Monday, October 31, 2011

What I'm Baking

I like to bake. It's probably my favorite hobby that is not art related. (Some people say baking is like an art form, so I say this is still relevant to my blog!) And with what other hobby can you eat the tasty results?!

Since moving to Seattle, I've participated in several vegan bake sales that help raise money for a local animal rescue, Pigs Peace Sanctuary. For this weekend's sale I made pumpkin chip muffins, brownies, and I tried out a new recipe for chocolate pumpkin bread.

Dark Chocolate Walnut Brownies (from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar)

3 ounces firm silken tofu (1/4 package of Mori-Nu)
1/4 cup almond milk (any non-dairy milk can be used)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 handful of walnuts, chopped

*I like to use a mixture of "regular" and dutch processed cocoa powder. Dutch-processed cocoa has a deep, rich chocolate flavor, so if you like dark chocolate things, I recommend trying it out. You can even use all dutch-processed cocoa if you want to.

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8 inch brownie pan with parchment paper, making sure it covers the bottom and the sides.

2. Puree the tofu, almond milk, and canola oil in a blender or food processor until smooth and fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and make sure you get everything.

3. Transfer tofu mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and use a fork to vigorously mix them together until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix.

4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Use the rubber spatula to fold and mix the batter until smooth. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth out the top. You may need to spread it a little towards the edges of the pan, but it will spread when baking if you don't get it into all the corners perfectly, so don't worry. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes. (The original recipe called for 30 to 32, but I like gooey brownies so I bake them a little less. I'd rather have gooey brownies than cake-like brownies.) Let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

For Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf photos and recipe click here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wizards and Warriors Invade the Indiana Convention Center!

Anyone living in a town with a convention center that hosts a decent-sized comic book, anime, or gaming convention has probably seen the excited yet slightly bemused coverage on the local evening news of all the ghosts, goblins, and "weirdos" dressed up to attend the con. I saw one of these reports repeated on both the evening and nightly news while at our hotel during Gen Con. (They were very interested in talking about all of the money we nerds were bringing into the city.) I always get a kick out of the stuff they focus on and their taglines about the costumed heroes! and warlocks!!

Anyway, I have been meaning to share more of the costume photos we took at Gen Con Indy 2011. In honor of Halloween, here they are!

Drow costume. Great armor!

Wayne Reynolds poses with a fan (center) dressed as a Pathfinder character he designed.

"You wanna get outta hea'? Talk to me."

Cool costume and awesome steampunk'd wheelchair!

This was one of my favorite costumes of the convention. So beautifully done!

More steampunky goodness.

Abraham Supertallincoln

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Don't Make Her Angry

One of the fun parts of meeting people at conventions like Gen Con is doing personal commissions. I usually only take a small number and sometimes have to finish the art at home. Frequently, due to the nature of Gen Con (it's a gaming convention heavily focused on role playing games), artists are asked to draw pictures of people's characters. Receiving a description from an art enthusiast is much like receiving a description from an art director. The artist has to conjure up an image of the character that will satisfy both the artist's creative impulse and the customer's hopes of getting a cool drawing that captures the essence of their character.

For much of my published work, I'm frequently asked to do more wispy creatures and characters like faeries, and animals and dragons (all of which I love to do, don't get me wrong) so it was a refreshing break to do a tough half-orc warrior woman with big muscles. I usually try to draw interesting looking armor that appears practical and, of course, sticks to the description–gotta please the client! I like to avoid stuff like chain mail bikinis as much as humanly possible.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Interview at Fantasy Literature

I recently had the opportunity to chat with the fantasy and science fiction book review website, Fantasy Literature, about The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures, and a little bit about my approach to art in general.

Check out the interview here.

If you leave a comment on the Fantasy Literature article, you will be entered in a contest for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Another sketch of a creature from the book.