PaMdora and the Malware Monster

Of the many things I’m thankful for today, one is getting my blog back. I’m sorry to all you that have tried to visit in the last couple of weeks and gotten the scary Google warnings. And thanks to everyone who contacted me about them. It’s funny how you can take things for granted, but someone tries to take it away, it gets really precious again!

Lesson learned – and hopefully my experience will remind all you bloggers out there to keep your WordPress installation and plugins up-to-date. Now I know why there are frequent updates to WordPress and will pay more attention to them. I think one of my plugins needed a security update, and before I realized it, some fishy stuff got installed into my blog. Google safe browsing diagnostics says the site didn’t infect any others, and I sure hope that’s true.

Sometimes I like to open up the hood and poke around, but I’m not really very good at the backend stuff, so when my blog got blacklisted, I had clean it up and get it delisted. Thanks @dremeda! If you want to watch a good video about WordPress web security, check out their blog post here. Also Google has some webmaster tools to help.

PaMdora often has less than heroic adventures with technology, as in the early PaMdora’s Box and more recently, the deep sea Tango with a Technopus. So this little journal sketch came pretty easily and sincerely. On the bright side of things —  I have been wanting to draw a rolling desk chair into a story.


Fiberart International 2010

Last weekend Fiberart International 2010 opened in Pittsburgh at two venues – the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Society for Contemporary Craft. The show will be on exhibit April 17 – August 22, 2010, then travel to the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and the San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design.

Continue reading Fiberart International 2010

Photoshopping Drawings and other High Wire Acts

This is a rendering for larger project to be made in fabric. I’m pretty happy with the composition — it’s an interesting spin on a portrait of a single character as the center of interest with my typical busyness in the background.

It’s also the first time I’ve combined natural drawing media and computer drawings in a Photoshop collage. The high-wire walker was done with a Pigma brush pen and watercolors. I drew the monks in pen in my travel journal, then scanned and combined them with drawings of buildings I did in CorelDraw.

If you remember, a couple of years ago I did a drawing called Tip Toe Temple. Somehow that original idea has gotten tangled up with these photos of cell towers and electrical power lines from Japan. So now here’s some other more recent ink brush drawings of similar themes…


and this one:

Clouds have a lot of personality and are interesting characters to draw or paint. Speaking of clouds, here were some really wild ones as I left the studio tonight, just a little before sunset. The wind was whistling in an eerie way, and the clouds seemed over-dramatic over the paper cup factory across the street. I half expected an big UFO to break through at any moment.

540 Stone Monks

Here’s some pages from my Japan sketchbook. At the Kitain Temple in Kawagoe, there is a small plot of land with rows and rows of Buddhist monks, carved from stone between 1782 and 1825. A note on the guide sheet said no two are alike. It’s not just that the statues are all different – it’s that each one has such distinctive personality, each one was doing something different or expressing a different emotion.

Some were laughing, some crying, some sleeping, fishing, praying, planting…. They were difficult to photograph because the area was dark and shady, the statues broken and covered in moss. So I started drawing. I wish I could have stayed longer and drawn more, but it have would taken a long time to draw 540.

If you can’t read the writing, it is a legend I copied from the guide paper that they hand out at the information desk. Our Japanese friend Kazuko said the legend wasn’t in the Japanese version of the guidebook.  So I don’t know where the legend came from, but I still like it.

“It is said, if you feel among the statues in the dead of night, you will find one that feels warm. Mark it and return in the day, and you will find it is the one most resembling yourself.”

I haven’t posted many photos of Japan, since I’ve given all those to Russ to organize with the thousand he took. But I’ve been studying the stone monks because they have become part of project I’m drawing, except instead of stone plants and baskets, my monks are holding cell phone and kindles. These photos aren’t very good (Russ has much better ones) but they give you an idea of the place.

Here’s another drawing from the museum of the Third Shogun which was near the stone monks. You couldn’t take photos in there at all, but I wanted to draw these things after I found out what they are.
Farm tools?

Torture devices?
They were used when chasing people to catch onto their kimonos so they couldn’t run away.

Fun with Old Family Photos

My mom’s birthday is coming up, so I recruited the help of my brothers and cousin for a little party.

So my cousin Debbie sent me old photo albums, and Chris scanned a lot of old slides…

and I put together a cartoon birthday invitation using Comic Life by plasq.

I love this program! It’s so fun to use, it makes funny cartoon noises when you delete things or stretch your photos.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Winter Olympics 2010

Recently back from Japan and still suffering jetlag… So it’s nice to just veg out in the evening and watch the winter olympics in Vancouver. Here are some couch potato ink brush drawings of Olymipic ice dancing using my travel watercolor set and my new-found joy – Japanese waterbrushes.

