Or maybe the next step is to bring it onto my iPad and add some digital watercolor. I did that with my iguana this past weekend.
A friend of our's is a retired firefighter and now an avid fisherman. He enjoyed seeing all of my bird drawings, and kept telling me I should draw a Chinook Salmon, which is a fish that is near and dear to the Pacific Northwest.
So he sent me a picture and I got to drawing. I'll tell the rest of the story mostly through pictures . . .
At this point I could have been done and had a perfectly fine salmon drawing, but I wasn't quite satisfied. It needed a little something extra. I felt inspired by this image that I found on Pinterest.
And landed with this.
I still can't decide if the interior swirls are pretty or just messy, I might work with them some more.... or maybe I don't need to decide. Maybe I just need to move on.
Or maybe the next step is to bring it onto my iPad and add some digital watercolor. I did that with my iguana this past weekend.
I do like salmon better now though, with the pattern added. It made it more mine.
I don't know how this happened, but I have become the type of person that reads like, five books at once. I used to always have one fiction and one non-fiction going, but that system has flown out the window the last couple of years. I'm currently in the midst of 5 books. Here they are in no particular order....
I blame the app GoodReads for this new habit of reading 4-5 books at a time. Since I can easily keep track of what I'm reading and how far I'm in a book with GoodReads, I feel comfortable being in the midst of a lot at once. And I also just decide not to be in a rush to finish.
But since this blog is supposed to be somewhat focused on art and not on literature, I thought I'd share some inspiration from Elizabeth's Gilbert book. I've mentioned it before, and I'm still s-l-o-w-l-y reading it. I really like this quote. It's kinda long, but so lovely....
"Making art does sometimes feel like you're holding a seance, or like you're calling out in the night for a wild animal on the prowl. What you're doing seems impossible and even silly, but then you hear the thunder of hooves, and some beautiful beast comes rushing into the glade, searching for you just as urgently as you have been searching for it.
So you must keep trying. you must keep calling out in those dark woods for your own Big Magic. You must search tirelessly and faithfully, hoping against hope to someday experience that divine collision of creative communion--either for the first time, or one more time.
Because when it all comes together, it's amazing. When it all comes together, the only thing you can do is bow down in gratitude, as if you have been granted an audience with the divine.
Because you have." -Gilbert
i love that! A lot of times spending time to create does feel silly and fruitless and like I'd be making better use of my limited free time by cleaning out my car or taking a shower. It's easy to forget those times when it does feel like magic, or to think that it won't ever feel like magic again.
But for now, I'm just going to keep showing up.
I love routines. My Friday routine is usually to drop Ransom off at preschool, and then head to one of my favorite coffee shops, Solace. I also usually top off my tank at the gas station that is on the way, because it’s one of the cheapest around.
Once at Solace, I settle into one of the tables along the wall and pull out my iPad. After catching up on emails and other housekeeping, I put on a podcast and work on my Finnegan book for 30 minutes. I use a timer. While the timer is going, I try not to do anything else but work on that project, no responding to text messages or checking my emails. Sometimes I’m super relieved when the timer goes off because I’m not that into it. Other times it goes by too fast and I keep working past the timer because I’m in the middle of a good flow.
I'm currently still at Solace and just got finished working my 30 minute chunk. I thought I’d pop in and let you know how it’s going. In my last post I mentioned that I finally finished all the the digital sketches for the 17 pages of Finnegan's book. So now I’ve transitioned to adding color.
It’s been an awkward transition. I’m still new to adding color with Procreate and haven’t yet found my flow. I wasn’t super happy with how I left things last Friday. (i also didn't follow my normal routine and was at a different coffee shop and felt all off.)
Today I settled in at Solace, started my podcast and my timer and kept going. When the timer went off I still kept going. I felt good about what I produced, and I’m happy with how I’ve left him for now.
Last week I was feeling pretty unsure, but now I’m feeling re-excited for the project and look forward to seeing it come to life with color. And now that I've started and figured out the style of the book, hopefully the rest of the pages will go much faster.
On to page two!
In my last post I reflected on the progress of my state bird series, and today I thought I'd check in with another project, the Finnegan book.
My good friend wrote a cute little story, and I'm sllooowwwllly working on illustrating it. I try to devote some time every Friday to working on it, usually at a coffee shop while Ransom has preschool. As of last Friday, I have all of the seventeen pages sketched on my iPad.
Next I'm going to go back in and add color and probably more fun little details.
I started using this particular iPad app, Procreate, back in September. My first illustration on it was this Russian Doll
I've been wanting to grow in learning how to add color with Procreate. I don't want all my illustrations to look so cartoon-like. So I'm taking a Skillshare class that is proving to be really helpful. I'm not finished with it yet, but here is my project so far from that class.
I still have to add more texture to the cacti, but I'm really pleased with it so far! I'm definitely learning a lot, and it'll be interesting to see how I land with adding color to my Finnegan illustrations. I imagine the style will be somewhere in between the Russian doll and the cacti. Stay tuned!
I love lists. Lists make me feel like I have some sort of control in my life. Even if it's an illusion, it's comforting. I'm not your typical artist-type that's all head-in-the-clouds and fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants. My head is on my shoulders and I fly by ... not sure what the other side of that metaphor is.
I also enjoy having a list when creating, as un-creative as that sounds. It makes me feel like I'm heading somewhere. That's why I chose to draw each birth flower, and that's why I am now drawing each state bird.
I have a note going on my phone to keep track of all the state birds I've completed.
I started with Oregon's Meadowlark back in November
And my latest I finished today, the cute little Black Capped Chickadee for Maine.
I feel like I've gotten a little better and quicker at drawing birds. And there are a lot more to go! Interestingly, there are a lot of birds that represent multiple states. For instance, the mockingbird is the state bird for Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. That is a lot of states!
