Susan Rankin-Pollard – Illustrations and Stuff

Sunday, February 27th, 2011


Today alone I slept well, pencilled another NeverNever strip, edited my artist statement for a possible gallery showing in Berkley, packaged up that along with a short bio, and three art samples, as well as links to work posted on my home page and Flickr (yes, including the peen animals. With a warning!), kissed it good luck, and hit “send”, and even did some reading about writing advice!

The previous days before involved even more writing! I have a Crappy First Draft of the foreword for Bill Holbrook’s next Kevin & Kell book, which will be available this summer at Anthrocon. This one I’m not going to edit myself. I plan to show this to another Susan, a seasoned writer, in hopes that she’ll give me a little help with it.

All of this prose writing has gotten me more familiar and comfortable with writing that Crappy First Draft. Something I’ve not really done since college. Writing for strips is, for the most part, different. There’s not as much revision, really. But essays? Books? Artist Bios and Statements? Mmmm, sweet, sweet, sometimes agonizing, revision.


Knitting, I have discovered, makes me stupidly happy. I don’t know if it’s a sensory thing; the feel of yarn, the color or yarn, and the repetitive motion: or if it’s the instant results and the freedom to just unravel something I don’t like and redesign it. Maybe it’s the challenge and the possibilities.

I went to Stitches West 2011 in Santa Clara with and we had a blast. I can’t tell you how many sentences that began with “Ok, I really need to go sit/eat/pee” were interrupted with “Oooohhh! I MUST FEEL/TOUCH/SQUISH THAT WITH MY HANDS!” Many ideas were had, much yarn was bought, and neither of us won any of the cash prizes, which was a bummer, but not enough to dampen our Yarn Stashing High. I easily doubled my stash, I think. If not doubled, then definitely made more interesting by branching out into loopy, fluffy yarns. I was also taught how to make drop twisted stitches! Very useful for the fluffier yarns.

Next up on the To Learn List: Crochet. Secret Project(s) require it! It shall be fun!


Not a lot of that going on, other than cranking out the last NN strips. And I do mean cranking, because as it gets near the end, I’m finding that I’m having to push myself to do them. This is for a number of reasons, most of which I won’t get into, but mainly because it just feels like no one’s reading them. It’s hard for me to care, if no one else is, but at least getting to something of an ending will be closure for everyone involved. To keep myself interested, I’ve been trying to challenge myself with poses, expressions, and a bit more realism, but not change too much/many of the original layouts I’ve been given. I got to a point a few weeks ago where I decided where my priorities were in terms of how I was willing to focus my energy and skill. Structure and expression won out over layout most of the time, because those are the things I’m interested in right now. When I did focus on layout, it was usually to pull in tighter on a shot, like panels 1 and 3 here, or add a sign or a beach ball.

I have often had to remind myself that NeverNever is ‘s strip. It’s his writing, his design, and his choice to post about it via the old Suburban Jungle LJ community and not its own. I’ve put a lot of myself into the work. I guess this is what it’s like for the technologist working at a start-up; the hours can suck, there’s no money, there’s no gaurantee that people will see or appreciate the product, don’t even get me started on marketing, and in the end I’m not even a part owner. I am part of the creative group listed on the website as “and many friends”.

And this is about the extent to which I ever really want to discuss this topic. It is incredibly depressing to me and a large part of the reason that drawing isn’t much fun for me right now, so my apologies to the two James’ to whom I owe work right now. This will all blow over soon.

In the meantime, there is a nice, warm cup of tea waiting for me downstairs, made for me by my wonderful husband. It’s a good thing he’s a creative sort, too. He makes pushing through times like these significantly easier. If not for him, I might have walked out on NN again months ago.

Anyway, off to tea. And maybe some knitting.

Friday, January 28th, 2011

There are times when we are shown just how much we do or don’t know, about communication, and about the learning process itself. Today’s class was one of those times.

Today we covering how to draw circles, ellipses, and how to find and utilize their centers in perspective drawings. They were jazzed about it. After a brief explanation of how it works and the observation and thought processes involved, we dove into an ellipsis-rich still life. I forgot to recap our previous lessons, which we about contour drawing and learning to see. I did so when one student expressed frustration at trying to sort out the drawing staring with horizon lines, vanishing points, and perspective construction lines.


So a brief recap: We use contour drawing to see and translate to paper, we use perspective lines to check and tighten. And thus, it clicked. I also showed her how to check proportions using a pencil. Now we were getting somewhere! She wanted to try the demonstration I did and at different planar angles. By all means, do! She said this helped and recommended I work that into the lesson. Feedback! I thanked her profusely while jotting teacher notes.