Waterbrushes are plastic pens that you fill with water. Instead of a pen tip, they have bristles, and you squeeze the water out of the handle to fill the brush tip. Great for travel watercolor journaling and doing nice color washes without running out of liquid. I’ve acquired versions by Niji, Kuretake, and Sakura. Here’s a good article about waterbrushes, and if you’re in the States and want to order some, the Jet Pens website looks like a good source (better order some additional sizes for myself:)

Images of Japan

When traveling, it’s difficult to find time to post and write about many things we see. So here’s just a few images… as always the food can be so beautiful in Japan. I have no idea what it was — but it was delicious!

I know what this was though, sashimi. It’s now gone also – in my tummy!

It’s also fun to look for good Jaenglish — a sort of weird apanese and English words. Yesterday I was please to have Creap and “Slim Up Sugar” with my coffee.

Outside a karoke shop with my friend Buddha.  I don’t know the words to many songs, but I know “Yellow Submarine.

As always, it’s fun to delight in contrasts. A beautiful Japanese teahouse. I love the uncut bark on the the logs on the ceiling. A Japanese loom. I’d love to take this apart and put in my suitcase, but it’s already pretty full of stuff.

And then there’s huge animatronic mushrooms in this arcade ride.

In case you’re wondering, we’re here on a Sister Cities exchange trip to represent our city and help set up some new cultural and educational exchanges. So we’re traveling with a group, and not necessarily at our own pace. I’ll write more when I get a chance!

7 Illustrated Tips for Surviving a 12 Hour Plane Flight

1. Draw your food. It probably looks better than it tastes anyway, and confuses the flight attendants who keep wanting to take the half-eaten food to get it out of your way.

It’s also good practice to start with something like food before you start trying to draw people in public. I’m a little out of practice of drawing in public, and had forgotten how people like to watch and see how it the drawing turns out.

2. Draw the people around you. It makes them nervous because you keep looking intently at them.

I love this overhead quote…. “I’m not creative about things like drawing and very compartmentalized. When she got to the break in the page…..and then went over it, I thought Whoa, is that allowed?!”

3. Go to the back of the plane and look at how funny all those little monitors in the plane seat look all light up with the lights out. They are kind of hard to draw, but it gets you out of your seat and confuses people who think you’re standing in line for the restrooms.

4. Draw the restroom. It’s very small, so the perspective can be interesting. My drawing didn’t turn out very good, so I won’t show it to you. Oh okay, here it is.

5. Stuff your big down coat into an Eco-sack, fold the handles over, and wala — you have a big fat down pillow. Especially good if the plane’s not too crowded and you can hog several seats to lay down.

6. Make an eye pillow out of fabric themed to the country you’re traveling, in this case I used a blue indigo batik. Try not to think about this project too far in advance — maybe not even until 10 pm the night before your flight. Then you’ll find no matter how much you sew, it’s hard to find a piece of elastic in the house that doesn’t sort of look like a bra strap. All night grocery stores have elastic headbands — cut one of these open, and you have a nice strap for the eye pillow. The eye pillow helps you sleep on the plane, which you need to do, since you stayed up all night making eye pillows.

7. Wake up and use your final slap-happy hour of the flight to write a silly blog post. It’ll make you feel better and look forward to getting off the plane and back to the world of the internet where you can post it.

Knitting and Vintage Labels

What is it about snow that makes me want to knit??

Honestly, I don’t think about it for a year, then when the snow flakes start to fly, I’m digging around in the closet looking for some old project to resurrect.

I guess I started this scarf one or two years ago. It’s a way to use up all your odds and ends by knitting a scarf on the long side on circular knitting needles. Just use a different yarn for each row, and leave the beginning and end long to make the fringe.

I don’t have the original instructions, but by counting stitches, there are 175 stitches that I must have cast onto the circular needles.

It turned out pretty good, for having no plan and only working sporadically when it happens to snow. After the photo, I decided to even up the the fringe, so I trimmed it with scissors. Now I just have to wrap it, and it’ll be a great gift.

Last time my mom came through the studio, she said this pink dress on the mannequin was something special in its day, so after the photo, I checked the label.

There was an interview on NPR the other day about the movie, “A Single Man.” Haven’t seen it, but Colin Firth was talking about how the director Tom Ford, had custom labels sewn into Colin’s suit. Not because it would be seen, but because of how it made Colin become emersed in his role.

I love looking at old labels inside clothes, especially clothes that belong to my family….don’t know where this is going except that the hat has a label too,

and guess what — So does the mannequin!