Monday, December 2, 2013

November's Darkness: Dealing with Anxiety and Depression

Wow, November was a tough month in almost every way I can say.  Weather changes and storms coming through Indiana.  Illnesses of one sort or another.  The upcoming holidays making their presence known.  Deaths, unexpected and painful, shaking my family.  I recount all of this as a way of saying, I have had a hard time being creative this month.  I had big plans.  I was going to do the SkAdMo challenge along with the PiBoIdMo challenge.  I got  almost half way there with some rough ideas and some rougher sketches, 13 in all. I could take that as failing, but when I consider I started with an empty book and having never done it before, I have to remind myself to say, "Good Job.  You'll do even better next time!"

And that brings me to something I have touched on in the past here on my blog.  I struggle with the inner critic.  But I am coming to grips with the possibility that the inner critic is more than just me being hard on myself.  I am realizing I have a deeper struggle that has embattled me for years and that is depression.  My husband pointed out that it always seems to come on worse this time of year, a dark nervous and angry mood that won't go away.  My family doctor suggested I get off my anti depressant a bit more than a year ago so I decided I should.  I had been on it for a couple of years and thought maybe he was right and it was time.  Last winter I noticed the tightness in my chest and the nervous feelings I had struggled with a few years before when I had started the meds returning.  But I was determined to push through it.  I told my doctor about the discomfort in my chest but he seemed unconcerned.
I drew this on November 7th.  I think I was trying to work my pain out here.  I love her eyes. 

Lately though the anxious feelings that come and go have been staying longer and there is an edge to me that wasn't there before.  I am quicker to snap and my voice reflects the annoyance I am feeling every time  I am asked to do something I would prefer to avoid.  And avoiding is what I want to do about everything from house work to going to work to talking to people to picking up a pencil and drawing.  October was so fun.  November has been miserable in a silent secluded way.

Last week I asked my OBGYN doctor about going back on an anti depressant (same as I had taken before).  He agreed and wrote a script.  I feel relieved and I look forward to feeling better.  I look forward to feeling creative again.  And I feel peaceful about accepting that I have this vulnerability in myself and that sometimes I need help that comes in the form of a little pill.

I was so reluctant to accept. I have fought this for years, believing that I will talk myself out of the darkness or that if I pray enough or read scripture enough God will lift this off of me. My husband and my sister have both advised me to get help, but I felt too proud because that would be to admit I am weak.  But then I recall a man who was very close to God, close enough that God spoke to him.  He had prayed more than once for his own difficulty to be taken away, something he called "a thorn in the flesh."  Finally God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).  This is my thorn.  And His grace is sufficient.  And rather than remain frustrated and angry and anxious, I will rest in his provision.

This is not to say the pill is the final answer.  I need to exercise more, talk to friends more often, make more art and find ways to celebrate this life God has given me.  I have so much to be thankful for and practicing thankfulness will help me to let go of some of the fear and cynicism which has squeezed so tight around me.  But I know from past experience that the medicine will help me do all these good things.  I asked for help when I finally admitted I needed it and I know I have received.  I am thankful.

Thank you for stopping to read my post.  This was a difficult one to write, but I felt like I needed to share my struggle and admit that I do struggle.  I know many people struggle with depression and anxiety and as these are complicated issues, they require complex treatment.  I have found therapy helpful too and may look into that again.  If you struggle with this, please tell someone and seek help. It is okay to admit you are not perfect.  No one is.  My prayer is that you will find healing in what ever form it comes in.  Please leave a comment.  I would love to know if you found this article helpful and maybe your comment will help someone else.  Blessings!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Passing On a Dream

This week I got the opportunity to share my aspirations of becoming a picture book illustrator with some bright young artists at my local library.  I had read Jon Acuff's book Start (which you can find on Amazon) earlier this year.  In it, he talks about giving away our gifts.  To me that meant I needed to find a way to share what I am doing but I wasn't sure what that would look like. Then when the summer activities began at my local library, I thought that might be a good avenue to share what I am doing and what I am learning.

The display case in the foyer of the library is decorated with
 not only the books of some really great illustrators,
but a few of my own illustrations as well!
So November 12th I got to sit down with 4 children, grades 3, 4 and 6 along with their parents.  I shared my own story of how my 8th grade art teacher told me I should be an illustrator.  Looking back, I did not take that idea seriously nor did I really have a clear vision of what I wanted to do in my life.  I had a fuzzy notion about being an artist and had no idea how to go about it.  When I got to college, I had one professor encourage me and advised me to go to New York City then saw I had an engagement ring and said sadly, "I guess you won't be doing that."  She was right.  But, like I told the students Tuesday night, it is never too early or too late to begin to pursue your dream.

I didn't sugar coat it.  Not everyone who is an illustrator gets to do it for a living, but that doesn't mean it can't be a fulfilling way to spend your time and energy.  And the fact that so much illustration is done for the sake of being seen by eyes which are usually 10 and younger, it is an opportunity to touch and educate and inspire children.  Those children need dreams and some of those dreams are to make art to inspire others.  What a great calling!  And I would love to see these young people, if it is their calling, to start now to formulate plans and educate and prepare themselves to pursue those plans.  Even if illustration is not in their futures, I wanted them to know, the future is something we should be looking forward too.  It is not something we waste the present while we wait for the future to happen.  Dreams don't just happen. They need impetuous and perseverance on top of talent.

By the end of our hour together, we had talked about picture books, publishing, the difference between illustration and fine art, and they had made some beautiful sketches based on nursery rhyme titles I had put on slips of paper and placed in a bowl.  They asked if I would do it again and I said I would love to.  Who knows, maybe we could start an illustrators club!  The best part, was being able to share what I have learned over the past 15 months with people who love art and books too.  I get to share my journey and hopefully, I will share more of my journey with more students in the months to come.

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.  If you are an artist or illustrator or writer or you just enjoy people, I would so appreciate any ideas you may have or things you have done to share your gifts with others.  What's the good of having a gift if you don't give it away?  Please leave a comment.  Love hearing from you!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Illustration Friday : Creature

I haven't done Illustration Friday in a while but since I have finished this Little Red Riding Hood piece, I thought it would work for this week's theme "Creature".  I think she's in trouble.  Follow this link and check out more great illustrations and artwork!  Thanks for stopping by and if you have a second, leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Creative November Challenges

As is I don't have enough to do on a day to day basis....

