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?

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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?

Sick Day Painting

My youngest was home for a couple days this past week with a fever. After what felt like his thousandth movie, he decided he was bored and was looking for a change of scenery. He loves to paint, and as I was behind in Boathouse illustrating, I suggested breaking out our watercolors. He jumped at the chance, and we got to work.

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Sick day snuggles

It was so much fun watching him be creative! He puts colors together that I wouldn’t think of, puts more detail and thought into each painting than I would imagine, and even watching him try to work through his struggles inspires me.

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My Most Challenging Commission To Date

Usually when I get a commission, I’ll have some sort of idea of how challenging it will be. There may be aspects of it that I’ll expect to be easy, and others that I’ll know will be harder. Most of the time I’m fairly close in my assessments, and there will be some areas that will surprise me a little bit.

But this one? This one was completely off base.

This was my biggest jewelry commission to date: 6 cardinal necklaces, with 3 oval pendants with my current Cardinal design, and 3 round pendants with a new Cardinal desgin. I assumed that it would be pretty straight forward and simple: make up a new cardinal painting, print out both cardinal paintings as smaller pieces, glue them to the glass domes, insert into the metal trays, and boom, done.

Easy peasy, right?

So very, very, wrong.

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Behind the Scenes: Horses

I hate letting my customers down. I really do.

When I say I’ll have a piece done by such and such date, I do my best to make it happen. Usually it works out well, but there are times where life decides to get in the way.

I got this commission around the same time I was asked to do Lassie. They were both on track to be finished by the appropriate date, but if you recall from the Lassie reveal, life happened and I hurt my drawing hand. Both pieces were forced to go on the back burner for a lot longer than I had hoped while I healed.

Finally, I healed, was able to finish both pieces, and then had to wait and wait until this one was hand delivered a few days ago before revealing her. It’s been a long time coming to get here, and I’m pleased to share with you this drawing:

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Behind the Scenes: Lassie

Waaay back in April of this year, our church held it’s annual short term missions auction. I entered a gift certificate for an 8 x 10 unframed drawing again, and anxiously awaited it to sell so I could start planning a new drawing.

This year was a little different; normally, the certificate will sell, and I will have absolutely no idea what the drawing will be until I meet with the winner (like any normal commission I do). However, I knew what it would be before the winner even was presented the certificate.

Don and Linda are dear friends of ours at church. Earlier this year, they lost their beloved sheltie, Lassie. As soon as I saw Linda bidding on the certificate, I knew I’d be doing another pet portrait if she won:

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Behind the Scenes: Lieutenant Promotion

One of the highlights of my job is that I get to help my customers create that one-of-a-kind gift for special occasions. I’ve done pieces for birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day, and new houses, but now I can say I’ve done a piece for a promotion!

Almost a year ago, my friend Cheryl contacted me about doing a drawing for her husband who was expecting a promotion to lieutenant in the police force. We talked about various options for the drawing’s layout, and hoped to have it ready for Christmas as long as the promotion came through. The promotion ended up being delayed, so we aimed for his birthday in January. When that deadline came and went, we put the project on the backburner.

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Office Tour

When I’m talking to someone about my work, my office tends to come up in the conversation. I think people’s reactions are usually one of two things: 1) how in the world can I fit an office into our small house, or 2) an office, so fancy!!!!!

My office space isn’t much, but it suits my needs for now. And, since it is clean (or was clean when I took the pictures…), I thought I’d take you all on a little tour!

Welcome to my office!
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It’s about a third of our finished basement space; the other part is the kid’s playroom area. Excuse the curtain panel hanging down in the middle of the view; it’s there for when the kids have friends over, we close up the curtains and it helps detract them from going over into my space.

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