Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Keepin’ it Rollin’

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Despite a disheartening setback with our printer — a delay of two extra weeks due to lost files??? — Monster Haiku Vol. 1 is finally set to deliver today. When I get home from work there will be a snazzy box of sexy little books! I can’t wait to see them. Once I can confirm everything’s the way it’s supposed to be, I will heave one giant sigh of relief.


This week will be one full of packing and preparing. If you’ve ordered a book, we’ve got some plans to make it a special treat to receive in the mail.

If you didn’t order one, but would still like to get your hands on one, we’re having a party at Wildcard on Friday, April 13th from 6 - 9pm.

Monster Haiku

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012


So Wednesday was The Day! Art (mine) and poetry (Will’s) have come together to help raise money for some babies. Josh and I have been working very hard on this project.

In 2009, I started 52ills - a blog dedicated to creating one illustration a week for a year. It was tough finding time and inspiration to keep at it all year long, but I made it to 2010 with 52 new drawings and a lot more experience.

Now, with help from Will’s awesome poems, I’ve grown some of those little drawings into full fledged book spreads.  It’s 54 pages of adorable, ornery monsters. Some of the captions from the original 52ills posts remain — they are not haiku — but most of the poems found within Monster Haiku Vol. 1 are by Will.

We started taking pre-orders at 6am on Wednesday, and every time someone buys anything I do a little dance. Also, I can see everyone’s address, which honestly freaks me out. I promise to only use this info for shipping, and not so show up on anyone’s doorstep. Unless of course they have pie, in which case, y’know, all bets are off.

Josh and I set out to give a certain amount of money to March of Dimes at the beginning of the year. After some discussion, we decided we would reinvest that money into a project in the hopes of raising more than our personal finances could swing. As of 4pm on Wednesday, we had met and exceeded our original monetary donation goal. That alone made all the work that went into this project worth while.

But hey, aim big, right? Our next milestone is more ambitious, and we’ve got some fun things planned for the month of February to engage people and hopefully keep their minds (and wallets) open.

You can purchase Monster Haiku Vol. 1, along with posters, cards and original artwork at We’ll also be updating our Facebook on a daily basis with all sorts of goodies.

Make, Make, Make

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Josh and I will be spending the time we took off work between Christmas and New Year’s in our dining room with our heads deep in a create-a-thon. We’re going to hole up with some good food and just make all the stuff we’ve been wanting to make all year — there will be writing, drawing, designing, painting, knitting… and possibly some sewing and basement screenprinting.

It’s going to be a creative free-for-all. Please join us. I love the peer-pressure that having people around brings, and we might have donuts. I’ve got quite a To Do list growing for those five days, and if I accomplish half of it the entire adventure will be a grand success.

Some creative ventures are on-going. I’ve got some work posting on, which is run by the writing group I’ve been a part of since February. It’s helping me stretch my boundaries. Don’t get me wrong — of course I’ve written about kids’ summer trips and a shop that changes its address each day and a cat that’s possessed by a ghost. But I’ve also written about more personal pieces and adult relationship stuff which, while less comfortable for me to produce, has been delightfully well-received. A current success.

Another project in the works (well mostly finished) is a collaboration with the talented DJ Lunchbox. Full details will emerge in Spring of 2012. We believe it will be worth the wait, so stay tuned.

And I am always editing my trilogy. I’m combing through Book 1 and 2 this week to refine some points and inspire completion; Book 3 is approximately 1/3 of the way complete. The plan is that I’ll digitally publish the first two in 2012, and then release Book 3 in 2013.

But who knows what the future will bring? As my cousin said last week, “She’s a writer. Allegedly.”

Life Updates

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

I joined a writer’s group in the hopes of growing and making new friends, and that seems to be working out. It is amazing how being around other people that do what you do (or want to do) can light the fire of inspiration. The last and, admittedly, only other attempt I made in participating in a writer’s community was years ago, and its attendees were an exercise in self-absorption. In contrast, everyone in gl(ow) seems eager to grow and experiment with their writing, and thus far critiques have been helpful and not the least bit vicious. I am optimistic.

So what if we all skipped this week’s assignment and ate hot dogs instead? That’s art, maaaaaan.

My goal to finish my last batch of books by the time I’m 30 is… crazy, but I’m trying to do it anyway. I am 33% done with novel #3, and I’ve got 24 days to churn out 120 more pages. Don’t do the math, it’s too painful. Before Daylight Savings Time, I was getting up at 6am every weekday to write before work. That has fallen to the wayside and, coupled with an ambitious-for-us home renovation project, writing has hit a lull. Strangely, this is okay. I am more concerned with finishing this series in a satisfactory way than the timing of crossing that finish line.

And hey! Speaking of impending failure:

I’m participating in this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon. This is hilarious because, wow, do I hate running. If I’m not being chased by a bear, I just don’t see the point. However, Josh wanted to set up a relay team, and I like him more than I hate running, so I volunteered to be a part of it. So I’m trying to… train? It is pretty darn horrible. But doing stuff you hate builds character, right? If my knees continue to hold out, I think my determination will too.

Also, I really want to dye part of my hair pink. I can’t figure out if this is some kind of surprise “omg-thirtieth-birthday” panic bubbling to the surface, or if the anxieties I’ve been recently working on peeling back are leaving me unafraid to do something I’ve wanted to do since I was sixteen.

Dang and Double Dang

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

It’s been so long since I blogged, I forgot how to log in to this bad boy. So sad.

I haven’t even been busy. I’ve just been unmotivated.

You know what helps get those gears moving? Going to Hawaii. But it’s not the beach, it’s the atmosphere… and the beach. The beach is pretty cool, too. Also? MANGOS.


Here, have a coconut monster.

I’ve got a bit of my wind back for creative projects — which is good, considering I have an art show in April.  But for now, the Rachel Train is focusing on illustration and writing.

September 1st will be first blood on D3, the last book in the series. I know, I know, I’ve said it before. But I turn a significant number in May of 2011, and while age doesn’t bother me in the least, missing serious goals does — and once upon, I decreed that I would finish this series before I was 30. So: GAME ON.

And also, we are going here for my birthday, and if I’m not done with the story by then, the end will resolve with Voldemorte and some cute kid with Lennon glasses with Dobby riding piggy back on his shoulders all exploding in one epic magical kaboom.

I typed that bit with a British accent even; you can see the danger.


Despite a vacation, I have been feeling overwhelmed. Let’s shake it off. Let’s go get’em, tiger. Let’s be FEARLESS.

rawrnoldsager, signing off.

Rock the Streets

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

I have some pieces up for auction at Pittsburgh’s Rock the Streets on June 12th. Proceeds benefit Community Human Services, which is pretty rad, so you should totally go bid on some great art.

I was especially excited to put up my piece from 2007’s Creative Marathon at the now-defunct Creative Treehouse in Bellevue (tear). This baby took approximately 24 hours to create (although there was a nap in there somewhere).


 Title: Creative Treehouse
Medium: Acrylic on masonite + sleep-deprived, energy-drink fueled tears

It’s been hanging in my studio since then, but since my studio re-design it no longer has a place to hang. Instead of allowing it to sit around and collect dust (and water damage, like some of my other aging items, boo) it was time to pass it on. Hopefully, someone will enjoy it as much as I liked making it.  Here’s your chance to own a piece of Pittsburgh art history!

The upside-down bird is my favorite, although the @ slug is fun too. Goooo art!

Swan Lake artwork

Monday, April 12th, 2010


Things I haven’t done in over ten years:

  • Sew ribbons on pointe shoes. I honestly had to look up how to do it on YouTube.
  • Used a hair dryer to adjust arches.
  • Picked up a shoe that wasn’t my brand from back in the day.

In honor of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 4oth Anniversary, they asked local artists to provide artwork utilizing a pair of pointe shoes and inspired by Swan Lake.

This isn’t a part of my usual style, but I promise it’s not completely unexpected:

footprint01.png           footprint02.png

These are in our dining room — a life-size front and back tendu in watercolor, and there’s a matching side tendu upstairs in the hallway.

One of my artistic pipe dreams is to do a series of entire dances on giant canvases like this. It’s a tall order, and I doubt I’ll ever have the resources to pull it off…. but these were my “little” sketches.

The piece I did for PBT wasn’t technically a dance step, but I thought it was an appropriate mark for Swan Lake. You can’t see the black mark on the platform because of the angle, but the shoe did make the stroke, even if my foot certainly wasn’t inside it.

PBT will choose twenty pieces to auction off via silent auction during Swan Lake’s dress rehearsal. I don’t know if something like that is what they had in mind, or if it will make the final cut, but I hope someone out there can enjoy it. It was nice to break away from the computer and make something old-school.

The sad part? I am not able to make PBT’s Swan Lake performance, and have never actually seen it in its entirety. I’ve performed both Big Swans and Little Swans… but never as a part of the whole production. It’s a classic, so it’ll come around again, but: bummer.

*Josh informs me that the little doggie bank in the picture is named “Freckles”. 

Of Art and War

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Some people follow celebrities on Twitter. I follow the artists behind the web and print comics I love or that I’ve met at SPX. Let’s pretend that maybe I’m living vicariously through them because I work at a creative 8-5 job that is not particularly fulfilling right now. Let’s also pretend that’s not creepy.

Anyway, they were discussing grade school art rivals, which I hadn’t thought about for YEARS.

