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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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***Please note: You are browsing Debbie's personal blog. For her kidlit/YA writing & illustrating blog, see

You can browse by date or entry title in my Blatherings archives here:

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Welcome to Debbie's Blatherings, a personal blog where I've been posting since 1997. You can find my archives here: 1997 - 1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 -2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010+ (current archives)

If you're a kidlit/YA writer or illustrator, see Inkygirl. To find out more about me, my books and comics, various collab blogs, online portfolio and press, other miscellanea, browse the navigation links beneath the header banner. And thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

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#BookADay: PARASITE by Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire

I'm posting most of my Book-A-Day posts over on, but decided to post this one here since it's not kidlit. 

Find out more about Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge on the Nerdy Book Club site, and you can read archives of my #BookADay posts.


Look Again: Selection Of My Found Object Doodles

Thanks to everyone for the kind words about my found object doodles. Last night, I created a slidehow of some for the doodles I've created over the past six months. 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.


My Found Object Art Process: How I Created The Lily-Of-The-Valley Parachutist Doodle

Some people have been asking how I create my found object doodles, so here's an example of how I did the lily-of-the-valley parachutists. 

First thing in the morning, I go out into the garden:

When it was winter, I usually looked in my fridge instead. This is the first spring that I've been actively seeking out found objects for doodles, and I am SO EXCITED by all the potential art material out there.

Like these:

I love lilies-of-the-valley. These have been creeping in from our next door neighbour's yard, and I've been encouraging the spread. Some people hate them because they tend to pop up in places they aren't welcome, but I'm all for the ground cover as well as the flowers.

I'm pretty sure that my lily-of-the-valley obsession stems partly from the fact that they have such a brief season. 

But I digress.

After I decide on lilies-of-the-valley for a found object doodle, I pick a bunch. Most are for a small vase in the kitchen so I can just enjoy the fragrance but I also take a few stems down to my office cave, then pick off the blossoms.

Have you ever looked at lily-of-the-valley blossoms up close before. I mean, REALY up close? They are amazing. I love the purity of the white, the delicate curve of each perfect blossom, and each is SOOOO TINY. They also roll around a lot, so I ended up using a dab of rubber cement to keep them in place on the paper:

My favourite sketching tool, the Pentel Pocket Pen Brush, would produce a line that was too big for the doodle that I envisioned, so I opted for my 0.38 Muji Pen instead:

I decided on a Post-It Note instead of my usual sketchbook because I knew the doodle was going to be small, and I didn't want to waste paper. Plus I wanted a coloured background, else the white blossoms might get lost.

I drew the ink bits first, stopping every so often to make sure the blossoms would fit properly. When I was sure I had the right size of doodle for each figure, I dabbed a bit of rubber cement on the back of the blossoms and stuck them on. I had to work very carefully to avoid destroying the delicate petals.

Really need to get a pair of tweezers for smaller found object doodles like this. Anyway, here's the final doodle:

Here's my found object doodle photography studio:

I love these adjustable lights because they soften any shadows. Thanks to Jeff for getting this set-up for me, specifically for my found object doodles!

In case you're curious, here's what the doodle looked like one day later:

The blossoms actually started shrivelling only minutes after I took the original photo, which is one of the reasons I always need to work quickly. 

But that's one of the reasons I was drawn to found object doodles in the first place. They're ephemeral and fun, leaving little room for detail-obsessing or angst over mistakes.

I love creating found object doodles and post them on Instagram"Found Object Art" gallery on Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr  and in my Found Object Art portfolio.


About my food art, found object book update and other found object artists

June 6, 2014 edit: I'm working on a site for my Found Object doodles which will include templates for young people as well as tips and a Summer Doodle Challenge for young artists. When it's ready, I'll redirect (so feel to bookmark that URL).

If you're looking for a place to easily browse most of my Found Object doodles in one place and ONLY my found object doodles, the best place is my Found Object Art gallery on Flickr. However, I also post some of my doodles on Twitter, InstagramTumblrFacebook and Pinterest.

