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McKenzie Ditter

The following interview with local artist McKenzie Ditter was conducted via email in September 2009. She's an illustrator with an interesting energy. I like anyone who creates characters, so of course I am particularly entertained by this exchange. AND I can learn from her line work and coloring and so can you. If you have time, take a look at her blog for even more characters.

I've had to re-size her images to fit them into this blog. I hope the quality of her lines is not lost by this process, but that is always a risk when taking a drawing that lives on paper and transferring it to the internet.

The artist is pictured on the right with some sort of chicken on her head.

MCKENZIE: Any need for another interview? My name is McKenzie. Take a look at my drawings at

TOM: My, my, my! you are full of the creative juices.

MCKENZIE: Thank you :)

TOM: Well, I guess that concludes this interview. Haha. Just kidding. Please describe your art work lately. Also please tell me a little bit about what you think might motivate your creativity.

MCKENZIE: Well that sure was easy! (also kidding) Hmm...Lately, I've been shifting away from just Micron pens on white paper. I've been playing around with watercolors and these awesome bright markers I got at a thrift shop. There are probably fifty different colors, so it's a lot of fun to experiment. When I started drawing, I never used color often, and now that I have, it's great to compare the black and white version with the multi-hued one! It just takes some gut to go ahead and color something...I'm always afraid it won't be the way I imagined it.

I've also been drawing these little Swedish girls with lots of mushrooms and carrots and morning glories and little chickens. We have a big garden and recently welcomed four hens to our home, so I'm constantly drawing inspiration from the "farmer's" lifestyle we've embraced. It's simple and true.

TOM: I've never seen markers at a thrift shop. I bet you are quite pleased with that acquisition. You know can be risky to add color to a line drawing. Why is that? I think it is because you've already finished the drawing and you are satisfied and you don't want to do anything to mess it up! Well, do you mind if you go outside of the lines every once in a while? Are you aiming for some sort of perfect precision? What is your approach to applying the color?

Personally, I'd love to be able to apply color like an ink-jet printer, but there's always at least one spot where my hand jumps or my eyes wander and oops!...I've made a slight imperfection.

Who is Malvina?

MCKENZIE: Malvina is Louie's pal, didn't you hear? I want to make both of them into dolls. My mom also draws and is an incredible seamstress. This is where I got my initial inspiration, by the way. I grew up sewing with her and staying home from school to paint.

Yes, very pleased. And the funny thing is, I didn't even use them for a few YEARS! You're completely correct in your analysis of coloring things in. And it's very tricky with my drawings because the lines are precise to begin with. I like my drawings to look really clean. Not that everything is anatomically correct, just that my lines are not usually sketchy. Micron pens really bring out the obsessive compulsive disorder lingering in my genes... in a good way I think. If I won some Micron pen lifetime-supply jackpot, I'd be SO happy. (I sound like I work for them, don't I?)

As for going outside of the lines, if it happens it happens. I've been able to embrace my "mistakes" so far. Here's a good example:




In this case, my hand was not as savvy as an inkjet printer and the yellow went outside of the lines. But it makes her look all glowy, which suits her I think. Usually the printer-method is what I also strive for, except when I'm using watercolors, like here:




TOM: So, where do you buy these Micron pens [in Baltimore]? Utrecht?

Let's talk a minute about the Xmas tree one. I don't mind too much if I color outside the lines by mistake because I think that kind of adds to a piece, but tsk tsk I am afraid I spot one of my least favorite errors where her legs meet her skirt. AND that is the error of running a colored marker into a section of black marker and then you get this bleeding and it looks a bit smudgy. I hate it when I do that! But maybe in this case it was intentional to add a shadow effect?

Now, on to the boat-headed gals. This one says two things to me mainly. You've got three female relatives and they not only pass genetics on to each other, but they also pass along their moods and ideas through some sort of connection.

I like your style. The lines of the characters are not overly serious, but they do indicate some kind of mood. The characters are dealing with something. In this case mushrooms or other veggies. Let me ask: have you ever made your characters go thru a short story with a beginning, middle and end that involved some sort of conflict resolution based on the kinds of problems they would have because of their specific personality traits?

MCKENZIE: You can get Micron pens at any art store really. I'm sure there are other good pens out there, but Micron is waterproof which is nice if I decide to use watercolors in the end. I usually hate when a dark color unintentionally streaks into a light one. Really annoying if it ruins the whole thing, you know? In this case, I wasn't too bothered because of the shadowy look, like you said.

As for the boat girls, I really didn't have a plan when I drew them. They were done in about twenty minutes and I'm still so drawn to them. You seemed to pick up on a deeper connection before I did! My grandfather was a photographer and constantly did photo shoots with my mom and her two sisters.

There's one series I love of them as little girls with random ballet tutus and feather boas and fancy floral hair pins. Nothing is coordinated or matching. They are each so strikingly different. Blonde, brunette, and the youngest, a redhead with no shirt on. It's such an innocent picture and so overexposed that it's almost like a watercolor painting. These three women really do have a strikingly connected life. I've never seen sisters who call each other so frequently or have such similar artistic talent. Maybe the boat girls resemble them. Thank you for suggesting this.

Thank you also for the compliment on my style. These mushroom girls are really linked to nature. I've been reading this incredible book called Secrets of the Soil. There's also Intelligence in Nature. Before reading these books, I didn't fully appreciate nature the way I should. There's truly something magical about plants. They're tricky little things, using us for their own evolution. We don't realize how linked we are in this consciousness.



Aristotle and Plato took these and they didn't turn out so bad, eh?

I have a few ideas roaming around for stories. The one that's nearly complete is called Gustov of Suburbia. I'm going to leave its contents a mystery for now... but I hope to complete it by next spring.

TOM: Lovely, lovely. I thank you for taking part in this exchange of ideas. We are getting near the attention span limit here ;-) , so any other thoughts or comments to add? Is it ok to use the pictures we've discussed for the blog post where I will display this interview? Also did you want me to include a picture of you? If so, send it to me.

MCKENZIE: Thank you for this lovely interview. You're good at it :) Oh, and would you include links to both of my blogs if possible? I'll definitely be posting about yours in the near future. As for a picture, the one I attached is just silly. Use it only if you want. Thanks again, and good luck with future interviews!


If you are interested in finding out more about McKenzie, you can also take a look at her other blog Oliver and Abraham's OK, time to go. Thank you for reading.