I recall drawing two main subjects in gradeschool. One was dragons, which is easily explained when you recognized that most of the books in my family’s house were fantasy books and I was inspired by their dragon/warrior/magic-tastic covers. The other subject was Human Killing Machines, which usually involved a Mouse Trap-like assortment of tubes, blades and inevitably ended with a toothed funnel of death. Usually there was a human falling into the tunnel.

Sorry, mom and dad.

Thankfully, a few later years my subject matter tamed considerably.

Fifth grade is when I met my rival, and I think his name was Timothy Blake. He was skinny with big eyes, freckles and a bowl cut. I wanted to have a crush on him, but he kept dragging drawing into it. I found myself in this sort of Art War with him during the class’s free times.

“Let’s have a drawing contest,” he’d begin. Or, occasionally, “I’m a better artist than you.”

I should note that my brain reserved the term “artist” for Michelangelo, El Greco and that guy that drew Calvin and Hobbes. I always considered myself a “drawer” instead. Not this guy, he was already an Arteest.

Then the challenge: what to draw. Smelling the possibility of an impending loser, some fellow students would gather around us to discuss the subject. Ninja Turtles, GI Joe and other cartoons were always a popular option. My vote was always for Bart Simpson (I’d practiced him a lot) or horses, because I am a girl and we draw a lot of horses. My cousins also had a farm, which I felt further qualified my horse legitimacy. I recall I could also do a pretty good killer whale.

But no, absolutely not. Blake would not draw anything but people. Not cartoons, but realistic people. He would withdraw if everyone didn’t agree that we’d draw people, and the blood-thirsty crowd would cave because, you know, ridicule to kids is like honey to bees when you’re twelve.

Truth be told, I remember thinking at the time that he was a better “drawer” than I was, at least until he started shading — and no project was complete without shading. Homey must have gone through five pencils a day, leaving the imprint of his artwork on desktops all over the room. Hair, cheeks, noses, lips, neck, eyes — everything got darkly shaded to all hell until the sheet was smudgey from the butt of his hand and near-solid dark shade of grey.

This was his doom, and I usually “won” these competitions because of it. I remember telling him once to lighten up on the shading and he’d beat me every time; not only was he absolutely incensed, he gave me an extensive drawing lesson right then and there that I’m sure neither one of us understood.

I think he moved away the year after fifth grade, since I don’t remember seeing him around the middle school. Who knows, though. I’d kind of like to track him down, if only to see if my memory serves correctly. My story-telling gets hazy moments after something happens, and our Art Wars were more than 15 years ago. Who knows if I’ve even got it right. Maybe he won every battle in spectacular fashion, the class carrying him on their shoulders, him waving his tiny, spent pencil stub in triumph.

Actually, I kind of like that better. Let’s pretend it happened like that.

The Inevitable Year Wrap Up

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

ill_27.pngI guess this is like the newsletter that some families send out with their Christmas cards. Except it’s on the internet.

I’m from the future.

I can’t say that I succeeded in producing an illustration every seven days, but I’d happily commit to “weekly-ish” success. When the last week of 2009 rolled around, I was only three behind. Josh has mentioned I could technically go back and change the time stamp on the blog entries, and make me look like a real champ, but that part isn’t really the point — the whole idea of 52ills was to see if I could complete it in the first place, and as of December 31st, I had 52 ills. Go me, and I want some pie.

As an exercise, it was an excellent experience. I learned more about Illustrator and due to the volume of pieces, I was able to reach beyond my comfort zone and usual material*. I’ve happily settled into a colorful, cute style. I kind of knew that already, but practice makes perfect and all that. I also developed some good habits: composing via silhouettes, utilizing interesting textures, and grounding subjects with some kind of background element.

I’d love to get some (or all?) of them into a gallery this year, but if nothing else, I have some new portfolio pieces.

*Although there are still quite a few zombies and robots.

I did embarrassingly little writing in 2009. Even my blogging decreased in frequency. The remaining 82 pages of my last manuscript have been sitting in my parents’ living room for the last year, so I am proceeding without my mom’s trained-but-unavailable eye. My apologies to the next editor in line. I am using January to comb through the 2nd book again before I hand it off, and a first draft for the third and final David book will be complete by June 30th, 2010. That’s right, you heard it here first. Only 180 days away and counting.

Geeze, when I write it like that, it sounds downright terrifying.

First things first, however. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on Pittsburgh’s South Side working on my creative projects. When we got our dog, we decided we wouldn’t be away from home as often as we have been in the past. I technically have my own studio room, although it’s been pretty junked up for a long time. So: I’ve resolved to redo the room in a way that allows me to go in there and work until my eyes fall out, while not neglecting our new pet, plus saving gas and time and money.

The room is 1/3 of the way done, and I’m very excited. I estimate it will be complete in early February, and I can’t wait. It’s going to be amazing to have my own space. Woo.

Monsters, Oh My

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009



I keep wanting to hug him but:

A) Fire hazard and

B) Rogue seeds and/or innards. It’s totally gross in there.