Actually it is time for me to push a little harder, work more consistently and get busy making art.  In the process of scouring the internet for help and inspiration, I am now hip to the challenges that are out there in the world of cyber-space.  There are so many, but these two suit me just fine.  I am going to fill a note book with daily sketches and picture book ideas so that at the turn of the new year, I will be all ready to start pushing harder and having a clearer direction to go in as I continue down the road toward becoming a published professional illustrator.  I have been making a lot of art, but not so much head way and I hope that by pushing myself this month, I will quicken my pace and keep moving forward!

If you want to take the challenges follow these links: Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month and Linda Silverstri's SkADaMo - Sketch a Day Month.  And if you want to be super organized about it with a nifty worksheet check out Jenn Bower's blog.  Sign up and join me in the fun and inspiration.  Please be sure to leave a comment and tell me if you are up to the challenge!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Illustrator Study: Maurice Sendak

image found on Wikipedia
I am beginning a new series here on my blog about famous and influential illustrators and chose Maurice Sendak to start off with.  I have read several articles about him and his work and have enjoyed sharing "Where the Wild Things Are" with my kids.  It seems there are different reactions to his work.  Some adults find him disturbing.  Some kids do too.  Both my children found the first reading of Wild Things to be scary.  And I have read a few of his other pieces, "Outside Over There" and "In the Night Kitchen".  His stories are a bit unsettling, and writers who enjoy him often comment on his ability to be truthful with children.  Whether you find him shocking or not, his art work is something to admire in and of itself.  And he is not afraid to make monsters scary, children less than wholesome and create landscapes and settings that live and breath in their own right.

I decided to try to copy the style he uses in "Where the Wild Things Are".  From my time in college studio classes, I recall more than one professor urging students to copy the masters and develop our own styles from what flowed out of those lessons.  So I am following that advice here.  I never had any formal illustration training, so where better to learn than from the old masters like Sendak.

I love the style he uses here with his brown tones in every color, giving the artwork a far away remembered feeling like black and white photos which have been colorized.  And I love the ink work.  His cross hatching is so intricate and skillful.  He uses it to create shadow and texture as well as defining what is real from what is the dream.

My attempt at using Mr. Sendak's illustration style
 and characters
My effort is certainly not up to his standards, but it has been a great chance to practice pen and ink as well as balancing colors and tones.  I have gotten to see my own weaknesses as well as strengths and that is always a great way to learn.

I hope you will come back to see what illustrator I will learn from next.  There are so many great ones and so many styles to choose from.  I would love to read some suggestions.  Maybe your favorite illustrator?  Who has influenced your work, or was just your favorite from childhood?  Please share in the comments below!  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Killing Paper Tigers

I am blogging tonight just because I need to vent a little, clear my head a little, get my thoughts out a little.  And I think this drawing is a pretty good illustration of how I feel... rearing to go, but like this horse staring off into the distance, there is something off the edge of the paper that is putting fear in my heart.

Struggling with fear has become a daily project for me and I have learned a lot from that struggle.  I mean, fear has always shadowed my path, but as I have been planning and goal setting and dreaming, fear has become this very real opponent who harasses me.  The cool thing is that now I can actually see fear.  It is not just a murky shadow.  It is a paper tiger and I can actually figure out how to deal with his tactics and reveal how flimsy fear is.

I have been really industrious lately.  I have been making a lot of art and I am about to make some more.  I have plans to open an Etsy shop.  I have plans to create a post card mailer to send out and plans to create a mailing list.  But now, I am at that place where plans have to become real action.  Guess what... I am making excuses.

Have you ever gotten to that place where all of your dreams are about to become footsteps on a path but then you start to second guess and even wonder if the journey is one you should take?  I am there.  And I am finding reasons to flounder.

Okay, so I need to get a good scanner for my art work since all of it is made with water color, pencil and paper rather than digital.  I need to get a printer so I can make nice prints to sell in an Etsy shop.  I need some extra cash to support this en devour.  I need to make some decisions about how to sell my art, where to sell my art, all along wondering if anyone will even want to buy my art.

All of these fears are little paper tigers, roaring at me, but amounting to nothing, only having power if I give them power.

So I am going to look at this picture of this wild mustang and I am going to gather my courage and run into the wind!  I am going to make this work.  I have to!

Have you found it hard to get started when you think of all you need to do to make your plans happen?  How have you coped with that?  What did you do to get over that hump?  I would love to hear from you because I am always looking for good advice.  Please leave a comment and share!  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tangled Art, Tangled Life

"If you get tangled up, just tango on!" - Al Pacino from "Scent of a Woman"

I look at this and it is just doodles, right?  Okay, now having said that, to actually get myself to sit down and do the doodle, was a challenge.  I mean, looking at other people's "Zen tangles", (What a clever name.  Great marketing!)  I start to feel a little nauseous because I think, "I can never do something that PRETTY!"  But thankfully, I don't have to necessarily follow a rule, I just have to make patterns.  Easy.  Really, it is.  So, I make the tangles (That's what I hear they have been called.) and if I get tangled up, I just tangle on.  Not as romantic as the Tango, but that's okay.  Apparently this form of doodling causes your mind to calm down into a meditative state which helps with stress among other things. 

One more reason I love cruising the web.  There are literally millions of artists with just as many sites and they are all out there sharing their work.  And we get to browse through and feed our inner creative.  Of course then it is up to us to do something about it, like paint a picture, draw a doodle, sing a song, write a poem, make a special dish, plant flowers, imagine dragons and fairies in the clouds, what ever your imagination leads you to do.  I just know being creative causes you to become more creative!  I love that. 

And I kind of feel like life is a little like a Zen tangle.  Over here you have something going on and then in another place you have some other complicated thing happening, all of it seems crazy making and a little confusing, overwhelming really. But you just keep plugging away, hoping the patterns will begin to form and clarity will eventually happen and then when it does and you step back and look, your life is this amazing beautiful patchwork with depth and richness of detail.  We think we want it simple and we complain, "Why can't things be easy?!?!"  But it is the twists and turns, the dark places and the light places, the curves and sharp angles that make our lives these amazing masterpieces, when all we thought they might be were doodles.  Go figure.  No wait, go doodle!

Thank you so much for reading my blog today.  You are so very welcome to leave a comment, be it brief or long.  Either way, I'd love to know what you think, so leave a comment dear reader!

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Whole Year Has Gone By and I Am Still Here!

Well, I have really been neglecting my blog!  But that's okay.  Sometimes you need time away from something.  Then when you get back to it, it's like a fresh start. 

The amazing thing for me is that I am still here and still drawing a year after I began this journey.  And in the process I have chosen to give myself permission to not be perfect to do this work.  I have given myself permission to work slowly.  This is huge for me.  For years I have held the idea in my heart that if I can't succeed RIGHT NOW then I am automatically a failure.  So having spent many years focusing on other areas of my life, like my marriage and my children, the feeling of passing time has made me feel like I have missed my chance.  I know that is not true.

Last year I started drawing and blogging out of a sense of urgency because I had just turned 39 and started thinking if I don't get this going now, I'll be old and never get the chance.  Now I am officially 40 and the past year has been a chance to learn new things about myself and become stronger in my character and my determination.  New opportunities are presenting themselves because I have stuck with this and more will come along as I continue and don't give up. 

I don't know where I am going, but I know the journey is going to be a good one, no matter what happens.  I am amazed that I am so full of hope!  I am so thankful for what God has given to me...another chance.  And isn't that what we all want?

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you are inspired to keep going after your dreams.  Please leave a comment and share your hope and journey.  I want so much to hear what other people's experiences have been.

Recent sketches that will soon become finished watercolor illustrations!

Monday, July 15, 2013

In Hiding

Okay, I will admit it... I've been hiding.   Posting here on my blog has become less and less of a priority.  Not that I think that is a good thing, but in the time I have taken too be away, I have been more productive and actually doing ART rather than just talking about it. 

As important as it is to share what I do, it is even more important that I do the very thing I am pursuing which is to create.  It is far too easy to spend my free time writing or thinking about writing for my blog or looking at Face Book!  People watching is fun, but unproductive and not creative, unless it inspires the artist to actually make time to create.  In my case, I'd say only about 20% of my time on social media is inspiring the rest of the time I am just drained and bored.

I also admit that I am still on Face Book everyday, and I am on it way too much, but I have still had time in spite of that to make stuff!  I just decided to not stress over my blog.  It is still here.  I haven't forgotten about it!  And I still love all of you who come to visit!  It always makes my day to see that someone has stopped by and even better when you leave a comment!

So please, feel free to leave a comment.  Have you taken time off of social media?  Did it help or hurt your creativity?  I'd love to hear from you!  Blessings to you.... now stop reading this and go make something!! :)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Prayer for Creativity

I've have discovered a new place inside myself.  It is a place where I am completely helpless, like being stranded in the middle of a wilderness with no resources except the spongy organ between my ears.  It is an uncomfortable place, scary actually and I am not often happy there.  Mostly I am overwhelmed  and scared.  What is this place?  It is my creativity. 

Unpredictable and shifting as the weather in Kansas in April, I am finding creativity is hard to manage.  It is vibrant and powerful one day and the next it is wilted and barely alive.  And frustration only makes it worse.

In this place I have also discovered an oasis - a place refreshing and restful.  It is a place called Prayer.  I am a Christian and I believe God loves us and when we trust in his son, Jesus, our prayers suddenly become powerful.  Not to say that I don't have days when I feel like they are bouncing off of the ceiling, but my feelings are deceitful and the truth is that God hears me and he desires to give me peace.

I wrote recently about peace and I know it is what we all long for.  It is the underlying motivation behind all that we do whether it is to make money so we have security, to find a mate who will make us feel loved, to pursue a dream that will fill us with satisfaction.  It also motivates us to evil, like trying to control other people or circumstances, or even for one group of people to do violence to another group because there is the wrong headed belief that other group it the cause of a lack of peace.

True peace is only found in Jesus Christ and trusting him to reconcile us to our Creator and to keep us with him, even unto death.  And in him I also find peace from the things which attempt to torment me, like frustration, bitterness, anger, distrust and deferred dreams.  Little by little I am turning over to him all parts of my life, especially my creativity.  Through him God created the universe.  I know that my creativity is important to him as well, for he has put that light in me. 

So I surrender my creative dreams to him and I will be praying more.  Praying for peace and also that I would be a bringer of blessings to those who will see my art and read my writing.  I will be praying that he will make the work of my hands glorifying to him.

I invite you to pray and call on Jesus.  He loves you so much.  He desires you more than you can imagine for he made you.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Call on him today and he will rush to you for he has promised to be with us always.  And let today be the beginning of a relationship with him.  Never stop praying.  When I have, it is as if I stopped breathing deeply.  So pray.  I am praying too.... and praying for you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Capture Peace

Making art really is a struggle sometimes.  Not a struggle I understand because I want creativity to be an act that is natural.  And I would say I want it to be like breathing, but even breathing is a labor sometimes.  Maybe I am just looking for easy this days.  I want something in my life to not be difficult.  So many things feel heavy, from the everyday routine chores to the complexities of relationships to the puzzlement over making decisions.  And in the midst of all these things, my creativity, my desire to create and express myself gets shoved into a dark corner.  In the past I had gotten used to this.  I learned to live with out my art.  Now I feel like I am neglecting some fragile thing that is going to die if I leave it for too long.

I am restless and uneasy.  I want to be peaceful, but my mind won't let me rest.  It is as if I am looking for things to worry over, because I don't know what to do with quietness.  I know peace is within arms reach.  I only have to stretch out to receive it.  But can I lift my arms from their rigidity?
Can I let new ideas come into my mind or must I be like a rat on a wheel, going over the same nonsense over and over?

I want peace to come rest on me, but all this internal tossing and turning is swatting it away.  My emotions are unruly and I am not disciplined enough to make them mind.  But I have to do it.  Somehow I have to quiet my mind, pray more, worry less, make my hands do something productive and beautiful.  I have to will my mind to stillness and will my hands to move.  Somehow.  And I hope writing this here will help me encourage myself to do just that.  If I am my own worst enemy, I must become my own greatest ally. 

Feeling worried and unhappy is something most of us struggle with.  How do you cope with it?  I would love to get some good advice.  Please leave a comment and share what you do to make your creativity flow.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wasting Time

This is hard.  I sit down to write and to create an illustration and the effort feels so big and the end goal seems so far away that I take a moment to wonder, "Am I wasting my time?"

That question is a creativity killer.  It never fails to freeze me up and drain me of every good idea I was having 10 minutes ago. 

