Residency Work in Progress



My residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts is half over and I’ve been getting a lot of really great work done. It took me a few days to find my working groove, but once I did I felt really good about what I was doing. When all of your daily responsibilities and errands (minus grocery shopping and laundry) are removed, there are suddenly so many more hours in a day! So much so that I had to work to increase my drawing stamina. There’s something very satisfying about going to bed with a tired hand/arm because you spent all day drawing and I haven’t had that feeling in a long time.

Above you can see my work area. You can see photos of the whole studio and the rest of the facilities on the center’s website. Working on comics obviously doesn’t need the kind of space that someone working on large oil paintings or sculpture installations does, so I didn’t take a photo of the entire studio which is basically a converted garage with lighting and temperature control (it’s very comfortable!). The table I’m working at is almost the perfect height to stand and work which made me happy, since I’m used to working while standing at home.



Here is a closer view of what I’m working on. You can see almost every phase of the page except the thumbnail version and a painted version. I draw my pencils on bristol and then use my light box to ink onto watercolor paper. Since I intend to paint each page with watercolor, I don’t want pencils on the same page and I don’t want to have to do any erasing. Plus, if I make any mistakes, I can always retrace. No matter what happens, I’ll still have the original pencils to go back to.



Here is a close-up of a page. I am working on the graphic novel that I submitted a proposal for a few months ago. Whether or not the publisher decides to pick it up, I still intend to shop it around or finish it myself (possibly a Kickstarter?). I should be able to start inking pages, maybe even today, and it’s one of my favorite parts!

New Custom Standing Workstation!



Over the weekend I was able to pick up the standing workstation that I had custom built. It was designed to be 41″ – tall enough that my arms can rest at a comfortable 90 degrees and my computer can be tilted so it’s perfectly at eye level.


The desk is 5′ wide and 2′ deep and half the table has the ability to tilt up to 45 degrees. It came to me unfinished so I stained it and varnished the top at home. I plan to varnish the entire desk, but right now it’s too cold to have all the windows and door open long enough for the whole thing to dry. In the spring we’ll do the rest.

In addition to the drafting side, it als has a very deep drawer that is the same width as the desk.


As you can see, the drawer can hold a lot of stuff, including two 11×17 pads of bristol side-by-side. Now all my works-in-progress and finished line drawings will have somewhere to live until I’m ready to really store them.

I haven’t finished decorating the wall area yet and I still have some organizing to do. Some of those boxes won’t be on the floor and there will be another little set of drawers on the left-side. Overall it will be much┬áneater than my old set-up which was a computer desk and a separate drawing table, neither of which had much in the way of storage. We still need to get some shelves for our closet so I can store lots of stuff in there as well. I’m an adult now – it’s time to get rid of all the clutter! Or at least make it look organized.

The carpenter who built this for me, Roudy Clapper, did such fabulous work. He even built it so that the legs can come off, which was essential to fitting it in the back of our little Honda Insight. He said that he had a great time building it and enjoyed the challenge of doing something he’d never done before. I provided him with a sketch and a description of what I wanted and he took it from there.

He is absolutely interested in building more of these, so if you are interested you can contact me. He is located in rural Nebraska so if you aren’t near there you’ll have to work out shipping with him. He may also be able to sell his plans if you would like to build one yourself. Obviously the height and the size can be totally customized to fit you and your needs.

I’ve only been using it since last night, but so far I feel more awake at the desk than I do if I’m slouching in front of the computer. I definitely need to get a stool and a mat to stand on since I’m not used to standing all day. I’ll update this post with a full review in a few months.

Also, doesn’t it look great?

For an example of another, more do-it-yourself desk check out Chris Oatley’s.


I’ve been using my new desk for a little over a month, now. I’ve had a tiny issue with one of the boards cracking, likely due to the altitude/humidity change, but the carpenter is going to repair it next time I visit my parents. Luckily, the crack hasn’t impaired anything and the area is still super stable thanks to very good craftsmanship.

As for how I like using it? I love it! My back and shoulder aches are gone and I’m so much happier when I can avoid hunching over to draw or to paint digitally. I feel truly energized by being able to stand for a good portion of the day I thank my husband on a regular basis for letting me make this investment.

I highly recommend a standing desk of your own, whether you build it yourself, cobble it together from IKEA pieces, or have a carpenter build it. And let me know if you are interested in having my carpenter build one for you or draw up plans so you can DIY.