Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Find your beach

Here's my sketch for Christmas this year. Nothing fancy. Just Kris and the little ones taking a well-deserved day off. With Coronas. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vampire Bats

Scanned directly from my sketchbook, here's a page of bats to celebrate Halloween. I started the page with the idea that I was going to fill the whole thing with bats. I wanted to push myself to come up with as many ideas as I could because I tend to start sketching and get lazy about it way too soon. As you can see, the first ones I drew at the top of the page are nowhere near as good as the ones that showed up on the bottom. (Click the image to see it biggie-sized.)

I'm working on painting a few of these little guys on my iPad. I found a fun new app called Auryn Ink that paints like watercolor. It even has a tilt function that, if you tilt your iPad, it makes the pigment collect in the direction you're tilting. I'm playing around with it to use as the background.

The next page in my sketchbook is all about pumpkins. I've noticed in recent years that pumpkin nummies are a whole lot more numerous than when I was growing up. Pumpkin gobs. Pumpkin cake. Pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin donuts. Pumpkin Spice Latte. Pumpkin soup. Pumpkin rolls. I think all we had when I was little was pumpkin pie. It's too bad this only lasts about two months out of the year. I haven't found a pumpkin nummy yet that I didn't like.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sketchbook Project Special Edition 2012—Oscar #sketchbookproject

Here's the next page from my Sketchbook Project Limited Edition sketchbook. I've filled the entire sketchbook with Square Kats, but the twist was, I drew them all using markers. From the first pages of the sketchbook, you can pretty much tell I haven't used markers all that much. O.K. I haven't used them at all. This was all new to me, but by the time I got to Oscar I was starting to learn a little.
Just a little.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New site up and running

I just uploaded a completely new website for The Rots (http://www.the-rots.com). I spent a long time getting these pages together and working. The original site was built completely in Flash (http://www.the-rots.com/old), but that was years before Steve Jobs decided the iPads he wanted to sell in the future wouldn't include the ability to view Flash. And I, like so many others, really need to listen to Steve.

I also had to build separate style sheets for tablets and other mobile devices, because those also weren't much of a factor when I built the original site. But it's finished, and I'll tweak if necessary, and hopefully (hopefully) the site will work for whoever wants to take a look.

So, if you're so inclined, I would really appreciate some extra eyeballs looking over the site. I need to know if it's working on everything it was designed for. I've already hit a snag with my smart phone, which doesn't want to recognize the style sheet I built for smaller devices, and I'm not sure how to make that work.

What I need is a web guru that will sit under my desk like a troll and look over my coding when I run in to problems. I just don't know any gurus, so I guess I'll be trolling the help forums online.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sketchbook Project Special Edition 2012—Snowflake #sketchbookproject

Here's the next page from my Sketchbook Project Special Edition. I was having so much trouble with the markers that I went the safe route: no browns to speak of and not a lot of colors to mess up.
I also went safe with the drawing. I had originally drawn Snowflake for Christmas cards that I sent out last year, and I thought he would be a good confidence booster considering how much markers are hating me right now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stuft Rots idea

I pulled out my sewing machine yesterday to do some repair work and got an itch while it was out. Here's what happened when I decided to scratch:

I had some old fabric that I wasn't using for anything because it was stained. I think I was keeping it to use as a possible drop cloth.

I created a pattern months ago based on the size of a dryer sheet (I want to use them to recycle them), so I used that on this fabric to make my Stuft Rots Square Kat prototype.

I did a little embroidering before I sewed it. Buttons for eyes and embroidery floss for the nose and heart.

As I was embroidering, I saw this stray thread on the floor that had missed the garbage can when I was doing my sewing repair work earlier. I think it was a sign.

At this point in the contruction of "Ralphie" I started getting a little excited and totally forgot to keep taking photos as I went. I didn't remember again until he was finished, so you'll have to just do a little imagining as to what the interim steps looked like. (Sorry.)

That little bit of blue fabric sticking out from the right side of him under his arm is just a placeholder for a label. He measures 6¾" tall from ear to toe.

I have some fur that I found at JoAnn's that was made from plastic bottles. It came in a bunch of different colors: brown, tan, white, black and cream. I've been thinking of all kinds of ways to customize each one with different eye buttons, sew-on button shapes, collars, collar tags, clothes and even knitted sweaters, to name a few. I also would like to make a line using recycled things like those dryer sheets and leftover printed fabric that I've collected through the years. I'm also thinking they could be customized for special occasions and holidays, and people could even give them with maybe a ring on an arm or a necklace or earrings. School colors are also a possibility. I could make smaller versions with something attached to the tops of their heads so they could hang (maybe like illegally from your rearview mirror).

So many ideas, I hope I've written everything down.

Right now I'm just wondering if I would be able to sell these little guys and send them out with their adoption papers. They would probably need about a $35 price tag for me to make any money doing the work.

Please let me know what you think. This would be a big (huge) time consumer, and I need to make a decision whether to put a lot of it into them.

Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Sketchbook Project Special Edition 2012—Just Turn the Page #sketchbookproject

Maybe this isn't the best Square Kat I've ever drawn. O.K. It isn't. But he's in the Sketchbook now, and markers are more permanent than plastic so there isn't anything I can do about it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sketchbook Project Special Edition 2012—Cupid #sketchbookproject

Here's the next page of my Art House Co-op Sketchbook Project Special Edition. I'm still working with markers here, and it's hard when you don't have the colors you need. Cupid ended up being yellow, which I really didn't like. I went over him with a lighter colored pencil to take off the edge, but I don't know that it helped much.

The whole idea of the Sketchbook Project is to try out something new. They don't expect you to make a masterpiece, so I need to cut myself a little slack.

So that's what I'm doing. I'm looking for my sharp cutting implement right now.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Smokey Bones

My napkin @ Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, 100 Power Line Dr, Greensburg PA.

Weird is the new normal, part 2 #weirdwins

In my last post on Tuesday I gave you an idea of the weird I am now; I have toys. Lots and lots of toys. And I'm winning. Not in the Charlie Sheen kind of way, more like the Rotty kind of way.

But I wasn't always winning. I guess to be a winner you have learn to be a loser first.

Like lots of kids, I looked kind of funny, which made me terribly uncomfortable in social situations. I had a unibrow that I wasn't allowed to split until I was in seventh grade. I also wasn't allowed to shave or wear pantyhose until then either, which meant I gave up on shorts and dresses and staying over at friends' houses. I had teeth with gaps so wide I could slide my tongue between them. My skin started breaking out early, which was bad enough, but other kids actually accused me of thinking I was a big shot because I had something everybody else didn't get until they were teenagers. (Yeah. Zits.) I was flat-chested and never grew out of it. I had (and have) nine toenails. One just decided it didn't want to grow any bigger than a pinhead. Swimming in public (meaning, without shoes) just wasn't happening for me.

Adding to my self-conscious looks was my abnormal interests. I didn't like shopping with my friends. I didn't really know how. Their moms would take us to look at clothes, and I would follow them around the store without looking at anything. I would have rather been playing baseball with my uncle, which didn't go over well with the girls I knew. I played drums, I didn't want to wear makeup, and I certainly didn't like talking on the phone.

To fit in, I found myself trying to be smart and funny. Smart and funny for me combined into smart assiness and, at the time, that didn't help. As I grew older, I realized the people I considered to be my best friends all those years all considered somebody else to be their best friends. And that hurt.

So I withdrew inside my little world. I became quiet and observant and geeky. I drew pictures. That was something I could do by myself. And for years I drew what people would have expected me to draw. But then, almost overnight, I found myself ready to give up on trying to be normal. The characters I had been drawing changed from what was considered normal to characters that came straight from my innards. I decided it was time to embrace my weirdness.

It was time for The Rots.

The view in my hallway.
The Rots are twisted little characters that don't even attempt normality. They are who they are and I think they enjoy it. And I think other people out there must, too. Last check, 4,000 people out there are liking The Rots Facebook page. 4,000! After seeing The Rots for the first time on Facebook, a person I used to think of as a childhood friend asked me, "How did this happen?" as if it wasn't normal.

I never got back to her.

The first book I ever illustrated was called Yikes! Wow! Yuck! Fun Experiments for Your First Science Fair, and I probably wouldn't have gotten the job if the art director had thought I might have been normal.

I wrote and illustrated my first book, and that wouldn't have happened if I was living the 50% gray life of normality. The book is called Twisted: Tales to Rot Your Brain Vol 1, and the people at the Midwest Book Review like it. So do the people at Publishers Weekly. And Kirkus Reviews. The people at Kirkus liked it so much they asked to do an interview with me.

The poster in my office space.
Forget normal. Normal is overrated. Normal is gray and boring and unflavored tofu. Normal doesn't get to have this in its office space. (Thank you much, @ParaNorman!)

Do yourself a favor and go see ParaNorman, and every time you read the name "ParaNorman" convince yourself that it actually says, "ParaNora."

Because, really, it does.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weird is the new normal, part 1 #weirdwins

I've been paying maybe a little too much attention to the release date of the new ParaNorman movie, and I think time is actually slowing down as we get closer. So to pass the time, I've been thinking about my own normalness and whether or not my normal would be acceptable in mainstream circles.

As I was writing this, I realized I had too many things to add, so I broke it up into two posts (unless I find more as I go). Part two should run Friday.

If someone were to look around where I'm sitting now, they would be hard pressed to find a space that didn't include some sort of inspirational toy. I don't know how normal it is, but it's definitely healthy. This is the view right in front of me:

Left to right (and back to front): Stain Boy; iFrank; a hand carved skull from New Orleans; ParaNorman; Ice Bat; an ugly stuffed animal that shall remain nameless; American Gothick; ParaNorman postcard (I'll show that better on Friday); Mr. Gosh, Lenore, and Pooty and Ragamuffin.

To my left sits the Danny Elfman/Tim Burton boxed set which has its own dedicated table, of course. This is the vault that gets raided when I have to read or write because I have trouble putting words in my eyes or sending them out my fingers when I have words already going in my ears. Mostly music-only, totally minor key.

Inside a TV stand that would normally (there's that "normal" thing again) hold a DVD player and DVDs: Two sets of Tragic Toys; Tim Burton playing cards; Nightmare Before Christmas figurines; and a Gashlycrumb Tinies lunchbox (a gift from my daughter; apparently she's accepted the twistedness).

Inside that same TV stand, looking from the other direction you might see the Tim Burton MoMA exhibit program; Nightmare Before Christmas Trivial Pursuit game; more Nightmare figurines, a keychain and a zipper pull (I've always wanted to attach that to a zipper, but I was afraid I would lose it, so it's still sitting in its plastic package); Lenore toys; and two more sets of Tragic Toys.

Above me hangs my Animal puppet that I've had since the '70's (O.K. There's my age.) Around that same time I wrote in and asked for an autographed photo of Animal, and they actually sent me one. I was pretty surprised when that happened. I still have it somewhere, and when I find it, I'll post it.

On the shelf below Animal sits a Jack Skellington which was handmade for me by my daughter (I'm not sure the effect I've had on her normality) and a face sculpture you're supposed to put in your garden. I'm not really sure how it works, but I liked his face sticking up from my shelf so he never made it outside.

You know that scene in E.T. where Elliot brings E.T. into his bedroom and starts showing him all his toys? That's me with somebody new. These are a few of my favorite things, and you're my somebody new. On Friday I'll show you more and maybe even a little of how I think I got this way.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sketchbook Project Special Edition 2012—Stripes #sketchbookproject

Here's another spread from my Sketchbook Project Limited Edition.

I really wasn't liking the markers as I worked on this. The ArtHouse people encourage you to try new mediums and ideas and to embrace the idea of a sketchbook, but it's still embarrassing to my sensitive little ego to put something like this out there for all the world to point and laugh at.

(O.K. Maybe not all the world. I doubt that many people will be looking.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

I done me another iPad painting

Got to working on another painting on my iPad. I used the Procreate app and did a little color and texture tweaking in Photoshop.

His name is Ted. The bunny's still working out a name.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New studio mascots via @Taxidermied

Added to my collection of studio toy supervisors: Mr. Gosh, Lenore, Ragamuffin and Pooty Applewater based on the Lenore comics by Roman Dirge. I've been eyeing these little guys up for a very (very) long time. I don't usually take PVC sets out of the box, but these are so adorable, how could you not want to cuddle them?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

A black cat for your Friday the 13th.

I drew this with a marker in my sketchbook first, took a photo of the drawing with my iPad, and brought the drawing into the Procreate app to add color. I tweaked the colors and added a tiny bit of texture in the background in Photoshop.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Sketchbook Project has been digitized

So I kind of made the mistake of signing up for the Sketchbook Project: Limited Edition earlier this year, and I ended up getting pressed for time (doesn't everybody?), and delivered a sketchbook that tells the story of what a bad time I had trying to make a new medium (markers) work. I started posting the pages here and here and here on the blog, and then I got sidetracked, as I tend to do.

Anyway, they've gone and digitized the sketchbook so you can see all of it at once (well, at once, but just two pages at a time) on their site: http://www.arthousecoop.com/library/10060. Still not too proud of how it turned out, but it's a slice in time, and I was learning, and I got some practice on my lettering skills.

By the way, the sketchbook is all about the Square Kats, and I went and bought the domain squarekats.com even though I don't know when I'll find the time to build a site for it. But I'll work on it, and I'll let you know when it happens.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Animal Muppet puppet in my studio

Meet my supervisor. He stares at me while I work. Somewhere I also have an autographed 8"x10" black and white glossy of Animal. Yes, somebody actually autographed it for me.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Twisted: Tales to Rot Your Brain has won two awards!

My book Twisted: Tales to Rot Your Brain Vol. 1 won two Purple Dragonfly Book Awards! First Place in the Fiction: Collection of Short Stories category and Second Place in the Interior Design category. Here's a link to all the wieners:


They sent me stickers that I can stick on the books that show that it won, but they're a little limited in number so I'll have to stick them sparingly and strategically. Like pasties, I guess.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I've been painting on my iPad

So I've been messing around with the brushes and settings and gestures in Procreate on my iPad, and I'm finding out it's a lot more powerful than I expected. I still have a lot to learn, but this is Marley. He's the first all-out painting I finished there. I added textures in Photoshop to finish him up.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Sketchbook Project Special Edition 2012—April Fool #sketchbookproject

And this would be the second double-page spread from my Sketchbook Project Special Edition sketchbook. The initial Square Kats drawings seem to be fine; it's the coloring in with markers thing that's really turning me off. I think I'll still use the Kats in paintings later though, so all is not lost.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Audacity of Earning a Living Making Art

I'll be the first to admit I've been slacking in the social media arena lately. I haven't been keeping up with my blogs or my Twitter updates or my Facebook posts. It's hard to post when you don't have anything to show for yourself.

Here's the thing: I haven't had anything to post because I haven't had time to work on anything, and it's killing me. I have a day job, and they're short-handed right now so my schedule has cut drastically into my artwork time (and my sleeping time and my eating time and my breathing time).

And my Facebook page has suffered for it.

I don't really understand what's happening there. When I don't post for a while, I lose followers of the page. I get that. They want a page that's more updated. I'll post things like sketches and finished paintings and announcements about exhibits I'm in or books I've worked on. In between those, if I find news online that I think my followers might be interested in, I'll post a link to that, too. I don't post often, but when I do post something, I turn around and lose a ton of followers! Someone even accused me once of posting spam!

I don't get it. Why do people follow my Facebook page? What do they think they're getting when they hit the "Like" button? I'm an artist and an illustrator and a writer. I want to earn my living by making artwork. If I didn't have to pay the bills, I'd be making artwork all the time. That's what I'd be doing instead of sleeping and eating and breathing.

It feels like a no-win situation. I lose people when I don't post, and I lose even more when I do. When I do post, that means I've had the time to make something new, but that seems to be exactly what's turning people off.

So after much deliberation, I've decided I'm going to keep making art. That's what I do and who I am. And then after I've made the art, I'm going to post it online, in spite of all the people getting turned off over it. I'm hoping somewhere there are people who want to see it and maybe even support it someday. I'm not going to be afraid of showing what I can do.

I'm glad I thought of that, and I thank you sincerely for listening.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Sketchbook Project Special Edition 2012—Vincent #sketchbookproject

O.K. Here's my first poor attempt at marker art. Markers feel like all the bad things that watercolor and pen & ink have to offer: none of them are very forgiving. I'm also kind of stuck with the colors I have, and I'm not able to blend them very well. I ended up going over the cat fur with a white pencil to lighten it up a little.

So far I'm not liking the markers. I hope I don't embarrass myself with this little side project.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Nickelodeon Cartoons on Acid! (Publishers Weekly says so)

Oh, man.

Publishers Weekly went and reviewed my new book, Twisted: Tales to Rot Your Brain Vol. 1, and it looks like they've given it a thumbs up:

"In stories that last only a few pages and comics that resemble Nickelodeon cartoons on acid, Thompson riffs on zombie, werewolf, and other ghoulish genres, while also finding the horrific in unexpected places...Just the thing for readers who aren't scared of the dark—or for those who are and like it."
Even my dad picked out the "Nickelodeon cartoons on acid" line as a favorite. He should have. That's where I get it from.

Here's a link to the entire review: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-9836699-0-6

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sketchbook Project Special Edition 2012—Cover #sketchbookproject

So I went and joined the Art House Co-op and their Special Edition Sketchbook Project. They're going to print at least one spread from each sketchbook they get back in a series of books they'll be publishing documenting the project.

I know. I almost have time for this.

I decided to try out a relatively new medium for me: markers. That might be an idiot of an idea, but I've also decided to draw things that aren't so new for me: Square Kats. Hopefully the markers will be kind.

Here's the cover and the first page pages:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Deck 7 skateboards now awaiting your bid

My skateboard for the Montana Skatepark Association is available for your bid: http://www.montanaskatepark.org/ondeck-boards/nora-thompson/

I posted progress reports as I painted the deck, and you can find the lot of them here.

Go. Bid. Help raise a little money for some free public skateparks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

So looking forward to ParaNorman

Soooo looking forward to August 17. I think I'm growing a stop-motion fetish. Don't you just want those maquettes to play with for yourself?

You don't become a hero by being normal.

ParaNora. That's what they meant to call it. Para. Nor. A.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Now accepting credit cards!

So when the nice people at the Frick asked me if I would be able to take credit cards at my book signing tomorrow (see details below), I had to honestly tell them "no."


A day and a half later I bought myself an iPad (geeky dance around the room) and got busy with Square. Square is a tiny little thing that plugs into your ear bud jack and you swipe cards through it. The reader is free; the app that goes with it is also free.

And it's really fun (and easy) to use.

I've inventoried everything that I'll be selling (hardcover and paperback books, prints, posters and bookmarks) and added images and prices for each. So all I have to do is touch the product that someone is buying and the app starts up a tally.

Oh. The details about tomorrow:

What: Book signing (along with my new buddy Stacy Innerst)
Date: Saturday, April 14
Time: 1:30-2:30 pm
Location: The Frick Art & Historical Center, in the museum rotunda

And! It's Friday the 13th! It doesn't get any better than this.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I've got a book signing!

Now I went and did it.

This Saturday, April 14 between 1:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon, in the rotunda at the Frick Art & Historical Center, along with my new buddy Stacy Innerst, I will be signing copies of my book Twisted: Tales to Rot Your Brain Vol. 1. I will also have prints and posters from the book on hand and free bookmarks for each book purchase.

So, in case you missed it:
What: Book signing for Family Day at the Frick
When: Saturday, April, 14 from 1:30-2:30
Where: Frick Art & Historical Center
Why: Because I'm a starving artist. Oh, and the Frick is exhibiting Draw Me a Story: A Century of Children's Book Illustration. But mostly because I'm a starving artist

Please don't let me be embarrassed with nobody in my line and everybody in Stacy's.


Friday, April 06, 2012

So looking forward to Frankenweenie

So so so looking forward to October 5. I want a Sparky dog stuffed animal doll. The stitched one. With a removable tail.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Skateboard for On Deck 7: Progress 5 It's Aliiiiive!!!

I've finished the skateboard for On Deck VII, and here he is. I still have to attach the hanging hardware, package him up and send him off, but the creative part is complete.

I've decided to call it Bruce after the shark in the movie Jaws. I haven't decided whether the brusher's name is Bruce or the brushee, and I don't think I will.

Friday, March 23, 2012