October Online Drawing Clubs Like Inktober and Mab's Drawlloween: Yes or No?

A few years ago, I took a risk and played along all 31 days of “Inktober”, the online October drawing club/challenge to create one drawing per day from the same spooky, scary, monster prompt as everyone else in the club. I posted my drawings online under the hashtag (#inktober) and saw mine along side everyone else's drawings. I ended up finding it a really unpleasant experience. No one really commented on what I created or even gave me likes, so I felt alienated and lonely.

Despite that, I’m going to try a different drawing club this year, “Mab’s Drawlloween Club”. All the art folks who I revere are doing it and they have said it’s a very caring and supportive community. I’ve even voiced my nervousness at doing this and already received some kind words and encouragement.

So here I go into October, throwing myself into the fray again. Maybe, this will be a lot different experience. Maybe, I’ll enjoy it this time. Wish me luck and follow along on my Instagram Account where I’ll be posting my Drawlloween drawings daily. The hashtag to follow this year is: #mabsdrawlloween2019 Will you join in? Yes or No?

2019 List of Prompts Mabs Drawlloween Club.png

What Does Cellar Mean to You? A Strange Evening of Shared Creation & Shared Artwork

What does the word cellar mean to you? What images, stories and memories does it conjure up? What would you create with that word as your prompt? Could you finish your art creation within 2 hours?

I was invited to do just that when I attended the Portland, Oregon SHARE which is an invitation only “ bi-monthly event that brings different groups of artists together to create from the same prompt. Artists have two hours to work before sharing their creations.” Below is my drawing for the evening. I didn’t know I’d feel so strange or have such a struggle coming up with artwork for cellar. If you go to their website, you’ll read what made it so problematic for me, plus you’ll see the other artists’ creations from the prompt, cellar.

Melissa Kojima’s drawing from the prompt word, “cellar”.

Melissa Kojima’s drawing from the prompt word, “cellar”.

For me, the best things about the evening were sharing my process/struggle and meeting new creative folks. When we shared, I realized that I wasn’t alone in my art-making experience. Everyone had ups and downs during it. We gave each other hugs at the end before we parted.

Since the evening, I’ve gone to some of their local art events, like gallery opening receptions and art sales. It feels really good to support my fellow artists and expand my world a bit more.

Who Else Feels Strange? My Artist Talk About Being Strange & Creating Strange Art

I came, I saw, I kicked ass….or at least, that’s what I’d like to say about my artist talk last week. Instead, I came with strange questions and left behind some strange answers. I felt fine, during it, talking about being strange and creating strange art. Afterward, I felt awkward and vulnerable and like…like….I dunno…..like…I didn’t fit in. I guess that’s just the risk you take when you put yourself out there. Maybe, that’s just sort of the postpartum depression after giving birth to a talk. I dunno. I didn’t expect that. Let me know if you watch my talk and what you think of it. You can see it by clicking on the photo below.

Melissa Kojima at her artist talk on August 9, 2019 at PDX Commons.  Click on the photo above to watch her full artist talk.

Melissa Kojima at her artist talk on August 9, 2019 at PDX Commons. Click on the photo above to watch her full artist talk.

The Voice of Gothic & Creepy Art: My 4 Minute Interview at Monster Drawing Rally 2019

While at the 2019 Monster Drawing Rally, I had a little interview with the Portland Art Museum’s Podcast, in which I answered as many questions as I could within 4 minutes. We chatted about memorable moments at past events (this was my 4th year participating), the kind of art I create (gothic and creepy, of course) and how I deal with the challenge of the limited time to make art during the Monster Drawing Rally. Listen to my answers, laughs and sighs by clicking on the photos links below.


You can also see a little video blurb that OPB did on the Monster Drawing Rally by clicking the photo link above. I didn’t get in their video spot, but this was exactly what I saw, heard and enjoyed during my time there. I even talked to the lady that said she draws women who ruled the world. This was my last year doing it. For most of my 4 years of as participating/donating artist, I really enjoyed it. This year, I realized it’s changed for me and the magic is no longer there like it was before.

Tiny Strange Treasures: Fox Ghost Brooch Drawing WIP (work in progress)

For the Creeping Museum’s Artist Market, I have a lot of new strange and spooky artwork to show. One of the series I’m working on to display and sell will be these tiny treasure drawings. I love antique, cameo brooches and ghosts so I combined these two loves in these 4 little drawings.

The first one I worked on was the Fox Ghost (each one of them is some adored and special animal). Please scroll through the images below to see the scale of how small they are and to see how I took the line drawing of the fox ghost and developed it into a full color drawing with spooky beauty and mystery.

So far, I’m loving how they are turning out. Let me know if you too love the beginning of this little series of artworks. You can also catch the first 15 minutes of me drawing this one in a sped up timelapse video at this link.

Click image to see the timelapse video of the Ghost Fox Brooch Drawing.

Click image to see the timelapse video of the Ghost Fox Brooch Drawing.

Last Minute News! I'll In The 2019 Monster Drawing Rally

It’s only a few days until the Portland Art Museum’s Monster Drawing Rally, and I only heard back this morning that I’ll be a participating artist. I wasn’t sure if I would be one or not, since the spaces are limited for returning artist this year. This is their 5th Annual event and this will by my 4th year as a participating artist. It will be held this Friday, July 12th, 5:30-9:30pm.

I always love drawing in front of a crowd and raising money for children’s art programs, so this is a real treat to be a part of this event. If you like helping children’s art programs too, please come and watch me draw and then buy the art….mine….or any of over a 100 other Portland artists. I’ll be drawing in the last round of artists from 8-9pm. Will you make it? If yes, please come say hello to me. More details are below.

Who Else Wants A Strange, Spooky Picture Per Day From This Strange Artist?

I have been gotten back on Instagram…after a long reprieve….and let me tell you….it’s tough being out there….it’s as scary as a haunted house or a dark enchanted forest (you have to fight self-doubt, comparison, and other evil monsters). I returned so I could follow some spooky and inspirational artists (https://www.instagram.com/ghoulnextdoor/ , https://www.instagram.com/beeskneesindustries/ , https://www.instagram.com/spectralgardens/ , https://www.instagram.com/_virginia_mori_/ , https://www.instagram.com/weird_vintage_photos/) and to be able to send galleries and other art communities a social media account when I applied for opportunities (yep, I’m always trying to promote my artwork and get it out there so I can be found by the right audience—-an audience who appreciates and loves my spooky, strange art too).

I’ve been trying to make a lovely feed of strange and spooky art each day. I know that’s what I enjoy seeing in my feed. Who else wants that? If you do, take a chance on this strange artist and follow my strange feed. Below are examples of what you can expect from me…ghosts, bats, magic, moons and a very special cat named, Katarina…..sssshhhhh….don’t tell anyone….but she’s the inspiration for my next 11 art pieces…you might see some work in progress in my Instagram feed…just saying. Will I see you there?

Will These Moths Be the End of Me in Finishing This Magazine Cover?

Yes, it was a struggle to get the moths and the boy on this Metaphorosis magazine cover to take flight. I tried some new things and unfortunately sometimes, that is just what happens when you take risks and dare to do something new. One of the new things I tried was a different paper which I thought would work well because it was a high quality art paper that had gotten a lot of good reviews.

For my purposes, it ended up being the bane of my illustrating existence. I didn’t like how it didn’t hold the color very well and the texture was much more rough than I expected or wanted. How was I suppose to make him look glowing and otherworldly when I my colors wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do?

I tried to spray on a new layer of texture to lay on more color to cover the rough texture underneath it. This didn’t have the effect I intended, making everything more strange, murkier and muddier. I added some greenish-yellow to emphasize the moths and that wasn’t quite the right move either. What could I do?

When you hit a dead end, you just have to stop picking at it like a scab because it will bleed and get infected if you don’t stop. Just stop. Put down the drawing and stop. I had to walk away for a few days and forget about it.

When I returned, I had some fresh ideas. I thought I could play with the illustration in Adobe Photoshop and change the contrast and brightness of certain elements to get the effect that I wanted. I’m happy to report that it finally worked. Below is the glowing, strange moths cover that I submitted to my editor. He had no problem with it (or at least any that he told me).


Next week, you’ll get to read the story that this strange moth illustration is about as well as all the other powerful stories I read for the May 2019 issue of Metaphorosis magazine. Let me know what you think it. I’d enjoy getting your perspective of the story and how my illustration fits with it (or not). Plus learning your opinion and point of view makes me feel less alone and less disconnected in this strange world.

Is It Easy or a Struggle to Get These Moths to Take Flight on the Magazine Cover?

After the thumbnail sketch was approved, I had to make a final drawing of the magazine cover to be approved before I could move on to fleshing it out with color, shadow and light. Below is the final drawing I sent to the Metaphorosis editor. Did he have any changes? Was I able to capture the feel of the strange story with my strange illustration?

Beating of a Wing-Moths-Final-Drawing.jpg

The editor approved it, only saying that I needed to keep in mind the dimensions of the cover which were a little more narrower than my above drawing. That was easy to fix by cropping off the sides, since nothing of importance was at the edges. All of the essential visual information resided in the middle of my illustration.

So far, it has been easy to do this cover. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure how to portray the boy before I drew him in detail. Did I want to show him as a misfit? Did I want to show that he was angry with his mom? Could I visually bring out the brainy kid that his mother didn’t understand? In the end, I think I showed the curious and fearless kid that I could relate to in the story.

What’s next after the drawing is the color, shading and light. They will be the tougher challenge and may be an actual struggle. If you stay tuned, you may get to see me fall flat on my face in my execution. That is always my fear. It’s like I draw myself into a corner and then I have to color my way out of it. If we have any luck, I’ll be able to pull this out of me like a butterfly from a caterpillar (yes, that was a nod at the task I have ahead).

Which Thumbnail Sketch Will Become the Magazine Cover for Metaphorosis?

Before I even start the wheels turing and scribbling down some sketchy ideas for magazine covers, I get stories to read, so I can decide which one pricks my imagination the most to illustrate. This time for Metaphorosis, all 4 of the stories I read had powerful visuals for me. They were all equally compelling, none standing out from the other. What was I to do? I couldn’t choose one.

I made a thumbnail sketch for each story (as you can see above) and asked a friend which one he liked the most. He picked a couple, but I still wasn’t sure what to do. I decided to send all the sketches to the editor and see which ones he found the most compelling. Strangely, he also chose the same two that my friend chose as his favorites from the 4 sketches.

That gave me confirmation to choose one of the two sketches to make into the May 2019 Metaphorosis cover. They are the bottom two sketches of the spaceship and a boy surrounded by moths. Which one did I decide to create into the cover? Which one would you have chosen? I finally picked the boy with the moths.

Stay tuned during the next few weeks if you want to see the evolution of this cover. I’ll share my work in progress, so you can see if I was able to make this sketch into something worthy of awe and attention. It’s always unknown to me if it will be easy or a struggle.