Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Like a lot of my ideas, this series started off as a bit of silly word play. I was invited to set up an art event at a boutique called Ladybug Ladybug. I wanted to create something new for the occasion, so I set to thinking... Lady. Bug. Ladies. Bugs. Ladies as bugs. Eureka!

Vintage camp seemed the way to go with an idea like this, so I turned to 50's pinups for inspiration.

Then I started connecting the bugs I wanted to do (ladybug, bee, butterfly) to pop icons that seemed to match their characteristics. I wasn't setting out to do a caricature of each, but more to capture their spirit: sweet and shy Ladybug reminded me of Amelie.

Happy-go-lucky Bumble Bee was feminine thanks to a curvy butt and legs, so I thought of Betty Grable.

Butterfly needed to be the most glamorous of the bunch, so I drew inspiration from Marilyn Monroe.

For the most part, these ladies were more of a jumping-off point than a literal model, except for maybe Marilyn, who is just so darn perfect.

I sketched each one...

Painted a quick color study...

Blocked the shapes in with acrylics...

and finished each one off with a few select details.

I kept the paintings simple and graphic, and left the backgrounds white in the tradition of vintage pinup artists like George Petty.

People really seem to like this series, and I had a lot of fun doing it. In the future, I plan to try my hand at Billie Holliday as a blue butterfly, Audrey Hepburn as a black ant, and Mata Hari as a moth. Who knew bugs could turn out so cute?

If you'd like a LadyBug of your very own, check out my Etsy shop. I've also cropped each one for use as Facebook cover photos. Feel free to download them from my Facebook page.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Mermaid for All Seasons

I love the change of seasons: winter blooming into spring, summer mellowing into autumn. I can only assume that mermaids enjoy watching the seasons change as much as I do. Things are a bit different in their world, of course: golden kelp stands in for golden leaves, tiny pink anenomes make underwater blossom trees, obliging seals serve as muffs and hoods in winter. Won't you join my mermaid friends in celebrating the seasons under the sea?

Here are the character sketches I started with:

And here are the fine sketches, with background elements in place...

And the finals!

If you'd like to bring home some mermaids of your very own, prints are available on my Etsy shop!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Red-Headed Sister

Since it's nearly St. Patrick's Day, I thought it'd be a good time to post this picture I made for my dear sister, Neal (also known as Haley.) With her milky skin and auburn hair, she shows off our family's Irish roots way better than I do. In this picture she's holding a red panda. The red panda - or "fire fox" or "cat bear" - is her favorite animal. She'd love one for a pet, but wouldn't you know it: they're wild and endangered. Darn. This picture was meant to give my sister the next best thing to a real, live red panda: a totally tame cartoon one that matches her hair!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tea and Strumpets

The idea came from a mispronunciation of "tea and crumpets" by my good friend Darcy Galvan (this picture was a present for her.) I like the idea of strumpets unwinding after a busy day of strumpeteering by having a tea party. I figure if this was a burlesque show, the girls would all have tea-inspired names: Jasmine, Camomile, Chai, Oolong (that's Oolong there in the back of the picture.)

Now if only there was a market for Mother's Day burlesque...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ring in the new year... with beer!

Hello friends. If you're anything like me, you like to toast to New Year's happiness with a nice cold beer. And if you're anything like my friend, Corrie (for whom I made this picture) you live in the wilds of Yosemite. I'm not sure exactly what Corrie's life is like out there in scenic Yosemite, but I hope it's something like this:

Now I know we can't all ring in the New Year on a mountaintop with an epic ursine friend. But we should all aspire to such heights. Happy New Year.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Neals

Merry Christmas everyone! Here's my finished art for the family Christmas card. It's a mite better than the Pokemon-style one I hacked out in Crayola pencils when I was thirteen. This time I'm using Prismacolor pencils, so it's bound to be classy, right? Honestly, though, I love my Prismacolors, even if they do break every time I sharpen them. They just give me so much control and are so creamy and vibrant on the paper. Well, here's me and the fam. Merry Christmas - a little early - from my family to yours.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What the Dickens

Happy Christmas, everyone! I thought I'd kick off December with some sketches from the Dickens Fair. Twas a festive gala, with men in top hats, ladies in full skirts, and everyone in the mood for Christmasy fun.

Cheerful strumpets at Mad Sal's dockside alehouse

A musical performance at Mad Sal's
Couldn't make out the words over the din of the crowd,
but it looked like a fun song

A reveler at Fezziwig's Christmas party
How I longed for a pretty dress to waltz in,
not that the lack thereof kept me from waltzing my heart out

A special dance performance at Fezziwig's

A sprightly Irish dancer

These dapper gents treated us to an Irish softshoe number
 and the Highland Fling, respectively

A tiny girl sparring with her father at the sporting club
Easily the most adorable fencing lesson ever

An onlooker at Fezziwig's Christmas party
More men ought to wear tails; they make even the most
 average gent look very spiffy indeed

A darling girl in a spectacularly full skirt
What the sketch doesn't capture is that she had
 sparkles woven into her hair, in tiny braids and ringlets