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  • Garth

Here’s a pretty rough timelapse video of me creating a Lunch Bag Daddy Doodle. I do these every day during the school year for my 3 kids and have been for years. I thought it would be fun to let you watch over my shoulder, and thank goodness for you I’ve condensed a 15 minute boring process down to a 4 minute boring process. Enjoy!

Erin and Gary Curneen gave birth to their first child, Roy, on December 3, 2014. He was born with a right diaphragmatic hernia. Three weeks later, on Christmas Eve, despite the hard work of the amazing doctors and physicians at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), Roy passed away.

Erin and Gary’s gratitude for the CHLA staff as well as their desire to keep the memory of Roy alive prompted them to write a series of children’s books called “Soccer Roy”, using Roy and soccer as a way to teach valuable life lessons. All the proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to CHLA. Erin and Gary commissioned me to illustrate this special book, and I’m honored that I could help their dream become a reality.

Gary, originally from Northern Ireland, is the head women’s soccer coach at California State University Bakersfield. He has written two well-received books on how to coach soccer. Soccer Roy has sold out on Amazon in the UK and reached number one in the children’s sports book category.

You can purchase a copy on to read to your kids and to help out the CHLA.

So many people have been touched by this amazing story, just see these great pictures.

© Benjamin Bostic, Used with permission
© Joe Masiulis, used with permission
The wonderful staff at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
© Ryan Boyle, used with permission
© Kate Curry, used with permission
© Zareen Kobaisy, used with permission
© Kelly Thomas, used with permission
Article in the Ulster Herald. Click on the image to read it.

  • Garth

The final sign

Ah, Comic Con, what a strange and wonderful convention. Last year was the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con and that thing broke all sorts of records. The largest inaugural comic convention anywhere, and the largest convention in Utah’s history, period. My son, being a fan of Mario and anything Nintendo, and me loving comic strips, we thought it would be fun to check it out. The booths were fun, the crowd was diverse, but what stood out the most to me was Artists Alley. Real people with real passion showing off their talents, and making a few bucks while doing it.

My son (an amazing pixel artist) and I were so inspired we reserved a table for the next year, and spent the year preparing ourselves. I wasn’t so concerned with making a million bucks, I just wanted to be a part of the experience, rub shoulders with other artists and hang out with my boy for a few days.

That being said, I wasn’t going to just show up. I had to stand out somehow, and the idea of creating a sign that was different from all others seemed like a good way to do that. Building and crafting this thing was quite a stretch for me and that was another reason I decided to tackle it.

Vinyl banners are everywhere at Comic Con, so a wood and clay sign seemed like the obvious alternative… obviously. I sketched up several rough ideas focussing on my love of hand-drawn typography and character designs.

Once I landed on a sketch I liked, I scanned the pencil work and did a rough color study on my iPad mini using an amazing app called Procreate.

I purchased an unfinished 2’ wood table top for the base and a 1” thick board for the lettering. To get the lettering templates just right, I placed the scan of my sketch in Illustrator and blew it up to the correct size. With the artboard tool, I created a page for every letter (or two) and printed each template out. I then cut the letters out to use as my template.

The sketch in Adobe Illustrator, getting ready to print each letter on its own page to create the templates.
Cutting out the template with an x-acto knife.
The letter templates laid out on a 1″ thick board.

At the same time, I asked around to see if anyone had a scroll saw I could borrow. My next-door neighbor let me borrow his father’s saw I remember using to help my son with a pinewood derby car for scouts years earlier. Which, by the way, was the only time I’ve ever used a scroll saw, so I was a bit nervous about this part.

Testing my skills on the scroll saw.

I loved this part. I really enjoy working with tools and wood, and the hours flew by as I cut out each letter.

I then added a layer of joint compound to the table-top. When I add the clay sculptures to the wood, the joint compound adds texture to the wood so that the clay will stick. The letters were glued into position with wood glue, and the sculpting began.

All the letters cut out and ready to glue onto the table top. Well, after a little sanding to fix the rough cuts.

An old friend of mine invented an architectural compound he calls Skratch that I decided to try because it air-dries to a very hard and sandable state without cracking. Perfect for this project since there was no way I could throw the sign into an oven or kiln for drying. There was a bit of a learning curve with this clay. It has the consistency of a paper clay, or a papier-mâché compound. You can’t scrape or model the clay like you would potter’s clay or WED clay. It’s very fibrous, which is why I think it doesn’t crack when it dries. You just add and push around the clay to get the form you want. My first character took a very long time to sculpt, and was frustrating. But once I got the hang of the clay, the others came much easier.

Sculpting done, left side.
Sculpting done, right side.

Once the sculpting was completed and dried, I painted the whole sign with white primer to give it a consistent color base throughout. I then used gouache to paint the characters. This was another first. I’m familiar with acrylics and watercolors, but gouache is new to me. It’s kind of a mix between the two. Add enough water and it’s transparent like watercolors. Use it directly out of the tube and it’s opaque like acrylics. I liked very much how versatile it was and allowed me to make the sign look painterly.

Finishing up the painting!

I finished the sign with only a day to spare for Salt Lake Comic Con. I was excited to put the sign up and talk about it all throughout the convention to the hoard of admirers that would surely stop and take a longer look at something so different. I mean, my updates on Facebook got more positive responses than anything I’ve ever posted.

Look how puny it looks in the Comic Con environment.

Once up however, I felt quite deflated. While it looked big on my drawing table at home, it was miniscule compared to the millions of banners and large art prints my comic con neighbors had. It was barely seen by the crowd-at-large. Many supportive friends and family came by to see the final product, for which I am very thankful.

I actually anticipated the low response to a point, but what kept me going while making the sign was that I was doing something I had never done before. I had an idea in my head, planned it out the best I could, and it actually came together. I was creating and learning, and for that alone, this project was totally worth it.

Details of the final sign.
Details of the final sign.
Details of the final sign.

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