So what am I worried about? Well, I wonder if this venture will pay off. I am taking the time every day to make sketches and take notes and jot down ideas.  I read books to help me get inspired and stay inspired and more books to learn about business and illustration as well as books on writing of different sorts.  All of this is making a choice how I spend my time.  So will all this effort bring a profit in the end? Will a publisher ever want to hire me? Will a company ever want to commission my art? Will I ever be able to deposit a check into a business account?

Then I feel guilty because I am melting all my golden dreams down into coins. Is it really all about money? Is that critical adult voice from my childhood right by asking, "Art major? Why would you let her major in art" My other favorite was, "Are you going to be a starving artist?" I will let the above quotes remain anonymous. Those careless comments by well meaning adults buried themselves deep in my psyche, like cancerous lesions, waiting for the right opportunity to grow tumors.

I hate thinking about money.  I hate thinking my dreams are only worthwhile if they turn a buck.  Some people actually enjoy pursuing their passions without giving that a second thought.  Maybe that actually makes their efforts more valuable. 

My efforts are actually teaching me to be committed to something.  I have had several false starts.  Hind sights tells me this had so much to do with immaturity.  Some of us are late bloomers.  I know motherhood needed to happen to me. I have learned more about determination by raising two children than anything I ever learned in school. 

Speaking of motherhood, that will never make me a dime... and it has been worth every minute.

Yea, taking the time to pursue this dream is worth it, even if I never make a dime.  I am taking time to nurture my creative self.  She has been seriously neglected over the years.  It was past time to take care of her.

When I measure how I spend my time, writing this post and drawing the picture I made to go with it was time better spent than an hour with the television.  Now I just wonder if I would ever have the willpower to never watch that time waster again.

Thanks for stopping by to read my post.  Feel free to share it and to leave a comment.  Time wasters are all around us.  What are some timewasters you struggle to avoid?

I hope this post has encouraged you to never look at following your dream as a time waster, no matter where that journey leads you.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anger Management

Sometimes I can't stand myself.
It usually happens after I have had one too many demands asked of me.  I am a perfectionist so I expect to be able to do all  things well and to do a lot of those things.  Then when something comes up or someone close to me says something to me that feels too critical or too demanding, the claws and fangs come out.
Those emotions feel so dangerous.  They are wild and powerful, like lions or tornadoes.  And the scariest part is that sometimes I want to feel those feelings, hold them close and nurture them, grow them, feed them.  That anger can feel so good even when it is scary.  I nurse it like a baby.  Only it’s a demon baby.  And if I let it, it will grow larger and larger and will become a beast that will lash out and destroy.
I don’t want that to happen.
I have been reading through Julia Camerons’ classic self help book, The Artist’s Way.  Ms. Cameron encourages self exploration and facing those demons that hinder our creativity and expressions of beauty.  I love the exercise she requires the participant to do throughout the book which she calls “Morning Pages”.  They are simply stream of conscious writing and she is not the first to use them, but I am finding the activity to be something like prayer.  And I am finding the things I have been nurturing but trying to hide are not worth holding on to.  In fact I am discovering for myself what artists though the centuries have already known; art and creativity can help us deal with our demons. 
I drew this monster a few weeks ago after getting really frustrated and angry. I sat in front of the computer, scribbling up and down a notebook page. The marks looked like rows of jagged teeth. I knew those teeth needed a mouth.  Then this little beasty was born.  And when I finished I felt like I had been emptied.  The monster which had been inside of me was now silently screaming up at me from the safety of the page.  She was captured and I could even laugh at her.  What an amazing thing to be able to laugh at what I had feared. 
God gives us paths to healing.  Prayer is an amazing way and art is a kind of prayer, I believe, because it calls for honesty and connection to who we are underneath all of the masks we wear.  No one can go to God and keep the masks on for long.  So in art of all kinds, the masks are removed and healing can come in.
Thanks for stopping to read about how anger got out of me one night and ended up looking silly on a piece of paper.  Have you experienced the healing of art in your own life? If so , I’d love to know about it. Please leave a comment! And share this article.  You never know who might need to hear an encouraging word about the significance of their art and its healing power… even in doodles!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Art as Meditation

I drew this little ball in a moment of need.  I was needing some peace.  And as I drew out the shape and then applied the hatching in indigo blue, I began to feel the stress I was feeling leave my body, melting onto the page.  The quietness of the shape with its smooth roundness and the calmness of the color, helped me to shift my focus away from the issues which had been pestering me to the process of taking what I saw and translating it to the blank paper.

It is easy to forget the healing power of creativity.  Music uplifts us, colors change our moods, making something with our hands gives our minds rest.  It is a crime against ourselves to think that art is frivolous when it offers peace to us.

Thank you for stopping to check out this post.  I hope you are inspired to let creativity sweep your heart clean and offer you a place to rest in this hectic world.  Please leave a comment and share how you use creativity to decompress.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

In the School of Motherhood

A sketch of my sister and her little son
Before I became a mother, I was a wimp.  It's true! I only had myself to look after and I resented anyone wanting me to look after anyone else.  And I was so scared! The thought of being responsible for the survival of another human being was terrifying.  I felt like I was doing good to care for myself.  Unfortunately, I failed to see that I was actually very good at looking after myself and I preferred to focus on me.  And without that challenge, I was happy being selfish and average.

I had made it through college, but had done it kind of half assed (sorry, Mom and Dad) and had considered doing an MFA but was too big a coward to want to work that hard or be under that kind of scrutiny  So, I didn't do it.  I wanted to "hurry up and get my life started!" I said those words a lot that last semester.  I honestly believed getting married was going to fulfill me completely (sorry, Hubby).  Can I hear all the married ladies laugh out loud at that? Yep, I hear ya! Naive, I know.  Poor guy.  Bet he had no idea he really did have to be Prince Charming 

So my art became a relic left under a dusty sheet at the back of a closet on the backside of my brain.  But that was sort of okay.  I didn't have to work at it that way. I could just complain that this life that I was in such a hurry to get started was now in the way of doing what I had dreamed of doing all of my life.  Wow, the irony is thick on that one.

Back to becoming a mother.  Okay, I avoided that as long as I could but finally had to do something about it, which was to basically cooperate with God because, it took 3 years for it to happen.  Don't know why, it just did.  No mystical revelations in that.  It gets a shoulder shrug, because I know women who have suffered with infertility and who yearn for motherhood.  All I can do is say, I'm sorry.  Pregnancy is still a mysterious thing and bringing a baby into the world even more so.

I am really getting off track here! Motherhood is such a massive subject.  No wonder other people devote entire blogs to that subject alone!

I am now almost 10 years into motherhood, because in July it will be 10 years since I knew I was pregnant with my first child.  And in these 10 years I have risen to the occasion of raising 2 amazing children like so many women before me have done. I have stayed up night after night with fussy babies and survived that loss of sleep which I had previously thought I could not live without.  I have learned some really humbling things about myself, like I can get mad at the drop of a hat and want to injure someone because of it.  I have learned that little kids are crazy smart and I can be just plain crazy.  And I have seen the raw creativity children are capable of.  My kids have been such an inspiration to me and my artwork.

Above it all, I am able to see now that I can rise to the occasion of creating art and then put it out there to be seen and even judged and know I will survive it.  Motherhood is the most difficult thing I have ever done or ever will do. Being an active artist who puts her work out into the world is going to be an easier task.

I am so thankful for my children, this mother's day.  Without them, I'd not be a mother, so it is their day as much as mine.  And it is a day for their dad too, for obvious reasons! But with the insight of time and age, I can see that God has worked all of this out.  Maybe not so I can be an artist, that is probably not so important in the grand scheme of things, but so I will see he has planned things out and it's not me.  I am acutely aware of some of my weaknesses and I know it is by his design if I overcome a weakness or two, or if I learn to trust him more.  Motherhood has made me stronger, weaker, angrier, more honest, more creative and more daring and more joyful than I had ever been before.  If I succeed at anything else, it will because I became a mom.

Thanks so much for reading my thoughts on motherhood.  This is dedicated to all mothers, past, present and future  who have known or will know the transforming power of that title.  It is also for every woman who yearns for that title for she is already a mother in her heart, even if she's not born a baby.  And that also transforms.  Blessings to every mother who has overcome and become stronger and more who she is meant to be because of that divinely ordained maternal calling.

I would love to know what your thoughts are concerning motherhood.  Leave a comment and share! Thanks for stopping by to have a read.  Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 3, 2013

How to Achieve Success in Creativity

The tortoise won the race, not because of speed, but because he kept working.  He didn't take a rest.  The finish line was where his rest was waiting for him.  He succeeded because he followed one tiny step with another inspite of the obstacles and the opponent's skills.  This is how you achieve success in creativity too, but it has taken me years to learn that lesson.

How many times have I gotten frustrated with something because I couldn't get it done as quickly as I anticipated and walked away from it?  I could point to small things like the stenciling I started in my kitchen 10 years ago and never went back to because I realized it was taking to much time and boring me to tears.  I could then think of other things like the lack of determination to do something with my art talents. I chose to not pursue my art because it seemed too hard to make the pieces and then to find a place to show them, because, what if in the end, no one was interested?

I have always been in a hurry.  Gotta get it done now or it will never get done, right?  If I knew the job would require a long drawn out wait, I would probably abandon it.  I wonder with dismay how many successes I have passed up on because I gave up before I even started.

But for some reason, I still want to write and create visual art.  Why have I kept that dream in my heart like a little nugget, hidden but quietly burning under all of the clutter?  Then every once in a while, I would find it again.  I would take it out, brush it off and dream.  Then I would start a project and before long, the urgency of life and my own lack of will power would cause me to toss the dream away, back into the dark places of my psyche.

But millions of other people have the will. Fortunately for me, I get to be around some of them.  They have taken their dreams and walked out the journey to make them reality.  They take the baby steps and one step at a time, come to the destination of seeing their dream happening.

I follow Graham Bradshaw on Face book.  He is a graphite pencil artist, capable of making the most amazing photo realistic art.  I enjoy how he posts progress photos so we can see his journey.  He has mentioned that he is a part time artist, working full time at a job that is not so creative but pays well and he is so gracious to say how thankful he is for that job which supports his family.  But his art has to wait for those stolen moments when the kids are finally in bed or a weekend gives him a stretch of time.  And he seems to be okay with waiting.  Art is food for his soul, not food on the table but it is just as nourishing and he is willing to do what it takes to make that art.

Another friend I have is a dog groomer.  She does it out of her home and it is a source of pride and satisfaction for her, not just income.  She took her inner frustrations and focused them into a business.  She is a craftswoman who sees people pleased with her work and those people are a source of enjoyment for her.  She says it took her a few years to get really good at her craft, she didn't have much support from those close to her and she wasn't even sure at first if she would ever get any customers, but eventually they came and she now has a business that is just right for her.  And she has is because she was willing to do the work, and wait.

My friend has told me she wishes she had started her career sooner.  She had to overcome personal issues, but she finally took that step and she has not looked back.  Though her craft and mine are not the same, the determination needed to make either of them happen is.

I so appreciate the examples of determined people I have around me.  They are mentors to me, showing me the value of waiting and being patient while I continue to work to excel at my craft.  I learn from their example and gather strength from their experience.

I hope you will be encouraged to wait patiently as you do the work of your art, whatever form it may take.  If this post has helped, I'd love to know. Please leave a comment.  And if you have a story from your own life or from the life of someone you know, please share it here. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Running to Finish

The name of this article may make it sound like winning is not the main objective of running a race.  After all, isn't the point of running a race winning it? Only if you are a world class athlete who is a rare specimen of physical ability.  Now, it is possible you are that kind of person and in the field you are in, you excel in ways that leave everyone else in the dust.  You are remarkable and will probably end up on the cover of TIME magazine.  Then there is the rest of us.  If we take an accounting of our abilities, running a race to win may be beyond what we can achieve, so we should just kick up our recliners and leave the winning to the deserving... right?

I don't agree with that statement and the reason is this: winning isn't the main point of the race; finishing is.  Many people who participate in marathons don't expect to come in first.  They are participating to complete the race, to be able to say and know that they achieved something remarkable which the majority of people will never even attempt.  They may not be a world class athlete but they can take pride in being fit and healthy and determined to cross the finish line.

Now that I have exhausted that metaphor, I am going to suggest it is not just races we should be seeking to complete, but dreams too.  And maybe that dream is to complete a marathon.  But other dreams might be to take up photography, or bake wedding cakes, or open a book store, or publish a book, or become an illustrator of children's literature.  The dreamer may not make a million dollars on a product Oprah puts on her favorites list, but they can enjoy the journey of making the dream come to life.  So to those brave souls who are willing to stop dreaming and start doing, to get up and do the hard work, I say, go for it! Don't be afraid of running the race because you won't win, be afraid of not running the race and missing out on finishing!

