Character Design Using Narrative


Medusa flipped Sketch 2

Sketches are an idea for a drawing or painting made to provide a view for a finished Artwork. The sketch is full of potential.

A sketch is also a short performance, a skit, maybe one scene. Make a sketch memorable make it funny. An imaginary skit has power in character development.

Yes I do Spike my Hair 7-21-17 2

I  like to make a sketch of a character that I have created its back-story. The story helps carry the development of the Art forward. I am story-making with multiple goals but mainly visual. 

Bride 1 Sketch 2

Sketches begin with perhaps no idea at all, only a few marker strokes on some paper. Insert some fun, work around the mistakes, but use some mistakes. Show the character’s, well, character. It’s all non-verbal, the front end of the business is “showing”. The back-room is explaining the character a bit to myself.

Another use of narrative is when a sketch isn’t making it. Then, I invent an imaginary scene to get the ball rolling, I need some extra “juice” to mix with “inspiration” to get my graphical ideas across on paper.

Alright, now it’s show time.



This is protected intellectual property. It is solely mine. Karma is fierce. Do not take what is not yours. If you see my protected intellectual property and would like to talk contact me. c 2018, c 2017


Being ready by Design

Whenever I am in the notion to work I do not want to have to struggle with tools, find things I need, clear off messy work surfaces and do double work type work to make something. I am a one person shop-studio- en plein air Artist. It is up to me to give myself every advantage I am able.

Junk in Plastic Boxes

Containers on a shelf. Like things with like things. 

On the bus I have my tools in a neat vintage Lands End™. One zipper and a snap I am ready to read or sketch. The other places I create are fairly organized, but just. I can wander between projects and return to the easel over many days. Tools line the drawers and parts and pieces fill bins, containers, and the occasional peanut butter jar.

I make it a rule to finish projects– they may not be perfect, that doesn’t matter, I complete my work. Work I’ve promised by a deadline gets to the person before the deadline. If something is needed by Thursday and I get it Monday the piece is ready on Wednesday before 5 p.m.

Because I’m cool? Nope. Because I don’t like things hanging over my head. Besides it’s my word that is worth more than the project I’m working on. If I lose my good name, even if it’s not my fault, then I cannot buy it back.

Brushes cleaned and ready

A process of brush care at the end of a session.

So I keep tools, materials, and work spaces ready for work. I won’t win any awards from minimalist decor folks. I can find anything and I can usually remember where I have filed most of my stuff. That’s my test. Keep like things with like things; label the drawers; use clear containers with labels; put up things as I go and simple processes like that. This keeps something like a mess from hanging over my head.

As I typed before, I admit I won’t win at perfection, zero mess, just a bit of wisdom in the seeming madness. I have a shop-vac, several brooms and dust pants, even a magnet on a rope when needed.

Note I didn’t say “rules”. When things are ‘supposed to be’ done a certain way, or controlled this way, or filled with judgment I usually baulk, or “buck-up” as the Aunties used to say.

Rules are fine but if I make a process that functions well, it will not be perfect. I might leave my acrylic paints all out, in trays that go into a cabinet when I’m finished, but I want to see my materials. It’s like when I get new color pencils–that excites me. I can’t wait to use the new pencil. I’ll even start a new page just to incorporate it into the composition or just go crazy mono-chrome.

Leaving an organized neat area dedicated to acrylics, or oils, or wood-block, or just my easels helps me organize my day-week-month. It’s like my “visual-control” for my project management. I can manage what I see and I “go-and-see” continuously as “walk-around-management” of myself. Big job.

Raygun Build Parts

Selected items ready for  a project.

I know by working with materials on a daily basis, seeing them regularly, and monitoring my progress what I need to replenish. I don’t have duplicated materials, nor do I run out of 20% gray pencils at 3:00 am Sunday morning. I don’t waste time looking for materials and resources; I don’t have waste in duplicated items–6 pounds of “sinker” nails is more than I need for this project–and I keep a re-order list and make a time to order as needed. I also keep a list of items to trade, give away, or sell.

These concepts help me keep my spaces ready to work. Organized for production is what I like to call it. It’s also a fun way to engage with the materials, to bring an idea or inspiration to the front and spring-board into the work.

I have to make the most of every opportunity I make or every time I get the chance to make something that I think is cool. When I’m ready to get busy I am more motivated to do just that.

Going to the shop or to the studio not a struggle, it’s a pleasure.  By design.

Art, Getting Busy

There are those days when someone passes by me whilst I’m at my drawing pad and exclaims, “I can do that!”


Graphite on card stock

I smile and keep drawing. After about a second, because I don’t want to lose the moment, I give them a pad and some pencils.

“Oh, no I couldn’t.”

But you just said your could. Give yourself this little gift, this precious time. Draw!

Some of the materials I favor are readily available at most office supply shops or even pharmacies. I chose them for that reason–wide availability.

Among my supplies I have A4 (8.5 x 11)  paper in white and a few colors, some A6 (4 x 6) plain index card stock, a few color pencils, #2 pencils, and blank journal books.

