Sunday, June 23, 2013

Celebration Shout Out: The Good You Do Matters

This week's blog is part of a recurring series of special Celebration Shout Outs. While most of the entries here at LydMc are chronicling my own adventures in creativity, there are many other folks out there exploring, creating and inspiring all the time. As these people and projects encourage me, I want to help encourage them and spread the word.

The following video is by Tasha (of Tashlandia fame), a good friend and co-creator who is very near and dear to me. Along with being an amazing director, a beautiful person and just plain awesome in every imaginable way, she is a domestic violence survivor. Thanks to her strength and creativity she has turned something horrific into something empowering. The people of Newington, Connecticut and countless others have done the same and are changing lives because of it. 

I was so inspired after watching this video (and rewatching it about five more times), that I spent the next few hours in an excited tizzy, creating the icon below. As you may notice, there is no LydMc signature on this one as I specifically intended it to be shared and enjoyed by anyone who wishes to do so. Please feel free to use this picture for any avatar, icon, wallpaper, etc. The point is to inspire and share.

If you want to hear more of the movement for good, and maybe even be a part of it, check out the Tashlandia channel on Youtube and the official site of Carey On Productions where we both work to spread the awesome. No matter who you are, how you got here or what anybody else says... the good you do matters, and you are wonderful for doing it. 

Pass it on. 


9/14/13 Update: In the spirit of passing on the positive spirit, love and gratitude, I've turned the above graphic into an all-encompassing Thank You card. It's blank on the inside so you can fill in your own personal reasons for being grateful and let someone special in your life know the good they do matters. 

I've already sent a few myself, not for particular gifts, but for overwhelming gratefulness to people in my life who are simply wonderful and deserve to know it. Feel free to use the link to thank someone who has made a difference in your life, and always remember, the good you do matters, too!

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Big Fish: A Father's Day Catch

Go Fish!

It was about a week before Father’s Day, and I hadn't gotten my dad a gift yet. I had a backup plan in case nothing else presented itself - a pretty cool looking puzzle book filled with Sudoku and such - but the truth is I resort to that backup plan a lot. It's the equivalent of most kids giving their dads a tie each holiday, except that my dad prefers brainteasers. 

But just when I thought another book would join his dusty collection, the perfect gift appeared. Lying in a bin, nestled between a satellite dish and a vintage camera case, a five foot long stuffed fish with googly eyes stared me down. My first response was to laugh out loud, but then I realized this fish would be the perfect addition to my dad's man cave. Without another thought, I carried the fish to the checkout and brought him home with me.

Going to sleep with the fishes...

As I found this magnificent creature at a second hand store (the sort of place where I find many of my unexpected treasures and project inspirations), the first order of business was a good cleaning. Since he seemed to be nothing more than cotton and batting, the washer and dryer sounded like they would do the trick. Beast that he is, the fish almost didn't fit! With a little coercion though, I was able to squish him in.

Fish don't like cleaning!

Not the dryer, too!

Though the washer and dryer did their jobs well, they also took their toll - the fish didn't quite make it out in one piece. While in the washer, one of his googly eyes fell off, and the dryer loosened a fin that seemed to have already been mended by the previous owner. Luckily, I'm fairly crafty myself, and neither of these proved to be a problem for long.

Fish Stitches!
As I was down for the count anyway due to the recent removal of my wisdom teeth, some simple hand sewing was a nice way to keep busy while watching nonstop musicals on the couch. Along with patching up the dangling fin, I also ended up stitching shut another tiny spot that had previously gone unnoticed, and refluffing the fellow as all his stuffing had gone rumpside in the wash.

Fish Eye Lens
As for the missing googly eye, I first considered fixing the problem by simply removing the other plastic eye and leaving him au naturale. Without the plastic pieces, he looked much more like a real fish, but he also lost a lot of character. As his character is decidedly amazing, that proved far too high a price to pay. Whipping out the glue gun, I hastily set to reinstalling the fish's googly eyes.

Good as new!
The fish (which I had affectionately started to call Wanda) was now shipshape and ready to go. Still, if he was going to be a present, he needed proper presentation. In classic Father's Day fashion, I decided this meant donning a tie. With a little help from the internet, Wanda was soon quite dapper indeed.
Does this tie make my gills look fat?

So today, just slightly after noon, my dad became the proud new owner of his Father's Day fish. I admit, I'm a little sad to see Wanda go (especially since it seems his new name is going to be McCat), but I'm sure he'll be happier in a man cave anyway.

Happy Father's Day!

 Happy Father's Day to dads everywhere from me and Wanda McCat! Enjoy your ties! :D

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Guess Who! From Catalog to Coloring Book

I sense a project coming on...

I like to draw. Quite a bit actually. So much so that when I set out to do a drawing, I somehow end up doing five. Such was the case one day, when I received a nice little Guess catalog in the mail and thought it might be fun to doodle some of the clothes. Ten outfits and many hours later, here I am. 

Throughout the years, I've come to realize referencing catalogs is a great source of art practice. I've used them since high school to hone my skills, getting experience drawing real, balanced poses along with different fabric textures, weights and drapery. I highly recommend it to any aspiring artist. That said, let's get started!

They seem a little sketchy.

As much as I enjoy digital drawing, I'm a traditional artist at heart. That means the first step is usually the basic pencil sketch. The only thing I'm trying to do here is get the poses, proportions and general shapes in the right place. If you compare this sketch to the final drawing, you'll see I actually ended up changing a few things.

On their way to the dark side.

Next up, the ink! Most of the times I draw, I'll perfect the details with a superfine mechanical drafting pencil and call that the finished product. Since this project was also meant to be an homage to friends, I went all out and inked it instead. 

As you may have guessed by now, while the poses and clothes seen here are largely based on those in the catalog (thank you, Guess!), the people in them are not. Roughly half are based on people I know, while the rest are either popular fictional characters (whom I do not own) or fictional characters of my own creation (whom I do). I'll let you guess who's who. ;)

All together now!

Once all the duos were done up in line art, I decided to take a small break and try jamming them all into one picture with a little help from Photoshop. Since each individual pair was originally intended to be a standalone piece, it was fairly amazing how well they ended up fitting together. The few places that didn't match up (COUGH*legs*COUGH), I took into account for the next step: coloring.

Testing, Testing... Red, Blue, Green...

Back at the sketchbook for this one. Since I started this piece with traditional media, I wanted to finish it that way, too. My current tools of the trade are Prismacolor markers supplemented with Staedtler Triplus Fineliners (I love those pens). As you can see from the sketchbook page above, I like to test out all my options before committing pen to picture.

Hair Dye Malfunction!

With the coloring completed, it was time to go back to the computer. I generally try to keep digital tweaks to a minimum on traditional pictures, but I will make a few exceptions here and there. For instance, the yellow ink I used seemed to seep into the paper after awhile and gave everyone with blonde hair something of a halo. I mean, I know these people are good, but they're not that good.

Together at last!

Soon enough, I was able to piece all the colorful pairs back into the same group shot as before (plus legs). Projects like these usually take awhile, but they always seem to be worth it. Maybe next time I'll find a reference with a background. 

If you want to see all the line art, colored pics and more, check out my official art account here: Happy drawing! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Return of the Ewoks: Star Wars Themed Sushi

Sushiwoks: Adorable & Delicious 

One of the great joys I have in life is celebrating with friends. Beyond the typical birthdays and holidays, I make it a point to find and/or create as many reasons to cook, chat and laugh together as possible. Luckily, with friends like mine, that’s not too hard. The reason behind this particular occasion? The continuation of our three part Star Wars marathon. Three movies (the classics), three hosting teams, three batches of awesome thematic food.

The first two hosts raised the bar high with colored white chocolate dipped pretzel rod lightsabers and Princess Leia cupcakes, so I had to think of something good. It didn't take too long, though, as the third Star Wars film stars some of my favorite fictional creatures, the Ewoks. Since I’d already had it in mind to make sushi, the answer was clear – Sushiwoks.

The Dark Side of the Rice

Come party day, the first thing on my to-do list was prep the rice. I was fortunate enough to have received some beautiful black rice from a neighbor just a few weeks before, and while I’d never tried that kind before, it proved be a fantastic addition to the party. Not only does it cook and taste much like brown rice, but it also made sure not all the Sushiwoks were albino.

The anatomy of a Sushiwok

Once the rice was done, it was time to form the Sushiwoks. Since I didn’t have a mold available, I went the traditional route and free formed them in the palm of my very clean hand. As Sushiwoks are essentially rice balls (onigiri) with faces, they are fairly simple to create and you can fill them with whatever you like.
The diet of the Salmon Tribe consists of fresh cucumber and avocado,
but they catch and smoke salmon for their capes.

The Nori Tribe feasts upon carrot, basil, avocado and the elusive Krab,
and uses seaweed for all their garments.

Members of the Basil Tribe enjoy shrimp, cucumber and tempura yam
and look to the local basil forest to service their clothing needs.

For my Sushiwoks, I went for some key classics like avocado, cucumber, carrot, tempura veggies and basil (thanks to my wonderful boyfriend Ben for manning the tempura station). Since I didn’t want to risk anyone getting sick at this joyous event, I avoided raw meat altogether and instead went with faux crab, smoked salmon and tempura shrimp, all incredibly delicious.
Sushiwoks in their natural habitat

Altogether we had almost two dozen Sushiwoks join us for the conclusion of our Star Wars marathon, and that wasn’t all. Indeed, for dessert we had the Sushiwoks’ distant cousins the Kiwoks grace us with their presence, too.


The concept for the Kiwoks actually preceded that of the Sushiwoks when I was coming up with thematic food ideas for the final Star Wars party. I went ahead and made both kinds though, as Kiwok production is very easy. Simply take kiwis, clothe them in capes of fruit leather and add sunflower seed eyes. Voila. KIWOK!
The elders of the Kiwok tribe brandish Pocky sticks
to fend off dangerous intruders.

Needless to say, the final installment of our Star Wars party was a hit. Continuing the Ewok motif, we had peripheral themed snacks of fish crackers, pretzel rods and Bugles along with baby Ewoks in the form of brightly colored gummy bears. My friends even went so far as to continue the Star Wars fun by bringing Milky Way candy bars, Dark (Side) Hershey Kisses and Dark (Side) Chocolate Mint Milanos. (I guess they really do have cookies!)

Thank you so much to all my friends and fellow nerds who helped make the Star Wars marathon a success. If you want to see more creative and nerdy endeavors, check out my official art site here: Here’s to our next excuse to celebrate!

Until next time!

6/2/14 UPDATE: Happy One Year Anniversary to the LydMc Blog! Since the Sushiwoks were the ones who started it all, check out the anniversary blog in their honor, introducing their plushy cousins, the Puffywoks! Yub nub!

9/30/14 UPDATE: Good news! The Sushiwoks have been featured in an infographic! Check out the LydMc blog post, Sushiwoks are Infotastic, to see the infographic, get a link to the original, and hear how I was mistaken for Canadian!