Watercolor Wednesday – More Dinosaurs!

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Handmade Family Studio photo for Watercolor WednesdayIt’s watercolor Wednesday again, and I’ve got some more dinosaurs to share with you. This week, I have one more that’s been illustrated in a more “portrait” style, the Brachiosaurus. Ultimately, this painting going to be collected together with the Parasaurolophus, Stegosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Velociraptor, and Pentaceratops for a Penny Loves Dinosaurs matching game and also an expansion set of Story Starter Chips. This will give us a pretty well rounded crew, featuring examples of several different families of dinosaurs across several eras. We’re pretty excited about being able to add them to our show line up.

Also today is a second painting of one of the largest predators of the Jurassic, the Dilophosaurus. I took a bit of a departure on this painting and did more of an action pose, showing the dinosaur racing toward us. As I do research for what dinosaurs may have looked like and how they acted, it gives me the opportunity to think of different ways that we can go about portraying them. For example, most of us remember the scenes in the Jurassic Park movies where the Velociraptors are hunting and fighting. These are the things that we tend to think of when picturing them, then.

There are so many other cool possibilities for poses and stories though just waiting beneath the surface. Like in the middle of a courtship ritual, guarding eggs or building nests. Dinosaurs were complex creatures and paleontologists are researching new theories about their social behaviors all the time. I’m looking forward to exploring some of these ideas in the future with more Penny Loves Dinosaurs comics.

Brachiosaurus watercolor illustration by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Brachiosaurus 6×9 Watercolor and Colored Pencil

Dilophosaurus watercolor illustration by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Dilophosaurus 6×9 Watercolor and Colored Pencil.

As we get back into the swing of posting weekly, our first goal is to have our Watercolor Wednesday posts ready on Tuesdays. In the meantime, we’re working behind the scenes developing new content and products.

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Watercolor Wednesday – Dinosaurs

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Who’s in the mood for some dinosaurs? I think a lot of us can say that we’ve been interested in dinosaurs since we were kids. Jurassic Park has been a top grossing film franchise more than once. There are multiple shows for kids featuring dinosaurs, including Dinosaur Train which engages kids on a variety of levels and is frankly pretty amazing. There are books, games, even monthly magazines dedicated to them. Everyone has their favorite, and today I’m going to share two of mine, the Parasaurolophus and the Stegosaurus. I don’t know why they’re my favorites, but it probably has something to do with Disney’s Fantasia. The dramatic grandness of the dinosaur sequence is something that stays with you.

Stegosaurus 6x9 Colored Pencil and Watercolor

Stegosaurus 6×9
Colored Pencil and Watercolor

Parasaurolophus watercolor by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Parasaurolophus 6×9
Colored Pencil and Watercolor

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Watercolor Wednesday: More of the Doctor’s Companions

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I did twelve portraits for the September First Friday at the Saint Louis Science Center this year. Perhaps, now that I’m thinking about it, I should have done one companion for each of the twelve Doctors. Made the second set as much of a look back at the series as the first one was. That may have been truer to the spirit of the whole project as outlined by myself, but a lot of the current fan base is really only familiar with the new Doctors and the new companions. So I ran a short poll on Facebook to see who people were most interested in seeing. We visited the first six portraits (The War Doctor, the Brigadier, Sarah Jane, Ace, Stormageddon, and Jack Harkness) last week. This week we’re looking at the other six, all from the modern era, and all more or less related to each other.

Donna Noble Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson - Handmade Family Wilfred Mott Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Wilfred and his Granddaughter Donna are probably my favorites out of the modern companions. They just displayed so many of the strengths AND weaknesses that come with being human. There wasn’t any trickery, no love story, the Donna story arc was very much about two beings who were lost, and who helped each other find their way. The changes we saw in Donna over the course of her adventures made for some really great stories and then a simply heartbreaking conclusion.

River Song Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade FamilyIdris Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

The Doctor’s wives, both literally and figuratively. It’s really no secret that I love Neil Gaiman, so one of the characters that I knew that I wanted to illustrate was Idris from his episode “The Doctor’s Wife”. I love the way he used the word wife to mean more than a mate. Idris (the TARDIS personified) has been his constant companion for over nine hundred years. The Doctor’s partner, his support, she’s shared in his decisions, his joys and defeats. Most importantly, she chose him at least as much as he chose her. She kidnapped him as he stole her. We should all be so lucky as to have a wife like that.

Amy Pond Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family Rory Williams Watercolor Portrait by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Everybody loves Amy and Rory, right? The Eleventh Doctor’s best friends, the Doctor’s mother and father in law, the girl who waited and the last centurion. I was talking to someone recently about Rory, and he said that Rory was basically the K-9 of the modern era. The obedient robot dog who came when called. I don’t really think that’s fair to him though. Yes, Rory was always there by Amy’s side, and yes he pretty much always did as he was told. This wasn’t because he didn’t have any agency of his own though. Looking back on his story, everything that Rory did he did with absolute conviction. He was either doing something, or he wasn’t. While Amy and the Doctor were impulsive and reckless, Rory was steadfast. He was not a man to be trifled with, especially when he made up his mind to do something.

Thanks for stopping in and listening to me nerd out over Doctor Who. If you’re interested in purchasing any of these illustrations, please check out my shop on the Square Marketplace, or just click on the images to be taken directly to their shop link. Next week I have some dinosaurs to share with you. Until then, take care and be good.

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Watercolor Wednesday – Dinosaurs

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dilophosaurus watercolor by Jeffrey Johnson, Handmade Family It feels like forever since I posted one of these, and I’m so glad to slowly but surly be getting back into the swing of updating the blog. We’ve got some super exciting things going on in the studio right now, so stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as we roll them out

Today though, we’re talking about DINOSAURS! It’s no big secret that I love dinosaurs, and in preparation for the Jurassic World movie, I started work on a new game featuring Penny Loves Dinosaurs. It’s a matching game with interchangeable cards cartoons about several different dinosaur types, and little plastic dinosaur pegs. The prototype went well at the Saint Louis Science Center but there were some tweaks that I wanted to make to it before taking it to shows with us. First off was getting the illustrations for the cards colored.

Our first dinosaur is the Dilophosaurus. Known for his neck frill, many people also think this guy spits poison on it’s prey. The books I’ve been reading don’t seem to think so though. What we know about dinosaurs is based on the small amount of evidence preserved in fossils, and comparing that to our studies of modern animals so what scientists “know” is always changing. velociraptor watercolor by Jeffrey Johnson, Handmade Family

The Velociraptor is another super cool dinosaur made famous in the movies. Again, fossil evidence has changed our view of them in the last twenty years as paleontologists have discovered that they appear to have feathers! My version was maybe a little timid with the feather addition.

Sharing is Caring

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Back towards the beginning of February, my artist friend Gary Bedell posted this on Facebook:

A challenge to all my artist buddies (i.e. visual, music, etc.). Share a fellow artist page or a piece of theirs (that you KNOW) everyday for a month. Share more than one a day if you like. Who will accept?

On the face of it, it seems like a simple challenge. If you’re like me, then about half or more of your friends are creatives of some type so we should have no shortage of posts to draw from. I mean, what could be simpler than clicking the “share” button on your newsfeed? Here’s a funny thing about that though, Facebook only really puts things in your newsfeed if your interact with that person or company regularly, so before long you run out of new people to share. This is where it becomes challenging, and kind of awesome at the same time.likes

I hit that ceiling after about five days. Either my creative friends weren’t posting about the cool things going on in their lives and studios, or social media wasn’t showing them to me. (There was at least one friend too, who only posts from his personal page for some reason. I try really hard to let people’s personal lives stay private, so he didn’t get shared.) So, out came the pencil and paper and I started going through my friends list. At this point, it stopped mattering whether they were doing a show that weekend or just came out with a new product. It gave me a chance to think about them as friends and creatives. I started thinking about what they do, why I liked it, and why I think my other friends should like it too. I started writing posts about that, making sure to tag them in the post using @ before their business name, and sharing pages directly using the drop down menu on the side of their page.scarlett_and_maria

Even better, once I did started doing this I realized that facebook actually has other tools that could help out, because like I said before, not all posts from friends show up in the newsfeed. I could cut the chance that my friends would see my posts out of the equation all together and go directly to friends I thought would like these cool things too. I could directly invite my friends to like a page after sharing it to my timeline.invite

I didn’t make it the whole month, sharing everyday. Like every new habit, it’s all too easy to get sidetracked and then start forgetting all together, and it’s really difficult to do from a phone. I do try to share regularly though, because honestly I’d rather see the cool things my friends are up to than another upworthy video or buzzfeed article. Sharing your friends is partly about showing off that you know cool people, and also partly about educating the publilc that there are options out there other than big box stores. Sure, Etsy is a household name now, but people don’t necessarily relate buying handmade from the site to the fact that there are individuals actually creating these things. We’re about individuals as part of a community, and a community of individuals that helps each part succeed.

I challenge you all to go and share some of your friend’s work. Maybe not every day, but often. It’ll make them feel awesome, and also help strengthen the community as a whole.

-You can find Gary’s retrospectice artbook “Thawed” on Lulu. It’s massive, and has just a TON of art spanning several years of work.

-My friend Eleanor of Scarlett and Maria makes amazing Kanzashi flowers. Check our her Facebook page, and buy something from her website. Her work is just stunning. http://www.scarlettandmaria.com/
-The Novel Neighbor is my favorite indie bookstore in forever. Check out their facebook page for updates on news and events, and if you’re ever in the Webster Groves area stop in and say hi. They’re fantastic! http://thenovelneighbor.com/

That Perfect Booth Set-Up

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It seems like among other things we’re striving for as professional crafters, we’re all looking for the holy grail that is the perfect booth set-up. Not only has to match your aesthetic, but it also has to be practical and portable. To make things even more complicated though, not every space or situation is the same, so you also have to be flexible and prepared for occasional surprises.

We’ve been doing shows for about four years now, and have experimented with a lot of different elements. Refining display placement, adding components and taking them away as our product line changes. Here’s a selection from the last few months…show_set_upsAs you can see, the core ideas tend to stay the same, while specifics might change. Recently, we took the opportunity to set things up in the living room, take our time with some possibilities, and really identify good ideas and “best practices”. Let’s talk about some of the things we came up with.
booth_setup_fullUsually we are able to spread out a bit and use two tables for our product. This is wonderful in it’s way, but tends to look a little unorganized and not really cohesive. So we challenged ourselves to stick within an eight foot square, and use only one table. The key here is to use height and modular displays to our advantage. We alrealy had all the right display elements, it was just a matter of putting them together in new ways. Organizing it was a matter of setting things up in tiers from the outside in. Larger, more colorful kids play items like capes and hobby horses go on the sides to draw people in. Accent items and smaller toys like pins, doodle dolls and story starter chips are arranged on the inside on the left and right, leading attention to our flagship Baby Burrito Blankets in the center. The backdrop fills in the space, showcasing our brand name and more decorative items.

booth_setup_left-225x300booth_setup_center-225x300booth_setup_horses-225x300Finally, one last new thing that I can’t even believe we never thought of before… I stand up for the whole show, every show. Sitting makes me sleepy and I don’t feel like I can really engage people in conversation unless we’re standing together. It’s kind of like a party that way. So, we added padded foam mats behind the table to take some of the stress off our feet and backs. It really seems to help a lot!matsWhat are some of the things you do with your craft show booths? We’d love to hear from you!

Happy Holidays from Handmade Family!

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"Batteries Not Needed" by Jeffrey JohnsonGoodness, it’s been a busy holiday season!

There’s been a lot going on around here as we’ve been doing shows, working at Fusion and the Foundrie, and making, making, making additions to our handmade wonderland.

We hope that you had a wonderful holiday, and are looking forward to chatting about changes around here and plans for 2015. It’s going to be an exciting year and we’ve already started putting together some great new projects for you. So be sure to tune in next week for a recap, and maybe some teasers of what’s to come!

Penny Loves Dinosaurs: Brachiosaurus

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Penny Loves Dinosaurs. Brachiosaurus by Maya, age 8 and Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade FamilyYou can find more information on the Brachiosaurus at your local library, or on Wikipedia.

Stay tuned next week for some exciting announcements. Penny and I have some ideas for dinosaur hunter badges and activities at future shows. 😀

Armored Dinosaurs

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"Penny Loves Dinosaurs" by Jeffrey JohnsonStegosaurus is my favorite dinosaur, so my daughter Abby drew one for me. While cutting it out, I got to thinking about it’s tail. Reading about Stegosaurus, I learned that they have two rows of two spikes on their tails, but Abby’s looked more like an Anklyosaurus tail to me. Which got me thinking about familys of Dinosaurs and whether the two of them were related. Turns out that yes they are both from a larger family of armored dinosaurs. Pretty cool, huh?

Today’s research was done mostly on Wikipedia.

INKtober Week One

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InkToberSo the first week of INKtober is behind us and I’m already a couple of days behind because I was out of the studio at a three day show. We’ve still got the whole month to catch up though, right? In case you haven’t heard of INKtober before, here’s the low down, and you can find more info on the INKtober Website.

INKtober was created by artist Jake Parker as a challenge to improve inking skills and develop positive drawing habits.

Anyone can do INKtober, just pick up a pen and start drawing.

INKtober rules:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).

2) Post it on tumblr (or Instagram, twitter, facebook, flickr, Pinterest or just pin it on your wall.)

3) Hashtag it with #inktober

4) Repeat (you can do it daily, like me, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. What ever you decide, just be consistent with it. INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better.)

So this year, I’m focusing on getting a little experience with a brush and ink. I’m using round #4 and #6 brushes and 50/50 mix of ProArt waterproof india ink and Liquitex INK! Transparent Burnt Sienna over my line work done with a Faber-Castell PITT pen, size S (.5mm). All the ink is waterproof in case I want to go back over it with watercolor or gouache later.Anikanas monster for the Hobomancer game setting by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family
This little beauty is a monster from the Hobomancer roleplaying setting by Hex Games.INKtober Day two, the costume pitch drawing by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

You may recognize this one from last week’s Life With Girls comic. Life With Girls started life as single panel illustrated status updates. It was kind of nice to get back to it’s roots for a bit.INKtober day three, Utah Raptor by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

Penny Loves Dinosaurs is still going strong. Doing little drawings like this of Utah Raptor gives me a chance to think about what we’d like to talk about and how.INKtober day three, Badger Mage by Jeffrey Johnson of Handmade Family

My sketch book is becoming more and more populated by these animal adventurers as I dig deeper into a larger story that I want to tell. I tinted this guy with Watercolor  Gouache.