Poppies For Jhesica

Remember the days of “pen pals” in elementary school?  I have a pen pal in Bolivia.  How cool is that?  

Jhesica is twelve years old, and although we’ve never met, we’ve been getting to know each other slowly over several years’ time. 

This week I’m sending her a small colored pencil drawing of one of my favorite flowers –


If I can ever grow poppies in the back yard, I will.  Until then, I’ll draw them!  Here’s the process:

Pencils in the couch cushion (or under my tushy) are a must.  I generally pull out a limited palette to begin with – even fewer than these – and expand it only as I need to.  This gives my drawings unity.

The work space:

I have the world’s best husband.  Those Prismacolors are from him.  The brown cardstock notebook, however, was a lucky find at Building 19.  It was 99 cents, to be exact.  

What I’ve noticed about drawing is the demand it places on your patience.  Are you willing to let your work look like doo doo for a while?  If someone walks past your incomplete project, can you allow it to be what it is in front of them?

Not a bad beginning… but nothing to go ga-ga over.

I usually start with the low-lights.  I have no idea if this is “correct” but it works for me.  I have to see something stand out a little here and there.  Then I move to mid-levels, shading a little darker, blocking in reds and oranges – the bulk of the colors and where they’ll fall.

Here and there I touch on a highlight so that some form begins to rise from the paper.  When it starts to look 3D, I know I’m getting somewhere.  Super fun.  That’s all drawing is – variations in dark and light values, combined with a little line, a little creativity…

I keep moving forward through the drawing and retouching highs, mids, and lows, while adding texture and detail.  It’s ridiculously fun.  Time flies.  I love to draw.

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at my creative process. 

Mama needs color, and I sure love to share it.


The Great Crayola Debate

One of my favorite smells is the inside of a large box of Crayola crayons.

(By the way, my Sweet Babboo and I are involved in an ongoing debate regarding these tools: Is it pronounced cray-ons or crans?  Feel free to comment.  I’m prepared to tuck tail, as I’m usually wrong.  :-))

So on a rainy day, I LOVE breaking out the giant drawing pad and cray-ons – or crans – with my 1 year-old.  It’s a special thing for him still, since I don’t let him use this stuff every day. 

It’s been delightful watching him learn to hold a writing instrument and make bold, swishing motions across the paper.

And I HAVE to draw something in the area or I’ll burst. 


So what am I supposed to tell Riley?

It’s coloring time!  Let’s use our cray-ons…?


It’s coloring time!  Let’s use our crans…?

Either way, it’s awfully fun.

More fun if lots of people choose my pronunciation.

There’s many ways to keep a passion alive, even when the days don’t allow much time for hobbies or practicing the arts.  And if it’s something that keeps me connected to my kids,


Little Boy Blue

Snatches of time are about all I have for art these days.  Beautiful, rejuvenating snatches of time. 

This one was a few minutes on the floor, cooing to my son and trying to capture his chubby cheeks on a piece of cardstock.

My goal was to use unlikely colors to express his babyness, keeping it realistic but freeing it to be “sketchy” and unusual.

“He looks so chubby!” you may say.

He is.  Especially when he’s lying down.

“He has so much hair!”

Yes he does.  We make hairy kids, apparently.

“But he’s BLUE!  And pink!”

Obviously not for real, but in my imagination a personality can be a color, and a mood can be a squiggly or straight line.

There he is for real.  Normal.

I hope you can tell what mood he was in based on my sketch.  Not a perfect representation of his face, but close – and it was so much fun to draw again.

By the way, oil pastels are a mother’s best friend.  I don’t have time to lay out all my paints, get messy, clean up, and stash away all those tempting treasures before my toddler can tromp through them and wreak havoc.

But I do have time to grab a pastel and dab on a little texture, capture an eyebrow, or a gleam in his eye. 

It all boils down to contrast – to highlights and lowlights…

…especially if you look at it in terms of black and white.  Just dark and light values. 

Those values could be expressed in ANY color you like.  I just grabbed whatever interested me at the moment. 

Thus, Quinn appears to be blue, yellow, and pink, with some blended greens and purples showing up by accident. 

And why not?  I’m glad I had a snatch of time to capture my little boy’s vibrant and serious mood.  He won’t be still like this much in the future, when even the camera will have a hard time keeping up.

