Some time maybe about a month ago my (then) three year-old son Lukas decided that he no longer could sleep in his bed at night unless he had one crucial item in his grasp. A teddy bear?  A nightlight? Nope. It’s got to be “Mama’s Sketchbook.”

He also likes to call it a “Scatterbook” which is also quite fitting given its contents. My husband says that he snuggles up to it at night, squeezes his glow-in-the-dark seahorse and goes through it page by page. What on Earth could be so interesting? I guess at some point all the toys and books that are actually age appropriate for toddlers became boring and unbearable. He started searching our work bags, night tables, and now it’s our hallway bookcase for things that are decidedly adult.

He found it on my nightstand by the bed buried under other books and journals. It’s from back in those heady days a year after graduating from college when I lived and worked in Ireland and Scotland respectively. Page one begins on a dreary Winter Scottish day in 1999. My hands probably were too cold to even finish. Page two is a sketch of Shawn, one of my four roommates (three Americans and one Canadian) sharing a drafty Edinburgh flat.



I used to have the sketchbook with me nearly everywhere I went. When I got bored or had a few minutes I would scribble in its pages to try and capture the fleeting moment. It was just for my own fun, but it actually made me a bit of money too.

In Dublin, Ireland drunken pub-goers would see me drawing (I’m a one-drink-wonder so had to find SOMETHING to do) and then actually give me money if I’d rip out the page so they could take it home with them. After a few times I got wise, quit my piddly no-tip waitress job (making 2.75 quid an hour) and started making roughly 20 quid an hour selling portraits on Grafton St. Sadly, I had this revelation in November of 1998 and my fingers would not cooperate under the cold conditions. Eventually I had to leave my milk crates and signs advertising my makeshift business behind and got a lame job in a toy shop selling Barney and Teletubbies to harried incarnations of my future motherly self.

This is roommate Abbey reading a book. I wonder what she’s up to now.



This is probably Lukas’s favorite. It’s cold and miserable outside so we are watching Friends on TV. It’s of course unfinished, but what he likes the best is that the hands at the bottom drawing in the book are Mama’s. He also knows that James, Nannette, and Shawn’s feet are also represented.

Here’s one just of James. I considered cropping out the lame “just got out of art school” commentary on the right, but alas… love me warts and all, thank you very much. 22 year-old Kristen was ahead of her time. Also kudos to me for learning some Dutch colors.



So all the pretty sketches from the 90’s get put on a shelf and I don’t rediscover the sketchbook until a decade later after finishing off my 2D animation Larry and Roz. This page is me trying to figure out the best way to export the final version to festivals on a DVD. Bugger. I can see the frustration in my harried handwriting. Lukas usually skips over this page.



This is Lukas’s second favorite page. It’s from five years ago when I was looking for a new apartment in Rome that could potentially house a growing young family. My husband Michael couldn’t see the place with me so I drew a rough sketch to give him an idea of the layout. We still live there today.  Lukas points out all the rooms.



Now here’s something not really meant for a child’s (or anyone’s) eyes. These are rough storyboard panels for now completed animated music video, Veggie Propaganda. I work alone so my storyboards are never polished and are only meant for myself.










…And fast forward to 2011. I am a Mom of a 2 month-old and a 2 year-old. I scrawled a little poem/commentary on the extreme highs and lows of motherhood and then started to make a storyboard out of it. (I honestly couldn’t have made an animation about any other topic at this point in my life if I tried.) These are sketches for the animation I’m currently working on, This Too Shall Pass.










I don’t have a snazzy final piece to show you, so here are a few stills:





Thanks to Lukas I guess I see new-found value in those old pages. It also reminds me that I am currently sketchbook-less and am in need of ordering a new one. I’d better get on that.
Anyway, today is Halloween and these are my little critters, Lukas (the tiger) and Nico (the lion). Have a good one! I need to return the sketchbook to Lukas’s bed before he discovers it’s missing.

The Criiters