Buy me a thorn….

Last year I made random sketches for songs on my Halloween playlist, with the restriction that I could only draw for the duration of the song. This year I wanted to do something similar with new additions to my list, but with a little more structure since a lot of the songs aren’t strongly “themed” by nature.

My research while making the flower crown for If you think I’m pretty…  reminded me that I really don’t know much about plants, especially when it comes to drawing them. This year I’ve decided to make some sort of botanically-based sketch for each song, and post them at … probably pretty arbitrary intervals depending when I remember to, if I’m honest, but still.

Due to aforementioned lack of plant knowledge, I’ve allowed myself to do as much research as I like on the subject matter beforehand, but I still have to create the drawing within the span of its song. This cuts down on the amount of double-checking I can do as I draw, but also prevents me from just taking forever on a single drawing because I want it to look good. For the most part these should be 4-minute sketches, tops, with most clocking in around 3-3.5. I did allow myself to go back later and add a single color to some, because just filling in color takes an unreasonable amount of time; and I’m using pencil so I can erase (sorry, Inktober) … but that’s where the concessions end.

Some of these will feature immediate choices that popped into my head the moment I landed on the song (as we’ll see with Choke later on); others, like today’s, started with a vague idea that required a bit of research before I dove into the actual drawing.

Today’s sketch is for Fifth Harmony’s I’m In Love With a Monster (3:32), featuring the fruit of an Organ Pipe Cactus (Stenocereus thurberi) and a small fruit bat of some kind. My first thought on hearing this song was to work with a thorny vine/shrub, or with some kind of bat-pollinated cactus flower, but then I saw some image results of bats feeding on the cactus fruits … these things apparently have a tendency to split/be torn open and end up looking like toothy red jaws covered in spikes, which was just perfect.



If you think I’m pretty….

I realized today that I haven’t really drawn a single thing since moving … between the new apartment, new job, new city, and delightful flash flood that drowned one of my favorite sketchbooks (see my Instagram for a few shots of what’s left of those sketches), it’s been a bit hectic.

Anyhow, I’ve been listening to a lot of music (especially for the first week or so where I was without internet or TV), and one that I was enjoying on the radio recently was Billie Eilish’s “you should see me in a crown.” Naturally, this meant I’d eventually have to sketch something to go with it.

A unicorn in a flower crown felt just sweet enough to provide the dissonance the song seemed to demand; and you know how I love wordplay and drawing shaggy ponies, so a Fell Pony was the natural inspiration for the unicorn’s general color and appearance.

Her “crown” is a pretty mess of poison sumac berries and nightshade flowers, with a sprinkling here and there of bittersweet and poison ivy. There … might be something dark spattered on her horn and whiskers, and dripping in the dust in front of her feet.


Tonight is for our ghosts….

I guess I was feeling a bit maudlin today after finding some old photos from ten years ago, just in time for Mike Shinoda’s “Post Traumatic” to drop … long story short, I’ve been listening to melancholy music and sketching old friends all evening.

Hardly my most detailed or accurate work, and I skipped a score of small pets and some feline acquaintances, but it’s nice sometimes to think back on everyone I’ve known:

Cats: Spaz, JJ, Salem, Tigger, Mittens, Jack, Zorro, Redford, Pyewacket, Hootie, BB, Crystal, Hermie, Cici, Houdina, Fritz (plus a sweet little blue-cream tortie who lived in a shop window and whose name eludes me; and six shadows behind the hill, who represent cats I know only from anecdotes and their presence in baby pictures of me)

Birds: Moses, Kekoa

Horses: Sergeant, Jewel, Kodiak, Cinnamon

Dogs: Ben, Spooky, King, Duchess, Gussie, Sam (plus a gangly black farm dog)

Hamsters: Stormy, Dusty, Bianca

Mouse: Willow

+Assorted Humans


Some of these are from 20+ years ago, but I still remember Cici’s (seal-point Siamese) apartment that smelled like soup; Spaz’s (scruffy blue shorthair) pet tennis ball; Kekoa (blind Downy Woodpecker) feeling her way around the living room with her beak and her long pink tongue; and Duchess (Blue Heeler cross) bringing me hen’s eggs from heaven knows where on her farm. And as long as I keep drawing and writing about them, I always will….

Back again….

Yeah, I’m still around. Been too busy to draw much of consequence recently, but I managed a couple doodles today after a more-exciting-than-expected horseback riding trip.

So, the excitement in question came from this laid-back surfer dude, a flaxen chestnut who never looks more than 53% awake at any given time (I think it’s partly because of his super long blond eyelashes)


He wasn’t in the best mood due to the heat and the insane amount of flies, but he seemed fine until it came time to hose him down after the ride. Even though the other horses had no problem walking over to the area, this dude would NOT go over there no matter how much pushing and prodding and reassuring anyone could do. Nothing seemed scary or flappy or brightly colored or moved slightly to the left or whatever wacky things might spook a horse, so for a moment it seemed like another case of his trademark Lazy Boy attitude.

Then someone finally managed to budge him forward a little more and he FLIPPED OUT. Artist’s rendition:


He bucked, he kicked, he screamed, he backed the heck out of there and beelined back to where the others were crosstied. And then he was fine again. They still have no idea what went on in there that had him so spooked to go back all of a sudden, but summer is shaping up to be wicked here, heat-wise, so hopefully he gets over it soon and can enjoy his showers again.

After everyone was calmed down (a good roll in the dust works wonders) and let out, I went collecting barn cats. If cat-petting were an Olympic sport I think I’d do pretty well. At one point I was scratching an old red tabby’s tummy on one side and a blue longhair’s on the other, and they were practically farther apart than my arms were. Neither was considerate enough to just scootch a little closer, and the red one was VERY vocal about his disappointment if I stopped for a minute to adjust my position, but the blue one was doing that cute thing where they’re upside-down and you can see all their little murdery vampire teeths at once like this


so obviously I had to keep petting both.

And that’s all I have for today. Stay hydrated!


Well, it’s not actually finished per se, but I promised I’d work on something and Snoots of North America was next in line. I’m debating how much color/detail I want to use, and how many rows to add (I definitely want to add at least one wild cat, and maybe an amphibian … I’m not sure about birds, they tend to be confoundingly pointy in the snoot region), and I may or may not give them cutesy names; but at least I have the existing ones lined up in a somewhat orderly fashion now.


May starlight guide you home tonight…

A shabby start to Inktober — two days of nothing, and the third is aggressively ink-free. Nevertheless, there are musical dinosaurs, so I like to think it was worth it in the end.

“But there are ALWAYS musical dinosaurs in this blog,” you might lament — and you would be entirely justified in this complaint. But you see, this one is actually PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT.

What mad musical mash-up has caught my fancy today? It’s a doozy, so you might want to sit down: Graphic novel + song + Robin Hood (THE ANIMATED ONE, I.E. THE ONLY ONE)  + dinosaur action figures! + birds, sort of! Whaaaat?

Let’s break this down. Basically, it started with the book In Other Lands, which has nothing to do with this at all but got me in an anachronistic-old-timey-fantasy mood (yes, that is one of my many possible mood settings). I also had to read a very enthusiastic chapter about Chaucer for one of my classes. I also also found a graphic novel with an amazing title (Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli — plus there’s a skeleton in a hat on the cover?!) so I had to grab that. And about half that graphic novel (which is about a traveling skeleton minstrel?!?!) is a song about a wanderer and a sort of spooky haunted fog … and at the end there’s a link to a recording of the song. Which is over nine minutes long, but I digress.

Around the same time there was a fanart display being hosted by Creative Beast Studio, who makes aforementioned dinosaur action figures! with coloration based on living birds, and I was thinking how some (particularly the kestrel/dromaeosaur, my best friend), with their poofy little arm feathers, reminded me of that rooster minstrel from  Hamster Dance Whistle-Stop in Robin Hood. He was the best. Anyhow, in the winding caverns of my brain, rooster minstrel met skeleton minstrel and also dinosaurs, so obviously (?!) I had to make a traveling dromaeosaur trapped in the fog, maaaaaybe returning to skeleton form himself, on the Road to Epoli.


One of these days I’m going to draw something that doesn’t require so much backstory.

Swingin’ With The Rhinos….

Once again, it takes a public competition of some sort to get me to draw anything. This one was fun though — there was a a “Weird and Wonderful Creatures” category, so naturally I had to take that one.

The inspiration was that crazy old-timey woodcut of a rhinoceros that clearly just took “well, it looks like it’s covered in armor…” and ran with it. At first I tried copying the actual shape and placement of the armor pieces so I could just change the position (and add the fun bridle, obviously), but that was a minor disaster I scrapped in the sketch phase:


In the end I decided to just go with the impressions I got from the original image but use my own design for the actual pieces of armor and hide. I do kind of wish I’d remembered that wave pattern from the brow band in the old sketch, though; I could have used something like that for a tooled-leather kind of effect on the “saddle” portion in the finished piece.


I used a slightly different graphite pencil for the pieces I considered “armor” and the ones I considered to be “skin.”


That idea got harder to implement around the face because I kind of had no idea what was going on anymore, but I managed.


Yes, I forgot the throatlatch until this part. I’m not sure whether I forgot the noseband or purposely left it out or if that little bit near the bit was supposed to be it and then I got too focused on drawing the horn … it was around midnight at that point so I wasn’t thinking as clearly as I could have been.

SIDE NOTE: thank you internet for allowing me to find “If I Didn’t Have You” from Quest for Camelot when literally all I could remember is that it had the words “the rhinos” in it and thus would be appropriate for this post. I’m not sure how I forgot that song (and that movie) existed, but it’s gonna be in my head for a whiiiiiile now.