Espiritu Santo Picture Process

Recently I've been doing pieces for commissions and to be printed in anthologies, but its been a while since I've done a picture for me and my own enjoyment. So I drew my favorite local dove, Espiritu Santo, of whom you can read about on this post here.

I love Josh Cochran's work, especially the sense of chaos in his city scenes, and took inspiration from his wacky perspective, composition, and limited color scheme. My goal was to communicate a sense of the urban clutter of my neighborhood. Honestly, the worst offenders of visual noise are the wires.


Big loops and clusters of them (I think they are telephone and internet cables and not dangerous live wires that can electrocute you). They criss cross over the streets and get tangled in the trees. BUT! The best part of wires is the birds that perch on them by the dozen.


Keeping all these things in mind, I scribbled out various compositions and chose my favorite, one that used lines and angled shapes to draw the reader's eye straight to the big dove on the line.

espiritu ssanto sm wip.jpg

Then, with the composition open on my computer, I got out pencil and paper and redrew it traditionally, then finally dragged out the old lightbox and went over the lines in micron:

Espiritu Santo raw scan.jpg

The birds are missing here because I drew them on a second sheet and merged the two in Clip Studio Paint. To decide on color scheme, I went through quite a few options, settling finally on a red and blue scheme that I really admired from one of Cochran's pieces.

Finally, putting each color on a separate layer, I colored and finished the final piece.

Espiritu Santo sm.jpg

And that's the story, morning glory! I've already used this picture as the back image for my business cards, but I cropped it a bit so the whole picture didn't have to get shrunk down so small.

Sailor Moon stickers

Sailor moon angry rough.jpg

I've always wanted to make Sailor Moon stickers. I wouldn't say I'm a huge SM fan- I didn't follow it closely as a kid and haven't seen the show or read the manga all the way through. But I really like the character designs- they're so pretty! And somewhere deep down, I just love glitter and sparkles.

I can't explain why I wanted to draw them so mad. But it seemed right. So with the help of some Twitter discussions and input from a few true-blue SM fans, I came up with these roughs for both the inner and outer senshi (top and bottom respectively). 

I kind of liked the super-irate cassowary eye that Jupiter is sporting, but in the end decided to go with the simplified dot eye. I guess its cuter.

Sailor moon angry outer senshi rough.jpg

After thinking about it some more (and playing Sailor Moon songs to get into that creative mood) I came up with some pencil sketches that I traced over using a lightbox and micron pens. That part felt really good since for the past several weeks I've been working almost exclusively in digital, so breaking out the traditional materials was a relief and a nice change of pace.

(During this entire process I documented every step and posted periodically to Twitter and Tumblr. It was nice getting quick feedback from followers there. Thanks, guys, for all your input and encouragement!)

Finally it was time to scan and color digitally. I used more or less the same pastel palette and ink wash overlay as the Pet Bird stickers. It took a lot of back and forth deciding on the colors; I would say they took the most time of all. Strangely, deciding on Mercury and Mars's hair colors took the longest. I also had trouble with Saturn and Pluto because their outfits are such dark colors. What do you do if you're using a pastel palette and something needs to be black or dark purple? Bend the rules, it turns out. So some of the colors are little darker but still the same low level of saturation as the rest. I hope they don't print out too dark. Here are the final designs.

color2 finalsm.jpg

Pet Bird Stickers Design Process

Continuing with my idea of adding more sticker designs to my Etsy shop, let me share some of my process for these Pet Bird stickers. Below is the final design.

The final designs

However, long before the final version, these birds started their little journey in the form of:

bird sil 2.jpg

... ink blobs! I found an image online of the type of "look" I wanted my stickers to have: very simple, cute, with pastel colors and a minimum of lines. Keeping that image open on my monitor for inspiration, I painted out these blobs. I did several pages of them. You wouldn't think so, but its a little tricky to get a clean shape that has even coloring. 

I scanned these and using Clip Studio Paint I futzed around with the blending mode, Hue, Saturation, etc. until I could control the colors of each blob:

Bird silh big1 color1 wip.jpg

Looking more birdlike already, aren't they? I had a rough idea of what types of birds I wanted, too. This sticker sheet is going to be all pet birds, so- cockatiel, parakeet, parrots, lovebirds (of course!) and so on. 

I was using a pastel palette I found (from Elkins Design) for guidance on picking the colors, but the colors didn't always come out how I wanted because of the method I used to colorize the blobs. So there was a lot of trial and error, especially with the lighter colors. These blobs were originally that dark blue, so I guess converting them into light cream yellow didn't exactly translate well.

bird sticker page PALETTE.jpg

Gradually I came up with these birds blobs here: 

Bird silh big2 color top.jpg
Bird silh big1 color1.jpg

Now, most of these aren't that bad, but I still wasn't happy with the light cream and white colored parts, which kept coming out too dark or textured weird. It's most noticeable on the cockatoo and parakeets. So in the end, I had to scrap the inkblob idea and do the whole thing digitally (see the first image). There is still a bit of the inkwash in the design, since I scanned in a few pages that I had swiped ink onto and clipped that texture onto the bird form.

Finally it was time to place the designs on a sheet and prep for printing:

birds order .jpg

I am trying out a new vendor this time called Sticker You. They let you order stickers in large 8.5x11 inch sheets. I want to sell my sheets in 4x6 inch sheets, so I arranged my designs on the page so I can cut them into four smaller sheets (an idea I got from this Youtube vid). I sort of goofed up the sizing, but I'm still looking forward to receiving my stickers and seeing how they turn out.

Buster Keaton and stickers

I'm a fan of silent cinema, especially comedies like Buster Keaton. Been rewatching some of his old stuff and listening to the Talking Buster podcast and was inspired! Had a bit of fun imagining what Buster Keaton stickers might look like. I think I hit a lot of the iconic images (including that pratfall, gotta have that). And the stars, they indicate either pain or stardom, which for Buster was one and the same.

I want to expand my sticker offerings for my Etsy shop and cons. However, making and printing this set is low on the priority list, because I should direct my resources to designs with a wider appeal. But dammit, this is the sort of thing that *I* would totally buy.

buster keaton stickers.jpg

Black Comic Book Festival 2018


January 12-13, 2018 was the Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem, New York. I got there in the middle of the day Saturday and the line was out the door and around the corner- a 45 minute wait!

Inside it was packed with comics fans, young and old alike. There were maybe 40 vendors, more than last year it looked like, and a good variety of art styles and comic types. I caught up with Shauna and Yesenia who were tabling on the upper level. 


Typically when I table at cons, I stick to Artist Alley and don't often get to wander around to panels and see any other attractions. But this time, being an attendee and not a vendor, I thought "what the hell" and sat in on the Cosplay Show. I don't have much experience with those so I don't know if results are typical, but man it was a lot of fun.

Each cosplayer got to stand in the spotlight and do their thing, like a little dance or a couple moves, and then they got the microphone and could say a few words about why they chose to dress as that character. Across the board everyone had a positive or uplifting message about promoting peace, following your dreams, and being an everyday superhero. 

Too soon, it was time to go, but not before picking up some reading material for the subway and jitney home. Looking forward to next year already! 

By the way, check out the twitter hashtag #blackcomicbookfestNYC and follow the Schomburg Center for more photos and a recap of the event.


Convention Season 2018

My convention schedule for 2018 is shaping up! Here’s what I have planned so far:

  • February 24-25   FanFaire - Brooklyn, NY
  • April 14-15    Kinda!Con - Morrisville, NJ
  • May 12-13    TCAF - Toronto, Canada
  • June 2-3    CAKE - Chicago, IL (tentative)
  • June 10    Queens Book Fair - New York City
  • Aug 10-12    Otakon - Washington, DC
  • Aug 18-19   Flame Con - New York, NY

Last year I learned that a number of comic and anime conventions do their Artist Alley registration in late December/early January. In 2017, was too late for the open application periods of MoCCA, Otakon, AnimeNext, and Animazement (among others). Often I found I had missed the application window by only a few days! It felt frustrating. I jotted down the names of those cons in my planner and this year was sure to apply on time for 2018. 

My focus is local and regional conventions because its always good to save on hotel and travel expenses whenever you can. Especially if you’re kinda-sorta just getting started and don’t have a huge selection of merch, its good to stay close to home. Oh! But Chicago cons are good too since I have family there and its a good excuse to go visit.

Otakon is one of the largest anime conventions, which I have heard about for many years but have never attended. This will be the year! I understand its attendees tend to focus on purchasing items like posters, buttons, pins, and other small 3D items. I’m mostly comics and books, so I’m wondering if I should add a few of those items to my inventory. It’ll be interesting to see what other tables will be selling.

Speaking of keeping on top of cons, the first 2 weeks of January I’ve been helping out at Conosaurus, a comic convention database that sends out a weekly newsletter about upcoming cons and those currently accepting applications. The founders are on vacation, so I stepped in and updated/sent out two newsletters. I’m always checking con sites for when their AA opens, so I figured, why not? I was even able to add a few new entries for upcoming events and comic-related job opportunities.

 My table from the Betty Zine Fest 2017

My table from the Betty Zine Fest 2017

 Betty Zine Fest 2017

Betty Zine Fest 2017

Dove Rescue

People who have known me a while understand how much I like birds. At the local park, I take bags of bread crumbs and feed the pigeons. It's a relaxing activity that takes my mind off the stresses of the day. Often there's a pure white dove mixed in with this flock. He is larger and stands out among the pigeons. I have nicknamed him "El Espíritu Santo" since in art, the Holy Spirit is often depicted as a dove. He has become a favorite and I always look for him when visiting the park. (Look carefully, that's him in the center of the photo, taken August 2017)


On January 14, 2018, my husband went for a walk. It was close to 8:00 pm, way past the time when all pigeons fly up to roost. So he was surprised to come across Espíritu Santo, seated on the ground near a corner store. He didn't fly away when approached, but also didn't take any bread crumbs. Then my husband saw the blood.

The dove had been attacked! Luckily we had a bird cage at home (from rescuing another bird last fall) and I came out with gloves, a towel, and the cage. Catching him was easy because he offered zero resistance. Once we got him home we consulted the most excellent Wild Bird Fund for advice and direction.


We caught Espíritu Santo on Sunday evening, and the Wild Bird Fund opened at 8:00 am Monday morning, so our job was to make him as comfortable as possible and pray he lasted the night. We made a donut shape out of a rolled towel and placed him on it, along with a cup of water within easy reach. We talked to him a little. Then we turned down the lights and placed a towel over his cage to let him sleep. The rest of the evening we talked in hushed tones- all because of a bird!

It might seem silly, but for me this was very important. My husband and I knew this bird- we saw him in the flock often. We would go on walks looking for him- I would say "let's go find the Holy Spirit!" (because har har, very funny). It's a curious thing that this specific bird should get injured and that my husband should come across him right when he needed help. I prayed a lot that night. If he were to die, at least it would be somewhere warm and comfortable.

Thankfully, he survived the night, and early Monday morning we drove to the Wild Bird Fund in order to get there when they opened at 8. The workers there were very friendly and took him in with no problem. When a worker took him out of the cage, we could get a good look at his injuries. They appeared to be light puncture wounds on his right wing and right side of his body.

Sadly, heart breakingly, the Wild Bird fund told me on Wednesday Jan 17 that they had to humanely euthanize this dear bird. I was very surprised because I thought she would pull through! They told me his (actually "her") wing was infected, was broken and had had a previous injury that didn't heal properly. They said her quality of life would be poor even if she did survive these injuries. 

I have no choice but to take them at their word. I don't dare put my needs above the dove's health and comfort. I know that if she was in pain and suffering, then its better this way. But when I left her on Monday, I didn't even properly say goodbye, just handed her over and left quickly because the meter on the car was expiring. I miss Espíritu Santo terribly and am surprised at how hard I'm taking it. She was the best thing about our neighborhood, and the world is drabber and gloomier with her absence.

Comic Anthologies - Group Chat

Working on a short comic for POMEgranate Magazine for their upcoming comic anthology, Group Chat! Lara Willard wrote this lovely story about a woman going through breast cancer treatment and who just underwent a life-changing surgery. Thankfully, her friend is there to see her through with love and support.

It’s a wonderful, heartfelt story, and one that I never would have thought to write. I found Lara by reaching out on Twitter for writers that wanted to collab on comic anthology projects. 

The story is pretty short, only 6 pages. Below is a little preview. To be published late spring 2018! My hope is to have copies of the book to sell at conventions by the second half of the year.

Best Dressed Final pg2 ver2 wip.jpg

Inktober 2017

October 2017 has come and gone, and despite my valiant efforts I'm sorry to say I didn't make it through the whole month. My plan was to follow the official Inktober prompt list and pair each with a bird. I made it to Day 19 before puttering out. On the plus side, this challenge did get me to break out the inks and brushes again, something I haven't done in months!

New York Comic Con and Betty Zine Fest

Its shaping up to be a busy month around here. I was lucky enough to snag a last minute table at the Betty Zine Fest in Newark, NJ this weekend, and will also be attending New York Comic Con, though only as a fan. Next year I hope to table there.

My next comic project is part cooking manga, part historical fiction. Set in Ancient Rome, 7 year old Cassia aspires to be the best cook in the Empire. She encounters resistance in all the usual places, but also gets support from some unusual friends. Right now I'm writing the first chapter and find that I have a lot to learn about Ancient Rome. Even small details need to be researched to make it as historically accurate as possible.

Here's a sketch of our hero and her flamingo contraband.

cassia and chogogo.jpg

VanCAF 2017

I’ve been meaning to tell you about my time at VanCAF, the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival. This took place back in May 2017. For months prior, I was gathering my stuff and worrying about the customs procedure in flying from the US to Canada. 

At Vancouver, I met up with my brother who lives in Seattle. The day of the con we hauled my stuff a few short blocks to the Roundhouse Community Center. The venue was spacious and beautifully designed. I got my table in the gym set up in no time.

Through the weekend, there was a steady stream of people passing through. It was obvious people were really excited to be there, and everyone was a fan of small press and independent comics. I had my stickers and comic One Lucky Bride for sale, as well as the LGBT anthology Lilies Vol. 2, where I have a little story included. Sales were all in Canadian dollars, but I forgot to get loonies! Thankfully my brother was able to run to a bank and break a $20 CAN for me.

One of the only things I purchased was a nice print by @JoanChao ( about working hard, as you can see in the 3rd image below.

After the con, we took a ferry to Granville Island. Beautiful peaceful place! Unfortunately the only photos I took were of seagulls and crows dumpster diving. They kept ripping open the garbage bags to get the fries inside. Such clever birds!

Vancouver really impressed me with its natural beauty. I caught glimpses of its mountain, and was surrounded by more green than I’ve seen in a while. There are recycling stations but everywhere, and the city itself (least the area I was in) positively shimmered with cleanliness. When I got home to Jersey, the difference really hit me.

I would definitely be interested in doing VanCAF again, but might like to alternate it with other Canada shows like TCAF.

Screaming into the Void

Sometimes its rough being an artist on the Internet. Your very finest work might get overlooked or ignored, and you wonder why. Last fall I was musing on this and needing to warm up for other drawing, so I created this series of scribbly one-offs. I timed myself to complete them in under 45 minutes and restricted myself to one color. This forced me to keep things simple. I crank out these  whenever an idea comes to me, and they're fun. One day I might collect them into a zine, perhaps.

Watercolor Experimentation

Since 2014 I've used the same small pan of travel watercolors. I adore how compact it is along with my waterbrush, which means I can take it anywhere. But 12 colors is a bit limiting sometimes. Recently I bought a 36 set from Blick and am learning to use it. I thought the paints were good quality, but now I'm not so sure. I have to really work the paint with my brush in order to get any color out of the pan. But I don't know what quality paints are supposed to feel like. So I make do with what I've got.

The newest series I'm working on is pop stars, namely Beyonce. I love her music videos and her varied outfits. It's amazing how different the same person can look depending on their hair and makeup.

Here I've done Bey from her songs, Hold Up, Formation, and Run the World. I love listening to her music while I work, so this was extra fun to do. Each piece is 5x7 on watercolor paper.