My Li’l Movie Monsters

March 29, 2014 by  
Filed under News, Rachel's Thoughts

Last week I mentioned my new, fantasticular, magic tablet machine, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition.
…I really wish someone would pay me for all this hyping.
A couple of my first  sketches on the new tablet were inspired by recently having watched Sharktopus, as I’m often consuming so-bad-it’s-good monster movies on Netflix.
Sharktopus, painted on tablet
Sharktopus, painted on tablet
Sharktopus, painted on tablet
Sharktopus, painted on tablet
Sharktopus, painted on tablet
Sharktopus, painted on tablet

Soon after that, I got on a roll of all sorts of li’l movie monsters.  The subject matter is potentially endless.  But oddly enough, I couldn’t manage a cute Godzilla. He’s still on the list, but he’s a tough nut to crack.

Li'l Cujo, Tablet Sketch
Li’l Cujo, Tablet Sketch

Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, Tablet Sketch
Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, Tablet Sketch

King Kong, Tablet Sketch
King Kong, Tablet Sketch



Black Lagoon, Tablet Sketch
Black Lagoon, Tablet Sketch

Snakes on a Plane, Tablet Sketch

Snakes on a Plane, Tablet Sketch

Killer 'Maters, Tablet Sketch

And finally, how do you draw a baby troll?

Baby Troll Hunter, Tablet Sketc
Baby Troll Hunter, Tablet Sketch

Also on tumblr, for some reason.  …I think I might be too old and crotchety to figure out this tumblr business.

The Galaxy, At My Fingertips

March 19, 2014 by  
Filed under News

Dear All y’alls.

I recently got a new tool.  I love it very much.

I wish Samsung would pay me to brag about the Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 edition, because I’m doing it for free anyway.

TADAAaaaAAAaaA (Angelic choir noises)

For those who don’t know, I’m living in New York City.  I live in the nosebleed section of Manhattan and I now work at an animation studio in Brooklyn.  My commute takes up a lot of my time.  I initially wanted any old tablet (my first), and a keyboard case to write some stories I’ve been putting together because my laptop A) is friggen huge, B) needs a fan blowing on it at all times, and C) can sometimes sort of fall open due to the time I broke some of the casing, trying to clean its fan.  Seriously – there is no need for that many microscopic screws in one machine.  It’s built to be impossible to repair.

What I got was that Android tablet, to be sure, but also a magical drawing machine.

I’ve realized over the years that I’ve been getting progressively anxious about starting new sketchbooks.  My last four sketchbooks are each about half empty.  I’ve been afraid to crap them up and ruin a perfectly good book.  I’ve tried playing mind games with myself to cognitively unwind, but ultimately, I just stopped drawing.  And the less I drew, the more likely I’d be to draw crap and ruin a nice sketch book.

So, already with the Galaxy stylus and the Autodesk Sketchbook Pro app I had one very helpful tool to encourage drawing.  I could draw a literal pile of crap and it wouldn’t be wasting a thing.  Weeding out my good and lousy drawings later isn’t like tearing pages out of a book.  (It’s like it never even happened!)  … That was  my creepy, whisper voice.

Secondly, I have chronic tendinitis that I need to really keep an eye on and not over-project myself. …which I’m bad at.  If I want to also draw, I’ll hurt myself.  I don’t have to push very hard on this machine to get different line qualities.  If the stylus were normal pen/pencil sized, it’d be better, but as it is, the ease of pressure is very helpful.

I’ve worked in Photoshop for over a decade, but never been much of a Photoshop painter.  I’ve always envied those to whom it came naturally.  I can paint a real canvas, but something never quite translated to digital.

Something clicked when I put stylus to tablet…  Maybe because on the road or in a coffee shop it’s less pressure.  It’s not a job.  If it’s on a tablet, it must be a game!


Let’s play.
My first drawing’s intent was to just see if I could really, comfortably sketch without sticky, un-ready technology getting in my way.
I drew my hand.  I painted under the “pencil” lines because I knew I was too insecure to go at it as a full painting and didn’t want to ruin the sketch with lousy swatches of random flesh tones.

Click on the images for a larger view.

I got distracted on the subway and saw a man with chubby, gnarly hands.  So I drew his, too.

Next, I decided to paint over some already beautiful photos by the one-and-only Kim Potter‘s series of artistic iPhone photos.
I had already made one acrylic painting of a photo of his and would like to put more on canvas.  Drawing directly over his photos on the tablet, moving the photo aside and then painting them was a really fun exercise in what basically became a colour study for a future acrylic painting.

