Pikasquid by Meg Lyman

2.5″ square on illustration board

Etsy link

Finally done with conventions for a while! Time to finish up my existing commissions and some of my personal projects. In the meantime, I’ll post some of the things I’ve finished in the last 6 months, including a few con doodles (like this guy). I probably shouldn’t have opened that can of worms (Pokemon), but it’s too late now.


Fancy Goldfish Power by Meg Lyman

24×12″ oil on board

I started this painting a long time ago. It survived a cross-country move in between 18 months of me working on it when I could. With commission work, calendar art to finish, and shiny objects everywhere, I get distracted from personal projects easily. I should really not do that. I am not going to get any better at painting my visions (that sounds really pretentious sorry) if I don’t practice regularly. And yet I keep taking commissions. There is clearly something wrong with my brain.


Anyway, this isn’t the first time I’ve posted about this piece. I underpainted it with magenta because of reasons. As you can see, the grey of the pole isn’t so eyeball-breaking now, but the underpainting adds a nice vibrancy. I also planned this composition carefully, keeping rhythm and visual pathways in mind. And I didn’t adhere strictly to my gamut map, but used it more as a guide. Learning things is fun! And also really overwhelming because I never feel like I have a handle on everything I should.


Nonetheless, I kinda like this painting. Probably mostly because it’s the first wobbly, tentative step of my grand journey. I may twist some ankles along the way, but as long as I don’t fall face first into the mud I’ll consider it progress.


Disapproving Goldfish is judging me



Apple by Meg Lyman

6×6″ oil on board

Varnished on top; unvarnished on bottom


I’ve always simply imagined lighting for my cephalopod paintings – since I don’t have an actual octopus to paint and I’m idealizing them anyway, it seemed the best course. I have a good general idea of light and shade principles from life drawing – good enough to get away with anyway. But when I got it into my head to paint an apple octopus (like you do), I figured I should give the still life test a try.

Painting the apple still life was hard enough, but then incorporating imaginary bumps and nooks made this extra challenging. The apple part looks serviceable, but without an actual applepus to paint, it’s hard to get the lighting down. Maybe next time I will sculpt eye nubs out of play-doh or spitballs or whatever and stick them on the apple. Either way, I am reasonably happy with the result and I learned a lot from it. That means the painting was successful, right? Right.

I also did some interesting color mixing for this one. I made up “color strings” – a James Gurney term meaning different values of the colors I planned to use. I need to work on the whole “changing value without changing chroma and hue” thing, but that’s another post.


My tube colors for this were, left to right, Quinacridone Red (M. Graham), Golden Barok Red (Old Holland), Cad Yellow Golden (Michael Harding), and Nickel Yellow (Williamsburg). I used white and black to mix the bottom 3 piles of varying values of grey (OK OK, bluish grey), then used those plus titanium white to darken or lighten the tube colors. The hue shift with Cad Yellow and black is very green, and fun to play with. The Quin Red strayed into blue territory and I didn’t use much of its mixes. I have so much to learn! I feel like I’m at a stage in my learning where I’m going way faster than I realized. That is good but kinda overwhelming.

Aside: the board I started with was some amalgam of leftover colors that I slathered on with a palette knife months ago. I have no idea what they were, but I chose my apple colors so they’d work well with it. Gives a nice texture, too, no?

A final note: see how sunken in oils can get when they dry to the touch? Especially the darks. Varnishing makes them look all rich and shiny again. Magic!


I’ll have a bunch of originals, Star Wars themed cephalopod stickers, and tons of prints, including Octotoro and Squees. Come say hi!

I have returned intact from the workshop, and now I’m so stuffed with knowledge I can barely move. Thanks to Kate for putting up with us and sharing her top secret techniques. I look forward to using her painting method on some upcoming still life practice.


Cervid I by Meg Lyman

8×10″ oil on board

Etsy link

In honor of still life, here is a skull I painted. Before the workshop. Not only did I not use Kate’s technique, I painted it over an 8-year-old gouache painting on gessobord that was one of my very first paintings and was consequently horrible. Turns out you can use oil over gouache quite easily, although I know nothing about its longevity. All that aside, I believe it is a mule deer, advertised on Etsy as a found elk skull. People are really bad with taxonomy. I love identifying found skulls, but I admit I might be in the minority there.

Also, the first plug: come to see me at Emerald City Comic Con this weekend in Seattle! I’ll be at table LL-13. I may try painting between now and then, but these past two weeks have been all about learning and business.

Guys, I’m so excited. This weekend is Kate Stone‘s workshop at WIFAS. The plan is to learn new oil painting techniques that I can apply to my super happy art plan. See you after!

One time I was ordering illustration board online and forgot which brand I liked. I bought some thick, many-ply Crescent, the one-sided kind. I promptly got distracted and forgot about it.

I found it recently and thought, “quit being wasteful with your business resources,” and cut some up into standard sized bits. It had warped badly in the intervening years, and it submitted to my paper cutter only with a lot of muscle. (Note to self: sharpen paper cutter.) I set out to paint a cephalopod with a background, trying to actually Do A Background, Damnit like my to-do list says. I toned the inked drawing with watery gouache, tentatively laying in values. I’ve done this before, and it usually involves quite a bit of water. The Crescent wasn’t having any of that.


That picture was taken while it was still damp, and I had already tried to smooth out the bubbles by gently pushing them flat. The wrinkles almost made me give up altogether, nevermind the fraying ply edges and the warping. I had to pull up the top ply and re-lay it, and the adhesive between plies is obviously weak, but nonetheless yucky.


But… I persevered, thinking, how am I going to learn if I don’t try to salvage this? Also I was thinking, what am I going to do with half a dozen sheets of worthless illustration board? For this painting style anyway. And after a few more layers of water and paint – although none so watery as the first layer – it actually smoothed out and looked OK. You can still see the wrinkle if you look hard enough, but I think it gives it character. And I had to bend the board pretty strenuously to flatten out the colossal warp it developed.

Lesson learned – do not use a lot of watery paint on Crescent illustration board. Maybe my beloved Strathmore can take it better… but that’s another post for another time.


Totoro by Meg Lyman

6×12″ gouache and ink on illustration board

$120 – Etsy link


Lil’ Crabby by Meg Lyman

4×4″ oil on board


A cute lil’ crabby for my cousin and her upcoming baby!

To you artists out there – how long do your brushes last?

I’ve had varying success with all sorts of brands. Most of the cheap bristle brushes the nice art store lady picked out for me before my first community center oil painting class are still in great shape, yet I spend good money on supposedly good brushes and they die quick, painful deaths.

Example 1: Blick Masterstroke Finest Red Sable, bright, size 4 to be exact. Brand-spanking new on the left, gently* used on the right.


* it’s a soft brush so I try not to scrub too vigorously with it, but then again I tend to get carried away while painting, and wake up in a daze with a finished painting in front of me. So.

I know a lot of brushes get shorter with use, so I wouldn’t consider the brush dead just for that. But if you look closely, you notice that the hairs no longer fill the entire width of the ferrule. I noticed this because all of a sudden this favored brush of mine started leaving hairs all over paintings and my brush cleaning cake. This brush wasn’t really expensive, but it wasn’t a cheapy or student grade – it says Master and Finest on the handle! Marketing, grrr. So I had to toss it.

Example 2: Winsor & Newton Artists’ Water Colour Sable, 2 round. Sable can mean anything nowadays, but this one is actually Kolinsky, and not inexpensive. I used this nicely shaped round once or twice and now it’s so frayed I can’t use it for anything except clumsy blending. Kolinsky is supposed to be the best. What the hell, man?

Example 3: Isabey cat’s tongue size 4. Lovely brush, great handling. Problem – it’s not crimped. It’s brand new (and it was expensive), but I can pull the ferrule off the handle with ease. It was glued but that didn’t hold it. Anyone else have issues with Isabey brushes?

I’ve had some other brushes deconstruct, but they were cheapies. More surprisingly, I’ve had plenty of cheapo brushes hold up to much worse torment and keep on kicking. Price doesn’t mean everything, name doesn’t mean everything, and that is totally frustrating. The best luck I’ve had with brushes is those brands recommended to me by experienced artists. So – here’s my list for you!



Axe Cop by Meg Lyman

6×12″ gouache and ink on illustration board

Etsy link

If you haven’t seen the show (or comic) Axe Cop, you’re missing out on one of life’s finest experiences. That is, if you’re a 30-something and grew up watching dumb cartoons.

The characters are: Sockarang, Wexter, Axe Cop, Baby Man, Unibaby, and Flute Cop. This is my first time putting a moustache on an octopus… feel free to judge me for that.

Next Page »