framed pastel and ink drawings


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Instead of sketching this week, we devoted our sketch time to framing and listing several of our favorite pieces from the past year. It turns out to be quite a process: selecting and ordering frames, photographing each piece, and coming up with something compelling to say about them for the listing. Add to that unpacking, assembling, packing, and uploading, and you’ve suddenly got a pretty big project on your hands.

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But, at the end, the final framed piece of art gives you a major feeling of satisfaction. You’ve taken an idea and made it real. In today’s world of goods and services performed virtually and delivered by email, we sometimes lose an important reward: that day you can step back, take a look at what you accomplished, and know it as a tangible thing.

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Big cats and comic book themes in pastels, along with ink drawings of abstracts and animals, have now joined our art listings on eBay. If you see something there that you like, know that it is already packed up and ready to ship Priority Mail the same or next day. That goes for our readers outside the USA, too, if your country is covered by eBay’s Global Shipping program. If not, we can still do International Priority Mail to many more countries, for an additional shipping charge.

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A few people had their eyes on Behold the Awesomizer! That painting, a tribute to jack Kirby, sold. We would really like the chance to create a couple more on larger canvas.

We have a 24×36 inch version of a similar “cosmic hand” on unframed canvas which has been waiting for a frame. If you’re interested in owning it and framing it yourself, send us an email and we will work out a shipping solution for you. For now, we have a 9×12 treatment in pastel, framed.

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A couple more photos of framed ink drawings and that’s it for this Sketchbook Sunday. Happy sketching!

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sketchbook sunday revisited: the palm springs postcard series

Matthew Howard:

We packed a booklet of blank postcards in our coat pocket, along with some fine-point pens, and set off to explore.

Originally posted on Mars Will Send No More:

metal don quixote card 5x7 - Copy

This is a momentous day for Mars Will Send No More, and we hope you join us in celebration. Our new scanner arrived, replacing the old one that died last month after fueling the fires of our humble blog for more than three years. Its first mission: to scan the best of the postcards we drew on our trip last weekend! We formatted them for printing as 5×7 cards, and you can now find them in our Palm Springs Postcards gallery. Order one for yourself, or maybe a whole box!

We’ve been overjoyed with the high quality reproductions of our artwork on these 5×7 cards, from pumas and pastel planets to cosmic hands. They look great, and our printing vendor allows buyers to put their own custom message on the interiors. Nice touch!

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The Santa Barbara Mission

Originally posted on

According to its guidebook, the original Santa Barbara Mission in Southern California, established on the Feast of St Barbara, December 4, 1786 was the 10th of 21 such Californian Missions founded by the Spanish Franciscans, and built by skilled Mexican labour.

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My daughter somewhere in the middle, revelling in the California sunshine outside the Santa Barbara Mission

Be that as it may, my own Santa Barbara mission 226 years later was to deal with a nasty case of squamous cell carcinoma that if left untreated, I was reliably informed, would remove from me all the cares of this world in around 18 months’ time.  The plan of two separate specialists was to subject me to major surgery, chemo and radiation, surviving which would take “about a year”, with a slim chance of this extending my planetary residence by six months.  Mentioned obliquely was the chance of severing in the…

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a box of poems


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fates of stars in print

A box of ten copies of our new poetry book, The Fates of Stars, arrived today. They came out really well. We are very happy with the printing by CreateSpace! The covers are a high-quality glossy white, on a heavier cardstock, with light cream pages. Our graphics of the stars and the puma logo came out quite crisp. The binding looks great and the books feel, well, real! Wow – it even has an ISBN! This may be our fifth or sixth self-publishing adventure, but that’s a first. Despite the many advantages of going digital, nothing brings an author the same satisfaction as holding a physical copy. We snapped a few photos if you’d like to take a look.

You can pick up a printed copy of The Fates of Stars directly from CreateSpace, or buy one on Amazon where they have both the paperback and Kindle versions.

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Poems in Print: The Fates of Stars


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The_Fates_of_Stars_a_Cover_for_KindleWe put a poetry book together for print-on-demand sales through CreateSpace this week. Now, since we suck at self promotion, we will just tell you a story.

We self-published several poetry books in the early 1990s, still finding our poetic voice and learning about language. They did eventually pay for themselves, but the economics are tough. People like poems, but poetry isn’t a very hot commodity. So, the writer usually has to front all the manufacturing costs and just cart around a bunch of books to readings and events, trying to sell enough to pay for the printing.

Back in the early days, we would cut costs by printing off pages at various temp jobs. Yes, it’s become a bit of a cliche to say that. But where would the independent and fanzine presses be without those lovely temp jobs near the photocopiers of corporate America? Then, you find a paper cutter and a saddle stapler at a local copy store, and try to not draw attention to yourself as you prep fifty or a hundred books.

For our last chapbook in 2001, we couldn’t even find a saddle stapler. So, we pushed each individual staple through every single page of every single book by hand, two staples per book, then folded the staples shut. Do you have any idea how long that takes? Now you know what temp workers do on their weekends.

The point of this story? Self-publishing authors and poets need not suffer like this in the days of the glorious internet revolution! This time around, we have the budding industry of print-on-demand services available online, connected with major retailers. CreateSpace is an company, for example. They give you guidelines for setting up your document and book cover, which you upload for review. They issue an ISBN for free – a daunting process for writers before the web. Then, they make the book available on Amazon and the CreateSpace site. Plus, if you have the technical capability, you can convert a book to Kindle format at no cost.

Yes, CreateSpace will gladly sell you professional design services, Kindle conversions, and even impartial book reviews – and a host of other services. From the conversations we’ve had with their remarkably accessible support team, they seem good to work with. But, writers with a small to nonexistent budget and some technical skills can make this happen without any up front expense. The company doesn’t print the book until someone orders it. Then they take their cut for manufacturing and pay you the rest – dollar amounts you can clearly and simply calculate on their site.

CreateSpace will do black and white book, full color books, even music CDs and comic books and videos, apparently. We have yet to try them all! But we did find them remarkably easy to work with, and plan to do so many more times.

Our first print-on-demand book is the 74-page poetry collection The Fates of Stars. It’s priced at $8.95, which, depending on what channel it sells through, nets us about from one to five bucks per copy sold after manufacturing costs.

Check it out here:
- and maybe look at CreateSpace to see if you would like to make a book, too! now has the book in a paperback edition and Kindle edition.
The Kindle version costs a few bucks less. Buyers also have the option to get the Kindle edition for just one extra dollar when they buy the print edition.


pastel portraits 15 & 16


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Here we have two pastel portraits on toned tan paper. In fact, these are the last two pages of the big notebook of tanned paper our art teacher gave us in July. Few gifts have ever been so well loved as this one, and we will definitely get a second notebook to fill with weird and wonderful things!

You can now get prints of Portrait #16, from greeting cards to full canvas prints, through FineArtAmerica.

We didn’t put #15 up for sale. She got some smudges on her. But she is fun, and we’ll do another like her with our next blank notebook.

Dream Journal Eight: Night at the Lake


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Dream Journal Eight: Night at the Lake
Acrylic paint, varnish, and mixed media collage on canvas
12 x 12 in. heavy duty frame, 1.5 in. deep.

Our Dream Journal series combines collage, print media, found objects, and acrylic paint to make deeply personal expressions.

Night at the Lake recalls a memory of a dream, a dream written on pages collaged into the layers of this piece. At night, you and your love swim in this lake. Silent fish drift by in the deep waters. The clouds part their fingers to reveal the full moon at its apex above the forest. The two of you tread water together, then dive.

Tiny metal beads adorn the surface of Night at the Lake, finished with several coats gloss varnish for durability and protection, resulting in a glass-like finish. The signature appears on the back of this original piece.

Buy it on eBay.

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Winter Woman


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Winter Woman
acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 in.

Partially obscured by mists and fog, Winter Woman contemplates her season. Maroon suggests an inner warmth, the warmth of love and home or a comforting fire in the coldest months of the year. In her serene repose, Winter Woman expresses the season where life takes an inward focus.

Please see our photos for detailed close-ups of this original piece.

Buy it on eBay.

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Copper Woman


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Copper Woman
Acrylic paint & varnish on canvas
16 x 20 in.

A flash of light reveals the figure in Copper Woman, only partially emerged from the shadows. Acrylic paint, applied in thick layers with a palette knife, gives texture and form to her darkest side. A wash of white in her background suggests a rainstorm, in contrast to the warm copper glow reflected on her supple curves.

Buy it on eBay.

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Sedona Sunset; contemporary abstract painting; 40 x16 in.


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Sedona Sunset
acrylic on 40 x 16 in. canvas

Inspiration for Sedona Sunset comes from the color of the sky and mountains in the Arizona desert in the last glow from the sun setting behind them. Deep violets, blues, purples, and Payne’s grey express both the natural splendor and the warmth of this popular Arizona destination.

Renowned for its scenic views and spiritual vibe, Sedona attracts many seekers and explorers. Yet, its ancient hills, streams, and rock formations give it a timeless quality that endures long after its visitors move on.

Please see our detailed photos of Sedona Sunset in both natural and full spectrum lighting, to explore the dark but glowing depths of its colors.

The edges all around this 1.5 in. deep professional wood frame are fully painted and varnished, making this piece quite attractive from any point of view, without an additional frame. Numerous coats of high-gloss acrylic varnish give it a glassy finish and bring out the brightness in its dark but vibrant tones.

Buy it on eBay.

Shipping is free and processed within two business days, tracked, and insured. UPS professionally packs the artwork for Ground shipment. We participate in eBay’s international shipping program.

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