Yes, I’m still around, even if I’m hardly posting on any social media lately.
Life has gotten interesting around here, and I just haven’t been making my business a complete priority. I did take a couple hours this week to work on product photography:
I’m hoping to get the pics edited and uploaded to Etsy this week sometime; my new work computer didn’t have a memory card reader, so we had to order one. Now that it’s here, I can get new and improved (and rebranded approved!) product pictures in my store. Woo hoo!
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.
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.
When I was younger, I would go spend a day with my paternal grandparents on occasion. I’d ride into the city with my dad, and my Grandpa would pick me up where my dad worked. Our visits were always full of various adventures: eating yummy foods, visiting playgrounds or the zoo, and my favorite, painting with my Grandpa’s special paints.
My Grandpa loved to paint, and he loved teaching me new techniques or just watching as I painted away the afternoons at their dining room table. I always loved spending that time with him!
When I was in college and switched my major, my grandparents were the second ones I called. I remember how excited my grandpa was, yelling with excitement, inviting me over to go through his art supplies for anything I wanted. They helped put me through college, and have cheered me on every step of the way in opening my business and now being an illustrator as well.
My mom found these pictures while going through my grandparent’s things; they have recently moved into assisted living and no longer have space for a lot of their belongings. It’s hard seeing them get older, having them not be able to do a lot of things any more. It’s hard thinking about it.
But that is what is wonderful about pictures and mementos. They help us remember the happy times.
And this happy time will be getting framed for my office:
I’m going to get a little personal on the blog today. I know a few of you have been wondering where I am, why I’m not posting, if I’m doing okay.
I’m here, thank you for checking….but I have been under a lot of stress lately.
My schedule has been dictated by outside forces for the past month or so, and I have barely gotten any work done:
Boathouse 2 is sitting on my table, far behind the timeline I had laid out for myself.
Products are waiting to be photographed and listed in my Etsy shop.
Canvases are begging to be painted, varnished, framed.
And I just can’t seem to get these projects started, let alone finished with all this chaos in my crazy beautiful life.
But I have to give myself grace during this time. Things aren’t always going to get done on my schedule or in the time I want them to be done in, and I just have to learn to roll with the punches…I’m not very good at that 😉
I’ve decided that I can’t always do what I HAVE to get done. There has to be some time for fun and what I want to do! It helps ward off my crankies, too!
Monday nights will now be my time to do whatever art project I want, whether it be working on new jewelry, painting in my studio…things that I’m not taking time for during the rest of the week. It works out well as my hubby is usually gone on Monday nights, so I’m at home with the kiddos. As soon as they’re in bed, it’s art time!
Here’s a preview of last night’s studio time:
I spent some time doing a major reworking on this painting, and it finally clicked why it hadn’t worked out so well before!
Apparently it didn’t want to be the sky over a sand dune, but sky over the ocean instead! Once I listened, it worked out beautifully.
It’s now hanging in my living room so I can live with it for awhile before deciding if it needs further tweaking or if it’s ready to be finished. Once it’s finished, off to art festivals and Etsy it will go!
Do you have trouble balancing the “want to do” with the “have to do,” or is it just me? Do you have any tips for me?
January has been a very busy month, and it’s not even half over yet. I’m finding it hard to find my balance after the holidays; I can’t seem to juggle my wife and mom duties with the house keeping, and then trying to run a full time business at the same time?
I’m getting burned out.
Don’t get me wrong, I loooove having so many projects to work on! Boathouse Book 2 is making fantastic progress, I’m working on two drawings, and trying to stay on top of the Etsy store, paperwork and new products….it’s just hard.
In order to try and stay on track and feel like I’m managing it all, I’ve planned out what I’ll be focusing on each day (one day is Boathouse, the next day is photographing and editing product pictures, then the following day is commissions, etc), and then taking each day and scheduling my time into one or two hour sections for each item on my list in hopes that it will all get done.
Well, somehow my Facebook memories app knew what I was going through. A year ago earlier this week, my sister-in-law Jen sent me a post about recharging your batteries. The author talks about sometimes it’s best to just put the to-do list aside and just do what you’re in the mood to do in order to get yourself back and ready to tackle that list.
After thinking about that article, I reworked my schedule to incorporate what I wanted: a morning in my studio to paint.
This is one of those pieces that was so much fun to plan, design and finish, but the whole starting and working on it was really really rough.
A year and a half ago, our friends Stephen and Vanessa were downsizing apartments and gave us their couch and love seat. As payment for the furniture, they asked if I would do a painting for their new place, and I happily agreed!
After a lot of meetings, reference image searches, and more planning, we finally agreed on what the piece was going to be: an 18″ x 24″ oil painting of some of their favorite fandoms. Stephen mentioned he wanted an epic feel for the piece; I’ve been calling it Epic ever since!
Medium: Watercolor, colored pencil, ink (marker and liquid), and graphite on watercolor paper
Size: 11″ x 14″ with a mat and frame, bringing it to a finished size of approximately 14″ x 18″
When: Spring/Summer 2015
Time to complete: This finished piece was off and on for a few months; overall the project took a year and a half
Thoughts on the piece: First of all, I can’t wait to design one for my husband and I! I had so much fun working on this piece, and combining various fandom references that don’t go together into one picture. It reminded me of the Disney Vault mural, and it made me happy.
Challenges: Oh man, trying this piece in oil paint was a nightmare.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOOVE painting in oils. However, I just do not have the technique or skill needed to make this piece as awesome as it was intended to be in oils. Every time I worked on it, I’d end up backtracking and redoing what I had done in the previous session. When I don’t have the opportunity just yet to get into my painting studio on a regular basis, that made things even harder.
When I started working on Boathouse color tests, I discovered I really really like colored pencil, watercolor and ink together; I can get great color and better detail with these mediums. I approached them about switching mediums, and they were totally flexible with whatever I wanted to do.
Also, I had finished the piece awhile ago. However, it was looking fairly flat and dull in just watercolor and colored pencils. I dug out my ink sticks that my husband bought for me on a whim, and the difference was amazing! The colors are really vibrant now.
Space ship: Serenity from the TV show Firefly
Mountains: The Misty Mountains from The Hobbit
Castle: Hogwarts from Harry Potter
Sleeping panda: Po from the Kung Fu Panda movies
Horse and boy: Shasta and Bree from The Horse and His Boy from The Chronicles of Narnia
Favorite part: How the whole piece works together! I was taking so many different reference images with different color schemes and trying to make it cohesive, and I’m happy with how it turned out.
Also, I love the way the mist turned out! I was terrified of attempting it. It was actually easy!
Least favorite part: There is one part where the ink dried before I could spread it out better. Ink is permanent when it dries, where watercolor can be persuaded to come up. I’m not going to tell you where the ink part is because it may drive Vanessa crazy too if she sees it, and I don’t want that 😉
Things I’ve learned:
– Oil paints are amazing if I’m doing soft abstract. Detail oriented pieces, not so much.
– I love ink! Ink and watercolor may just be my new favorite medium to work with.
– If you’ve been following this blog for any certain amount of time, you probably know that I love to include fun details into my work. This piece is no exception:
– I’ll be using a very similar technique for the Boathouse illustrations!
How the piece is displayed: Thanks for sharing a picture of it hung up, Vanessa!
Product availability: Available as prints by special request!
***This post originally published November 25th, 2014***
Here’s the latest mural completed!
Size: Approximately 4 square feet
Medium: Acrylic paint
Time to complete: 4 hours! It’s unusual for me to complete any piece of art in an afternoon, especially a mural!
History behind the piece: My friend Cheryl and her family are finishing up a spare room and turning it into a home theater room. Once the walls in the room were up, there was this strip of wall right when you entered the room that Cheryl thought would be perfect for a sign. As we’ve been designing another mural to go in that room, I was asked to design a theater mural sign as well.
Thought process: While discussing the project, Cheryl mentioned the possibility of a marquee sign, which I thought was brilliant! I ended up doing four different designs, but the marquee one was by far my favorite. That was the final choice for them as well, with only one minor change: change the color of the lettering. Easy!
Problems with the piece: This one was actually fairly simple, but I had to change how I went about painting it. Originally I was going to go over for an hour and paint in the red border and then go back after a couple days, put down tape on the border, and then roll paint the gray background in, giving me nice crisp lines. However, because we live in western New York and had all that snow, we had to keep postponing my painting sessions. I didn’t want to leave them with a partially painted mural for a really long time, so I hand painted everything in. It’s not as crisp, but it’s not too bad 🙂
Another thing that was difficult is this mural is like 10 feet off the ground, so I had to be on a ladder the whole time. As I told my husband, this was my conquering fear as I hate being close to the ceiling as it makes me feel claustrophobic. However, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and when I went back to put the sealer on the mural, I wasn’t nervous at all!
Favorite part: Everything! I think it turned out great. I really do like the lights, though. It really makes the whole thing pop!
Least favorite part: The ‘L’s in Hollands. I think the vertical parts should be thicker to balance with the other letters.
– Not only is Cheryl the mother of my daughter’s best friend, she also graduated high school with my husband! What a small world 🙂
– The letters were yellow in the original design. Cheryl’s husband asked for them to be changed to black, and I thought he was crazy. I thought they’d be too dark and it would look awkward, but as soon as I started putting them in, I fell in love with them. I think it lets the other areas of the mural have their part and the letters aren’t as over powering when they’re black. Great choice, Dan!
Once the room is finished, I’ll be able to get in and do the second mural. Look for progress updates on my Facebook page and then the final reveal here on the blog!
This project has just been amazing. All the planning, designing, tweaking, more planning and designing, and waiting has all paid off, and I think all the work and wait was definitely worth it!
Time to complete: Approximately 32 hours over 8 working days in exactly one month’s time, but that’s just for me doing the actual mural. I think we started planning this about a year ago!
Problems with this piece: Getting Jiminy Cricket’s face just right was hard! Also I’m not familiar at all with Eilonwy, so I really struggled with trying to get her likeness.
Favorite part: Seriously, I don’t know. I love how it looks now that it’s sealed; the characters just pop and all the colors are more vibrant. I love how both Merida and the Up house balloons turned out; both of those were two things I was most concerned about. Oh, and how excited the Hollands family was about each stage in the process!
Least favorite part: Finishing it. It was so much fun, and I’m sorry to see it done (even though it’s really exciting seeing about a year’s worth of designing and planning pay off!). But as for the actual mural, I think that there are parts I’m not as satisfied with, but I really think it turned out well.
– There was no green paint actually used on this mural. I’m sure I just confused everyone! But I was silly and when I was buying supplies, there was no big thing of green paint. By the time I went to look at smaller green paints, I had forgotten all about my need for green. I had to hand mix all the greens!
– Mike Wazowski is the only character that did not change his pose or placement on the mural. Cheryl wanted him on the mural, and thought it’d be fun to cover him up, just like he’s always covered up on a commercial or magazine cover in Monsters, Inc.
– Merida and Lightning McQueen are the two characters which inspired me to make a scene for the mural instead of having the characters just float around. The Flying Carpet with Alice and Eilonwy having a picnic using Mrs. Potts and Chip idea sealed the deal 🙂
– Getting this mural started was tricky; as with the other mural I did for their theater room, the first couple days I tried to get over to work had to be cancelled due to a snow storm!
– This may not be the last you see of this mural! There’s still some space for future Disney characters to get featured 🙂
– I totally cheated when doing the “Disney Vault 264” sign on the mural! I made a template, traced it, and then filled in the background color. To get the inside shapes, I just cut them out of the template and used it as a stencil!
– This was the biggest project Cheryl and I have worked together on. I’ve done various little projects for her, and then the two murals for the family. She is one of the most creative people I know, and I just get to come along and make her dreams a reality!
Characters included, with their movies:
Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio
The house with balloons from Up
Rapunzel and Pascal from Tangled
The Three Fairies from Sleeping Beauty
Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University
Woody and Bullseye from the Toy Story movies
Lightning McQueen from the Cars movies
Alicefrom Alice in Wonderland
Eilonwy and Gurgi from The Black Cauldron
Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty and the Beast
The Flying Carpet from Aladdin
Pongo and Perdita from 101 Dalmations
And finally, the big reveal….
Missed an update post? Click here to see them all!
What is your favorite part of the mural? Which Disney characters would you have included?
I spent about 6 hours working on it today; most of the work had me crouched down pretty low or even laying on the floor 🙂 I will be heading back next week to finish erasing pencil marks and then seal it. I think my youngest will miss this project; he loves getting to watch movies in their theater room!
Before doing the final reveal, here are some more progress images. Today I…
painted a rock wall while laying on the floor…
added a couple cute doggies…
blocked in a couple pretty ladies…
finished a Wonderful girl (I’m sorry the pic is blurry)…
and a princess…
and a cowboy…
and added some fun details that I’ll share in the full reveal next week!