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Viewing Blog: Charting New Horizons, Most Recent at Top
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A blog about an adventure a brand new children's author and established artist embark on together in creating a new children's book series. Read about the trip Kimberlee and Helena take as they both break new ground for themselves. It is going to be an exciting ride!
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1. We are live!

As of yesterday my website for Universal Messages went live! For awhile I could not reach it and come to find out that Godaddy was hacked yesterday too! So I think they took the servers down to clean them up. Nevertheless, my site is alive now! Please go check it out!

I am still awaiting Red Cross to respond to my request to use their logo on my site. I decided not to wait for their response for the book. I guess this is something I should have started like 6 months ago because it feels to me like it will take them that long to respond.

I also have a blog section of the webpage and will most likely be discontinuing this blog and using that one primarily. We will be setting up a following there as well, so please, by all means jump over there to continue to follow our path.

Beatrice and Raymond will be coming out in less than 3 weeks now. Publisher won't give me an exact date, which is a bit frustrating, but I am going with it. And I am still awaiting my press release! I will share all news as I know it and I am super happy to have made it this far and can see the finish line. I'm already researching my next book and am looking for others to contribute ideas as well. See on the Universal Messages webpage where you can send me ideas. Together we can insure that none of these Universal Messages die out. This is only the beginning! :) 

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2. Bullet Train

After what seemed like forever trying to get this project off the ground, I have reached the point where things are going very quickly lately, almost at lightning speed. The proof of the book is in my hands, electronically. The marketing consultant is calling me every few days. I received a new coordinator at the publisher 2 days after providing some feedback on the performance of my last one. I requested a consultation with the design team who did the layout and they called me this weekend (which they apparently don't usually do).  They normally go by email direction only. Once I decide on the final comments, there is only the final quality assessment and then it will be put in the line to be printed! I also discovered that the unusual accent, which I could not place, of my coordinator was due to the fact that she is in the Phillipines even though the publisher is out of Indiana.

I have consulted with a good friend of mine on marketing and decided to have her company help me with my website. Thanks to Facebook we were recently re-connected after 20 years! I bought a website domain name consistent with my company name. I used GoDaddy on recommendation from others. I need to sign up for web hosting. This is all new to me and I have no idea how much space I need. I most likely need to complete the layout to determine the space.  I will most likely go with the publisher's marketing deal for press releases in 5 major cities around the country. My friend will also tap her resources, and then there is the connection with the American Red Cross to make.

I am trying to control the speed of this train and make sure we don't hit any caribou along the way to the destination. And I am trying to keep my budget in check. I am starting graduate school in the fall and need to really take some time to figure what my budget can handle and how much I can put into it right now. For tonight though, this engineer needs some sleep. 

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3. Making Progress!

John has sent me all the final illustrations and I have sent them into the publisher tonight! Yeah! Editing is done, so now we only have to work with the layout designers to pick the font and place it! I have decided that the charity I will be sending profits to on this book is the American Red Cross. The theme is learning to accept change and the American Red Cross is there for people in the most tragic moments and helps them to deal with great change. So I feel this is a good fit.

Coming soon...my company logo! 

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4. It's Better If I Am Wrong.

This is the first book that I have done illustrations for. It is really amazing to be able to branch away from what I typically do as an artist, and to have an opportunity to stretch myself into an uncomfortable place to create something amazing. Though I had never attempted illustrations for a children's book, when I took on this project I had a really clear vision of how the process should go. I had ideas for the characters, how they would look and feel. I knew exactly how the background would look, and how the colors and shapes would come alive on the page. I knew the mediums that I would use. I knew the process that I would take to create these images as sketches and how I would bring them together in a final format. However, upon moving through the sketching process, actually bringing all of these ideas together in a final format was a totally different story.

One of my most valuable qualities is being wrong, and being opportunistic enough to do something about it. While this may be my first book this isn't my first creative project. I have learned to never be afraid of admitting that "Plan A" isn't working and that something needs to change. I had the ideas all sketched out and I was beginning to bring them into more of a final format. I probably could have been done with these illustrations a month ago but I wasn't fully satisfied with the way that the images were coming together. It was way too easy and comfortable. I didn't feel like I had put enough of myself into the project. That's not Art, not for me. I never let myself get away that easy. Every bit of my Art, whether commercial or personal, contains my brain, my blood, my sweat, my self deprecation. If I don't freak out at least once through the process then it isn't worth it. It is through telling myself "I suck" that I actually become better. If "Plan A" works every time, then chances are I am not stretching myself far enough.

I trashed what I was initially working on and began to take a few different approaches. What I have settled on has taken the process farther from just sketches and watercolor paintings. I am not going to detail the entire process here, but the final illustrations will be a fusion of colored pencil drawings, photography, and digital painting/manipulation. I have sent some working proofs to Kimberlee for approval to make sure that I was still on track, but even she hasn't seen exactly how everything will be coming together as a finished product, exciting isn't it?

Here a are a few teaser pics from my progress so far. No spoilers though :)

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5. Book Illustrations are in full swing!

Hello All!!! I wanted to stop by and give a quick update. The illustrations have been in progress for a few weeks, and all of the sketching that I have been working on is starting to pay off. I am currently working on developing each of the characters. The process has been a little slower than I had originally anticipated. I started with a more cartoonish and simple style for the characters. The simplistic style proved to be too easy for me and I was not satisfied with the result so I have tried a few other angles until I finally arrived at the perfect combination of style for these characters. Now that I have found my stride I am confident that the rest of the design will come together really nicely. I am going to keep pushing this pencil around until the rest of it falls together. Perhaps we will post up some sneek peeks for you sometime soon :)


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6. Getting the Ball Rolling Again...

John is on the job, and editing has been in my possession for months now. No, for over a year! My publisher is calling again and it's time to get this book done! I am seriously shocked with myself that I have sat on this for an entire year.  O_o

Well, I had lost my way and needed to find a way to get the book illustrated.  I debated, had people suggest new artists, student artists, etc. But to me,  it didn't feel right. Destiny brought me to John and I decided to give him a chance. He has been in touch and has started on the sketches and I hope to see him soon. We set up a contract and I paid a portion to get started, I will pay a portion upon delivery of the sketches, and I will pay the final portion upon completion. He seems dedicated in everything he does, so I am hopeful it will work out.

As far as editing I have been dragging my feet. I did edit and address the editors comments months ago, but waited to send it back. I still find it is good to let things sit awhile with writing. I did get back to it today after getting yet one more message from my publisher. So, I re-reviewed and sent it in! It has one more editing cycle and then they shift me to the people who assist with the layout.

The marketing department called me last week from the publisher too which I think was quite nice. When I get closer to release they will coach me and assist in doing some things I am not, so as not to duplicate but to assist. They have big marketing packages, but since this is all out of my pocket anyway, I am going to take the best advice and leave it to faith, my friends, and any followers I may develop along the way.

I spoke with a CPA too about how to be able to take a loss before I make a profit. Again. I want the profit to go to charity and hope I can at least make back what I have put into it.

I also used a local company to help me design a logo for the book series/company.  I have sat on their suggestions lately too. So I plan to get back to that and will share that with you all once I decide on the best design. Deciding is the hardest part. For now though, I have set things back in motion with the universe. 

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7. Introducing John!

John Garancheski III is my new partner on this book project and will be providing the illustrations for it! 

As I wrote previously, John got my attention when he produced a flier for a benefit I am assisting next weekend. After checking out his website, I was drawn to his passion for artistic creation and drive for living in every moment. His site stated, "86,400 Seconds in a day. What are you creating?" 

I perused his art and fell in love with the style of some of his sketchbook images, speci

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8. New Year, New Approach!

With the New Year almost upon us I want to take a moment to wish you all health, happiness and great success in 2012! My wish is to get this book completed in 2012. 2012 will also be the year of the dragon and is said to be dramatic fortunes and dramatic losses. Everything will be grand. Here's hoping we get more of the fortunes and success coming our way.

I have been contemplating a pen name since my real name is quite a challenge and quite long. Looking for something shorter. Kim for sure but was considering Grace as a last name and well, that brings up some images unfit to be associated with a children's book. But I really love the name. Should I go with it or go with Kim Hart? Or maybe even just change the spelling of Kim? to Kimm? (this is what my mother made me do in elementary school because I complained that Kimberlee was too long) or Kym? Again - going for simplicity so I am not sure and need to settle this pretty soon.

Give me your thoughts! and Happy New Year! 

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9. New developments!

Helena and I finally were able to tag up and unfortunately her life has changed ironically putting her into a position where she can no longer help with the project. I do hope to work with her one day, but it will not be in the very near future. She is putting her energy into her jewelry line, which is also fabulous. You can check out her work at the following link:

So I have had to refocus and search for alternatives to illustrate this book. I currently have found 2 different artists willing to take on the book. I am asking for a concept from each with prices per image, since my "free" deal didn't work out with Helena.  I am very grateful that she was willing to go down the path with me and donate art until we picked up a firm publishing deal. Given that the 2 artists I am considering are also full time artists it is only fair that they are compensated for the work upfront. I think that is the best way to proceed. (and only)  One artist does more simple cartoonist art and 3-D animation and the other one (John Garancheski)  is a tattoo artist with what appears to be great graphics skills which align closer to my original vision for the book. http://www.johngarancheski.com/

I found John because he designed a logo for an upcoming charity event  I am assisting with for Make-A-Wish foundation in the Baltimore Area January 14th. If you are in the Baltimore Area come out on Jan. 14th for a great cause!

I will be sending in the script for final editing soon - over the holidays. And I called the company from which I received a free logo design and business cards credit. Graphics By Kandi: http://graphicsbykandi.com/
I have an appointment to meet with them on Monday Jan. 2! I will be taking my logo I designed to see what they think and maybe what else they come up with for the series which may be more reproducible. So I will be starting off the New Year pressing ahead with completing this project!

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10. Minor Delays...

Wow, well, we have really let things age. Just looking and the last post was in May. I am at the point of dusting things off and sending in the manuscript for the final editing stage. Months ago Helena also had to put the illustrations aside for other higher priority work. I am hoping that we can get back to it. We waited for the summer light for her painting,  it breaks my heart for her not to be able to use the lighting. She also had wiated to get a new studio. Once she got a new studio set up, and just when we were making some headway, the universe sidetracked us. Summer is ending, Vacations are over. School is starting. A new phase of life is ramping up. So I am going to go back at it. I am going to go forth with the editing of the script, with the trademarking of the series, and logo generation.  Time to get back on the band wagon.

For me working with NASA too, the Shuttle is done. It is an end of an era. Many people are transitioning from one job to another or are leaving on a search for something new. I wish I had this book completed as it is a perfect time for it. And yet, it is never to late for these messages.

I called Helena today, but didn't reach her. Hopefully we can get this book back on track soon. Thanks again for following our journey. 

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11. Letting Things Age

So being as such my father is hitting a milestone today and Helena's mother,  I thought this title was fitting. Sometimes it is good to let something age, sit, fester, settle, or sink in. The rough edges become smoother. The fruit ripens. I edited about a month ago and have just been waiting a bit (mostly because I couldn't find the time) before responding to my publisher. Now my publisher has been calling, Helena and I need to tag up on the illustrations, and I owe her the revised editing version and any other thoughts.

Tonight I got the kids in bed and got to work. The timing was just right. The editing had risen sufficiently like a nice Russian kulich. :) I drafted the storyboard to the side of the stances with more certainty of the flow and what should accompany the final wording.  I've counted a total of 16 illustrations. Ten large two-page spanning illustrations and 6 small spot illustrations.  Some would be slight changes from one to the other....and I am hoping that we can still get this released this year. But time goes so so fast.

 I also recently won a free logo design. I am debating whether to use it for my series or to give/donate it to someone that could maybe use it more. I really like my logo, but maybe it could be tweaked/simplified in some magical way..... I may just use it. It came to me for a reason, right?

For me June will go really fast. I have a training class and travel to attend to for work. I am hoping that Helena with the longer daylight hours can make good progress now with my final draft and the updated story board in hand. Next for me is re-submitting and it going through the grammar and punctuation editing, or what they call the heavy lifting editing.

I just know this is going to be magnificent. I can't wait to see it all coming together and be working with the layout team. It's just a matter of time. 

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12. Editing, editing, editing

So, I have not had much time to sit and contemplate the suggested edits lately. Spring break came up and I spent a lot of time with my kids and work has been so busy that I have preferred to read a book or enjoy some other relaxation time without being in the creative mode. Oddly enough my sinuses are killing me and I have had a very rough weekend with them, but tonight after taking a 24 hour Sudafed and my 4th or 5th neti pot intervention, my head is feeling much clearer and I spent the last hour pouring into re-writes. It is really not many lines re-written but takes a lot of thought to keep the same general intent and flow of the story. I am quite pleased with my edits but would like some others to look at them before I re-submit.  So I may call upon some friends to take a look-see. :)

The other day too when I was home with my sick daughter and trying to work from home while she got into everything in the house it seemed I received a call from my editing consultant. Of course they are going to try to sell me more editing packages than the consultant package that came with my publishing package. And maybe I will consider it, but we are a little too far off. I would love to be farther along in the game, and yet early promotion is not such a bad thing. I just have no idea how to project timing of completion at this point. I want to do this right, not spend a lot of money, and to be successful. And I would like to complete it this year. Hopefully with spring coming Helena will have many more daylight hours to create and with my editing complete we will have a final storyboard from which she can create!  The other thing I did today was to watch the launch of the next International Space Station (ISS) crew from Kazakhstan. And so if you have never seen such a thing, please do take a gander.

On interesting thing for me is the little stuffed animal toy that they always hang from a string. It is fun and tells them - if they can't feel it already - they do - that they have reached micro-gravity when it starts to float. About 9 min and 23 seconds in when they come back from a drop out in communication the little dog is floating.  I think there is another reason for it and I would have to wake up my husband for that info. So we'll just leave it at that tonight. May you dream of your new horizons!

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13. Like Christmas! or a First Date?

Today upon reading my email when getting home I discovered that my manuscript had been returned from the editor! Yeah! It's just like Christmas, or maybe more like a first date. Did they like it? How many comments did they make? When I open it will I be utterly deflated as a writer, or will I be disappointed that maybe they didn't put their heart into it?

I opened it, after having to download a free unzip program because my WinZip trial had expired. (I'm not paying for a simple thing I can get for free.) And, I was not disappointed! I think they gave it a fair review. Good productive comments and some atta girl comments too for certain parts! Especially the ending! They love the ending! So I am so excited and motivated to really critique it with regard to their comments and well, you can see a bit for yourself my cover letter and pages one and two. Page three is hidden behind. Not all the red is bad. As I said they also included positive comments too. I am pleased with Author House so far.

Just for your reading pleasure, and because I am so excited here is an excerpt from their cover letter to me:

Dear Kimberlee Prokhorov:
It has been my pleasure to assist in the Developmental Edit of your manuscript, Beatrice and Raymond. It’s a beautiful story, and I’m confident it will reassure young readers that change is something to embrace instead of fear. 

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14. Interior Art

Today I was working on the first 2 page spread for our book. I've already worked up a very rough sketch indicating placement and proportion, and Kimberlee shared what she was envisioning. The first sketches are always rough because there will be changes and unforeseen developments. No need to waste time and effort on tight detailed drawings at this stage. The sketch at left is on tracing paper that allows for quick erasing and placement of elements before starting the actual painting. I quickly traced over sketches in my sketchbook, placing them in the template sized 8 x 11 inches per page and adapting size and proportion. We decided to add a loose border treatment of slender vines or branches and drape the art along the lower portion of both pages. I like to keep some butterfly wings, my sketches and reference materials near by.

I work with layers and scraps of of tracing paper, making small changes then attaching them right over the rough draft. Not having to erase or redraw something speeds up production time and helps my ideas formulate without breaking the flow. At top right you can see some of my botanical references, sketch pad and multiple layers of sketched ideas.

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15. Ever seen a beautiful caterpillar?

See below for accompanying music by The Cure - The Caterpillar. (one of my favorites) 

So, as you have seen Beatrice, she has an early version of herself to portray in the book and that is herself in caterpillar form. Have you ever seen a beautiful caterpillar face?  They can be quite scary as I am sure nature intended to ward off predators.
Alice in Wonderland - type caterpillar
Many artists have made cute little caterpillars, but they are very cartoonish.

The trick is, how will Helena convey a caterpillar face which is realistic, yet able to emote for the story? I cannot wait to see what she comes up with. (yes - I ended in a preposition.) I consider blogs more of casual spoken English which is not always the most proper. Anyway, Helena has been busy with the things that are bringing in an income for her - so you blame her? So, she requested my help in finding more caterpillar faces for her. Here is what I was able to find. Hopefully it will give her inspiration. If not, maybe the song will. :)

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16. Bios and Beatrice

So I am proceeding forth with my submission of material and want everything to go smoothly. