You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Illustration’ category.

The Brownpaper Christmas AlphabetIt’s a pretty freakin special Christmas, folks. I just became a Granny! Yes, that’s my name. You can call me Granny.

To celebrate the occasion of receiving a perfect grandchild, I published my first children’s book, The Brownpaper Christmas Alphabet. You can order the paperback on Amazon, or download the Kindle edition, if you’re feeling especially rushed and/or environmentally conscious.

It started when I bought some blocks to draw on at Wren’s baby shower. When I drew a vole in a vest playing violin, I knew I had to do a whole alphabet.


Rather than drawing on the blocks, though, I thought it would be nice to have something a little more enduring, so I turned to the pile of Town and Country grocery bags waiting patiently by the kitchen stairs for their second chance at utility and, thanks to my wonderful paper cutter, lopped them into 5” squares. If I’d made them any larger I’d never have been done by Christmas!

Marla Goodman mouse illustrations

Then I got out my Prismacolors and just went to town. Being a frail old granny and all, my hands got pretty sore from all the coloring, and I had to take a rest for a few days when the thumb on my right hand staged a full-on protest.

The more I drew, the more I wanted to draw, and I kept thinking of more and more tricky details to add to the pictures.

If you buy the book, don’t stop looking when you get to the end of the word list, because there are way more hidden alphabet words than I listed!

I kept it a semi-secret from Wren, although I’m sure she knew I was up to something, and it probably was a bit of a giveaway when I texted her, “Are anthropomorphic mice a good thing?” She said they were, so that just added fuel to the fire.

Mouse dancing illustration by Marla Goodman

Can a mouse have a gas range and a black and white TV? It turns out, yes. I just had a blast living in my no-rules mouse world for a month, while listening to a brilliant Mil Nicholson recording of Great Expectations on Librivox.

Great Expectations indeed! The expected heir did indeed arrive two days ago, and I was much too excited to wait and give the book as a Christmas gift. Now, I can hardly wait to start on his Christmas gift for next year! And the year after!

A while back I had the idea of making a Halloween Advent Calendar, and I got busy this weekend (Sept 30 — nothing like planning ahead!) and did it, start to finish. I wanted to surprise my daughter and her husband with it, because they’re pretty into Halloween, and they usually come over for brunch on Sundays. Okay, so they didn’t get it until October 2. Still a Halloween miracle.


Here’s how I went about it.

  • Day one Sept 30: With David’s help I wrote a list of 31 Halloween related images, one for each day of October. It wasn’t easy coming up with the last 5 or 6.
  • I creased a brown paper grocery sack into 36 squares (6 rows of 6). This gave me a couple extra boxes in case I screwed up.
  • I sat down at the coffee table with a pencil and sketched a picture in each square. I went with mice, since I can draw them pretty fast, they’re a rather “forgiving” creature.
  • Next, I headed down to my art kitchen and listened to several podcasts and comedy recordings while furiously coloring with Prismacolors. I love my electric pencil sharpener. My rate was about five 1.5×1.5″ pictures per hour, so it took 6 hours to do the coloring. (Thank you Patton Oswald, Mitch Hedberg (yes, I know you’re dead), Danielle Krysa and “Sawbones.” You could spend a lot less time and still make something fun!
  • Went back up to the office and scanned my little pics. (If you’re only making one, you could just use the originals and use real life cut and paste skills instead of a computer.)mouse
  • Day two: Found a picture of a spooky looking house and sized it (in InDesign) to fit my final calendar, then printed a reduced version of it on 8.5×11. (easier to draw and scan than actual size)
  • On tracing paper, I semi-traced, semi-reimagined the house image lightly with pencil, planning in 31 window spaces. Then I inked it with India ink and some messy washes. (I was short on time, but I’m cool with the way my super-fast house came out.)
  • I would have scanned my house drawing, but who has time for India ink to dry? So I took a photo of it with my phone and placed it in an InDesign document, sizing it to fit my final calendar sheet. (I added a brown paper texture and green tint in PhotoShop.)
  • Next, in InDesign, I sized and placed my little brown bag illustrations on top of the windows in the house drawing, bearing in mind I wanted my illustrations just slightly larger than my windows.
  • After I had them where I liked, I duplicated that “guide” page in the InDesign doc twice, so I had 3 copies in all.
  • On copy 1 of the page, I kept the little illustrations, but deleted the house.
  • On copy 2, I deleted the little illustrations, kept the house, and placed the numbers 1-31 on the windows.
  • I kept my original page (copy 3), with both the house and the little illustrations, to print as a cutting guide.
  • Finally, I printed all three pages, one to be the outside of the house, one to be the illustrations that are seen when the windows are opened, and one that I made into a cutting guide so I could get the window slits in just the right places without marking up my house. I printed two different sizes. I checked my placement on a small printout before using our fancy 13×19 printer.
  • I made a cutting guide for each size of calendar. On it, I decided how the windows would open, (left, right, up or down) and marked the appropriate 3 edges with a contrasting Sharpie (now I can re-use the jig without stopping to think about each cut).IMG_8595
  • I placed the cutting guide over my final house page and taped it to the cutting mat so it wouldn’t move while I was cutting. It goes faster if you cut all the lines in one direction first, then go back and do all the perpendicular lines.
  • Finally, I used double stick tape to adhere “illustration” page to the “house with windows” page, and punched some holes to hang it with. (Obviously, I only put the sticky tape in areas where there weren’t any windows.)done

Boom! It’s a Hallowadvent calendar. If you want me to make you one of these, hit up my “cute stuff” Etsy shop, Goodwerks. It’s OK if it doesn’t get delivered on Oct. 1, because you get the fun of opening more windows when it arrives!

Happy October!

Hey, don’t talk about my friends and family like that! They are too a step up from mimes and improv performers. They’re puppeteers.

This year’s adult puppet show at Bozeman’s Verge Theater will be Fri-Sat May 12-27 2017. The show, written by comedian Ryan Cassavaugh, is called “Freak Out.” It was described to me as “a hippie blood cult B-movie musical.” So it’s got that going for it. Among a talented cast of actor/singer/puppeteers, my daughter, Wren, plays the part of the cult-leader’s daughter. Proud moments in parenthood!

I was asked to help with props, so I said yes to painting a police car and two motorcycles. Little did I know that this didn’t mean just the gas tank (easy!) it meant the motorcycle chassis: not a thing I felt overly confident about.

Here, puppeteers Pol Llovet and Ryan Lawrence Flynn experiment with their motorcycles-to-be, after cutting out plywood shapes in the back room of Sadie Cassavaugh’s frame shop (Frugal Frame Shop). Somehow they’re planning to add a front wheel, Easy Rider style. You’ll have to go see the show to see if they pull it off. 😉

(crew photo courtesy Ryan Cassavaugh)

These were some really rough canvases – made from a “canvas” drop-cloth, actually – so gessoing was the hardest part of the job. Paint doesn’t cover well on a rough surface, so I decided that a rough, painterly look was fine. I didn’t get too fussy with it.

The Police Car was really wide, but the sides were short, giving it a clown-car-like appearance. Appropriately.

Here’s what the motorcycle chassis looked like, unpainted.

First step was to paint all surfaces black. The laminate surface was smooth, so it only took a pint of “cheep” acrylic to cover all 8 sides. (It took just under a gallon of gesso to cover the three car canvases.)

The next step was to paint a bunch of mechanical looking doodads in white and bluish silver.

There were two sides of two cycles to do, so four sides in all.

Whew! I was glad I got them done early enough that the cast could rehearse with them. I am dying to see what the show looks like on stage!

Show times are 8pm Fri-Sat May 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27 2017. Tickets can be purchased in advance on Verge Theater’s Ticket page, or at the door while they last. The comedy is intended for mature audiences.



So, I have this site where I’ve been putting cartoons. You may have seen some of them here and there. I haven’t quite committed (yet) to posting regularly, or making them the same size or quality, but at least I’m putting them all in one place. I named my web comic Tepid and Oversteeped because that’s pretty much the story of my life.


I thought twice before posting this because it seems insensitive to my friends with mobility challenges. (I mean, not to understate the hardships of plague sufferers…)

I just thought the idea of “the walking cast of self-doubt” was kind of funny. On most days I feel very lucky to be at the pronounced limp stage. But hangnail days are the best!