I haven't yet decided how I'm going to approach that, whether I'll draw the same bird in different ways, or just change up the wording digitally... probably I'll choose the harder road and just draw the same bird again. And again and again and again and again in some instances.
I also just now noticed that I started this series being more stylized (notice the stripes in the mockingbird and meadowlark) and now I'm just being more realistic. Not sure when that changed.
Ok, I just scrolled back through all my birds, and I think it was back in Washington, which was only my third bird.
Not sure where I'm going with this.
I just kind of letting this blog post unfold... And I'm not sure how to end it...
A picture of Ransom usually works.
I'm feeling a bit scatter-brained today, but felt it was time to pop in and write a post.
in case you missed it on social media, I'm happy to report that my entire birth flower series is now available in my Etsy shop as art prints.
Along those lines, I was pleasantly surprised this weekend to receive two messages on Etsy from different people in different parts of the world, asking me to design tattoos for them. This is surprising for two reasons 1) this is the first time anyone has ever asked me to design a tattoo, and 2) they both wanted birth flowers.
It makes sense, really. Floral tattoos are lovely, and meaningful floral tattoos are even better. I've actually been thinking of adding some floral ink to my body as well, so this will perhaps kick start me into designing a tattoo for myself.
Commissions are always a bit more nerve-wracking than just me doodling in my sketchbook for myself, but they always grow me and I'm usually pleased with the results. I'm excited to tackle this new design challenge.
I'll let you know how it goes!
This time last year (and the two years prior) I was announcing my participation in the 100 Day Project. The first year I commited to drawing patterns every day for 100 days The second year I decided to draw-what-I-see for 100 days, and then quit after a few weeks because I was in the throes of Ransom's first year. And then last year I committed -- and actually stuck to -- drawing an animal every day for 100 days. It has been a really inspiring project to participate in. It has helped me grow in my drawing abilities, and become disciplined to draw everyday.
That being said, I've decided not to participate this year. The habits I developed by participating in the past are still with me. I still draw pretty much every day. I also have a lot of projects in the works and want to spend my limited amount of free time on those projects.
So I'm proud to announce I will officially not be participating in the 100 Day Project in 2019. But in a way I kind of am, because I am drawing everyday. At least every week day.
Some days I'm working on my state bird series....
Other days I'm working on my nautical coloring book ...
Or perhaps I'll be working on my children's book collaboration ...
Or maybe I'll just be drawing something random ...
I think you get the idea.
I have plenty to keep me busy, this guy included . . .
There are a lot of emotional ups and downs that come with claiming "artist" as an occupation - in any sort of creative endeavor really. Trying to grow as an artist and as a business can be really fun, but also can get pretty discouraging. It's easy to start taking myself too seriously.
I find myself putting too much weight on my art -- I expect it to be beautiful, unique, to define me, and to make me some cash. My drawings just can't hold all that weight. It's not fair to them or to me to ask that of them. Some of them will be lovely gems that I sell again and again, and some of them wont leave the pages of my sketchbook. I never know which will be which when I'm in the process. And I shouldn't worry them about it.
I've been encouraged a bit recently by Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic. I'm in the middle of it right now (it's my current bathroom book, if you must know). In one part, the "Permission" section, she talks about the freedom that can come from realizing that making art is really not that important. There are no art emergencies. The desire to create is definitely something that is innate in every human. It's a fulfilling and enjoyable endeavor, but the fate of the nations -- or even my future -- doesn't hang in the balance.
"Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it's a gift. It's the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe . . . It doesn't discourage me in the least, in other words, to know that my life's work is arguably useless. All it does is make me want to play." - Gilbert
I believe we were created by a god who can be known and named. He created us not because he needed to, but because he was delighted to do so. He's put that in all of us as well.
So let's play.
As many of you know, I published a bug coloring book last year. Well, now I have the bug. This year I hope to publish two new books. The first I've already mentioned. It's a children's book written by one of my dear friends about a nerdy turtle named Finnegan, and his unlikely friendship with a rabbit named Rackle. A solar eclipse is involved.
Right now I'm working on sketching all the pages on my iPad.
I also would like to publish a second coloring book. I've decided the theme: the ocean. I already have quite a few nautical designs, so I like the idea that I won't be starting from scratch. For instance, my newest printable coloring page is this lighthouse.
And now I'm working on turning my mermaid drawing into a coloring page as well.
I have quite a few other designs I can adapt into coloring pages before having so start drawing from scratch again.
In fact, I think that next month I'm going to send the mermaid coloring page as a free download to all my newsletter subscribers. Make sure you get in on that!
Ok guys, there is one thing that has been on my to-do list for almost a year that I have kept putting off. I guess it intimidates me a bit. What is it?
Start an email newsletter.
The thing is, I've done email newsletters before. When I was apart of Artistic Portland (pre-baby), I was in charge of their newsletter and blog. It doesn't have to been anything fancy and it really isn't rocket science. So this is just silliness that I've been putting this off.
So here I am declaring to you -- I have an email newseltter! Sign up for it! There is a little form to the right that you can use (of if you're on a phone you have to scroll to the bottom of the page. You could also just go here). I plan to send out updates monthly. In them you'll see my latest blog posts, designs, new products, and such. You'll get to know me and my art better. And you can unsubscribe at anytime.
Also, right now I'm offering a free printable coloring page to all subscribers, one of my geometric hand-drawn designs. Here's a sneak peak of it.
You could even sign up for the coloring sheet and then unsubscribe after getting it. I won't fault you for that.
BUT you might miss out on future freebies
I plan on sending out my first newsletter in March.
There, I said it and so I'll have to do it!
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.