I am thrilled to show you a book I illustrated for Klutz, a division of Scholastic. As described in their about section, Klutz creates award-winning, premium activity books for kids and kid-minded adults.
Watercolor Crush contains 18 illustrations to paint--it also includes a complete and fun set of instructions as well as a top quality set of watercolor paints and paintbrush! I cannot even begin to tell you how pleased I am with it. The watercolor paper is fantastic, the paints are bright, and instructions are thorough.
The best part? You don't have to be a kid to enjoy this!! All kids love this, but I have even sat with friends for a girls' night and painted together. For my book club, they so sweetly suggested we paint the book instead of reading a book that month. It was a blast! Even the women that declared adamantly that they were not artistic found fun in it!
You can find it at Klutz, Amazon, Target, Michael's, Barnes & Noble, and many other places!
In the book I show you different ways you can paint an illustration. In the image above it is fun to try different techniques! You can use an ombre effect for a sunrise or use a bleeding technique and a white crayon to create a starry sky.
Below is a video of my 5 year old daughter painting the mermaid picture. She did a great job!
On a personal note, Klutz contacted me last year to work with them. It had been six months since my late husband passed...and being asked to do this was such a blessing. It was a dream I had always dreamed coming true. It was focused and something I really could lose myself in. I remember painting at night after my kids had gone to bed and staying up way too late to finish work before deadlines were due.
This book means so much to me.
It was a childhood wish.
It was a push from my angels.
It was a gift from Matt, from the other side.
It was a symbol of me being able to make it on my own.
But ultimately, it is a piece of work that brings joy to others.
A couple weeks ago I showed my work at the Hello, Sunrise Market and had this book on display. I kid you not--little kids were drawn to this book! They would walk over to it and couldn't put it down. It was the BEST feeling!!!
My favorite part was when my friend brought her daughter by and had me sign her book for her. I started to write her name in it but wrote it wrong.
I told her I could fix it.
We all make mistakes, but as an artist you can use your creativity to fix them and somehow your work comes out even better because of it.
I scribbled out her name and turned that into the grass. From it grew a grouping of flowers.
She was so pleased! Her mother told me not long after she had made a spelling mistake. In classic artist fashion she made the best of it and turned it into a bed of flowers.
Honestly, as I said it, I was just trying to console her. But hearing how she had done the same as me struck me and stuck with me.
The lesson being:
Make the most of whatever happens.
When you do, it just might end up even more beautiful than you could have imagined.
This is my absolute favorite painting from the book!
The colors are vibrant and when you add salt on top of the wet blue paint it creates a unique effect as the salt absorbs the water around it. Leave the salt until it dries and then brush the grains off.
There are fun tips on the ways you can display your artwork or further projects you can make with them.
There are two pages that are perforated so you can send them as postcards in the mail or display as smaller works.
This collaboration was a dream come true!
I LOVE hearing how happy it makes little girls! I love to see how they imagined the colors and the creative ways they paint them. I love hearing that grown women are buying this book and treating themselves to time painting.
Paint away, dear friends!
If you post it on instagram be sure to post the hashtag #watercolorcrushbook and feel free to tag me!
Oh, I have learned many things this year and months past.
To accept what is.
To let go.
To keep a light of hope in my heart.
To have faith.
And my proudest lesson?
To move past Sorrow.
In order to do this I had to acknowledge that there was a possibility that life ahead of me could be beautiful.
I could sit beside Sorrow. Sleep with it. Cry with it in my car. Lay on the sidewalk and let it wash over me. It planted a seed in me and it grew and grew and grew. I could have let it inhabit me forever.
I never wanted it to live in me or around me.
But it is a price you will inevitably pay if you love.
Sorrow stayed and would not leave till I learned from it. It is a contrary relationship—because while it took me to the deepest depths of sadness it taught me truths that I could only learn from it alone.
When I learned what I needed to it was time to release it from my soul.
Its time was up.
And even though I know it will visit me again in my life, for now it is time for it to leave.
The final step to saying goodbye? I had to start imagining a life where I was ALIVE.
Death taught me something wonderful:
It said, "Do not take Life so seriously."
I thought about it.
I asked myself---in life what is the worst that could happen?
I could die. They could die.
Death, you don’t scare me anymore.
You are an illusion.
But Sorrow, you are real. You are my teacher. And as much pain as you have made me feel, I have profound gratitude for the lessons you taught me.
this is what
and how I will live:
I will play. I will risk colds to jump in rain and puddles with my children. I will dance in a sparkling dress, with sequin shoes, and a glitter belt.
I will know my worth. I will order what I really want on a menu, not just the cheapest thing. I will not settle, because magic is real. And I am worthy of magic.
