Posts in Category "Create"

A fall afternoon in the studio

Sweet autumn’s days of sun and extended summer benediction are nearing to a close…


Elephant sketches! Can’t say a lot about the current book project just yet, but it does require watching videos of baby elephants.  Tough job.  Some animals are more challenging than others, and somehow elephants are one of those!  The leg joints are especially tricky, but studying their bone structure has been a big help.

Another work in progress: A prototype for a new planner – in an old Moleskine!


For a few years I’ve tested out Moleskine daily planners, my little black notebook, and this year I’ve been using NeuYear‘s Dominator (which are all worth-while tools).  But the the Dominator’s daily columns ended up being too narrow for my style, and while I just loved Moleskine’s thin paper, I missed the monthly calendars.  So, I’m back to a plain notebook, but this time in a larger size with extra writing space whenever I need it.  Drawing my own calendars still holds it’s irresistible charm over me as it did the previous two years, so here’s to a new venture!

I love learning about others’ planning tools and work flow.  Systems, y’all.  It’s an INFJ thing.

And speaking of systems, I’m currently inspired by illustrator Christopher Denise’s work process:
Read his interview on All Creativelike
And on his blog he shares about his latest book’s development. I’ve ordered my own copy and can’t wait to soak up every illustration.

Also enjoying:
Audrey Assad on YouTube, and Two Benedictions
How to Discourage Artists in Church, from the Gospel Coalition

Sally Clarkson and Kristen Kill’s new podcast! (Great for single ladies as well as mothers!!)

What work inspiration have you been enjoying lately?

A little reminder


Some days I need a little reminder from my friend, Mani:
“Perfection is the enemy of completion.”

Sometimes we creatives want to finish a piece and make it “presentable.” Knowing that other people are going to see our work somehow puts pressure on us. What we end up doing is wasting time “improving” something that was most beautiful at it’s first blush. That sketch? It already has a life of it’s own.

Learn to stop the fuss and step away. You’re done. You’re welcome.

Book recommendation: This summer I read Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like an Artist” and “Show Your Work“—I highly encourage you to read them both. If you’re looking for ways to improve your creative side and share what you’ve been making, these are for you!

Revisiting the Library


I sold my last “Library” print two weeks ago and it *almost* feels like the end of an era. I’ve had a stack of this print from when I first started my Etsy shop back in 2008, when we were using a local print shop. Has it really been seven years since I first painted “The Library”, and six since I started the shop? And now we’re printing from our home, using a beautiful, watercolor-like paper that honestly rivals the originals.

“The Library” has been a faithful piece, and well-loved. I think I’ll really miss the dear old thing. But no fear, “The Library” isn’t gone for good. While we won’t be seeing the old version, I’m creating a new one in the same spirit, just a jolly little revision and soon it will be back in the shop!

Daybook: 12 February 2015

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Thursday, February 12

Outside my window… The sunlight, wide and warm across the field, mixes with patches of darkness from the clouds. The atmosphere has that clear, hopeful brilliance of coming spring but the snow, which gives the appearance of melting, belies the thermometer: it’s a mere 22 degrees!

In the kitchen… In the evenings I’ve been making hot chocolate for mum and myself.  When your work is always nearby, it’s the perfect incentive to call it a day and pick up a good book.

I am creating… copies of Pauline Baynes’ style of pen and ink, practicing my own style of miniature drawings. Her thoughtful details on such small scale are captivating!

2015_2_pauline baynes_study

I am reading…
“The Bird in the Tree” by Elizabeth Goudge
“Morning and Evening” by Charles Spurgeon
“Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown

I am thinking… about adding color to my blog design

I am visiting (online)…
The thought-provoking Audio Library at the CiRCE Institute
The oh-so-delightful Read Aloud Revival Podcast
Karen Andreola’s blog, “Moments with Mother Culture


Around the house…
Dad is finishing up remodeling the bathroom, and mom has started the spring cleaning.

I am looking forward to…
a St. Valentine’s event this weekend with the girls!

A Book Contest and Storytelling

From The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Images courtesy of Project Gutenberg

Have you heard? Generations With Vision is hosting Nurture Little Hearts Book Contest!  It was announced in January; the deadline is July 1st.  Their desire for launching it is one I hear frequently, and you’ve probably thought yourself:

Christian families want more nurturing, helpful picture books for children. . . something besides Curious George, Dr. Seuss, Meatballs Raining from the Sky, Wild Kids Doing Wild Things Where the Wild Things Are, and Cookies for Ungrateful Mice. Christian parents tell us they have the hardest time finding nutritious, nurturing, fun books for their little tots and totettes. There are not enough solid, biblically-based, family-oriented picture books for children. That is why Generations with Vision is launching a Christian Children’s Picture Book Contest for 2014.

What a great opportunity for Christian aspiring authors and illustrators!  While it might be a bit late to get started on this year’s contest, it’s never too early to start learning, writing and re-writing, and experimenting with illustration and design.  I hope they do this again next year!

Excellence is a skill, and art is really a just craft that can be learned — of course you must love it to want to pursue it; but natural inclination requires hard work for it to grow.  Don’t be intimidated by the elites who make art look like you need a secret password to get into their world.  (Actually, you don’t want into that world.  The answer is to start rebuilding culture now — Christians have the answer: beauty and truth according to God’s standard.)

When you think about it, this is God’s world, and the art of storytelling began with Him.  He weaves stories and truth and beauty all throughout His divine and natural revelation (that is, in the Bible, and in the natural world).  The Bible is full of rich imagery that symbolize deeper truths; this is a tremendous key in Christian art that we can recover.

I’d love to introduce you to one of my favorite resources on how picture books work” Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz.  I recommend it to everyone interested in children’s books.  He presents an overview of picture books’ uniqueness from other book forms, their strengths and variety, and most of all how they work and communicate.


 Images courtesy of Project Gutenberg

He starts off defining the picture book as different from a story book which “consists mostly of narrating what is seen and heard. . . . Take, for example, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit:”

Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees planting out young cabbages, but he jumped up and ran after Peter, waving a rake and calling out, “Stop thief!”

These words are accompanied by an illustration of Mr. McGregor planting cabbages.  Although Beatrix Potter’s images add a visual dimension to the story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit can be fully understood without them.  In addition to telling the story, the words themselves contain images.  The picture simply underlines the description: “Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees.” (p. 16)

He then goes on to distinguish between the story book and the picture book:

Picture books are “written” with pictures as much as they are written with words.  A picture book is read to the very young child who doesn’t know how to read yet . . . By telling a story visually, instead of through verbal description, a picture book becomes a dramatic experience: immediate, vivid, moving.  A picture book is closer to theater and film . . . . (p. 16)

Further elaborating on Mr. McGregor’s example and the relationship between pictures and words, he says on p. 53,

A picture book favors a direct approach.  A description such as “Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees” would be either shown by a picture or avoided altogether.  When an image such as this is clearly described, with the visual details presented through words, to show it again through a picture would be redundant and possibly boring.  In a picture book there should be no such repetition; the visual representation takes precedence.  Repetition in a picture book only lengthens and complicates a form that is best kept simple, brief, and clear as possible.

It’s just fascinating, isn’t it?  This is a major element in children’s literature.  I’m far from getting the swing of it, but when you’re really able to wed words and pictures together like that, it’s a very rewarding experience.

There are many other books that are more technical and psychological about the creating process, but for those who are beginning a journey into the world of creating books for children, Writing with Pictures is a guide you’ll keep coming back to.

Images courtesy of Project Gutenberg

Everything beautiful in its time


The first week of July we were able to fellowship with dear friends, visit the Gettysburg battlefield, and see the Civil War Museum.


After recovering from from a nasty bug, I worked on sketching and drawing the cover of the story book Bible cover.


A bit of nature keeps itself occupied on my desk while I work.  Except George.

He’s really high maintenance.


Now that I’ve finished the cover drawing for the story book Bible, I’ll be spending this next week painting, and then Emily Rose will get it ready to send to the publisher.

What gain has the worker from his toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart,
yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful
and to do good as long as they live;

also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil
—this is God’s gift to man.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13

Spring in the Studio



Audrey Bunny

What is all this talk about a children’s book?  Well, pull up a chair, pour yourself some coffee.  You might want to read this first.

It was on the last day of November when I received an email from B&H Kids, a division of B&H Publishing.  They had an author who was interested in my illustrations for her upcoming book, a storybook Bible for girls.  That definitely peeked my interest, so I let him know this was a possibility I wanted to explore.  I was itching to know who this author was, so I looked around their website looking for any hints: the only thing I found was an author’s profile and a press release mentioning her upcoming children’s book.  I hoped it was her.

The very next day, another email popped into my inbox.  I think I just about squealed when and I saw it was from Angie Smith.  (You may already be familiar with her — she’s a vibrant, delightful woman who thirsts after God, is Todd Smith’s wife, and mother to Ellie, Abby, Kate, Audrey, and Charlotte.  The Lord gave Audrey 2 1/2 precious hours with her family.  This video will give you a good background of her story.)  We started emailing back and forth, all the while talking with my family, praying, and wondering if this was something the Lord wanted us to do.

I was reading everything about Angie I could find, and I couldn’t wait to meet her.  I wrote to Angie and the publisher that we’d be in their area in a couple weeks (even that was providential timing with a story behind it!)  They set up a meeting for breakfast to talk about the storybook Bible in depth.

When we got to TN, we met Angie and Todd at a cozy little coffee shop where we both ordered a French press and talked about so much more than a book.  We talked until the coffee shop had to close and we moved the conversation to her home.  My heart is almost too full for words when I remember that night — it was so sweet to see that the Lord had clearly brought our families, kindred spirits, together.  While we were together that evening, we also talked about her book “Audrey Bunny” which was already being illustrated.  Nonetheless, I remember Todd saying that they were praying for a miracle that I would be able to illustrate it anyway.

After the meeting with the publisher (and another long, wonderful talk with just Angie and a heart-wrenching farewell), we headed home and I let Angie know that I would be joining the team for creating the storybook Bible!  They are just dear people, desiring to honor the Lord with the books they produce, and so very gracious. (They’re a delight to work with.)

The publisher called and said he had an additional offer along with the storybook bible.  Audrey Bunny.  And you can imagine I said yes.  : )


There’s so much more of the story I’d like to add, but for now . . . my heart is so full of thanks.  Thanks to the Lord who knows and loves.  To Angie, for inviting me to be a part of their family’s journey and Audrey’s story; I’m so honored.  And my tremendous family (especially Emily Rose’s amazing skills) who have always been such help and encouragement.

I’ll write more later.  : )

“Audrey Bunny” should be available in October

A hand-made book

Book-making is simply wonderful. And it’s wonderfully simple, too!

Last week I was blessed to be able to create a hardbound book. Sewing the signatures together starts off rather clumsily. But once you catch the rhythm (and wax your thread really well), it becomes a beautiful book.

The papers came from some craft shops through a new friend who taught us. An awl and boning tool are things I might just have to add to my personal stash of necessary homemaking supplies. : )

::Portable Hospitality::

Bake some cookies or other treats (my favorite is definitely chocolate chip).

Use simple crafting supplies to decorate a brown paper sack, such as ribbons…

…and some tissue paper flowers.

I then packaged the cookies in cellophane bags and placed them in the paper sack.

And voila! You have a lovely gifts of sweets for a friend.

.:. .:. .:.