Dang and Double Dang

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

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!

Steel Anthem Poster Show

May 21st, 2010



This is the product of some brainstorming via the blog and twitter regarding the lessons we learn during our journey through life. My brother graduates from high school in June, and I wanted to impart a little wisdom into his brain.

Mundania Horvath over at Steeltown Anthem is curating a show at  <C> Space Collective on June 4th called Steeltown Stock, and I’ve got a few pieces in the show. I hope you’ll check it out — this sneak peak looks like it is going to be awesome!

For Alexis

May 20th, 2010


Not all curls are created equal, sister. You have beautiful hair!

Magically Creepilicious

May 3rd, 2010

Despite Pittsburgh being named America’s Most Livable City (again), I must make the point that it would be even MORE livable if we could get around. I know traffic times aren’t that bad when compared to other metropolises, but dang if it didn’t take me an hour to get less than 6 miles on Saturday afternoon.

Pennsylvania’s state flower is the construction cone, and Pittsburgh is the capital. Apologies to Harrisburg.

But this story isn’t actually about the traffic.

During the crawl through the West End Circle over the weekend, as I sat chillin’ under a railroad trestle waiting for a green light, SOMETHING FELL ON ME through the sunroof. A train rumbled above, so I assumed a tiny piece of concrete or rust had shaken itself loose.

No, I thought, not a bug.

The not-a-bug fell down my shirt, against my back.

Surely not a bug, I thought more fervently, cringeing now.

Down my back it tumbled, and — yes, you guessed it — past the waist of my pants, into my pants.

At this point I was CONCERNED. I sat there, still as a statue, waiting for movement from the unknown object, which would be my cue for a Freak Out. Nothing came.

I continued to wait. Still nothing. The light turned green and I finally made some progress on the road. My eyes were on the road, but my brain was in my pants. Still nothing.

I relaxed. It was gravel, then. Or rust, a random bit of the trestle. No problem. Whew. 

And so what: even if it was a bug? Whatever. I’m a pretty tough chick, right? Right.

This illusion was shattered minutes later when whatever-it-was bit me on the ass, and I sailed across the Duquesne Bridge while punching myself on the top of left butt cheek. I must have killed it, but not before it got three good chomps in.

So in summary, while getting rid of the endless construction would make Pittsburgh even more livable, I propose getting rid of nefarious creatures with more than four legs would make it even more awesome. Dear Mayor Ravenblah…

The Next Best Thing

April 21st, 2010


Josh and I spent a (very) long weekend in AZ, visiting his grandparents and friends.

We had a great time listening to old stories and genealogy, and having some drinks with friends we haven’t seen for too long. I recorded some of the tales from Grandma and Grandpa Sager, even if I didn’t get the best parts (I thought of it too late). While Sager lineage won’t interest you guys, allow me to introduce a different Sager legacy. Behold:

The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford
(name courtesy of Mrs. Shirley Sager… but you can pick they sex symbol of your choice)

Layer 1:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter softened (or margarine)
2 cups finely chopped pecans

Layer 2:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 9 oz. containers Cool Whip thawed

Layer 3:
1 large package Vanilla instant pudding
1 large package Chocolate instant pudding
3 cups milk

Mix the ingredients of Layer 1 with a fork, then spread on the bottom of a 9×12 pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

For Layer 2, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a separate bowl. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread mixture over cooled crust.

Mix Layer 3 ingredients together and spread over Layer 2, cover with any remaining Cool Whip and pecans.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

You’re welcome.

That’s me… sort of

April 13th, 2010

I am going to have Josh write all my bios from now on:

An orphan that has seen her fair share of tragedy has arisen from the ashes of solitude and emerged as one of the finest designers and illustrators America has ever seen.  Rachel Arnold Sager, designer by day and illustrator by night, is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.  She works for a full service advertising agency, Elias/Savion Advertising, where she is responsible for layout and creative contributions for annual reports, billboards, and identities.  In her spare time she takes on enormous projects like 52ills and writing 300 page novels.  When she’s not being creative Rachel snuggles with her adorable dog Poli, named after the best Steeler ever.

*To be clear: I am not actually an orphan and I have never been on fire. The rest is totally true.

Swan Lake artwork

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”. 

I Bet We’ve All Been There

April 7th, 2010

Oh, the workplace.

I think we’ve all been roped into a project that didn’t fit our job description, or handed something from capable but lazy hands, or inherited something that was fundamentally broken before you came along.

Of course, you can’t really say it.



Or, for when your feeling a little a little feisty:



Inspired by some tweets from @pgha and @LyriqueTragedy. 

Of Art and War

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.