I will be authentic. That means being a truth teller: pouring my heart out on a bright screen or white cold pressed paper. Most of all that means listening to my heart.
I will put myself in new situations. I can, have, and will--drive further than I’ve ever gone alone before, sail high above sparkling waters, fly to foreign lands, and so much more.
I will be vulnerable and open to the rebirth of a new life.
I will live for today, because that is all I have. I am promised nothing more.
I will say yes to love. No matter what loss has occurred death and endings are only illusions. There is life after death and love after loss. Love is always worth it.
I am ready now.
Love and Life, I am here.
A long time ago, 11 months ago…or was it eleven years ago…or eleven days ago? As Einstein said, “Time is an illusion.”
Back to what I was saying.
11 months ago I had one of my paintings posted as my facebook header. The quote I had painted said:
“Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale.”
-Hans Christian Andersen
The day after my husband died someone who loved me innocently and lovingly commented, “I am so sorry your fairytale ended this way.”
And the comment literally struck my heart as if an arrow had pierced my chest. My stomach sank as I realized once again how my life had been placed upside down.
It reminded me of when I was a little kid and I would lay on the bed with half of my body hanging off looking at the room upside down. I would imagine what it would be like if my room really were upside down. How would I sit in a chair? Will I now be tripping over the ceiling fan every time I run for the phone? It was odd, intriguing, and very uncomfortable--especially towards the end when all the blood went rushing to my head.
That’s what this felt like.
My world was upside down and the blood was rushing to my head.
But I could never straighten it out.
I am still in the same world, the same house, the same room…but even after 11 months I will be caught in a moment where I realize I live in all of this upside down.
When I look back on the beginning it still mystifies me how I understood and knew things that perhaps normal people don’t.
On the car ride home after he died I knew God was going to use me. I knew that this painful, horrible thing was going to be a source of light and demonstration of His love. And it made me sick because the love of my life was worth more than that to me.
I knew when I read the comment that my fairytale was over that it wasn’t. While it made me sob to think that it WAS over, I knew with an almost angry and passionate feeling that it was indeed NOT over. This was merely the halfway point in my fairytale.
Because I am a heroine and this is my story.
I entered into this world on my own and that is how I will end it. All of these people in my life have entered at different points and as such they will exit it. They are the characters that teach me. However brief or lengthy, however minute or profound...
You are all teaching me.
You are all blessing me.
But this journey is mine.
This fairytale is mine. I might not get to write this story, but I damn well get to choose how I react to what happens to me.
This is my story.
And this is what I choose for mine:
My story is full of magic, fantastical beings, and wondrous sights.
I will be kind, courageous, and determined.
I will use my knowledge to help others.
I will use magic to my advantage; to all our advantage.
I will give up who I was in order to become what I was meant to be.
I will be true to myself and listen to my heart.
I will feel and see the power of love again and again.
I will have hope, feel gratitude, and exude joy despite hardships.
I will always have faith that this story will end more beautifully than I could have ever imagined.
Here is the truth about fairytales:
You have your own fairytale.
Your fairytale doesn’t end when someone you love dies or when something ends.
In fact, when someone you love dies your life becomes more magical because they are busy doing things in their invisible cloaks like making feathers rain from the sky and sending butterflies to sit in your hair. Your life is now magnified in blessings because someone you love is making sure you can’t argue it.
If something in your life ends, I promise you something far better or something just as beautiful will take its place. It will not be the same, but it will still be just as precious, worthy, and beautiful.
Heck, your fairytale doesn’t even end when you die.
Because if you are like me you believe that our souls are everlasting and there is no end.
The completion of this life opens the door to heaven.
So there really is such thing as happily ever after.
Don’t ever forget that you are the heroine (or hero) of your story. No matter what happens to you, this is not the end.
Our fairytale in not over.
Today I found myself telling my friend I can time travel.
As a kid (and even now) I have loved any book or movie based on it. I love the idea of time not having to be linear. For as much as I like rules and to follow them, when I disagree with them--I love to the bend them.
Just when you think you have me figured out I will surprise you with my complexities. This is one of them.
As for my new found supernatural ability....
A few months ago I was driving down the freeway and passed the hospital that I had first taken Matt to on the four day process of him dying. And while other times I silently cursed that lone building or simply did my best to ignore it, that day it was different.
While I was driving next to it, I was also inside.
I was in there.
He was in there.
In some other dimension our two scenarios were side by side, coexisting.
Waiting on test results, staring out the window watching the day slip by, feeding him ice water from a q-tip looking stick with a tiny pink sponge on the end.
I was scared.
Because he was sicker than I had ever imagined and the doctors were puzzled.
Nobody had any answers.
