Monday, December 15, 2008

Gingerbread Birdhouse!

With the addition of birds to our menagerie, I opted for the gingerbread Birdcage instead of house. It was fun to make with Jill, maybe it will be a new holiday tradition! :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brisby will be missed

We lost our pet bearded dragon, Brisby, this weekend. He was around 7 years old and died from a long term bone deficiency problem. We tried reversing it, but the weather turned cold and Brisby slipped into hibernation and died peacefully in his sleep. Mike and I know now to expose all our desert lizards to real sunlight to help avoid this in the future. But we will miss Brisby, he was prickly be we loved him.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Let's get crackin'!

Decided that The Nutcracker will by my theme for this Christmas! I've done this little painting to sell, and Mike and I have tickets to see the Austin Ballet do the Nutcracker on the 23rd of December.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

vacation impressions

These were too funny, but these are from our vacation last month: Mike doing an impression of a Bernini sculpture at the Getty Art Museum that I'd liked, and me at the San Diego Zoo doing an impression of some kind of wild animal... or maybe it was the vacation kicking in!

night of the living dead!

For Halloween Mike was Shaun of the Dead and I was his zombie wife! We had several people comment "You've got red on you" to Mike, it was great!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Yep, these are my geckos if I could dress them up for Halloween!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cowgirl Model

Another outfit from the sketch group. She's kneeling on a old school round cushion piece (y'know the kind that look like a jelly mold?). That's why her knees sort of drop out. It was a 10 min pose, so I was sketching and painting fast. I was in a spot on the side of the group and didn't get that many great poses, but this one was perfect!

Material Girl

I had my "Dr. Sketchy" figure drawing group last Saturday and the theme was the 80's so our model came out in some vintage outfits, and the DJ played classic 80's rock and metal... and I'm a little embarrassed over how much I enjoyed drawing to it! If I get in a rut, I may have to turn to that digital music channel and get my "Paradise City" fix :)

This piece I obviously finished at home on the computer, but the sketch was made at the session, along with the pen doodles (I got a little art set at work, and everyone was like "Ah, those take me back!).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Trying out new "old" looks

Finding some inspiration in Mucha and other Art Nouveau artists. It's a stylistic way to represent things, and I like the panels, patterns, and textures. This is a piece about walking Enzo and scaring off cats, squirrels and birds. We'll see where and when I use this style, but it's fun for me, and I need some fun!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Website under Construction

I've had the reality check that I have a new book coming out, so I need to go great guns on my website! I'm changing several elements of it, but this will be the new homepage. It's a lot of work, and Mike will be a big help. Can't wait to email everyone when it's ready!

Friday, September 05, 2008

How many lizards do you see?

If you answered one, look harder! Funny, even though Thumbkin is bright green, red and gold he's just as hard to spot in the tank as the leaf tail gecko.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

And guess who's 2 years old!

Enzo had his 2nd birthday on Monday, and here he is being ever so cute all curled up in a ball, shown on top, and crashed out with his new birthday toys below. I'd have liked to thrown a little party, but it came at the end of a stressful week, so we'll have to have a celebration soon. We did take him downtown to the Lofty Dog, where he met Pickles the Pug and picked out he raccoon tug toy. I can't believe 2 years have flown by! He's making life too fun :)

The Reptile Expo

Well, the Austin Reptile and Amphibian Show was last weekend and here you see my table set up with all the artwork I offered. There were canvases, framed watercolors and drawings, and two portfolios of prints and unframed artwork. Long story short, I made a small profit after taking into account the table fee and other small expenses, but I think my display served better as advertising for what I could do with commission work. I had some business cards and brochures run off at Kinkos that advertised various commission possibilities, a popular one being "Tattoo Design." And people were showing their ink at the show! I saw some really intricate and unique tattoos, that while I wouldn't want to be covered in them, I could have a blast designing them for other people. So, hopefully there's revenue still to be tallied with commissions, but even if not, I did have a lot of fun. I got to go to a cookout and see Tim's venomous snake shack (a whole room of pissed off rattlesnakes will get your blood pumping). And I met lots of neat people, who, I'm sorry dear readers, they "get the whole reptile thing." And it was a boost in the moral to hear nice things about my drawings and paintings. And my favorite sales pitch for my work was "Hey, they look great and you don't have to feed 'em!" :)

Scott Allen from One Stop Exotics had the table next to me, and we got to know each other a little. He was selling beautiful Jackson chameleons and gold dust day geckos. He had some left over and he gave me a male, because we'd guessed that Klondike was a female and he thought we'd have fun with 2 of them. Good plan, but turns out Klondike is a dude after all, and after a very entertaining tail and tongue display (ask Mike next time you see him to demonstrate), we had to pull the new gecko out and add him to Waldo's terrarium. So now we have "Where's Waldo and Where is Thumbkin" in the 28 gallon. So far it's working out in an odd couple day shift/night shift kinda way (finger's crossed).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reptile Show Artwork In Progress

(click on to enlarge) This is one of the new paintings I did for the upcoming Reptile Show. I hope I find a buyer who'll love it as much as I do. This is actually a juvenile green tree python (the young ones are yellow or red, in this case). I should paint more snakes, it's relaxing for me. It's all repeating patterns and light hitting smooth surface... very zen like painting. I guess if I were drawing this from real life it would be less zen and more duck and weave!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Waldo Closeup

Thought Waldo needed a closeup photo to show off how cool he looks. That green mossy part isn't moss, it's his skin, and it's all fringy and bumpy. And he doesn't hide, he seems to pick the most open part of the bark or branch, and just his skin and his stillness make him disappear, ninja style... almost like he knows the predators wouldn't think to look just in plain sight. At night he switches on and moves around with lizardly grace, but it's how he doesn't move that's impressive. He even stretches his back legs all helter skelter to mimic twigs... ok, so I may do that in my sleep, too, but I didn't know we had that in common!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Austin Reptile and Amphibian Expo!

You know you're way into herps when there's a show and you're not going as an attendee, but a vendor! I was struck with inspiration when I realized Austin was hosting a reptile show and, hey, I have quite a few unsold paintings that could fetch a good price by attendees looking to blow some money on some herpetological stuff. So, I looked into it, and having a table there to sell paintings was very affordable (I sell 1 painting and I've covered it). Plus, it'll be fun for me and Mike. We drove down to a show in San Antonio and came back with Dexter our Hognose snake. This time we want to come home with some cold cash! The image above is my banner that will go up on the site for the show.

Now... who can I get to man the desk with me so I can have potty breaks... c'mon, Jilly! The snakes are all enclosed, and think of the good your raised heart rate will do :) Zach? It's muy macho, you'll feel invigorated afterwards. Rhi? You've got anti-anxiety pills still, right? Pop a few and meet me there!

Housing Market Up Turn in Deutsch-land!

So, many know we've had a beautiful vivarium for about 9 months with no occupant save 30 or so plant species. It was like a house on the market, but we couldn't find the right tenant. I'd wanted poison dart frogs (and still do someday), but the upkeep for those would be too much for me right now. We were also faced with the fact that if we're paying for the juice the lights and water feature are using, we should get a little more bang for our buck and have something moving around in there. So after some research and talking to some herpetologist people we discovered the mossy leaf tail gecko who didn't need anything done to the tank, we just dropped him in! They are a cooler temperature lizard that required just the sort of heavily planted vivarium I had built. And, frankly, he's so funny looking we just had to have him. He's all mossy and lichen looking, a really good camouflage artist, so we named him "Waldo" as in "Where's Waldo? I've been staring at this tank for- Oh! There he is!"

Monday, June 30, 2008

I've Joined a Gym!

Ok, so with the post about the freaking heat, the hubby and I have sent up the white flag and joined a gym. But in the spirit of our electronics buying, it is the BMW of gyms! It's open 24 hours, so surely, even with my insane hours I can make it in there. They sent us a promotional offer that waived a lot of the joining fees, so we're signed up on their uber platinum level, which was all they were sigining people up for. But this way, we get almost all of the otherwise add on things included in our fee (things like classes and fitness tests). Our friends were gold members that got rolled or grandfathered into the platinum, and we've had fun telling them all the free stuff they get now that they were unaware of.

What I didn't expect when we started working out is to have such a noticeable change in my state of mind. I mean, it's like someone put me on Zanex, or something! I guess it's endorphins or released pent up stress. It's scary to think that I could feel this much better without really realizing that I felt so bad before. I also, wrongly, thought you only suffered from stress if you were unhappy about said stress (like you're only a workoholic if you don't enjoy it). This year's been stressful, the good kind of stress, as in I have books under production and coming out soon and the company is making great headway, but there's quite a lot of putting out fires as they pop up.

So while I have physical goals I want to achieve, it's already worth it on a deeper psychological level: work out = no creative burn out!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Images from my Rain Forest Show

Sorry I didn't use the "good" camera, but these are some of the paintings I did for my show in April. I picked bold/colorful wildlife and painted on what I consider large scale for me. I sold several in the show, and got many inquiries on the frog, but he's sitting above my desk here now, and I think that's where he belongs. The viper, too, I couldn't part with in the end, and it's actually covering the hole of our fireplace, with the screen place in front of it. It's a neat effect, because the black of the canvas looks like the depth of the fireplace, sort of freaky.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Its. So. Freakin. HOT!!!

