Office Progress & Why I’m Hardly Working

When we moved into our house 7 1/2 months ago, we knew that we were going to have to do a lot of demolition to the basement in order for me to have my office down there. I have to be honest, it’s been really hard waiting for all of the work to be finished. After taking almost a year off for the entire moving process, I’m more than ready to get back to work, especially as the current situation is a little challenging:

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99% of my supplies and inventory are still in boxes in our sunroom. I know it looks like a mess and it’s super embarrassing to share with you, but no matter how much I organize it, moving boxes all around and the cat knocking stacks of boxes over just brings the chaos right back. My drafting table is my current desk in our living room, and the supplies I use almost daily are in the white bookcase under the printer to the side. It’s not ideal by any means, it’s frustrating because I can’t find anything, but it works(ish).

Over Christmas break we started the demolition by tearing down not one but TWO ceilings in my office area! The original ceiling boards are still up as we’re not sure if we’re going to have an open ceiling or put something up, so until we decide, we’ll leave them.

Basement before

ceiling progress

Over Spring break we started removing the paneling from around the walls. The plan was then to either paint the block or frame it in and drywall it….but the brakes on the entire project were slammed quick and brought the entire project to a halt: the entire west wall of the foundation was cracked and bowing in.

To say we were surprised isn’t completely accurate, unfortunately. When we looked at the house originally, there had been some water in the basement so we had the owners remove some paneling. There had been cracks and bowing in of the foundation on that wall, so they completely fixed it for us and the water disappeared, so we thought we were fine. Over the winter there was still some water coming in, especially during thaws or when it might rain, but it was definitely less than what had been there before. The newly found damage isn’t as bad as what was found last summer, thankfully. But we couldn’t proceed with my office until the wall was fixed.

Well, work started TODAY!!!!

Today it was bracing the wall, getting the hydraulics ready to push the wall back into place, and removing old, damaged mortar from between the blocks:

basement ready

The cracks look so much worse than they had been, and that’s because they removed a lot of the mortar.

Tomorrow they dig out the ground on the other side of the wall and push the wall back into place. They’ll also re-mortar the blocks, fill the ground with stone, and then top it off with dirt, but I’m not sure if that happens tomorrow or later. The little boys I babysat today were very excited to see this in the yard on our way into school this afternoon!

digger

So yeah, it’s hard sharing this, but I know a lot of you have been concerned that I haven’t been working or have wondered why I’m not posting new work as much as I had been. I want to be working, it’s just hard to be doing it when I don’t have the right tools easily accessible. The Drawing a Day Challenge was easy as I worked on a clipboard, so I’d put a pillow in my lap, prop the clipboard up, and be good to go. The newest Lord of the Rings drawing is a lot harder as the board is bigger, so it’s harder to balance and therefore takes twice as long to make any progress. I can do some Boathouse work, but it’s so much easier to do with my drafting table accessible. It’s easy to make prints, which is why I’m adding them like crazy to my Etsy shop. Updating listings and photos in my Etsy shop is something I’m working on a lot as well. Other things, not so much right now, but I’m trying as best as I can.

I thank you all so much for your patience with me, I know this has been a rough year, but I’m hopeful to be in my office in the next month or so and be really cranking through the projects!

Let me know if you want to see my designs for my future office space, and I’d be more than happy to do a blog post on that. It’s going to be a lot different from the old house as my office was in one area, and the studio was in another. In this house, they’ll be in the same room 🙂

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Happy Birthday, Back to the Drawing Board!

We’re celebrating all week long!

It's our 4th anniversary,and we're having TWOgiveaways!

 

One lucky winner will receive a print of their choice, and another winner will receive a $20 gift certificate to my Etsy shop! For more information and how to enter, you can find that here on my Facebook page; it’s the pinned post!

I’m also running a sale in my Etsy shop!

It's our 4th Anniversary!

You can check out my shop here; I’m trying to add at least one new print every day!

 

Thank you for your support and encouragement the past four years!!!!

Behind the Scenes: Hogwarts

This piece has been a long time coming!

My thoughts behind that is two-fold: first, I’ve wanted to draw the Hogwarts castle for a really, really long time. And second, this drawing has been on my shelf as a commission for a YEAR.

Now I HATE making anyone wait for anything, especially an entire year. But this one was delayed for a lot of reasons: finding the right reference image and then having it sent to me the day before my phone decided to lose EVERYTHING on it, not being able to find the perfect reference image again, me selling and buying a house, and then still not being able to find the right image again. But, it was found and I had the drawing in hand ready for delivery less than a week later.

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Title: Hogwarts

Size:  8×10

Medium: Graphite pencil and white ink gel pen on acid free paper

Purpose: My friend Sarah bought the gift certificate that I donated for our church’s 2017 short term missions auction, and this is what she chose for me to draw.

Thoughts on this piece: I went into the drawing completely terrified. The reference image that was chosen had a lot of complex pieces to it, from the night sky to the light beams and tiny little windows on the castle. The composition was fantastic, but it didn’t translate well to an 8×10 piece, so I had to rework it. Once I got over all of those challenges, the drawing went along really well! I think having come off of the Drawing a Day Challenge not too long ago really helped with that 🙂

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Favorite parts: I really love the light beams coming up behind the castle, as well as how the lit windows all look. I’ve always wanted to draw Hogwarts, but never had I even considered doing it at night and I am really excited with how it turned out!

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Least favorite parts: The rocks the castle are on bother me, but when I added more detail to them, I felt like it was taking away from the castle. Taking away more detail from the rocks made the castle look like it was floating on a cloud. This is the best balance between low and high detail that I could get, but it still feels off to me.

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Fun tidbits: I think this is the third original of mine that now lives in Sarah’s house!

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Product availability: The original is unavailable, but prints are available in my Etsy shop here.

 

If you won a certificate for a drawing, what would you want it to be of?

Drawing a Day Challenge 2018: What I Learned, How It Went

Is it really over???

I know I’ve said this a lot, but man, it feels like the challenge just started, yet somehow it feels like it went on forever.

I was so tempted to surprise you all and do one more week of the challenge to do some of the top requested drawings that are left, but my family is home on vacation this week and as our youngest has a birthday this week as well, that had to be my priority. I promise to get to that list soon though!

On to the recap!

What I learned:

The biggest thing I learned was that taking almost a year off from working is not good for me mentally. Every time I saw the boxes for my studio and office still in the sunroom waiting to be unpacked or my future office/studio still in shambles, I’d get more frustrated, anxious and agitated. Every day that I got to do a drawing, I felt all of that melting away. Yes, my boxes are still there and the office is no where near finished, but I had my joy back.

How it went:

I think this year’s challenge went a lot better than last year! I think knowing what to expect and what parts were going to be hard ahead of time really helped me prepare better. I also didn’t deal with the burnout like I did last year, although there were a few days where I just did not want to draw an animal again!

I also really enjoyed my followers on Facebook guessing the subject each day! I loved the interaction and their creativity in their guessing. I still owe them a cat’s butt at some point 😉

For next time:

I will definitely be taking the weekends off again. It helped prevent the burnout that I had last year, and even though we’re so close to school, having all three kids in activities, it just made life so much easier not having to worry about fitting the drawings in. I will also plan better for which month I choose for the challenge! This month was rough with all of the kid’s activities, so it made trying to get all the drawing, editing, and posting done around that was exhausting and stressful most days.

I will be making some drastic changes to the challenge next year. While I do plan on continuing the challenge, I will no longer be doing a drawing a day.

Wait, what?

I haven’t fully decided on the challenge title yet, but it will still be creating a full fledged piece a day, but it could be a watercolor painting, an oil painting, or yes, even a drawing. There were so many pieces I wanted to create this challenge, but doing them in just graphite pencil was…well, boring. It will also break up the monotony I dealt with this year. Last year’s challenge had a diverse subject list, and this year was mostly animals. While I don’t mind that necessarily, having other things like landscapes and sunsets and just some color thrown in is going to be so wonderful!

