Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Alex Keaton/Michael Keaton connundrum.

Some time last year, I started doing Watercolor Warm Up paintings as I got ready to work for the day, and then posting them on Watercolor Wednesdays. I got the original idea from David Peterson, and it’s such a great way to start the day, experiment, and create new content.

When April was born, she was totally bald. In fact, she didn't really have much hair until well after she was one. Ophelia on the other hand was born with a full head of hair. I did this illustration initially for the About section of this website, and she looks very different from the character I'm using in the comic right now...I think I'm going to go ahead and start drawing her more like this.

A common element in a lot of character drawings are rubber duckies. They might be on a shirt, as a pattern on wall paper or decals on the pool, or a toy. I don't know exactly why, I think I just like the iconic look of them, and they're fun to draw. :) This illustration is available in the online shop HERE.

There was a time when we watched Toy Story every day. The movie was one of the first to truly capture April's imagination. That's the power of excellent character design and great story telling. As time went on, she got all the toys. Woody and Jessie were constant companions. This illustration is available in the online shop HERE.
You can check out an album of all the Watercolor Wednesdays over on our Facebook page. Thanks for stopping by and spending some time with us!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Who's Your Keaton?

It's actually kind of amazing to me after looking him up on IMDB just how few movies Michael Keaton has been in. Favorites of course are ones like Beetlejuice, Batman, and Toy Story 3, but films like Gung Ho, and Night Shift will always hold a place in my heart.

Right now, Olive's favorite is his voice role as the title character in Porco Rosso from Studio Ghibli. I think it's so funny the movies that she get's really into, because they're very different than what you would expect a two or three-year-old girl to want to watch over and over. The last one she was like this with was Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind. Both movies, while being essentially all ages appropriate, deal with a lot of complex themes. Things like this support my feelings that even though kids will accept any brightly colored piece of plastic we hand them, they really appreciate things that are well designed.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

You know that old joke about kids on Christmas morning only wanting to play with the boxes? I'm not saying it's exactly true, but it pretty much is. There are a lot of different styles of teachers out there, and we've been blessed to know many fantastic ones over the years. This is a near perfect example of the kind of open ended play that we try to champion whenever we get the chance. Give the kids some materials, provide a framework in the form of a story or discussion of interests, let the kids work through to their own personal, logical conclusion. The results were often very cool and exciting.

A few weeks ago, the girls made play doh, and it turned out terribly wrong. Chemistry is amazing. It became a fantastic sensory experience though, as both of the kids wanted to play in the resulting goop, squishing and stretching and pulling and plopping it. Serious fun for about an hour.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Three Year Olds

Today's strip is finally up, only 12 hours late! Go Team!

One of the things that made the transition from working to being a stay-at-home dad and freelancer is that we kept Abby in preschool a couple days a week for the first couple of months. It gave me and Olive time to get to know each other, and to establish a routine. We also got started on some long term projects during that time. It was amazing to me that the house could actually function without someone there every day to do cleaning and maintenance. Work was also slow at first too, which made it possible to get things done and to figure out how to live on a budget. More on that later though.

My friend Tommy from Top Hat Sasquatch posted this photo on Instagram of some Muppet drawings I did for him. They look pretty great in frames. I'm hoping to do a lot more little drawings of the things I love this year as part of the Watercolor Warm Ups I've been doing. If you'd like to follow along, I post the paintings on Instagram as I work on them each day, or on our website as a Watercolor Wednesday feature in our blog and shop.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Can Watch Whatever I Want

I watched a lot of movies that first couple of months during naps and feeding times. This was before they were big enough to have an opinion about what we watched, of course. These days I end up watching a lot of My Little Pony. In other news, we've discovered a station that has a lot of musicals on it on Pandora, including Disney and Broadway...So I've been listening to a lot of songs from Frozen and Tangled, and Wicked. They're really good. We saw Frozen over the Christmas break, and enjoyed it a lot. For a lot of people of my generation, I think Disney got a bad reputation during the 90's. There were just so many straight to video movies, and even the theatrical releases were only so-so. It's been great to see so many quality films coming out of the studio, and also to realize that they've been doing some fantastic things for several years now. Not just in animation either, the recent Marvel movies, Narnia, and John Carter were all incredible, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they have planned for Star Wars.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Amy!

It was Amy's birthday today, so I spent time with the family, made a cake, wrapped parent's came in for a visit, and there was a Girl Scout meeting. I'm telling you all this because 1. It's awesome that it's my wife's birthday, and 2. I didn't get an actual strip done today. I know, right?! Priorities! Ha-ha-ha!

In other news, the sequel to the ENnie award winning game Hobomancer came out today. Check out the all new Hobomancer's companion for new rules, stories, and some interior and cover art by me. We're all really proud and excited about this book, and have been looking forward to sharing it with you all.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Baby Burritos

My mom "hates" it when I pretend like I'm freaking out because I "forgot" to do whatever it is that she's reminding me to do. Something that I've been noticing lately is that often a strip rewrites itself a little bit while I'm drawing it. It's kind of liberating to know that my notes and thumbnails aren't set in stone and the work can still evolve past the idea.

Speaking of Baby Burritos, that's what we call Mrs. Handmade's swaddling blankets. They're the first thing she made for our online shop, when we realized that the ones we brought home from the hospital were terribly small, and the ones at the store weren't much better. Our daughters were what allowed me to start staying at home, to save on day care costs, but those blankets were what set us on a sustainable path. I think I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, though.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It's Great Being My Own Boss

It really is great. It's funny now though, looking back at it how easy it was at first because I could mostly concentrate on the kids. I can hardly believe how lucky I am to have been able to do some of the things that I have over the last three and a half years, and how slowly we were able to start. BIG thank you to every one who helped us on the way.

This past Friday, I participated in the First Friday event at the Saint Louis Science Center and was interviewed for this little promo video from it. I talk a little bit about Handmade Family, and a little bit about the Zombie Panic board game. Pretty cool, huh?

F3: Board Games January 2014 from F3-First Friday Flicks on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

First Day At My New Job.

The first strip of the new year and the last strip of the first story. That first day of not going to work was a little awkward. I remember feeling like I did in high school and was home sick. Like anyone who saw me was thinking "why aren't you at school?" It took awhile for that feeling to wear off.

Happy New Year! I've been seeing a lot of posts telling 2013 to not let the door hit it on the way out...the year was definitely tiring, but pretty fantastic around here at the same time. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new year treats us though. I made a short list of goals for the year. They seem kind of general, but I feel like they pin point some things that I really need to work on, and something that I just need to remember to try to continue doing.

Goals for 2014
1.More quality work time
2.More quality play time
4.Be awesome

If you're in the Saint Louis area, I'll be at the Saint Louis Science Center on Friday night for their First Friday event. It's super game night so stop by, say hi, and maybe play a game.