It's a new year! A new decade even. But you already knew that.
You're going to roll your eyes at me, but yes I am already getting ready for Valentine's Day. Every holiday I like to have a fresh design. For Christmas I had my alpaca (everyone calls it a llama and I've just stopped correcting them), and this Valentine's Day I decided to go anatomical.
I didn't know where I was headed, at first I thought I wanted to go less cutesy and do something with a dinosaur and an anotomical heart... so I sketched out both.
I couldn't quite decide how the two should go together. So I've decided to save that T-Rex for another day and focused in on the heart.
I'm super close to being done with it. It ended up more on the cutesy side, but I'm enjoying it.
I hope to polish it up this week, and then have it available as cards and stickers and such very soon.
I used to be the type of person that only read one book at a time, or perhaps two if one was fiction and the other was non-fiction. I don't know what has gotten into me in recently, but in the last couple of years I have begun reading more like three to five books at a time. (You can check me out on GoodReads to see what I'm currently reading).
I'm that way with art projects now too. I used to work on the same piece for months, but now I draw quicker and have a handful of projects and series going on at once.
I think it's a confidence thing. With reading, when I'd limit myself it was because I didn't want to confuse myself. But now I know that I can keep track of all those different books and will be able to finish them. Same with my creative projects.
I would probably finish a project quicker if I just focused on it exclusively until it was finished, but that can get boring.
So let's take stock of what I have cooking.
First there's my state bird series. I've drawn 17 so far, the last being Louisiana back in August. Even though I haven't drawn another state bird since then, I have been slooowwly adding the ones I do have to my Etsy shop as art prints. And I definitely plan to complete this series. Eventually....
Next there's the children's book I'm illustrating for my friend, Raquel. I try and work on this a bit each week and I'm truly almost done with the illustrations. I've learned a lot working on this, as I've never illustrated a children's book before.
Then there's my Mt. Hood wildflower drawing series (can you tell I like lists?). I'm in the midst of drawing my third flower now, the bunchberry dogwood.
Finally, there is my ocean-themed coloring book. My goal is to have 20 drawings in this book and so far I have five (my latest one was November's free printable coloring sheet for all my newsletter subscribers. If you aren't subscribed already, don't miss out on the next one.)
I'm slowly plugging away on those four personal projects. In the midst of that, commissions and other flights of fancy come up. And that's ok, because there is no due date for my personal projects. It's about the journey, right?
I believe that there is some sort of luck that is floating around out there in the universe. I have known people in my life who often win things way more than the average person should --such as sweepstakes, social media giveaways, and radio call-in contests. These are the lucky ones.
I, for one, don't think I'm one of these inherently lucky people (To clarify, I do think I am very blessed, but I don't have a knack for winning random giveaways). I often see giveaways happening on social media, and I rarely enter because it's just a waste of time and hope. I never win.
Except then I did win. Last week. I entered a giveaway put on by Laura C George, mainly because it was so easy to enter (I didn't have to follow a bunch of new people or repost anything or answer any sort of question). And I won! (Perhaps our names being the same increased my luck.) The prize: a subscription to ArtRooms, which is an app where you can easily make mock-ups for your artwork. You just plug in your art, and boom -- you have a lovely professional mock-up.
Here are a few I've created so far.
So nice, right?
My only complaint so far is that most of their "rooms" accommodate to larger scale pieces, such as this.
You can see that kind of space doesn't really work for my little drawings. I'll give them some feedback.
I'm pretty excited, though, to fill my Etsy shop with lots of lovely rooms!
Last week my little family and I took a vacation to the magical island of Kauai, the ‘Garden Isle’. We had a lovely time exploring, eating, and playing on the beach (though my 3 year old has an enduring fear of the ocean. It is pretty powerful and I suppose he’s wise to respect it. He still enjoyed watching it from afar and playing in the sand). It wasn’t all paradise of course, there were still mosquitoes and rain and I lost my phone to the ocean (but that was more my fault, not the island’s fault).
Overall we had a very sweet time together.
We also saw a lot of these guys.
If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll know that’s the state bird of Hawaii, the Nene. It’s apparently endangered, though you wouldn’t guess it when you’re there because they seem to be all over the place. I drew it awhile back.
I find after I draw something, I feel a kinship to it. Since I spent a considerable amount of time studying the Nene — I took it in with my eye where it went through to my brain and down my arm and regurgitated back out through a pen — I feel like I really know it now. This not a super logical feeling; I was only drawing from a photo I found on Pinterest, but I still felt a special connection to all the Nene’s in Hawaii because of it.
I guess that’s a teeny tiny hint of how our maker feels about us and the rest of the world he created.
I keep sitting down to write a blog post, and feel at a loss. I would love to have weekly posts, but I don't always know what to say. That usually means it's time for me to share with you an artist I like or a book I'm reading. Today I'll go with the former
I came across painter Betsy Walton on Instagram and love her juicy colors and organic shapes. (all images come from her website). Here are some pieces that I especially love.
So there's some of Betsy. I don't know much else about her, except that I believe she is near me in the Pacific Northwest.
One more thing I'll share before I go. I'm super excited because I just ordered some Christmas ornaments with my Holiday Alpaca on them! Every year I hope to have Christmas ornaments to sell, and this is the first year I"m doing it! Once they're in, I'll let you know!
It’s pouring down rain and I’m cooking some butternut squash soup in my Instapot. I lit my vanilla pumpkin candle, and I’m feeling nice and cozy. And my little dude is sleeping so I can actually appreciate these things.
I just love the change of seasons.
We got to enjoy walking in some fall leaves this morning before the rain began.
I don’t have much else to say today. What are some things you love about Fall?
I just want to take a moment to toot my own horn and say that August was by far the most profitable month for my Etsy shop.
I started the shop back in 2014 and pretty much had zero sales for that first year. My first sale from a stranger was on July 2015, and after that I had about one sale every few months or so. I would occasionally get motivated to make my shop nicer and more appealing, would work on it for a month or so, and then get discouraged and not touch it again for another few months.
Last spring something changed. I think part of it was that I learned about using mock-ups for my product photos, so my listings looked nicer and it was easier to create new listings. I also learned about drop-shipping, which meant I no longer had to have all my inventory on hand and could offer a greater variety of products at not extra cost to myself.
Slowly over the course of a few months I started to see my sales increase. I went from having one sale every few months to a few sales every month. Then to a few sales every week.
It's been so fun! Of course it gives me motivation to draw more. I'd like to say I'm just intrinsically inspired to create-and of course to an extinct that's true, otherwise I wouldn't be doing this--but seeing people like my work enough to spend money on it is really motivating.
In case you're wondering, here are a few of my best-selling products this summer.
In the future, I want to offer more downloadable art prints, as well as a new product type or two. I'm thinking stickers or maybe tea towels . . . Thanks to drop-shipping printers like Printed Mint the possibilities are endless. Plus I'm hoping to offer Christmas ornaments this holiday season.
(And I painted my nails red.)
So stay tuned!
As an artist, I of course love to see my son create. Ransom's not always super into it though. I try not to pressure him too much, because he doesn't have to be a mini me.
But toddlers are changing every day, and mine got really into painting with me recently. I thought I'd use this blog post to take a break from my regularly scheduled all-about-my-art and turn it to Ransom.
This is activity was pretty fun for me, because it was totally unplanned. We kinda played it by ear and let the process lead us along.
First, he decided he wanted to do some painting. Of course I was so excited about this, because like I said it's not always his first choice of activity. So I prepped a piece of paper and gave him some oil pastels and stickers while I got the paint ready.
Then I provided yellow and red paint. Limiting the colors keeps it from all just becoming brown. And then we got to discover that yellow and red make orange.
He was layering the paint on real thick, so we got out some cotton swabs to draw lines in the layers of paint. And we had to clean the swabs on something so we got out some extra paper.
And then we started using our fingers and hands. (and threw in some purple)
We ending up going through a lot of paper. Two year olds are not very concerned with finished products, but I wanted a few nice looking paintings out of this experience so I took away some of the papers when I liked how they were looking.
Here's one of the masterpieces, which I think I want to have framed.
The less frame worthy pieces I plan on cutting up for future collages. We attempted one the other day together. He wasn't as into it as the painting, but still enjoyed using the goopy glue.
All in all it was a super fun and inspiring activity for me, hopefully for him as well.
Because of it I got a book from the library called First Art for Toddlers and Two: Open Ended Art Experiences. It's hard for me to make it truly open ended. For instance, with the collage I felt like it needed more, but he had lost interest. For a few days I kept asking him to glue more things on or at least draw on it with some oil pastels. He eventually did, but I probably should have just let it be.
I'm excited to dive into the book though and create more with him.
I sometimes hear people refer to their art as their baby, or as a piece of themselves. I don't really think of it that way. Frankly, I don't think that is a very healthy or productive way to think of one's art.
I remember taking a studio class in college and struggling with a project. I just didn't like where it was going; I didn't feel proud of it. I don't remember now what the particular project was, but I remember walking away from the art building and making a conscious effort to leave those feelings behind. I recall telling myself that I am not my art. I am not my work. My sense of well being should not be tied to how well I think a project is going. So I left the object I was working on behind and moved onto my next class.
I've heard some artists say they don't want to post their art online -- either for sale or on social media -- because they are afraid someone will steal it. It happens pretty often and it does suck, but still . . . it's just one design. It hasn't happened to me, but I imagine if it did I would be bummed, and then move on. That's not reason enough to hide your art away. If you steal my art, I will just make more. It's not sacred and it's not my baby.
I've been thinking about this lately, this idea that my art is not my baby, that I don't have to take it all so seriously. Then I read the same idea in Gibert's Big Magic,
"Guys, please don't mistake your creative work for a human child, ok? This kind of thinking will only lead you to deep psychic pain . . . Your creative work is not your baby; if anything, you are its baby. Everything I have ever written has brought me into being. Every project has matured me in a different way."
If my art is a baby, it's more like a baby sea turtle rather than a human baby. I birth it, and then send it on its way. I hope it does well, but in the mean time I'm going to let it go and continue to make more.
I've been drawing a lot more flowers and plants lately, mainly due to an increase in requests for botanical tattoo designs. Such as this in-progress drawing ...
As an art teacher, I've always said that the best drawers are the best observers. The more you notice, the better you'll draw. Well, I am also finding the opposite to be true. The more plant life that I draw, the more that I notice. My eyes are being drawn to little buds and blossoms more than they have been before.
I went on a hike on Mt Hood with some friends a couple weeks ago and found myself almost as excited about the wildflowers we walked by as I was the view of the peak.
And now I'm noticing flowers all the time. I collect pictures of them on my walks and runs, and have an ongoing flower folder on my phone.
I think it would be fun to do a wildflower-of-Mt-Hood series. At some point... once I get past some commissioned projects and my never-ending state bird series . . . Oh yeah and my children's book and nautical coloring book . . . . I'm definitely not bored!
A place to share the process. A space to be honest about the triumphs and trials of my daily life as an artist and mama. Writing motivates and refreshes me.