Time lost

Time lost. You could take this phrase in many contexts. Today, I wonder though. When is the last time you had an experience where you lost track of time? Many believe time is a gift. It shouldn’t be wasted or taken for granted. Seize the day, people boast! In a day to day capacity, I think I tend to agree. I like to make life happen as much as I can, create positive outcomes. But those moments in life when you had no idea what time it was or how long you’d been in your current state of bliss, when was that? You know? When time stands on it’s own and you are living completely in the present? Do you believe in luck or fate? Do these life elevating pods of time happen because you let yourself go in the moment of luck and fate or does everything happen for a reason?

I find myself in a state of intrigue and confusion. I hate the idea of losing time, but I love the idea of time lost. Why does it matter? For me, I began this year with the intent to live a “limitless” existence. Yes to everything! I find myself exhausted on a day to day basis now. Somehow, instead of leading a journey of limitless experiences, I was launched into a state of shock and unbalanced disorientation. I set my goals but can’t stay on track. My head is traveling a million miles an hour and in so many directions that I can’t follow one. It is the short, sweet, delicious moments in life that really make you want to live it, don’t you think? I feel myself passing through them all, too tired to enjoy them. Where is my time lost? I’m busier than I’ve ever been, but I’m not on the right track. It’s time to let go of this idea of zero limitations. I do have limitations, and I’ll set them for myself thank you very much!

I tried something new, and it didn’t work out. As a matter of fact, I think I fell on my face with this one. I’ve accepted it. Now I’m moving forward. That’s the beautiful part of life if you choose to live it according to your own rules. Change your course. There is a time to push yourself to a breaking point, and there is a time to recognize your failures and turn them into stepping stones and move on. Don’t worry if people are watching. Let them watch. Ultimately, this is your life and your journey. Do what works for you. I’m looking for more time lost without wasting more of my time trying to find it.

Cheers to all of you beautiful humans who are taking chances and finding success and failure as a natural part of life. You are living! Don’t be so hard on yourself. When my kids come to me with full tears in their beautiful eyes after a hard fall, I know just what to say to them. Today, I whispered it to myself.

Brush it off, Sweetheart. It will all be ok. Let’s be brave and try again.  

yogababy2Yoga Baby ~ watercolor pencil 9×12 illustration 

Hey there little dreamer. Love your uniqueness! There’s no need to compare. You are amazing!

 

Advertisements

Wonderful Surprises

Nine months ago, I embarked on an unmapped journey. I never shy away from new adventures. It’s what keeps me feeling alive and resets my compass, but this particular uncharted territory was something I’d dreamed about for a long time. A secret wish that a young girl held onto for years in the containment chambers of her heart.

“Someday when I grown up,” she said, ” I will write a book.”

I used to draw pictures on sheets of white computer paper with my brother when I was little. We would staple the pages together and turn them into comic books about our favorite stuffed animals. The Adventures of Marshy and Hippo is still lying around in the bottom of a box of treasures somewhere. I didn’t know why I liked doing this so much, but my big brother was doing it and it looked pretty awesome. To this day, it is one of my favorite memories of hanging out with him. I’m sure I was just the annoying little sister who couldn’t quite make the right size oval for the monkey’s head or didn’t write the words in the clouds the right way, but I learned a lot about telling stories through pictures. I learned a lot about my imagination. He sure knew how to make me smile.

As I grew up, I moved onto more serious things that seem to matter to kids in their teens and twenties. University, marriage, family, and somehow making a living. When I hit my 30’s and had my second child, I felt a very familiar glimmer of childhood creep back into my hardened veins. I picked up my brushes and began to paint stories about a little fox named Milo to decorate my son’s nursery. The idea of filling his room with imaginary characters with bright colors and deep eyes made being a new mom again so much fun. The characters grew, made friends and evolved. After that, so did my art.  It is from that time when I held my baby in my arms and looked around his painted nursery that I realized NOW was the time to write my book.

I began working on my illustrations daily, blogging more, taking classes and researching all I could about writing and illustrating children’s books. Some tasks were harder than others. The weekly round up of 10-20 books at our local and surrounding libraries was a huge motivator. I became completely immersed in reading other author’s words and admiring the styles of other children’s book illustrators.  It played such an integral part in how I look at children’s books to this day. I began to realize that the parent takes just as much joy in reading a book to their child as the child gets from reading a book themselves. I wanted to develop a style of art that could bring joy to adults and children alike. It was important to me.

It is at this particular conjecture in time, I met Kim Gosselin. You all know Kim by now here at Sweet Afternoons! She is the sensationally talented author of our children’s book BABIES OF TWO along with 16 additional children’s books. She was my wonderful surprise! Five months after her manuscript was in my hands, we had officially launched our new book onto Amazon Kindle. This may not have been her first rodeo, but it WAS mine! In a way maybe it was her’s too, as this was the first e-book for us both. We would be both learning catastrophic lessons in patience and chartering the unknown. Together, we laughed, cried, screamed and smiled through exhaustion and sunlight. Today, I am beyond proud to say that this beautiful person who was such a short time ago just a stranger, is now my trusted friend and partner. This journey over the past nine months has not only fulfilled lifelong dreams for us both, but sparked a fire in our bellies to get this into print through Rocking Chair Press. Thank you for always inspiring me to keep pushing myself even when we can’t see the outcome yet, Kim. You are truly a blessing.

I’m exceptionally proud to put my name next to Kim’s and announce that our Babies of Two are now IN PRINT and available on Amazon.com for purchase. Please go pick up a copy! I have always loved the feel of a real book in my hands, turning the pages is as if you are given a little box of magic to do with as you please. Our hearts are on each of the 34 colorful and beautifully written pages. If you are feeling warm and fuzzy from our story about love and life, please leave us a great review!

You can watch our book come to life below in the official book release trailer 🙂

Click here to watch!!! Babies of Two Book Trailer

Thank you for all the continued support! This dream is yours too. You helped make it happen and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

This illustration is for all the dreamers out there. Dream big. Dream weird. Dream outside the box. Dream until it becomes reality. One day, you will be living it. You simply have to begin.

With Love, Alisa

Fireflies in Her Hair110

Fireflies, watercolor and graphite, 5×7 

 

 

 

 

H E R O I N E

Heroine

A litte belated in wishing you all a very Happy New Year, but I’m here. I’ve missed you!  How are you finding yourselves settling into this incredible new year of possibilities? After a whirlwind of travel in 2016 and with even more to come, I find myself more inspired than ever. I hope to pass on a bit of the whimsy and adventure I have collected to you all throughout the upcoming year through words and art. The places may change. The people. An identity or two, but the heart stays the same. Open and free and welcoming to anything life has to unveil.

I searched delicately and throughly for a word to live by this year. After listening to suggestions from friends, family and strangers (thank you to all) I came to the word I can only deem the most fitting for 2016.

L I M I T L E S S.

I have not set out with intentions to climb a list of resolutions that I so often do at the beginning of each new year. For these 365 beautiful gifts, I chose to not limit myself to what can fit on paper.  I’m in search of more. So much more at this point in life. My hands want to create. My heart wants to give. My soul wants to connect. We should be living more.

Limitless describes a way of life in which you give yourself no restraints on how far you can go. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. You know I’m a dreamer. How can you be an artist and not be. I’m not all head stuck in the clouds though.  I admit to spending a lot of time there, but in reality i’m a doer. A once scheduled and organized doer, now a more open believer in the possibilities of a limitless existence with success. I took chances on so many factors of my life last year, that the good it resulted in has me convinced that fear slows us down. Thinking too much before leaping can have you convincing yourself to never leap at all.

There are so many ways to hinder moving forward in life. Don’t you think we can just break away from all the rules and limitations we give ourself in an attempt to knock out fear for a little while. Maybe don’t make a resolution that you will probably end up letting burn out and in effect making yourself feel like less of a person for doing so. Why do we have to keep letting ourselves down? Set your goals! Please by all means aim for success in every aspect of your life, whether it be getting healthier, volunteering more, finding that dream job, getting the girl… or boy, climbing a mountain, being who you always wanted to! Why set a limit to it? A date. A time. A number? Just move in that direction. Work hard. Be kind. Give this year everything you’ve got, without limits. Without the fear of failing, maybe we can become or do even more than just the list we limit ourselves to.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always respected goal oriented ways of life. I just think every person is truly courageous and we do ourselves a disservice to let the fear of failure take that away from us. Not only for what we can do in our own lives but in others. It may take a bit of discipline, as motivation is not always present and change is inevitable. Keep at it. Be the best version of yourself that you can be with each day and each challenge. I’m here for you if you need someone, but you probably have an army of love and support standing behind you already. Reach out! You don’t need to do it alone. It’s more fun with a friend anyways.

As far as the blog is concerned, I’m here to stay for the journey. I hope you are too.  I do so love you all for continuing to navigate this world with me with your support, likes and comments. Each has a way of spiraling me further and I can’t say it enough, Thank You. 

The art continues, as promised. A little step by step process for you to see how this hooded HEROINE came to be foraged in the night. I’m obsessed with cosmic watercolor painting right now. The unknown. The expansiveness. The nature of the universe being limitless has me grasping for paint and paper.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I leave you with this…

REPLACE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN WITH CURIOSITY.”

Are you on instagram? Come find me! I post a lot of my daily art there. I want to see what you’re up to as well. What are your hobbies? See you there! ~ ALISABELZIL

Love so hard.

lovesohardGrumpyOwlLove So Hard~ 12x 18 watercolor (Grumpy Owl) 

2015. It’s almost over. I have to say, this is the first year in a long time I will be a little hesitant to say goodbye. I’m always ready for new changes. new journeys. new excitement. new projects. new people. new places. But this was such a damn good year that I just don’t find myself in the same place as I typically am at the end of December. It’s not to say this year didn’t have it’s extreme low moments, but I feel the highs far surpassed the lows in a way that I’m left with a warm feeling in my cheeks and an open feeling in my heart. I think it’s peace.

If you have been following my blog for a few years now, you know I like to pick a word to live by at the beginning of the year. Last year, I chose give. I admit, I felt a little lost coming into 2015. I wasn’t sure of myself as an artist or sadly even as the human I wanted to be. Something was holding me back, so my year began slowly. I decided to keep doing what I was doing but proceed in complete faith. I had to let go of the noise, expect nothing, and ask for little. I committed to being completely present to live, love, and create with everything I had. give. I was honest with myself. Brutally at some points along the way. I felt exhaustion. I felt true pain. I felt sadness. I felt stress beyond control. I felt regret. I felt hunger. I felt helplessness. I felt anxiety. I felt confusion. I felt out of control. I felt lonely. I felt lost.

If I were asked to do it all again, I would. Why? Because my friends, the important thing in all of this is that I feltWhen you leave yourself open for the good, you also have to allow the bad to creep in. Some I brought on myself. Some was long needing to be dealt with. Some was just life’s crazy journey. But I felt it all. It’s amazing how much life you miss when you allow yourself to turn off.  I’ll admit that I turned off the most important parts of myself for years to avoid being hurt. Don’t we all put up walls and rules to save ourselves from the next disappointment or heartache? What I needed to do was to feel again, and so I did.

Ultimately, that was the reason I had the best year of my life, even with the inclusion of all the negative feelings. This is the year I met some of the most inspiring and giving people of my life, and is also the year I learned to appreciate the ones I already had in my life. I loved hard. I was loved. I gave hard. I was blessed by immeasurable gifts. I took chances. People took chances on me. Some blind. I said yes, a lot. Yes to opportunities. Yes to people. Yes to making decisions, as I learned indecision is also a decision. I traveled far. I traveled with an open mind and an open heart. I reconnected with family and old friends. I enjoyed nature. I stargazed. I watched the clouds. I swam in the cold ocean and I dug my toes in the sand. I built things. I planted things. Maybe I made a small difference in people’s lives. Maybe I made a small difference in this massive world. I feel so grateful for the joy, happiness, surprise, love, pride, satisfaction, support, humor, and liveliness that has come into my life. 2015 was incredible. I’ve got to say thank you, for being here and being a part of it. You matter, and I believe in you. What will your new year look like? Will you take the chances you need to take?

I’m not quite sure how to welcome 2016 after the year that has passed. I know I need to pick a new word to live by. Maybe you all can help me out? Until then, I brought back Grumpy Owl. Do you guys remember him? He started as the tiny owl in one of my illustrations. I decided to make him his own man and recreated him last year, but he came out grumpy on a bad hair day. In the spirit of giving, he gets to feel some happiness before the year ends! Everyone deserves to feel loved. Here’s to a new year full of surprises for everyone. I love you guys…so hard 🙂

IMG_7954

 

Floral Inspiration

 rose petals. 

vibrant.

soft.

floral. 

delicate.

fragrant.

intoxicating.

ethereal.

beauty.

free.

float.

fall.

be.  

A little something to wake up your cold winter day, perhaps? Have a beautiful inspired Sunday, sweet friends. Do something that makes you happy, or at least be around something or someone who inspires you to be the real you.

xo Alisa

Goodnight Moon

IMG_7172

At the end of the day, I like to run.  I don’t run to stay in shape or even to fulfill my human need to keep my heart healthy. I run to blank-out. We’ll call it mental preservation. I feel it’s the only time of the day I can just turn off my lists and my thoughts, put on some good music and run until I get exhausted or too cold. Sometimes that may only take 20 minutes and other times it’s an hour before I look at my watch.

This past week has been bone chillingly cold, and I’ve had to fight the elements as well as the knowledge that my time on the pavement will be cut off soon.  Winters here have been hard on me the past four years. I’m a city girl.  What do I know about Midwest winters? I know I’m grumpy because the sky is always gray.  The wind is constantly crushing my spirit due to the unyielding openness of farm fields. No amount of winter clothing will block the wind on a bad day, and I feel like I’m the only one around who has to wear two pairs of leggings under my clothes to stop constantly shivering. I’m weak! I grew up on the Mediterranean coast!  I like flip flops!

But you all know me. I can put a positive spin on anything, right? I wanted to. I really wanted to. But the ONE incredible thing about living out here in the middle of nowhere has always been the stars. There aren’t too many lights to dull the glow of the stary sky. I like to run just as the sun drops, up the highway by my house, because it sits at the top of a hill between multiple vast corn fields and the view is breathtaking.  I run for that! But this week the clouds were out. Thick. No stars for miles. With my hair whipping me in my eyeballs from 30 mph winds, I wouldn’t have been able to see them anyway. I haven’t seen a star in four days, and it’s kind of killing me softly.

Tonight, I needed to paint the sky I love so much, so I did.   I can’t change mother nature’s plans, but I can always make my own. Channelling energy. I’m big on that.

I think I was able to get the blank-out I needed with the dull hum of violin infused techno in the background. Health benefits… -1 as I grabbed a beer. Mental preservation…+1. It worked.

And just as I was finishing up with my painting, it began to snow. The first snow of the season. As I looked at the white canvas blanketing the ground I remembered…it’s not so bad here in the winter.

Cheers! Have a safe and happy weekend if you are in the storm with me.  If not, don’t rub in that sunshine too much.

 

 

Time Lapse Watercolor Video

 

So many hiccups in trying to post this video for you all today here on WordPress. Technology got the best of me and I let it win. Just for today. I was too tired to fight everything today. The weather. The kids. The overall weird vibes from people. The lesson to be learned is simply…

EVERY DAY IS A NEW BEGINNING, TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND START AGAIN. HERE’S TO TOMORROW!

I posted it to YouTube instead. Click the link below if you’d like to check it out. I had so much fun developing this little penguin character during my 20 minutes of free time today.

JUST CLICKE HERE =)

As always, I love you guys. Thanks for being here!

How to Avoid Complete and Utter Passion Project Fizzle

Motivate

Motivate ~ Watercolor and Graphite Wash 9×12

You did it.  You finally found exactly what you were destined to do with your life, or in a more realistic capacity you have figured out what it is you might want to do with the rest of your life.  You get everything set up just the way you want it in your head.  You decide it’s time for a change. You have researched for so long that you can barely hold up your eyelids.  You have talked to people and sent feelers out into the world you want to be a part of.  You financially figure out a plan to support this dream, or more realistically wing it, and you are motivated.  Maybe someone inspired you to take a leap of faith. Maybe you woke up one day and decided to just DO IT.  However you got to this exact point in time, you are in the moment with guns blazing and ridding off into the sunset at the speed of light.  It’s a great feeling.  It’s a high that ignites your creativity and sends you reeling into a new place in your life.  You want this so bad and you will do anything to get it!

A month. A week or even a few days in you hit a few obstacles.  Ok, you say. I can handle a few hiccups.  I want this bad enough.  I’ll power through.  You’re still flying on high, so these road blocks could never deter your concentration and drive.  A few more days and weeks begin to push back and you feel yourself slip.  Just a little.  You remind yourself why you wanted to pursue this dream in the first place.  Your dream begins to look a little dimmer.  A little less vivid.  More weeks, or even more months pass now, and though you have made small strides and changes to get to where you want to be, you have not succeeded in the way you thought you would have by now.  As the high begins to dim a little more, you begin to fill the voids with what seems like menial daily life that quickly sucks you back to where you were before you hopped on the blazing saddle.  You make excuses.  You begin to question why the heck you even decided to change your direction in the first place.  This is so hard, you might say.  Things were fine, right?

NO DUM DUM! Things were not fine! That is why you made the change in the first place.  This is the moment that we all have succumbed to before.  The moment where we can either withdraw to the familiarity of an easy existence or push back and wake up before you get sucked back in!  Since I am an avid participant in the latter, I am here to share  a few tips to help you pull yourself out of the black hole syndrome and avoid complete and utter passion project fizzle.

  1. REDEFINE! The reason/s you started this passion project or life change may not be the same now.  Redefine. Reinvent. We change every single day and nothing will ever stay the same.  You can’t expect to stay the course when the course is continually shifting. Shift with it. Just go with it, and if you hit a bump redefine again.  It’s ok. Be easy on yourself.  You may feel strong and invincible one day, but the next you may feel like gum on the bottom of your shoe.  Redefine.
  2. BE PRESENT IN YOUR DAILY LIFE!  The new you still has the old you responsibilities.  Yes, you still need to keep up with washing the dishes in your sink, making sure there is toilet paper in your bathroom and food in your refrigerator.  Know that you may want to check out completely, but you still have to keep up with your daily life.  Take a shower. Meet your friends for coffee or a beer.  Go to your day job, and make damn sure you are awake and present while you do it all.  You still have bills to pay and relationships to nurture.  These little tasks help us propel toward our dreams.  Even though you may not be spending every waking second working toward your dream, you are still living and moving forward.  Be present and don’t let the sweet moments pass by however big or small they may be.  They matter.  This is your life. It’s not about getting to the finish line. It’s about the journey.
  3. CHECK OUT! Ok, I know I’m contradicting tip #2, but sometimes you need to just let your brain bomb.  Go for a run. Blast some music.  Scream into a pillow. Take a nap. Eat a box of cookies without shame. Write. Create. Sit on the couch and stare at the wall. Whatever makes you happy. DO IT!  (please note that staying in a suspended state of #3 is not an option, however elated you may feel.)  Please set an alarm.
  4. MOTIVATE! Whether you let someone else help you or you find ways to do it yourself, stay motivated.  Not all the time.  It’s not possible.  Take time to breathe, and then find those little triggers that help you turn the old clicker back on at least once a day.  What gets you responsive the quickest?  Sometimes all it takes is a good quote or a good person in your life to help you feel like you can get the motivation back.  Whatever works!  If all else fails, crank up the cold water in your shower and hop in. Wake UP people! It’s going to take work.
  5. DO SOMETHING FOR OTHERS! This may be the most important one guys.  It’s exhausting to think about yourself and your current situation constantly.  It’s just not good.  Get out of your head and do something for someone else.  Tell someone you are thinking about them or pay for someone’s coffee in line behind you.  Lift someone else up, because it’s those moments that we don’t even realize that we need it that someone in our life gives us a boost. Just be a good human!
  6. GRATITUDE!  Thank you!  It’s that simple. Say thank you!!! Thank people for the love they give you. The support they show you.  The many ways they put up with you.  Thank whatever higher power you believe in.  Send it up! Even if you think you have no one, someone is there looking out for you.  You are not alone, and you need to say THANK YOU.  That means you recognize that you did not get here all by yourself, and you will have a hard time making it to the finish line if you aren’t aware and grateful for the many ways this universe provides you with the help you need.

If all this seems like a lot of work just to stay on the straight and narrow, it’s because it is.  You can’t be the best version of you if you don’t put the work in and take care of yourself along the way.  Do the work. Fight for what you want, but make sure you don’t burn out.  Don’t let that dream fizzle out!  Remember it’s a climb and you will get there.  It might not be tomorrow or next month, but you will get there!

Please feel free to email me or leave a comment here on the blog if you have a story you want to share or talk about. (You can find my email under the contact tab in the Menu)  I’m here for ya! We all have a story.  Don’t be afraid to share it.  Maybe someone is fighting the same one and we can help each other out.

Alisa

This was my 100th blog post!  Thank you! I love you guys!!!

November Is Picture Book Month!

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Picture Book Month

Yay! It’s Picture Book Month!

Looking for a reason to celebrate? Look no further! November is Picture Book Month! Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book. It was founded by author and storyteller Dianne de Las Casas.

Each day of the month, a new post from a picture book champion (author, illustrator, etc.) explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important is featured on the Picture Book Month website. What could be better than that! Check the site out herePicture Book Month.

But there’s more! You will also find a promo kit and information on how you can get involved, a teacher’s guide and other Picture Book Month activities, and links to tons of picture book resources, bloggers, literacy organizations, authors, illustrators, and more. If you are a teacher, librarian, parent, or author, or if you’re just an individual who loves picture…

View original post 15 more words

Message in a Bottle

The idea of putting a message in a bottle and sending it into the unknown is just so deeply romantic.  You must be a dreamer, a  believer in hope and destiny.  You must relinquish a little piece of your heart on a whim.  To think, people all across time have actually used this as a form of communication during hardships, wars and periods of change and evolution.  A secret between you and the sea, with no guarantee that nature can deliver.  All you have is hope.  

You don’t find love, it finds you.  It’s got a little bit to do with destiny, fate and what’s written in the stars.” -Anais Nin

What can I say, I’m a dreamer…

Messgaeinabottle

Message in a Bottle ~ 12×9 Watercolor, Gouache and Pencil

Shout out to IllustrationFriday.com with word prompt: ADVENTURE 

When I grow up…

When I grow up, I want to be a DENTIST!  Yep, that annoying girl with straight A’s and a plethora of extracurricular activities wanted to go to Duke University and become a dentist with her own practice.  I knew it in my bones.  Flash forward to my first dissection of a cow’s eyeball in Biology my freshman year in high school.  I fainted. I actually fainted.  Sadly, that chipper little go-getter never made it to med school and also never could open up the little froggy that she had to pin against her will to the cutting mat.  I know he was already gone, but still.  I feel like I saved a life and took a stand.  I only passed Biology with a B.  It was devastating.

I tell you this story because here I am, all grown up and still trying to figure out who I am. What God put me here on this earth to do.  I paint because I love it.  To my soul, I actually feel like I’m doing something when I paint and design.  I feel like it’s getting to you.  I’m making you smile.  I know I’m headed in the right direction.  Somewhere between Biology class and my messy studio, I grew up and I don’t think I’ve done so bad.  I certainly haven’t become who I was sure I wanted to be, but I think there is still time to make a difference.

Some people will tell you that the choices of your past will define you.  I think it’s quite the opposite.  I think your past choices give you reasons to dig deeper.  You take your successes and failures and you do better.  You make new choices.  Ones that you could have only learned if you actually dared to dream.  It’s funny how life sort of destroys those big dreams and makes you reinvent yourself and rediscover who you actually need to be in this life.

My mother once told me that I should be a social worker.  She thought I was good with people, listening to them. Responding.  More than that, she wanted me to see that this life is not worth living if you aren’t helping others.  I think I’ve spent a lot of time not knowing how I could do that, instead of just going out and doing it.  I don’t know if I’ll end up in social work.  I don’t know if I’ll forever be painting chubby little penguins and panda bears.  I DO know that I will never be a dentist, but the possibilities are endless!

Don’t be lost.  Just find a new direction.

Frogylives

“Froggy LIVES” ~ 9×12 watercolor & ink

Let’s have a baby…or two!

To My WordPress Family:

With so much excitement, I am finally able to officially announce the release of Babies of Two, a brand new children’s book written by the incredibly talented Kim Gosselin and illustrated by yours truly!  We are live on Amazon NOW for pre-orders and peeks!  The book is live November 1, 2015.

Cover release

To learn a little more about the book (and it’s creators), you can find the author’s official release HERE.  A very special thank you to all of you for being so inspirational and always encouraging me to chase a dream, because they sometimes come true!  More to come…

We hope you enjoy the journey with our babies!

release spread

Illustration Friday, Old

I’m back for another Illustration Friday! This week’s topic is Old.  This is a concept piece I worked up for a children’s book that I was developing with one of my amazing writer friends.   I am not sure I am ready to let go of it just yet, so I’m throwing it out there for one last spin in cyberspace.  I felt it was too dark for the opening of a book for little ones but maybe an older crowd would be more appropriate?  I don’t know about you, but I tend to run through journal after journal working ideas that never come to finalization. I do know that when the right idea is there it feels one hundred percent right! Maybe we’ll get there.  If not, here’s to Mr. Frog.

Mr. Frog

10×8 – watercolor, gouache, & watercolor pencil, oil pastels

Life is a Canvas

This week’s Illustration Friday topic is Grow. To be honest, I began this painting last week when the topic was, nature. I didn’t quite have things mapped out in my head, and frankly I had been having a bit of a rough week. To my delight, this week’s topic became the whole inspiration in completing this illustration. I had to dig a little deeper and come out of the week’s funk before I could paint life back into this illustration. Art is therapy, literally!

Life is a Canvas

Life is a Canvas – Watercolor & Gouache 9×12

Sea Treasure ~ Children’s Illustration

Hello! I realize it’s been some time since my last post. I have not been lounging in a beach chair letting my art supplies dry out, though it may seem that way with the number of posts I have managed this summer. I’ve been working! I keep juggling the idea of sharing the book art I have been working on but have been advised on so many levels that we have not reached that phase in completion to do so. Are you writing a children’s book? What is your take on sharing final art from your books in progress? The number one piece of advice I keep getting is: Don’t share anything until it’s done!  Announcements are coming, I promise, but these things take time. Months. Even years. I really hope it’s not years.  Really, really, really hope it’s not years.

So what happens to my blog in the meantime? I know some people switch to illustrator websites exclusively, but I’m just not comfortable with doing that. You all have been here by my side cheering me on and encouraging me to follow my dreams, so the last thing I want to do is abandon this blog and you! I thank you all for being my inspiration and support, and I’m telling you I’m not going anywhere! In fact, I decided to remedy this sporadic blog posting with jumping on the Illustration Friday wagon. I’ve entertained the idea in the past but never felt like committing to a weekly word prompt.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Illustration Friday, you can check out the website here. Every Friday, they post a new word prompt for inspiration. Once you have posted your illustration to your website, you can link it to their website and join a fun community of artists who have also shared their artwork. It’s amazing to see the talent and imagination floating around out there. I thought this would be a fun way to keep myself accountable while I bury myself in these longer projects. I’ll stay better connected to you all and this incredible art community we are a part of.

This week’s prompt is Treasure. The little girl above may be me years ago. My grandfather told me one summer on the Florida Coast that he would pay me a quarter for every fish I caught with a tiny handheld net. Of course, I never caught a fish, but I found myself wading in the water for hours finding shells and almost catching beautiful little silver fish all week long.  It’s how I learned to love the ocean.

 

Sea Treasures

Illustration in watercolor, watercolor pencil, gouache.  

Home is where the butt sits…

Home is a great place to be. After a whirlwind two weeks driving cross country to our final desitnation with family in California, and a total of seven states, 70 hours in a rental van, and 4,824 miles behind us, home is a really great place to be.  I never knew I could miss something like my couch so much, but suede never felt so good on my butt.  The joyful happiness of spending time with family is immeasurable though, and we are so thankful to have had the time to take our family to be with them and all our wonderful new friends.  Life seems brighter, happier, and more positive now.  People are funny like that.  They have a way of entering your heart and giving you gifts of love you never knew you were missing.  If you are lucky enough for them to let you give a little love back, you momentarily feel like this world is pretty flawless, if only innocently for a few days.  It’s a new perspective, new hope.  Everyone should remember what that feels like at some point.

  
That’s is what I love about vacations.  They let you escape for a bit from reality and remember the world outside your tiny bubble.  After almost 4 years here in Illinois now, our family needed it more than ever.  Though the journey was long, I will never forget Panda’s face the first time he saw the Rocky Mountains, or the moment he and Fox first felt the sand and waves of the Pacific Ocean inbetween their toes.  I’ll always remember the way their grandparents spoiled them with hugs and attention, kisses with cotton candy, and funny little things like hunting for ‘brown treasures’ in the backyard with Grandpa (little presents from the dogs).  The sun had a way of recharging our souls and the wind of the desert blew away troubles from home that didn’t really seem like troubles anymore.  It was a long beautiful adventure and one we will never be able to let go of.  

Each day since our return, our daily routine has returned slowly in a way.   The span of time seems a little different, the summer seems longer, and cooking dinner and tucking my kids in at night seems like less of a routine and more a priviledge.  I will always treasure California and the people in it, but it is so good to be home feeling refreshed.  

The question I have been asked the most since my return is, “Did you get to sketch while you were gone?”  As much as I wished there had been time for watercolors and a love affair with the scenery at Santa Monica Pier, there just wasn’t time.  I even left my camera in my bag during much of the time that I would normally have had it glued to capturing those candid moments.  I think I spent more time just taking it all in.  That’s pretty rare for me.  I love my camera, but I love the experience more.  Another learning process for me.  I did pull out a pencil and journal through the Rockies and Utah, just to have a reference for making a scrapbook or photobook of our trip. That’s about it for art though.  

When I returned home, I did a little sketching of the California poppies that I adored seeing growing in random spots all over California.  Since it is taboo to pick them, I’ll settle for the memory of them in a little maison jar.  I’ll save it with all the little ticket stubs, parking passes and room keys we gathered along the way and hopefully be able to make a little keepsake with them.  

  
I’ve missed you all! I’m eager to see what you have been up to this summer in life and in your art!