Featuring colorist Ronda Francis

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Pet Ghost

I had my first pet ghost in the 70s.

I saw it on a commercial while watching Sabrina on Saturday morning cartoons.

This little ghost could fly! It could dance!

On the commercial...

At home it was basically a tiny Styrofoam ball, some gauze, and a rubber band hooked up to some fishing wire. It did come in a cool haunted house box which was actually the best part of the toy.

A few years ago Hallmark came out with their own Pet Ghosts, and they were totally adorable. Complete with flashing lights, spooky moaning sounds, and a floating ghost in a jar, they were every spectrophile's dream.

But they were almost $30, so not everyone ran to the card stores to pick them up.

How cute is this!

I looked them up recently and found a crafter that did her own version, and they are adorable! See the how to HERE.

Although I have not done it yet, I am going to do my own version based on the Penny Wise version above--I'll post it when I'm done.

Have fun! 


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Working on a Book

My version of Old Barney in LBI--haunted.
The shivery Halloween season is upon us, my favorite time of year.

Although it won't be ready this year, I am working on another book for kids.

I used to love spooky books as a girl, and now I am just as thrilled to write them today.

So here's the thing: like many authors, I'm sure, the ideas for books come to me rapid-fire. I write them in notebooks, dictate them to Notes in my iPhone, or scribble them where ever I can--napkins included.

At home I quickly type the first draft into Word before I forget the feel of the story.

Then comes the hard part.

For me, the illustrations grind the creative process to almost a halt. It's not that I don't have the pictures in my head that go with the story, but the pictures seem to take a loooong time. Even compared to edit after edit of the writing, the drawings drive me nuts.

Penelope the Witch from a soon to be book.
To make it even more weird, I love to draw. If one of my books was being illustrated by someone else I am sure I'd feel odd about it. (If someone's style fit my story I would consider it--but I'm sure I'd still prefer to do it myself...I think...)

Anyway--I think the writing occupies my mind in a certain way that allows the time to seamlessly go by. When I draw I can think too much--the wash, dishes, MORE STORIES.

I just decided I am either going to start listening to music while I draw, or maybe digital books.

Sometimes this blog is better than therapy.


Monday, October 19, 2015

My Favorite Witches

I am getting old.

Not ancient, but old enough to remember some of the most wicked witches in books and movies.

Sure I watched the pretty witches in Charmed and Sabrina for five minutes like everyone, but I am talking about the witches of almost half a century ago.

The first witch that terrified me was on the back of the Disney book Sleeping BeautyLook at her! Those eyes. Oh and she was a sneaky one trying to pass off that apple as a delicious snack. She was nothing to mess with and it is funny to remember that I would not go into the basement for about a year because she was on the back of the book that rested on top of the bookcase at the bottom of the cellar stairs.

Another Creepella of my childhood nightmares was The Wicked Witch of The West from the Wizard of Oz. If you crossed this one she would take you down. Unless of course you had just altered the space-time continuum in ruby slippers and you were trying to find your dog. She had an over sized hourglass of doom and a huge crystal ball that filled with garnet smoke when she wanted to divine the future.

Witch Hazel from the Bugs Bunny cartoons was pretty bad ass too. She would tie you up and start heating the pot she where you would be cooked, right in front of you--until you started talking about her pet tarantula, Paul. Then she lost it and got all sappy. She also had a wicked laugh and lost her hairpins when running quickly to ask her magic mirror if she was indeed, still the ugliest witch in town.

Endora, Samantha's wicked mother from Bewtiched, would be trouble even if she had no otherwordly powers. She did not like the mortal Derwood, and never had a problem telling him how she felt. As a mother I would be doing the same if my daughter's new husband was trying to make her into something she's not. Girl Power, Endora!

My idea and drawing of a good old fashioned scary witch. Trick or treat ;)

Bellatrix from Harry Potter, Nancy from The Craft, and Minnie from Rosemary's Baby deserve a runners up nod of excellence. They were all wicked and wonderful. 

To be honest, I love almost all the witches. Hermione for being smart, Aunt Clara for being adorable, and all the other ladies that cast a spell on me when I was young, and charmed me when I was older.

Happy Halloween all! I'd love to know your favorite witch.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Illustrator's Weekly Challenge

Every year around this time I pull the decorations down from my attic and transform the inside of my house into a glowing black and orange Halloween explosion.

Starting on October 1st I began drawing ghosts to post on my Instagram account because the spirit moved me. I decorated a box of matches with a fiery little apparition, then I made Mod Podge Ghosts a few weeks ago and hung them in the dining room. 

I love Halloween and not only wanted to share my art, but wanted to see art from others too.

So I started the Weekly Challenge.

The prompt will change weekly. Feel free to add paintings, sketches, or crafts--whatever medium grabs you. You can grab the Illustrator's Weekly Challenge button if you like from the right column. 

This week's prompt is PUMPKINS~!! 

Post below, I can't wait to see yours--I can't get enough.

To join the brand new Illustrator's Weekly Challenge Facebook group just CLICK HERE! A new prompt weekly--show us your work.

You can find us on Instagram too at @IllustratorsWeekly. I am on Insta at @dealenihan


Monday, October 12, 2015

Weekend at the Met

It is wonderful to work at home in my studio, a cup of Sleepy Hollow chai next to me as I look out my picture window.

Now I am not complaining, I would not change it for the world, but sometimes I get a bit lonely. I often have coffee or lunch with local friends, but it is surely different than being around others in an office setting. You have to be your own inspiration a lot of the time, and if you are anything like me, that can get challenging.

This weekend I got to recharge my art batteries and my social batteries at The Met in NYC.

I did not care if there was a special exhibit, if it was extremely crowded, or if I was already tired, the minute I started to walk up those steps with my friend my switched turned ON.


I've seen the impressionists hundreds of times, and that is the section where I always end up first. I've been told that as you mature in your art experience that you expand and develop a larger art palate, and become more sophisticated and discriminating and view the impressionists in a kind of beginner way. 


Yes, I've learned about new artists, yes I love some of their work, but the impressionists are still my thing. I get lost in Van Gogh's Starry Night, Cezanne's (post-impressionist--I know) slightly askew perspective inspires me to break rules, and Gauguin's Tahitian colors relieve my need to revisit the psychedelic drugs of  my youth.

I wear black almost every day of my life because it is easy. Don't have to think about matching or coordinating...ugh. BUT my home is filled with color, even my area rug looks like a painting.

My watercolor attempt at impressionism.

So for me it seems to be about the colors. Maybe the brights help my battery to recharge, or maybe there is something to the psychology of color therapy. But either way I know for a fact that getting out there and experiencing life helps with art.

Get out there and experience.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

I Learned Something New Today--Bokeh!

Yesterday I posted a portrait onto Kim Dellow's #ShowYourFace Challenge. 

My image is done with Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils, and shows some light circles in the background. 

BOKEH bubbles in the background. (Pardon the alliteration)

Yes it is my own work, but I have to say love the way the background turned out. A few people commented on the image and said they loved the background too, and said it was BOKEH.

I had never heard the word before. I had seen the diffused kind of reflected light in photos, but I did not know there was a word for it. The definition of bokeh is: the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out of focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Also--"the way the lens renders out of focus points of light".

I think these bubbles may be my new favorite thing.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Weekend Creative Party!

This is the first linky party for all the creative mamas out there. 

Join in every weekend for the rest of October by placing your favorite craft, recipe, or how-to in the list below.

~ Simply click the linky CLICK HERE TO ENTER link below , follow the simple instructions, and add your information.

~ An image will appear and click through to your blog.
~ Grab the ghostly Weekend Creative Party button to add to your blog to show you participated.
~ The post that gets the most clicks will be featured on Instagram on Monday.
~ I will be tweeting (and I hope you will too!) daily to over 6000 followers on twitter.

Join us and add your most creative post and have fun!!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Coloring books are IN! Here is a free and fun image of an ever so slightly spooky garden for you and the kids. You can almost imagine these mushrooms could be waiting in a witches garden for use as in ingredient in her brew!

To download, right click the image and save to your computer. 

Then have fun coloring! xo

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Today as I perused Instagram I came across one of the cutest, easiest spooky crafts of the season.

Posted by muminthemadhouse, these Clay Tealight Ghosts were done by one of her nine year olds.

What you'll need:

Air dry clay (Crayola makes one for under $5 HERE)

Rolling pin or smooth bottle

Butter knife

Shot glasses or bunched up paper towel

Just roll out the clay to about 1/8 of an inch. Cut appx. six inch diameter circles. Form ghost shapes over the shot glasses or paper towel, then make marks where the eyes and mouth will be. Lay flat again, then cut out eyes with butter knife. 

Drape ghosts over glasses again and let dry.

When dry (about 24 hours) place a battery operated tea light beneath ghost and place in a very dark corner to create a spooky atmosphere.

I love these! Hope you do too.

Thanks Mum in the Madhouse!


Thursday, October 1, 2015


Kids love Halloween, crafts, and movies.

Here is a craft that combines all three!

All you need for this craft is:

One book of Post-It notes

A pen

A backdrop light source (I used my iPhone)

First decide what your mini movie will be about. (Keep it simple.)

Then draw your first frame on the LAST page of the Post-It notes. 

Your next page will have to be very similar except for a slight change, you can start showing any action here in a very small way.
(Here the ghost starts to pop out.)

The next frame he pops out a tiny bit more. (Notice the grave stays the same. I traced the grave using my iPhone to back light the image in each frame.)

Make your character move only a tiny bit in each frame. (You can check to make sure by using the iPhone here also. I went to the NOTES page and started on a new page because it is blank and bright.)

Keep changing your picture a tiny bit at a time until you have an image for each Post-It.

When you are done drawing, start at the back and flip through the pages. Watch the action!

It is a bit easier to do if you keep your images either in one corner or across the bottom of the pages.

Have fun!!