Here's a quote from the News here in Austin:

In a typical year, we hit 100-degrees eleven times in Austin. Its only mid-June and we have surpassed that number... the high of 101 at Mabry today makes it the 13th for the year. And that now puts us in 2nd place for the all time for number of 100+ days during the months of May and June.
I've finally become the delicate Southern Belle my Mom secretly always hoped I would be (just kidding, Mom), but honestly, I step outside and my Scarlett O'Hara comes out, "Oh, my, I seem to have succumbed to the vapors, clutch the pearls!" I'm pretty sure I got a mild case of heat exhaustion over the weekend: I had no appetite and felt what Mike and I call "loagey" and blech. I resent this, as I'm no shrinking violet, but I dare anyone to put up with this heat and be at the top of their productivity game.

And I'm pretty sure the heat has zapped my brain, too. I start the day with a pretty well rested brain, thinking of all the things I could do at work and at home. Step outside in the sticky 105 degree heat and ten seconds later I'm drooling in the coolest part of the house wondering why Texas won't legalize your birthday suit as suitable work attire.

Tonight it's driven me to Tequila. I thought, Hey, maybe there's something to the equatorial favorism of margarita as an elixir, and by jove, I think they're on to something there. A big fish bowl margarita later, I'm more worried about the numbness in my face than the sweat rings in my shirt. And it's like getting dehydrated on MY TERMS, none of this atmosphere ripping out my precious bodily fluids, that's what the salt on the rim of my glass if for, thankyouverymuch.

It's time like this I'm glad I'm not a little black Italian Greyhound. Poor Enzo is like a cell phone with half a bar left. He shoots out of the house all happy, then the warning tone goes off alerting that he has about 5 seconds of juice left. It's like watching the evolution of man in reverse, turning the vibrant, bouncy dog into a lowly primordial bottom feeder. Sigh...

So, more creativity to come when the brain can withstand the heat :) Check the Weather Channel.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Feeling Patriotic

Well, this color pencil drawing started, actually, with me finding a really nice paper at my favorite art store in town (Jerry's Artarama). It's Strathmore's heavy weight dry media paper, and it felt so much like a lithographic stone I used to do prints with, that I bought then decided to do some portraits with it. And with it hot as blazes here, I thought I'd do something to commemorate the fourth of July. I also really got into the John Adams HBO series, especially the opening sequence that showed the early revolutionary war flags, like the snake one shown in the corner.

The scan was, I'm sorry, sort of half assed, so some on the edges got cut off. The bottom shows a little more of the "Join, or Die" motto, and the e in people above isn't cut off. But this was a big drawing (18x24") so I'm only going to do so much scanning and puzzling together the pieces.

I think I'll find a buyer in town for this one. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. The only traced/transfered part is the "We the People," everything else, the faces and all were free hand. The overall design of the piece was thrown together pretty fast, too, from several references. I did enjoy reading about the snake flag. Ben Franklin actually carved out the woodcut design himself, and it ties in with his recommendation that if Britain kept sending them convicts, that America should send England their rattlesnakes. Some say that the rattlesnake came darn close to being our national mascot (the whole Don't Tread on Me came from this flag, too).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Greening up the flower beds

Well, we're trying to beautify our flower beds, so we added some sage, oleander, laurell, red yucca, and some baby aloe plants that Jill sent me home with (she has a very productive aloe at her place). Hopefully we picked the right ones!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A New Dedicated Pets Blog

I've started a new dedicated Pets blog called Pet-a-Palooza that I hope ya'll will want to check out. I just have too much I want to post here about my pets, so I'm diversifying. I'm also going to invite friends and family to be contributor, so we can all brag on our pets. I'll try to have reoccurring features like "Pic of the Week" and "Doodle of the Month" so bookmark it and drop in now and then (I'll try to make it interesting!). If you go there now, you can get a rarely seen roll call with all the pet's names, species and countries of origin.

Hope to see ya there!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lemur Silkscreen Doodle

A digital doodle, if you will. I did the pen drawing last Friday at the zoo, then played with dropping in flat colors like a silkscreen... much cleaner this way :)

Monday, May 05, 2008

close up of Gordon

I like this one because the male cordon blue is looking at me (we've named him Gordon for Gordon Ramsay with the whole Cordon Blue culinary school). This also shows the nice lushness I made with some silk and some real plants. Some I'll take out once they feel safe in their environment so they'll have some more flight room. I love the internet, I found a lot of useful info there (

The Finch Connection

A long time ago, I had two little zebra finches. They were great fun, even made a nest in my drapes when I let them out for a little constitutional stroll from their little cage. Funny enough, the Whites tree frogs got me in the mood to have them again with their nightly short calling session. So I'm putting the poison dart frogs on hold (their terrarium is growing nicely in the meantime), and since it's me, no store bought bird cage would do, so I made a "floating aviary" out of egg crate panels, plexiglass, some modular wire shelving and about a million zip ties. It's hanging in the bay window above brisby. This is their summer cottage, I'll be making a winter lodge that will go over the fireplace and be warmer in the cold months.