Most of the way through the first drawing, they began to feel comfortable enough to ask me questions about the course itself, and express that they had had other hopes and expectations. Oh, and they wanted to leap ahead! They wanted reading assignments! Great! Can do! Their goals? One wants to do personification of inanimate objects and facial expressions. The other wants to learn figure proportions, foreshortening, and shading/modeling.

Soooo… I can teach all of that. And I will. It now means that I will be teaching two classes simultaneously (I think I’ll ask if they’d like to split off, but they’re having such fun together, we’ll see). This is good. I wanted to teach both of these subjects anyway! I need to come up with something fun for figure drawing, but I already know what to throw at the other lady. Disney’s Flour Sack exercises and another lesson I’d designed for a cartooning class.

I don’t have the same bubbly, giddy feeling I had after the first two classes, but I am happy and I welcome the feedback. I’m glad they didn’t wait any longer! I’ll be spending the weekend pondering how to rework the the schedule and topics. Should be fun!

As for not, off to the home of friends’ to KNIT!

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Out of the blue, the weather turned nice again here in San Jose. It’s about 65F right now, sunny and a tad breezy. Being the opportunist that I am, I’ve gone around the house and opened as many windows as possible to exchange stale, germ-infested air for good, clean, fresh air. I don’t mind that there’s a break in the cold/chilly temperatures, or the rainy/overcast days, but I get the feeling this might not just be a break.

This has me concerned.

Now I can hear you folks in the Pacific NorthWet, the Frozen Mid West, and my SNOMG buried brothers and and sisters back East screaming for my head right about now, but bear with me. The reason I’m concerned is because this could bode poorly for summer. We had a mild one last year and we might pay for it this year. Why do I think this might be the case?

Sting is bringing me lizards. In January.

I’m pretty sure the lizards shouldn’t be awake and running around just yet. Sting isn’t complaining, though, it gives him something to do, but… And then there’s the birds. I’ve been hearing that cranes or herons have been spotted locally already, and they’re standing around with their wings out just a bit. Not all tucked in against themselves from the cold.

A warm and bone dry summer.

My thoughts turn to stringing up some sort of semi-opaque shading for the pool and suggesting that the roommates either scale back on vegetable gardening to conserve water, or that they assemble partial shade in some areas to prevent scorching again. This also means our a/c will run a lot and the energy bills will be high, unless we find other ways to scale back energy consumption to balance things out.

It’s nice to have advance notice, or at least hints, from nature about what to expect. In the meantime, I’ll plan and enjoy having the windows open while I get over this cold and get back to inking.

Friday, January 21st, 2011

I say!  Wot's that?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Neil Gaiman will make a VO cameo on the Simpsons! As himself!

“I play myself. I play a very different version of myself to the me I played in Arthur, though. For a start, I do not appear in anyone’s falafel. Also, I expect I will be yellow.

Probably this is all I shall be remembered for.

It’ll be out in about a year. I still hope to be a head in a jar on Futurama one day.”

Don’t we all, Mr. Gaiman, don’t we all… The full blog post can be found here.

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Finally got some basics set up through WordPress. The title of the new blog, as it stands, is Sketch, Knit, Dub!  I’ve got some visual tweaking yet to do, but let’s break in this new thing here, shall we?


Yesterday, I saw this, and it got me to thinking.*  I’ve been drawing NeverNever for awhile, in a specifically requested way, and Doemain before that in a way that was toony and quick.  They look similar and are, when need be, elegant and detailed.  However, they lack a certain depth, mainly in the eyes.  And yeah, I could stand to have my eyebrows slapped off now and then.  So, I popped open SketchBook Pro.

Meow, meow, meow!

I apologize for these being a bit fuzzy.  I sometimes forget to zoom out when I resize the window and end up with a high-res sketch that’s reeeeeally teeny! My bad.  But in a few minutes, I had some rather cute results.  I like the eyes and I like the mouths on the left and center kitties, but I’ll be working more on making the head structures more solid and real, and a bit less squash and stretch.  I guess the word I’m looking for is refined.

This quickie exercise was done on the ModBook and, you know what?  Maybe I’m not ready to part with it yet.  I’m gonna give it a little more time and see how I feel.  It is nice to be able to scribble around in the mainspace of the house with other people now and then and it does allow me to take work on the road when I need to.  I think the main reason I’d thought to see it was that I’ve been in a sketching slump. A slump which seems to be finally ending.

I think, especially now that I’ve got an easier way to post images, you’re going to see more sketch work and stuff from me.

*Well, first I thought, “WOW! OMG TRACY BUTLER IS AMAZING!!!”  And then I though, “That is the happiest looking grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever seen.”

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

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