I don't know about you, but it's easy to for me to gloss past my own small wins.
I like to break big projects into little steps, and I think it's important to celebrate reaching those little milestones. I don't always do it, though. So here I am, doing that now in this blog post.
If you've been following along here for awhile, you know I've been working on a children's book with a friend of mine. She writes, I draw. For years I've been working on the illustrations on my iPad. I started the first character sketches when my three year old was an infant.
Around that time, I also learned how to draw using my iPad and the Procreate App. Working on the Finnegan illustrations has been a good project for me to fuel my self-education in digital drawing.
Long story short, about a month ago I finished the illustrations! I created 18 illustrations that tell the story of Finnegan's Fantastic Friday (that's the title).
And you know what I did when I finished them? Other than texting the author, nothing much. Not even a celebratory post on Instagram. I just moved on to my next project.
Well here I am, better late than never, telling you that I'm proud of myself for creating those 18 illustrations. I had never done anything like that before. I learned a lot, and I think they're pretty cute.
And they're going to get even cuter. I've since met with the author and we've decided to add a couple more pages and details. So "finished" wasn't really the right word I suppose... There's still a journey ahead, but a lot of it is also behind! I'll keep you posted, and try to be better at celebrating small victories.
You should too
I usually share my own art process on this blog, but sometimes I interrupt my regularly scheduled program to share the art process of my three-year-old. This is one of those times . . .
This week has been a sick week. A yucky cold has been making its way around our family. Having a lot of time at home this week, Ransom and I were able to create some cute little Valentine’s Superheroes to give to his friends at school. We were inspired by these guys, which we made last month from a printable from Messy Little Monster.
We started the process on Sunday night, when the sickness began and Ransom had to stay home from church. I had him paint a few sheets of paper with red, blue, and white tempura paint. We used a paintbrush, roller and q-tips. He got really into it actually, which always warms my heart because art-making is not always his favorite activity. I think the papers on their own turned out really lovely.
The next day I cut out a lot of capes, hearts, and circles (for heads), while Ransom colored the “bodies” (aka popsicle sticks).
Next we glue! He lost stamina at this point, coloring and painting were his favorite. In reality, I did a lot of the gluing myself.
Ransom drew on all the faces himself — the mouth, nose, and hair. (As you can see in the top of the picture above.). I thought that gave it some toddler-charm. On the back of the capes I wrote a note “You’re super, [name]! Happy Valentine’s Day!” Today, which is actual Valentine’s Day, Ransom was finally well enough to go to school and so we got to distribute his superheroes. He attends a sweet little preschool co-op nearby.
As I said, creating art is not always Ransom’s first choice in activities (he’d rather jump off of things or play Ninja), so creating these little guys was pretty sweet for me.
Reduce, reuse, recycle. There is much wisdom in those three words.
I’m all about not re-inventing the wheel, so I love to reuse old designs and turn them into something shiny and new. I also enjoy the creative challenge it brings. For instance, a couple of years ago (April 2018 to be exact, thanks Facebook) I drew this chameleon in my sketchbook.
It was for a 100 Day Challenge I had embarked upon — to draw one animal everyday for 100 days. I still have sketchbooks full of animal drawings that I actually really like, but have not had time to scan and polish. This week, I pulled up my old chameleon friend and played with him on my iPad, mostly in the evenings while watching The Night Manager.
This is where we landed.
I’m please enough to call him finished.
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!
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.