of my bedroom door being opened by the intruder about to enter my quarters only to find that I am awaking from a dream of being awaken from a dream by a loud crash coming from downstairs, afraid, knowing that I was the only one home at the time, laying there listening to what was to come next, beginning to shake hearing footsteps coming up toward my room; heavy footfalls that sounded like no friend of mine, with a sudden bang of my bedroom door being opened by the intruder about to enter my quarters only to find that I am awaking from a dream that I cannot awake from."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wolff Spider

At first I was convinced this was a wolf spider. We tend to get 'em out on our woodsy deck about this time of year. I'd seen his/her web develop over the last couple of days, but didn't see the creature itself till I gazed out there in the low afternoon light, when the web was practically glowing.

After looking up "wolf spider" on Google, I'm less convinced it's a wolf spider, but since Mr. Wolff here agreed to be in some of my shots, I can, with confidence, call it a Wolff spider.
Whatever it is, it's beautiful. Not that I want it, say, on my lapel. But it gorgeous all the same. If you're the kind of person who loathes spiders -- well, you're probably not still reading. But if you like to gaze at spiders and want a closer look, click on the pictures.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mary Eats an Apple

I've come to really like my illustration-department colleagues, and I'm no longer aware on a 24-7 basis that I'm old enough to be their mother. Heck, I'm probably OLDER than some of their mothers. They're -- dare I say it? -- fun.
Yes. They're fun.

Monday, October 26, 2009

So I got on a ladder ...

More observational drawing.
That was my command to myself the day before yesterday. So today I decided to put that into action by sitting on top of a 5-foot ladder erected on my porch so I could catch a slightly elevated view of the car here. I know, it doesn't look that elevated. All I can say is that I wouldn't be able to do it on a 12-foot ladder.

Halfway through the sketch, I got an Important Phone Call (caps intentional), and was quite relieved to climb down in order to take it. Hours later, the car I'd been drawing had gone on an excursion. So I had to park my car where Carlo's car had been -- we drive the same model -- and try to re-create the approximate scene. Then I had to climb back on the ladder.

What the neighbors must think....

More tempera resist

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New technique

I'm learning a new technique called tempera resist.
This image started out as a photograph I took at a sketchcrawl a few months back. Cute kid with dreads wearing a Bob Marley shirt. Beautiful mother.

When it came time for the tempera resist experimentation, I made a drawing based on the photo, editing out Mom and the Marley shirt (too detailed).
I drew the image on a piece of tracing paper, then used white tempera paint right on the tracing paper, painting everything I planned to keep white.
After letting that dry, I glued the tracing paper to a piece of illustration board and let it dry. Then I painted the whole she-bang with Higgins black India ink. I mention the brand because an earlier attempt at this technique failed spectacularly, and I think it was because the ink I used had shellack in it.

OK, so now I have in front of me a piece of illustration board with, essentially, a totally black rectangle that's grown a bit wrinkly where the tracing paper has buckled. (That's good; the wrinkles will create texture).

After the India ink dries, I take the whole thing and put it under the sprayer nozzle in my kitchen sink. That's right, I'm washing my drawing. And as I do, the tempera paint starts to lift up and wash away, leaving white pretty much everywhere there should be white. The black ink that was OVER the tempera also washes off. But the black that went directly onto the tracing paper and board, unprotected by the tempera, stays nice and black.

The final image is OK -- I like the rugged, almost woodcut look to it. If I were to do it differently, I would be more cognizant when painting on the tempera, and really make sure I'm getting the kind of lines and coverage that I want. But there's something quite thrilling about playing with a technique where a certain amount of variability is built into the process. Some of the black, for instance, seeps through the tempera if the paint is put on a bit thinner. It's really fun to wash off that tempera and have the piece emerge.

What people generally do, then is make a print on, say, toned paper, and use other materials to enhance the piece. When I do that with this one, I might re-post. But I did another tempera resist image today, too, which is still drying.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Money tree

Morning light shining through the discs of my neighbor's money plant inspired me to pull out my camera. Ethereal, isn't it?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ghostly, isn't it?

Did this one in Drawing II.
I liked it at the time. Now I find it useful as a festive seasonal celebration piece.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Devil baby

Devil baby, originally uploaded by karen.sandstrom.

Hello -
I thought you might need a little inspiration in the one-sentence ghost story contest. (For details, see previous post.)

Pen in Hand already has received some excellent one-sentence stories, which will soon become public, but the management encourages more participation.

Don't forget: Make it creepy. And if you can't make it creepy, make it funny. Or sad. Or cheerful. Well, no ... let's leave cheerful for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's Contest Time!!!

Greetings, and happy fall. It's feeling awfully autumnal out there, isn't it? Yes, I believe so.

And speaking of fun (weren't we? well, LET'S!), it is time for another one-sentence story contest.
If you missed it the first time, please take a look here to see the start of Pen in Hand's summer writing contest. Three winners were declared. (You'll have to look for subsequent blog entries yourself if you want to find them. I have things to do.)

And so it will go again. This being Halloween season, however, I'm looking now for one-sentence spooky stories. Or scary stories. Or silly Halloween stories. All. In. A sentence. A single sentence. Long, or short. Just like the one-sentence love story. As a matter of fact, you could have a one-sentence ghost story that is also a love story, if you're feeling creative.

Like before, the winner gets lots of sticky compliments from Yours Truly, PLUS an illustrated version of his/her one-sentence story. To keep. Yes, we post it here on Pen in Hand, but should the winner be you, you will ACTUALLY GET THE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATION.

I say that because, well, not everyone actually wanted it last time. I found that strange and vaguely upsetting, because if someone wants to draw me a picture, I want the picture. But never mind.

In any case, clearly the motivating force behind the dozens of entries that poured into PIH headquarters here was the gift certificate. Yes, the winners get a gift certificate. Or, in Jackie's case, I force the winner to have lunch with me, and I pay. And I declare as many winners as I like, because that's how it works here. If you don't like the rules, you maybe appeal to the Rules Committee. Which is me.

Anyway, we don't have a WHOLE lot of time before Halloween, after which one-sentence spooky stories will suddenly bear the stink of past-season staleness, much the way all that Christmas frou-frou suddenly looks horribly depressing on Dec. 26.

So: Get writing. Send me your entry here in the comment section, or by email at ksands7(at sign) Or you can Facebook me, if the blogger software is giving you grief. You can be public about it, which is ever so much fun, or you can be shy.

One more very important thing: This actual blog post seems to be haunted. The illustration at the top -- the one with the blue cast and all the blue printing? Well, it's ... oddly blue. In real life, the writing is, uh ... red. Seriously. The jpeg appears red. Everything appears as it should. But when I upload it to blogger it turns blue.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An observation

One must never stop being intrigued by the challenge of observational sketching.
It's the foundation of everything pen-on-paper. You can't do satisfying illustration without it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Mistakes ... I've made a few ...

About a month ago, I posted this here sketch of a She-Robot that I did while thinking about robots. I kinda liked her.

Today I post a more "finished" (though not quite finished) colored pencil rendering of a new version of her. I do like her better.

This is what art school teaches you: that there's a more interesting composition you could try. Or that the drawing would be improved by the addition of a dog (who got cut off in this photo, but not in the painting itself). Or that yes, you really should deal with the reflection in the mirror rather than trying to avoid it because you don't know how to render it.

The downside of art school is that it also teaches us to see the flaws in our own work. Well, how else to make it better, right? But it's true that in a general way, I liked my art better when it was worse because I didn't see what was wrong with it. That's bad. And that's good. So while I like this version of the robot, what jumps out at me now are the flaws.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


It would be interesting to know why Halloween has evolved into what some adults consider to be their favorite holiday. Is it that baby boom refusal to grow up? Is it diehard sexy-witch/muscular ghoul fantasies? Or is it the idea of raiding the jumbled, treat-filled pillow cases of unsuspecting children, knowing that stolen candy has no calories?

Dunno. But here's your first "BOO" of the season.

By the C, by the C, by the beautiful C

All righty, then.
I'm enjoying myself, even though my husband pointed out to me that I misspelled "beneficence" in my last post. He's correct, of course. He's usually correct about these things. Actually, I'm usually correct about these things, too, but alas - not quite as reliably so as C.

And speaking of C ...