Monday, November 26, 2012

The Christmas ornaments are out!

Yay! It's the holidays! As an exercise in class today we drew Christmas ornaments. I really need to do more of this. It was a ton of fun :)

On a mildly related side note, I had kind of a cool thought yesterday, and a mid-holidays personal resolution.
It is so cool (and sadly under-noticed) that in America our 'holiday season' kicks off with none other than Thanksgiving, the holiday dedicated to gathering together those nearest and dearest to you and counting your blessings. What a way to start out the best part of the year, really.
I've resolved to do my best to let this influence every bit of my holiday season.

Cool little moment. Maybe its a little silly, but it was a bit of a perspective change.

Anyway, hope you all had a terrific Thanksgiving, and that your Christmas preparations go well and any traveling you do goes safely and if anything goes wrong it's the sort that gives you good stories to tell at the other end ;)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Landscape, continued...

So, after I had the composition and my basic color scheme figured out, it was time to get over my qualms and start the piece. I should have taken more in progress shots, so you all could see how ugly an oil painting starts out, but I was actually focused, and didn't think of it. Oops.

Initially I had this piece planned for a larger canvas that was about the proportion of those initial sketches, but because of time constraints I had to do some quick problem solving and figure out how to make it work on a smaller canvas.

I've done a piece before with this really lovely vignette effect that I thought might look really nice if I got the right level of detail into the interior of the painting, and frame the image, leading the eye in deeper to the image. I think in the end it actually worked, and my teacher seemed to get it. He actually gave me a couple of suggestions to make it a little more successful that I'm going to try once the paint sets a bit more.

Anyway, with all that prep the painting actually went really smoothly, especially for anything oil paint related and me... up till this point. And then something about the composition just really started bothering me.

At this point I remembered a post I'd read by Justin Gerard about something Rembrandt reportedly did- whenever he got stuck on a painting, instead of pushing through and, like I always do, risking ruining the whole thing, he would do small studies of the painting to figure out the problems. Gerard picked up the idea... but digitally. So, I decided to give it a try.

It actually helped a ton!

Many hours later and a little more back and forth and I'm actually really happy with where it's heading... and i've hit that point where the fear sets in. You know you're close, and you have that last set of details you want to add, and you know they're absolutely crucial to the painting.

You also know that at this point you have every potential to absolutely destroy everything you've done so far.

So, I took one last photo, and went back to my trusty Paint Tool SAI and started messing about again. It really saved my tail. It doesn't seem like much, but this was the first substantial composition change I'd made to the painting since I'd come up with it in the first place. It is much better for it, really, but there's really no way it would have happened without the digital 'inter-medium'...

And after another few hours of touch-ups and fiddling, here's my final piece. :)

I am rather pleased with the end result. There are certainly things that need to be fixed, but on the whole I think I'm finally getting the hang of oils :D

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Landscape in Progress

Finally, some original art! Yay! (that I'm not afraid or ashamed to show! Yay!)

To get things rolling again around here, I'm going to start out with a couple posts on the progress of this oil paint landscape. First stage- reference. Color, composition, material, whatever you are referencing, find it. It's always best to get your own shots, so you'll be certain to get just what you need, but in a pinch the internet sometimes has something close. I can say I definitely didn't take that lovely foggy shot, but it ended up helping me a ton in my color roughs.

Also, on-site studies, even better than any photograph ever. I'm terrible at them, but they still help a ton.

Next stage, composition sketches. I struggle with color a lot, so I keep them in greyscale and leave the color out of the mix entirely. Also, I'm really coming to love doing almost all of my fiddly composition work digitally. It seems to save a lot of headaching.

These are a few of the best that I thought up. I still struggle with this a bit. I used to do this part all in my head, which is problematic in a lot of ways. It's like doing math in your head. Yeah, you might do it alright most of the time, but then sometimes you're wrong, or you miss something, and you won't know where or when it was because you never wrote it down. So, I'm trying to train myself out of a very bad habit and actually draw out my thought process. My art really is improving as I do so.

Next comes the color studies. This is my favorite digital trick in the pre-painting stage.

See? So simple! You just take your favorite composition and go over and over and over again with all your different color potentials. Which is the same thing as you'd be doing by hand, except in this case you don't have to worry about the composition constantly accidentally changing on you, too. Fewer happy accidents, but far fewer frustrations as well. 

Aaaand I think that's it for tonight. Next post I'll get into the actual painting :) I'll have to see the finished thing in the light of day, but I think I actually like this one.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Not of the Hunger Games variety.
So, yesterday was shawarma. Today I talk about how I discovered my oven could get up to five hundred degrees.
It was deliberate.
We made pita bread, to put our delicious shawarma and tahini spread into. Using this lovely recipe we discovered on, we successfully made a double recipe of sixteen lovely light brown puffy hollow pita pockets :)

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115°F)
  • 2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets (I just lightly rubbed flour over the sheets)

  • As far as the steps, we followed this recipe pretty religiously and it worked wonders. It's a bit long and involved, but I looked through several recipes and it is not at all the longest or most involved of all the recipes even just on the front page.
    As far as the recipe, we used an even half and half mixture of unbleached flour and whole wheat flour, and simply used three cups of it.
    Well, we used six, because we doubled the recipe.
    It was a lot of pita.
    We planned on having a lot of leftovers.
    It's not quite going as planned.

    Regardless, the recipe goes as follows.

    "Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour."

    Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round to 1 of 2 baking sheets lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with 2 clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

    -----Set oven rack in lower third of oven and-----

    -----remove other racks-----


    Preheat oven to 500°F.

    Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm. Bake remaining 4 pitas in same manner. Serve warm."

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm tastey.
     mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm tastier.

     tahini sauce.

    Shawarma chicken. Best stuff in the whole world, in my humble opinion. I will definitely be repeating this experience.
    Tomorrow or the next day, I will be posting art! Yay!

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012


    ...for those of you who have seen 'How it Should Have Ended' for the Avengers.

    Or, on other words, shawarma.

    I have an awesome boyfriend, by the way. After seeing the Avengers, most boys went around quoting Iron Man and pretending to be Captain America. Well, no- ...okay, yes, there was and is some of that. But. But, my favorite part is when he comes back and says that he wants to go see it again at the local discount theatre and then come back and make shawarma.
    Of course, college life being what it is, things didn't go quite as planned, and we didn't get to do things quite in that order.
    The actual making of the shawarma meat was stretched over two days (which didn't hurt the marinade in the least, I must say), and then we had to wait another two days to make the pita bread to put the stuff in, and we won't even get to eat the sandwiches until tomorrow! However, we've gotten to sample everything along the way and it all appears a smashing success.
    We just haven't had a chance to assemble our heroic meal yet.
    See what I did there?
    I should be ashamed of myself, shouldn't I?
    I'm not.

    On to shawarma!
    Because I was cooking as part of a team, I didn't do my typical recipe deconstruction, so I have actual recipes to refer you to today!
    The shawarma recipe comes from Wendy on

    • 1/2 cup malt vinegar
    • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
    • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
    • 1/2 cup tahini
    • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
    • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 4 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup sliced onion
    • 4 cups shredded lettuce
    • 8 pita bread rounds

    Okay... I did change a few things. For instance, I had only a couple little sauce packets of malt vinegar that I'd picked up at a fast food place ages ago, so I had to use the tail ends of some white balsamic and some rice vinegar that I had about.
    I just realized what an odd college student I am.
    Oh well.
    Probably could have used extra light olive oil just as well as vegetable oil in here, as the vinegar would have more than made up for any flavor discrepancies.
    Also, I used chicken breasts, and had already chunked them about half-fist-sized for portion control earlier. Worked just fine.
    One last note before we move on- cardamom is amazing. This cannot be understated. It is the miracle spice in this recipe. Wonderful.
    Moving on.

    As the recipe says, you put the chicken and the marinade in the baking dish, cover it, and stick it in the fridge. It says at least four hours to overnight. I say, if you go with that 'at least four hours' bit, you're crazy. Overnight is a minimum. We actually had to let it sit until i think around noon... I'll have to double check with him on that, the day was a bit hectic. However, the chicken had actually taken on a desaturated sort of color from the marinade by the time we got it in the oven.
    Now, I'm not saying it would be a good idea to marinate it for two days or anything! Heavens no! Just don't make the mistake of going half-way on this. I promise you, it's worth the wait.

    Oh... Aaaaand with that, it's almost one in the morning, I'm rambling, and I have cycling I'll continue this later ;)

    I'll talk about the perfect sauce and post some pictures with the next blog!

    Saturday, September 8, 2012


    I'm doin' it wrong! hahah. We have yet to see. Here's the first classes' results:

    This first is the result of about two and a half hours of frustration. I do have to say I am rather happy with that little bit of haze I got in at the base of the far mountains, though.

    This second I like a bit better, though it is nothing at all as intended. In fact, it is only the background layer. Had I spent any more than an hour (and maybe a half) on it, I would have worked in the trees in front that framed those clouds so dramatically. As it is, that cloud isn't half bad :)

    Also, I'm trying to get my pleinair kit together. Anyone ever done this before to have any input? Chair, no chair, easel, tripod, supplies, etc??? any suggestions would be most welcome!

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    back in business

    Back from New Jersey, survived the first week of classes, and thinking I might get enough of a routine down to do some art even outside of class :D

    For today, here's my first assignment for my digital painting class!

    I used this photo for reference. I love this lady's work!

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Happiness and Sunshine

    So, playing around with styles.
    And cats.
    And potential starter comic ideas.
    This might or might not actually be a life goal of mine now.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Of Birthdays

    Last week my was my mom's birthday! I made her a cake!

    I've never really decorated a cake before!


    Here's how it turned out looking. I promise it tasted better than it looked...

    So, the stuff on top is just a basic cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla concoction. For the drippy bit I heated it up a touch (though the new microwave is a nutcase and heated it a bit more than I wanted/expected/holycrapthisisburningmyfingertipsoff)
    The red part is just raspberry jam I thinned with some lemon juice and melted a bit before pouring it on and spreading it out.
    It's filled with more of the white frosting and some more of the jam mixture.
    The chocolate frosting is, once again, powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, (but with cocoa, unlike the white part) and vanilla, approximately in that proportional order, too, actually. Oh yeah, there was a dash of milk in there somewhere to thin it down a bit. I'd never really (successfully)  made frosting before and the internet was down so I couldn't look it up, so I have a particular friend (you know who you are <3 ) to thank for my limited knowledge on the subject.

    I think last time I tried making frosting with you, it actually ended up as cookies, didn't it?

    The cake itself is just a basic cake mix (though I got the extra rich chocolate kind, so not quite as basic as it could be.) I was worried about it supporting the shape and keeping together on top of a filling (Oh, I should have got a pic of the inside. Oh well.) So, I figured that if I kept out one egg (egg is a rising agent and I wanted the cake to be a bit denser, not so fluffy, so it would theoretically be stronger.) I also cut back on the water slightly and made the difference up with extra oil to make the cake stay a bit moister.

    It seems to have worked all right :)

    Just don't ask about the calorie count. That would defeat the purpose of cake.

    Oh, yeah, also, if you haven't figured it out, I did actually make it in safe, just far from on time. My biggest grievance is that I was stuck in an airport on the other end of the flight from the thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms. I wanted to see it : /

    Friday, August 10, 2012


    Yesterday some friends and I went up the canyon to ride inner tubes down the river.
    I have to say, I feel a little miffed. The worst I got was a scraped elbow from falling as I fought the current to get out of the river. After some of the 'battle wounds' everyone else was getting, I was hoping I'd have something showy to post a picture of... but all I managed to do was scrape up my elbow on a rock as I was trying to get out of the water.
    Honestly, they picked a terrible place to pull us out. A nice wide spot in the river, yes, but the banks were so grown over we couldn't see the vans waiting for us until we were practically past. The river pinched off directly after this deep slow part, and mot of us were stuck fighting the current back up to the pick up, on loose rock and hauling our tubes behind us. They threw me a rope, but that just made me want to move faster, and I ended up slipping and falling under the water with my tube over top of me. I got a good face full of water...
    and you know what? That river tasted better than my tap water XD

    And today I'm flying.
    Well... I will be. Eventually. My flight's been delayed two hours and counting.
    I'm missing all the fun weather in Jersey. So sad...

    EDIT: Still in the airport, distracting myself with stumbleupon. Fun stuff.
    I just had a major herp-a-derp moment...
    These lovely ladies, who run a much more beautiful and effective food blog than I, posted a little tidbit on cleaning up photos in Photoshop. I am in awe at their awesomeness and at the fact that I've never explored the program enough to figure this out for myself.
    In about twenty seconds I took this poor photo that you all saw a few weeks ago:

    and did this to it:

    It might not seem like a big deal you anyone else, but it's practically revolutionary to me :)

    I feel kinda silly now. I'll go finish my geek-out in private...

    They let us get on the plane!
    And then told us that it would be at least another hour and some before we took off and told us we could get back off the plane and wander around for a bit if we wanted.
    Now I'm back on the plane. Maybe we'll get to go soon? I want to be airborne!

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Diversions :)

    So, while letting a layer on the current project dry, I picked up a scrap piece of illustration board that's been sitting on my desk for months now and started doodling.
    Part of the reason I settled on this blog name is because of how much I love doodling trees. Only part, I assure you.
    But this made me particularly happy today :)

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    A bit of encouragement...

    Art is a hard field to break into. Not only is it highly competitive, filled with unbelievably talented people, picky employers and clients, critics of all sorts (unfortunately this includes a great many bandwagon people who are negative and harsh not because it helps anyone, or because they actually have any grounds for what they say, but because they believe if you have to be a critic you have to harshly criticize) and a negative stigma, but artists tend to be the most self-critical of all. Without a lot of support and external motivation, most prospective artists end up tearing themselves down emotionally long before they have a chance to grow.
    I found this comic a while ago, and it really catches the gist of what artistic hopefuls face emotionally every day. And, if they're truly blessed, they have friends or family or both who can pick them up after a rough day, brush them off, and say (i apologize for this, but the quote is perfect): "To hell with [them] then"

    Also, between finishing up projects here, getting ready for the upcoming semester, and getting ready for a trip, I'm not likely to be able to post any of my own art for a bit. See you all on the other side!

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    These always turn into something different...

    All I was going to do was a quick speed-paint of a face, and some really nice graphic white silhouette hair. Something like this:

    ...more or less. First off, I was really silly and decided I didn't want to find reference for the face. So that took a while, and next time I look at it I'll probably see a million errors. Oh well.
    Secondly, though, as soon as I'd finished drawing that hair... I thought 'Oh, I wonder what it would look like with color!'
    Darnit. And I was going to just watch a movie and go to bed. Oops.
    Here are my top two options. I'd really appreciate some input, which you guys like best, either way. 



    Oh, also today, I saw MIB:3 and was pleasantly surprised. It was pretty fun, if a bit predictable. Definitely worth a two-dollar ticket. Why in the world don't they have dollar theatres everywhere? I love this place.

    Ponies! (ohdearthere'snosavingmenow)

    Actually, I haven't watched much of the show. What I have done is watch several terrific artists who do.
    As I mentioned in my last post, one of the artists I particularly admire, Cheeko, did a rendition of all the Avengers as Ponies from MLP:FIM. She's graciously given me permission to post my colors and line-work online. She even said she liked the purple in Hulk's mane and tail :D
    Here's my finished Thor and Hulk.

    Loki, you're next XD

    Also, any of you who like art, do art, or like MLP, I would love some input on the lines and colors! I'm really trying to improve here and this style is particularly difficult for me. Anything you see that I could improve on would help!

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Some fun :D

    So... You know that really odd situation we have set up for ourselves these days where you have these friends who you really like and respect but have never actually met in real life? One of my friends of that particular sort is Cheeko. I've been following her for some time and have had some fun conversations back and forth. (A side note being that she is really popular online and probably doesn't even register I'm the same person from conversation to conversation... but oh well. I guess that just makes me a creepy stalker XD ) A few weeks ago she posted her rendition of the cast of the Avengers as Ponies. I commented to her about how they were really awesome and would probably get really popular really fast, but she brushed off the comment with a laugh and moved on with her life and art. So what did I do? I took that as a personal challenge.
    I am a fan of a website called 'I Waste So Much Time'. Many of you have probably heard of it. I really do waste so much time on it. It's my go-to site on migraine days.
    So, to try to boost the viewership of Cheeko's piece, I decided that every other day or so until they accepted it, I would submit Cheeko's piece to be featured on the site. It took about four days. (immadork)
    I don't know if I can really accept credit, but I like to think so.

    So...yeah. To further prove that I have no life, I had decided earlier that I wanted to finish inking and coloring the ones she hasn't finished.

    Actually, I really wanted to do it because I want to practice the coloring style she used. I really struggle with clean inking and coloring, especially digitally. Most learning artists will agree (at least most I've ever met) that it is nice, when you're trying to learn something, to take out the steps that you're not actually focusing on. In this case, I took out the design and drawing steps by borrowing Cheeko's base and 'just' inking over it.

    Here's a little preview of how it's going :D (I'm kind of struggling, but I know I'll have learned a ton from this exercise in the end)

    (Oh, yeah, also, before I post anything finished, I'm going to ask her if she doesn't mind me posting them here. So teasers is all you may get :) )

    Sunday, July 29, 2012

    Sunday Feature!

    I know, my last post was a sunday, too, wasn't it? oops. hahah, well, hopefully this week you'll be able to see some in-progress shots of a reproduction I'm doing as a gift for my dad.
    First off, though, it's still actually Sunday for about fifteen minutes, so I'm gonna do this feature thing!

    Since inspiration has been something I've been severely lacking in for some time now, here's some inspiring things!

    'Vanishing Cultures Photography' has been one of my favorite go-to sites for a long time whenever I need something to push a particular story or character along. This photographer travels the world in search of the rare and the incredible. Some of their stories in the 'journeys' section of the website are just so incredible and touching.
    Unfortunately I can't repost any pictures from their website- you'll just have to go explore for yourself :)

    'The Cool Hunter' is pretty much what it sounds like- they hunt down cool stuff and blog about it. My favorite running series of posts is 'places to experience around the globe'. Such an amazing series! And I love the fact that on the first page of the series I find a place I've already been...

    Multnomah Falls, Oregon

    I'm always on the lookout for things like this, that make you sit back and realize how wonderful and amazing the world is. If you're ever feeling down or in a rut and just want to see something really cool, go to youtube, and search 'people are amazing' or 'people are awesome'. One of my favorite things to do.
    Where do you go for inspiration? What are you most amazed by? Please do share!

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Quick Sunday Feature (it's not sunday anymore at all, but oh well)

    So, some of you know I'm kind of avidly into webcomics... maybe not just kind of. I actually have a dream of someday starting up one of my own, as soon as I find a style that I not only like but can actually do well, and as soon as I have the kinks hammered out of this plot I've been working on for years now...
    So this is likely to be the first of many webcomic features :)
    First off, Johnny Wander. A mostly autobiographical journal-comic, a team effort by artists
    and Ananth:
    I am absolutely in love with this comic and hope to someday meet these two (and perhaps to someday draw like them, too)

    The second for today is a fun fantasy/sci-fi romp that for some reason makes me think of Hell Boy artist Mike Mignola. Minor Acts of Heroism is a superhero comic with a classic flavor and a modern cast.
    The main cast features:
     12-year-old Everywhere Kid
     12-year-old Sergio Carter
     and the reigning king of Atlantis, 12-year-old Nilus

    As well as an assortment of generally (not at all) stuffy and unimportant adult figures, the King of the Vampires, an unbearably adorable hellhound, and a stuffed octopus.

    Go! Read! Be amazed! (or amused or aghast or whatever you prefer to do with comics)

    Also.. I don't know how to change time zones on this setup. It seems to think I'm in an entirely different time zone. I have to admit (it might explain something I haven't even realized I've said yet) that it is in fact three in the morning here... Couldn't convince myself to sleep. Oops.

    Friday, July 20, 2012

    Epic Pizza!

    So... I really need to figure out just what recipe my roommates used for this pizza crust. They say they just found it online, but it came out really really good. One thing I'll do next time, though, is brush the crust with olive oil and basil.

    The biggest key to amazing pizza is amazing crust. One trick to help that cause along is to PRE-BAKE your crust. Just till it starts to turn the lightest shade of gold.

