The blog has moved

Hi there. I've moved my blog onto my website. Please have a look and follow along with my new blog here.



Artists Around the World Blog Hop

I was recruited to the Artists Around the World Blog Hop by Nancy McKenzie of Edinburgh, Scotland. Thanks Nancy! I’ve read so many great contributions to this blog hop so far and I’m excited to take part. If you haven’t read Nancy’s post you can do so here and you can view her surface pattern design and illustration work here.

Why do I create what I do?
If I don’t I’ll be haunted by little line drawings of imps or animals begging to be put down on paper.

I had a previous life as a gallery artist but everyone was so boring and full of themselves and it wasn’t really about creativity. Picture books were my first love so I’m happily finding my way back to that realm.  I learned from Lilla Rogers the importance of keeping my experience of my work joyful. I like drawing little creatures that amuse me.

How does my creative process work?
I spend a portion of each day clearing my head by just drawing what ever comes to mind. I have so many ideas and images in my head it helps to get some of them out before I settle in to work on a more time consuming piece. A lot of these sketches will end up having a life of their own or being the inspiration for a more finished illustration down the road.

I usually go from a rough sketch(es) to a more detailed sketch.  Often I will make a composite of my sketches the old fashioned way- with tracing paper and tape then I use a lightbox to draw the final version onto a new piece of paper. Next I paint with watercolor and gouache. I’ll scan in the final and sometimes add design elements or adjust composition, etc digitally. Here is an example of something I am working on right now...

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
What a challenging question! I much prefer using traditional, tactile media. The way I see it if I have to sit at a computer all day I would have just kept my more lucrative day job. I have a fine arts background and did a very short stint in scientific illustration I think those influences are a difference for better or worse. I’m interested in line work and a concise use of line. I feel like my characters are not generic. I have a general ambivalence to background details that I’m working to improve.

What am I presently working on?
I’m currently working on adding to my children’s book illustration portfolio. I am attending a regional Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in a few months and focused on preparations for that.

Most days I draw a contribution to my daily drawing project on Instagram #365CreatureFeature. You can follow along and see all the creatures here.

I just finished a guest blog post for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum blog, my side project, The Endangered Species Print Project, is currently on view at the museum.
Vancouver Island Marmots, a print I created for The Endangered Species Print Project

Who inspires Me To Create?
Hmm, a blank piece of paper- those are simply screaming to be drawn on! Sunshine streaming in my studio window. Anything with a lovely silhouette. Animals, plants, nature walks, my son. Funny stories and songs my husband and I make up to amuse each other. A nice sharp pointed brush and a tube of gris payne paint.

Two blogs or artists that inspire me:

I love author illustrator Jon Klassen's hat books. I was so excited to see a whole book of weird animals just sort of standing around. That's my favorite thing to draw! If you don't know his art or picture books like "I Want My Hat Back." you should check them out. This is his tumblr.

Illustration by Jon Klassen

Tory Wright. Tory is my art friend foreverever. We recently both became mothers and I am super into her new zine based collage style work with subversive mom related imagery. Cindy Sherman with a tweetybird baby bandaid covering her face? Yes thank you; amazing! Here is one of my favorite images:

A page from a zine by Tory Wright

An inspiring quote:
I'm going to share a long one by Ursula LeGuin, awesome lady and writer. You should read her books if you haven't. 
 Ursula LeGuin. Photo by Marian Wood Kolisch.

"On every act the balance of the whole depends. The winds and seas, the powers of water and earth and light, all that these do, all that the beasts and green things do, is well done and rightly done. All these act within the Equilibrium. From the hurricane and the great whale's sounding to the fall of a dry leaf and a gnat's flight, all they do is done within the balance of the whole. But we, insofar as we have power over the world and over one another, we must learn to do what the leaf and the whale and the wind do of their own nature. We must learn to keep the balance. Having intelligence, we must not act in ignorance. Having choice, we must not act without responsibility."

-Ursula K. LeGuin from "The Farthest Shore"

Up Next
I'm passing the blog hop baton onto my internet friend Adrienne Vita who I met through a mutual friend and Lilla Rogers Bootcamp. You can see Adrienne's lovely hand drawn work on her website and watch for her Artists Around the World blog hop contribution next Monday on her blog.


365 Creature Feature Roundup

I traveled to Minneapolis last week for a wedding; I flaked a bit on the daily drawing while traveling but I did do flower designing and creative problem solving for the big event. 

Here is a roundup of some recent crazy sea creatures from my daily drawing Instagram project #365CreatureFeature. I'm on a goofy doodle vibe and having a lot of fun with these. I plan to develop some of these into surface pattern design collections.

 And speaking of creatures this Mourning dove stopped by the studio window today. She was teaching her youngsters to fly. One of them was not having it and stayed firmly planted on the ledge outside my studio for half of the day. Good luck little dove!


Neon Bunny Girls

These neon bunny girls and their bunny dolls were developed from my sketches for my 365 Creature Feature project. I'm drawing a creature a day and posting to Instagram. Also neon paint hurts your eyes after awhile!


The Global Talent Search Adventure or the Mouse and the Terrarium

This is the story of my entry for the Lilla Rogers Studio Global Talent Search.

Upon receiving the brief I was glad to discover the subject matter was terrariums! I have already drawn several terrariums and am currently working on a few additional designs. Not having to research and learn the intricacies of a new subject was a big plus. Also I much prefer drawing living things than say, jello molds.

Like most people these days I am a fan of terrariums. I make lil tiny ones containing crystals and feathers to sell along side my prints and paper ephemera at art fairs. For my wedding, which was a really huge art project in and of itself, we made a unique terrarium or two for every table. This one, which contains a small ceramic rabbit that I bought for my grandmother when I was a kid, is my favorite. It now sits in my living room. I decided to make a painting inspired by this terrarium with a bit of a narrative thrown in.
photo by hotmetalstudio

To make the project easier I wanted the entire piece to fit my scanner. Although I feared that decision would force me to work at a smaller scale and the piece would not be as rich. A third of the way in I knew this small scale was working against what I had to offer- luscious line work and painterly shading and layering. The detail was also suffering for the scale. I needed more space to get into the meat of things. 

So I abandoned ship and redrew my terrarium larger.  Although I totally loved the rabbit idea, looking up at lightening bugs in the sky, such a nice little moment, a tiny little world, there was also this mouse, who I am incredibly partial to. He has been sitting at the side of my drafting table quietly pleading for his own little illustrated home for quite some time. Why not put this little mouse into the terrarium? He has been waiting to be a part of a piece for so long.  

I mean this mouse has been so cute and so patient! Seriously you guys, he is still waiting for his right paw to be painted in! 

Although in the back of my head I did wonder- do other people think mice are cute or creepy? And I thought the implied narrative in the rabbit piece really added something and perhaps that was just the sort of thing to make the piece sing. But that mouse was looking so lonely with his watery little watercolor eyes.  Oh bother! Plus this is wall art I thought! The one market that makes little sense to me and makes me and my MFA/classical oil painting background cringe with thoughts of distressed, weathered, "bad painting." Narrative does not equal wall art I told myself. Thick, smothering texture does! Goddess help you. The idea wall art brings to mind scrapes across my aesthetics like nails on a chalk board!

I decided to try to finish both pieces and submit whichever was best, knowing deep down that I had a 4 month old baby and finishing both pieces for the deadline, along with everything else on my plate, was rather unlikely. Now seeing the work of the 50 finalists I see how those pieces with little narratives in them are really so much richer. Wall art, you are a finicky beast!

Here is a sampling of thumbnails I sketched in my wall art discomfiture.

My initial attempt at the texture background I thought wall art demanded of me.  This is still in the mock up stage-

In the end I opted to photograph a wooden table in our home and use that as the basis for the entire background. A better solution, I believe, as the photo texture does not compete for your eye at the same level as the painted elements. Also collaged photo elements are on-trend at the moment and so is wood grain. Also wood grain is, like a terrarium, a natural element controlled for an interior.

I had a good time working on this piece and as with everything, I learned a lot. I challenged myself not to be too literal in my interpretation, something I have been working on, and that led to the collection of leaves and nature bits arranged/floating in the terrarium. While I like the way it looks, I am overly in love with negative space and not certain that was the best solution. I think the overall piece holds up rather well though and I am happy with it.

So I am not moving onto the next round of GTS but at least lil mousey has a home! And now to finish the rabbit and lightening bug terrarium illustration!

You can view all 999 entries here

Sketchbook: Skaters

sketchbook drawing of a lil skate crew. this reminds me of my brother and his friends back in the day. I might color it in. As usual I love the line work as is and would be happy to leave everything as line. If you like seeing my sketchbook work you can see new creature themed sketches everyday on my instagram.