laptop specs for artists

I’ve been talking about buying a new computer for almost a year now. My old 2011 HP Pavillion was worn out, and I knew I wanted to buy a new one before it died completely. But there were all sorts of new specs available and I realized I had to learn what it all was so I could make an informed decision.

First,  I had to wait for the new intel processing chips to be installed in the next line of computers. In 2016 and early 2017, most computers used Skylake processors, but I knew that by May, a lot of new lines would be introduced with the updated Kaby Lake processors. How can you tell if you have a Kaby Lake processor? It’s the seventh generation processor, so you want to look for a number that starts with 7 after “intel i7”. It may not seem like a big deal, but the Kaby Lake processor is FAST, and when you are painting with lots of photoshop layers, fast is good.

I had a wishlist of items for my new laptop:

  • touchscreen capabilities (preferably with pressure sensitivity)
  • an HDMI port
  • at least two USB ports
  • NVIDIA Graphics Card
  • A Solid State (SSD) drive
  • Intel Kaby Lake Processor

I needed to wait for the Kaby Lake processors to become available in more computers. Since the new processor chips weren’t out until late 2016, I knew that I’d have to wait until Spring 2017 releases to really have some good options.  I heard rumors that Microsoft would be releasing a new surface product in spring of 2017, and had my fingers crossed for a new surface book with the latest processors.  What they released what a Surface Laptop, and while it looked like a nice machine, it didn’t suit my needs. A friend of mine had recommended Lenovo’s Ideapad Y700 series, so I went on the Lenovo site and instead found the Lenovo Flex 5 15″ laptop. It met all my main wishlist items, and though the touch screen isn’t pressure sensitive, I could purchase an active pen that did have pressure sensitivity. As an added bonus, it is smaller and lighter than my old laptop.

Things I like about the Lenovo Flex 5 (besides my wishlist items)

  • The PCle SSD drive. This means a more storage that can be accessed quickly, but taking up a smaller amount of physical space in the laptop, keeping it lighter, and making more room for additional storage or potentially more battery cells.
  • Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity: I can finally take the USB wire off my printer and put it somewhere else! This means more desk space to spread out and do some traditional drawing.
  • 360 degree hinge. I can choose to work on my laptop in a traditional position, put it up like a tent for drawing and watching videos or flip it flat the other way for drawing in my lap. This means I can work at my desk with my Cintiq, then unplug and walk over to the couch and continue working while watching Master Chef.
  • The keyboard is so quiet! There’s no distracting tappity tap tap while I type, so I don’t feel like I’m disturbing anyone else around me if I want to work at the library.
  • The Screen resolution is amazing. I went with the UHD screen and it’s so crisp to read and easier on my eyes. It’s like getting a new pair of glasses.
  • The price tag. With the faster processors and top amounts of storage, this lap top only cost $1650. That’s still expensive compared to some computers, yes, but it’s a lot less expensive than Microsoft’s surface series, or some of the Macintosh options.
  • It runs pretty cool compared to other laptops I’ve tried. While the fan vents are on the bottom of the laptop, they run almost the whole length, keeping it nice and cool. The fans are pretty quiet too. I can put the laptop in my lap without being too uncomfortable, but I would still use a lap desk just to avoid unnecessary pajama lint getting up into the vents.

Some things that I don’t like as much:

  • The keyboard feels like its back really far. I think this would be good for actually typing in my lap, but on a table top surface, I feel like I’m reaching over the computer to type. Then again, this might be to my poor typing posture 🙂
  • Higher resolution screen means some of my programs look TINY. I’m definitely going to need to tinker with the settings.

3 months later, I still really enjoy this laptop. It runs all my programs so smoothly! I have not cursed at this computer once while I’ve been working. Photoshop runs so well on it, and I can run three different programs at once and it doesn’t even hiccup. The action pen is pressure sensitive, and while it’s not Wacom sensitive, it still surprises me how well it works. I love the easiness of it.

Have a wonderful day!

30 Day Drawing Challenge




The 30 Day Drawing Challenge is complete! I AM SO HAPPY!! This has been a great experience for me, and I’m glad I got to share it with you! So many exclamation points being used!

Reflecting on the last 30 days, And thinking of some of the questions asked, I thought I take a moment to share some thoughts with you. You know I can’t resist an opportunity to organize my thoughts into a list!

  1.  Where did the prompts come from? For this challenge, I wrote the prompts. I wanted to create a challenge with words that could be interpreted different ways and that didn’t repeat past challenges.
  2. What were the benefits of this challenge? Drawing through “bad” drawing days was a definite bonus. My inner critic quieted down. I didn’t have time to indulge in critical thoughts, I had a drawing to get done! I did more reference searches, and focused on communicating the prompt. I could hear my voice again, and developed an appreciation for my style.  Another benefit was meeting new characters and finding stories that might be used later.
  3. What were some of the drawbacks to this challenge? Drawing without a day off for 30 days was intense. Some of the days, I didn’t feel well (“Messy” and “ouch!”) and just squeaked by. By the end, all I wanted was a day off, and would count down to the final day. “Only four more drawings!” “Celebration” was celebrating an accomplishment, but also the end of it.
  4. What is next? I need weekends, that time to recover and read books and weed the yard is important to me. But I loved the challenge of the prompts and sharing that with you. So I thought “I could take the 30 day challenge and just do it Monday through Friday”.  My mom suggested calling it a “9-5” challenge, which I loved. Thanks to family and friends and some “what if” moments, I have a list of prompts to take on for Monday  through Friday.  I will organize them into a tidy list for y’all in case you would like to try it out too.  I also have some story ideas and some I can’t wait to get started on and share with you. Finally, there are some unfinished drawings from this challenge I want to finish.
  5. When does all this awesomeness begin? Monday! I am taking Thursday through Sunday off. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

To see all 30 drawings, click and scroll through this gallery. The images will get nice and big. To exit the gallery, a small “x” is hiding in the upper left screen.

If you are interested in doing this 30 Day Drawing Challenge, here are the prompts! You can copy and paste this or make your own. Please tag me or link me to your challenge because I would LOVE to see your take on some of the prompts!  Happy Drawing!


#30 Day Drawing Challenge Part 1

Well here

The very last image is just a bonus I did one day after watching the news too much. 😀 If you’d like to follow along every day with this challenge, you can join me over on Instagram here.

This is a good point to reflect on the challenge and things I learned and stuff like that. (pauses for dramatic effect)  I like drawing. I like that this challenge keeps me from overworking my art and has been lots of fun. Also, it’s surprisingly easy to draw nose-picking.

🙂 Have a wonderful day.

30 Day Drawing Challenge

I’ve been hearing a lot of fellow illustrators sharing that they have felt stuck and were having trouble creating new images. Change is stressful, many artists are feeling the stress of world events and political change right now. But we still need to create, and we still need to have fun.

When I first came to illustration, 30 Day challenges were everywhere. I really loved these challenges, and trying to challenge myself to think differently. Sometimes I came up with really great ideas. And then once I drew a piece of bread. Not everyday was a winner. But one didn’t need to be AWESOME each day. One just needed to draw something everyday, and get into the habit of creating, sketching, thinking outside the box.

With that in mind (and inspired by an enthusiastic artist, Sjaanvh, taking on an old challenge), I’ve created a new 30 Day Challenge. I’ve looked over past challenges, and tried to come up with some new prompts so it’s not the same thing you may have done a few years ago. I will be doing this starting Monday, and I hope you’ll join me! It’s going to be fun way to warm up, maybe get the beginnings of a great portfolio piece, and give a stressed out brain a little nudge to pick up your pencil and draw.

There are no rules in regards to medium. If you decide to do all 30 in 30 days, that’s awesome! If you end up doing it over a couple months, you know that’s cool, let this serve as a creative tool and have fun!





Inside my head



sadness-monsterSometimes I don’t feel very happy, and the world seems dark and empty. Winter seems to cover everything in the same cloudy color, and I can’t see the sun.


Then someone comes along and reminds me I’m loved. In this case, it’s usually another person, since most of my family is allergic to cats, but I felt like it was appropriate. 🙂 With love and friendship, a little more of springtime and sunshine come into my world.


Sometimes I think we’re all watching and waiting…hoping it will be okay. Maybe feeling a bit under scrutiny ourselves.


But then we remember that there is still room for brightness, fun, and color in our lives, like a beagle stampede chasing a tennis ball. There is much joy in watching a dog run full speed with his tongue lolled out.



Try, Try, and Try Again

I had an “Aha!” moment this week.

I knitted a scarf and had to start over 6 times before I figured out what I was doing wrong in the pattern. The scarf looks great! You’d never know how much I struggled at first. Also this week, I made peanut brittle! I burned the first batch, but the second batch turned out.

When I burned that brittle, I thought “I’ll try again and shorten the cooking time.” When I messed up the scarf, I thought “I can figure this out.” It wasn’t a big deal, and it didn’t signify anything about me as a person. I just had to think about it, and keep trying until I got it right.

But when I’m drawing, I often am disappointed by my mistakes and bad drawings. I’m terrible! I should be able to draw this! So and So could draw this with their eyes closed. I start to wonder if I should pursue a different career. I stop drawing and feel sad when I think about it. AHA! This is not a reasonable thought process about my work. Good art can happen naturally or by some luck, but most of the time, it’s a trial and error process, much like trying a new peanut brittle recipe.

I think I started comparing my works-in-progress to other artist’s finished products. Do you ever find yourself doing that? I forget that often we have favorite characters that we’ve drawn so many times that we can draw them without thinking now. So when I see someone draw a signature character flawlessly, I will remember they put in hours upon hours getting that character to where it is today, and that even beloved favorites naturally evolve over time. When I see a beautiful painting, I will remember the process of thumbnail sketches, the many drafts, color comps, critiques, tweaks, and time that lead to that final, beautiful piece.

How did I get to this point of skill in my art? I practiced, studied and worked to get here. I’m pretty good, and getting better all the time.  A bad drawing doesn’t mean I’m a terrible artist, it’s just a bad drawing. I can look at it critically, figure out what went wrong and try again until I get it right.

Back to the drawing board. I’m really excited to get back to it 😀







Grandpa Bear in Progress

Hi everyone! How are you doing today? I’ve been busy working on some projects for clients, but I missed you all so I thought I would take a break and share with you a personal project in progress.

Remember this bear from #inktober? Yup. My dad loves bears. He’s got a lot of bear qualities to him. So I drew this, thinking of him.



But then I thought “I really like this bear, and I would love to really give him a HOME, y’know? So one day, I just sat down and started drawing cave ideas for our bear friend. Being a grandpa bear, he would definitely have a picture of his kids and grandkids, and some bear prints of his grandchildren. Also, some honey cookies, and a Bass on the wall seemed like a good idea.  I tried to utilize objects that would be found by a bear, but eventually just went with “Let’s have FUN and put some furniture in there.” img194


Some of the dimensions felt weird to me, so I scanned the background sketch into Photoshop and just did some messy cut and pasting. The chair needed to be bigger, and bear needed to be in there to!  I moved around some of the background pieces and you can see how messy it is right now! Isn’t this part fun? I also changed a little bit of Bear so he looks a little more expressive and has a good Bear Belly right now. Bear Bellies are happy bellies! bear-in-chair

I still have some client work to finish up, but I am enjoying the process of creating Bear’s Cave and after sharing this with you, I have some more ideas! I’ll try to remember to keep saving points in the progress so you can see how I get from here to the finished piece.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving to the US folks, and if you’re not from the U.S., have some pie on Thursday, anyway and give someone you love a bear hug. Have a wonderful week!




This is an #inktober sketch I did yesterday, and I love it because I just did it without worrying about the small stuff. It felt like it took 5 minutes, but I really didn’t time myself 🙂 It goes in my pile of “Things I want to continue working on” personal projects, which will probably be this month. This bear is my dad, if my dad were a bear.

I’ve been working on some paid assignments, so #inktober is taking a back seat to those projects. However, I still plan on sharing quick sketches as I get time, and work on my original #inktober concept to share with you some time in the near future.

Are you participating in #inktober this year? Are you following the prompts or taking a different road?

Inktober Preparations

I know it’s not for another week and a half, but Inktober is coming!

In case you are new and wondering what is Inktober, click this handy link to Jake Parker’s explanation. He’s the one who started this whole month of ink drawing!

Last year was the first year I completed Inktober. I’ve attempted a full month before, but for last year, I really wanted to get each day completed drawing different children. Here’s a handy link if you want to see last year’s work.

This year, I am thinking ahead about what I would like to accomplish with this month. Do I want to focus on a topic like last year? Do I want to tell a story? Do I want to tell MANY stories? How much time do I want to spend on Inktober? Is it going to interfere with my work? Do I need to buy new tools or do I just want an excuse to go shopping? Lots of questions. Lots of decisions to make.

Are you participating in Inktober this year? Do you have a plan or are you going to to wing it?  Do you have favorite tools?