Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in sketchbook (3)


Win this tiny "I Love To Read" doodle!

I enjoy creating tiny doodles! This one is only 9 cm x 5.5 cm (about the size of a business card) and created with my new Platinum Preppy fountain pen with a fine point nib using a Carbon Black Ink cartridge, my Winsor & Newton portable watercolor set and a water brush.

You can enter this week's giveaway HERE.

Congrats to Janet Coburn, who won my Peppermint Tea Fish found object doodle last week!

Entries accepted until 11:59 pm on Sun. December 18th, 2016 and a randomly selected winner will be announced on Mon. Dec. 19th, 2016.. Click here for official contest rules.


Found Object Doodles (a.k.a. Sometimes It's Ok To Play With Your Food Before Eating It) plus a print-ready template for young people

***For those asking whether I'm doing a found object book, please see About My Food Art, Found Object Book Update and Other Found Object Artists.

"A Portrait In Ink And Parsley": click image to see responses when I posted this Found Art doodle on Twitter.

(Edit: Thanks so much to Chicago Tribune website ChicagoNow.com and Tessa Wegert for highlighting this blog post in their Dec.27th, 2013 article)

As some of my Instagram followers may have noticed recently, I've been posting more Found Object Doodles...especially Food Doodles. This all began at a Lost Weekend With David Diaz, when I was intrigued by David's habit of drawing on found objects (such as promo postcards that came by snailmail).

David Diaz shows Alice Ratteree and other Lost Weekend attendees samples of his work

Earlier this year, I realized that I had been neglecting my daily doodle habit...which was having a negative impact on my other work. So I took advantage of a sale at DeSerres and bought a bunch of art supplies:

I purposely avoided getting the more expensive watercolor paints and sketchbooks so I wouldn't feel as inhibited when it came to artplay and experimentation. I did buy a ton of refills for my Pentel Brush Pen, however, because the latter has become my go-to sketching pen. For those interested in trying out this pen, the cheapest price I've found online is on Amazon.con so far, especially the refills. Price on Amazon.ca is much higher, so if you don't live in the U.S., I'd advise checking out sales at your local art shop first.

Anyway, I started doing a lot of sketching on found objects, like my husband's 2010 Royal Astronomical Society Of Canada Observer's Handbook (I intercepted its journey to the recycling bin):


and shamelessly vandalized my inflight magazine on the way to a board gaming convention last month:

(and yes, I left it in the seat pocket.)

Then I was having brunch with my husband and a friend, and there was a point in the conversation where they were talking about something very specific that didn't involve me...so I started doodling. Keep in mind that Jeff and most of our closer friends are used to me doodling at random times, so this wasn't quite as rude as it may seem. :-)

Anyway, I hadn't brought my sketchbook with me but had a couple of blank index cards, so I decided to incorporate my used mint tea bag into a doodle:

My Tea Doodle, created at Bestellen in Toronto.

On whim, I decided to post this to Instagram and Facebook, and was surprised at all the positive response. My author friend, Vikki VanSikkle, suggested on Instagram that I do a "tea doodle series." I didn't think that I'd want to restrict myself to tea but WAS intrigued by the idea of doing more Found Object doodles.

I love the idea of quickie doodles created with ink and found objects that are destroyed (or eaten :-)) afterward. Doing these will help me keep from being too "precious" about my art, I think. Plus they're FUN TO DO.

Recently, for example, Vikki challenged me to do one of my Found Art doodles while AT the Torkidlit holiday party:

And here's what I came up with:

I also created 7-Layer Dip Tyrannosaurus Rex, Meat Head Santa and Nice Puppy Snowman (using a real puppy)!.

Here's a photo that my YA author friend, Derek Silver, tweeted from the party:

And all this helps remind me of something I've learned since the whole I'm Bored adventure began and my career took off: that while the whole "being an anti-social introverted artist/writer who works away in isolation, creating stuff" idea may be fine for some, I have grown SO MUCH in my creative efforts as a result of meeting other children's book writers and illustrators in person and online.

YES, you have to make sure you don't let socializing and networking (networking is NOT a bad word, in contrast to what some people think! I could rant for an entire book on that topic) time take over your life, that you keep your focus on your creative work. BUT in my experience, the interactions I have with other children's book writers and illustrators online and offline has greatly helped me not only in my career, but also as a creative individual.

Another lesson I've learned: That there is potential art EVERYWHERE. You just need to look. I'm hoping that my doodles encourage some people to look at the world a little differently, to not take so much for granted. I also think that Found Object Doodles are a great way to inspire creativity in young people. I've created a print-ready PDF for those interested:

Click image for print-ready PDF

One last comment about Found Object Doodles: There are soooo many wonderful artists out there who work with found objects, and I encourage you to check out their work. Here are just a few:

Check out CintaScotch's creative ink and found object doodles on Instagram. Artist's real name: Javier Pérez.

Children's book illustrator Lori Nichols sometimes posts her found object doodles on Instagram as well. Her Instagram feed seems to be down right now, but you can see samples of her found object art on Seven Impossible Things.

Hanoch Pivan creates faces out of found objects.

I'm also in the midst of compiling a list of children's book illustrators who have published books using found object art. So far, I have Alma Fullerton, Suzanne Del Rizzo, Barbara Reid, Denise Fleming, Marthe Jocelyn, Lindsay Ward. I'll create a separate post on Inkygirl in the New Year; feel free to comment below if you know of any children's book illustrators I should add to this list.

