Thursday, December 30, 2010

Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm is an amusement park about ten miles from our house. It started as a berry stand during the Depression, and grew as Walter Knott started collecting buildings from ghost towns and assembling a pioneer town in a field. Until the late sixties it was free and anyone could go and wander around. My family would sometimes go after church and eat at the Chicken Restaurant. Good times, people, good times.

I love this picture of me and my pretty mom because although she is smiling for the photo, she is also giving somebody the stink-eye off camera, most likely my big brother. I'm rocking a velvet and taffeta dress with a white patent leather purse. I'm also wearing matching patent leather shoes. So if you were wondering how the Scott family made it to California, it was dressed like this, gloves, hats, handbags and the stink-eye with a smile.


The highlight of my childhood was making my brother laugh
so hard that food came out his nose.  ~Garrison Keillor

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

LACMA Sketchbook

One of the best things about the holidays is my friend Lynn comes to town to visit her parents. We've been buds since college, over thirty years now, and it is always a delight to catch up on our lives. We often go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This year was no exception. There was an incredible exhibition of clothing which I want to see again. Olmec stone heads and a beautiful show on Lucknow, India. If you live anywhere in Southern California I recommend the trip.

Through the course of the day we talked about things that we had done and things that we hope to do in the coming year. How about you? What did you accomplish in 2010 and what do you hope 2011 holds for you?

Happy drawing,



Drawing is seeing.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A note from Santa...

So, I was rushing around the house, trying to find an extra cookie sheet and get ready for Christmas Eve, when this note appeared out of nowhere.

Hey you,

Santa here, tonight's the big night... So, my friend, how are the holidays treating you? Are you frazzled, stressed. filled with angst? Broke? Is your head pounding? Take a deep breath. Hey, I prep for this night all year and stuff still falls though the cracks.

Don't worry, whatever you've done is fine. That's right, fine. Do you think I get every little girl a pony that asks me? And don't get me started on BB guns... Christmas is not about the presents.It says so in the manual.

Let's take a little inventory here, got family? Love them, such as they are, even if they push your buttons. Good friends? That is a great gift. Tell them how lucky you are to know them. Food to eat? Great! Roof, leaky or not. Aces! Everything else is just frosting on the cookie.

Well, time to pack up the sleigh, got a lot of chimneys to climb down.

Hugs to the family,

Nick Claus.


Inner peace through lowered expectations. ~ MSW

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Book Tree

My cousin Jeff is one heck of a fine photographer. He posted this photo on his blog and I just had to share.

Is there anything better than books for Christmas? Well there is chocolate and art supplies but books make the best presents.

What books would you like under your Christmas Tree?

Read on!


These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. ~ Gilbert Highet

Friday, December 10, 2010

Little Pierrot

I don't know if you've seen my Toymaker Facebook page but I post little snibbets of this and that every day.

Like The Adventures of Little Pierrot. 
You can read it here...

Come and share a pot of tea,

My home is warm and my friendship's free.

~ Emilie Barnes

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Artist's Block - Part Deux

Say you are tired of drawing circles and doodling faces. What next?

One the the things that can stump you when you want to draw is choosing a subject. I like to wander through YouTube Videos, hit freeze frame and draw what you see. I have lots of drawings of Fred Astaire.

Or you can go outside and draw a plant or building. Drawing from life is takes concentration but if you do it enough you will really learn to "see" things. 

The most important thing is to tell that little critical voice in your head to shut up. Your inner critic will bang on about how lousy your drawing is, that it's not good enough, and on and on for days if you let it. If you listen to that voice you will never get anything done, so tell it politely that you are just practicing, it's okay to make mistakes and kick it down the stairs.

So, give yourself permission to draw. It sounds silly but it's true. Honor your work, allow yourself the time to practice and treat yourself to decent supplies and materials. I like to buy paper by the ream. With 500 pieces of paper, the pressure is off, all you need is time and a pencil.

How about you? What gets you going?

Draw on!


 Anything worth while certainly takes a while. ~ Mister Rogers

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A question about Artist Block

Fellow artist Licia asked me, "Marilyn, what is your best advice for "artist's block" when it hits? Do you force yourself at those times to sit and draw no matter what?"

Yep, sit down and start drawing. But start small, draw tiny, tiny little doodles that are really crappy. :-)

Draw twenty circles or boxes on a page and then turn them into something, faces, animals, houses. I find when I am blocked it is because I have a perfect beautiful picture in my head and not the skills for getting it on paper.

Another way to get jumpstarted it to try new things, new pencils, paints, stamps, pens. Feel free to explore. Try inking with a brush instead of a pen.
Draw your way through the alphabet. Doodle something that starts with the letter A, B,C...

If you are totally stuck, just practice your lettering. Anything that gets your pencil or pen moving is good.

I have a million tricks for getting to the drawing. Mostly because it's hard for me. Putting that first mark on paper or starting "a proper drawing" is not something I come by easily.

But the trick is to just show up at the page and let yourself play.

More later,


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pierrot and Friends

More little drawings. I'm working with ink all day so it is nice to do something in color, if only for fun. And I've been listening to this song a lot. I love violin music.

What's been your whimsy?


Monday, December 6, 2010

More of a story....

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Doodle du Jour

I scribble all day long. Not proper drawings, mind you, just "scrawly on the the page" sorts of things.

Here's one from today... little characters going about their days.

Wishing you a creative week,


"Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force." ~ Dorothy Sayers

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

To all those gathered in celebration today,Happy Hannukah!

Colorful candles burning bright,
each lit on eight very special nights. 

The Toymaker's Hannukah page

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Art Museum Sketchbook

I spent a few happy hours at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It's one of my favorites and I never get to spend enough time there.

There was a roomful of drawings by George Grosz, who called himself, "the Saddest Man in Europe" He's best known for his harsh drawings of 1920's Berlin. I loved the childlike symplicity of his linework. There were lots of drawings of tenements with people looking out windows, mostly sad, drunks and hookers. But one man was looking out the window and smiling. He had a little plant and was the one hopeful looking person in the scene.

A new acquisitions was a giant ceramic wall piece designed by Matisse in the fifties. Titled La Gerbe or The Sheaf, it was one of the last pieces Matisse did. He designed it out of cut paper, and it was made into tile. (He called it "painting with scissors" so of course I adored it right away.)  I wanted to take it home with me.  My tiny doodle doesn't do it justice so click on the link to see the real deal.

There were so many things to draw but I only had a few hours. I'm planning a trip next month when my friend lynn comes to visit. There is a textile and clothing exhibition that I must see.

Where is your favorite museum? (I know that it is hard to pick one.) What art piece would you most like to have in your home?


Friday, November 19, 2010

Apple Blossoms

Whatever comes,” she said, “cannot alter one thing. 
If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. 
It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold,
but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one 
all the time when no one knows it.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Paper Flowers

It's been a busy weekend. The wonderhub cleaned the garage this morning and I did a kitchen purge to make more cupboard space. I realized that I had way too many little sauce pans that I never used, so out they went. I also said goodbye to my old computer, which we gave to a friend that is a writer. I hoping that it goes on to produce an award winning novel or screen play.

I've also been messing around making paper flowers. The top one is torn painted paper and the white one is cut paper.

How about you? Anybody starting any holiday projects? Do dish!



“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. 
These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life's pathway, 
the good they do is inconceivable." 

~ Joseph Addison

Friday, November 5, 2010

Four Trees

In this twentieth century, to stop rushing around, to sit quietly on the grass,  to switch off the world and come back to earth, to allow the eye to see a willow, a bush, a cloud, a leaf, is an unforgettable experience ~ Frederick Franck 

I've been experimenting with cut paper trees.

 As, in full view of the world, the crown of the tree unfolds and spreads in  time and space, so does the artist's work ~ Paul Klee

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Kitchens.....

The Wonderhusband special ordered me a copy of Jamie's 30 Minute meals! Squee!

It's a whirlwind of a cookbook. The first dinner I cooked from it took closer to 45 minutes/hour but as I practice some of the techniques he recommends I'm hoping to get faster. In Mister Oliver's defence I'm doing two versions of the recipes, one vegetarian and one carnivore.So I did a spinach pie and a chicken one.

Tonight, I'm trying the satay chicken with fiery noodle salad and pineapple.


All I ever wanted to do was to make food accessible to everyone; to show that you can make mistakes - I do all the time - but it doesn't matter.
~ Jamie Oliver

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Costume = Homemade!

The Boy has a knack for coming up with the most obscure characters for Halloween. One year he was Oni Link, not regular Link from the Legend of Zelda, Oni Link... Google it. Another year he wanted to be Arthus the Lich King from World of Warcraft. This was before the game actually came out so reference photos were sketchy. Last year was Altaiir from Assassin's Creed. That was fun to do because of all the leather work.

This year he wanted to be Joshua, an obscure character from a Nintendo game called Fire Emblem. So I hauled out the sewing machine and made this.
Total cost = $24 bucks. Photo = priceless.

What was your favorite costume when you were a kid?


Nothing on Earth so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.
~ Steve Almond

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pen and Ink

I've never illustrated a book in just black and white. But if we never tried anything new we'd still be in caves without indoor plumbing or microwaves.

A little planning at the beginning of a project can save a lot of time later. Ink is everywhere. I've been looking at book upon book of British magazine illustration, Punch to be exact. So much to learn....

I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.
~ Edgar Allan Poe

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dream Tigers

I'm working on another large painting for a show next summer. This is the color study for it.

The idea of Dream Tigers come from a piece by Jorge Borges. I love this mixture of looking back on the dreams of childhood and how we as creative people never can quite match with our art the imaginings that we have in our minds.


In my childhood I was a fervent worshiper of the tiger: not the jaguar, the spotted “tiger” of the Amazonian tangles and the isles of vegetation that float down the ParanĂ¡, but that striped, Asiatic, royal tiger, that can only be faced by a man of war, on a castle atop an elephant. I used to linger endlessly before one of the cages at the zoo; I judged vast encyclopedias and books of natural history by the splendor of their tigers. (I still remember those illustrations: I who cannot rightly recall the brow or the smile of a woman.) Childhood passed away, and the tigers and my passion for them grew old, but still they are in my dreams. At that submerged or chaotic level they keep prevailing. And so, as I sleep, some dream beguiles me, and suddenly I know I am dreaming. Then I think: this is a dream, a pure diversion of my will; and now that I have unlimited power, I am going to cause a tiger.

Oh, incompetence! Never can my dreams engender the wild beast I long for. The tiger indeed appears, but stuffed or flimsy, or with impure variations of shape, or of an implausible size, or all too fleeting, or with a touch of the dog or the bird.

[From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Mildred Boyer]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Inka Binka

Inka Binka bottle of ink, 
the cork fell off and you stink...

I'm revising a giant pile of drawings for a book that my writing partner J.H. Everett and I are working on called Haunted Histories. There are so many possibilities, so many ways to draw one thing. It hasn't been in the zone, effortless work, more "uphill both ways" grinding. 

I think I need another kind of paper. 

How to you get through a challenging project? What things do you do to bribe, bully and cajole your inner child to stay on task?


The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.

 ~ Chaucer

Thursday, October 14, 2010

From the Workshop

Excuse the grainy quality of these photos. I couldn't find a proper camera so just snapped a few pix with my iChat camera.  The guys in my studio group were giving me a hard time about doing a crowd scene so I made a pop-up with the Halloweenies. If you come up with something fun let me know!

This picture of a passenger pigeon is for a gallery show next summer. I making these large wooden hinged panels that are reminiscent of books and diptychs. My thought is that passenger pigeons became extinct in a very short period of time. In two hundred years they went from a population of billions to nothing. I wonder if the same thing will happen to books?

Next piece will be the Great Auk.

What are you working on?


A picture is a poem without words.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Unusual and Wonderful Things - Toy Bears and Bunnies

I was feeling a bit melancholy so I made this.



"Unusual and wonderful things, which often are an escape from the mundane" ~ WSI

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thinking of Pumpkins...

Just a few sketches of Halloween Haunts. Ooh Scary!

Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Modern Pony

A Mystery Toymaker emailed me this picture.

Very Creative and Fun, don't you think?


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pondering Halloween.

Sometimes, I make toys by figuring out the structure first and then decorating it. Other times I doodle up little characters and patterns and go from there.

I came up with these fabrics and little characters. What would you make?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mission Viejo Readers Festival

Bob Singer talks about the Readers Festival.

If you are looking for something fun to do this Saturday from ten to five, and just happen to live in Orange County, California, come to the Mission Viejo Library Readers Festival.

My artist group, Studio Five will be there doing free drawings for kids and I'll also be showing how to make paper toys like these cute accordion folders and mini popups. I hope that you stop by our booth and say hello, make a toy and get a free drawing.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Whimsy Pixins

The wonderhub was fixing a laptop after dinner last night and so we sat around drinking tea and solving all the world's problems. I cut my way through a pile of paper, trying out some new ideas. I folded a piece of paper in half and cut out these little pixins and then colored them up. 

They don't really have a story about them yet. Perhaps you could come up with one.

Make toys! Play more!


When marrying, ask yourself this question: 
Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age?
Everything else in marriage is transitory.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Yeast Crackers

Inspired as always by the awesome Celia over at I decided to try some yeast crackers. I found this "Bread in Five Minutes a Day" recipe and decided to try it.

I didn't dock the crackers so some of them puffed up into little pillows.... still delicious. I have half the dough left so I'll be tempted to try these again tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


So school has started and change is in the air. I hadn't had a haircut in forever so I skip over to the new place on the corner and say, "Go to town, whatever you think, you're the boss." So the gal cuts off two thirds of my hair and here I am, slightly panicked and feeling like not entirely like myself.


I'm a big woman. I need big hair.
Aretha Franklin


The difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is about two weeks.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Pond

The Wonderhub redid our fish pond this summer. We have four koi and two gold fish. It is the most relaxing place in the world. I'm hoping to make time to sketch the lily pads more. 

What do you do to relax? 


There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Practice, practice, practice....

I need to practice composition more. It's honestly something I struggle with. So I've been folding a piece of paper everyday into four rectangles and doodle something in each one. Here's what I came up with the other day.

What are you working on?


Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto. ~ Dale Carnegie

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Family Fun Magazine! Oh My Gosh!

Sometimes, lovely things just fall into your lap. I'm walking on happy today, folks. made the top ten best websites for kid's list in Family Fun Magazine.

"I love that it starts with the computer and ends up making something real." 

All's I can say is, I'm pleased as Pandas, Pearls, Parsley, Punch.

Hee hee hee!


I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of multitudes.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Toys all over the world

Every now and then I get an email from some far off place showing kids that are enjoying my toys. I've received emails from almost every country that you can think of. Here's is a class in South Africa that made circus books. Made my day!

Also in the news... my twelve-year-old niece came over and we experimented with making paper fairy lanterns.

The wonderhub made me a lovely classical guitar this summer. Mister Pretty kept me company while I was practicing this morning.

If you could learn one new thing what would it be?

Wishing you a creative week,



Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.

~ Henry Miller