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1. The Daily Sketch

Yesterday I started a new semester at The Des Moines Art Center, teaching teens fantasy art. I've taught there for over a decade now ( O_O ) and I tried something I've never done before! It was super fun too, at least it got more interaction and conversation from the teens than usual.

I made three categories: symbol/animal/fantasy figure

There were ten in each category, folded up and placed in three cups. The kids divided a large sheet of drawing paper into eight sections and then drew whatever I pulled from the cups. Finally they picked one they liked and elaborated for the final.

I didn't draw with them during the eight, but I did sit and draw with them during the final. My personal favorite was

leaf + rabbit + elf



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Although I didn't get to draw this weekend, here are a few highlights from around our home.


Little bird added to our bathroom, next to his new buddy the Goldfinch.


New amazing rug found on craigslist for the living room. In LOVE!

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2. Color Me Crazy

Today I embarked on combining techniques, process, and drawing developed throughout last year. I started a personal piece, but now it's time to apply it to the real world, a custom request. I did my research and concept sketch, now ready to paint.

I had to start with my color palette. As much as I love color, my head spins very fast and gets dizzy when trying to figure out the best combination of colors. I know what WORKS, but until I see it visually, I'm a jumble of thoughts.

This is where Design Seeds color palettes come into play. They're amazing! At first I didn't really care for them because most show subtle or value changes. This time I went to pinterest and found many palettes with variety. I'm stoked!



I based my choices on the photo being used for the color swatches. If the photo works...which is usually nature...then I know the color works. I also like how you have more colors to choose from BECAUSE of the photo. They don't swatch every color. Having those extra choices are great for backgrounds.

Once I print out the palette I go to my home made glazing color chart and view finder. I search for the colors within the palette and jot down the colors I need to re-create it. This takes a lot of the guess work out so I save time in the long run.


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There are two charts I'd like to point out. One is a mixed color chart. Here each square has been individually mixed and applied. Very grueling, especially if you have 20 colors in a palette like I do! I started this one years ago when I first stumbled upon this method by Suzie Short. I never finished it. :( Unfortunately my palette has changed so I can't use most of it.


The second one is a glazed color chart. Here you paint one set of color strips vertically, let them dry, and paint a second one horizontally, "glazing" one color on top of the other. I prefer this method and I grabbed it from this video by Kelly Eddington. Although it's for laying color on top of one another, not mixing, I can work from there and mix on my palette. I usually test the color out on a scrap piece of paper and alter it just a tad if I need to. Very rarely.


The other brand new approach to painting is the skin. I did a very traditional technique, wet onto wet. It's usually quite difficult since I paint so small, but thought I'd give it a go instead of my usual wet onto dry. To my surprise, it worked very well, and gives me a great base to start with. Yay! I used my usual gold, rose, and phthalo blue too. :)



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The Daily Sketch



I have discovered I'm not too chic about keeping up with a daily commitment. It's the effort that counts right? Numbering the Daily Sketches has already been off several times, so instead, I'm simplifying it more and NOT numbering them. They are dated, and that's enough for me. Just assume they'll be in each post. ;)

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3. The Daily Sketch

Oh no, one got left behind! It's ok, she's been found. :) 

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4. The Daily Sketch - Day 17

In a moment of great tension and stress (while driving I might add), I come over a hill and in the far off distance something bright white catches my attention. They are pigeons taking flight, and their bellies shine brightly of the morning sun. 

I am immediately made aware of my tense and negative attitude, and at the same time made aware that peace is present. 

Today is the day for white doves, and of course white pigeons. We are both, I am both. 

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5. It's Monday + Weekend Round Up


I believe this Martin Luther King Jr. quote is as true for the inside of ourselves as it is for the outside to others. We must drive out the darkness within our minds, and love ourselves. Thank you Dr. King for so many inspiring words and faith.

This past weekend was a whirl wind of a time! We did so much, that by Sunday I was tired enough to sleep through Norah waking up from her nap. Who knows how long she was in her crib playing before she finally started to let me know she wasn't happy there. I find these are the times I learn the most about myself, because they are also when I'm my weakest, most vulnerable, and busiest. Do you ever have weekends like that?

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It's a new week though, with new thoughts, new perspectives, and new schedules! I have discovered that every week is different with my schedule, time to  E • M • B • R • A • C • E  it! 



I tried something new this morning, I tried some meditative prayer. Like most women, my mind is always moving. Surprisingly it stayed pretty clear, and I think I caught myself drifting to sleep a couple of times (sitting up in the studio). Since then I've been very calm, and I knew I needed to get it down on paper, so I began this drawing. I look forward to working on her throughout the week during these times of peace every morning.

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After that first nap I give Norah all of my attention. We played around and got to ride on the dragon in the studio. It's so special to have her in the studio with me, even if I'm not working. I remember spending many days and nights in my dad's studio, and I wish the same for her.


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I struggled with my daily sketches these last few days. To find the joy and the motivation to draw when so drained is like pulling teeth for me. I feel like Tinkerbell, only able to handle one emotion at a time, except it's more than just emotions, but actions too. I did it, and I'm proud of myself for getting them done. It's okay to not be elaborate, or detailed, or whatever else I think I HAVE to be. Sometimes, just a simple sketch is all there needs to be.



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6. Love thy Studio + The Daily Sketch

A sink full of dirty half rinsed dishes; toys and paper scattered waiting for a foot to stomp on them; cluttered dining room table ranging from a stuffed bunny to a lint roller; laundry decorating our couch and our bedroom dresser; and shoes beckoning to be tripped over at the front door.

This is my house, most every day. It makes me feel squished, with no room to move without knocking something over or stepping onto something. I'm clumsy and that always means I will stub my toe, ram my elbow, slam my hand, or bang my knee. It's crazy how many nicks and bruises I get.

Yet, I look to my right and I see sun light beaming in from the windows in my studio.
An immediate "ahhh" relaxes my mind and all is right again.



If this winter has taught me anything, it's that my studio truly is my place of solitude. 


I used to tell people it was because I think artists are supposed to say that. It's expected of us to love our studio, a place where the creation happens, a place filled with things that inspire. Mine has been in a constant state of change since I moved away from home to college back in 2000.

When we moved into this house I was so excited to have a space I could settle in and not worry for a long time. I didn't expect it to be so cumbersome.

My studio has poor insulation, so during the hot Iowa summers and freezing Iowa winters, it's very uncomfortable at different times of the day. I've had to continuously change my schedule to fit. I've had to move everything constantly so that Brian could get to the windows for more insulation, or to add carpet scraps, or or or. And I know more is coming.

But this week, with all of the sun, regardless of the temp, my studio has been bright, warm, inviting, and mine. No more moving clutter to work on the dining room table, no more stepping on stuff when I get up to grab something I need, none of that. I feel whole.

I will bundle up, buy another mini heater for my toes, I will put a fan on my face and wear ice cubes, whatever it takes. I love my studio!

The icing on the cake? My daughter being able to spend time in the studio with me. That's what I've envisioned for a long time, my hope, my joy today. She makes the studio brighter with her smile, her giggle, and her curiosity. Bringing out the crayola crayons doesn't hurt either.



There is one other place in my entire house that I find peaceful and full of light. The only other place in the house that is always filled with the light rays, and that is our bathroom. It's silly, but when we moved in it was our first project, and it set the tone for the whole house (what we dream). It's full of birds. :)

It's so easy for me to be distracted by all the chores, they pull me away from my work and drain my creativity. Yet, last night, I didn't let it get to me. Here are this week's Daily Sketches and joys, #10, #11, and #12.




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7. The Daily Sketch - Weekend Bundle 1



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8. Taking Flight

For years I have felt clipped down. 

Every time I jump to fly I get cut down by my circumstances and emotions.
I have allowed them control of my life...ALL aspects of my life. As an artist this gives me a lot of substance to work with, but it also holds me back. Way back.

I prelude this post with that because I want you to understand where I'm coming from. As a wife to an amazing man (they're rare and I was blessed with one!); a mother to a baby girl who loves to make you laugh and smiles so bright; a homemaker with a solid, strong house we just can't believe is ours; a gift that I truly just adore, drawing truly is my soul; but I've been depressed, unhappy, at my ropes end over and over again, and I'm beyond tired.

I have talked about this before in past posts, it's not a secret that I keep, and I willingly share it because I know I AM NOT ALONE. Especially as a woman. We all suffer greatly with the multitude of responsibilities gifted to us. And I use the word gifted, because I now remind myself "I GET to be his wife, I GET to be her mom, I GET to do what I love for a living!". Wow, amen to that!

Back to what I'm saying...
my point is I'm done trying. I'm finished. Ta ta, bye bye, no more. It's over.

What better time to say that than the beginning of a new year! Here are some highlights of "wow" moments for me about this year:

15 years ago I graduated high school.
I am 33 this year, the same age Jesus was when he sacrificed his life for mine.
My daughter turns one January 28th.
My husband has been supporting us for 5 years.

I am at a place where I know now is the time to just stop. Stop trying to take control, stop making excuses, stop thinking so darn hard about what to do, and instead DO IT. Commit to my life.

Commit to my life.


I want to fly. I realized after years and years, the truth behind why I paint fairies, angels, and mermaids (thank you Kelly for helping me get there). It's because they are free, or at least symbolize freedom. For a mermaid there is no ground and sky, they roam all of it. For a fairy there is not ground or sky untouched, they grace all of it. Angels can transcend time and realms between earth and heaven. Freedom. Flight. I'm inspired and take a deep breath. Amazing.

Commitment.


I purchased the abilities to have a shop on my website, and the whole site will be changing in the next couple of months. I am so excited to see the support from you, my followers, on Etsy, but to be honest the fees are starting to wear at the income I need to bring in for our family. Plus I will be able to offer so much more on my site, including my book, coloring book, and more. I can't wait!



I also purchased my first e-book, Flying Lessons, by Kelly Rae Roberts. I must say, I'm floored by how spot on she is as a teacher and coach. She's very airy, in depth, and in tuned with her creative spirit. I had mentioned her in the past ( read Life Inspired post here ), and how she inspires me....oh buddy does she inspire me. Her words, colors, textures, and how she shares being a seeker of Joy, filled with light, hope, and possibilities. As an artist I truly believe there are those of us who are called to be artisans of light. I KNOW I am one of them. I KNOW who I want to be, deep down inside, just waiting for the permission to FLY.

Her e-book not only helps the business end of things (which she lays it all down and hides no detail from you), she goes deep into facing your fears, finding your inspiration, your passion, your quiet whispering voice just waiting to come out. And then asks you to commit to your creative business. Merging both. Being both. Living with the joy it brings. Loving YOU.

Loving me as ME.


My spiritual path has started this year with a bang of AH HA, it's so much more than the e-book. We found a new church home we are so at peace with, the new messages being given, new tools handed to me, and renewed, meaningful relationships. It's all falling together amongst chaos, and I give all of the credit to Jesus. It's scary to say that in the open because I know what is attached to that in so many ways, on so many levels, but as a former practicing witch, spiritually seeking wanderer, and a highly curious person, it is by his grace I am where I am today. I have to squint to stay focused, but I'm committed. Committed to him and my life.



There is so much more for my business, and to share. Changes are coming visually for the blog (it will most likely be moving) and website, my approach, and you may even see just a tad bit of change in how I paint. Look for it, and let me know what you think. I hope you're just as excited as I am.
Happy New Year everyone!

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9. The Daily Sketch - Day 6

As an exercise, I have been asked to spend the month listing what brings me joy every day. Just one thing. It's so easy to forget being thankful, joy-filled... in many of our daily circumstances. I hope you have found joy today. 



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10. The Daily Sketch - Day 7

I got the biggest hug this morning from Norah, a true hug. My heart melted. And yep, I can draw things without wings!



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11. The Daily Sketch - Day 5

No excuses. Missed a day. Letting it go and being a focused warrior today, fighting the negative thoughts that fill the mind when you believe the lie that you are lacking. Not truth. So I fight. Gotta use those wings sometime. 



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12. The Daily Sketch - Day 4

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13. The Daily Sketch - Day 3

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14. The Daily Sketch - day 2

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15. The Daily Sketch

Like many im not one for new year resolutions, but this is one that I naively attempted in 2014 when Norah was born. Boy, did reality hit hard in regards to drawing time (on top of sketching on envelopes). 



This year is new, different, and I don't want to let go of the sketching I received through the envelope art. So here it is, the start of my Daily Sketch Journal. 

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16. New Traditions

Today we are still celebrating Thanksgiving in my family. My side on Thanksgiving Day, Brian's side on Friday, and Saturday is the day we set up for Christmas. These are our traditions.

I have strong views about consumerism mixed with Thanksgiving, and my heart isn't aligned to shop.

So I had this crazy idea, that on Black Friday, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, because I am so very thankful for all who follow, support, and encourage my work, I'd give something out for free. Instead of a sale promo in your inbox, you get something free as a Thank You!

I hope to create more down the road, but here are some free desktop wallpapers for your computer, tablet, and phone. Below that are three different coloring pages that you can print out to color with friends and family.

Now go have some fun already!

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320 x 480 
1024 x 768 
1680 x 1050 
1920 x 1200 

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17. SAHM Artists Need Help


I have always been a free bird, doing something the hard way... a hundred times to get it done, impulse buyer and doer, and I love to organize but hate to follow organization/schedules. So when we had Norah on top of all this, I felt a bit topsy turvy. How do you stay full time mom, full time artist, and full time wife?


Help. Lots and lots of help.

I'm sitting here writing this post as my mom does my dishes. It's something she truly enjoys doing for us on a monthly basis (often times twice a month). And it's AH MA ZING! There are many Fridays where she leaves work early and comes to give Norah hugs and kisses (and books, and play, and animal sounds, and walks), that frees me up for an hour or two. Big help.

On Tuesdays my mother in law, Karen, watches Norah for several hours in the morning. A good chunk of time to get some painting done, and Norah gets a lot of snuggly hugs.

Wednesdays I have my dear friend Andi come and watch her for several hours in the morning with coffee and then we all do lunch.

On Thursdays my sister in law, Joni, watches her for a couple hours while I go sit at a coffee shop and breathe. When my niece and nephew get out of school the cousins hang out for a bit together. Great family time.

My sister, other friends, and our parents will help watch her in the evenings so Brian and I can have date nights.

And then there's my hubby. He does so much! After a long day at work he comes home, grabs Norah out of my hands, and he's on daddy duty for the rest of the night. I can get so much done because of his willingness to do the evenings. Same with the weekends, we alternate.

I am always curious as to how stay at home moms who are also artists get their work done with a baby/toddler around. Norah has gotten to a stage where I can get very little done while she is awake and I have to give in to that. I WANT to give in to that and watch her explore, learning about the world around her.

I would not be able to get what I get done without the help of others. I know some who do, and that just blows me away. I applaud them with a standing ovation because I know myself well enough I would overheat and give up. My discipline still has strides of work to go in the field of 'getting it done'. It takes a lot of practice!

I have messed up in my business because of the many, many tasks I do, I have allowed Norah to watch tv so I can get a task done, I have even let her stay in the crib wanting out after a nap just to finish up an Etsy listing (I am aware these are very normal events all of us parents do), I have mailed orders out later than intended because I simply got overwhelmed and forgot, and I have checks that have sat around waiting to be deposited from months ago.

I'm not ashamed, and won't be. I will be realistic that life happens, and stuff needs to get done. My daughter has me all of the time, and I give almost just as much into my marriage and business. I think we're good. I say it all the time, but it never seems like enough....

I am SO BLESSED to have the life, the people, the husband, and the time I have today.
Wow. So good!

How do you manage life?
My situation is we can't afford childcare or babysitters, and I understand everyones situation or circumstance is very different from the other. This is how we make it work. 


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18. Mini Inspirations

It started here. I made five fairy busts for my book demonstrating the different ways to approach painting skin tones.


It then moved onto this without me realizing it, I began doodling them with this crazy spiral hair during Inktober.


At the end of October I listed the five busts from my book to be sold during my first Flash Sale at my Etsy shop. They went so fast! I didn't think something so small and so simple would be that popular.


Once the sale was all finished and I had so many envelopes to draw on, I decided to continue with these wee fairy busts as a way to "brand" the sale. I came up with a simple design and modified it for each envelope. Every envelope from a sale during that day has a fairy bust drawn on it. You can view all of them on my Facebook Page.

Now, with all of that said and done, here is where I have ended up.


I think I am border line obsessed with these wee ladies. They are quick, full of sweet personality, and I really can't wait to paint them. I envision them in tiny ornate frames hanging together or in the smallest of nooks and crannies around the house. Just like a fairy! They measure about 2x2 inches.

I love them so much I made myself into one!


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19. Envelope Art

This year I am creating original sketches on all of my orders going out through Etsy. If even just an ACEO (2.5x3.5 inch print) is purchased, the customer will receive an original sketch on the envelope.

With a new baby I don't get a lot of time to just sketch, this has been a great way to get some sketching in while at the same time treating my customers with something special.

My customers mean a lot to me and this is one way I can show them. 

These sketches are not scanned in and saved, or reproduced. They are sketched, photographed for my own documentation, and then mailed off. Who knows, maybe one of them will become a painting some day. Now wouldn't that be fun! :)





 Visit my Facebook Page for a current album of envelope art!
Album here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152367583837472.1073741828.50735862471&type=3


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20. Tip: Doodling on Art

How scary is it to you to just begin doodling onto a piece you admire and have 'finished'? 

What if I told you is healthy and wise to do this from time to time? 

I believe it is. As an instructor I always look for ways to push my students ever so slightly out of their comfort zone (or sometimes, way out of their comfort zone...but more on that a different time).

Doodling straight onto the watercolor, around or on an already exisiting piece, demands several thoughts at once. You thinking about composition, you make your marks with more meaning and intent, but at the same time you're doodling!


What is doodling?

doo·dle
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), doo·dled, doo·dling.1.to draw or scribble idly: He doodled during the whole lecture.2.to waste (time) in aimless or foolish activity.3.Dialect to deceive; cheat.noun4.a design, figure, or the like, made by idle scribbling.5.Archaic. a foolish or silly person.

So let's focus on the art part. In all seriousness, it's to not think, yet to just do idly.  When you doodle on a piece that you've already invested in you're using both your right brain and your left. A great exercise!

I encourage you to find a piece, one that MATTERS to you, one you've INVESTED in, and do some doodling upon it. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, just something you ENJOY.

Look up Zentangles if you haven't before, they're great inspiration. ;)

What does it do for the art?

It's great for the mind and practice, but what does it really do for the art? How is this a tip for drawing?

Doodles are loose, highly creative, and usually detailed. They can add a great layer of interest and some of the best ideas, ones that can compliment your subject, will come through. It will keep the viewer's eyes moving and interested. I find some of my best backgrounds come when I don't plan them. 


I'm interested in seeing what you've done. Please post in the comments below and share your work!

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21. Studio Tip - Hot Pressed Prep

Prep your hot pressed watercolor paper while it is still attached to the watercolor block. 


Although watercolor blocks lean more on the expensive end, they are far more easier to work with. You don't have to stretch your paper with tape or a staple gun. 

Simply spray your paper so it is saturated with a spray bottle. Next, take a flat brush and even out the water on the paper's surface. Lastly pick up any water that drips on the sides of your block or table surface with a paper towel.

Let it dry completely before you transfer your image or begin painting.

By doing this it will loosen the sizing in the paper and allow the fibers to relax, which in turn will let the watercolor absorb easier into the paper. If you don't prep the paper with water on hot press, you tend to get a more wax resist reaction. 

Happy painting!
:)

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22. Special Edition - RAVEN'S EVE

Raven's Eve - 2005
RAVEN'S EVE was painted in 2005. It is one of the last pieces in my 'dark' period, where I painted many vampires, gothic heroes, and my palette consisted of many reds, blacks, blues, and more blacks.

Grab this Special Edition print on my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/204576124/halloween-wolf-art-print-full-moon

She will be available until my birthday on November 19, 2014.

RAVEN is a character I designed in high school, who followed me all the way out of college. She was created after viewing the movie "The Crow", and was my way to express the depression and loneliness I was feeling at the time. Most teens do. Since her beginning she has come a long way.

Raven lost everything very young, including her soul. She spent years searching for purpose, looking for a way to fill the void within her heart, but finds no relief. She is immortal, but not fully vampire. She was human, but now there isn't a word for what she is. Raven has been a hired assassin...as her void and depression allow her to null out the emotions, and she has fought for justice as well. She is neither good or evil. 

This character is no longer needed in my life. I found the missing piece I was searching for, and it was and is Jesus. Love. When I painted this piece I was starting to transition from a practicing witch to a practicing follower of Christ. Surprisingly, it wasn't that big of a leap for me, as my story led perfectly into His.

The piece RAVEN'S EVE symbolizes her strength and confidence in who she is at the time she was painted. The wolves symbolizing gentleness, wisdom, and maybe some purity. The daggers...well....we all sin every day and they represent that. But also death, death to the old self...the self that has already been dead for so long.


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23. Life Inspired

"Leaf Sprite" Tin

Lindsey Stirling strings, autumn leaves, pattern, floral, clean lines, crisp mornings, Mucha, sunlight, comfy sweaters, and the list can go on and on. Many things inspire me, constantly. It wasn't until this week I stopped to actually LOOK at what inspires me, and WHAT it does to me.


I am changed by it, and I alter myself to fit whatever "it" is. If an artist inspires me, my work takes on some of their style and technique. The same goes for clothes and fashion. Or quite possibly the way I arrange my house. How about changing myself because of how someone lives, and being inspired by their beautiful life? All based on what I see, of course, not knowing the day to day. Which leads to how my life is seen on social media and in crowds of other artists.

I'm impressed by how impressionable I am, and this week it made me wonder - "Am I missing who I am?"

"Believe in Yourself" Original Art Journal

I believe it is healthy to be inspired by others. Jesus asked us to follow Him, do as He did. It isn't mentioned to be inspired, but He inspires me to be loving, caring, and full of grace. Yet on the other hand, there's a line that can be crossed into changing just to be accepted, to feel worthy, or to gain superficially.

I asked a fundamental question in church one Sunday about six months ago...Who Am I? I prayed to be shown who God says I am. It's a very large struggle of mine - for many of us - and it's been present for as long as I can remember.



My Quest? To feel free to be who I was designed to be. The other night I stumbled upon Kelly Rae Robert's website. An artist I have always been drawn to and admire, yet just now actually following her.  She openly shares her self discovery, and while reading her website it clicked. Her story, along with her business, creative soul, being a first time mom, and insecurities that are faced made me realize I'm OK.

"Dance to Your Own Beat" Original Art Journal

I felt this release to BE ME. You could actually see the JOY in her. The PEACE within herself. I have been seeking peace my whole life, especially since my daughter was born. It could be the new mommy stress and sleeplessness, but I believe it's old stuff heightened.

I have this tribal, gentle, feisty, fiery self inside waiting to take off and FLY.

Who am I? Who do you say I am?
I am free to be who you created me to be. I am free to express my light with no fear of what this world will say.
I was given an imagination to share. To lift peoples hearts, to bring them peace and love. To take them into their dreams and fantastical places.
I am a person and soul very much loved. I am loved by SO MANY people! I am so filled with love I even have some left over to give. I am more full, more accepted, then I ever realized.
I am a child of light, of His light. A light of love. I am His child filled with the grace, mercy, power, love, strength, courage, and forgiving spirit that He has. I am a child of light called to share my light. I am NOT darkness, I am NOT pain, I am NOT disgusting, dirty, unforgivable, or hopeless.
 
Another thought Kelly brought to my heart through her writing, was her understanding of who she is. A seeker of Joy. She lives for joy through and through. I am meditating on this. If there was one word to describe me - humm...I'm not sure yet. I'm still figuring this out, but it gives me one thing..focus for my spirit, soul, art, and not just for me, but for my daughter Norah (light), and my husband Brian (strength).

My name, Sara, means princess. I want to be a princess of dreams and light.


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24. Why Halloween Doesn't Matter Anymore

Happy Halloween! 


It used to be my favorite holiday. Seriously, over Christmas. Who needs gifts when you can dress up into your wildest fantasy? That's what I used to think. 

The question I ask myself this morning, on Halloween, is:

The image on the left was painted in 1996. I was in 8th grade, obsessed with the movie "The Crow", listening to heavy metal,  and addicted to Gen 13 and Witchblade comic books. I believe it was around that time I dressed like the Catwoman from Batman Returns for Halloween. Whip and all. Yep, I thought I was quite the bad girl. I hid behind a made up character I named "Raven", who I drew all the time, made stories for, and just simmered there. Angry and lost.



She followed me all through high school and into my freshman year of college.

1997
1998
1999

In college she began to morph, just a little. And although I invented other stories to hide myself behind, she was always there. I tried so hard to hold on and not forget who I thought I was.

2003 - Heavily into Manga and still learning watercolor

2004 - Style used for my senior project in college.

When I left college the real soul searching started. I continued to practice witchcraft, but grew in my watercolor and figure drawing skills. I entered into some really difficult relationships, did my years of exploring the night life, and hit rock bottom.

Enter the church. Now wait, don't jump the gun yet. There was LIGHT. I lived in the shadows so long, it was refreshing and very unexpected. I was skeptical but continued to find faith in it. I always had faith I would find LOVE. Find TRUTH. Find WHO I WAS. Who I AM. 

I can't paint the darkness like what's above anymore. I try, and this is what happens:



This image (just below), after many years of searching, is the truth of who I am. I hide behind masks to protect my heart, but it's golden because I am a child of light, the daughter of He who is LIGHT. I wander through the night, not because I am lost, because I'm hunting evil and snuffing it out to make the night safe and beautiful. I have wings so that I can fly, because I am free. These are the truths I have learned through the years, and it is because of these truths I can not go back. I am glad that Raven is now a face who smiles, who comforts, who flies in to bring LIGHT. Not death, pain, or sadness. 


So Halloween you say? Sure, I'll dress up, I'll laugh and find the joy in it, but the holiday used to have such meaning to me - freedom to hide. I think today as we celebrate dressing up and scaring away ghosts and goblins, I see myself as a warrior who doesn't need to hide anymore behind costumes, it doesn't matter anymore. So, I'll happily eat some zombie finger pretzels and begin to look forward to Christmas, when family, love, light, and joy are all dancing about. 


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25. Tutorial - Background Color Around A Subject

Laying in a background color around a subject can be tricky, and it can be very frustrating, especially after taking the careful time to draw out all of your details. It can be approached loosely, or with a tight hand. I will demonstrate both.

Keep in mind, these are my methods, and by no means the ONLY way to go about it. Watercolor painting is a very personal in application. Trial and error are the best ways to learn the medium. The worst thing you can do for your painting is get furious and give up. Give yourself grace and have patience.

Okay, here we go.

Set Up



Place your water, paper towel, and paints on the side you write with, keeping your painting in the middle. Grouping your supplies will help you grab what you need more efficiently.


Choose your brushes. I usually have three different sizes on hand. They are #2, #5, and a #12 (or around that). These are not my BEST kept brushes, and are typically used for events such as this.


Prepare enough paint to fill the space you're going to cover. Choose a transparent color, like my Sap Green here. It will allow light go travel through down to the white of the paper and back. Trust me. I have also chosen a color that will work well with the other colors I'm going to lay down, such as blues, yellows, and reds.

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Painting Around the Subject
The Tight Hand Approach



Choose the smallest of your brushes to start, but keep that medium size close by. You want it to be small enough to get into the tight spots, but large enough to hold a decent amount of paint/water mix. You can see I have placed it close to the face (most important to me) to ensure I'll be able to get in around the nose and lips with the point of the brush. 


Scary part, start laying in the color. Charge (meaning fill the brush) with your color making sure it's full. Lay down next to the subject, but NOT along your line. Give yourself wiggle room. Make a little 'puddle' of paint, but don't over extend it. The idea is to keep plenty of wet paint sitting there, hence the 'puddle'.


Now pull from the puddle to your line with the color. Slow down here...it should all be wet enough to give you at least a moment to do this. It will take practice to find your sweet speed spot. Remember, give yourself grace. 


To prevent unwanted lines, RIGHT after you do some of the face move to the other side of your puddle with a rinsed brush. Fade it out, this way, if it dries, you'll be able to paint and fade over it giving the illusion that you painted it all at once. ;) NOTICE I didn't do the entire face all the way down. 


Work in little puddles/spots and work your way down and around, using the same method over and over again.


Again, fading out with a rinsed brush and clean water, getting rid of any unwanted crisp edges.


With this method I can confidently move away from my subject and begin to venture out. You may need to switch to your medium sized brush to have enough paint and water.


I will begin to add droplets of clean water in to help give my background texture, depth, and this will give the eye something to look at other than what I may have missed. Naturally, in my opinion, this is the most beautiful characteristic of watercolor, they're called blooms.

You can continue the entire painting with this approach. 

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Painting Around the Subject
The Loose Approach


Grab your big brush and charge it up. Lay down a good size puddle, but small enough that you still have a puddle (remember, don't over extend your paint). Also, don't go to your lines, you need the space between.


Rinse out your brush and return to the edge of your puddle, pulling the paint towards and OVER your line art. You are fading out the color on top of your subject. 


Like with the tight approach, take your rinsed brush and fade out the back end of the puddle. Repeat.


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Touching Up


In the tiniest of spots, take your smallest brush and pull the wet paint in. If it's dry charge your brush, but first dab it on your paper towel so that it won't over flow or bubble in the tight space you're painting. Try to match the intensity of the color.


If there are crisp edges you don't want...


...go back in with a rinsed brush and clean water, gently scrub and fade them out.


There are tiny little white spots left around the forehead and nose...see them?


Very lightly, and very gently, with your small brush, pull the paint left in the crisp edge onto the white. Go in, lightly do this, and get out. Too much scrubbing too aggressively will leave inconsistent marks you don't want.

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Fading Color on top of Faded Color


Just to show I know what I'm talking about, once your first faded section is dry, go in to a new section and start again with a puddle.


Keep making puddles and scooting/painting them over the dry faded area. Once you've overlapped start to fade out your puddle with a rinsed brush. Again, might take some practice, so use light water droplets if you need to. ;)

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Finishing It Up



Good Luck!
And feel free to ask me any questions or if there is something you need a tutorial in I'd be happy to help out if I can. 

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