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


Wonder is a Verb



Wonder is a verb. What makes me wonder;  ponder, think, cogitate, be in awe, marvel, or imagine? Wonder leads to discovery.

My neighborhood is filled with attention grabbing this-and-thats which fuel my wonder. The hills and woods are chocked with of wonder when I arrive. Creek banks and islands reached by hand-built boats propel my wonder to new and delirious heights.

My Library is the penultimate source of wonder. It offers access to the entire world, even to the known universe. Information is at my finger tips waiting to be discovered, organized for me to find, for whatever course I chart.

“I’ve seen and done some stuff.” I heard that sentence in my voice during a congenial conversation made even better by a shared meal.

Our banter covered hieroglyphs and illuminated manuscripts, dinosaurs and sailing ships,the solar system and satellites, and animals and plants, and the northern lights.

Then, for a moment we were silent and laughed when we realised what nerds we are.  We are simply folks, neighbors, school chums, and new friends, ready for the quest, primed to leave home to navigate the farthest shore, and ready to see wonder in the world.

When I cannot board a hover-craft to the Amazon River I get some Library materials and instantly I am in awe.

I am one of the usual suspects I am a Wonderer. I have a Library card and I love discovery.

Compromise on Uncompromising 


My view of uncompromising is framed in practical terms. Etiquette helps diners know how to be acceptable at table.  The Laws of Physics inform me how the universe works, so far. These I wish to be comfortably just as they are.

I might learn new modes of eating behavior when I travel. When I come back to my own digs I will revert to my norm but I remember my table graces are not universal.

I am uncompromising with the simple rules of how to get along with my table mates. I realize a slice of pie hurled in the cafeteria will hit the first immovable object in its path, not always a straight line.

Laws of Physics are universal. I am pleased the norms of gravity are ensconced in all longitudes and latitudes making life more predictable.

Never have I seen a Physicist protest sign, “Up is UP” or “Speed up Inertia”. I have seen polite notices that conveyed, “No cell phones” allowed at dining tables.

If I am uncompromising I chose to tread those cobbles gently. I have kept in mind whilst writing this essay, I am astonishingly prone to mistakes and I have a lot to learn and much more to apply from what I learn.

I could not make those claims if norms were fluid, if everything in life were “up for grabs”, or that I could simply behave as I pleased, or Up is not always UP.

“Astonishingly prone to mistakes.”

“I always learn.”



Writing, Making Adjustments

I write stories and some of them are very short or as I call them, Nano Stories. These are  “imaginary books and their stories” with the entire bibliographical citation  “made-up”.  I write all through the year and I really concentrate on my Nano Stories in November as the time changes, evenings darken more quickly and the mornings are misty and bleak.

11.01.17 Vegan p

Typed words of another era.

I use vintage typewriters, index cards, or small sheets of paper to compose my Nano Stories and most times make the final story for a type-cast that I post online. The clicktey-clack of typing slugs (the letters) striking the paper show up on social media, like in this blog, or on someone’s feed, or on tee-shirts as typed words of another era.

I was approached to make one such Nano Story that was less than a hundred words a bit longer. “You know, fill out the details, involve other characters, and stretch it some, plot twists are always good.”

I reckoned the story was compact and gave all it could in less than one hundred words. I offered to write a different story more likely to fit their need.

“Nope,” this story in question was just the ticket for some ‘filler stories’ in an anthology. I offered several more of my Nano Stories to help fill the ‘holes’ in the up-coming story collection book.

“Nope, fix this one, please.” I liked the polite tone so I set to work fixing my story that I didn’t know needed repaired.

I worked on it for three days on and off. The story would not budge.

When I was next contacted, “How’s that re-write going. Did you get it stretched out some?”


“Well, that’s too bad.”

“Yep, sometimes if you stretch a story out beyond its intended boundaries the reader will see through it then everyone is embarrassed.”

My story didn’t make the book.


As a side note, vintage typewriters have made a counter-cultural come-back of sorts. Will the old machines become mainstream? Let’s wait to see. The Revolution will be typewritten!

11.03.17 Coal Hogs Love Robots wm

Type-cast version of a Nano Story. The stories involve the use of “vintage” typewriters.

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.

Mallory, First Year Teacher, Makes a Chair

Colorful Chair

Mallory you are already extra-ordinary as first year teacher in a new school– that kind of new as in it has just been built new. How do I know you are already exceptionally impressive, because you are seeking to make your own brand, something recognizable and memorable, and most telling, your trademark has meaning.

You looked at me and started the conversation with a question, “Are you a painter?”

I was in the art supply part of a big box store. I had brushes and paints in my basket.

I thought, being a painter is what I used to hear around the holiday dinner table when the folks referred to how someone in the family earned their daily bread. I smiled at the old-timey reference.

I said, “I am an artist.”

“That’ll do.” You were emphatic and asked me about painting a chair.

Painting a chair? A 3-D chair you sit on or one in a painting?

You smiled that teacher smile. You are good, very good.

You wanted your classroom chair to be special, to stand out. It was a rescue from a thrift store and you knew you could make it sparkle.


Because you will love what you will be doing, teaching, so much in a chair that is full of colors and shapes. It will engage the students’ imagination. It will also make a statement that the learning space is a special space. Therefore, you pupils must be so special too.

It’ll give you a certain dignity too.

Dignity and charm, two good allies for those who dare to teach others.

Mallory, I see you sitting on a stage in your special colorful chair in fifty-years surrounded by your pupils and former pupils. They will be honoring you for your service as a fantastic teacher, a role model of the highest quality.

You will begin your speech recounting your years as a teacher by telling your admiring audience, “Let me tell you about my chair and how I made it.”

You will tell them about your fabulous chair and your extraordinary life.

And they will marvel at you all the more.

I am pleased I was able to marvel at you when we had our brief conversation and how we searched for just the right colors for your chair. I enjoyed your vision and your ideas. How creative you are.

Thank you, Mallory. You touched something in my soul.

I Artist, Sometimes I Open the Box

Cigar Box of Inspiration left flip1

Urban archaeology: A find whilst junking. It was under a 1964 scrapbook.


The following good questions are about “how ideas originate”. And my, with hope, helpful attempt to give a “full” but direct answer. These are perennial questions. I like them. I wonder too. I should never get tired of hearing them because they are wonder questions. How does one go from ‘nothing’ to ‘something’?

 Q: So, what inspires you?

A: What does and what does not.

Example: Doodles do inspire me. Being part of rush hour does not inspire me , which is a personal epistemological squib.


Q: Where do you get ideas?

A: By thinking.


Q: What was the most recent time you were inspired?


A : Today, when I looked inside an old cigar box.


A: I scrounged a fifty-year old cigar box with a few pencils inside. I sharpened a blunted stump of a scared and pitted half-inch round  red pencil. I doodled with it in a scrap paper practice pad I keep handy. Then I got excited with the doodle and now it is going to be a color drawing.

So, the most recent time I was inspired was today, when I looked inside an old cigar box. I wondered if any of those vintage pencils still worked.

At least one of them did still work.