Differences from last time:

A huge gold star to one of my besties for recognizing a big change this year!!!! She asked me what I was doing different as she noticed a difference in the drawings from last year, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. This year I still had the same goals (increasing inventory, bettering my skills, learning that I can and should take the time for my art, etc.), but I added another one that I didn’t share: don’t just draw something just to draw it, but make it a real piece. What that translates to is last year I’d concentrate on the subject I was given to draw, but not always the surroundings (background, foreground, etc.). This year I wanted to have each piece be more like a snapshot in time, where there was a background, a foreground, the subject itself. It makes the pieces more well rounded, more finished feeling, and just better. I didn’t do it with every drawing, but the majority of them I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried it.

I sold drawings and had many requests for prints as well! Last year there were only a couple print requests and no drawing sold, so I’m not sure if it’s because I have a bigger following this year or maybe the drawings are better, but I am so encouraged and humbled. Thank you to everyone who requested a print or bought a drawing!!!!!

Products:

All of the originals that are available are in my Etsy store, and prints have started to roll out as well. Note cards will be coming once my office is put back together.

Other Thoughts:

Favorite drawing: It’s like making me choose a favorite child: I can’t do it! I really am so in love with each and everyone this year!

Least favorite drawing: Snake, but only because I had to look up snake reference images 😉

FAQ:

What are you doing with the list of things you haven’t gotten to?

That is a fantastic question, and one that I don’t have a definitive answer to yet. I still have about 20 or so suggestions on my list, and I have a few ideas of what to do: extend the challenge another week or two (or more like four to finish the list!), save the list for next year, or randomly do a drawing a day here or there throughout the year. I’m probably going to do the last option, so be expecting random drawings to pop up here and there before next year’s challenge!

 

You can view all of the drawings from this year’s challenge here.

 

What was your favorite drawing from the challenge?

The Wrong Direction Easter Eggs

This blog post is extremely overdue. However, it’s Easter weekend, so I thought it might be appropriate to finally post now!

The Wrong Direction is the 3rd installment of the children’s book series The Adventures of Boathouse Mouse, and I have the honor and privilege of illustrating them. This book came out in April 2017, almost a year ago!!!!

While I was illustrating this book, I had some fun with it and included Easter Eggs, just like I did with The Cat and the River ThamesIf you’re unfamiliar with Easter Eggs, they’re fun little details included in movies, whether it be hidden details or references to other movies (Disney and Pixar are well known for these!). One thing I’m trying to add in each book now is a cameo of the person I’m dedicating it to. I didn’t do it for Book 1, and Book 2 was my parents.

Book 3 was originally going to be dedicated to my daughter. I was going to go in age order for the kiddos, but once I read the book, there was one scene that changed my mind:

Stargazing

My youngest is obsessed with anything outer space, and when I saw that Boathouse and Tom were going to be stargazing and watching the aurora borealis, I just knew this book was for my little astronaut. I even snuck in his favorite constellation, Orion!

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It also made sense for this to be his book as there was a cabin boy who helped catch the fish, and on one of our family vacations, our little due (who was like 3 at the time) caught the biggest fish of the whole week! Here’s my little guy on Wanderer!

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Fun fact: one of my guy’s nicknames is Fish!

My favorite part of the Easter Eggs? The pages face each other! I tried to make it so the eyes would be gazing over to the stars 🙂

Here’s my dude reading “his” book!

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I hope you enjoyed these Easter Eggs! I’m starting to work on Book 4 in the series, so expect a lot of more Boathouse posts coming 🙂

You can find books 1 – 3 here in my Etsy store.

 

Who’s ready for some previews of Book 4?

Drawing a Day Challenge 2018: Day 25!!!!

HELLOOOOOOO END OF THE CHALLENGE!

I have to be honest, when I finally sat down to work on the drawing this morning, I almost started to cry. Part of it is just exhaustion from all of the work that goes into each day’s drawing, but a lot of it is I’m going to miss it so much! Thankfully I have a great project lined up to keep me busy 😉

But here he is, the final drawing of the challenge and last piece to the Hogwarts House Mascot series:

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Title: Lion

Size: 5×7

Medium: Graphite pencil and white ink gel pen on acid free paper

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Inspired/nominated by: It’s the last piece of my Hogwarts House Mascot series. This is the Gryffindor lion, and I did the Hufflepuff badger, Ravenclaw raven, and yes, even the Slytherin snake!

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Favorite parts: Yes. Everything. I ended on a great note and am very very happy with this guy!

 

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Challenging part: I didn’t mention this in the previous two day’s drawings, but there was an underlying challenge that I hadn’t considered when drawing the badger: not only did I have to work on the composition for each drawing individually, but I had to work on the composition as a whole. I did the badger as a landscape, but then the snake was a portrait. The raven and lion were also going to be landscape, but that was unbalanced for having all four together as a set. I then decided the lion would switch to portrait, but then having the snake look to the right (which is what was already completed) and the raven look to left would be odd unless they were both portrait. So, the raven was switched to portrait, but that left me scrambling today as the lion had to be landscape, but he fit so much better as a portrait. With a little tweaking and switching reference images, I got it to work….but it was a challenge I never expected to have and you wouldn’t even think about it when seeing the set all together:

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Please excuse the poor quality for that image; they’re in their plastic sleeves so they’re protected, and there is a lot of glare on them!

Product availability: The drawing is available for purchase in my Etsy shop here; it will be available in a print soon, and yes, you will be able to get the entire series as a set as well!

 

Which mascot is your favorite?

Drawing a Day Challenge 2018: Day 24

Happy 2nd to last day of the challenge!!!!

I decided to just finish out the Hogwarts House series; half of the series was already done, and I know I had some people very anxious to have the series in print, so it made sense to finish it now.

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Title: Raven

Size: 5×7

Medium: Graphite pencil on acid free paper

Inspired/nominated by: This is part of the Hogwarts House Real Mascots series 🙂 Today’s is the Ravenclaw raven!

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Favorite parts: The entire thing! This is one of those pieces that I’ll finish and wonder how it came out of my pencil. I also love the background; I’m actually considering going back and reworking the badger and snake backgrounds to match this one.

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Challenging parts: Probably just the chest feathers, getting the contrast and balance to mesh well was a challenge (as always!).

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Product availability: The original is available in my Etsy shop here, and prints are coming soon.

 

Who’s ready for the Gryffindor lion tomorrow!??!?

Drawing a Day Challenge 2018: Day 23

Today’s drawing did not go the way I wanted it to by any means…but that’s completely and utterly my fault.

I asked on Facebook if I should finish up the Hogwarts House series that I started yesterday or if I should continue to choose the subjects randomly. That question completely backfired when my results were tied! I decided to choose one subject at random and then throw that suggestion and one of the house mascots into a bowl and draw that way. Well, that ALSO backfired when I drew randomly and it was a house mascot….and it just happened to be the one I’m terrified of:

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Title: Snake

Size: 5×7

Medium: Graphite pencil and white ink gel pen on acid free paper

Inspired/nominated by: Me and my idea to do the Hogwarts House mascots in real life. The Hufflepuff badger was done yesterday and this is the Slytherin snake; I still have the Gryffindor lion and Ravenclaw raven/eagle left.

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Favorite part: The eyes, for sure! Also the scales. They’re so much like feathers but smooth in texture. They were time consuming, but so much easier than actual feathers to do!

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Challenging parts: Choosing a reference image! I know so many of you love snakes and think they’re amazing, but I am honestly terrified of them. I will see one outside and run into my house. I will see a picture of one and have to close the book or computer and go to another room. Every year when spring and summer roll around, I challenge myself to get over my fear before fall comes, and last year I even touched one that my hubby had caught by our pool. I was SO PROUD of myself! However that night I had a dream that I was in a pit of snakes and they were slithering all over me and suffocating me; I woke my husband up with my screams and throwing the blankets and pillows off of the bed. We’ve agreed I just can’t be around snakes or deal with them at all. It’s an irrational fear but it is very very real. I talked myself into looking up images by just searching for snake faces, and then I just pretended they were lizard faces (and I LOOOOOVE lizards, even iguanas which have bit me before), and I was able to handle it. I decided on doing the snake raised up only because my original idea of having one look at the viewer was going to be tricky to get the perspective and detail right. I actually drew little arms on his sides like he was a lizard and then blended them into the background when I was finished. Anything to get the job done! Now let’s just see if I can sleep tonight…

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Product availability: The original is available in my Etsy shop here, and prints will be available soon.

 

What’s your opinion on snakes: beautiful, terrifying, or somewhere in between?

Drawing a Day Challenge 2018: Day 22

This morning my boys asked what today’s drawing was going to be. I said I wasn’t sure, but that I was going to be taking all nineteen suggestions left on my list, writing them out on slips of paper, and choosing a slip for each day remaining in the challenge. They both thought that was a great way to figure it out, and then my youngest said these six words:

“I hope it’s the dolphin today!”

I paused, and then said there wasn’t a dolphin on my list.

He said he had asked for one, and the more he talked about it, the more I remembered him suggesting it. How it never got onto my list, I don’t know.

And then we remembered another drawing. And another…and another….and even another.

I forgot FIVE SUGGESTIONS. My list went up to twenty four suggestions this morning!!! Yikes!!!!

At lunch time, I put all the slips into a bowl and my four year old buddy who was visiting today chose today’s subject from the bowl:

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Title: Badger

Size: 5×7

Medium: Graphite pencil and white ink gel pen on acid free paper

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Inspired/nominated by: Me, unintentionally. Back when I was drawing the skunk, I wanted to turn him into a badger. I had the idea of doing a realistic version of the different animal mascots for the Hogwarts Houses in the Harry Potter series, so here’s the Hufflepuff mascot! The only problem I’ve run into with doing this set of drawings is that I’m terrified of snakes, so choosing a reference image, studying it, and then trying to reproduce it will give me nightmares for at least a week….so I may have to rethink this series!

Favorite parts: His chin hairs! And his white face stripe!!!!

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Challenging parts: Getting the white fur to stand out from the background! I didn’t want to push the background too dark, but outlining the fur with a pencil or adding pencil lines for extra fur was going to either make it feel fake or make the fur too dark. What I ended up doing was taking one of my blender sticks and slightly outlining the fur with it. It turned out to be the same darkness as the background, but added just enough definition to the fur to make it stand out more!

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Product availability: The original drawing is available in my Etsy shop here. Prints will be available soon 🙂

 

What is your Hogwarts House? We have three Hufflepuffs (badger), a Gryffindor (lion), and a Ravenclaw (raven/eagle). Our cat would definitely be a Slytherin (snake)!!!!

Drawing a Day Challenge 2018: Day 21

Happy last week of the challenge!!!

Crazy days like today make me anxious for it to be over. Between babysitting all day, trying to draw, doing work for my other business (I sell Monat hair products), and everyday life, one less thing on my plate is going to be a welcome thing!

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Title: Daisy

Size: 5×7

Medium: Graphite pencil and white ink gel pen on acid free paper

Inspired/nominated by: My honorary big sister Heather! This is her pupper Daisy 🙂

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Favorite parts: The grass in front with the daisies! When Heather requested I do a picture of Daisy, I thought it would be sweet to have her in grass surrounded by daisies. Once she sent me a picture of Daisy in the grass, I knew that it was meant to be!

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Challenging parts: The eye and ear on the right side. Getting the shading right was a real challenge, and while I’m not 100% happy with how it ended up, the more I tried to make it better, the worse it got. I even took a 2 hour break, but still it wasn’t working. But, I can’t say I’m ever 100% happy with ANY of my pieces 😉

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Product availability: This drawing is available in my Etsy shop here. Prints will be available soon.

 

Only four drawings left in the challenge! What has your favorite drawing been so far?