Meanwhile, I'll be continuing to gradually add my Found Object doodles to:

My Food Doodles and other Found Object art on Flickr

My Found Object doodle portfolio section (selection)


Tumblr (selection)

Pinterest (selection)



Inspiration, Art and a 12-Course Susur Lee Dinner at the Autodesk SketchBook Toronto Event

Badge pick up at Autodesk

I have been a fan of the iPad since it first came out, and my favorite art app is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro (I've just started to learn the desktop version). A while ago, I posted a sketch that I did with the app on my iPad while waiting in an airport. I had noticed a little boy with his family nearby, and he noticed me sketching. Curious, he came over to look. I did a quick sketch of him, and he was delighted.


I posted about the experience, pointing out how cool it was that a quickie little sketch could bridge the communication gap between different cultures. Chris Cheung, the SketchBook product manager at Autodesk, e-mailed me about the post; we kept in sporadic touch after that. Eventually we met in person, hit it off (we're both nerds and love SketchBook -- how could we not? :-)) and he invited me to speak at SketchBook's first dedicated Toronto event.

The theme: "Inspiration."

Nick Pagee from TIFF

Above: Nick Pagee, TIFF Consultant: Gaming & New Media

I HAD AN AMAZING TIME. First of all, the other speakers were fantastic. They included Skottie Young, Bobby Chiu, Nick Pagee, Miguel Sternberg, C.B. Cebulski, Francis Manapul and Benjamin Rabe, among others. You can read their bios on the the SketchBook blog.

Susur Lee talks about inspiration

One surprise guest (above): renowned Toronto chef Susur Lee, who talked about inspiration and food. After Susur's talk, he went back to his restaurant to prepare a 12 course meal for all of us (!).

C.B. Cebulski (Marvel)

Above: C.B. Cebulski from Marvel.

The event was invite-only, and apparently even the waiting list filled up quickly. The speakers could invite a few people, so I sent invites to my sister (a children's book writer and illustrator) and Patricia Storms (cartoonist and children's book writer/illustrator). Sadly, Ruth couldn't come and I knew Chris Cheung was interested in the NCS, so I asked Patricia if any of the other National Cartoonists Society members would be interested.

Jonathan Mahood, Mike Cope, Patricia Storms and Kate

Above: my guests - Jonathan Mahood, Mike Cope (Chairman of the Canadian Chapter of the NCS), Patricia Storms and Katie Shanahan. Thanks to Jonathan for the photo of me during my talk.

Giving a talk at the Mar/2012 Autodesk SketchBook event

It was especially great to have Patricia in the audience since we were already friends through Torkidlit (Toronto Area Middle Grade and Young Adult Author Group) because whenever I got too nervous, I just focused on her smiling "YOU CAN DO IT!!" face. :-)

From the feedback I received afterward, I think my talk went pretty well. Chris had asked me to describe my unusual career path from being a computer programmer to a children's book illustrator with Simon & Schuster.

Several of the people that approached me afterward said that they were programmers with creative streaks similar to mine, and that my story was inspiring (yay!!). Some said they enjoyed hearing about my process while others seemed drawn by the personal narrative. A lot of people mentioned my enthusiasm. :-)

And quite a few of them said they planned to buy I'M BORED when it comes out this September (YAAAAAY!).

Tina Burke & Patricia Storms

Above: Patricia Storms and Tina Burke.

Autodesk staff & Brendan Frye peruse my I'M BORED f&g

(Above: Autodesk staff peruse my I'M BORED f&gs. On the right: Brendan Frye of Comics & Gaming Magazine.)

The Autodesk offices are gorgeous. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take one of the tours, but I loved what I saw. When I arrived, I was asked if I'd be willing to be interviewed by the media. I said yes, of course. :-)

I ended up missing some of the talks as a result, but I had fun chatting with Mark Askwith (Space Channel), Joanna Adams (Toronto Standard) and Brendan Frye (Comics & Gaming Magazine). Found out that Brendan is a fellow board gamer (on BoardGameGeek, he's bfrye26).

Bobby Chiu & Kei Acedera
Above: Bobby Chiu & Kei Acedera from Imaginism Studios

There were plenty of opportunities throughout the afternoon for chatting with other attendees. Plus Marvel's senior VP, C.B. Cebulski, was available for one-on-one meetings throughout the day (he's always scouting for talent).

Two people I especially enjoyed meeting were concept artists Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera. Bobby and Kei are co-owners of Imaginism Studios (Kei is also a children's book illustrator). They've done work for Disney, Warner Bros., Dreamworks, Sony, Universal Studios, among others. Bobby designed creatures for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland! He also teaches on Schoolism.com.

Plus both Bobby and Kei are INCREDIBLY NICE PEOPLE. Very positive, enthusiastic and supportive. I hope our paths cross again.

Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera

So many giveaways and freebies handed out throughout the day! Prizes ranged from graphic novels to artwork to a Intuos drawing tablet, Wacom Inkling, soooo much other cool stuff. Everyone who attended received a Silver Snail gift certificate, a bunch of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro tshirts, a copy of THE PERFECT BAIT by Bobby Chiu (tips for artists about finding your own style and creating demand), and (yes) more cool stuff.

Prize giveaway

(Above: Chris Cheung does a giveaway with Francis Manapul (DC comic artist)).

Epson had an area where you could test out some of their artist quality printers by e-mailing them a file or ask any questions. In another area, you try drawing on Cintiques. And there was cake and other snackables always available. We all felt very spoiled.

No one wanted to fill up on snacks, though, because we all knew that after the talks, we would all be heading over to Lee for a 12-course culinary extravaganza prepared by master chef, Susur Lee:

Everyone at the SketchBook event in Toronto was treated to a 12-course meal at Susur Lee's restaurant

Omigosh…SOOOOOoooOOOOooo good! Drooling even now, just thinking about that incredible meal.

Thanks you SO MUCH to Autodesk and Chris Cheung for inviting me to this event. I had SUCH an amazing time.

You can see other photos I took on my iPhone at the event in my Autodesk SketchBook Event album on Flickr.