I continue to be floored by the positive response to my food doodles and other found object art -- THANK YOU SO MUCH. You can find my found object art on Flickr, but I also post a selection on Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, my personal Facebook Wall, Twitter and my Found Object portfolio.

Q. Why did you begin creating your found object doodles?

A. I was inspired by one of David Diaz's Lost Weekends, wanted to do more creative play to keep my work fresh and was challenged by my author friend, Vikki VanSikkle. For details, see 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

Although I work with pretty much any found objects, I am drawn to perishable items. I've gotten into the habit of carrying around blank index cards in my purse so I can doodle in restaurants:

As I mentioned in the article linked above: 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, and I'll be posting some free templates for educators, parents and others to use with their students and families.

Q. Are you going to do a found object book?

A. Probably, but not yet.

I've been approached by several publishers and did start discussions with Simon & Schuster Children's, but have decided to put this idea on hold for now. Some book ideas I've been considering:

I will likely end up publishing the collection of my found object doodles someday. I may find a publisher, or I may end up self-publishing.

I may someday do a nonfiction book for young readers about creating their own found object doodles, but I need to work out the best format and approach. I'll probably add illustrations to make it more fun for me as well as young readers. There are already several books on this topic out there already, though, so I'd want to make sure that mine had something extra to offer.

Caprese birds. Dinner was late because I got distracted by basil and a tomato stem.

I'm most torn about a fiction picture book. I don't want to do a picture book using found objects just for the sake of using the objects. A strong story and compelling characters come first; I don't want to build the story around the objects. On the other hand, I'd HAVE to build the story around the objects to some extent. You see my quandary?

Apart from the story-vs-objects issue, I'd also be asking: (1) What's the best way to photograph each piece, especially the perishable items? (2) How will I work on revisions with the more perishable objects? (3) How constraining will using found objects be, in terms my illustrations? If I go this route, I want to make sure I'm fully invested in the story AND the technique.

I admire children's book illustrators like Denise Fleming, Barbara Reid and Suzanne Rizzo who work with physical objects in their illustrations and do it WELL.

Blueberry roller derby.

If I didn't have anything else on the go, I'd pursue the latter project wholeheartedly (mostly likely with my home publisher, Simon & Schuster Children's). The truth is, however, that my plate is already full over the next couple of years AND I have so many other ideas of books that I want to write and illustrate....not just picture books, but also chapter books, middle grade and YA novels as well as other nonfiction books for young people (not everyone may know this, but I began as a nonfiction writer). And I'm excited that my very first picture book that I'm writing AND illustrating, WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, comes out next year (Summer 2015) from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers!

And through it all, I must confess that a part of me wants to continue doodling with found objects purely for the fun of it, not for any book project.

So while I will probably do a book project involving my found object doodles someday, it needs to be the right project. Meanwhile, of course, I have plenty to occupy my time. :-)

Q. Where else can I find cool found object art?

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:

Cinta Scotch (Javier Pérez): I love his simple, creative ink and found object doodles on Instagram.

Victor Nunes: I first discovered Victor's work when people started sending me his amazing popcorn doodles. He works with ink and found objects.

(Added May 29, 2014) Jaykee Q. Evangelista: Just discovered Jaykee's Snackadoodles! Great snack-focused doodles.

There are also many who create sculptures/scenes with found objects, though no illustration is involved. Too many to list here, but I especially love the work of artists who create miniature worlds.

People who have used found objects in their published children's books:

Suzanne Del Rizzo, Denise FlemingAlma Fullerton, Marthe JoceynHanoch Piven, Barbara Reid, Lindsay Ward. Lori Nichols is also working on a found object picture book.

If you have others to suggest to this list, please let me know!

I was eating walnuts and saw a dog nose, so had to draw the rest.


Comfort zones

One thing I've learned that has helped me in so many areas of my life: That it's good to push myself beyond my comfort zone on a regular basis.

Sometimes I fall flat on my face. Many times, actually. But sometimes I don't and then wonderful things happen, and my comfort zone gets a bit bigger.

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