Birthday Fun

Today is my birthday! Woo! I’m in a really great mood today, because it’s a super relaxing wonderful kind of day and I have no appointments, deadlines, or general worrying to fret over.

I wanted to sketch some puppies, and you know, a lot of puppies look really sad, and tired, and just like “just lemme take a nap already!” And so I was delighted to sketch some of these pups and draw them PARTY HATS!

Omg this puppies are ready for a party! Maybe a pity party. Anyway, HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, and since its my birthday, go ahead and celebrate with me by ordering dessert!

A review of the HP Z2 Mini G4 Workstation-Performance Unit

I’ve really enjoyed writing posts about attending conferences, especially with the NYC SCBWI Winter Conference coming up. However, I’m not attending this winter because I spent all my conference money on a new computer.

HP often has some amazing sales, and this was no exception. I recently purchased the HP Z2 Mini G4 Workstation-Customizable Performance Unit. This workstation is amazing, and I was able to really beef it up for a very awesome price thanks to their previous fall sale where prices were like 60% off.

I’m linking you to the product because they are having a similar flash sale, and if you are in the same boat I was in, it’s good to know.  You can customize this workstation to 8 cores, which is 16 threads which means, you can multitask wonderfully on this machine. I can have ALL THE LAYERS open in Clip Studio, while streaming music and chatting on Twitter and it doesn’t hiccup. What I really love about it is that it’s quiet, small, and fast.

It’s nice to be able to work and not take a coffee break each time I move my stylus. I’m using my Cintiq as a monitor and it’s working really well. This is the first computer that works seamlessly with the Cintiq.

Some Potential downsides: The power brick is pretty big, but not as big as some of them out there, and I find it hides behind the main computer pretty well.  Honestly, there’s really not much to dislike about this machine.


HP isn’t paying me for this review by the way. But IF THEY WANTED TO… LOL.

I ended up paying about 2300 for this machine. Which is a really good deal given all the upgrades I requested for it.  But it also means that I’ll be missing out on this year’s conference fer sure now because I spent the money I usually save for conferences on this. It was a good investment. I’ll be drawing up a storm and following along the Twitter feeds for conference updates in February 😀



Short and Squirrely

I had a doozy of a migraine last weekend that left me hiding in a dark room for a few days. I still have some light sensitivity so this is a short post.

Last week a squirrel came up really close, and I took a photo of it. This one really made me think of someone who needs to know what caused that noise, but is also really scared. So I gave him a baseball bat and had some fun with it.

Have a good week, everyone!

SCBWI Conferences: Socialize! (Especially you, introverts! I believe in you!)


It’s such an odd thing to think that an introvert will tell you how important it is to socialize at conferences, but I would argue that it’s one of the most important things about attending a conference. Taking a deep breath and allowing yourself to meet someone new opens the door to potentially wonderful friendships.  

While you’re sitting at home in front of your computer, it’s easy to say “YES. I am going to TALK to people!” but then suddenly you’re standing in the middle of a room while people are networking and talking. You are an awkward island and you don’t know how to move (what do I do with my arms?), make eye contact (am I staring? Don’t look at anyone! AH! I JUST LOOKED AT THAT PERSON AND THEY LOOKED AT ME!) , and the panic is rising up your body until you flee to your hotel room and eat a sleeve of cookies.  

It may not be cookies. That might just be me 😉 

First, take a deep breath. I know I said this before, but taking a deep breath will let your body know that you’re not being chased by tigers or zombies, OR ZOMBIE TIGERS. That will signal to your body that it can calm down a little bit. Keep breathing. Let yourself feel your feet on the floor and repeat this in your head: 

“Everyone gets nervous. I’m worth meeting. I can do this. I got this.” 

Some great places to introduce yourself: 

  • By the water jugs. Everyone gets thirsty. People actually talk about getting thirsty.  
  • In line for food. “What’s that? Mashed potatoes? Oooh I want to eat that!” 
  • Sitting next to someone at a session or before a keynote. (I know, you can do it! Be brave!) 
  • Looking at portfolios during the show case. “Whoa, this is beautiful work! Look at this image!”  


If you get really stuck, you can always fall back on these subjects:

  • Music (“What kind of music do you like to listen to?”)
  • What someone is reading, at this conference, it’s safe to assume everyone has a book they really enjoy
  •  What part of the conference they are most looking forward to, or if it’s later in the weekend, what part they really enjoyed.
  • Where they are from. I love hearing about people’s hometowns and what it’s like there. But if someone looks different from you, dont’ ask “Ohio? No, where are you REALLY from?” (I’m looking at you fellow white people. Don’t be that person)


If you don’t have plans for lunch, be bold, find a friendly group of people and ask “May I join you?” Most people will say yes. Don’t monopolize the conversation but also be proud of who you are and don’t cower within yourself when someone asks about you.  