“Babies are born with all of the unnecessary apostrophes that they will ever need.” –Goodman

Whew! I set to work over Labor Day Weekend and posted 20 new cards featuring my illustrations at my Goodwerks Etsy Shop.*

(*This is the shop where I put the more commercial, cutesy and cartoony stuff. The other one, Kistchatorium, has more of my original art)

I wonder if there’s a niche market out there for the kinds of greeting cards I seem to produce. Namely:
Angst Sympathy,
Seasonal Affective Disorder Sympathy,
Dental Sympathy,
Dysfunctional Family Birthday,
Cat this, Cat that, Cat the Other Thing,
Despair Sympathy,
Existentially Troubled Sympathy,
Weird Friendship,
Spinster Birthday,
Grumpy Birthday,
Intelligent Parents Baby,
…and many more!

Click on the image if you’d like to browse the cards.

C’mon, you must have at least one weird friend!



Anybody who knows me very well knows I really have issues with people who don’t pick up after their dogs. I mean, how can we have peace and compassion in the world if people don’t even care enough about each other to pick up their dog’s poop when nobody’s looking?

So, a while back I drew this illustration, and I just got around to making some prototype yard signs.


First, I tried a wooden plaque, but frankly, it was kind of a lot of work to make, what with doing the image transfer, and all the Varathane coating. So the wooden version may very well be a one-off, unless demand is huge.


I decided a small 9×12″ vinyl banner was probably more convenient for me to make, and for people to install on a cheap garden flag holder. I know, I probably should test one for a season before I start selling them, but I’m not a patient person. I’m going to make a few available on Etsy, and if people buy them (in spite of my caveats that they’re untested) I’ll just replace them if they don’t last.

If nobody buys them, I might just gift them to the city of Bozeman to install at dog parks around town!



It’s been cool and rainy the past few weeks, but today I got out my summer clothes! (The cats were thrilled to seize this opportunity to visit the unknown continent of the spare room, which I usually keep closed as part of my “one room in the house without cat hair” campaign.) With hot weather ahead, we’ve even started the regimen of opening windows on the shady side of the house to let in the cool morning air, only to rush around locking the place up like a mausoleum in the afternoon. I love summer!

I’m often cold though, even in the summer, if the temperature is below about 74 degrees F. Maybe that’s why I’m a secret pyromaniac. I love flames and fire! When I was a kid, the best thing in the world was the day in June when we’d pick up dead-fallen branches around my parents’ place and have a big bonfire. My mom hated it, but I just loved throwing branches on that fire. Burn! Burn! Burn!

Occasionally I succumb to the whim to put flames in my pictures. I know they don’t look very realistic, but I have fun painting them. Maybe this will be a theme. I like the way it’s ambiguous in this picture as to whether the girl with the pail has been spreading the flames, or picking them up.

In addition to loving fire, I also have a a surprising love of vintage dresses and old fashioned fabric prints for a person who dresses like a post-apocalyptic beet farmer. So, pardon me if I indulge in a little fabric illustration.

With the goal of painting more and agonizing less (agony is so un-summery!) I keep reducing the prices of my originals, so if you like these, please consider visiting my Kitschatorium Etsy shop.

Happy June!

Spring dresses

cute sad corgi illustration by Marla Goodman
Uh, yeah. It’s all fetching fun and games and then he gets this perplexed expression, like… “something’s gone terribly awry here…”  Meanwhile, I’m standing about 30 feet away, shouting and doing hand semaphore for “No! No! Abandon mission! Don’t bring it back!” But… (over-sharing alert…) true to the indomitable corgi spirit, I have actually seen him pick it up, bowl-style, and return it anyway, barely spilling a drop! Auuuuughhh!

cute sad corgi illustration by Marla Goodman

Anyway, I finally got around to putting this unforgettable image on greeting cards and an 8×10 print at my Goodwerks Etsy shop. Seems like it would be ideal bathroom decor, or “cheer-up we all make mistakes” card, so let’s hope I sell a few. Walter suffered for this art.

vintage fabric shoe cards by Marla GoodmanAs part of my ongoing experiment with being commercial, I made up some Father’s Day cards and note cards from my hipster shoes vintage fabric illustrations. I also made the shoe illustrations available as print-it-yourself note cards and as instant download clipart on Etsy. Who knows, maybe somebody has a hipster dad. Or just likes old shoes? I love this art, so if nothing else, I’ll be able to use them myself. If you want some funky shoe clip art, look no further!

hipster shoes vintage fabric illustration by marla goodman


%d bloggers like this: