Friday, August 21, 2015

The Mouse and Motorcycle Thank You Note

Our younger son has been slogging along in a very demanding tutoring program this summer.  He has done some amazing work and deserves much parental applause... But I know that his accomplishments are due to the unflappable and unflagging support of his tutors.

It takes me five minutes of bartering and bickering to get him to read two lines of a TV program synopsis. But with his tutors, he has been happily reading Beverly Cleary's 1965 book "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" and that is considerably more challenging than cable listings.

It is always impossible to sufficiently thank the people who are endlessly patient with my kids.
When confronted with an unsolvable problem, I often resort to drawing on napkins.

I wanted to add my son into this picture, but did not have the time to pull off a portrait. I was really trying to get at least five hours of sleep last night (The New York Times ran an article recently that said that sustained periods of five hours or less a night result in irrevocable hardening of the I am already in big trouble)

I still did not attain the artery saving amount of five hours of sleep...but at least I did not annoy my son by drawing a picture of him.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Elderly Mutant Karate Tortoise


The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were never really popular with my sons... but we certainly watched some of the original animated TV show and a couple of the movies. We did miss the most recent movie,  and no one seems particularly sorry about that.

But they are perfectly happy to encounter a TMNT reference in the Terraria game. I am unclear on the details, but I think there is a Karate Tortoise costume in Terraria, which looks a whole lot like a basic TMNT getup. But while we were discussing this game feature a couple of days ago, it seemed like we needed a related napkin.

The drawing is relatively realistic, so perhaps it should be an "Elderly Unmutated Karate Tortoise".... I had trouble coming up with a replacement for "Mutant."  As a parallel term, there is "Deviant," but I didn't really want to draw a deviant tortoise... and as far as I know, there is no antonym for "mutant."

"Elderly" did seem appropriate, however.  The franchise started out back in 1984.  The turtles are nearly as old as I am.

No one is taking a packed lunch to school or camp at the moment, and this is a rather hypothetical napkin for a potential lunch in the fall, so it couldn't be too weird.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cargo Bike Gang

Too many characters ride in the cargo bike:
(Not one of my better drawings, but definitely the most characters on one napkin ever)

We've been taking a cargo bike to school and camp, more or less every day for five years.  During that time, the kids have gained something close to 100 pound combined, and I have aged at least 20 years.

Starting in the fall, the kids will no longer be at the same school. One will be traveling beyond reasonable biking distance to the upper east side of Manhattan. Therefore, as we finish up these last weeks of summer, we are making the daily bike trip to downtown Brooklyn for the last few times.

I have mixed feelings. The daily routine of biking has been mostly a good thing.  The excessive exercise has probably kept me from completely falling apart physically and mentally. It has certainly kept me from abandoning my misbehaving sons on a subway train. But it has always been a slightly anxiety-inducing daily grind: The weather is most often too hot or too cold. I am rarely not dangerously sleep-deprived. And many pedestrians and motorists seem to hate me for the outrageous decision to bike my kids to school and are happy to shout their opinions at me from their car windows or often, their position standing in front of us in the bike lane.

I am very pleased and overwhelmingly thankful that, besides the frequent verbal hostility, we have made it through thousands of miles without an accident or an interaction that left physical marks.

It is probably time to stop anyway, given the kids' increasing size and heft. If you are one of our few readers who is not my mom, you are probably wondering why my sons are not riding their own bikes to school by now... Well, while I had often fantasized about that happening eventually, the trip is 5 miles, mostly around the very windy Brooklyn Navy Yard, and culminates in a rather nasty stretch of riding in traffic in downtown Brooklyn. And my kids have never been very interested in self locomotion.

At any rate, since we were approaching the end of the cargo bike phase, it seemed like there should be some sort of commemorative napkin. The kids came up with an endless list of characters that have appeared on the napkins over the last five years that they thought should be riding in the bike. They argued over who should get to sit on which character's shoulders. And they berated me this morning for failing to somehow work in Doctor Who's Tardis.

I had to draw the line somewhere.

(You can see a photo of us on the bike on a rainy day in 2012 on this bicycling photography blog:

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bring me the Head of Grumpy Cat

No, it is not a napkin.  But it is napkin related I suppose. 
Mostly it is a picture of clutter, and an illustration that my husband has thoughtfully left a very large mirror (with a cut out for a switch plate perhaps) in my studio.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Meme Heads

There haven't been many napkins over the last week as neither child was in camp, and I was busy making unsaleable sculptures for a show opening in early September.  
The heads are quite related to the content of the napkins however, lol cats, angry birds, zombies and robots...for instance. 

The kids are mostly interested in the wearing of safety gear and the super fun spraying of spray paint, more than sculpture concept or fabrication.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Huggable Army

Excessive Depiction of Video Game Characters:

Today is the last day of camp, so we have two final indulgent napkins. My younger son requested that I draw ALL of the the Huggables from Battle Bears.  There are considerably more than you see here... I missed the one wearing the ugly Christmas sweater and the one wearing a pleather bondage mask as well as the many color variations.

Generally speaking, the kids are most pleased when I draw something that looks just like the video game.  My son was very happy with the quantity of characters here that I more or less copied straight from the source.

So happy in fact, that he was willing to overlook the fact that I had drawn him in the middle.

Nyan Cat, Big Sister, Big Daddy, and Coco Loco Huggable for the Last Day of Camp

Too many characters assemble for the last day of camp.

After his brother asked for the "Huggable Army," my older son had to request multiple characters himself just to keep up.  I used to have a rule that I would draw no more than one or two characters per napkin....There was a good reason for that rule....

But it was the last day of camp, so I did my best to indulge.

If you are wondering about that pop-tart cart with the rainbow up at the top: Nyan Cat's
video (link to the original video) was one of the top five most viewed videos of 2011.  It has the insipidly cute- adult infuriating quality that our older son loves. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Judy and Yoshi from Dr. McNinja Web Comic

Last night we were catching up on "Paleontologists, Politicians and Prologue," the latest installment of Christopher Hastings' webcomic, Dr. McNinja.

The kids love the over-the-top randomness of many of the characters and events in the story.  The Doctor's secretary and driver is a large gorilla named Judy. Gordito, Dr. McNinja's 12 year old moustachioed sidekick, rides Yoshi the raptor.   When we came to an image of Judy the gorilla giving Yoshi the raptor a piggyback ride while he imitate Gordito, both kids said, "I want that on my napkin!"

I was just not capable of rendering the exaggerated facial expressions of both characters late last night.  The picture is a lot funnier in the comic.

Flying Creature from Doctor McNinja

The kids were very taken with the weirdness of this flying Dinosaur creature
in Dr. McNinja's "Paleontologists, Politicians and Prologue."  The female, eye patch and epaulet-wearing president of the United States uses it to exile her treasonous vice president to space, while she and Dr. McNinja ride in its mouth.

Interest was expressed in having this creature on a napkin. By the cold light of the morning, it was clear that my rendition was more lame than fantastically weird. Too much pink and purple too....

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Battle Bears Coco Loco Huggable

Any picture can be improved by adding a cool explosion.

My older son told me yesterday, "please no more Star Wars and dinosaurs napkins!"  He said, "I know they are good drawings, but I don't want any more!" I did note the compliment buried in there. But I am aware that the kids are always happier when I draw cartoon characters exactly the way that they look on the TV show or the video game.

The "Coco Loco" is one of the Battle Bears "skins" for the Huggable. I drew it just the way it looks on the Battle Bears Wiki.

I did nonetheless indulge in some creative license with the background explosion.

Huggable Hugs the Bear from "Total Drama Island"

Some Total Bear-on-Bear Action:

Our younger son has been watching the TV show "Total Drama Island" and its various iterations.  The Total Drama franchise is an animated parody of "Survivor" where a group of superficial fame seekers are tortured by a smarmy host while they struggle to not be voted off of the island.

I have to admit that my feelings about an 8 year old watching the show are mostly not positive.  It is a show about conniving adults and the nasty things they do to one another regarding sex, money and other body functions. The show's Wikipedia entry, however, notes that it was a very popular when it was first released, and that, "Many of the fans viewed the show as one of the best cartoons of its time."

Total Drama has a reoccuring bear character.  Our kids often exclaim over his cuteness, which perplexes me.

My son was very pleased with this napkin because I made it look just like the cartoony bear on the show....None of that nasty creative license that I sometimes indulge in on these napkins.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Battle Bears Huggable with Rainbow

Watch out for headless pink teddy bears:

Apparently the Huggables in Battle Bears Gold can remove their heads and blast their foes with rainbow power. 

I am not clear on the details.

Greedo Rides a Baryonx

Star Wars Rides Jurassic World Dinosaurs #18:
A Rodian bounty hunter and an obscure dinosaur share  a teal color scheme.

Our older son encouraged me to do a couple more Star Wars/Dinosaur napkins because I had missed two dinosaurs that uses in the LEGO Jurassic World game. I don't think the Baryonx actually appears in the movie,  It is represented on the Jurassic World website with some pictures that illustrate the very pretty markings on its skin.

I did pick Greedo mostly based on color...And maybe out of motherly perversity, as Greedo was sometimes played by a woman.  (Type "Greedo" into Google and it will prompt:  "Greedo was a woman")

Yes, I know Greedo the character was not really female.  The expanded universe stories and appearances in the prequel "The Phantom Menace" all indicate his maleness. But the old set photograph of the actress Maria de Aragon as Greedo sporting some nice color coordinated pumps while standing next to George Lucas was too much for me to pass up.

 Perhaps Greedo would have been able to shoot Han Solo first if he had been wearing more sensible shoes.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mountain Goat with Night Vision Goggles

Our older son has been enjoying playing "Mountain Goat Mountain."  And the game doesn't even have any RPGs or disembowelings, so that's nice.

I thought this would be a quick, easy to draw image, but ran into trouble adapting the night vision goggles to fit on an animal whose eyes are on the sides of its head. 

Giant Pet Ant

The kids' takeaway from seeing the "Ant Man" movie over the weekend was that they need a giant ant for a house pet.

As their father and I pointed out, they are already doing a fine job of feeding many pet ants already. Our apartment has old wooden factory floors with deep gaps between the boards which serve as excellent ant highways. Thus the ants rarely have to reveal themselves on their frequent trips to retrieve the many morsels of food that our kids courteously leave for them on the floor.  But make no mistake, they are there in full force.

In one of our kids' favorite scenes in the movie, the hero's cute daughter feeds the accidentally-enlarged dog-sized ant scraps from her plate under the dinner table. Nothing would please our kids more than passing off some brussel sprouts or kale to a cool pet.....except maybe climbing over the couch while riding on an even bigger pet.

Couch climbing is technically forbidden in our apartment, but it would be hard to argue with an ant who is big enough to be a cast member of the movie "THEM!"

Friday, July 17, 2015

Battle Bears Gold's Huggable with Lady Liberty

While my older son thought it would be unpatriotic to depict a giant teddy bear threatening the Statue of Liberty, his younger brother had no such reservation.

I have to admit that I am a bit unclear on the specifics of how the Huggables work.  I think that in the more recent iteration of the game, Battle Bears Gold, one can play as a Huggable.  In the earlier games, they are the antagonist. 

There are multiple versions of the Huggables, but the clear winner seemed to be the one who sports rainbow tipped chainsaws. 

It was a late night.  I did the best I could at the time.

Wampa Rides a Giganotosaurus

Star Wars Rides Dinosaurs #17:
(The series jumps the shark)

Sometimes when it comes to drawing or other art and crafts activities, the best results happen when you are not trying.  Sometimes all of the trying hard on other work pays off in a surprising way when a situation makes it impossible for you to give something the usual amount of time or focus.

Sadly, this is not one of these occasions.

If anyone cares, the Giganotosaurus species "included some of the largest known terrestrial carnivores." A Wampa is the monster that hangs Luke Skywalker upside down in an ice cave on Hoth at the beginning of "The Empire Strikes Back." But I can't imagine anyone reading this who is not already familiar with Wampas. (Except maybe my mother... Hi Mom!)

It was a bit of a running joke over the last couple of weeks: that if we did not come up with a good idea for a napkin before the kids went to sleep, someone was going to end up with a Wampa on a Dinosaur. Who knew that I was going to do such a poor job drawing the Wampa.

My apologies to Wampas, Giganotosaurs and their enthusiasts everywhere.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Han Solo on a Stegosaurus

Star Wars Rides Dinosaurs #16

Han looks a little melancholy. Maybe he regrets shooting Greedo. Or maybe he's wishing for a cooler dinosaur.