Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Wrap-up

When one looks back on a year recently completed, it seems difficult or even impossible to encapsulate all the profound feelings experienced in just a short series of words. The discrete events are easier, but not easy. Things that seemed hugely important in the past, seem to quickly lose significance through the backwards lens of time.

2011 was a profound year for many, many people and I am no exception. A year that started off still in heavy mourning for my deceased mother and which was quickly followed by the unexpected death of my father-in-law. This led to many profound moments of stress between Matt and myself. Much needed to be re-thought in our lives without the comfort of three of four parents who were now gone.

We weathered that series of storms and, as the year progressed, somehow came back much stronger. A miracle surely and one that I am truly glad of.  By November, and our 21st anniversary, we had just bought our first home together and we were in a remarkable place of peace, happiness and tandem purpose. Truly a joy.

On a further personal note I decided to make some major changes to my diet and lifestyle this Fall and to date have lost over 28 pounds.

In the world of business, my dual businesses continued to work smoothly together. In my massage practice, I found myself working at the racetrack for the Summer season and that proved to be incredibly fun. I have to admit to being a bit weary of massage after 27 (soon to be 28) years of practice, however.

My new art business continues to grow and had some wonderful successes this year. I felt brave enough to enter four art contests with three of the pieces created in colored pencil and one in pen & ink. I did several commissioned portraits, experimented with some new art techniques in water-soluble media, created 15 new greeting card designs, designed professional logos for clients, and created five Kindle book covers. I also opened a web store of my own, started a newsletter (you can sign up here), and published an E-zine art article. Phew!

Oh yes, I also created a coloring book.

My coloring book was a huge deal for me. My first real product for sale (besides the greeting cards) it came out in time for Christmas and is now being carried by three large, nationally recognized saddleries. It is the first of a series of eight that I have planned. I loved creating it and am eager (as soon as I finish unpacking at the new house!) to get started on the next one.

Plans for 2012

I’m excited about the coming year. I have plans to create several more coloring books and start something very new art-wise in my blog. (Shh, it’s still a secret ‘til after the first!)  I look forward to doing more design work for clients, as well as snagging a few more portrait commissions. I have plans to practice my watercolor painting rather religiously, and continue losing weight.

Matt and I have house renovation plans that should keep us busy for most of the year, and my father is trying to get me to take several trips, including one to Paris to visit with my sister, who currently lives there.

It promises to be a busy year. Most likely different than expected but then, who wants everything to be expected anyway? That takes the fun out of everything!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Card Designs for 2011!

Hi Everyone!

I realize that posts here have been in short supply lately. That's mainly because of my great moving adventure to our new house. But in the meantime, I wanted to let you know that I have 5 Christmas card designs available this year. You can buy them from me directly and you can also find them at the Gift Horse Saddlery in Woodinville. Each regular-sized greeting card features a glossy 4x6 image on the front and comes with matching envelope and in a cellophane sleeve. They are $3.95 each.

Here is the 2011 collection:

"Dream Big"
Because who doesn't want to be a cowboy?

"Candy Cane Pony"
For all those who still have visions
of sugar-plums dancing in their heads.

Doesn't everyone know a pair like this?

"Peace on Earth"
At this festive time of year we all seek peace & harmony.

"Merry Christmas"
Share your Christmas with this cute little Shar Pei puppy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Exciting news!

Merry Christmas a bit early!

As of today you can buy both the EBook (digital download) and spiral-bound (physical) versions of “My Day at the Horse Show” in my web store:

I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately for the physical version of the coloring book and now you can get your very own for $10.00 + tax.  These cute coloring books make perfect stocking stuffer gifts for all the junior horse lovers in your house (along with anyone else you know who loves to color!) As an added plus, if you’re local, you can get a copies directly from me without needing to pay for shipping. Wow! So stock up today!

In case you’ve not seen my video about the coloring book…you can see it here:

Happy Veterans/Remembrance Day everyone!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our new house in journal form

We have bought our first house! Although a bit late to the game, I feel that Matt and I will do well with the sea of new tools and handy-person projects. It's easy to forget that I have been nailing up boards on horse farm fences for most of my life and even wielding a machete when the occasion calls for it! So I think we’ll be OK. ;-)

I have decided to journal our house move-in preparation and moving process. (Hopefully this will be our last moving event for a long while!) I started my journal today. Although in black and white right now, I may very well move to color.

These sketches were done with a Noodler's Flex pen with Lexington Grey Ink and Pitt Design pens in shades of gray in an old ledger book.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What a relief!

So you may have been wondering where I've been lately. Perhaps even believed that I had dropped through some hole in the universe from which there was no return. Well...not quite. Although it is true that we have been quite busy lately buying our first house, that was not the real reason for my absence here. Nor was it that I have been marketing my coloring book quite heavily and haven't had time to do much else - art wise, including writing. 


Only tonight did I realize that I really didn't like the new dynamic template here on Blogger. I just didn't find it writer-friendly. Weird but true! So anyway...I have finally switched back to the old template and voila! here I am back writing again quite happily within minutes! It was easy and boy does it feel good to be back.

To quote Meredith Murphy..."Expect Wonderful" And I do! :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Percy2 update

While it is true that I seem to be moving steadily in many different directions lately, I haven't yet given up on this painting. But there's been so much going on! I tell you it feels like a whirlwind surrounding me each and every day! There's our new house to consider - it's about to close, my coloring book to promote, several holiday cards to complete, and what(!) I also seem to be making Kindle book covers! Not to mention working on several logos and editing old short story collections! Phew! But I am still working on "Percy2," albeit slowly.

It may take me a while to finish this one but it will get done. Maybe it'll even be the first piece I finish in our new house. Now wouldn't that be something?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One more Kindle cover

Because they're like tasty snacks...once you start in on's hard to stop! ;-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kindle and Creativity

Kindle book cover in the style of
the pulp covers of the 1930's.

I am a fiction writer! There I’ve said it. I’m out of the closet at long last. *phew* Now we can move on to other things…

I have been writing and publishing non-fiction for many years. I have been writing fiction for easily as long. But to me, fiction is very personal and written as part of my own process of play. I have been asked many times to share my stories (sometimes for group critique) but I rarely agree to do so. There are some pieces you do just for yourself.

My sister gave me a Kindle for my birthday this year. I had been wanting one to skinny down my book collection (especially future purchases) as I am an avid reader. Once I got it I realized that I could upload my own stories to read whenever and wherever I wanted. *Squeee!* So that first night I couldn’t resist enlisting Matt’s assistance in reformatting my stories into Kindle-friendly documents and uploading them. The first one was one I had recently finished called, “The Witch Queen of Algiers.” It takes place in the world of our web comic “Privateer Princess” and even has cameos by several of the PP cast. I uploaded it and then thought…it doesn’t have a cover!

At that moment I decided to put together covers for the four volumes I have added thus far. All are different genre covers and Matt and I had a great time designing them. We laughed and laughed and laughed! It was great! We have two more to do, another shared story collection and a novel of Matt’s. Great fun!

All of the covers have been created to be best viewed in black and white, as the color Kindle isn't out yet. Good black and white design presents it's own delights, like black and white photography. One of the tricks is to make the viewer see the fullness of the "color" in the black and white contrast alone.

In the style of a "University Press" book cover.

In the genre of humorous history a la
the "Uppity Women" series by Vicky Leon.

The least genre specific cover, I just
thought the design fit the book.

On Amazon I have seen some of the slapdash and poorly designed Kindle covers that are available for some very noble books. That makes me sad. A good book should have a good cover. That’s just right and proper!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Because who doesn't want a pony...?

I've been working on "Percy2" a bit sporadically this week. But here's the latest update. I have been adding layers of Neocolor II to the horse but have thus far left the background as an underpainting done in Inktense pencils.

Here's a close-up showing the smoothing process of the Neocolor II crayons with a q-tip.

I'm pleased with the amount of realism that I have been achieving with the crayons. Here's hoping the rest of the piece goes as well. :-)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Percy comes into further view

I have decided that this is a very fun piece! I've been working on it a bit further and am really enjoying the larger size (12"x16"). The DS watercolor ground-treated background is lending itself more to the brush than the q-tip thus far, but I expect to be using the q-tips more when I start adding Neocolor crayons pretty soon.

I've started adding the background
with dry Inktense pencils.

I've wet the top part of the background
and added dry Inktense to the bottom section.

At this point all the Inktense pencil has been wet
in the background and I've done some more
detailing on the horse's eye and the rest of
his face, also with Inktense.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Back to painting

Now that the coloring book is officially launched(!!!) I get back to painting while I promote it. For my newest piece I have returned to the world of Inktense/Neocolor II painting. This will be my second piece in these media, the first being my “Chickadee” which I finished over the Summer.

