I told you I’d let you know when prints were available…
And they are now! So head over to my Etsy shop and get one in time for Easter!
I told you I’d let you know when prints were available…
And they are now! So head over to my Etsy shop and get one in time for Easter!
This is how Spring looks in Fantasyland:
And this is what Spring actually looks like (for now, anyway):
Spring is a roller coaster. It throws me up and down like a bouncy ball. Bounce up: I’m abuzz in an exuberant fit of energy, intoxicated by bright daylight, warm air, and dreamy new projects. Bounce down: I’m fuming with cabin fever, brought on by late-season snowstorms and 20 degree wind-chills. Something short-circuits and my dream-addled brain fizzles back into it’s winter stupor. I sit and stare– gaping like a fish — at the walls, the dust bunnies, the darkness…
The cats are along for the ride, too. One day they skitter off the walls, scale new heights, and get into trouble. The next day, they tuck their heads into blankets and sleep, unmoving, for fourteen hours straight.
But, oh, Spring will come. It never hasn’t, right? We ride these oscillating waves of hope until we finally reach the shores of TRUE Spring. Experience has taught us patience. “Soon,” we whisper to ourselves, as we look for signs of change.
My waiting is cheered on by the red-winged blackbirds, who have recently returned from their winter vacation in the south. Their call is a mighty declaration, strong enough to coax daffodils out of the dark dirt. “Okaleeeee! Okaleeeee! (It’s SPRING! It’s SPRING!)” I hear them, and I know my hopes are not in vain.
“The song of the blackbird, like the song of the crow, is one of the songs in which summer is captured and held as on a phonograph record.” – Rachel Peden (from her book, Rural Free)
(I’ll be putting prints of the above illustrations on Etsy soon. So be sure to check back in a couple of days for an update about that and a link to the page where you can buy them from my shop 🙂 )
Hey! Long time no see! Spring is in the air (as long as you ignore the dump of snow we got yesterday and the toothy icicles that are dangling from my car’s bumper) and I’m thawed out and ready to ease back into my routine of spewing hot air at you here on the blog.
Where have I been, you ask? All over! In places sunny and warm! I spent January and February working on a commission that had me traveling (okay okay, I wasn’t actually traveling…it was more of a mental thing) to Hawaii, South Carolina, New York, and Virginia. I was working on a project for a dear friend, who, back in December, asked me to illustrate each of the four places that her boyfriend lived while he was serving in the Navy. She wanted to surprise him with the set when he got out of the Navy in March.
So after the December holidays were over, I got to work on the project. It began with a lot of fits and starts as I worked out my ideas and tried to settle down on a style. (Note to self: don’t get carried away getting “inspired” on Pinterest and the Googles. If you look at TOO MUCH art by TOO MANY wonderful people, your brain will short-circuit and you’ll lose the ground beneath you. You may love everyone else’s artistic style, but in the end, your work always ends up looking like your own. Don’t fall into the trap of brainstorm overload! You’ll get washed away in the surge of “possibilities”!)
Things also stagnated for a couple weeks when I got the flu. But eventually –after enough trial-and-error, mistakes and re-starts , bowls of soup and boxes of tissues — I settled down and found my groove.
I finished the set at the end of February, just in time to mail before March 3rd. Since they are now safely in the hands of my friend and her boyfriend, I can share them with you without ruining any surprises.
So here they are! 4 ink and watercolor illustrations (with hand drawn logos, I might add) of Waikiki Beach, HI; Saratoga, NY; Norfolk, VA; and Charleston, SC. Enjoy!
Do you know what I love? Kids in snowsuits. They’re so puffy and cumbersome and adorable! I can’t help but smile when I see them.
You’ll find lots of wintery things in my sketchbook, these days. It’s been a rainy month here in MA, but I’m sure it’s snowing SOMEWHERE…right?
There you are, some happy cozy things. ‘Cause that’s what January is all about, friends!
And so a new year has begun. Before I get carried away sharing my new projects that are already in full swing, I figured I better show you the things I was working on in December, first.
Perhaps you remember the book I said I was working on — the illustrated story about Sarge the farm dog? Here’s how it turned out!
I used blurb.com for the printing, and I’m really happy with how it turned out! Their design software is easy to use and the website is informative, helpful, and full of options. (I highly recommend them if you’re ever looking to self-publish or print-on-demand). Best of all, I can order more copies whenever I want (so if you’re interested in buying one (or commissioning your own personalized book), let me know!).
EDIT: Enough people expressed interest in buying the book that I’ve put it up for sale here: http://www.blurb.com/b/7576769-sarge
Then there was this watercolor portrait I was asked to do:
The above projects, plus a few orders for prints on Etsy, kept me plenty busy right up until Christmas. Then I spent the holiday week celebrating with family, relaxing with my husband, and enjoying the well-earned freedom of not needing to be “productive” (all while trying to recover from a germ that just WON’T go away). There was some re-watching of the Lord of the Rings, and a wee bit of jigsaw puzzle-ing, but mostly, there was the glorious luxury of sitting around in sweatpants, watching birds at the feeder, and doodling freely in my sketchbook for no purpose other than the sheer joy of it. Sigh…it was great.
And now I shall conclude with a bit of insight I picked up from author Anne Lamott in her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Though specifically aimed at writers, the following quote is helpful to all of us who are…you know…trying to live a life. May it give you the courage to face a new year and the many unknowns that lie ahead:
“E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
Nice, right? Whatever you may hope to accomplish in 2017, just remember…you don’t have to have it ALL planned out. Sometimes you just have to point yourself in the right direction and start moving, one day — one step — at a time.
So buckle up! 2017, here we come!
On Thursday mornings, I hang out with my niece before taking her to kindergarten.
She’s a good sport. She knows I don’t like to play dolls and that I don’t know the plot to “Frozen” very well. So she humors me and opts to do other things, like sculpting with play dough…and COLORING!
This morning we were two peas in a pod. We sat together, coloring and discussing important things — our favorite colors and seasons and all that good stuff. We snitched candy off of her gingerbread house (Shhh, don’t tell her mom!). I convinced her that it was okay to color penguins with purple and green crayons. She convinced me that pink can be an okay color…sometimes. We laughed, we made cat noises, we teased each other. She oozed her Christmas cheer all over me, and I soaked it up like a sponge.
Candy, cats, coloring…that’s all we needed to bridge the decades between us. Art is fun and snacks are great. Hugs are precious and kids are amazing. Christmas is joy, gumdrops are sticky. Cats are cats. Aunt Jacque is weird.
Sometimes, life is as simple as that. Thank goodness there are kids to remind us of that!
Like I said, we’re two peas in a pod. Earlier this week, I was drawing cats and houses, too! (Which isn’t surprising, I guess, since I tend to draw those things a lot…)
It’s the holidays, dear friends. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the simple stuff!
Since the election back in November, I’ve found myself struggling to come up with things to say here on the blog. Not because I don’t have things to talk about, and certainly not because I don’t have artwork to show, but because I’ve been feeling very self-conscious about making myself “heard”. The election and its aftermath forced me to confront certain realities that I had hitherto been ignoring in order to play around in my idealistic tree house in the clouds, and to be honest, it left me feeling like a deflated pompous fool.
It was like the world was shouting: “HELLO! WAKE UP, KID! Did you know that people living in the USA are unhappy enough that they are willing to put THIS GUY in charge, even after all the hurtful, discriminatory, and blatantly untruthful things he has said?”
Oh! Clearly I’ve been missing something. Clearly I’ve been living in a bubble.
I am guilty of making great and incorrect assumptions about how other people think and feel. Here on this blog, I’ve been trying to offer pithy little bits of wisdom about life – things that I’ve discovered through making art every day that seem to apply to things beyond art-making itself. I’ve been trying to articulate my belief that you, too, can learn valuable and enriching things about life, yourself, and everything in between, just by being mindful and engaged with what you do. I’ve been trying to spread excitement…to infect you with curiosity and creative joy. But what does any of this even mean?!
“Mindfulness?” “Creative Living?” Meticulous drawings of CANDY CORN?! Art?! What planet am I living on?
That’s the voice that has been popping into my head each week whenever I’ve sat down to write a blog post.
I felt afraid that all of this was just a selfish exploitation of my “privilege” – an insensitive and frivolous pursuit that makes a mockery of real issues like trying to earn enough money for food or suffering under systematic racial oppression. I didn’t want to rock the boat by suggesting that art is important and worthwhile. I didn’t want to somehow insult you with my small thoughts and mental struggles. I didn’t want to say things in a public space that could be used against me some day, or say things with confidence now that I might change my mind about later (as one is apt to do as one grows and learns). I didn’t want to add to the opinionated noise that clogs up the internet and gets blown out of context and makes fools of us all.
But then, while flipping through Danny Gregory’s book: “An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators, and Designers”, I found a few passages that brought me peace of mind and re-established my belief that art is necessary.
First, while talking about sketchbooks and artist’s journals, Gregory says this:
“The pages unfold like a story, a journey, a life. Each of the books is a slender slice of a life…as you turn the pages, you feel the time pass. You see moments being recorded in sequence. You see ideas unfold and deepen. You see risks, mistakes, regrets, thoughts, lessons, dreams, all set down in ink for posterity…”
Then he goes on to point out the effect sketching has on the artist’s own life. Life is
“enriched by living in the moment instead of doing sudoku, contemplating the world as it passes—even if it is serving up just a glimpse of a Kmart parking lot or a slumbering night-shift worker.”
And then, talking about his own reasons for keeping an art journal, he says this:
“I just draw the things around me that count…mundane stuff that I used to pass blithely by every day until I stopped to notice what my life was made up of, the blessings I need to count to give myself meaning.”
And that’s it, right there. Art shows us life, helps us make contact with it. It gives glimpses of our humanness, our journey. It helps us to pay attention, to focus on things we care about. It is personal but it is also universal. It’s not a waste of time. It’s in our blood.
So I’m here, to keep doing what I do and to keep sharing my stuff. It’s what I can do to add to this grand tapestry of human history, culture, and collective experience. Art is how I connect and communicate, and I can’t live without it. Plus, it brings me joy, and joy is worth sharing, right? Goodness knows I like seeing OTHER people’s art and experiences and journeys through life…
Blah blah, okay, I know. Enough already, where’s the art? I’m getting to it! Geez.
In the spirit of cherishing the gifts of the present moment, I give you this:
because the sun just set a moment ago and now I can hear two Great Horned Owls hooting in the backyard. (Backstory: I first heard them on Sunday evening when I was taking out the trash. Later that night, as I lay in bed, I kept thinking about how grateful I was for owls to serenade me and make taking out the trash seem like a magical treat. The next morning I woke up figuring I better document my owl “sighting” (even though I didn’t actually see them) in my sketchbook. You know, for “posterity”. But things got a little unscientific somewhere along the way…and I ended up with this.)
December always gets busy with Christmas commissions. Commissions that, more often than not, involve DOGS.
Whenever I get hired to paint someone’s dog, I like to be a pest and whine to my husband about how much I dislike dogs. I say things like “This is the last dog drawing I’m ever going to do. I’m serious!” and “Why doesn’t anyone ever want me to paint LEMURS?” Then, a few months go by…and another person requests a dog picture…and I do it all over again.
But this year…THIS year…my December project isn’t just ONE picture of a dog.
It’s a whole BOOK. A book about a man and his dog, which will be given to said man (and his dog) as a Christmas gift.
And honestly? I’m having a blast. All you dogs that are reading this right now: rejoice! This project has redeemed you in my eyes. I’m like the Grinch, whose heart grew 3 sizes –not because the Who’s in Whoville shared their Who hash with me –but because after drawing 18 illustrations of Sarge the English Setter, I’ve just given in. You’re okay, dogs. You’re okay.
Anyway, here’s the most recent page I just finished for the book. In this scene, Peter the farmer is hauling Sarge up the steps to go for a ride in his tractor:
Happy December, all you dog-loving fiends.
It’s easy to find things to complain about. Just read the news (or, if you don’t mind the liberal use of profanity, ask John Oliver). With so much serious stuff going on in the world, a person could almost feel guilty for being content with anything. You don’t want to seem culturally insensitive (or give the impression that you’re uninformed) by being light of heart.
But I’ve always had a rebellious streak in me (maybe that’s why, after the election, I cut off all my hair. And why I now allow myself to put on sweatpants as early as 7PM instead of waiting until 9! Oh wait, maybe that’s just laziness…). These days, what better way to rebel than by finding things to smile about, amidst and despite the somber realities of an uncertain and volatile world?
After all, just because something is easy, doesn’t mean it’s what you should do. It’s easy to complain, but it’s MORE FUN to LAUGH!
So, blah-dee-blah and without further ado, I give you…
5 Things to make you smile:
Don’t like my 5 things worth smiling about? Then go forth and find your own! I dare you. No, I DOUBLE DOG dare you! (Ooo, see what I did there?!)
Okay, bye 🙂
Candy corn has been on my list of things to draw for quite some time. Every fall I buy a bag, take it home, pour it into a glass bowl, and just…look at it. It’s colorful, repetitive, roundish. It’s oh so cute and ridiculous. I play with it. I hold it. If someone asks, I even share it.
I have no profound things to say about candy corn, no grand meditations or metaphors to overanalyze. I just think it’s visually compelling. And I don’t believe that it’s edible — it smells nice, but you probably won’t find me lurking in the kitchen, munching on the stuff. (It’s a bit too “candle-y” for my tastes). But like beads, gems, snowflakes, and cable knit sweaters, it delights my little eyeballs. And it comes in such mass quantities!
Well, this year, I finally got around to doodling it.
Or, er…I MEANT to just doodle it.
But, as often happens with art projects, it took on a life of its own. With a few blobs of watercolor here and a couple pen-marks there, a certain trajectory was established. Choices were made, and there was no turning back.
And so I traveled on a journey:
And ultimately ended up here:
And now I think I’m done with candy corn. For a long, long time.