Most dreams seem like marathons, with miles to go, and leg cramps and side stitches and long stretches of road where there are no other runners and no crowd to cheer you on.  All you have with you is God and your desire to finish.  Push though and never  give up! Write that book, bake that cake, open that shop, or train and then run that marathon, if that is your dream.  Do it in your spare time, sneak it in before you have to get to bed.  Work at it a little here and there.  Believe in yourself! Then when obstacles come, find ways around them! Sell books on eBay, self-publish that novel, make the cakes out of your own kitchen when you can't afford to rent the space.

The finish line is up ahead.  It seems so far away, but it is closer now than it was a mile back and closer still than it would be if you had never started! Run the race, and finish.  I know I'll be proud of you!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Swimming in a Sea of Paper

This week's theme for Illustration Friday is "Swim".  I decided to try using construction paper.  Not sure how I feel about the colors.  Not really very vivid, but it is a low cost kind of paper.  It was fun to play with and because it is a low cost medium, the creative process felt more playful and free.  So, construction paper is not just for elementary school children!

Thanks for stopping to look at my art work and blog.  Please leave a comment.  I love to know what you think because I am always wanting to learn something new and I know you have something that you can teach, not just to me but to others!  And remember to play!  Making art should be fun.

Add to the Beauty

Looking at other's people's art can either be inspiring or it can be discouraging. I don't know how many times I have looked at art work and thought, "My stuff looks so childish and unfinished. I can't compete with that!"  Now, that can completely stop the creative process.  But if I can look at other's art work and say, "That is so beautiful, I want to make something beautiful too," then I am looking with eyes that are not clouded with my own ego but rather they are lighted by understanding that we are all creative creatures, born to create.

Appreciating another artist's work should bring out the best in other creatives, not squash any hope they have of making something lovely.  I spent an hour or so on this evening as well as a couple of artist's pages on Facebook.  On other day that would have put a wet blanket on my creative drive, but tonight, it was as if I was ready to be stirred up and looking at other's art work made me want to create too.

The next time we feel discouraged about our art because we think someone else is "doing it better", remember, you were given your gift just for you and that means it is unique to you.  Art shouldn't always be one pitted against another.  Rather we all contribute to the beauty of the world by every creative effort we make.  It is so much the inclination of human beings to make that which is ugly (ie. war, murder, lies, gossip, etc. you get the idea).  Any time we can make beauty it is a good thing.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you were encouraged to go and make something lovely!  Please leave a comment and a link if you post it on line.  I'd love to see what you do!  Blessing!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eye Glasses

"She put on her eye glasses and still could not believe what she saw!"

This week on Illustration Friday, the theme is "Eye Glasses".  This was my very first post when I began my blog last fall and I felt like it was a good fit for the theme.  I can't help it... I love this drawing.  It's funny how an artist can be so self critical most of the time, but then there comes an art piece that just turns out so good.  The look on her face is full of wonder and disbelief.  I felt that way when I finish this drawing!  I  just have to pat myself on the back for this one :)

Thanks for stopping by to check out my work and put up with my self congratulations.  Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.  And that includes any comments on how it could be better.  I want to learn and improve!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Remembering Yesterday

Finally!  I actually completed a new piece for Illustration Friday before Friday!!!

I don't know about you, but I get caught up in memories sometimes.  So, for the theme "Yesterday", I chose to feature a woman recalling memories of her youth, triggered by an evening spent looking in her yearbook.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my artwork.  I haven't used watercolor in a while, because I am still new at it.  I like how quickly I can lay the colors down.  It goes much faster than colored pencil!  Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.  I sure do appreciate it!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Lord Has Compassion...

The past couple of weeks have been hard.  I mentioned some of it in my last post.  The loss of a dear friend has really taken its toll.  It's strange how we can think we are struggling and suffering in life and then a true tragedy comes along and it puts everything into perspective.  The struggles don't seem so bad and all the worries become silly and petty.  The true tragedy tears at us and jolts us back into reality.  Then real pain grips us and we are overwhelmed.

Yet always, God is there, offering his comfort.

I did this watercolor as I grieved for my friend and his wife.  I am so glad we have the gift of creativity to express our deepest emotions.  In this expression there is comfort and healing.

Thank you for stopping to see my art and read my words.  I would love to know how you, dear reader, use your creativity, art, writing, music, etc. to work out the hard primal emotions.  Please leave a comment.  You might help someone find an outlet for their pain.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

When Life Strangles My Creativity

The past few weeks have been tough.  Life has simply swept me away.  The daily demands of family and work are a lot in and of themselves, but when you add on top of that things like auto accidents with property damage, added work hours, a death of a close friend and the gloom of winter, I have been finding myself at the end of my strength.

As in the past, my creativity is the first thing to go.  And as I realize this, I see how little value I have place on it.  I have internalized the messages that art is frivolous and "extra" or a "luxury".  I have even arrived at a place where I wonder if God even cares about art.  I realize, after a bit of soul searching, that He does care for He is the Creator and we are made in his image, so we must be made to create and look at all the cool stuff we have created!  So much beautiful art, visual and other wise has been made to worship and glorify God.  Not only that but art edifies us, lifts us up and encourages us.  It also makes us think and reconsider when it shocks us.  Not to say that all art has a positive effect, but that potential is there.

I have to remind myself of all these things.  I know now, with no doubts, that God has called me to be an artist, to share and develop my talents and use them for the encouragement and blessing of others. But realizing this is not enough.  I have to take action and that is what requires strength.

It has been 20 days since I posted here. That is not my best.  I want to post here a couple times a week, but when I am tired and stressed, I want to crawl into a dark, quiet place and sleep.  I don't get to do that though, so, I become lethargic and apathetic, not to mention cranky!

Now I know creatives have struggled with this kind of thing through out the generations.  We all know about poor Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway.  I don't think there are too many artistic people who have not at one time or another struggled to create, let alone get along with the demands and difficulties of life.  But I believe it is important to realize there is a struggle and to recognize the triggers and the patterns which I fall into.  I don't have to stay  in this place.  I'm actually thoroughly sick of being here!  I hate that my motivation only comes in spurts.  I especially hate that television and food are easy ways to medicate my problem rather than me taking the time to deal with my problem.

