My Top 5 Inktober Paintings

Inktober is the annual tradition of spending a month trying to bend liquid pigment to your will.

Imagine: the days are long; the nights are dark; and you are covered in ink. Your fountain pen is clogged and so is the space under your fingernails. You aren’t sure you’re going to survive to Halloween, but you do. Even though the challenge is over, you still have a hundred-yard-stare. Ink is hard. And you’re not sure you’ve improved much at all.

I do this to myself every year.

This year was particularly intense because my husband wanted me to make a wall of them and use it for part of our haunted house. I couldn’t back out. I had to come through for the sake of our Halloween party.

Let’s all look at my favorite piece:

This is Hadwin. He’s a vampire learning to fly. His entire life, Hadwin listened to stories of great flying raids. He drew pictures of himself flying. He bounced on trampolines, waiting for his moment. Now that he’s finally able to transform, he’s realized: he’s afraid of heights.

Sometimes the things you want most in life turn out to be things you don’t like at all. For example, I’d always dreamed of being a successful New York City designer. Then I tried to move to New York. I realized that I didn’t like New York.

Ah well. I did Inktober from a cornfield. Nobody’s perfect.

Here are my 4 runners-up: 

We gave away these paintings (and the other 20+ of them) at a party, and all four of the these were taken.

Yes, that includes the screaming, shirtless, chest-hair-saturated bunny-man. That piece is hanging on someone’s wall right now. One of my friends apparently thought, “oh yes, this angst goes perfectly with my décor.”

Ah, the malaise that a Leah Lucci Original™ can bring into your home. Accept no substitutes.

5 Unpopular Opinions, Illustrated

Like a moldy bridge, the Internet has trolls lurking underneath. Reddit: Unpopular Opinions is a particularly fetid spot for these mouth-breathers. It’s simmering with people ready to spew their most bigoted thoughts in the name of edginess/independence from the norm. 5 examples spotted today (June 14th) include:

“Cultural appropriation is a joke.”

“African Americans are the greatest beneficiaries of slavery.”

“I don’t think grocery stores should provide motorized wheelchairs for disabled customers.”

“Drunk sex is not rape.”

“If you’re a Vet and you’re struggling then you’re not trying.”

Last week (June 7th), here were a few winners… that I decided to go ahead and illustrate:

My favorite: the torture-porn Saw franchise outlines some good parenting strategies. I couldn’t stop laughing at this one.

Strong disagree. Counterargument:

Anyway…

The words “crusty” and “moist” are so obviously worse.

This feels classist? Possibly racist? Definitely shitty — no pun intended.

More like: Fuck that opinion.

Everyone made fun of the Bachelor girl who liked the Olive Garden, but I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t love it.

Monsters. Monsters everywhere.

5-Step Drawing Walkthrough!

Today is many things: Daniel Boone Day, National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, and National VCR Day.

It is also the day I got around to a walk-through of the illustration below.

 

^ Here’s the final drawing. Click to make it bigger.

If you’re interested in reading and playing along, grab some paper, ballpoints, cheap watercolors, crayons/colored pencils, a Sharpie, and white acrylic paint.

Or you can just read, which is totally easier and involves practically zero effort. It’s what I typically do with other people’s tutorials. I toss cool ideas in the junk drawer of my skull. (Sometimes they even find their way back out.)

Here we go.

^ Optional prep work: Find a reference. You can draw from your imagination if you want, but I often use Flickr Commons (copyright-free images), Sktchy (a phone app, more info here), or Reddit Gets Drawn for starting points.

^ 1. Ballpoint. I used the girl’s face as a reference. Once I was done with the face, the page felt empty, so I drew some other crap. A Minnie Mouse thing happened.

^ 2. Watercolor. I used the source portrait to choose face colors. Afterward, I tried to carry those colors into the rest of the page.

I use a cheap-ass palette like this. It’s quick, easy, and under $5. I guess if I ever grow up, I’ll use the nice ones people have given me.

^ 3. Highlights & lowlights. The watercolor mushed everything into a mid-tone. I added white acrylic touches for highlights. A permanent marker delineated the blackest areas.

^ 4. Screw around. I felt like I needed to make the image more “interesting.” Sometimes doing this irrevocably fucks everything up.

I tried some color-changing crayons I bought on a whim at Target, and they were total trash. They were too waxy and kept snapping. They are dead to me now. After abandoning those crayons, I switched to tri-tone colored pencils my brother got me. They’re a million times better.

You can use anything you want for this part, or skip it altogether.

 ^ 5. Final touches. I went back in with white acrylic and dialed the background back. The “hero” of the piece was mouse-girl, not all that psychedelic dicking around.

You could argue that doing all that work in the background, then painting over it, is pointless. However, I think that the light variation in the background makes it much more interesting than just nothingness.

In Photoshop, I touched up the dark spots in the dress and on her cheek. They’re two small area tweaks, but this isn’t quite the drawing in my physical sketchbook. (See digression below).

I also made the image square so it’d turn out correctly in Instagram and back in Sktchy. (Gotta share it, especially with the girl who was the source material!)

Done!

Thanks for following along! Feel free to join me for a discussion below.

And now for a digression: Is Photoshop “cheating”? Should drawings be presented online exactly as they are in real life? Is the drawing I’ve presented here a “lie”?

When I was in college, a professor told us that our work would be seen online 99% of the time.

Most people are going to catch your latest creations on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, whatever. They’re never going to know you flubbed that line or fucked over your color scheme unless you tell them. The original work can be like me in middle school — untouched, unseen, unneeded. (I went through a really prolonged Ugly Duckling stage.)

I think that the most important thing is to show everyone whatever your vision is. If your materials or your hands betray you, that shouldn’t stop you from expression. So sure, fix those colors. Erase bits. Rearrange things. Split it apart and smash it back together. You aren’t entering the “I Did This By Hand And No Photoshop Came Into Play” contest.

Or are you? If so, ignore this part, you Cheaty McCheat-Pants. You’re a horrid person.

5 Portraits I Made Once I Started Drawing Again

I stopped drawing for a while.

My after-work time became half-watching TV while absently scrolling through the Internet.

I didn’t even want to draw. I thought things like:

What’s the point of creativity? Who’s benefiting from this? Am I really contributing anything to the world by bothering?

Was I just telling myself that I was “creative” to fill up the emptiness from a childhood spent memorizing my ceiling’s texture instead of going outside?

Was “creativity” a consolation prize for failing in every single other way?

What if I wasn’t even that good?

What if I was the William Hung of drawing?

Sounds like depression, right?

So I did all the things you’re supposed to do:

I reconfigured the way I ate. I took up exercising almost every day before work. I touched up my wardrobe. I lost 15 pounds.

My sketchbooks lay empty. My blog collected dust.

If I wasn’t “creative,” who was I?

The situation was turning into a sloppy existential crisis.

Time for medical intervention.

My doctor recommended taking a class. He knew that: 1) I tend to do things I’ve paid for, and 2) I can’t resist an academic challenge. I’d follow through.

Sketchbook Skool seemed like a great alternative to taking a class in real life. I like Danny Gregory’s blog, so signing up for one of his classes sounded pretty good.

I was so rusty, and busy with all that exercise, that I’m still not quite done with the class (even though it’s technically been over for a while), but it did get me rolling again. Drawing. Painting. Exploring zines. (I still haven’t made one, but I have some ideas.) Playing.

It’s nice, and I hope it sticks around.

5 Acrylic-Infused Sketchbook Spreads! Plus a digression about Laika the Space Dog that’s actually sort of depressing. Sorry about that.

It’s a beautiful Friday! Let’s celebrate with some sketchbook pages.

I can’t draw snails. I don’t even think I have a good idea in my head of how they’re supposed to work. They’re one of the Universe’s weirder offerings. Who came up with  that crap?

Looking at you, Darwin. What niche could that possibly be filling? The “crazy slimy bullshit with an impossible-to-draw shell” demographic?

I draw; then I paint; then I draw some more, just in case. My favorite part of this spread is the upper right corner. I love the dog astronaut.

Speaking of dog astronauts: do you want to be depressed? If yes, read the Wikipedia article Laika the Russian Space Dog. It contains heretofore-unknown horrors. I had not known those horrible facts about that poor animal, its conditions, or its death.

If you’re okay with the way your day was, actually, skip ahead to the next spread and its pithy title.

 

I call this spread “Furries: After Dark.”