Christmas Caroling w/ Amy Poehler & Billy Eichner This made me laugh so hard. Yeah it's a little mean (--especially the baby name part! I laughed, but as a new mom (not to mention, as a lady with a "unique" name,) also cringed. Geez Billy…) But basically, the manic screaming and general aggressiveness won me over. Ha.

Calvin & Hobbes Documentary!

So who's seen the Calvin and Hobbes documentary, Dear Mr. Watterson?? Did you love it? (No surprise I'm pretty excited about it.)

I think we're gonna wait and try to see it in our local theater, but apparently you can order it now as well. Which is tempting. You can hear a short interview with the director here on NPR.

Also, did you see this interview with him? The first one in years. Get the whole thing in the December issue of Mental Floss.

Bill Watterson Kenyon Speech by Gavin Aung Than

I can't say enough about Calvin & Hobbes. Like many of you, I grew up devouring them. With my cousins and siblings we'd spend meals quoting and riffing off our favorites. I read C.S Lewis' The Screwtape Letters after learning Mrs. Wormwood was named after a character. I was furious when Watterson announced his plans to retire the comics. My 16 year old self took it personally and frankly, thought him lazy to desire a less demanding schedule. (Of course, I relate to this now.) Creatively, his work had a huge influence on me. His technical skill, combined with wit, dry humor, and spot-on childhood observances, continues to inspire. So it's no surprise I love this piece by Gavin Aung Than at Zen Pencils that illustrates the fabulous commencement speech Watterson gave at Kenyon in 1990.  As my husband and I start our own family, beginning to navigate that with working for ourselves, this becomes all the more poignant and timely to me.2013-08-27-watterson

Working Wednesdays: daily routines

I find routines really soothing-- the less decision making regarding what-to-do-next, the better.  I'm constantly trying to perfect mine.

When I first started working from home I was obsessed with reading about other people's daily routines.  How did they structure their day?  How many hours did they work? Did they make time for themselves and family?  I still find it really interesting.

Here are some links about Daily Routines

  • Cup of Jo:  Joanna interviewed a number women about juggling kids and creative careers-- some from home.
  • Daily Routines: How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days.
  • From the Happiness Project.

What about you? Any tips? What does your daily routine look like?

Poster by 


The Divided Brain

[youtube=] Found this clip on TED the other day:

Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist describes the real differences between the left and right halves of the human brain. It's not simply "emotion on the right, reason on the left," but something far more complex and interesting.

Plus its animated! ( by RSA Animate.)

We're Having A Baby!

Um... any day now! I kept meaning to officially announce it, or something, on the wee blog here, but clearly that never happened. (Though if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you might have seen the above photo from a couple weeks ago.) Anyways, now that I'm officially on self-imposed (forced) maternity leave, and past our due date (or "guess date" as they say in the wonderful Hypno Babies class we took,) I feel like I have time to post such things...

I've rounded up some fun things that will automatically post, so this space will stay active even while we're hibernating with our new little chicken.  I'll try to pop in with a baby update as soon as there is one:)

Wish us luck on our latest adventure!

Jean Claude-- What?!

Have you guys seen this crazy commercial featuring none other than Mr Jean Claude Van Damme?  (Oh, and Enya. Natch.)

Also the prettiest vehicle commercial I've seen in a long time, no?

(Here's a behind the scenes video, that I found hilarious, of the director explaining the stunt to Van Damme: "So the trucks will move apart and you'll do a split, mmkay?" Oh sure, no problem. Ha.)

OMHG Calendar!

I need to update the blog with all the work (that I'm really happy with!) from the Make Art That Sells class, but first I wanted to post about the Oh My! Handmade Goodness Calendar project!

OMHG calendar


The OMHG community wants to spend 2014 with you + your friends & family! For our first Oh My product you can actually hold in your hands, we teamed up in our forums to create a letterpress calendar focused on the theme of community. 12 of our members (cheered on by everyone) created diverse and beautiful art that represents what community means to each of us.

This is a community funded project and we are offering 85 pre-sale calendars at flat rate shipping to the US & Canada to raise printing costs. Give the gift of community this year by being one of our first supporters! Click here for more details.

OMHG calendar

OMHG calendar

Looks gorgeous, right? Pre-order your limited edition copy here!

On Shame, Vulnerability, and Resistance. (aka MATS class starts next week!)

Part B of the Lilla Rogers class, Make Art That Sells, is starting this Monday and I have a confession to make: I realized the other day that I was dreading it. Uh what?

Yep, you read that correctly.

snail and the rose
At some point during the last half of Part A I had let comparison, and subsequently shame, get the best of me. In the beginning, I was so excited to start the class and had decided that I would use it to really do some creative stretching! I would try new techniques, different styles-- experiment! All things I don't consciously do with my art work on a regular basis. Sounds fabulous, right? And it was. Mostly.
So here's the thing with experiments: often times they fail. You try something and it just doesn't work for whatever reason. But almost always the failures lead you down a path you wouldn't have found otherwise. Which leads to growth, aka the whole point of experimenting in the first place.
lilla rogers Mats class A
Know what is really not helpful while experimenting? Comparing your work to other people's, never mind a bunch of really talented artists. And I'm embarrassed to admit it, because I consider it such a rookie move, but I totally fell into that. In general, comparison can be pretty deadly to creativity, but it felt even more so combined with the growing and stretching I was trying to do. Instead of inspired by my fellow classmates, I just felt not good enough. Instead of having fun and playing and trying new things, I got nervous and tentative. I was not so nice to myself. Doesn't someone compare your inner artist to a child? (Is that from The Artists Way?) Well, I was total jerk to that kid. And forget about discovering any new paths through my hard won experimenting. It became too scary, too uncertain.
I should note that all this was sort of kicking around under the surface. I knew something wasn't quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it. The class, (which is great,) moved at a fast pace, packed with information and I scrambled to keep up, confused as to why it seemed like it was getting harder and harder to do so.
And then it ended and I breathed a sigh of guilty relief.

Gaia Cornwall Ice cream!

Fast forward to last week, when my fellow classmates all started bubbling with excitement over the impending beginning of Part B. It couldn't come soon enough for them! Meanwhile I was using words like "impending" and maybe "looming" when I thought about it. And I was ashamed to feel that way. What was wrong with me? Why am I being so lame? As a creative person, this should be like unlimited ice cream sundaes for five weeks. And instead, I'm dreading it?? WTF, Gaia?

In a burst of synchronicity the universe swooped in and offered some guidance. Fellow classmate, Cheryl Bakke Martin,  posted Oprah's interview with Steven Pressfield. He wrote The War of Art, which is one of my favorite books. One that I recommend to everyone, I have a much loved and dog eared copy. Though apparently, I hadn't picked it up in a while, because I kept having "Aha moments," as Oprah likes to say.
Pressfield starts by defining Resistance:
"Resistance is the negative force that arises whenever we try to move from a lower level to a higher level. When we're trying to identify with our nobler nature. --Our higher nature."
And then Oprah mentions the list of activities he compiled that commonly elicit Resistance. Number 1 is "The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or creative art, however marginal or unconventional."
Oh yeah...

[ted id=1042]

And then, because I can be a stubborn person who needs things hammered home, what book should be prominently displayed at my local library? Brene Brown's Daring Greatly.  (You might know her from TED talks, like the one above.) The book opens with a passage from Theodore Roosevelt's speech, "The Man in the Arena":
  It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly...
 And then Brown says:
"...Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it's understanding the necessity of both; it's engaging. It's being all in."
"...Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection."
I put the book down and was like, "Ok. I get it!"
Lilla Rogers Class
I share all this in the hopes that it will find some reader out there who is struggling with the same stifling thoughts and heavy self doubt. I hear ya. But I'm happy to report that after a kick in the pants from Pressfield and Brown, I'm raring to go! Dare I even say, Bring it on.
And to my fellow classmates, who are continuing on this journey with me, let us be brave and vulnerable explorers together. I can't wait.
Note: All the art shown here was done during the second half of Lilla's class. 

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour!


I've been invited to participate in The Next Big Thing blog tour by my friend-- illustrator, animator and writer-- Greg Matusic! (Read about his hilarious upcoming book Pirates Go Shopping here!) Thanks Greg! The tour is supposed to bring awareness to authors & illustrators and whatever they're currently working on. I'll answer ten questions below and then tag three illustrators/authors you all should check out! So let's get started:

Jabari Jumps! Picture Book
The Next Big Thing Blog Tour!
1) What is the working title of your next book?
Jabari Jumps!
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
A mix of childhood memories, the inspiring Olympic swimmer, Cullen Jones, and childhood memories of conquering the diving board.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
It's a 32 page picture book.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Ooh.. Hmmm. Well, a three year old version of Sayeed Shahidi would be an awesome Jabari. And the lovely Taye Diggs would be a great Dad.  I guess the younger sister would be some rising-star-baby actor. 
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Jumping off the diving board is easy for a Big Kid like Jabari...right?
6) Who is publishing your book?
Who indeed? Its been reviewed and critiqued by art directors and agents, and I'm now sending it around!
7) How long did it take you to create the illustrations?
Well.... There were lots of different versions of this story, (and three completed dummies!?) so its not quite accurate to say four years--right? Right! Probably about four months and I continue to tweak them.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Jabari definitely has a dose of Olivia in him. Similar bluster and chutzpah, though in his case perhaps not so much to back it up. And while the text is saying one thing, I aimed to make the illustrations the punch line, so a bit of Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. Overcoming fear is a major theme similar to Lilly's Big Day, by Kevin Henke.
Jabari Jumps! Picture Book
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A few years ago I hear about Cullen Jones' organization Make a Splash that teaches kids, parents and communities about the importance of learning how to swim. In the United States the child drowning statistics and the number of people who don't know how to swim are staggering. (After almost drowning at 5 years old, Jones went on to win gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.) Since I loved swimming especially as a kid, this really hit home for me. An early version of the book was about Cullen as a child, but it slowly evolved into Jabari's more light hearted, mischievous tale of conquering fears and defining bravery, ie jumping off the diving board.  
Fun fact, in Swahili "Jabari" means brave or valiant. 
Jabari Jumps Picture book
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
The sweet relationship Jabari has with his dad is one that often isn't explored in the kid lit world and is sure to tug on heart strings. 
Jabari Jumps Picture Book
Thanks for reading everybody!
Next Sunday check out:
I am small Gina Perry
I Am Small, by Gina Perry. I've read the dummy and it is brilliant! So cute, right? She'll be blogging here.
A YA historical novel, Drawing from Life (working title) by fellow crit-mate Abby Murphy!  The heroine struggles to become a professional artist at the turn of the century and is loosely based on Abby's grandmother (!) pictured above.  I've been reading chapters as she writes them and it is captivating!
I don't want to be a zombie
And a picture book about a misunderstood "walker" from the writer illustrator duo Megan and Jorge Lacera: But I don't Want To Be a Zombie!  Zane is afraid to tell his parents that he just wan't cut out for this whole zombie business. How will they react when they find out that he prefers whole grains to brains? Check it out here!
That's it folks!  Happy reading!

Lilla Rogers' Class Week 3, part 1

Week 3 focused on the picture book's market! Hooray, my favorite! Easy-peasy, rainbows and sparkles, right? Well, I thought so too, so I decided to not work in my own style, but to try something different. To experiment.  Well, I gave myself a run for my money, that's for sure. Our main assignment ended up being a spread or cover of the story The Snail and The Rose Tree by Hans Christian Andersen. Lilla wanted us to focus on expressive characters, color story, and hand drawn type --if we had time.  I chose to do a spread.  Mary Blair, one of my (and everyone's!) favorites was talked about a lot. I was thrilled.

I wanted to play with the following new-to-me elements:

  • flat, graphic shapes
  • "cute" large eyed characters
  • negative space
  • limited color palette (so hard for me!)
  • no pencil lines
  • retro details

Lilla provided us with vintage book covers for inspiration and I gathered my own as well:

vintage books Mary Blair

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Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 12.07.29 PM

vintage book



Eye Candy

Last weekend we visited old friends in New York City for a few days. We hadn't been in SO long, so the whole thing was such a treat. On Saturday, my friend Lila (who is an amazing artist,) and I visited the MOMA to check out the Rain Room exhibit. Sadly, the member's line was over 4 hours long(??!) so that didn't happen. Sob. But of course the rest of the museum was wonderful. Since I'm taking the MATS class I've been thinking a lot about color, negative space etc. --Here are some random pics I took of color/pattern/texture inspiration for me. Series of monoprints with collage additions by Charlene von Heyl, 2007:

Charlene von Heyl

Charlene von Heyl

Charlene von Heyl

 Ellsworth Kelly, 1951:

ellsworth Kelly

ellsworth Kelly

ellsworth Kelly

ellsworth Kelly

 Diagrams of microchips (?!) from Hewlett-Packard and AT&T. (The prints were about 4x4 feet and were stunning.)

photo 1

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

I guess I should apologize for all the crappy photos/lighting, but just believe me when I say the colors were completely awesome. Aaand, fellow classmates, look what I found in the store:

Lilla Rogers I just like to Make things Book


Lilla Rogers: Color Studies

We're working on week 4 right now and I wanted to just quickly post these color studies. I was supposed to collect yellow, green and neutral colored items from around my house. I have tons of vintage paper and it was so fun to go through it! green color study Lilla Rogers

neutral color study Lilla Rogers

yellow color study Lilla Rogers

I took a bunch of photos of green and yellow objects in the house as well, but I haven't uploaded them yet... We find out our assignment tomorrow and we'll see how we'll use all this!



Lilla Rogers' Class Week 2

For week 2, the market focus was home decor and our assignment was to design a couple plates that could be used as a collection. I drew lots of pods and "non-traditional" florals, mostly with a brush pen, for the first couple days.

pod flower sketch

pod flower sketch

pod flower sketch lilla rogers class

Then, for my final plates, decided to work in "my style"-- pencil drawings, layered in Photoshop, with pops of colors. I don't usually work in this market, so it felt fresh and new to me.

I started out with this:

floral plate lilla rogers

That turned into:lilla rogers pod plate

Some details:Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 1.55.35 PM

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 1.55.18 PM

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 1.55.03 PM

I liked where it was going, but the colors were tripping me up, so I moved on (without finishing it) to what became the design I submitted:

lilla rogers Make Art That Sells Class Plate


It didn't end up getting chosen for review, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out. The two plates don't quite work together as one collection. But I think if I adjust the colors in the first one, and uh, actually finish the design, they could work together nicely. I'd like to make one more coordinating piece as well.

detail home decor plate

detail succulents pods home decor

The biggest thing that stuck with me in Lilla's overall critique of this project last week, was making sure that your design comes across small.  Nine times out of ten, the buyer/client will be initially looking at your image in a tiny format-- a thumbnail on your site, or a shop online, a catalog etc. The basic composition has to be be visually interesting and graphic enough to grab them.-- To make them want to see the big version, with all the details.

This sounds obvious to me now, but it caused a huge shift in me. And as much as I love this design, it really isn't all that powerful as a small image. (She suggested we "test" it as 1 inch x 1 inch --the size of a promo button:)

lilla rogers Make Art That Sells Class Plate

Ironically, the design I started with, has a bit more punch as a small image, due to the large shapes/graphic background. It would have had even more if I had finished it and added in the pink color:

lilla rogers pod plateAnyways, it's something I've been trying to keep in mind ever since.

Children's Books, Week 3 next!




Lilla Roger's Class Week 1

I mentioned a few months ago that I signed up for Lilla Roger's Make Art That Sells Class and it started last week! I'm really trying to use the class to get out of my comfort zone and explore other mediums that I don't really get to play with on a regular basis anymore. That said, I feel pretty out of practice, so I decided to use each week's Monday exercise to experiment and then I'll do the final exercise (the one we submit) however I see fit. Seems like a good balance so far. Last Monday I played with pen and ink, water colors, collage, pencil drawing, and water-soluble color crayons. (Turns out, if you want to watercolor you should make sure you're brushes are in good shape. Mine stink. Forehead slap.)

photo 2 copy

photo 4

photo 3

photo 1 copy

photo 2

photo 1

I think I ended up liking the collage the best.

On to the main assignment. Here's the progression of my final piece. From pencil sketches, to inking, to coloring in Illustrator. (--Which I'm really trying to master. Photoshop is my comfort zone these days, but I'm working on creating pieces in Illustrator that actually have some texture and aren't too over the top vector-y. Still needs some work!)



Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.35.58 AM

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.36.17 AM

Final colored piece:Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.42.04 AM

Some coordinates to go with it.

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.40.11 AM

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.40.59 AM

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.41.07 AM

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Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 11.41.41 AM

And here's the final piece that I submitted:


Phew! Week 2 is already underway...