In that 3 second spans of me whizzing past that building I was transported in time and into that stretch of a day.
I can walk into a frozen yogurt place that just cleaned with bleach and want to gag. It sends me silently in my head whirling back to when the nurse walked me back into his hospital room that was permeated with the harsh, cutting smell of it. It makes me look at myself standing above him, rubbing his arm, telling him the reasons why he has to stay…and not knowing whether or not I should tell her he will never open his eyes again.
I spent a lot of those hours in the hospital awake. By his side. In a place where time is of the essence, but all there is to do is wait. I had no patience for reading and nothing was more important than sitting by his side smiling and being his comforter. I was doing my best to be a light of blinding love. Unintentionally, one night I stared at that box full of latex gloves more intently than perhaps anyone has.
I went to the doctor's a month after he passed and the sight of that box of gloves made my teeth start to literally chatter.
So now it is clear to me that the gift I had always fantasized of having is something I can actually do now.
I can time travel.
Sometimes I wish I couldn’t.
This must be what happens when your emotions are stirred. When your senses are shocked. When your life is changed.
The experience rouses your senses and magnifies them, thus making it impossible to forget.
The images do not fade.
The sounds do not muffle.
The smell does not dissipate.
The feeling of his scared hand in your scared hand cannot be forgotten.
And while I know that in time I will learn how to refocus this gift to positive things, sometimes it sends me back to the saddest and scariest days of my life.
This month has been my best yet. I think I am finally getting better at stopping the time travel. When I feel the mind buzzing, force pulling sensations I slowly talk myself down from its vortex.
I hear my sweet angels telling me:
Let it go.
Do not travel here.
Travel to that time you played that corny love song and forced him to slow dance with you in the backyard. Feel his hands around your waist. Feel his scruffy face against your cheek. Feel your hair flying from your neck as he twirls you and you can’t figure out how to twist back so you both end up laughing at your clumsiness. See the glittering stars, his sparkling eyes (albeit rolling eyes). Hear his voice, the hollow sounding music coming from your cell phone speaker, and your children laughing as they ride their noisy tricycles around you. Feel the safety of his arms and the kiss that was lovely but one of many like a field of flowers—so easily dismissed because there were so many, but treasured now as a single flower for its striking beauty.
Feel your heart’s content at the comfort of knowing this love is endless.
Know that it still is.
And as I settle back into Now I have a pile of tissues, but I am thankful because I have more of those kinds of memories to time travel to than ones that include bleach and beeping medical instruments.
These memories have warm sand beneath my feet, pink sunsets, the vibration of music being created by freckled hands I love, and the sound of our babies laughing. These memories are full of so much love they could warm the earth. Surely they could sustain me the rest of my days here--though I know our God is generous and there will never be a need for that.
But how lovely to know.
I am arriving upon the point in my journey where I can choose where I will go in time. When I do travel back to scary or sad times, it will be a choice and I will be visiting to learn something.
When I stop and step back I realize how amazing it is I can do this.
How magical it can be.
I am thankful God gave me eyes to see, hands to feel, ears to hear, and a heart that delights. More than that, for those moments. Most of all, for a timeless, transcendent love.
Because of this,
I can time travel.
This was written 6 weeks prior to the posting date. Writing this was so incredibly healing for me that almost immediately I was able to control my "time traveling." Sometimes I do not even know how I am feeling until I begin to write and the mere act of doing so awakens me in some new aspect.
Thank you for going on this journey with me.
Sometimes when I look back on the past it feels like a beautiful crystal bowl that was dropped and shattered.
It shattered the day my husband died.
The last 11 years of my life included my love, so every memory somehow includes him. When I pick up each piece to remember it, it is beautiful, somehow even more precious, but its edges are sharp and they hurt.
Sometimes they cut me and I bleed.
And every day I am reminded:
My life is no longer a beautiful crystal bowl.
I did not even know that is what we were creating. When you look at the tiny pieces, the little memories that make up an era of your life it all makes sense how it became complete. But when you are in the midst of making it you don't even realize what you are making. Now don’t assume my bowl was perfect—no, it was not!
But it was mine, and it was lovely.
Its broken fragments are too precious to throw away. How easy it would be to sweep it all up and be done with it. If I didn’t have children I am pretty sure I would leave this town we made our home. This is the place where he grew up, where we fell in love, bought our home, raised our children, and are surrounded by family and friends. And this is also where he is buried.
Right now I still have all those precious, oddly shaped pieces strewn on the floor and I don’t know what to do with them.
Do I shut the door to where they fell and walk away?
Do I pick up the pieces? And hurt myself over and over and over again?
(….when will it stop hurting?)
How do I pick them up and not bleed?
(I am getting better at…so does practice make perfect?)
I know what I want.
I want to string the pieces and hang them in the light and create dancing rainbows around me.
I want my past to bring color and joy and stop cutting me.
I want a new beginning, I want the sun to shine just right through those prisms.
But can I begin again with my past swirling around me?
It is woven so intricately into my life I will never be able to run away.
Being that it is the Christmas season, these pieces are the sharpest. I want to shut the door so badly!!! But I have two sweet faces that count on traditions and normalcy. So for their sake I will have to be brave.
I will have to learn how to balance letting go and holding on.
This will take courage, and all I can do is hope the rainbows will be worth it.
This new art print is now available here.
It's funny, remember when you had just gotten married and people would ask when you were going to have a kid? Or you had just had a baby and they would ask you if you were going to have more?
Well when your husband dies, people can't help but ask, "Do you think you will get married again?"
And of course you shake your head and you think that person is crazy. But after a while the loneliness settles in and the question isn't so abhorrent anymore.
And you realize that our time on this earth should be a life full of love.
When discussing with my friend whether or not she should continue to date somebody the question that was most important to me was:
"Is there magic?"
Because I had that in my marriage. And that is what I would expect if I ever decided to marry again. My Love has set the bar high!
I have been finding that lately I am pleased just to survive. But it shouldn't be that way.
I believe we all should have magic in our lives.
But we need to feel like we are worthy of it or else we won't ever be able to accept it. I have decided to set my standards higher in all areas of my life. And you should too.
So I painted this cloudscape with gold letters to remind me:
"I am worthy of magic."
We all are.
If you follow my Instagram or Facebook you might know that my husband passed away.
I am 29.
My husband died four days after his 35th birthday.
Matt was born with a heart defect and at 9 months old they operated on him. It was a success. But he grew up with a weaker heart than most. He knew one day he would need open heart surgery to replace a valve and to repair the other.
As we prepared for this surgery none of us worried—except him. This kind of surgery is something they do for 70 year olds, not an otherwise healthy 35 year old. And even then a valve replacement and aortic repair only had a 10% mortality rate.
He felt an impending doom that made me sigh and wonder if he was being a tad dramatic. Because considering how sick his heart was, he was a vision of health. The weeks before he looked the way you do when you have a cold. Exhausted and depleted. But there was still pink in his cheeks. A sparkle in his eyes. A teasing tone to his voice.
An extremely simple explanation of what happened is his heart failed before we got the surgery.
The heart stopped doing its job, thus making his vital organs sick, and in turn making his heart fail. Causing him to die.
Just four days after I took him to the ER because he looked like crap. Just two weeks before the heart surgery that would have fixed it all.
And the only way I can move on is to know that this was God's plan. That's why Matt didn't get better when thousands of people all over the world prayed. When it comes down to it God could have answered one prayer--my prayer. But he couldn't because this was part of his divine plan. I don't know how it will unfold and sometimes I really don't like it. But until I do understand, I will continue to have faith.
Fast forward one month later. (Because I can’t handle traveling back in time to write how I felt right now).
I was urged by my family to turn one of our bedrooms into an art studio. It is made to be an office. It is the only room with high ceilings, a built in window seat, and pretty glass French doors. We had been using it as a bedroom for one of the kids, but ever since he passed they can't seem to sleep alone. So bunk beds were built and this room was empty...
I struggled between two conflicting emotions:
The first was the need to change everything so I didn’t hurt every time I thought of the way it used to be.
The second was to keep it all the same, to preserve and hold on to the memories.
You see, he always complained about my feminine décor! It was supposed to be OUR house, a place that reflected the two of us. Well, honestly, we never could figure how to do that! For the guy who wanted to live in a sleek, modern apartment in a big city and the girl who wanted to live in a Victorian farmhouse with colored rugs and flowers in vases….there was hardly ever a middle point! So to decorate and change…I could hear him scoff! But on the other hand, I was mad at him!
I told him (aka, talked aloud to myself): “You left me! I get to do whatever I want now. So there!”
In a quiet fury I hung picture after picture of my flowery, feminine paintings.
Up went the lace curtains.
Up went the flowers in jars. (Of course they were fake. He was the only person that could keep plants alive here. )
I already knew what I liked. I had teasingly warned him during discussions in years past, “You think this is girly?! You have no idea what I am capable of!!”
I stood back and admired the first room in eleven years that felt like me. And then I cried. Because no amount of lace or flowers could ever make me feel okay. I would choose him over everything. I dried my eyes, sighed, and looked around. This room made me happy. And if I could have one place that made me feel like that when my world had crumbled, I knew he would be pleased.
As I set up my new desk I knew what it needed: a painting.
Not just any painting though. It needed to be a window, a portal of some sort. From his world to mine. A place we could meet.
I pulled out my largest canvas and all my paints. I started splashing, smearing, and blending.
I felt him by me as I painted. I heard him in my heart say, "Stop. This is it."
And so I named it, “This Must Be the Place” after one of our favorite songs by Talking Heads. A song that always felt so perfectly us, but as I listened to it after he died it shook me to my core with the line:
Love me till my heart stops. Love me till I’m dead.
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
Song by Talking Heads
Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb - born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's ok I know nothing's wrong... nothing
Hi yo I got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight... say good night
Home - is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home - she lifted up her wings
I guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time
Before we were born
If someone asks, this where I'll be... where I'll be
We drift in and out
Sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home and
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead
Eyes that light up
Eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head
I go ooh
I did love him till his heart literally stopped. But my love doesn’t stop there.
I will continue this earthly life. I will raise our sweet children. I will find joy. I know God has plans for me.
And one day when God says it is time, I won’t be afraid, because I know he will be there waiting for me.
And I will know this must be the place.
Here is my new painting I created for my sister on her birthday! Let me tell you--I got lucky in the sister department! She is the kindest, most gentle, patient, and loving soul. I have learned so much from her and I am continually inspired by her spirit.
She had asked me to paint something for her newly remodeled bathroom. She had suggested something with an antique bathtub and my imagination ran away with itself...
She loves mermaids and reading, so that was easy to add. Then putting the mermaid in a room seemed too boring! Then I had to ask myself, "If I were a mermaid, where would I want to be?"
A flower garden, of course!
So that is the story behind the piece. Prints are available in the shop :)
Now if YOU were a mermaid...where would you want to go?
I am so excited to show you these amazing photographs of Jeremy and Rachel's wedding taken by Shane and Lauren Photography.
Earlier this year I met Rachel. She and my childhood friend Crystal started an online boutique called Boutique Dernier Cri. It has romantic and whimsical fashion with vintage flair--basically it looks like clothes for a modern fairytale character. After I helped create their mermaid logo, Rachel asked me if I could paint a fairytale woodland scene for her wedding invitations. I was honored and it sounded like so much fun! I love to look at fairytale illustrations but to create my own scene made my imagination run wild.
Rachel is a big Snow White fan (aren't we all?) and had a beautiful vision for her fairytale wedding with her real life prince. I must admit this was my first time working on anything wedding invitation related (I didn't even plan my own wedding- we eloped! It was a no-stress, tropical wedding on Maui).
Anyway, she was so sweet and told me her idea of having it be the forest scene with a castle in the background. She invited me to look at her private Pinterest board where she had been collecting all of her inspirations. I think this is such a great way to work with clients! I was really able to get a feel for her aesthetic and the colors she was using (dark greens, deep shades of purple). I really appreciate how she trusted me and gave me the freedom to create. But this really would not have happened with out Rachel's vision.
I love that this painting is not just an illustration of a "woodland scene with fairytale castle" but a symbol of the sweet life that these two lovebirds will have together. I love that the scene begins in the forest surrounded by enchanting plants and creatures. The way the castle is off in the distance is a good reminder to remain hopeful and a promise of the future, but even in the forest there is beauty in the present.
This really was a joy to paint. You can buy a print of it in my shop and you can even buy a photography backdrop of it here.
Here are a few snapshots of their Snow White themed engagement photos. SO ADORABLE! You can see more here!
And now I must share a few of the shots from this enchanting, magical, and romantic wedding!
You can see more pictures of the handsome groom, the stunning bride, and the breathtaking wedding here. Thank you Shane and Lauren for the amazing photos you captured!
Don't hate me.
I'm just helping you get prepared for the holiday season! I promise!
I always want to give someone a thoughtful gift. Because isn't receiving one such a wonderful feeling?
So I might not be able to tell you what your husband would like for Christmas, his birthday, or Father's Day (because Heaven knows I don't know what to get mine!! I am stumped every year! I keep on giving him FOOD because that's the only thing I know he likes and that I know I can afford...)...
But I CAN tell you what that book-loving, feminine girl might want.
I would now like to introduce you to...
THE Official Gift Guide for the Smart Girl:
2. An old edition of one of their favorite books on Etsy.
3. A personal Library Kit. I kid you not. AMAZING.
4. A Jane Austen greeting card set. Because all smart girls read Austen. Duh.
5. A calligraphy set. It is all the rage right now. Pretty lettering and getting to pretend that you are Austen, but with a lot more access to showers and Bath&Body Works.
6. My art! Ha! No, really. Smart girls are PROUD that they verge on nerd. But we tend to think of ourselves in a much more romantic sense.
Exhibit A: (above) In our imagination we are not typing on our irreplaceable laptops but on cute colored typewriters. Elegant and poised, we are in a pretty outfit with our makeup done and stacks of color coordinated books surrounding us.
Pipe dreams, I know.
Exhibit B: We read glamorously amongst flowers. There are no bugs and the temperature is perfect.
Exhibit C: Our typewriter includes script fonts. Whaaaat.
Exhibit D: Ideal weather and floral conditions. Always.
Exhibit E: We wear heels while shopping for books. So we can reach the top shelf, of course.
Exhibit F: Books are our BEST FRIENDS. Sorry BFFs. But realistically, our best friends read books too, so they get it.
These are all available in my shop.
So, I hope that helped you out if you were stumped on what to buy the book lover girl, woman, mother, sister, friend in you life. If none of these are available or will ship in time, remember that a girl ALWAYS appreciates flowers and chocolate.
And if you are a Smart Girl reading this, I hope you think that Library Kit is as enchanting as I think it is!!
Last week I was featured in April Heather Duvall Davulcu's post about artists that inspire her. It all starts with Ginger Deverell tagging Stephanie Ryan, then Stephanie tagging Heather, and then me.
First, I must tell you what an honor it is that Heather thought of me. We met in the Smart Creative Style Course a few months ago, but to be honest--I knew about her work even before! She has the cutest, happiest, sweetest character illustrations! This year she challenged herself to draw every day and has gained a lot of Instagram followers because of the cuteness explosion over there. You MUST see her work--it will make you so happy!
Here are some questions that I get to answer:
What are you working/writing on?
I have the habit of working on a custom order and then a painting for the mere pleasure of it. I like to mix it up and keep things fun!
I am finishing up some fabric work for the talented and chic Chrissi Shields. I recently collaborated with the talented stylist Vanessa Colyer Tay in her Great.ly shop. My newest watercolor print will be sold exclusively with her this coming week! I have also been collaborating with Hazy Skies Designs to create photography backdrops.
Between custom orders and all the above I have been working on new lines for my Etsy shop.
How does my work/writing differ from others work in my genre?
I am working mainly in watercolors right now. I am pretty sure I was born in the wrong era. I love old homes, long dresses with puffed sleeves, Doris Day, antiquities, and books from long ago. I love heroines that are confident, spirited, and kind.
I read so much growing up that I see the world through different eyes--ones that imagine first. Thus, my paintings are usually colorful, romantic, sweet, whimsical, and tender.
Why do I write/create what I do?
Because I have learned that there is no one else like me! I used to think there was no point in painting because it has all been done before, but it hasn't! Mostly because I love to do it and have found that it also makes others happy. How wonderful is that?!
How does my writing/creative process work?
There isn't much to it. When I sketch to figure out what I am doing I hate to put a lot of effort into it. I am not a rough draft girl. If I'm going to spend time on it, I might as well dive in head first. In college I would just sketch a quick bubble outline, write my essay, proof it, and ta-da!
My paintings take a similar route.
This is what my sketches look like. So sad.
So then I draw it out on my paper and start painting! This is obviously a work in progress.
And that sums it up for me!
Now to the meat of this post!!
let me introduce you to Michelle Schneider from The Art of Michelle.
She is so sweet! I met her via the SCS course and thought her illustrations were just adorable! She paints with a storybook flair with bright, pretty colors. She is a children's book enthusiast and loves to tell a story with her paintings. I am sure it won't be long till we see her beautiful work gracing children's book covers and nestled in between.
Right now she has a waiting list for custom house portraits in her Etsy shop. They are so cute. She really puts personality into each portrait for her clients. You can also purchase her art prints of lovely things like flowers, birds, butterflies, rainclouds, and so on.
It is so much fun to look through her shop! Go check it out, but for now here are some samplings.
Her storybook custom house illustrations:
Her adorable floral and rain cloud series with a modern twist:
And here are some recent character illustrations:
Another great artist I must tell you about is Tori Higa. Tori is so genuine and you can tell she has a heart of gold. She lives near me (which we found out by accident!) in Southern California with her husband and two cutie-pie kids.
Tori has collaborated and worked with Amy Lau Design, Anthropologie, Cardstore, Keka Case, Ink Garden, iSanctuary, & Schiffer Publishing. She started her art path off as an assistant graphic designer, then a textile designer for Milliken Carpet, started her own greeting card company, and then within her card company partnered with an amazing non profit organization called International Sanctuary,advocates for survivors of human trafficking. Now she is freelancing, selling in her Etsy shop, and illustrating three children's books that she has written. Monica Lee even wrote about her over at her site--you can check out that post here.
How awesome that she started a company that ended up helping so many people? Amazing! And she continues to collaborate and create. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!
I hope that you were inspired by these terrific women that are creating happy and meaningful art. I had so much fun doing this that I think I will be doing more features in the future!
Monica didn’t mean to change my life.
But she did.
I was browsing Pinterest and came across a cute illustration. I followed the link and it led me to Smart Creative Women. MIND BLOWN.
I perused. I bookmarked. I came back the next day. And the next. And soon it became an addiction.
I cleaned dishes, folded laundry, and painted while I listened to Monica interview some of the most awesome and creative women.
After I finished listening to all the interviews I wanted to hear more about her. So I listened to her pep talks and read the blog posts.
In this blog post she encouraged her readers to try a technique she was using in her Smart Creative Style course. You make a Pinterest board and pin only the images that speak to your heart, the ones you must always be able to find because they are so special. And when you are all done you take a step back, minimize your screen, and analyze.
So I tried this exercise and discovered that I like light blue the most, not turquoise. I loved the images of feminine and sweet 20s girls, not the 50s girls. How could this be? My house has turquoise everywhere! I loved it before it was cool. I love Doris Day and her fashion in her movies. But this is what I pinned, and this is what I felt was part of me.
This SIMPLE exercise was enlightening. So then Monica announced that the next round of Smart Creative Style Course was enrolling…and that there would be two opportunities to win a scholarship. I knew I MUST take this course!! I didn’t know how it would happen, but I felt like I belonged in this class. I prayed. And I hoped.
And I lost.
Sarah Jane Studios (the cutest and sweetest children’s illustrator) gave away the first scholarship and I lost. But alas, there was one more!
Jeanean Morrison, the darling, friendly, fabulous fabric designer and artist, was giving away a scholarship. So I entered.
AND I WON!!!!!
Holy moly, it was amazing. I received a notification on my phone that an email just came in. The title said “You Won!” I knew exactly what it was! I screamed, I danced with my 3 year old daughter for ten minutes around our house, I called my husband with a voice that sounded as if we had won the lottery.
But really, I had.
Because this was the catalyst for change.
I still don’t even know what is going to happen because of this opportunity, but I know deep down in my soul that God blessed me with this with His perfect timing. After YEARS of thinking I was mediocre with nothing new to bring to the world (so why bother trying?) I was beginning to see that what I loved and what I could put on paper had not been done before.
And then we began the class.
Monica sent each of us the cutest journal that she had made especially for us. I filled every single page.
I have taken one other online course and that was in college for Educational Technology. Now THAT was a snoozefest. But Monica’s intro video had music, a dance, and sparkles (I am NOT kidding---she wore sequins, which made me love her even more)!
There was a video from Monica for each lesson (two times a week). In addition, she had amazing, knowledgeable, and famous guest teachers, links to relevant articles, PDF downloads, and knowledge that took her years of acquiring summed up and shared with us in ONE course.
So I first off, I learned.
I was such a good student. I read everything and did all the assignments.
But what makes Monica a talented teacher is how she posed questions and really made us reflect on our answers. Oh and this gal has a way with words! We would make Pinterest boards on a particular topic (i.e., nature, art, fashion, etc) and then post a link on the private Facebook page. Everyone would click through, look at it, and then comment on the things they saw and felt. While most of us would come up with a line or two of analysis, she would see things that no one else saw and relay it in such an encouraging and in depth manner. I would always have to go look at the board again so I could recognize what she had pointed out.
Because we were encouraged to comment and post questions, there were even friendships that were formed. The Facebook group that is created for each class remains open forever so that any time we feel like posting something there are our classmates ready to respond.
So now the class is over. The dust is finally settling. I had a crazy breakthrough. I was in the shower and I realized my perspective was heavily influenced on my LOVE of literature. Dare I say obsession? A child that plays Librarian? That was me.
This is what I realized was true for me: we are all heroines in our story.
My view of the world is skewed and is seen through the eyes of written words where time doesn’t exist. You can spend pages describing ten seconds. The heroines are your friends, yet they are also you. You can go wherever within the confines of your bed or backyard.
This is ONE aspect of the many things I learned about myself.
I could go on and on.
But most importantly, I learned that there is no one else like me. Yet, there are so many others that feel the same. And maybe, just maybe, my art will speak to them. Maybe I don’t create exact replicas of still life setups (and I could if I worked hard at it—but do I find it enjoyable? No.). But I do paint things from that corner of my mind.
That place where imaginary is real.
I like that I KNOW what I like and I know WHY I like it. I can see new images, feel excited by them, and I can also trace it back linearly to the reason.
For example, looking at pins of brides in nature in their white dresses enchants me. Why? Because I like femininityàromanceà1910sàsimplicityàthe solitude before change.
But MY thinking will not match ANYONE else’s. We might be similar, but yours is going to come from a completely different place, thus a different order, and a few different words that completely change the outcome.
Monica has given me the tools to discover what I love (and I can do this continually!). She is the ultimate cheerleader, the mentor, and the friend. I have never met her, nor have I even spoken to her on the phone, but I know that I adore her. She is completely transparent, honest, and authentic. I know that who she is in her videos is who she is while at Target, cooking dinner, and at a party. She creates an online classroom that is full of love, encouragement, and self-discovery.
This class is truly priceless.
I don’t care who you are, you need to take this class. Even if you think you completely know yourself (which I thought I did!!) you will walk away surprised and left thinking about it for months, but touched forever. The addition of all the practical and helpful business advice blends in beautifully and will enhance any creative person and business.
And so I close with a heartfelt thank you to Jenean Morrison for being my fairy godmother. Your generosity has changed me and inspired me. And thank you to Monica Lee for blessing people with your talents as a teacher and artist.
Thank you will never be enough.
Life has gotten busy!! I just thought I would share with you a few of my recent instagram photos. I am working on a fresh Summer line that sports brighter and warmer colors plus hints of gold!
It has been so much fun to paint with gold. It is the Martha Stewart Metallic Acrylic Gold paint. It is perfect!! I love how it shines at a slant in the sun. It shows up beautifully on my watercolor paper.
I am inspired this summer by lovely images of red, coral, pink, yellow, and orange flowers. I am painting a lot of beautiful white dresses, geometric shapes, and the sweetness of friendship. These images are some finished pieces and works in progress.
In my personal life I have been busy finishing up the school year. I substitute teach (mostly kindergarten) and was lucky enough to get to sub in my son's class this year while his darling and smart teacher wrote the curriculum for our district's Common Core program. We went to the Kinder awards ceremony this morning and it was so cute. I am so proud of my sweet little boy. He completed his first year of school, conquered a broken leg, and grew up a lot.
Here he is with the robot he built with his tablemates. He was very proud! I heard the teachers had *lots* of fun spray painting these beasts. His teacher allowed each table to create a robot using odds and ends (cereal boxes, party hats, foam spheres) as closure to their 2D and 3D shapes unit. They were adorable. I thought the gold spray paint looked the best. If I get the chance on Monday I will take more pictures of the different robots (5 total).
I am already starting a Summer pinterest board. I always say I am going to accomplish a lot during the time off, but that doesn't always happen... I love all those "schedules" and weekly planners. I need a plan...because if there isn't one then I will just paint and laze about. There are only so many Summers left with my little ones actually wanting to spend time with me!
I hope all of you have a great Summer ahead of you!
Though it may be hot, there WILL be fun!
Mother's Day is right around the corner! I thought I would make up a free printable for you! (Note: click the link for the full resolution file).
This mother's day card can be printed on standard 8.5x11 " cardstock. It is saved with 300 DPI resolution, so it will print beautifully. It will print two cards on your one sheet. All you have to do is cut it in half and then fold it!
If you are looking for something else to give a special mom in your life, perhaps an art print from my shop would be perfect. All of my paintings are feminine and I can even have it sent directly to that special person.
Also, I will be sending out a special coupon soon to my newsletter subscribers! If you would like in on the secret coupon you can subscribe here. Thank you!
Have a wonderful day!
*This free printable is Copyright © 2014 Heatherlee Chan. This may not be used for resale and may only be used for personal printing use. Thank you for respecting my art :)
Happy Spring! Ours was looking so wonderful this past month. The fields were green, buds grew on trees, flowers swayed, and butterflies hatched.
Then came the 90 degree weather.
It started yesterday. I am praying it goes away! It gets really hot where we are at and once that sun starts beating it kills everything.
Soooo, anyway....let's keep our spirits bright and celebrate with a sale! April 8th-16th you can use the coupon code SPRING30 at checkout for 30% off your entire purchase in my shop.
Easter is coming up, lots of birthdays, and Mother's Day will be here before you know it. In my family we give female a little present. I always loved that growing up :)
This weekend my husband took the kids and me out to get some Jack in the Box. We took it to a nearby grassy area and had fun exploring.
And to keep things real I will include this picture.
My husband was making fun of me because I didn't want to sit on the ground. There were ants! No, there were GIANT ants.
So he claimed I couldn't handle nature, but perhaps it is just that I can't handle bugs. Particularly ones that BITE.
This coming weekend will be busy because a friend of ours is having her wedding. I will be taking pictures and my husband will be playing the guitar during the ceremony. She is such a sweetie, so this will be fun :)
I am a watercolor artist located in Southern California.
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