Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

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.

Steel Anthem Poster Show

Friday, 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!

Just Say No

Sunday, February 21st, 2010


Learning to say “no” to people is tough, and can make you feel like a jerk in the moment; but it is oh-so-necessary, in both business and your personal life. If you say “yes” to every project or favor that comes your way, you can set yourself — and anyone you’re working with — on a path toward potential disappointment.

I’ve gotten much better at saying “no” in my personal life. Professionally, I’ve been trying to focus more on the creative projects I want to work on. That means I need to withdraw from tasks that don’t fit into my time table or wheelhouse… which is easier said than done. Walking away is especially challenging when you are short on change and could simply use a few extra bucks. And when a project falls into your lap… why not take advantage of it? Seems quick and easy, right?

Lessons I learned from my most recent project:

  • It is never quick and easy. Never ever.
  • The client inquiring about your services needs to understand what you provide. For me, I need to point them to my portfolio and make sure that they know what my artistic style is — I don’t do soft charcoals or life-like sketches. On the flipside, maybe ask for some examples of what they like. This helps make sure everybody’s on the same page, and can save time and energy later.
  • Be aware of the subject matter. This project was for a religious blog and in this particular case meant detail work. My style tends to be rather simplistic and cutesy — robed Jesus is neither of these, and it was not a natural fit.
  • Custom work will always take longer than you think it will. Illustrations will take four times longer than the client thinks they will. I need to charge appropriately for the time involved, even when it scares someone away. My time is worth more money than what I’m usually charging, and I could use that time to do something more personally fulfilling (which could in turn lead to a better paying, more Rachel-appropriate project down the road).

The gentleman I worked with on this project was an absolute pleasure to correspond with, and I believe all parties were pleased in the end. Unfortunately, I now have a final product that will not go into my portfolio, because it is not a style I’d like to do again in the future. Now I know I need to better probe potential clients for what they’re looking for, make sure it fits into what I do, and be brave enough to say “no thanks” if we aren’t both going to benefit from working together.


Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I did some screen printing on Tuesday night. It was my first time printing on fabric, and my goal was to do a pillow design that would compliment the mural I painted on the wall in my studio. The mural is a bunch of birch tree trunks.


You know, I don’t even like orange that much as a color. It’s kind of obnoxious most of the time if it’s on its own. However, I wanted a room that would pop, and a turquoise/white/orange combo will do just that.

Of course, now the pillow needs put together. Need a button sewn on? I got it. Split your dress pants doing some heavy lifting? Not a problem. You would like refined straight seams that construct something that will fit a pillowform?

Oh my, aren’t you funny?

That’s why it’s nice to have friends like Val, who has offered to teach me how to use that mysterious voodoo box that makes cloth stick together. I don’t trust it, I tell you.


Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Some general updates.

1) There’s a rad thing going on this Sunday. I hope you go grab some none perishables and join us. Maybe the Steelers will pull out a win.

2) The project to redo my studio over the Thanksgiving weekend went and got complicated. The wall below the two windows is crumbling and everyone’s telling me to get that fixed before I make it beautiful. BOO.

2) has become a real challenge. I anticipated it being hard, but I can usually conquer “hard”. I am way behind. I have four weeks to create 8 illustrations. In theory, this is not a difficult task, but man am I sick of making stuff. This is actually a good thing — I think it’s important to push yourself to your limits, and folks: we are at the bottom of my mental barrel. I will have to reach deep to make sure these last 8 aren’t crap, and it’s… uncomfortable. It’s good for me and all that crap, but… ugh.

Speaking of which…

3) I am tired of pushing myself. And of course I already have two big projects planned for 2010. You know what I want to do? I want to come home, drink a glass of wine and watch TV until my eyes fall out for a few months straight. I already took next year off of freelance*. Now I’m looking forward to that break between Christmas and New Year’s.

…aaand: Scene. I’m done whining, sorry.

4) Thanksgiving was a grand success, as usual. It is my favorite holiday, full of food and family and friends. Oose and I cooked for the sixth year in a row, with a head count of 15. We even ventured to the Tanger Outlets at midnight, which was also a win — I bought a hat. Don’t act surprised.

5) I freakin’ love our dog.

6) You know I’m avoiding my responsibilities when I take the time to blog. Ha!

*Not all freelance, of course. You know who you are.

Recent Drawrings

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Here’s some backgrounds I did for a great site called iTwixie,
a great social networking hangout for tween girls.








Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Remember when I used to blog? Wasn’t that fun? I was young and shiny-eyed, full of things to say. Now my life is a shell of its former vigor, beaten down into a murky obedience. That light in my eyes has gone out.

Just kidding. I’ve just been busy.

I have all sorts of things to share, too. I took a roadtrip with my dad around West Virginia last weekend, visiting relatives I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. This involved a lot driving, a lot of fun and a lot of food… including the Appalachian beauty that is Granny’s biscuits and chocolate gravy. Speaking of which, if you’ve heard of chocolate gravy, please tell me. I’d love to find someone familiar with it that isn’t a part of my family tree.

I went to see Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis, speak at Carnegie Music Hall, which was both engaging and educational. I respect anyone that says “shit” while in that marble-y, gilded-to-the-hilt establishment. The Q&A session was particularly interesting.

I’ve been working my butt off in freelance land, but I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to share in that vein, since they are secret things, GOVERNMENT* things. Between freelance and 52ills, Adobe’s Illustrator is my best friend. I just upgraded to CS4, so that’s nice, but it has yet to buy me a beer.

I’ve got plans for my studio that involve a redesign and a mural. AND I’ve started making pretty extensive notes on the conclusion of my current trilogy. I’m also reading some classic YA fantasy novels, inspired by the .50 rack at Half Price Books — I covered The Neverending Story, and I’m currently reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising.

I have made no progress on submitting query letters, because I don’t WANNA. This is the most current juvenile reason in a long line of excuses I’ve made to keep myself from tasting rejection.

And last, but certainly not least, Val and I have discussed resurrecting an old idea that could potentially engage the mind and excite the eyes. You know, because we don’t have other stuff going on.

*Not really. Geeze, I’m full of lies this morning. They’re just not ready.

“I’d like to introduce you to…”

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

ill_09b.jpgI can’t tell you how delighted was I when, several weeks ago over some delicious diner pie, I was reminded of the existence of a Jimmy Stewart film called “Harvey”.

Harvey was filmed in 1950 and is still absolutely delightful, 59 years later.

Elwood P. Dowd drives his sister Veta and niece Myrtle Mae crazy because of his friendship with Harvey the pooka — a 6′11″ mischievious spirit that no one else can see. His family is pushed over the edge when Uncle Elwood unintentionally crashes a brunch Veta puts on in the hopes of finding her anxious daughter a husband. Elwood, being the friendly sort, introduces everyone to Harvey, but of course no one can see him and they all flee, terrified of his obvious madness. Veta decides to commit him — for his own good! — and things get hairy from there on.

It’s a wonderful little movie, and Jimmy Stewart plays what I think is his most endearing, pleasantly stuttering role.

“You can be oh-so-smart, or oh-so-pleasant. Well, for years I was smart; I recommend pleasant.” - Elwood P. Dowd

Me and Andy Warhol

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

vader-warhol.jpgThe Andy Warhol Museum is the largest, single-artist museum in the world. The first time I visited I was 20 years old, attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and I hated the museum — I mean hated it. My degree was in graphic design and here was this shrine to a jerk that repainted some other person’s soup can and got fame and recognition for something he didn’t even make up? I was furious.

It took me eight years and a really smokin’ awesome exhibit to get me back in that building; when I did go back, I was pleasantly surprised.

One hundred Darth Vader masks, customized by an international array of illustrators and toy makers? Um, YES PLEASE. Where do I pay?

Oh, yum. There were helmets that simply served as wicked canvases for acrylic, marker, collage and airbrushing. Others had additions like golden deer antlers, enough bling to make P Diddy proud, and a towering headpiece of artificial fruit. Still more had been modified in varying degrees — one was covered with felt, the top removed to reveal a pink plush brain (I wanted so badly to poke it!); one was turned into a gas mask; there was a giant beetle-like horn on one and a very spiky Statue of Liberty. They were original and fun.

Fine pictures of many of them can be found here.

The other seven floors…
Okay, here’s the thing: I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it, but I respected it. Sort of. A little.

Andy Warhol recorded everything that happened around him, in all it’s superficial, underground, sometimes-honest glory. As far as artwork goes, I liked his illustration far better than his famous screen prints. The silver balloon room was neat, his urine oxidation exhibit (heart-felt eye roll here) was closed, and a room of giant skull paintings with a little emaciated man — playing with his dong, of course playing with his dong — was actually pretty cool.

The thing I really enjoyed, however, was the extent of his Time Capsules. He saved everything. He apparently kept a box by his desk that he filled with day-to-day items until it was full, at which time he’d close it up, label it and stick with the others. When he died in 1987, there were 612 completed Time Capsules, and now the museum is slowly, carefully opening each one and cataloging the contents. There’s church programs, pictures, correspondence, gifts, etc. I’d be interested in that sort of glimpse for anyone, but considering he was so flamboyant and out there, it makes it all the more interesting.

I left feeling wholly delighted by the Vaders. And what about Warhol’s work? I felt somewhat enlightened, certainly stimulated by images beyond of my normal limits of enjoyment, but admittedly… kind of like I’d been had.

…which was totally worth $7.50.

Ah, Valentine’s Day

Saturday, February 7th, 2009


I like love and happiness and chocolate at much as the next human, but I hate seeing pink in February (especially now that the Great Pink Candy Aisle rears its ugly head January 2nd…).

You’re free to give this to your honey if you wish, although I can’t take any responsibility for what their reaction will be. You might get smooches, but I make no guarantees.

Best case scenario? Probably cupcakes, but they might be poisoned. Watch your back, Casanova.

And I am totally double dipping. Don’t get mad. You’re still the favorite.