Again, I became distracted and drew some more subway things.

Sometimes I watch horrible B-movies because, why not.  Of course, they have to be so bad they’re good.  One that struck me as having potential in an alternate universe as being an adorable plushy toy was the horribly conceived, terribly executed, gratuitous bikini-shot movie, “Sharktopus”.

Now he’s my little pet mahnstah!

I really enjoyed seeing progress in these, as I got used to the brushes.   The first li’l guy is a bit lumpy – a little impressionistic.  By the time I got to tooting Sharktopus, he was nice and slithery like ocean life should be.

My boyfriend believes Sharktopus is buddies with Nessie.  He thinks they dress in leather jackets and smoke cigarettes.  I, however, believe when they get together they dress as pirates.  Those drawings my eventually come to the website.

After finishing the Sharky-pusses I took reference photos at the Museum of Natural History of every interesting animal, current and ancient, for drawing reference.
This is my first painting based on one of those photos.  Drawn and painted by me – no tracing or painting OVER anything involved.

So, I’m happy to be growing – happy to have a new outlook on painting and drawing.  I seem to have overdone it a bit by drawing all weekend and not doing ANY laundry or dishes, leaving me to wear napkins for socks and eat dinner from ziplock bags, but it’s worth it.

My only complaint would be that using Sketchbook Pro for a SOLID day may result in technical glitches like this…

They just appear once in a blue moon and you have to manually erase them.  but luckly I’ve only ever seen it happen over a transparent area, not over drawing.

It’s not Photoshop, to be sure, but unless you’ve got the several thousand dollar Cintiq Companion, you probably can’t expect Photoshop from your tablet.  For what this is, it’s brilliant.

And a note to tablet case manufacturers… Putting magnets in your cases to clip them shut??  Why would you think that’s a good idea??  Occasionally my keyboard case will interfere with my stylus when I try to draw in random, spazzy ways, so I remove the tablet from the case when drawing.

This brand-spanking new tablet would be a lot of money to shell out for a toy (it cost me about 600, all-in-all), but it’s just right for an on-the-road TOOL.
I plan to use this magic machine until it biodegrades in my hands.

To end this post, I will share the song from one of my favourite animated series, Home Movies, which has been stuck in my head since I began drawing Sharktopus.  Enjoy.  And you’re welcome.

What an Honor!

October 2, 2010 by  
Filed under News

I make toys out of other toys.  As my Toys page shows, I’ve recently opened up an etsy store.  For those of you who don’t know, is a site for hand-crafted or vintage items.  You can only sell your own art — nothing that’s been hand-crafted by someone else.  There are a lot of unique products and one-of-a-kinds on Etsy.  A lot of great things as well as a lot of horribly regrettable things.

As a result of the popularity of Etsy and the audacity of some people who think they can sell horrible junk, there is now also a highly popular blog site (and recent coffee table book) called

The sharp-as-sewing needles author of regretsy who goes by the pseudonym, “Helen Killer” treats the site largely as a failblog of etsy items, etsy descriptions or etsy stores, but also has categories for the weird and wonderful masterpieces who just need to be spotlighted.

WHO do you think just got featured in the “Not Remotely Crap” category??? GUesS!!  No, seriously, take a guess!  …No, not Matt Damon.  No.  …try again.  No, not Dave Coulier. …Amy Grant?? What?? No, ME, you dingus!!

Yessir, I made my first 8 sales within the first 24 hours of being on regretsy, and I regret NOTHING!!

check it out:

WARNING:  The rest of the site contains some adult material and language.  It seems a lot of etsy shops sell very adult, genitalia based crafts.

I’m super honored.  I would have been honored to even have been mocked.

Good job, Helen Killer.  Rock on.  And don’t let any of those death threats get to you.


Most recent addition to my shop, the only driving “Wookie Mobile”, complete with wookie.

Rachel and a Bus Adventure Blog 02 ~ Tips for Travelers

February 12, 2010 by  
Filed under News

I’ve decided to try uploading my videos while I’m on the road.  I’m making them every day, but will begin uploading 2 per week, while I’m out here on a bus.  My goal is to have videos up here Mondays and Fridays, but I shall request thy patience while I have no guarantee of having internet access on those days.

Here’s hoping!

Here’s #2 – a simple guide to long-distance bus travel.

Serious about Humour

April 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Rachel's Thoughts

Humour is my language.
I can speak other languages, but I prefer to express myself in my mother tongue.
Personally, I believe it should be everyone’s language, much like how Americans go abroad and get annoyed that not everyone speaks English.  As understanding and empathetic as I generally am (or appear to be) when conversing with others, I have a difficult time understanding people who just can’t communicate in humour.
If I have to repeat, “No, no. You see, that was a joke.” more than twice in a conversation, you’ve probably lost me.  I just might give up right there.

If human interaction were baking recipes, then humour would be the milk.  Not every recipe needs it, and it would spoil a few dishes, but most baked goods ask for at least half a cup, worked in evenly throughout the mixture.
Well placed, perceptive humour can be an ice and tension breaker.
It can be an open door, as well as a terrific wall — an invitation or a deflection.
There are things you can express through sarcasm that would never work in a serious tone.

My best defense against fighting most of my insecurities is humour.  Self-deprecation can help you own your imperfections and mold them into strengths.

I bought a house a few years ago and quickly realized that green thumbs are not items I possess — not on either one of my hands.  I dug up my front lawn one day with the intention of turning a new leaf and starting a garden, but I then forgot (or rather, didn’t care enough) to actually plant anything.  As a result, my lawn was wonderfully tilled and ideal for lush and fertile weeds.  I like to think I was starting a weed garden, but too many people misunderstood me when I made comments like that.
At its worst, my weeds grew to be about 4 feet tall.
Old Italian men would come around to my house just to point and laugh.
One of them told me to get a husband and have him fix it.  I thanked him for pouring salt on my wounds.

When giving instructions to my house, I eventually found myself describing it as “the one with the ugly lawn”.  This was becoming my home’s most distinctive feature.

My friendliest neighbour Bob, “The Dirty Old Man Who’s Past His Prime” (I swear to you, that’s the way he introduced himself) tried several times to pawn his lawn tools off on me, until I insisted that I had worked long and hard to get my front lawn just perfect like this.
“Oh… Yes.  Yes. I thought so.” He said.  “I didn’t mean to insult you.  I just thought… You know, if you ever wanted to prune it, to be even nicer……  I have a Weed Whacker in my shed.”

I needed to take control of the situation and make sure my other neighbours wouldn’t hate me.
Bob was funny andnd his lawn is dirt, so he would have been the last to judge.

Fix the lawn??  Pfffft.  Not likely.
Making them laugh was the key.

I began to put up signs.  The first one began with a grain of sincerity and read,

“Yes, I am aware of the condition of my front lawn.  But thank you for your concern.”

That sign was put up simply to stop the stares and murmurs from contractors, neighbours and passers-by.

Then came,

“Yeah?!  Your MOM’S an ugly lawn!!”,

“My other lawn’s a Porche.”,


“I do this to make the other lawns feel better about themselves.”

(That my friends, is what I like to call “one-downing”.  Instead of “one-upping”, where one tells a better story, making those around him feel worse about themselves, one-downing self-deprecates and helps to build others up — make yourself plain, so the girl next to you looks glamorous.  That sort of thing.  My lawn was one-downing all the other lawns on the block.  My lawn was the Ethel to everyone else’s Lucy.)

I kept those signs up for over a year.  I grew to care very much for them.  And at one point my mother (a very funny woman) did a drive-by lawn ornamenting, leaving behind a tole painted garden sign in the yard which read, “Quiet please, weeds growing”.

Eventually I realized I had reached a point where I had developed pride over my particular weakness, and my owning of my bad thumbs had now lost its point.  I began to let the lawn get uglier just so I could keep up the signs.
“My place looks like CRAP! Stand tall! Stand proud!” I would think to myself while arriving home from work.

The Fed Ex lady had told me she looked forward to coming to my house, always hoping to find a new sign, and that had made me very happy.
(She would also assure me that the lawn wasn’t so bad.)

I’ve since taken down those signs, and today my inner city lawn looks a lot more like Bob’s.  It’s not glamorous and it’s mostly dirt, but you wouldn’t get lost in it anymore.

I’m no longer insecure about my habit of neglect, but I sort of miss the attention from the signs.
The Fed Ex lady has long since forgotten me.

I’m considering planting corn.

Rachel at the VERY serious St. John's Women's Film Fest, with Kelly Davis and Noreen Gulfman

Rachel at the VERY serious St. John's Women's Film Fest, with Kelly Davis and Noreen Gulfman