So here's my plan. I know I have to have a plan and by posting it here, I am making a declaration that I am going to follow through with the plan!

1.  I am going to get more sleep... God way or another! And I am going to keep the Sabbath.  We all need a day off.

2. I am going to rise early EVERY DAY before everyone else, so I can spend some time alone with God and prepare for the day.  (By the way, I am taking a 30 day Rise Early Challenge to help me stay motivated.  Click here to check it out and maybe get yourself inspired!)

3. I am going to walk away from the television more often.  It only gets in the way of making stuff!

4.  I am going to take some art classes and get involved with a writer's group.  I need to be around other creative people, in a face to face way to help me stay sharp and get sharper!

5.  I am going to post here at least once a week about what  I am doing to make this happen.

6.  Sketch daily.  Write daily.  Even if it's just for 15 minutes!

7.  I am going to get a longer vision.  Life is not an emergency!

Okay, now, before I make this list too long, I am going to stop.  This is a good place to start.  I would love to know what you think about my plan and share what you do to keep yourself creative when life gets hectic.  Please leave a comment!  I want to know what you have to say.  Thanks so much for stopping by to read my thoughts.  That fact that you did means so much to me!

Friday, February 8, 2013


When I started this blog, I had this expectation that I would start posting my art work and comments and someone would see my stuff and things would start to happen.  Well, I have had a lot of someones check out my site and I have gotten some nice compliments and feed back.  Posting comments have had the effect of a journal, which a good journal will always get the writer to do some soul searching.  Five months in and it is February, the dreariest month of the year, and I am realizing I have so much yet to learn!

My art is nice, but it could be so much better.  My writing is okay, but this too needs be crafted more.  I am finding it difficult to keep up with my blog, my portfolio and my story ideas in a busy home with a family and part time jobs.  Goals I set for myself have gone from being steep inclines to mountains to climb.  I am also battling my own fears which in the light of logic look ridiculous, but they are still there when logic takes a nap.

So, I am still struggling with what I started to wrestle with in December.  My productivity has sagged and my frustration has become as prickly as an agitated porcupine.  In my clearer moments I KNOW this is just life.  Life is tricky, trying, tiring, testing and sometimes just trifling.  The lesson to learn here is the same as it was before... perseverance.  It has been the lesson for I don't know how long.  I have to keep learning it and persevering through the tests at the end of each lesson.

As I look out at this gloomy mid-winter day, I am trying to readjust my expectations and goals.  In the months ahead, I don't know what will happen in regards to my art, but my goal is to keep making it and to keep seeking to make it better.  I don't know how well I will balance my responsibilities  but my goal is to keep trying to figure it out, even if I totally blow it from time to time.  I just pray for the grace to get through the blunders.  I don't know if I will ever lose all of my sharp edges, but I am going to continue to grind on them.  One day, they may disappear.  My expectations will continue to get too big at times, but Lord willing, I will have future moments of clarity and readjust them to reality.

Thanks for stopping by to read my thoughts.  My purpose is to document my journey as a revived artist, trying to make my art while still doing motherhood and being a wife along with all the work that life gives us to do.  Your comments always mean so much to me so please let me know what you think.  Blessings to you dear Reader!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Angel Wings

My little angel has found a play mate.  This week on Illustration Friday, the theme is "Wing".  My original drawing had her lying on a ledge.  I thought tiny flowers would made it look more whimsical.  Thanks for stopping by to see her up close.  Please leave a comment.  I'd love to know what you think of them.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Reevaluating My Motivation

Over the past several weeks I have been finding myself questioning all of this "pursuing a career" stuff.  I've never been a career minded person to begin with (having a job was a means to an end, that being supporting my family) so I just thought I was having a case of cold feet, experiencing the fear and uncertainty of a new venture.  Tonight, though, I am wondering if the motivation I have been using to keep me working has been bothering me because it grinds against the way I am made and what I believe.  Maybe my not being a "career person" is just who I am.

When I speak of a career person, I mean the idea that I am only doing this or that job because there is a carrot called money dangling in my face and I am really wanting that carrot.  This makes me uncomfortable spiritually.  I acknowledge that I need money, we all do, but if I claim faith in in God, do I not trust that he will provide for me, so striving with only avarice in my heart denies that faith.  But if I work at my job, what ever it might be with an eye on being a blessing to others and trust God to care for my physical needs, I work with a motivation that is more nourishing to my soul.

Creating art has been seen a as a soulful pursuit, not a money making scheme.  If artists made art and people fell over themselves to buy it, it would be seen as a money making scheme.  Having said that, I know there are a handful of artists, who are famous and adored by millions, whether visual artist, musicians or writers, and they are multi-millionairs, but they are a rarefied group.  What about the rest of us?  What about me?  I would like to make a living from my art, but I never have.  I have never really tried.  But I have also never made art with the idea of being a blessing.

What would happen if I did?

So maybe I need a New Year's Resolution for the end of January (it's never too late to make a resolution to change for the better).  I am resolving to change my focus and motivation.  I am resolving to make my priority to be and bring a blessing to those who experience my creations.  I did not make myself to be an artist.  These talents have just happened to me and the joy they give me has caused me to work at my skills.  I am going to work at being a blessing.

Jesus said if someone makes you walk a mile, walk two with them.  If someone takes your coat, give him your shirt too.  Why should I look at my talent as something to horde?  God has given me this gift without any strings attached.  He has given it to me freely to use how ever I please, even for my own gain.  What if I give my talent away as freely as it has been given to me?  I know, there are going be to those who say, NO!  you will cheapen it for the rest of us!  I understand and I don't want to do that, but the greatest artists, those who have made really amazing stuff that has come down to us through the ages made it out of love... love of making beauty, love of entertaining and teaching people, love of the divine.  Money is nice, but it is not everything.  And for those who believe that God is good and that he provides for even those who do not love him, there is no need to fear.  I know sounds Polly Annaish but I believe this.

I want to give to others.  I want to make people smile and to be encouraged.  I want to create beauty.  I want to make that which will point to the God who has made us and loves all of humanity.  I want to be his instrument.

(I want to add that I had just started reading a book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur - How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch when this hit me with such clarity.  I am going to read the rest of it, interested in following their advice, but with a different motive.  Thanks for the book, guys).

