Drawing a Day Challenge

I’ve been toying around with a crazy idea lately, and I think I’ve finally convinced myself to try it: I’m going to do a complete graphite pencil drawing a day for a month.

Before you get to thinking that I’ll be doing these huge drawings every day while ignoring all my other responsibilities, do not fear! I will be doing small drawings, only 5×7. They’re still big enough to get detail in them, but small enough that I should be able to take only a couple hours to get them done.


I see some of my friends doing various challenges, from getting rid of a few things every day for a month to vlogging every day for a month, and I think it kind of looks like fun. It also looks like a ton of work, not going to lie 😉
I also want to get better at drawing, to really tweak my skills. And, as the old saying goes…practice makes perfect! Or hopefully in my case, at least better!

I’m thinking I might do this in February. Partly because it’s the shortest month of the year (less drawings!), but I should hopefully be wrapping up Boathouse 3 at that point, and will need a break before diving into book 4 (although after reading the first draft, I don’t know how well I’ll be able to wait!).

Here’s where I need your help: February has 28 days in it, which means 28 drawings. I need ideas of what to draw! I’ve started compiling a list of suggestions, but I need to know what you think I should draw. It can be silly, serious, random, you name it, it’s going on the list! I’ve gotten quite a few suggestions so far, from trees and unicorns, to Doctor Who and my dog, so seriously, it can be anything.

My daughter had the best idea:

P: “You should draw a heart, Mom.”
Me: “Umm, like a human heart?”
P: “No, just a heart.”
Me: “Like a normal every day heart?
“P: “Yeah. You’re going to be drawing something every day, you’ll need an easy day. So just draw a heart!”

So sweet, love her! ❤

Now, not everything will end up being a drawing, I’ll be choosing which ones to do in the end, or maybe just choosing them like names from a hat, it really depends on how many ideas I get.


And yes, I’ve already been asked, but all of the drawings will end up being for sale, and some may even end up as prints. One suggestion will probably even be a Christmas card design next year! The only exception is one specific drawing I’ll be doing; it’s the only one I know for sure that will be a drawing. It will either be for me to keep or for me to give, but that’s just because of the subject matter. And no, I’m not telling you what it will be just yet!

Each drawing will be posted on Facebook at the end of the day, put up on my Etsy store for purchasing, and will be featured here either that day or the following day (depending on my schedule).

So let me know what you think I should draw, and be on the look out for more details coming soon!!!!


Wyoming Library Mural Reveal!

Drum roll please!

Here she is:

The main mural
The Wyoming mural

Medium: Mixed media; primarily acrylic paint, but there is some marker and colored pencil.

Size: The main mural is 64 square feet and the Wyoming mural is 20 square feet.

When: July and August 2014

Purpose: To brighten up the library and to promote my art.

Time to complete: Preparing the wall was about 10 hours. Painting the mural was between 30-35 hours.

Thought process: Once I had the library board’s approval for doing this mural and which wall they wanted it on, I began browsing the internet to see what other libraries had done for murals. I knew I wanted something with books and various characters, but couldn’t exactly use licensed characters due to copyright infringement. One mural I saw had various sections, and dividing two of the sections was this really cool swirly design. It made me think of book pages flipping, which is how the big book part of the mural came to be.

Originally I had four sections of the mural: children’s books, nonfiction, and classics, but the fourth section was blank and I couldn’t think of anything else to go in there. Nothing seemed right, so I changed the design to the three sections that you see today.

Also, in the first concept design for the children’s section, I had a lamp post in there for the Chronicles of Narnia. I was afraid that people may confuse that with the gaslights in the Wyoming village (we’re known for our gaslights, which have been retrofitted for electricity). I sadly had to take that part out, but when I was measuring the wall for dimensions, the librarian said I could use the little patch of wall next to the big wall if I wanted. I mentioned the gaslight to her, and then all these other ideas started popping into my head: what about an owl as our library is part of the OWWL system? Oh, and the AppleUmpkin festival every September! We’re known for that! I have to include that somehow! And that’s how the Wyoming mural was born 🙂 I was afraid that no one would make the connections between the apples and pumpkins or even the owl, but when I took the kids in this morning for story hour and to finish touch ups, there was a group of people admiring the mural who knew what everything stood for right away 🙂

In the children’s section, we have the fox and gingerbread man from The Gingerbread Man, Humpty Dumpty, a caterpillar referring to The Hungry Caterpillar, a hidden garden door for The Secret Garden, a tree house for The Magic Treehouse series, the beanstalk and castle in the clouds for Jack and the Beanstalk, Mary Poppins sitting in the clouds, and Peter Pan with the Darling children.

The Secret Garden door is hiding behind the fox :)
The Secret Garden door is hiding behind the fox 🙂

In the nonfiction section we have a dinosaur, the Titanic, the Eiffel tower, a NASA space shuttle, a toucan, and a biplane.



In the classics section, there is Sherlock Holmes, a deserted island for Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, or any of the many classics that have a deserted island), Gandalf riding an eagle from The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings books, a hot air balloon from Around the World in 80 Days, Moby Dick, and a windmill from Don Quixote.


Problems I encountered: The original design called for a wall wider than it was tall; there were more characters in each section as I could make the book bigger, but unfortunately the wall is a square. I had to go back to the drawing board and rework the design.

Another problem was getting enough light into the space. The overhead light isn’t reliable, so I ended up having to bring in my own light and move it around as needed.

Overall, I’m really happy with how little difficulties I had. For a piece this size, a lot could have gone wrong, especially as I worked a lot while patrons were coming in and out of the library. It was pretty smooth sailing!

Fun tidbits: I am in need of a new tiny tiny tiny paintbrush, so all the tiny lines (on the biplane, the fox’s whiskers, the ropes on the hot air balloon) are all done in colored pencil. The caterpillar’s eyes are done in paint and permanent marker!

Favorite part: Everyone’s excitement about the piece! I’ve had people almost in tears seeing their favorite characters on the wall, I’ve had kids jumping up and down excited about the dinosaur and space shuttle, and one library patron almost begged me to do murals around the rest of the library. Everyone loves it, and just seeing people get excited about these characters from their books is exactly what I was looking for.

Least favorite part: There are some parts that I wish turned out better, but I don’t think there’s any part I really hate. I do wish the pumpkins and grass weren’t so flat looking, but I spent over an hour trying to fix them with no success.


Where is Jack? You have the beanstalk and castle, but no Jack!

I think I’ve lost count as to how many times I was asked this question! I honestly didn’t feel like the mural needed Jack for viewers to understand what the beanstalk and castle were from. However, because I’ve been asked so much, Jack is inside the castle, hiding from the giant 🙂

Did you design this yourself, or are you copying someone else’s idea/art/mural?

I did design this myself. Most of the murals/designs online are characters all interacting together or coming up out of a single closed or open book, almost like a genie coming out of his magic lamp, but from what I can tell, this take on the characters in a book is unique 🙂

Anything else?

I did not include all the pictures of each individual character here. The post would have been too long. I will be posting a link later to my Facebook album where the more in depth pictures will be 🙂

And we can’t forget the before and after shots!

Mural area, before
Big wall, before


Big wall, after!
Small wall
Wyoming mural wall before
Wyoming mural wall after


What would you have included in the mural? What do you think of the before and after shots?

Throwback Thursday: Flower Garden Mural

This week’s throwback is a piece that a lot of people loved and remember…and unfortunately my computer has eaten the finished picture! Once I find it again, I’ll post it right here. For now, here’s an almost finished picture of it:

This is the completed back row; in front went daisies, daffodils, and johnny jump ups. The hummingbird went in above the two purpley-blue irises.

Title: Mom’s Flower Garden

Medium: Acrylic paint on wall

Size: About 4 feet wide and 3 feet high, maybe a little bit bigger than that.

When: Summer 2003

Purpose and History: At that time, I was in my summer vacation between freshman and sophomore years of college. I’d only had one art class under my belt, and it was just my Intro to Art class. My boyfriend’s mom didn’t have a window over her kitchen sink, and she always wanted to look at flowers while washing her dishes. I was commissioned to do a flower garden mural on the wall above the sink that summer!

Mural in progress!
Mural in progress!

Time to complete: I stayed at their house for about a week; I think it took about 40 or so hours of painting. I think it would have gone quicker if I knew what I was doing, but I hadn’t taken any painting classes yet, so I didn’t know how to paint properly.

Problems I encountered: Not knowing some painting tips and tricks for mixing colors, painting quickly, or even shading properly was a challenge. Also, leaning over a counter was awkward at times.

Fun tidbits: The hummingbird was not part of the original design. I thought the space above the flowers was looking empty, and I knew my boyfriend’s mom loved hummingbirds, so I put that in as a surprise for her 🙂


My boyfriend’s mom is now my mother-in-law, hence the title saying Mom 😀

Looking at these pictures is like a blast from the past in many ways: the cupboards and counters are different colors now, the cups are no longer hanging from the cupboard, and the light has changed as well! The look of the mural changed with the changes of the kitchen; I’m sad I don’t have a picture of it after they redid their kitchen.

Favorite part: I loved how bright the mural made the kitchen! Just those pops of color was a big impact.

Least favorite part: How flat each flower looked. I didn’t mix the colors, with the exception of the irises. Flowers should have more colors in them, and if I were to repaint the garden, the colors would be the first thing I would change!

Here you can see how flat the gladioli looked (upper left), and the daisies and daffodils at the bottom.

Anything else?

This mural is no longer around. When the counter top was replaced, the wall was damaged. Although my father-in-law tried to fix it, the wall ended up needing to be fully repaired in such a way that the mural had to come down 😦

The awesome and amazing news about that is that this month I will be painting a brand new mural for them! It’s going to take up the entire space from before, plus go all the way to the wall (not pictured). It’s going to be over 18 square feet (much smaller than the library mural), but it’s going to be awesome. Look for those pictures and posts soon!


What would you paint over your kitchen sink?

Wyoming Library Mural, Part 2

If you’re new to this project, Part 1 can be viewed here 🙂


Once we had the furniture moved to other parts of the library, it was time to take the shelf down. I needed my husband for that project, and let’s just say it wasn’t easy. We basically destroyed part of the shelf and a good couple chunks of the wall (unintentionally!) because in order to take the shelf off the wall, you had to dismantle the shelf brackets. We didn’t know that, so we basically had to pry and eventually rip the brackets off the wall, and as they were lag bolted in, huge holes were made in the wall. I knew it would be a pain to patch, but we found some awesome self-stick drywall patches at Home Depot that worked amazingly!

The wall all patched up!

I’m crazy, and love to patch walls. I like taking things that look awful and make them look pretty again. However, the whole sanding the patches are not my favorite. I always think they’re smooth like the wall, but they aren’t. Thankfully, the parts that aren’t super smooth are going to be covered with various parts of the mural and it won’t be super easy to see them (or at least I can hope!).

Priming the wall was super easy, and painting was pretty uneventful. However, it’s important when you go to paint a wall that you remember to bring your roller covers. If you happen to forget them, you’ll have to go back home, search for them, find them where they fell off and behind table where they were supposed to be, and then drive back to the library, wasting a good 30 minutes of painting time. Also, it was humid that day, so the paint was taking forever to dry between coats.

One coat of primer on!
One coat of primer on!

Problems I’m encountering:

The lighting doesn’t exactly work very well in the entryway of the library. The overhead light will be on for about 15 minutes, and then it’ll shut off for 15. It makes seeing what I’m sanding, painting, or drawing pretty difficult. Thankfully there’s a floor lamp that I can move over to help, and I’ll be bringing in another lamp when I go to paint.

One coat of paint done, one to go…

I don’t know about you, but so far I think the change in the entryway is huge! I love how big the space feels. Now I just hope this mural turns out as well as I hope it will!


What do you think of the progress so far?

Wyoming Library Mural, Part 1

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll have noticed a lot of pictures over the past few weeks of a mural that I’ve been working on. I’ve been putting in a lot of hours patching, sanding, washing, painting, and sketching, all to get ready for this upcoming week when I finally get to start painting the actual mural. Yay!

A couple days ago I was thinking about how frustrated I was that I have all these projects going on, but I haven’t been able to post any blog posts on them as they’re all very time consuming pieces. That’s when an idea popped into my head: if DIY blogs post in progress posts when they’re redoing a room or a big project, then why can’t I do the same thing for this mural piece?

Mural area, before
The library entry, where the mural will be

How did this project come to be?

I love our local library. It’s small, but wonderful. I remember the first time we went to it, the librarian, Cheryl, was getting ready to close up, but she stayed open for us. She was extremely helpful, was willing to place holds on books through other libraries for us, and even said if there was a specific author we loved and she didn’t have it there, she’d actually order their books so we could take them out whenever we wanted. We left feeling awesome, and she was so personable that we knew we’d love our new library.

Fast forward a bit, and it’s January of 2012. We’d been getting to know Cheryl for a couple years now, and I was asked to join the library board. It was scary and intimidating and so exciting to be asked! My mom used to be a librarian’s assistant in my home town’s elementary school library, so I grew up volunteering there. When I went to college, I worked at the circulation desk or shelving at the campus’s library. Getting involved in a library again felt like I was coming home.

Big wall
The big wall

Like I mentioned before, our library is small. It has an even smaller budget. How our treasurer can pay all the bills on our tiny budget is a miracle. We’ve mentioned over the past couple years that we wanted to spruce up the library so it’s more up to date, has more color, and is just more welcoming to the public. We haven’t had the money to do that, so all those projects have just been set to the side.

When I started the process of making Back to the Drawing Board a business, I was on Pinterest one day looking at things, and I saw a quote hanging in a library. It was cute, colorful, and just awesome. Then it was almost like someone whispered in my ear “You should design and paint a mural for the library! For free! Donate your time!” And I was all like, noooooo, I don’t think so.

Small wall
The little wall

But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. So I pitched it to the librarian and the library board in such a way that they didn’t know I was going to do the painting. I didn’t want to be dishonest, but I wanted them to make sure they wanted it for the library, not just because I was going to do the mural.

They all seemed really excited about it, and here I am, working on a mural.

Furniture is moved, just waiting for the shelf to come down. The space looks so much bigger and brighter already!

What is the mural going to look like? How big is it?

The two walls combined will be a total of 84 square feet. The big wall is 64 square feet, and that will have a big book opening up to  children’s book characters, classical book characters, and some nonfiction items. The smaller wall is 20 square feet, and will have some objects important to either our town or the library. It’s going to be so colorful, and people are all ready getting excited about it, just from the drawings!


Part 2 can be viewed here.