Love you, Quinn.  ~Mommy

Happy Go Lucky

This is one of my favorite sketches.  I wish every girl (and boy) could have a childhood so carefree.

Give a kid an open space, a stiff breeze, and an imagination free of fences, and you’ll probably get faces that look just like this: happy-go-lucky.

Get outside!

Note: If I disappear for a few days without warning, I’m delivering a baby!  I’ll be back and you can bet there will be pictures of Baby #2.  Thanks for understanding.  :-)


Sketch Book II

It’s time for another sketch book peek!  Old sketch collections are some of my favorite possessions.  They remind me where I was, literally and figuratively, in life at the time.  Some help to reinspire me during dry spells.  Others make me chuckle.  Maybe these will do the same for you.

This young lady is an overseas mom, caring for her husband and children in very stressful circumstances.  I admire the light in her eyes, her quiet look of passion and perseverance.

She seems confident, strong, and vulnerable all at the same time…

And for a completely different look at motherhood:

Who says sketches have to be all “artsy”?  This is my way of poking fun at myself, which keeps me sane. 

Whether you’re feeling confident, vulnerable, strong, or crazed, have a wonderful day!

Peachy, the Sketchy Peach Tree

When we moved in to our first house over a year ago, I bought a special journal.  Green, like the garden I was hoping to grow.  Here’s the journal:

It was handmade by Nepalese women who make the most beautiful and inspiring paper I’ve ever seen.  I mean, c’mon.  If you have a notebook with edges like these, how can you not be itching to write or draw in it?

And the button!  Do I even have to go into button-land and expound on how gorgeous buttons are? Versatile, inspiring, the perfect finishing touch to so many projects…

Enough about buttons.

When we moved in here, we found a spindly, grey little fruit tree in the backyard.  It produced one fruit.  Which was promptly eaten.  Not by us.

Turned out to be a peach tree, badly in need of care.  Today I pruned it, using my mother’s advice of creating a “10 and 2” spread in the branches – that is, the right main branch goes up and out to where the “2” is on a clock.  The left main branch goes out to where “10” is on a clock.  Or sort of close to that.

I haven’t sketched anything in a long time.  I figured I’d sit in the chilly backyard before I commenced hacking, and record what Peachy looked like.  This is a rough sketch with a G2 pen, my favorite, made in the green garden journal with the awesome button.

It’s like Annie in the orphanage, wasting away by its lonely self, crying for attention (without the annoying songs).  There are a few root suckers toward the bottom that are actually blossoming.  Those suckers may be the tree’s one hope. 

That, and my hungry hand saw.

Spring is wonderful.  I get to grow things, chop things, draw things, and share them with you.  Hope you liked it.


Sketchbook I

The plan for today was to post an original song.  But there was a little problem with our recording equipment – me!  Apparently I did 5 takes of one song… and none of them were actually recording sound. 

So I’ve decided to switch areas entirely and do a sketchbook post.  It’s always been one of my favorite things, looking into people’s notebooks and sketchbooks, seeing what catches their eye, and how they express it when they’ve only got a few moments to draw. 

Here’s a few from my favorites…

Andrew Carnegie - wax pencil

I used to work in an antique postage stamp shop.  Sometimes an interesting face would appear on a stamp or first day cover.  I’d grab something to draw with and make a sketch.  The wax pencils were particularly fun.  Hopefully this won’t get me in trouble.

Do you like how I spelled his name “Cargenie” next to his head?

You Understand Me - pen

Scribble sketches are so much fun.  Using only lines, the shape and mass of an object are defined.  This sketch is at the end of a journal entry in which I was expressing how misunderstood and trampled I felt.  Everyone has days like that.  My Faithful Friend is the one with His arm around me in the picture. 

Anatomically perfect?  No.  Emotionally present?  Yep.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak - pencil

I never gave two hoots (or tweets) about birds when I was younger.  For some reason, their songs, their coloring, and their habits have become more and more interesting as I’ve grown.  This bird, however, will always keep the name I had for it when I was younger: The Rose-Breasted GROSS BEAK!!!

If eyes were made for seeing, then beauty is its own excuse for being.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson