Posts Tagged ‘Art’


Thursday, May 24th, 2012

 Okay, this is the last time I’ll mention Monster Haiku (Maybe. Probably. …ish?)

A Short Recap

The books arrived from the printer at the beginning of April and we spent several nights after work signing and numbering them (and checking and rechecking to make sure everyone’s name was in there). Making the packaging special was really important to us, so we lovingly wrapped each one with butcher paper and a belly band that Josh screen-printed with “HERE BE MONSTERS”. Each belly band also had little bite marks in it; I might have giggled maniacally when chomping each of those with the die-cutter.

Mailing everything was a learning experience, and despite doing some research before-hand, we were wrong wrong wrong; and so instead of printing some sweet labels at home and then having a margarita, we spent 2 1/2 hours at the post-office kiosk doing each package individually.  And THEN had a margarita.

Then we held our breath for three days, hoping everything went to the right place. Thankfully, we only had one package that went to an old address, and it was easily rectified. Whew!

And I’d like to say right now that I love the internet! I have met some of the most amazing people through these tubes, and it was downright magical watching friends, family, and people I didn’t even know make enthusiastic comments and post photos of their packages on Twitter and Facebook.

Then, when all of that died down, we had an April 13th art show at Lawrenceville’s Wildcard. If you are in Pittsburgh and you’ve never been there, you are missing out — they have everything you need in the realm of sweet art and handmade goods. My personal favorites are the crass cross-stitching kits and the wonderful wall of greeting cards. The art show was a mad success in both attendance and sales — and we had cupcakes out the wazoo.

The End!

A LOT of people helped make this project a success and I am so grateful for all the love given to us before, during, and after the project.  And, once it was all said and done, we donated more than $3,000 to March of Dimes.

This Monster Haiku project has been the most rewarding creative project I’ve ever worked on. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to swing a Monster Haiku 2 in the future…


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 - Final Countdown

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Monster Haiku pre-orders are in full swing. YOU GUYS, there’s only a week left to order!

Current calculations put the amount we’ll be able to donate to March of Dimes somewhere around… well, I don’t want to speak too soon. But there is a comma involved, so that’s a mad success if you ask me.

Dang, this has been an educational experience. Of course, we’re nowhere near finished. In fact, I daresay we haven’t even really started: people have given us money, but we have yet to deliver anything in exchange. Once the project ends on March 4, then the REAL work begins… getting things printed, packaging, mailing. Then, about the time we get all the pre-ordered items released into the wild, we’ll begin feverishly preparing for a show at WildCard in Lawrenceville featuring Monster Haiku. That’s going to be a blast.

Through the course of all this, we’ve learned so much, met some AMAZING people, and developed better relationships with people we don’t hang out with enough.

And at root of it is creativity and helping kids. Is there anything better?

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.

1,000 Paintings; 10,000 Hours

Monday, March 29th, 2010


While at Bellevue’s wonderful Affogato this week, we were discussing what we did for a living and our various expertise levels in it. My girlfriend mentioned Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that 10,000 hours is a magic number: that it doesn’t necessarily take exceptional talent or passion to get good at something, but if you spend 10,000 hours doing anything you become an expert at it by default.

I’ve heard similar theories. In art school, we were told you’ve got 1,000 crap paintings in you, so you’d better get them out of the way. I’ve also found a similar sentiment about writing — there’s 1,000,000 terrible words you have to write before you’re good. Write them now so you can begin producing quality work.

I have, since college and by rough estimate:

  • Spent approximately 18,650 hours designing.
  • Spent approximately 1,000 hours making art/illustrations.
  • Spent approximately 2,000 hours writing, having written approximately 400,000 words.
  • Spent approximately 29,200 hours sleeping.

10,000 hours is apparently a lot of hours. The above are estimates, but I would have guessed I spent way more time making art and writing than I actually did.*

Outside of arbitrary numbers divisible by ten, these rules all have the same idea — practice makes perfect, which is something I can absolutely get behind.

What’s interesting is that my day job is design — the reason my hours are so high for designing is because I’m doing it for 40 - 50 hours a week, for almost nine years. Despite exceeding the magic mark for hours, I would not consider myself an expert. Good, yes… I feel confident that I can solve any visual problem you can throw me. But an “expert”? No, there are people doing bigger and better than I in the land of design. I love it, but if it wasn’t my day job, I doubt I’d get near 10,000.

I haven’t read Gladwell’s book, this isn’t a review. This is simply an observation about a theory presented second-hand. I will say seeing the time I’ve spent doing some of the things I’m passionate about makes me re-evaluate them. Ultimately, as long as I love doing it I will continue to design and write and illustrate.

But I also wonder how much time I’ve spent with family and friends, or on the road to see those friends or family, or waiting for bus or food. Time I’ve spent cooking or working out or online. I don’t want or need to quantify these.

There are 10,000 hours in 417 days. I say a well-rounded life is one spent filling those hours with passions — both professional and personal — even if you never get ground-breakingly awesome at any them.

Let’s have a beer soon.

My my, look at what a philosophical turn this took.

*Not that any number of hours incorporating a comma is something to shake a stick at. And dang, I’ve got mad skills at sleeping. Go ahead, quiz me.


Friday, March 12th, 2010

Our handheld miter saw won’t cut the 6 inch baseboards I need to cut for my room. Once those are cut, we are on the home stretch. I’ll post pictures soon. It’s looking pretty good, kids.

Polamalu LeBeau Sager
Our smallest Sager hurt his knee and I’ve been told to “restrict his movement,” which is of course absurd because he is a dog and has been known to run around in circles for no reason. But the Doc says no walks and no stairs. Yes, that’s right — the Doc instructed us that if he must go up and down stairs, he should be carried. But he better not get used to it, the bum.

In spite of my PSI portfolio showcasing a man-crushing cupcake, I am working on a very cool project for an area University. Why yes, bloody zombies and the doom-monster Cthulu totally say computer science to me. Fun stuff.

Josh also sent in his table application/fee for SPX this fall, so I guess it’s official — we’re going. Oh geeze. Even though I currently sell absolutely none of my work online (or in person, for that matter). We had a Meeting on the subject this weekend, and though we have a lot of work to do we are confident we will sell at least 1 thing. I think as long as we play to our strengths — Josh charms the crowd, I hide under the table — we will do just fine. I will meet my favorite webcomic artist’s feet. That won’t be creepy at all. If you are not familiar with SPX, you should totally go because it is the awesomest. Also, you can be the person that buys something from us. I’ll probably pay you back.

More Drawrings
Oh man, I’ve got plans. If I can put together half the stuff I want to by September I will most pleased. Did you watch the Winter Olympics closing ceremony? Oh my. Here is a hint:



Writing Progress?
Shut up.

SPX 2009 Awesomeness

Friday, October 2nd, 2009


100% Road Trip Success.

After finding out Friday night that our roadmates were unable to make the trip with us, Josh and I piled in the car and made the drive after work. Getting out of town was exciting, what with the G20 wrapping up and traffic at a stand-still while the World’s Important People left Pittsburgh.

It was nice to wake up in Baltimore, especially when your wake up call is a jolly little adorable cockapoo. We had a nice relaxing morning, preaching the gospel of the One-Eyed Egg and getting our game faces on for the day’s main event.

SPX was in full swing when we got there around 1 pm. An SPX is a sight to behold. There’s about a bajillion people inside a giant hotel ballroom, and everything is awesome. Even the not-so-awesome stuff? Still awesome.

In a move that pretty much sums up our personalities, Josh disappeared to make 10 purchases right off the bat, while Justin and I made an initial sweep to get the lay of the land, then jumped back in to buy stuff. I did get to chat briefly with both John Allison and Scott C and I played a little with the knight. Scott C was kind enough to drive home my regret of not having business cards, because he politely asked for one. I tried to beam my information directly into his head, but I regret it probably did not make much of an impression. Alas.


Josh got about fifty pounds worth of goodies, and while I am Miss Frugal, the (Arnold)Sager household brought home some gems. I have Scott C’s Double Fine Action Comics Volume 1 and a print of his Tree Spirit.

John Alison’s Ghost is awesome. Of course it’s awesome.

Dustin Harbin’s Nutted is a mini comic that names a variety of ways to get hit in the nuts and it is about 100% delightful. I keep reading it over and over.  It is always funny when dudes get hit in the nuts. I am sorry… and also happy I do not have the referenced equipment.

I am slowly invading Josh’s pile, and Julia Wentz’s 2nd Volume of The Fart Party is damn good. I was glad to see she had a second volume, since Josh’s purchase of the first volume was our surprise favorite last year.


Josh and I have plans to get a table next year, so we’ll get a whole different perspective. Justin also broke down his first SPX experience — check it out! Vendors take note!


Also, if you find yourself in Baltimore for any reason, eat at Miss Shirley’s. So super tasty!