A Sketch A Day: 2013

Setting The Stage

I am working on some monster videos! For real! I made a few very rough tests this past two weeks and today I set the still camera up for my first ever time-lapse video to document the building the set for a video I’m making of La Société des Monstres Célèbres trimming a Christmas tree! Last year, the monstres helped trim our people sized tree, but this year, they’re going to have one to their scale and a cozy room with a fireplace to hang out in, too!

I started by testing out a tree I made from cardboard. For the past year, I’ve been curating several set design inspiration boards on Pinterest, and I browsed through them to get some ideas. (This one and this one in particular.) Next I got out some samples of Rosco scenic paint. Chris and I took a class in set painting a couple of years ago at Hollywood Lighting and the Rosco rep showed us some great techniques and gave us some samples of their super saturated paint, which is specially designed for set painting. It’s perfectly matte, so it doesn’t wreak havoc on the lighting by creating reflections and the high pigment concentration means it can be highly diluted and still cover a large area.

Next, three dear and talented friends, Kate and her two boys Henry and Ben, came over for a few hours to help me get the creative juices flowing and conjure up some Christmas spirit! We all crammed into the tiny overstuffed room that is the photo studio and sat down with paper and pen to chat about the project.  When we were done we had a prop list—special thanks to secretary, Henry—and a rough outline of the story.

Then it was time to cue the Christmas music and get crafting!  Our materials were cardboard, wooden blocks, empty plastic food containers, fancy pipe cleaners, tape, glue, ribbons, yarn, felt, construction paper, odd bits of packing foam, faux fur, and scraps of wrapping paper from Christmases past. By the time we were done, we had the beginnings of a really festive living room filled with wrapped presents for under the tree, a fire in the fireplace under a mantel decked in garlands, a flower arrangement, and stockings, and a window with a view of a snowman that even has snow on the windowsill. I am truly enchanted by the experience of working with such lovely, creative friends to bring the monster’s world to life.

Here it is, a time-lapse video of the set coming together, with music by my talented brother, Geordie Thompson, a track from his 2010 project, P-Beat. I hope you enjoy the show!


A Sketch A Day: November

I got started a bit late in the month because I went to New York (more on that later!) and ended up not having time to sketch. Then I got sick while I was travelling. By the 19th, though, I was sketching again.

At Shakespeare and Co., a book and art supply store right near Baruch College in midtown Manhattan, I bought myself a great little sketch book of the moleskine type, but with the toothier paper I prefer. In theory, this much smaller sketch book and limiting myself to only pencil (not watercolor) will help me sketch every day instead of spend several hours one day and then skip several because I don’t think I have time for an elaborate drawing. My goals for this practice are: to become fluent with the tools through sheer repetition, to practice finding a sketch, and to start to get a sense of what truly interests me over time.

I am still using up the larger sketchbook that I started in Hawaii this summer. I hate leaving sketchbook pages blank. I never feel justified putting them onto the finished journal/sketchbook shelf until every last page has been used, but I also don’t like have large gaps of several years between the beginning of a book and the end.

Book Review: British Landscape Watercolors 1750-1850

British Landscape Watercolors, 1750-1850British Landscape Watercolors, 1750-1850 by Jane Munro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has almost driven me crazy with love. I’ve made discoveries of artists like Peter DeWint who I’d never heard of before. After looking and looking, I have to say that I very much appreciate transparent watercolor, particularly the skill (which I don’t have), but I am consistently drawn to the works in which the artist uses some “body color”, what I’m taking to be gouache. Over all, the drawings and painting in this book are lovely, quiet, mostly monochromatic, and sensitive renderings of landscape. I think I’m most surprised by JM Turner’s watercolors. Somehow I had never seen any of them, and now understand why he is justifiably famous for them. I like them better than his oils.

View all my reviews


Because I’m getting back into working with watercolor after several years, I decided to make a few palettes to re-familiarize myself the colors I had in my collection by making some palettes. I’m getting ready to go to New York (!) in a week and a half, and I’ve decided to bring a sketchbook, a watercolor block, and some paints. I’ll probably stick with a limited palette based around ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, cadmium yellow pale, alizarin crimson, and spectrum red.