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.

Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: Hogwarts”

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:

Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: Lassie”

Behind the Scenes: The Last Homely House

This piece has been a labor of love.

It has been one of the most taxing, most detailed, and time consuming pieces I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on.

But even with all the difficulties, it has also been one of my favorite pieces. I love the subject matter and just seeing all the detail sets my heart soaring.

Art is my happy place!

But back to the reveal:


Title: The Last Homely House (Rivendell)

Medium: Graphite on paper

Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: The Last Homely House”

Throwback Thursday: The Well

***This post originally published on January 1, 2015***

Here’s a piece from a couple years ago…

Title: The Well

Size: I think it’s 11″ x 14″

Medium: Graphite on paper

When: Between April and June of 2012

Time to complete: I don’t remember; probably between 10 and 15 hours

Purpose: My friend Sarah won the drawing certificate that year in our church’s annual mission’s auction. You can see the winning pieces from the other year’s certificates here.

Thought process: It was very straight forward; Sarah pretty much knew what she wanted, so I just had to draw!

Problems I encountered: Sarah wanted sun beams to come through the tree, and that was pretty tricky to accomplish. Getting a good contrast between dark and light was hard in this drawing as well!

Fun tidbits: The Prinzi’s are great friends of ours, so I included a little inscription on the back of the drawing

This is the first piece I’ve done for Sarah and her family. The house drawing is also theirs, and I’m currently working on a painting for them as well!

Favorite part: I really like how the tree leaves turned out!

Least favorite part: Getting the grape vines and leaves to stand out enough, yet not overpower the well was tricky. I’m still not satisfied with how they turned out!

Product availability: Prints are available in my Etsy shop here.

What would you choose as subject matter for a drawing?

Projects and Illustrations Update

The past couple of weeks have been awesome! I’ve been really busy working on a few great projects, and thought I’d share some pictures in progress:
Project #1: Epic
I’m not sure what this piece will be called yet, but we’ve been referring to it as “Epic”, so that might just stay as the title 🙂 It’s hard to show previews and talk about this piece without giving it away, but it’s going to be a drawing/watercolor painting mixed media piece of awesomeness, and will feature key characters/locations from favorite books and movies.

This project has been in the works for over a year. It was originally going to be an oil painting, but I’ve been struggling trying to get all the detail in with oil. It just wasn’t working for me; I felt like I was losing all the detail and it wasn’t looking as amazing as the piece deserved to loo. I went back to the people who commissioned the piece and asked if a watercolor drawing would be okay instead, and they were totally on board with that 🙂

Project #2: Rivendell, the second in the Lord ofthe Rings series

Well, I’m getting my geek on with this piece as well as the “Epic” piece! After completing A Bastion Against the Darkness (Minas Tirith), I started compiling a list of other Lord of the Rings and Hobbit locations in hopes of doing a series of these drawings. One of my top picks was definitely Rivendell, but doing it as seen in the Hobbit movies.

I had a meeting with the winners of my gift certificate from this year’s auction, and guess what they chose as their piece?

Rivendell from The Hobbit!

It’s slow going as there is soooo much detail, but the going is easy so far (knock on wood!).

Project #3: My favorite anthropomorphic animal, Boathouse!

Have you seen on Facebook or on RV’s blog our big announcement? We have a tentative launch date for Book 1! We are hoping to have it available as early as September. I’m making great progress with the last few sketches; I’m sure it probably sounds like I keep saying that, but I keep tweaking each picture, adding more detail, making sure each piece is accurate. It’s a long process, but I know that from here on out I’ll have a better idea of what the process will look like and it’ll go soooo much faster!

To see RV’s blog post about the release date, check it out here! Make sure you keep checking back here, on my Facebook page, and RV’s blog for more updates as they happen 🙂

I’m also reworking part of my website, signing up for more online art classes that I’ll take this summer, sending out applications for more festivals, and keeping up with house/wife/mom/babysitter duties. Just over a week from now, school will be out, my daycare will closed for good, and I’ll be full time working on my art! It’s very bittersweet.

Which of these three projects are you most excited about seeing completed? Let me know in the comments below!

Behind the Scenes: Milo the Dog

Here he is!

Milo finished

Title: Milo

Medium: Graphite on paper

Size: 8″ x 10″

When: End of May, early June 2014

Purpose: Commission by Missey Ewell for her husband, Gordy, as a Father’s Day gift

Time to complete: Off and on for about a week; the drawing probably only took 5-6 hours!

Milo eyes

History: At this year’s short term mission’s auction at church, Missey was trying to win my gift certificate for an 8″ x 10″ drawing of the winning bidder’s choice. She didn’t win, and I could see that she was a little frustrated. After talking to one of the chair people for the mission’s committee the following morning to make sure this was ok, I approached Missey and said if she was willing to make a donation to the mission’s auction, I was willing to do her drawing for her. Everyone was on board, and that’s how this drawing got started!

Thought process: This was pretty straight forward; Missey and her son took pictures of Milo and sent me a bunch to choose from (thankfully we all loved the same pose!), and then I drew him. Easy peasy 🙂

Milo ear 2

Problems I encountered: This drawing was actually pretty easy. Getting the perspective of the face just right was a little tricky, but once I started getting some shading in I was able to tweak everything to make it look the way it should.

Oh, and the nose. Oh man oh man the nose. Have you ever really looked at a dog nose before? They are so weird looking! Drawing dog noses are tricky, just so you know. It would have been easier if I hadn’t lost my kneaded eraser (I can mold it into whatever shape I need, and it also is a very gentle eraser so it is great for only doing light erasing), so there was a lot of going back and forth with erasing and adding graphite back in to get it look the right shape.

Milo nose

Favorite part: Everything. Is that possible? Okay, not everything. I think seeing Missey’s expression when I showed her previews at church one morning was priceless. I just love how the drawing turned out. I think this is my best drawing that I’ve done, so I’m just really pleased with how it turned out.

Milo ear 1

Least favorite part: Handing it over. I got really attached to this drawing, but I know that it’ll be treasured for years to come, so that makes it easier. Plus I have pictures, so it’s all good 🙂

I also think I should have done more with the grass against the leg to make it look like the leg was more in the grass. You know me, a perfectionist!

Milo leg

Questions: This was asked over and over again by some of my babysitting kids:

How do you get it to look like it’s actually fur/grass? Did it take forever to draw those?

It’s mostly just shading and tricking the eye to think it sees fur or grass. It’s really quite quick to do; actually sketching the dog in and getting the original sketch to look right was more frustrating and time consuming!

Milo collar

Fun tidbits: This is actually the second dog I’ve drawn that’s been commissioned by the wife as a gift to her husband. Both have been so much fun to do, and the other dog will be featured on my Throwback Thursday post in just a couple weeks! I’m finding I love drawing the dogs. I’m thinking I’m going to have to try a cat to see if they’re as fun to do. Or a long haired dog; both dogs have been short haired, so that’s pretty easy. Maybe one of my cats or my dog will be a model for me someday!


Have you ever thought about having a drawing done of your pet?

Throwback Thursday: The Prinzi House

Here’s this week’s Throwback Thursday piece!


Title: Untitled (The Prinzi House)

Medium: Graphite on paper

Size: 11″ x 14″

When: Late summer/early fall 2013

Purpose: Commissioned by the Shermans

Time to complete: Actual drawing time was 2 weeks; there was a lot of planning and waiting before I could start drawing.

History: This was commissioned by some friends of ours after they won my certificate in our church’s 2013 short term missions auction (see the 2014 piece here!). They were so excited they won, and instead of having me do a drawing for them, they wanted me to draw a mutual friend’s new house that was in the process of being built. This house process had been a huge, stressful ordeal for the friend’s family, and they wanted to do something really special for them as a housewarming gift.

Thought process: This piece was pretty straight forward. We knew we wanted the front of the house, make it sunny with a few happy clouds, and remove the neighboring houses from view in the picture.

Problems I encountered: This piece took a long time to get a concept for. We had to wait for the house to be built, get windows and doors installed, siding put on, roof completed…I worked on the drawing bit by bit, and thankfully my husband works a few minutes away from the house; I sent him over to the house multiple times to get pictures of progress so I could keep working!

Getting the different shades of gray were hard. When I took the digital photos and edited them into gray scale, the sky and siding colors blended in. I had to push the sky a little darker and the siding a little lighter than it should be in order for it to be defined enough.


The windows were a pain as well. All those little lines on the windows were so hard to keep straight and equal width! I’m so thankful for my eraser pencil; I think that’s the only thing that kept me sane while finishing the windows up.

Favorite part: Handing it over to our friends during their housewarming party was the highlight! Seeing their excitement and then having them hang it up right then was just an amazing feeling. They worked so hard to get this house done, and had so many bumps in the road during this journey that having something to commemorate the experience was just awesome.

Lease favorite part: I don’t know if I have a least favorite part. That’s a nice change of pace!


Have you ever had a special photograph or drawing done of your house?

My first commission as Back to the Drawing Board!

Here’s my first piece finished under the Back to the Drawing Board name! Woo hoo!

Final drawing
Ta da!!!! 🙂

Medium: Graphite pencil on paper

Size: 8″ x 10″; framed with a mat to be 11″ x 14″

Purpose: Commissioned by the Sobles

Time to complete: Approximately 10-12 hours over a two week period.

History: Every year our church has an auction and all the proceeds benefit short term missions trips for the year. The motto for the auction is “Bid High, Bid Often!”, and it’s always so much fun to attend, even if you’re not interested in buying anything (which is crazy, as they always have amazing things there!). This was my third year putting in a certificate for an unframed 8″ x 10″ drawing of the winning bidder’s choice. The past two years the certificates have done really well, and this year was no let down. It’s always a jumble of emotions for me to watch people bid on my certificate; it’s exciting to see that people like my art, yet humbling to see people try to outbid each other while the price tag keeps rising. This piece is what was requested by the winning bidders; it is my third drawing for this couple, and this one is for their grandson’s bedroom.

Thought process: When I heard that they wanted a Noah’s ark, I immediately thought of the traditional side view of the ark with just a couple animal heads poking over the side. I knew I didn’t want to do something super traditional, but still have it be recognizable as the ark. Thankfully the winning bidders were more than happy to give me complete freedom with the drawing, so I felt comfortable doing something slightly different than what first popped into my head.

After doing some looking around on my friend the internet, I found some pictures of “real” arks. They all looked different, but all recognizable as an ark. The one I liked most is the one that I used as a model for the one in my picture; slightly turned, facing the viewer. I changed a few things about the boat, mostly cutting off half of it as I never feel like the ark is big enough to hold all the animals, and I didn’t want to be looking at my drawing thinking the ark was the wrong size. Yay for artistic license!

I also took artistic license with the timing of the scene. When the dove comes down with the olive branch, Noah is actually run aground, not floating in all the water. I thought visually it was a little bit more interesting to see the water rather than rock. I could have done it a couple different ways: 1) cut off the bottom of the drawing so you don’t see either the rock or the water, and then keeping with the story, or 2) not put the dove in. Neither of those were options for very long. In my initial sketches, not having the bottom of the boat just made it look weird compositionally. I really wanted the dove in the picture as I always feel hopeful when I get to that part of the story. Noah, his family, and all the animals have been cramped in a boat for so long, and being claustrophobic, I think I would have gone crazy and started questioning God’s provision (because I’m human, I’d forget he provided me a boat and I could either be cramped there and alive or dead under all that water). The dove returning with that olive branch meant there was land somewhere, that relief would be coming soon.

Dove detail

Problems I encountered: None! Ha, how I wish. Okay, some pictures of arks have round fronts (is it a hull?), some have pointy fronts, and some are flat. As you can tell, I have no idea what different parts of the boats are. My friends at Mission Navigation are probably shaking their heads at me (sorry guys!). I personally can’t stand the flat ones; it doesn’t make sense to me how it would cut through water and move, but then all this boat really had to do was just float and keep humanity and the animal kingdom from going extinct, right? Well, I wanted to do a round front. I really really did. But any time I tried drawing it round, it just looked like it was tipping over and sinking. It was a sad, sad, pitiful ark. I had to make it flatter just so it would look like a sound and sturdy ark that could withstand the weather!

Boat hull detail

Another problem was keeping all the animals in perfect proportion to each other. My initial sketch for the final drawing had them in, but as I was drawing them in, it didn’t always work out that way. And yes, the giraffes are supposed to be two different heights; they looked funny when they were roughly the same height 🙂

Giraffe detail

The hardest part of the drawing was trying to get enough detail into each animal to make it recognizable, but still have it look clean. I think the tiger, monkeys, and lemur were the hardest to do! Trying to draw these beautiful and complex animals on such a small scale was pretty challenging. I think they all turned out okay, though!

Something I didn’t notice until this morning while I was editing photos was that there was something on our camera lens last night that I never noticed while weeding out the blurry pictures, but it’s standing out like  a sore thumb this morning. If you notice a random dark dot in some pictures, it’s just stuff from the camera lens, not part of the drawing. *sigh*.

Fun tidbits: The dog in the front is a cross between my two dogs growing up. It’s the size and shape of my dog, Shadow, but the coloring of our other dog, Kira. Dogs had to be on the ark somewhere, so I used two of my favorite dogs ever as my model.

Elephant detail

Oh, I’m also terrified of snakes, but I saw on one picture online where they had a snake climbing up part of the front of an ark. That creeped me out a little but fascinated me at the same time, so I have this one kind of resting instead on the side of the boat. He’s a friendly, happy, sleepy snake. Or as my husband says, a sea sick snack. Try saying that ten times fast!  😉

It is impossible for me to even think of lemurs without getting a lemur song stuck in my head from when my daughter was little. My mom, daughter and I used to watch a show called Zoboomafoo or something like that. Anyway, the two guys on the show had a lemur for a sidekick, and one day they celebrated lemur day. They had this very random song to honor the day with, and it gets stuck in my head very easily.

Roof detail

My favorite part of the piece: Hmm…I really like the monkey holding onto the flag (the idea, more than the finished product) and I really like how the zebra turned out.

My least favorite part of the piece: I’m still frustrated I couldn’t get the front of the boat just right. And the moose antlers; I can’t get them quite right, either. The problems of perfectionism!

Lion detail

Questions on the piece: One question I was asked frequently as people saw the piece in progress was if I was including the rainbow or not. If this had been a painting, I probably would have tried to include it. But as a graphite pencil drawing, trying to get all the various gradations of color and have it still be clear enough without looking funny was just going to be too much stress for me. I would have loved to include it, but I also wanted the piece to look really nice, too!

Signature detail
I love putting my signature on a piece; it means it’s done!

Anything else?: The animals on the boat with Noah are monkeys, lemur, parrot, zebra, toucan, elephants, dog, polar bear, lion, moose, domestic cat, serval cat, boa constrictor, giraffes, and a tiger. Thank you for all your suggestions on Facebook about what animals to use! It’s amazing how when you’re concentrating on a piece your mind just blanks. Now that I’m done I have a huge long list of animals I could use, which is great as I’ll be starting another Noah’s art drawing soon for one of my friends.

Product availability: Available as a print in my Etsy shop here.

What animal would you have chosen to put on the ark?