    I think this one was my favorite pizza yet, though. And I've had some pretty epic pizza. (At the end of the post is a 'recipe' for the most epic pizza I've ever been part and party to...)

     So, as I said, the biggest trick to a really good pizza is the crust. Spare no expense/time/effort. The crust is key. Get it all ready to go, spread out on the pan, and poke it with a fork every few inches to prevent bubbles (i forgot to do this last time... oops). I like to pre-bake mine on a lightly greased pan, at about 450 (or so my oven claimed it was... it took longer to brown than it has in other ovens.)

    After that it's all up to your personal taste. For me, I can eat red-sauce pizzas... I just don't like them. They're just food. For a pizza to be something special and, well, title-of-pizza-worthy, it has to have either a white sauce or a pesto. Perhaps someday someone will come up with a tomato-based sauce that will convince me otherwise, but it has yet to happen.

    For this particular beauty, I used some of my roommate's alfredo sauce, and spread it very thinly over the warm crust with a rubber spatula, and mixed in some pesto for good measure.

    Then it was time for the first layer of actual toppings. First, a very light layer of mozzarella cheese. Sliced FRESH mushrooms, spinach leaves, and grilled chicken strips were next, followed by more mozzarella. Be generous with the cheese :)

    The fresh veggies are another reason to pre-bake your crust. If you're using fresh veggies, you want to be able to know that they are fresh even after the pizza is finished cooking. To actually pull this off, the veggies need to be in the oven for as little time as absolutely possible. Baking the crust first cuts the time the toppings are in the oven down, at the very least, by half.

    Oh, and another nice touch here is to sprinkle basil flakes over the whole thing. Some people also use parmesan cheese, the fine grainy kind you get in those little shakers. It browns very prettily and if you put enough can add to the flavor in a nice way.

    Then the pizza goes into the oven. Since it is already hot from baking the crust, just turn it to broil and toss the pizza in (you'll want to turn it down a bit to about 400-ish if your oven allows you to control the broil temp. Some don't, so don't worry if that's the case. As always when using a broiler, keep a close eye on your food!)
    When I looked in and saw that the cheese was mostly melted and the crust starting to darken, I pulled the pizza back out for a moment to garnish the top with thinly sliced tomatoes, the last of the sliced mushrooms, and spinach.

    Waiting till the last minute for that little touch makes sure that the fresh veggies on top look pretty and do not get over-cooked. It's especially important with the tomatoes, in my humble opinion, because the more a tomato gets cooked the more the flavor and texture are irreparably altered.

    ...and that's that. An amazing pizza (if I do say so myself) :D

    This is the Most Epic Deepest Dish Pizza I mentioned earlier-

    -use a deep casserole type dish for baking!
    -prepare crust and bake for ten minutes before topping. (this is important!)
    -put on desired amount of sauce (we used an onion and garlic tomato sauce)
    -one layer of pepperoni (as little gap as possible)
    -seasoned hamburger (our cheap sausage)
    -red and green bell peppers and green onions
    -cheese until you can't see the toppings anymore
    -tomatoes go on in the last five to ten minutes of baking

    We nearly filled the baking dish.

    We apologize for the interruption...

    ...but I have to say it.


    That is all.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012


    First off, my most recent cooking endeavor... I wanted honey walnut shrimp, like Panda Express makes. Minus the walnuts. Not because I'm opposed to walnuts at all... I was just too cheap and too lazy to actually go buy any.

    I looked up a few recipes, and the first thing I noticed was how all of them seemed to agree on the general ingredients, but nothing beyond that. The second thing was that I didn't really like the look of any of the recipes anyway. So... I took the ingredients under advisement and went about doing my own thing.