“Chickadee” was painted on Aquabord which I found to be quite a nice "toothy” surface to work with. For this piece (which has a working title of "Percy 2") I have treated a 12" x 16" piece of canvas board with Daniel Smith’s watercolor ground and am trying that out as a surface. So far so good, I think…but we’ll see how it holds up for the finished piece.

Here is the palette I have chosen.

Derwent Inktense pencils for the under painting: Fuchsia, Leaf Green, Beech Green, Oak, Sepia Ink, Bark, Willow, Saddle Brown.

Caran d'Ache Neocolor II for the over painting: White, Salmon, Pink, Mauve, Light Blue, Light Olive, Moss Green, Venetian Red, English Red, Cinnamon, Burnt Sienna, Sepia, Ochre, Light Ochre, Orangish Yellow, Light Beige, Mouse Grey, Dark Grey, Greyish Black, Payne’s Grey.

My palette

1. Here's the progress thus far. We start with the line drawing.

"Percy 2" part 1

2. Then add Inktense (still dry) to start the under painting.

"Percy 2" part 2

3. Here is the Inktense wet with brush and q-tip.

Now that it's officially on it's way, please check back and follow this piece's journey along with me. :-)

Friday, September 30, 2011

I have created my very first video for YouTube!

OK, OK, I do feel somewhat behind the times, but all the is the day! Here is my new video which presents a tour of my new coloring book. I hope it makes you smile!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are you ready to color?

My Day at the Horse Show: A Tell Your Own Story” coloring EBook is now available for digital download at my web store.
It’s been a long road. It’s taken a lot of faith. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve done a children’s book, and even though this one is self-published, it was no less work. But as the process of creation is completed I realize that I have really missed doing books for kids. A lot. Now that I’m back in the swing, I have several more coloring books, paper doll books, and a cartoon book in the design phase.

So what’s so special about this coloring book?

I put a lot of thought into how to make this coloring book a little bit different. I decided to make it an EBook because I wanted to give colorists a chance to re-use the pages. If you don’t like the way you’ve colored a page you can just print out another one and start again. Or, you can color different pages in different ways. It also allowed me to charge less per book. At $5.00 I felt that it would be approachable even in these tight economic times.

More features

One of the things I’m particularly excited about in this book are the fill-in-the-blank captions on every page. This allows everyone to make it their story, told their way. I have also included a helpful list of horse show terms to give you further ideas for your horse show adventure.

Too old to color? Think again

I believe that many artists have been set up for success in art by their early experiences with coloring books and crayons. The simplicity of the crayon is so non-threatening that even art-shy adults can use it with confidence. With fine art crayons you may feel the specter of “making a mistake” looming behind every corner. Not so with Crayolas. Try them for yourself and see. With crayons come a sense of artistic freedom plucked straight out of childhood.  

You’re invited

I invite you to visit my shop and take a look at the new coloring book. If you like it please give it a try. If you really like it please recommend it to friends. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to play with and I hope that many will. After all, what else is a coloring book for?

Cheers to all!


P.S. I have put up a new information page about the coloring book here on my blog. You can find it under the "Resources" tab on the right hand column. While you're there you'll also see pages that collect my How-to and Art Supplies product review articles. Check them out!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Flying Free Issue #1

I have just posted the first issue of my newsletter “Flying Free” on my website. Each month Flying Free provides simple art and design tips for artists of all ages and skill levels. This month’s topic is Clip Art: How to use it to enhance your documents and DIY projects.

The topics covered in the first issue are:

  • Terrific Ways to Use Clip Art
  • Colorizing Clip Art
  • 7 Easy Steps to Adding Clip Art to Your Word Document
  • Getting Personalized Clip Art Made For You
You can read the newsletter here.

If you’d like to sign up for future issues of Flying Free (and download some free clip art while you’re at it!) just go to my website and follow the directions.  By signing up you will not only get lots of art and studio tips delivered to your mailbox monthly but you’ll also gain access to special subscriber features like limited release clip art and other fun stuff.

If using clip art interests you and you’d would like to read a more detailed article about using clip art for your craft and art projects I have also written “How to Use Clip Art - 8 Terrific Ways to Use Copyright Free Images” for the website Ezine articles.

