Monday, November 28, 2016

good deeds to end the year

Good Deeds To End The Year
2016 was a rough year for a lot of people.* Do you want to do something good to end the year, and maybe make it a little bit better? Here are a few suggestions for things you can do now (and throughout 2017 too). There are options for everyone, some are free and some require a donation of time, goods, or money.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add more good deeds and donation ideas in the comments. Also, though it is written with a US audience in mind, many of these suggestions are applicable in other areas with local information and organizations substituted in.

 Book Related Good Deeds:
1. Check out books by your favorite authors and illustrators from the library (circulation helps libraries decide which books to buy). If you don't see a book you're looking for, ask the library if they can purchase it or get it for you through an interlibrary loan. You can do this for new releases and older books too.

2. Review books from your favorite authors and illustrators on your blog, a book review site, or a bookstore site. Reviews help readers find new books and help authors and illustrators sell books. You can do this for new books, but please don't forget older books too. Your old favorites could be a new favorite for another reader.

3. Buy books from your favorite authors and illustrators
(especially children's books because they're awesome - okay, I might be a bit biased, but children's books are awesome)! Buy from local independent bookstores if you can. Click here - http://www.indiebound.org - to find your local stores. If you don't have children, you could give books to a child of a friend or family member (or read them yourself- kids books are for everyone and they're awesome, really, they are). Don't know a kid to give a book to? Possible places to donate books are your local library, school, hospital/ children's hospital, or holiday toy/book drives. It's great to do this for new books and older books too.

4. Check out, review, and buy books from authors and illustrators who are new to you. Please consider boosting the books of diverse authors and illustrators, and women too. It's great to do this for new releases, but don't forget books released in other years.

5. Donate to book related organizations. Here are a few possibilities:

- Your local library (many libraries accept books and/or monetary donations) 
- First Book - www.firstbook.org
 (Now thru Dec. 31, for every $3 donated to First Book, Random House will donate 2 books.)
- Reading is Fundamental - www.rif.org 
- We Need Diverse Books - website: www.diversebooks.org / Twitter: @diversebooks 

People Related Good Deeds:
1. Do something small for someone you don't know, like hold open a door, give them your seat on the bus/train, or compliment their winter hat. (There are so many fun winter hats - hat that look like animals, hats with stripes, or polka dots, or hats with giant puffballs on top!)

2. Stand up and support others if you see/hear a hateful attack. If it’s not safe, call the police and/or an ambulance, and/or film what’s happening to document it.

3. If you, or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255 Their website is www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You can also find them on Twitter @800273TALK.

4. Volunteer to read to patients at the local hospital/children's hospital or nursing home. Or offer to play games/cards, or entertain them if you're a musician. Or volunteer to help serve meals to the homeless, or deliver meals to the elderly and others who need it.

5. Do something bigger if you're able to, like pay for a bus/train ride for someone who doesn't have enough for the fare, or pay for a coffee or groceries. We all need a little help sometimes.

6. Donate books and clothing to local or national organizations that accept them.

7. Consider giving food and/or money to your local food bank or other local organizations that help out your community.

8. There are national and international organizations that could use your monetary help too. Here are a few:

- No DAPL - There are multiple donation sites to help this organization, who is fighting for the protection of water for all of us (this Twitter thread has a list). Or donate to the main camp here.
- Disabled American Veterans
- American Heart Association
- American Cancer Society

Animal Related Good Deeds:
1. Offer to volunteer at your local animal shelter to walk dogs, or read to cats, or anything they need help with.

2. Donate pet food, toys, and/or money to local animal shelters or organizations that can use the help.

3. Here are some national and international organizations you can donate to that will use the money to help animals.

- Humane Society of the United States
- Sierra Club (helps animals and our planet)

Current Event Good Deeds:
1. Call your Senators and Representatives in Congress. There are many issues facing our country. Let your Senators and Representatives know what you think about issues and how they can help you (they were elected to help the people of their districts and the people of this country). Call often. If you can't call, you can write them instead, or better yet, do both.

Not sure who to call? 

- Find your House Representative here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
- Find your Senators here: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Not sure how to call? Comic creator Lucy Knisley made up some calling cards to show how she does it. You can make your own for whatever issue you're calling about. Click here to see Lucy Knisley's calling cards.


Have social anxiety? Cartoonist Cordelia McGee-Tubb made a comic showing you how. Read it here.

2. Call and/or write your local government officials to let them know what you think and how they can help you. They want to hear from you. They were elected to help the people in your area. Call often, or write, or both. (Note: calling is said to be the most effective.)

Note: Talking to local and national government officials who represent you can seem overwhelming, especially if you haven't done it before. Start small. What is one thing you care about, or that affects your family, or friends, or community? Work to help with that one thing. Call or write about that this week. Next week tackle another issue that matters to you. It's hard, but it gets easier the more you do it. Pretty soon you'll be able to pick up the phone and call for all the issues you feel passionate about. They work for you; let your voice be heard. These calling cards and/or this comic about calling when you have social anxiety (both also listed above) might help if you don't know where to start.

3. Vary your news sources. It's hard to know the truth and be informed if you are only watching one news channel or getting your news from social media.

Note: This applies to everyone, no matter your religious or political affiliations. If you are only reading and seeing news that agrees with your point of view, you're not getting the full story.

4. Add international news to your viewing/reading routine. It's interesting to see how they cover our news, and it's good to be aware of events that are happening around the world. Things that happen in other countries can affect what happens here too.

5. Subscribe to publications to help support journalism and a free press. Here are a few publications that have been doing good work this year and could use your subscriptions and/or support:

- Your local paper
- Teen Vogue (Seriously, they’ve been doing great work covering news and politics this year – check out their twitter feed @TeenVogue, and never, ever, underestimate teen girls.)

6. Consider running for office or helping someone you believe in run for office. Change is possible when citizens get involved.

7. Vote in every election you're eligible to vote in, whether it's a local election for school board, mayor, or sheriff, or a state election, or a national election. Your vote and your voice matter.

Thanks For Doing Good Deeds!
These are just a few ways you can help out to end 2016 on a good note, and most of these are things you can do to help out all year round. Again, this is not an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add suggestions of ways to help in the comments.  

Please consider sharing this post with people you know who are looking for good deeds to do, or just put a link up on social media for anyone who is interested. 
 
Thanks for helping to make our country and the world a better place!

* Just a few of the many reasons 2016 was a rough year: mass shootings, Brexit, Aleppo, terrorist attacks, politics and the US election, the refugee crisis, and celebrity deaths (including – Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Phife Dawg, Lemmy Kilmister, Patty Duke, Gene Wilder, Natalie Cole, Dan Haggerty, Glenn Frey, Abe Vigoda, Florence Henderson, Ron Glass, Harper Lee, and Anna Dewdney – and that’s not even a full list, and we’re not done with the year yet).

Thursday, November 3, 2016

birthday wishes, IF, inktober, and Halloween

In honor of my birthday yesterday, I did a sketch of a little girl and her cat, just before she makes a wish and blows out the candles on her cake.


Here's a close up so you can see the girl and cat better:


Then today I realized that before she could be in that picture, we needed to see her the year before, making the wish that brought her toy cat to life. She also wished for her cat to be able to talk. She didn't bargain on the fact that Kitty would lots of opinions and like to talk all the time! Also, since the Illustration Friday prompt for this week is stripes, I decided to give her a stripey cake (the cat's tail has stripes too):


October and inktober are over, but the art lives on here on my blog! Here are the last 4 inktober drawings* - they're all cell pics, as I didn't have my scanner with me while traveling:

Day 28: It was a swirling, whirling, ghosting kind of day!


Day 29:It was Hug A Sheep Day! This ghostie is hugging her best sheep friend.


Day 30:It was Candy Corn Day! Did you know that ghosts love candy corn? Nom! Nom! Nom!


Day 31: Happy Halloween! Got home from my trip just in time for Halloween, but missed a few trick-or-treaters because I had to go out and get candy. My final inktober drawing was the teal and orange pumpkin sign I made for our door. I drew 30 days of ghosts and two pumpkins on the last day! We only had one kid who needed allergy free treats, but it was totally worth it to see his smile and to see/hear the parents freak out that someone had thought to get treats that their child could have (we gave him Halloween notebooks, pencils and glow in the dark stickers):


Happy Three Days After Halloween and the end of inktober! Hope you all had a creative month!

* To see my inktober ghosts from the first 14 days of the month, click here. Or if you want to see my inktober ghosts from days 15-27 (including writing and illustrating ghosts), click here. I had lots of fun drawing ghosts all month. I think my favorite one is Day 12 - still makes me laugh! Though I also really like Day 22. My dad likes them all (he's biased), but his favorite is Day 27 (the first image, without the cat - though he also likes the second one, with the cat).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Inktober and fun holidays - Happy Black Cat Day!

It's still inktober. I usually pick a different subject for each week of inktober, with an overall theme of Halloween. However, this year, I decided to draw ghosts for 31 days. Yay ghosts! Here are my ghosts since my last inktober post (in reverse order starting with today - most of these are cell pics, as I didn't have my scanner with me while traveling):

Day 27 (today): Happy Black Cat Day! I didn't know it was Black Cat Day when I did my ink drawing of a ghost hiding in a hollow tree, but then I found out, so I did another drawing of a ghost and a black cat hanging out in a tree:


Day 26: Happy Pumpkin Day! Didn't know it was pumpkin day when I drew my picture yesterday, but my little ghost was getting ready for a pumpkin party, so it worked out well.


Days 24-25: Monday Morning Ghost Traffic and a Big Tuesday Pancake Breakfast! (What? ghosts have to get to work, and they like pancakes too.)


Days 22-23: Once A Reader (or a painter) Always A Reader (or a painter).


Days 20 - 21: Ghost Writers work long hours and like to take naps to dream up their next story:


Day 19:  Pug among ghosts:


Days 17 -18: Ghost Kitty needs to find her friends and decorate her pumpkin! These two drawings are from my Halloween Activities for kids page. There are six activities, including Dot to Dot, matching ghosts, pumpkin decorating, finishing a drawing, finding a pumpkin and ghost in the pumpkin patch, and a leaf maze (all featuring Ghost Kitty from my new Halloween story, Glide and EEK! ).



Day 16: Ghost and Ghost Kitty - also from the Halloween Activities page. (Note: the original file doesn't have the dot in the center. Not sure why it's there when I upload it. Weird!) Click here if you're looking for Halloween Activities to do with kids (or for yourself, just for fun).



Day 15: Pfft! (I think the ghost is upset at being last, or is ready to be done with this post.)



Happy Black Cat Day! Happy Inktober! Happy Haunting!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

inktober, Trick Or Reaters, Halloween Activities for kids, and Illustration Friday

Happy October! Happy Inktober! I've been making lots of art for inktober again this year. My theme for the month (so far) has been ghosts. (Note: I post my inks every day on social media if you want to see them in between blog posts. The current art is pinned at the top of my twitter feed after I post each day.)

Here are my inktober ghosts so far:
Day One: A full page ink with my character Ghost Kitty surrounded by regular ghosts. Ghost Kitty is the main character in a short (not so) scary ghost story that I wrote and illustrated for Trick Or Reaters this year. It's called Glide and EEK! Click here to read it. 


FYI: I also designed a flyer for people to had out to trick-or-treaters so kids (and their parents) know they can go to Trick Or Reaters to read scary stories (at all levels of scary). Would you like a flier to hand out to trick-or-treaters? Click here download my flyer (shown below).


Days Two - Seven: Ghosts with patterns and/or a connection to nature.


Day Eight: Here's one of the ghosts from my short (not so) scary ghost story, Glide and EEK!


Day Nine: Cheep! Moo! Chirp! Boo!


Day Ten: Ghost Kitty says, "EEK!" This is another image from my short (not so) scary ghost story, Glide and EEK!


Day Eleven: Leaf maze! This is from my Halloween Activities for kids page. There are six activities, including Dot to Dot, matching ghosts, pumpkin decorating, finishing a drawing, finding a pumpkin and ghost in the pumpkin patch, and the leaf maze (featuring Ghost Kitty looking for her pumpkin). Click here if you're looking for Halloween Activities to do with kids (or for yourself, just for fun).


Day Twelve: "Hello Again!" says G.H. Ost. (Couldn't resist.)


Day Thirteen: Ghost + Penguins (part one). This is also for the Illustration Friday prompt for this week, which is ice. The penguins are on an iceberg ... oh no, here comes a ghost!


Day Fourteen: Ghost + Penguins (part two). This is actually tomorrow's inking, but since I'm going to be inking something for a different project tomorrow, I did it today and am posting early. (The penguins are still on the Illustration Friday iceberg ... and now the ghost is too.)


Am considering continuing the Ghost + Penguins story. Not sure yet, but there might be more to this story. But there will be no more to this blog post! This is the end! It's too long already!

*waves goodbye* Happy October! Happy Inktober! Happy (almost) Halloween!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

inside out umbrella - art inspired by Edward Gorey for Illustration Friday

When I read that the Illustration Friday prompt for this week is rain, my first thought was of being stuck in a storm when your umbrella flips inside out. I did a quick sketch of the idea (and my mood for the day) and got this:


Showed it to my DH, who said it reminded him of Edward Gorey, which improved my mood considerably! I hadn't meant to channel Gorey, but I love his art. When I went on to draw a more finished image, I decided to actually think about Gorey while drawing. This is the result:


The finished result is not an imitation of Gorey's art or style, but I think the influence and inspiration is obvious. What do you think?

Here's a crop so you can get a closer look at the details:


Hope your day today is sunny! It's a rainy day for you, I hope that your umbrella stays open the right way and keeps you dry. Or better yet, I hope you can stay inside and draw! If your mood is rainy, I hope you can find an artist or a story that will inspire you, or possibly turn your mood around.

Note: The images were drawn on a tan colored paper that looks a bit peach when scanned. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Talk Like A Pirate Day / Talk Like A Cow Day

Yesterday was Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arr!

Did you celebrate?

What are your favorite pirate sayings?

It's always a fun day, whether you participate or just read/see/listen to what others are doing. In other years I've created art for it and wanted to make something fun again this year. I didn't have an idea before Talk Like A Pirate Day. Then I didn't have an idea for most of yesterday, until a cow (it's always a cow with me) and her parrot popped into my head. The idea for the image didn't come until I had the idea for a pirate saying. Talking like a pirate is not easy! This is the result:


If you missed Talk Like A Pirate Day yesterday, celebrate today instead! Or make today Talk Like A Cow Day - MOO!

Every day should be Talk Like A Cow Day.

How much fun would that be?

It would be hilari-moos!

Happy Talk Like A Cow Day!*

Moo!

*People make up holidays all the time. I make up cow-lidays. Moo!

p.s. I always like it when artists show part of their process, so here's the black line stage to show what it looked like before color was added:


Happy Talk Like A Cow Day! Are you celebrating? I am. MOO! ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

reading in 2016 - book stats and favorites April - June

2016 Book Reading Stats (April, May, June):

9 Picture Books

6 Chapter Books

7 Middle Grade Novels

6 YA Novels (1 pubbed as adult many years ago – now YA)

1 Graphic Novels

1 Non Fiction Book (about art / creativity)

Total = 33 books!*

* There were nine books I didn't finish that aren't in the totals above. About half were not right for me right now, though I might have enjoyed them at a different time. Unfortunately, the other half had problematic content that made me stop reading. Most of them were books I’d had for a while and hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.


Note: 99% of these books are new reads. Each book is only counted once (each year), even if I re-read it over and over. I usually don't re-read novels, but I do re-read picture books.

April to June 2016 - Favorites: 
Since I read 33 books in 3 months, I decided to highlight 3 favorites from 3 age groups, PB, MG, and YA.

3 Picture Book Favorites:


1. THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING by Ashley Spires – a neat book about inspiration, disappointment, and the creative process. For creative (and not yet creative) kids and adults.

2. THE COW WHO CLIMBED A TREE by Gemma Merino – a fun book about adventure, taking risks, and being your own person/cow. For cow lovers and adventurers (even those who prefer to have their adventures in books).

3. MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE by Kell Andrews, illustrated by Lissy Marlin – a blend of fiction and non combine to made an interesting story about predicting fortunes and weather, and finding out who you are or who you want to be. For readers interested in meteorology and/or who like inquisitive characters.

3 Middle Grade Favorites:


1. WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin – a rich story about finding your fortune that includes a mix of old stories/myths, a journey, a dragon, and wonderful illustrations that enhance the narrative. For readers who love a layered story, or a good quest, or for readers who want to fall into the world of a book.

2. THE WILD ROBOT by Peter Brown – an amusing and thoughtful look at what might happen if a robot were stranded on an island and had to learn how to survive. For kids and adults who love robots, or animals, or island survival stories.

3. SEVEN STORIES UP by Laurel Snyder – a heartfelt story about family and time travel. If you’ve ever wondered what people were like when they were young, this story is a glimpse into that for one family. For readers who love time travel and stories about characters connecting in difficult or unusual circumstances.

3 YA Favorites:


1. HOW IT WENT DOWN by Kekla Magoon – an incredible story of a senseless shooting that explores the aftermath through the eyes of the victim’s friends, family, and community. For readers who like to see all sides of a story, or who are trying to make sense of the violence in currents, or for readers who like a good story. If you haven’t read this book, move it to the top of your to read list.

2. INHERITANCE by Malinda Lo – an intriguing story about two teens whose lives were saved and forever altered with alien DNA. It looks at the complicated issues surrounding government secrets, medical experiments, and public opinion. For readers who love aliens, sci-fi, government conspiracies, and thinking about how one decision/action can affect many things and people.

3. DRAW THE LINE by Laurent Linn – a dramatic story about finding yourself, finding love, and fighting hate, that weaves together reality and fantasy through words and illustrations. For anyone who has ever wanted to be a superhero, or wished they could live a different life, or want to fight injustices that seem insurmountable, or who process experiences creatively (drawing, writing, etc.).

* What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? Any favorite books this year? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

world giraffe day, imagination, selfie day, and a new website

Happy World Giraffe Day and National Selfie Day! In honor of these two holidays and the Illustration Friday prompt for this week (yarn), I drew a picture of myself imagining a few characters, including a giraffe and a bird knitting a looooooong scarf with yarn:


Did you take a selfie today or draw a picture of yourself? Did you celebrate World Giraffe Day?

In other news, I finally re-designed my website. WooHoo! Unfortunately, it is not as mobile friendly as I thought it would be. Boo! I thought that the fluid design I was creating was also a responsive* design, but it was not. (*Responsive designs detect the device you're using and automatically reformat the website without the user having to do anything.)

I still like the new design, whether it's responsive or not! That said:

Will be re-designing my website again, just as soon as I learn how to make it a responsive design. Hoping to do it this fall or winter - if all else fails, I could make a Wordpress site (though I haven't had luck with WP security and getting hacked in the past, so I'm hoping to figure out how to make a responsive site myself instead).

Want to see the new design while it's still up? Here it is: http://www.sruble.com.

Do you have a responsive website or a favorite responsive website by someone else?

Happy World Giraffe Day and National Selfie Day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

follow your nose for IF, with toucans, a robot, 3 people, and a wolf

The first thing I thought of when I found out the Illustration Friday prompt this week was nose, is, "Follow your nose! It always knows!" If you know your classic cereal characters and commercials, you know that's what Toucan Sam said about finding Froot Loops (click here to see the evolution of the character and to see the old commercials starring Toucan Sam).

I liked Toucan Sam, but the thing that always bothered me about those commercials is that the thing they were calling a nose wasn't a nose at all! It was the toucan's beak. Still liked the commercials though, especially the spooky haunted house/knight one (see link above to watch).

Did you like Toucan Sam? Did you like the other cereal mascots? What was your favorite cereal character or commercial? Mine might be Count Chocula, because chocolate + monster = awesome! (Though I like several of other cereal characters too).

After all the thoughts about cereal and toucans, I painted this image for Illustration Friday this week:


FYI, beaks are still NOT noses in this image. My characters are wearing the beaks ON their noses. Though technically robots don't have noses, so that just applies to the girl ... or at least my robot doesn't have a nose! The girl and the robot are from a current picture book project. The toucans are just for this picture.

While waiting for the paint to dry, I ran across my painting of Little Red Riding Hood from last year. Lots of big noses in this painting! Since I never shared it, I decided to share it for Illustration Friday this week (also because the toucan beak covered up the girl's nose in the other image):


Can't decide if the woman Little Red is talking to is her mother, her grandmother, or the huntsman (huntswoman?). I'm also wondering if Little Red made up the whole story about the wolf eating grandma. Maybe she's a teller of tall tales (looks like her nose is growing from fibs, just like Pinocchio's nose did). No matter what, I think this version of the story is a bit different than the one we knew as kids. (Maybe I should write it. Hmm.)

I had two main goals while painting this. 1. Have fun. I did! 2. Make the wolf scary. My wolves tend not to be scary, but I think I pulled it off this time. Here's a close up of the wolf. Do you think the wolf is scary? -


Do you follow your nose to breakfast every morning? Do you still eat cereal for breakfast (if you did as a kid)? Do you just wish you could watch Saturday morning cartoons and eat cereal again?

Friday, May 20, 2016

patterns, personal art themes, and illustration friday

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: nostalgia. I've been going through old art lately and looking at themes, or things in my art that I return to again and again. One of the themes I like to play around with is patterns. The nice thing about patterns is they can be different every time, so they can fit in to almost any piece of art without looking like you're doing the same thing over and over again. The patterns can be bold so the viewer can't help but notice them, or subtle so the viewer might not even realize there's a pattern until they look again.

One of my old pattern pieces that I really love is one that hardly anyone has seen. It's an illustration of swirling mail (which is also nostalgic because people don't send or receive as much personal mail these days, and because it reminds me of my mom, who loved to write and send letters):


Makes you want to write and send a letter, doesn't it?

Another nostalgic image is a painting I did of sea turtles for Ripple in 2010. I love sea turtles and even got to swim with them once! Was happy to be able to paint this piece to help support ocean animals.


A more recent example of pattern mixed with nostalgia is this picture of a cat in a field of flowers (trying to get the birds, while a bird above is about to dump a hive full of bees on the cat). It's nostalgic because it's an updated version of the stuffed animal friend I had as a child (my alter-ego Kitty, who was mischievous):


 Speaking of bees, several years ago, I was working on a novel called, Path Of Bees. The novel didn't go anywhere (yet - working on picture books now), but this is one of the images inspired by the story:


Speaking of picture books, EWE AND AYE by Candace Ryan, illustrated by Stephanie Ruble, had a couple of pattern pieces in it. This one is the pattern of the tree leaves and vines (each set of two leaves forms a heart - most are upside down, just like Aye in this scene):


Here are four more patterned images (both new and old) with more obvious patterns:


And finally, let me leave you with a song. It's about carrots:


Do you like to make patterns, either obvious or hidden in your art? Or do you make patterns when you doodle? (I do.) Do you have themes you return to again and again? If not, maybe this trip down my art memory lane will inspire you to take your own trip through your old art, or inspire you to make new art with patterns. Happy art making!