Then I scoop up my satchel and get busy.

I can do that.

Be Limitless Stray from the Path

The quickest path between two points is a straight line. In a crowded world that is nearly impossible.

I like the winding path. Un-enforced and edge-bumping ways tickle my fancy and are traceable only by having passed by that way.


Stray from the path and be the explorer; sail for the edge of the map; do so with a kindly spirit and merry wonderment. Strive to overcome prior training.

I am sure of a shrinking list of propositions, like efficiency, production, and patterned recipes for success. I am friendlier toward my imagination and what I make when I ask:  “What if I?”

It is alright to stray from the path in Art. Meander in concept and in practice raise the hackles of design.

Fine but how to do all this “straying” and “raising of hackles”?

I suggest give up excuses. Then, consider each new project as an adventure; one that you make. Eliminating excuses means you have to perform. Excuses hold Artists back. Replace excuses with being limitless.


Being limitless means experiment, explore, and expand a given method. Re-focus design, methods, and propositions, or generating more “What if’s”. In short it means give up relying on: “I can’t.”

  • What other tools work? Inventive.
  • What am I truly seeing here? Adaptative.
  • What if this material or method were used as if it were…. [fill in the blank] Experimental.
  • Transfer one set of learning to a new problem. Thinking.
  • Make a new path. Keep your promises. Responsible
  • Instructions are guides not shackles. Authentic voice.
  • Personal experience is the real and the imagined. Placing You in the Design.
  • Starting over is strength. Purposeful.
  • Be thankful for serendipity. Happy accident or unconscious play.
  • Put the “you” into your Art. Make your art a production, featuring your authentic voice. Produce your Art.
  • Create your own projects. That is how you can be truly Expressive.

Becoming Limitless

Back to the allusion of getting from point A to point B in that straight line method of efficiency. In my design I intend to make point B because I can.

Art is My Super-Power


I Artist


I have fears. I think this is common among us humans. Perhaps that is why we crave the created beings with “super-powers” so universally. The sources I cite are our myths and legends as much as a nod to modern creators around the world.

These Super-Beings have flaws, just as I do. I so-identify with their weaker bits. One observation I made early in my reading, even at their weakest they do not quit. They command their fear and they overcome.

Art has a major villain is Fear. It is crippling.

  • What if I fail?
  • Beginnings I fear the most….
  • What if no one likes what I make?
  • “This is rubbish, therefore, I am rubbish.”
  • That is that “mess” supposed to be?

Fear makes Artists “settle”, take fewer risks, make a cocoon and wrap up in it knowing, “I knew I couldn’t make it as an Artist.” So the tools and materials are put up in a cupboard where dust can collect and a comfortable forgetfulness settles.

I propose to laugh in my fears. Laughing at fear is a great way to begin an Art session.

Round One, the Sound of Laughing

  • Stand up
  • Breathe deeply
  • Smile
  • Spread out your arms so you look like a “T”
  • Rotate your arms in a close circle
  • And, Laugh for 45 seconds.

Round Two, the Sound of Laughing some more

  • Sit down
  • Breathe deeply
  • Smile
  • Stamp your feet
  • And, Laugh for 45 seconds

Now after a minute and a half I am on my way to being my Art.

Being my Art? Right, I used to consider my Art as separate from me, Art is something I do. Art is me, my spirit, my mind and its eye, my joy, and my hope. I guard so my Art is not my fear.

Laugh at fear. My Art is my Super-Power.


Next post: I Artist: Be Limitless, Stray from the Path

Drawing Blanks–How To


Ink & acrylic on stretched acetate

Many times I look at a blank page and have a curious thought: “what’s in there

that I need to find?” Have I trained myself to think that way? Yes and no. I go

that way mainly because I rebelled against blank pages (and walls) so I drew

some shape or made a splotch of color or scribed a word or a sentence. So I kept

the habit as I lived. It’s like giving a horse a little nudge in a wide open field

with no one else present, just a friend, the wind, and wide open spaces.

So what is the “how-to” of this?

Move forward and try.

See how far you can take your day-dream. Better yet see how it can take you.

All it needs is a little nudge.

Everyday Art

If I want my Art to become more refined, more pleasing, more interesting I must coax a little pencil or paint brush into action.


Ink on card stock. Prompt was “Fast”.

Art and action are inseparable.

I was reminded of a pretty much universal objection to hitting the sketch book: “But I get tired of doing the same thing all the time.”

Well, then don’t. You’re not being forced into Art are you?

If I get bored I can

  • switch from pencils and brushes to pens
  • charcoal and newsprint
  • draw with your “weak” hand
  • try some new ways to lay down lines

just get going and make it like play.


Ink on card stock + color pencil. The prompt was “Lost”.

Make a prompt list and stick with it all during the month.

Just keep going and you will be glad to see your progress. Punch through that boredom with switching out media and an attitude of playfulness.

Serious play. It’s the way…

  1. To make good Art
  2. Stick to making good Art



Ink on card stock + color pencil the prompt was “collect”. Sorry Charlie Brown.