And don’t forget…the My Day at the Horse Show coloring EBook will be available for purchase this week in my web store! Stay tuned right here for all the details!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Day At The Horse Show

Here is the cover of my first coloring book, "My Day At The Horse Show." It will be available as an EBook for digital download next week from my website store. More details to follow... *happy smile*

Friday, September 23, 2011

Coloring Book Facts

A coloring (colouring) book is a type of book containing line art for a reader to add color using crayons, colored pencils, marker pens, paint or other artistic media. Although coloring books are generally used by children, coloring books for adults are also available.

According to Wikipedia, the McLoughlin Brothers are credited as being the inventors of the coloring book in the 1880's. The Little Folks' Painting Book was produced in collaboration with well-known children’s book illustrator, Kate Greenaway.

Another coloring book pioneer was Richard F. Outcault, creator of Buster Brown. Although today most people associate “Buster Brown” with the Brown Shoe Company, Buster was actually created in 1902 as part of an independent comic strip. Buster Brown was a young city-dwelling boy with wealthy parents. His strip featured the first talking pet to appear in American comics, a pit bull named Tige. Buster's Paint Book came out in 1907.

As a predominately non-verbal medium, coloring books have seen wide applications in education in some cases where target groups do not speak and understand the primary language of instruction or communication. This can be seen in the use of coloring books in Guatemala to teach children about hieroglyphs and Mayan artist patterns.

Since the 1980's, several publishers have also produced educational coloring books intended for studying graduate-level topics such as anatomy and physiology, where color-coding detailed diagrams are used as a learning aid.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Crayon Facts

Crayola LLC started as “Binney & Smith” in 1885.

There are 133 regular colors in the Crayola line.

Crayola is probably the most famous brand of crayons on the market today. But it’s not the only one. Prang and Sargent also make scholastic crayons for kids.

Fine art crayons are made by Alphacolor, Caran D’ache, Conté, Cretacolor, Lyra, Koh-I-Noor, Steadler, and Yarka to name a few. You can find them wax-based, water soluble, and for use on fabrics.

Caran d'Ache Neocolor II fine art crayons

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Crayon fact

According to Wikipedia, a Yale University study rated the scent of Crayola crayons to be one of the most recognizable scents for adults (#18), beating out cheese (#19) and bleach (#20), but falling well behind coffee (#1) and peanut butter (#2).

Who knew?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why coloring books?

By the end of this week I hope to have my first coloring book up for sale as an EBook on my website. The creation of this coloring book is the culmination of many years of process for me as a children’s illustrator and writer. Coloring is an activity that brings us all back to the time before many of us stopped enjoying the creative and expansive delights of making art. To a time before we experienced the frustration of not being able to portray the world we see around us accurately.

According to Betty Edwards, author of the landmark book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, “The majority of adults in the Western World do not progress in art skills much beyond the level of development they reached at age nine or ten.” This is the stage when children become fascinated by realism. This is also the stage of development where if correct and useful artistic guidance is not received by the child, their art skills stultify and eventually go into a permanent state of artistic crisis.

The beginning of adolescence creates a conflict for children between their increasingly complex perceptions of the world around them and their current level of artistic skills. They simply don’t know how to draw what they are seeing, correctly. Before the age of nine, children are less interested in realism and more interested in portraying feelings in their drawings. As any parent knows, these earlier drawings are not realistic, but certainly prolific. After the age of nine, children become desperate to capture the world as it actually is.

As an educator, I have always felt strongly that children can and should be taught how to draw accurately. They want it and we owe it to them as teachers to provide that education to them. But as many art teachers do not have a great deal of confidence in their own abilities to teach the art of seeing, they may have trouble assisting the child as required. I believe it is of benefit to every artist and teacher to look back into their own past and see if they still carry any of the blocks that may have been put there by careless comments and poor teachers. Once the blocks begin to loosen, we can begin to experience the boundless creativity and fun associated with expressing the world confidently through art once again.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Visual Acoustics

"Post Modernism is to architecture as female impersonation is to femininity." - from Visual Acoustics

CSH 21

Two years ago an intriguing independent film came out called, "Visual Acoustics." It was about the life and works of architectural photographer, Julius Shulman. As it was a small, art film, once gone it was really hard to find. We didn’t know if it would ever be marketed as a mainstream DVD.

The other day I saw that it was playing on the Sundance Channel and taped it. We watched it today. It proved a most remarkable movie about a most remarkable photographer. Shulman made an enormous contribution to 20th century photography (architectural or otherwise). I highly recommend this film if you can find it. It, and his works, are things of beauty.