And if someone invites you to have dinner or drinks with a group, go for it. Yes, it’s going to be exhausting if you are an introvert , but it will also be FUN! You’ll make friends, and pretty soon, you’ll find yourself a part of a group of people who are just amazing, and you’ll be making plans to come back to the next conference so you can hang out with them again.


And because, what is a post without pictures? here are some cat studies I did last week.

  Surfing the Webs


SCBWI Conferences: Stay an extra day!

Going to conferences can be a lot of fun, but also a bit nerve wracking to plan for. With SCBWI’s annual Winter Conference in New York coming up, and some amazing local conferences like the one in Pittsburgh (November 8&9, 2019) I wanted to write a few posts about conferences and what I wish someone had told me when I started out.

When planning your trip, I really encourage you to book at least one extra day in the city. You’ve traveled all this way to go somewhere new, plan out some sights you want to see and schedule a day to enjoy being a tourist. If you can, schedule more than one day! I love doing this when I go to New York for the winter conference, and each time I get to try something new. I saw the show Wicked, got a selfie at Rockefeller Center, and tried some restaurants that were new to me! I also probably ate way too many black and white cookies. Enjoy being a tourist!

If you are coming to Pittsburgh for our annual conference this November (link here), you’ll be glad you took an extra day or two to stay. There’s a LOT of really cool stuff here that I take for granted in this city, like our amazing museums, the science center, Phipps, concerts, plays and musicals, etc. There’s something for everyone from the music lover to the sports fan. And you can finally try that Primanti’s sandwich you’ve heard so many good things about.

Below is a drawing I did in colored pencils. I really am mostly a digital artist, but there’s something about the sounds and smells of traditional media, and the response of the tools in your hands. Several times, I did try to zoom into the drawing to see what I was doing more clearly, but I’m really proud that I only hit the imaginary ctrl z once 😀 

Drawing In Pencil

Color Palettes

I’ve been trying to post on wordpress for a while, but at one point, wordpress kept eating all my posts, and THEN my internet was down (sobbing noises). Then I thought “Maybe the universe is trying to keep me from writing something to you! And since I’ve long forgotten what I was going to write last week, I figure that must be the case. In the meantime, here is a leafy drawing I did in the Procreate app.

I have really liked using limited color palettes lately. It really takes a lot of the anxiety out of illustrating for me. I find it influences my sketches as well as how I paint it all in. Too many choices was stressful, but saying this is the image I want, this is the mood, here is my small box of crayons to work with. I love it.

Inktober: It’s up to you!

Inktober is here! Are you going to join in this year? I like working with ink, and there’s something fun in the challenge of not having an “undo” button or erasing mistakes. I’ve seen some beautiful inked pieces from other artists who made a mistake and then took some time to problem solve, and finish the work. It’s very inspiring to witness that process. But sometimes it can be really frustrating when you are so close to finishing something and then BLOP! A big ink blot over the face of your awesome character. Where’s my eraser? AAAHHH!

My favorite tools for inking are a stick pen, speedball super black ink, and J nibs (Thanks to Matt Cordell for recommending these!). The J nib is super nice, it has a nice flow and a nice tip size for making your mark. Also, how neat is the BOX it comes in? I found these on eBay! When I need to be really precise, I’ll use Micron Pens, or Prismacolor Premier pens. Can you have too many pens? Nah. You’ll also see in my tools photo a cool spoon rest I picked up at an art festival. It is the best thing ever for resting my pens and brushes on. I wish I had thought to use something like this years ago.

These are a few of my favorite things

It’s okay not to participate in Inktober, and it’s okay to participate a couple days a week or just a couple times that month. You get to determine what is best for yourself. You don’t get paid to participate in Inktober, it’s just a fun challenge, and you can choose the level of your involvement! Self-care and boundary setting are important! I’m not planning to participate this year; I may draw something for it here and there, but mostly I plan to enjoy the artwork everyone else creates this month. Share your links below if you are participating this year!

This is me NOT participating in Inktober. Um…done in ink


Starry Night, in Procreate. Working with a limited color palette

Is everyone excited about the first day of fall tomorrow? Does it still feel like summer to anyone else? It’s 85 degrees Fahrenheit today, which feels more July than September for Pennsylvania.

Side note: I never remember how to spell Fahrenheit. I always just sound it out and let spell check handle it for me. Also a sticky spelling word: Souvenir. I keep wanting to add extra “e”s to the end of it. Does anyone else have words their brains just can’t seem to wrap around?

I’ve just returned from a vacation in Maine, and I had such a wonderful time! We went to Bar Harbor and explored Acadia National Park. Hiking is a lot of fun. And even though it turns out I am allergic to lobster, there’s a lot of other great things about Bar Harbor besides lobster. Like ice cream! and a bookstore! And beautiful views! and lots of hiking with big rocks! If you like hiking and ice cream (and lobster) I hope you’ll get a chance to go there someday.

Sunrise in Bar Harbor
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