    First off, pet peeve- I understand that it's supposed to look pretty and all, but I hate it when people bread and fry shrimp with the tails on. So, even though my shrimp came pre-cooked, shelled and de-veined, I took the extra step of taking off the tails. (I think I did about twelve to fifteen shrimp, as this was just an experiment)

    Start the sauce first- it does best if it gets to cook down just a little.
    For the small amount I was making, I put about (in a small pot)
    1/4 cup water
    ~ 1 Tablespoon (maybe a bit more) of honey,
    ~ 2 Tablespoons brown sugar,
    a dash of orange juice
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    (Later you will also need:
    1 egg yolk (keep the white for frying)
    1 1/2 Tablespoon mayo,
    more salt,
    black pepper,
    lemon juice)

    Let that boil for several minutes while you fry the shrimp (stirring occasionally), which you do thus:

    Heat a pan with about a quarter to a third inch of oil, for frying
    Separate out an egg white (save the yolk, you'll need that later)
    prepare your shrimp (rinsed and patted dry)
    a plate with a generous sprinkling of CORN STARCH

    Now, I thought the corn starch thing pretty odd, as I've never heard of such a thing before, but it's one of the few things all the recipes agreed on. And it works, surprisingly.

    Toss the shrimp in the egg white so it's completely coated, then roll it in the corn starch as best you can. Fry the shrimp till they're just turning light gold, or the crust has a nice crispy texture.

    One thing to be very aware of here is not having the oil too cool. The longer the shrimp sit in that oil, the tougher they will be.

    Now, back to the sauce. Take that yolk you saved from earlier, and beat it together with about an equal portion of mayonnaise. Turn down the heat under the sauce and stir the mayo-egg mixture in vigorously so that it mixes before it has a chance to cook and congeal.
    At this point, you season to taste. Sorry, I didn't keep any tabs on my measurements here. I used a pinch of allspice, a slightly more generous pinch of fresh-ground black pepper, more salt, and about half a teaspoon of lemon juice. I also found that I had let the sauce cook down a bit too much and it was approaching the consistency of caramel sauce, so I stirred in water until it was closer to a syrup. I then put all the shrimp in a bowl, poured the sauce over top, and tossed it till they were pretty evenly covered.

    Mine looked something like this:

    They kind of went so fast between Andrea and I that I didn't really get to plate them or take any thought-out photos. But it's pretty nonetheless, no?

    Also, a visit from The Doctor XD
    Apparently this kid was driving by on his way to his birthday party, saw the lovely Police Box on my friend's door, and decided to stop by. My roommates and I had been vegging on the couch and, once we'd seen him, it took very little convincing to get us all out for a pic XD

    Tomorrow's post: epic pizza!!

    Also, Dark Knite Rises. I am there. Probably right now, waiting for them to open those stinkin' doors and let us in. :D

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    It turned into pop art...

    Was not expecting that...
    The drawing itself took about two hours (here's the reference) :

    ...and then I decided to try some color behind it and spent another hour just messing around with colors XD

    Tomorrow will be an epic food post :D (and maybe The Doctor)

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    I'm absurdly proud of this...

    It is my first ever semi-successful horse, and the first time I have even really attempted to draw a horse in probably four or five years. So... in all it's non-glory, here is a horse :D
    I used, for reference, a photo from facebook, of all places. I figured I'd stick in the description from the photo: "Gary McDonald and REALTA` NOVA (sired by *SF Sir Real) won the 2012 Region Three Show Junior Champion Female Championship, as well as the Yearling division."
    I have a wonderful friend who breeds part-breed Arabians, and has many connections throughout the breeding and show community. This little beauty belongs to a friend of hers.  
    (Oh, and here's the underlying sketch. I kind of like it better than the 'finished' product...) 

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    I need to get more creative...

    But for tonight, it's yet another figure drawing. :)

    I'm really starting to thoroughly enjoy paint-tool sai. It has a nice feel, some really great little quirks, and cooperates so nicely with my bamboo touch and pen... If you're looking for a new painting program, I'd definitely give it a try. A bit of a learning curve, and it's certainly not suited for any sort of photo-editing, but that's kind of where some of its greatest strengths lie- by cutting out all the tricks and gimmicks and filters and actions, sai opens fast, runs smoothly, and has more room for actual paint-type tools.
    So, yeah. One of my roommates is awesome and all about the performing arts, so she and I have this wild idea to do a bit of a collaboration, where she'll choreograph a dance, and I'll design the costume for it. I've been looking at a lot of dance photography lately anyway, so I figured I might as well start sketching now. 
    This is one of my motion sketches. I've been noticing a bit of a trend in what female dancers like to wear, and I'm having so much fun with the concept of fabric in motion :)