I don’t know what direction this blog is going to take, if it will be strictly Art, or if motherhood and homeschooling are going to creep in there too. Which is likely because my life, creative and not, revolves around these little (and not so little) humans.
My coloring book was actually inspired by my daughters who are always asking me to draw things for them to color. Tangled up in Alaska was released in April and is a hand drawn book of woodland coloring adventures featuring animals and places from around the state of Alaska. There are 50 pages of 25 images (2 copies each) varying in difficulty level. In the back of the book I also included an information guide that talks about each picture in the book: moose, bears, goats, etc. The book is available on Amazon and a few local Alaska stores. I hope to have the second volume out this coming spring. That book will be a high seas coloring adventure that has an Alaskan ocean theme. Eventually I plan do a book or two for Florida as well, as that was my home state for 24 years.
Not long after my coloring book was finished I started thinking about what else I could do with the 25 drawings I’d just finished. That led into opening an Etsy store over the summer. I took some of my work from the coloring book and some watercolor paintings I’ve done and partnered with an online on-demand printer to make onesies, shirts, mugs, prints, etc. This winter I added vinyl stickers of some of my watercolor work. I use Sticker Mule for all of my stickers because they are basically awesome.
My favorite part of the Etsy shop experience is that it became a project that my oldest daughter and I took on together. (There’s the motherhood sneaking in 😄 as well as a shameless plug for my daughter’s jewelry, see pictures above.) “E” is 15 and is such a creative soul. She doesn’t enjoy painting and drawing so much but plays the piano effortlessly and beautifully and I could (and do) listen to her for hours everyday. This summer she got really into beading and jewelry making. E started with a fairy tale theme using book shaped lockets and rose charms and all things pretty. We use a lot of essential oils in our home and that inspired her to get into making diffuser jewelry with lava beads. She likes to keep with the all natural theme with those and so uses only wood, coconut shell, sea shell, gemstones, dried açaí berry beads, and glass with the lava. She’s recently gotten into using leather too and I’m excited to see where that takes her. E’s been selling her creations through our Etsy (<this link goes right to her jewelry) shop and loving it. I think she enjoys packaging up the orders with the little bags, stickers, and thank yous as much as making the jewelry itself. She’s also been selling through a local shop and has been really successful there. As a mom been great having a project that keeps us connected which is something I think is good for kids of all ages and their parents, but especially so of the teen years .
The biggest project I completed this year was illustrating my first children’s book and it all happened rather providentially. E’s favorite author is Brittany Fichter. She is amazing. Brittany does the most unique and meaningful fairy tale re-tellings and original tales of fairies that I’ve ever read, check out her books on Amazon here. After finishing her Classical Kingdom series I noticed her bio mentioned that she was an Air Force wife. Being an Air Force wife for the past 16 years myself, I looked up her fan page on Facebook and messaged her. “Love your work blah blah blah. If you ever get stationed here look me up blah blah.” Well we ended up chatting back and forth a bit and I sent her a link to the coloring book I had just self published because I knew she’d understand the excitement of seeing your work on Amazon for the first time. Brittany ended up asking me to design a book plate for her and then decided to write her first children’s book, that she’d been considering for a while, and asked me to illustrate it. Our book is a classic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. After months of work, over 25 watercolor paintings, both of our mom worlds being hit heavy with kid illnesses for months on end, publishing glitches, and lots of other road blocks, we finally released it just before Christmas! Cinderella is the next book we plan to do and hope to have it released by Christmas 2019, giving ourselves a year instead of 6 months this time. It was quite a project to fit in with homeschooling three kids, but I’m so happy I had the chance to do it. Brittany also created a teacher/parent packet to go along with the picture book. If you’re interested in that free download follow this link to the Children’s Corner of her website.
Because of that project I was introduced to another author and asked to illustrate a map for the inside of a new novel series by fiction author Melanie Cellier. This project was icing on the cake. I mentioned that we are a homeschool family. We have been homeschooling for over ten years. Many families have different techniques or formats or styles they follow. We have a blend of styles but the primary model we use is Waldorf methodology. No computers until High school, lots of writing and hand drawn illustrations for work instead of workbooks or worksheets, lots of reading to the kids, and them to me, handwork (knitting, gardening, painting), woodworking, music, and lots of time outside or in the woods of the five acres we’ve been lucky enough to live on for the last 5 years. One of the things I’ve personally enjoyed most about teaching with a Waldorf education approach is map drawing. I absolutely love it. I hadn’t ever hand drawn a map until we started homeschooling, but I was instantly hooked. So when Melanie asked me if I’d illustrate one for her new series it was a definite and instant yes.
And that’s where my art for the year has ended up. I’ve got a northern lights acrylic piece I get to go back and finish now, as everything else got put on hold while I finished up the picture book. And I’ve got some ideas brewing for a stack of blank canvas that’s been begging me for some acrylic attention for the last few months while I’ve focused on watercolors. And I’ve got four picture books of my own that I’ve written and am working on illustrations for that I hope to have published over 2019.
I’ve taken a couple of the book illustrations and turned them into coloring pages that are free for you to share, print and enjoy. And please! Feel free to leave me a comment about things you’d like read about on this blog: Techniques, supplies I use, how to’s, painting with little ones, etc.
I hope your 2018 was fabulous and that your 2019 brings new ideas, positive challenges, opportunities, and memories.
Soli deo Gloria