So far we have 2 spice finches (the white/tan/brown ones), 2 spice finches (the speckled ones with dark heads) and 2 cordon blue waxbills.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Proof" there's a book coming!

Ok, I couldn't help it! My Dad's an OBGYN, and I when I got the printer's proof of Camp Lizard, it reminded me of getting an ultrasound. We had to check ever page, like we were counting fingers and toes. Also, it was blue and black as a proof but will be green and black "on delivery" (ultrasounds being black and white, but oh boy, it's colorful later). So it was neat seeing what will be coming out soon. We did have some concerns that we're talking to printer about, but overall I'm ready to take this little bugger home! (and then get it into a good school, har har).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fan Mail!

It's nice when I get fan mail! This one really picked me up today and I thought I'd share...

Hello Regan!
I just wanted to let you know we just picked up a copy of your book "Little Bunny Kung Fu" from the Wells Branch Library. I read the book to my 4 year old daughter right when we got home and we were both thrilled! She's been hopping around singing "Little Bunny Kung Fu" and doing karate chops ;-) I had to find out more about the author of this wonderful book and I found your webpage. I'm delighted to see that you're a fellow Austinite - something that I suspected when I saw that you had personally signed the book for our beloved Wells Branch Library. I just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed this book. We've already ordered our very own copy of "Little Bunny Kung Fu" and we anxiously await another book from you!
(I'm omitting their names for privacy)

Keep on Karate Chopping!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CIP data for Lizard is here!

Oh, boy! We're getting closer, people! For those not in the biz, the publisher sends a manuscript to the Library of Congress to get the official "CIP Data" that books need so that libraries and other folks know how to officially catalog the book. The publisher, it's worth mentioning, has NO idea or say in how they decide to categorize or summarize the book and we can't make any changes to what they decree (apparently some authors would like to tweak here or there).

A funny thing about my books was that it was never in a written out manuscript form, being a graphic novel (comic book). So, fun for me, I got to type everything out in Word so we could submit it... all 100+ pages! All part of the fun, and I like their summary so I'm happy.

Here it is...

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Johnson, Regan, 1975-
Hold on to your tail / written and illustrated by Regan Johnson.
p. cm. -- (Letters from Camp Lizard)
Summary: Leon the Day Gecko writes a letter to his parents describing his first day at summer camp, where he meets diverse lizards from around the world, makes friends with a Frilled Dragon, and learns a secret about his father.
ISBN 978-1-933831-04-6 (pbk.)
1. Graphic novels. [1. Graphic novels. 2. Lizards--Fiction. 3. Camps--Fiction. 4. Toleration--Fiction. 5. Letters--Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.7.J643Hol 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ty's Wedding Comic Page 1

(Click on to enlarge!)

Tomorrow I leave for Arkansas to see my best friend growing up get married. For his wedding card, I recreated this fuzzy valentine and I'm putting this 2 page comic inside. This is based on a true story, I really did get Ty a huge furry valentine in first grade. He kept it, too, and teased me all through high school and college (which we went through together, too). This is also an accurate picture of my early non-conformist tendencies in dealing with the opposite sex.

For those former ABSS kids, that's Melissa and Brad Adams on page 2, along with Mandy as my coach :). Hope to see some blasts from my past this weekend!

Ty's Wedding Comic Page 2

(click on to enlarge)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Look!

Hey, you may see new additions and perks on the ole blog here... Now if I can just get it together to update my website!

Lone Ranger Rides Again

I was inspired to make my own cowboy illustration after working on that commission for Whitlee. Something new I tried was working with masking fluid. The bandanna pattern was painted, the white part drawing with a quill pen using the masking stuff, then I painted red over all of it and rubbed off the mask that left the paper white. Now I think I can do more intricate patterns without losing my mind... always a good thing :)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Whitlee's Cowgirl

The "Stylistic Chameleon" that I am, I was commissioned to make a watercolor for Whitlee of this cute cowgirl taken from a fabric swatch. My dad could probably date it, being a collector of children's books from the early 30's through 60's. My guess is the 50's. I learn a lot form emulating other artists. For instance I like how the highlights interrupt the shape of things (the hat isn't a solid red). And something about the expression, it's very confident for being a kid... like this girl had been out after curfew a time or two. I find myself wanting to have the same expression :) Yeah, I've painted some things in my time! heehee

Friday, March 28, 2008

My New Toy!

My second picture book that I'm illustrating (not writing) is Fergus the Ferret, and we're doing another toy for the book (Yeah!). I have to make simple drawings that show the toy makers the form we want the toy to take. For Fergus, I wanted "tall and skinny" like a real ferret. I found it funny that an option they had was to have a generic teddy bear body that they just tweak a little into a ferret (creepy, no?). As he is, Fergus is very graphically striking (red, black and white being the power trio of color schemes). I'm hoping the pink in his ears and muzzle will soften him up enough for the girls to squeal over.

And, no, he's not going to be wearing any underwear... he's SCOTTISH! heehee

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

For Easter, I Warholed myself (it'd be neat if my name turned into a verb someday). This candid shot was taken at our friends Rhi and Jeff's wedding where I was a bridesmaid bunny (would've also accepted the bridesmaid froggy position). Thought it made a cute Easter greeting card image. For our 2nd annual "Funny Bunny Storytime" party where I read LBKF and signed books, the manager of the store commented, "You know, on anybody else that outfit wouldn't look right" (was wearing the ears seen here and my silk kung fu outfit and tail). I just tell people that I'm the bunny's mother and that's where the resemblance comes from. :)

Happy Easter folks, bite some chocolate bunnies heads off, it's good for the soul!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fun Picture

Here's a photo of me and the pooch in a pouch. When we have company over, sometimes he needs a little time out, so I have the baby sling and he's content to hang out on my shoulder. I think this is from the Oscar party. I do have some skin tone, but it was dim in the room and the flash sucked out all my color (promise!) :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Artist of the Month for April

For my show in April, I wanted to get back to painting on canvas so I'm doing a "Tropical Color" theme that will focus on the vibrant colors seen in the jungles, like this painted mantella frog from Madagascar. So far I have frogs, reptiles and birds, but also want to include some flora and maybe some monkeys or tamarins.

My thoughts on the show are that before artist and designers were mixing paints and coming up with "color schemes" nature had been using color for it's own form-follows-function means. Sometimes it's to warn off predators, or attract the best mate, or to suddenly startle something else. The Rule of the Jungle being Eat or Be Eaten I think applies to the use of color in the Jungle, meaning that if you're going to use color, then use the most vivid and striking color and combinations you got!

This is a smaller 11x14" canvas, but I purposefully got some large canvas to try to break out of my routine, and I think the larger scale will emphasize the theme, too.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tea with Sourpuss

Believe it or not, I'm trying to scratch out time for my website and some promotional material. I think I'll make this new illustration a postcard advertising my services. Besides being cute (cute's really big right now) I think it shows my sense of humor (note the little guinea pig laughing and pointing at the cat, even though he's dressed as the baby). Also worked in some type and digital pattern applications, trying to show I can do more than paint. I like it, the little girl is based on a cute girl that comes into the store a lot.

Friday, February 01, 2008

More Fashion Art

These are actually 2 different drawing/watercolors that I put together digitally. They're both from the 1760's, and the pink and blue is a play on boy and girl fashions. In keeping with fashion illustration I left out the face details so the viewer can focus on the clothing. I like the gesture of the watercolor next to the tightly controlled pen work. I'll do a few more...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Work!

(Click on to enlarge) It's been a while since I posted some art, so here's what I'm up to. Doing a small collections of watercolor/drawings of period costume. Part of it is my own interest and the other the Oscar's coming makes me think about Best Costume. I'll have a show with these and hopefully find an equally enthusiastic patron to buy them! This one's called The Cowboy circa 1890.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New 28 gallon Vivarium finished!

Well, I finished my poison dart frog 28 gallon vivarium. There's 17 live plants and a waterfall going. Hope you like looking at it! I sure do :) Going to let it grow and settle in for a month, then we'll be looking to move in frogs.

Tired now, going to turn in. I promise some artwork will get posted here soon.

(click on the image to enlarge it!)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

G'day, mates

Our frog theme continues with our new White's Tree Frog here, Uluru. We've named her after the original name for Ayers Rock since she's Australian. She will be joining our Tokay gecko in the redone vivarium (with a natural looking divider to keep the Tokay from the traditional Tokay greeting ie. biting her face off). She's a very pretty greenish blue color when she wants to be green. Though, she can change color completely and go brown and it doesn't mean she's cold or upset... just wants to be brown.