Thank you for reading my thoughts.  I am not really writing to persuade anyone but myself and you have a right to your opinion and your own motivations.  It is none of my business what your motive might be, but I am intrigued by your thoughts on the matter because I want to understand others.  So, please feel free to share your comments on this post. I appreciate that you stopped by to read it!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Trying Out Hand Lettering and Gouache

 Sometimes trying a new medium can be intimidating, even if it is not a terrible messy one with lots of preparation involved.  But, even then, it can be hard to pick something up that is new.

sketch for Matthew 6:25 - 26 
sketches and lettering rough
 I decided to try two new things today.  Hand lettering and painting with gouache   I bought the gouache last year and finally decided to try it after looking at several picture books which used it in their illustrations.  I must have expected it to behave like water color.  It only slightly mimicked watercolor.  So it is a whole new thing to me and reminds me of when I was a kid using poster paints before I graduated to acrylics.  The worst thing is that I have lost my flexibility. When I took art classes in junior high and high school the teachers would come up with all these different projects with all kinds of different mediums.  Whether that is good or bad, I don't  know.  It could be argued that there should be more focus to allow for mastery of each kind.  At any rate, it was easy to try new things then.  Now, I feeling frustrated with my first tries, which is ridiculous but I feel it none the less.

The plan now is to keep at it.  Try it some more.  I wish I had more patience.  I want to have a finished piece RIGHT NOW!  Okay, take a breath!  Let it out.  There.  Okay, gotta calm down!  Slow down.

Thanks for taking a look at my sketches.  I like how my lettering came out, though my hand did tremble a bit, but I think that adds to the hand crafted quality.  Please leave a comment.  I'd love to know what you think.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Playing On the Beach

This week on Illustration Friday, "Ocean" is the theme.  Couldn't we all use a trip there?

I imagined my kids playing on the sand on a sunny beach.  I think this would make a nice series showing the children walking and playing on the beach and in the ocean.  I may explore that.

Scanning this piece was frustrating.  When I get the cash, I'm going to have to upgrade my scanner.  The colors are so pale in this scan, so I'm disappointed.  But I'm happy with the original!

Thanks for stopping by to check out my art.  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Leaping From the Edge

This week's Illustration Friday theme is "edge".

Reggie stood at the edge of the pool.  The water looked deep.  Reggie felt scared.  Mommy was right there.  He took a deep breath.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my art work. I'm having fun getting back to graphite.  Please leave a comment.  I'd love to know what you think of it and if you have an suggestions!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book Review of Unspoken by Henry Cole

It's been a long time since I have done a book review.  Not because I haven't been reading, I just haven't spent a lot of time with Children's picture books!  Which is too bad because they are usually easier to get through than a thick tome intended for adults!  A good children's picture book can be like an afternoon break spent in the art museum.

Henry Cole's Unspoken , published by Scholastic Press, tells a story with only pictures drawn softly in the gray tones of graphite.  His style reminded me of Brian Selznick's art in his books, The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck.  And like Selznick, Cole creates mood, drama and pace without the assistance of words.  Which is perfect because this story needs the viewer to understand how important silence can be to those seeking freedom.

A little girl cautiously hurries across the gold tone pages of the story.  With carefully drawn lines, Mr.Cole tells the story of this little girl's alarming discovery; a runaway slave is hiding in her family's barn under a pile of corn stalks.  No words are spoken by Mr. Cole, the little girl or the runaway, whom we only see as a eye peeking through the cornstalks.  Quietly the little girl makes an important choice between telling her family and the soldiers and bounty hunters who pass by or keeping the runaway's presence a secret so the stranger can continue on the dangerous journey to freedom.

Each illustration draws us into the story, letting us in on the secret and we accompany the girl on her errands of mercy which take her from house to barn and back again as she smuggles food, all the while, her secret stays locked tight behind her lips.  She is as silent as the wordless story, but what she does changes the life of  a mysterious stranger as well as her own.  And we have the privilege of witnessing what her family misses, the emergence of a little girl's courageous compassion which overcomes what the word around her says is right  to embrace higher laws and rights, the right of every human being to be free.

Mr. Cole's illustrations show the girl's emotions; her fear, her worry, her joy, her courage and her peace.  The drawings are able to show us how she even comes to identify with the fugitive, as she literally chooses to break the law to do what is right and good.  This is a touching story about being brave enough to do what is good, embracing a higher morality over the the morality of property.  And even though the girl says no words, the lesson she teaches speaks loudly and will make a wonderfully opportunity for parents and children to discuss the intrinsic value of humanity and the importance of standing up to injustice even if we do it quietly.

Visit Mr. Cole's website by clicking here.  You can also find Unspoken at Amazon or at your local library.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Baby to Love

It has been a few weeks since I posted a drawing for Illustration Friday.  This week's theme is "New".  New year, new life.  I thought I'd spend some time working in black and white and this seems like a good place to start.  I didn't expect to create a heart shape with the mother and child.  It just worked out that way!  But I like it.  It's charming.  I've seen necklace pendants that have a similar form.  I guess is just works!  Thanks for stopping by to check out my drawing.  Happy New Year!

A Brief Trip into Fine Art

Over the month of December I took time away from illustration to work on some gifts for family members. (And to just take a break.  Was starting to feel burned out!  Ridiculous I know!)  So rather than pieces that would accompany text and tell a story that way, I worked on some pieces that are more personal and work more as things of beauty.

The first is a portrait of my daughter and son reading a favorite story book.  I did this for my husband in acrylics.  I haven't done a painted portrait since college (20 years ago!) so I wasn't sure I could accomplish it.  I think it turned out okay.  It does look like them.  I used a photo as reference   The piece took about 20 hours to complete from sketches to finishing touches.  My kids told me  I didn't get the skin tones right.  I agree but I also know getting that color right is REALLY hard.  Crayola might have crayon or two that are close, but it is hard to create that color and make it look natural when our own skin tones are fluctuating and very translucent.  - little critics-

This is a drawing done in graphite.  I used a reference picture from the internet to get all the fine details of the harnesses and the structure of the mules faces and the shadows.  In the original photo they were standing father apart.  So to tighten the composition, I pulled their heads together and focused on that part of the animals.  I think it turned out pretty good.  I wish I would have spent more time on it.  I started it the day before I was going to give it as a gift to my dad.  I started at about 10 am the day before and finished it at 4 pm the following day, just an hour and 15 minutes before I was going to arrive at his home for Christmas dinner!  Cutting it too close there!  But for not having done a detailed pencil study in a while it turned out pretty good.  If you'd like to check out the original photo, click here.