Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cats Wearing Hats! (for CBIG, WaWe and IF)

After I sketched this out, it occurred to me that Dr. Seuss had already drawn a cat wearing a hat. I decided to finish the picture anyway.

Cats Wearing Hats
Cats Wearing Hats

After finishing the drawing and I realized that it works for three illustration prompts. Here’s my reasoning: The CBIG blog‘s May theme is, “Dream.” This picture is obviously a dream. No self respecting cat would ever wear a hat (at least not without a fight). WaWe‘s challenge this week, is “Outdoor Fairs Festivals and Markets.” These cats are obviously on their way to a festival. Why else would they be wearing hats? Finally, it also works for the Illustration Friday word this week, “early,” because the early cats get to wear the hats (and that’s an early bird in the upper left, going home after getting her worm).

What do you think? Does it work for all three prompts?

* For those that like to know art supply details, I used Prismacolor pencils, acrylic paint, and acrylic inks (one of my ink bottles spilled all over the table, almost ruining the drawing – I was lucky to be able to save the table and the drawing).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

rainy day equipment and chickens (for IF)

It’s amazing what you can get done on a rainy day with sporadic internet service (like yesterday). One of the things I did was this pencil sketch. Then I colored it in digitally. I thought I’d post it for Illustration Friday this week. The prompt is, “equipment.”

Rainy Day Chicken Concert Under An Umbrella

Rainy Day Chicken Concert, Under An Umbrella

When you’re out in the rain, you need the proper equipment, which in this case is an umbrella and some ear plugs. A couple of the chickens look like they might have forgotten their ear plugs. Either that, or the singer has just hit a particularly high and squawkish note.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It’s time to be fearless! (of mice and IF)

The prompt for Illustration Friday this week is, “Fearless.” It reminded me of a series of images I’ve done over the years that I continue to revamp, because I like the visuals but haven’t  found the right story yet. The images below are from the summer of 2007. There’s a more recent version, but I like this one better. There are also older versions, but I couldn’t find them in time for this post.
Here is, “Fearless Mouse” (a.k.a. Circus Mouse, Adventure Mouse, etc.)

A distant relative of the Hickory, Dickory, Dock mouse.

A distant relative of the Hickory, Dickory, Dock mouse.

What time is it Ms. Mouse? It’s time to be brave …

This elephant isn't scared of a tiny mouse!

This elephant isn't scared of a tiny mouse!

…and slide down the elephant’s trunk! Then it’s off to the Big Top, sporting her top hat and tails, because Ms. Mouse is FEARLESS! Only a fearless mouse would dare to …

Two daring young sheep and a mouse on the flying trapeze!

They fly though the air with the greatest of ease!

… perform with two daring young sheep on the flying trapeze! After a long night at the circus, Ms. Mouse likes to go back to her tent and relax.

Bath time is better with bubbles.

Bath time is better with bubbles.

She slides into a nice warm bubble bath and relives her adventures, while planning for more tomorrow.

Update: After posting this late last night (actually early morning), I had a brainstorm about where and how this might work! It won’t star the mouse, but she’ll still be running around the circus. :) I scribbled my ideas down and put them away for when I’m done with my zombie novel and chicken graphic novel projects. I love when solutions suddenly present themselves after years of not quite working out!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Auctioning Bunnies for Nashville!

Update: The auction for the bunnies is over. Thanks to everyone that bid and to the winner!!

There’s an auction going on right now for victims of the flood that hit Nashville and other areas of TN. I know that I already talked about it in my last post, but that was before the bunnies went up for auction. No, they’re not real bunnies. It’s bunny art, made by me, in the form of greeting cards, bookmarks and recipe cards.

Some of you are probably wondering what the bunnies look like and what the details are for the Bunny Bonanza Pack Here are some pictures and details:

Bunny Recipe Cards
Bunny Recipe Cards

* A 24 pack of bunny recipe cards to use for your favorite recipes for carrot cake or other yummy dishes. The recipe cards are printed on 110lb. card stock.

Bunny Greeting Cards
Bunny Greeting Cards

* 12 bunny greeting cards (two each, of six designs) to send to your friends and family for their birthday or just to say hi. The greeting cards are printed on high quality linen paper with matching envelopes. They’re hand cut and folded.

Bunny Bookmarks
Bunny Bookmarks

* 8 bookmarks (two each of four designs) to mark your place when you’re reading. Four to keep and four to share. The bookmarks are printed on the same linen paper as the greeting cards.
(The auction is open for three days; it closes on Wednesday May 12th at midnight, CST.)

All images in this post © Stephanie Ruble.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

recipe for a small batch of marshmallow cereal treats

I like marshmallow cereal treats (a.k.a. Rice Krispie treats), but my husband doesn’t. There’s no way I can eat a whole batch of them before they go bad. Lately I’ve been buying the pre-made treats; they’re good, but not as good as the homemade kind. So, last night I decided to experiment with a small batch, using Fruity Pebbles cereal, and it worked! The recipe is below if you want to try it too.
They’re so yummy – if you like Fruity Pebbles. Here’s a picture:

Fruity Pebbles Marshmallow Treats
Fruity Pebbles Marshmallow Treats

It’s a little blurry because I took the picture with my cell phone, but I promise you that they are scrumptious. Here’s the recipe for a small batch of marshmallow cereal treats:

Marshmallow Cereal Treats (small batch)

- 10 marshmallows
- 1 Tbsp margarine*
- 2+ cups of cereal
- mix-ins**

- Melt the margarine in a sauce pan or in a large bowl in the microwave.

- When it’s melted, add the marshmallows and stir to coat.

- Put the mix back on the stove or in the microwave to melt the marshmallows (it takes about 75 seconds to melt, depending on your microwave).

- Stir the mixture 1/2 way through (at about 40 seconds for the microwave).

- Add the cereal*** and mix until it’s all coated (add enough cereal so that there’s no extra marshmallow, which will be different depending on what cereal you use and whether or not you need extra marshmallow to cover the mix-ins).

- Add mix-ins while you can still stir!

- Grease a small bowl or glass serving dish (use margarine) and push the cereal down into it. You can line the dish with wax paper or foil before greasing it if you want an easier clean up. Or, just use the bowl that you made it in and then transfer to wax paper when it’s almost completely cooled. That way you only have one dish to clean and it’s an easy clean up (if you soak the bowl).

- Cut squares and enjoy. Yum!

- Makes 4-6 treats, depending on how big you cute the squares.

* You can substitute peanut butter for margarine. I want to try this with chocolate cereal.

**Mix-ins can be anything you want, that would taste good with the cereal you are using. Some ideas: chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, nuts, dried fruit, marshmallows from Lucky Charms, M&Ms, gummy candy, cookie bits, or whatever your imagination comes up with!

*** The traditional recipe calls for Rice Krispies, but the Fruity Pebbles are good. Almost any cereal would work here if you like it and want to try it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

keep the good parts, ditch the rest

It’s easy to get attached to a story or a painting when you like one tiny part of it, even if the rest of it is horrible. Sometimes it’s best to keep the good parts and jettison the awful bits.

For writing, consider keeping a file with good lines and scenes that are available to use in a future story. If you want to keep the original, you can, but pull out the good lines so that you can find them if you have an idea how to make it work, or how to use them in a different story.

For art, if it’s so awful that you want to rip it up (we’ve all been there), consider cutting out the part you like before you rip up the rest of it. You never know when you might be able to use that image again, or if it will spark an idea for a new painting or a graphic novel.

Here are two of my latest saves (from when I went through old art files and tossed the scary pictures):

Seagull Soaring
Seagull Soaring

I really love this seagull because he’s the best seagull I’ve ever painted and because he reminds me of the beach. Some day I might find a story or painting to put him in, or I’ll just continue to enjoy this little bit that I saved from an awful painting.

Cozy Little House
Cozy Little House

I liked this house too much to get rid of it. You can probably tell from the colors that the painting turned out really dark, or at least the rest of it did. This little detail was light enough to save.  Maybe someone that lives at this house will go to the beach to visit the seagull some day.

Remember to save your favorite bits when you kill your awful stories and pictures. Even if they never make it into another story or picture, at least they can still make you smile :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cocoon for IF and a few butterflies

Last year I did a couple of butterfly paintings that were inspired by my trip to a butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, and my new friend (a Paper Kite butterfly), as seen here:

Paper Kite Butterfly

Paper Kite Butterfly

I’ve seen butterflies and I’ve even been to a butterfly exhibit before, but this time was different. They released new butterflies into the exhibit while we were there. Butterflies were fluttering all around us! This little one flew right to my hand, crawled on top of my phone (which made it hard to take pictures – Paul took the one above), and stayed with me until we were ready to leave, when they coaxed her onto a leaf.

Here’s the first painting I did, obviously inspired by the Paper Kite Butterfly:

Heart Butterfly

Heart Butterfly

We saw so many cool butterflies, but none of them were exactly like the next group I painted (which were inspired by the butterflies at the exhibit, and a tattoo I saw on a girl sitting across from me on the subway):

Butterfly Swirls

Butterfly Swirls

When I saw that the prompt for Illustration Friday this week is “cocoon,” I started to wonder what the cocoons of my painted butterflies would look like. Here’s what I came up with:

Cocoons for my painted butterflies.

Cocoons for my painted butterflies.

Sometimes it’s fun to give new life to old ideas!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Grammar Cheat Sheet

Several of my friends are self-proclaimed grammar nerds. Yay for them, but diagramming sentences seems like torture to me. I don’t want to think about it unless I have to, or unless I’m listening to School House Rock. Are you a grammar nerd, or a non-grammar nerd?

Here’s a grammar cheat sheet for all the non-grammar nerds, with links to School House Rock videos! (Note: this is a really simple cheat sheet. For more information, watch the School House Rock videos and grab a copy of Elements of Style.)

Adjectives: used to modify nouns

Adverbs: used to modify verbs

Conjunctions: connect words, phrases, clauses, and sentences

Interjections: words and phrases that express emotion (set apart from the sentence with an exclamation point or comma)

Nouns: a person, place or thing

Prepositions*: link a word or phrase to other words in a sentence (usually indicating a spatial relationship)

Pronouns: replace a noun or proper noun

Subjects and Predicates: The subject is a noun (who or what the sentence is about). The predicate is a verb (the action the subject takes).

Verbs: express action, being, or state of being

What’s your favorite School House Rock song? Mine is Conjunction Junction (the noun and verb songs tie for second favorite).

* I don’t remember the preposition song/video, which is probably why prepositions are easier for me to use than define.  Do you remember the preposition song or video?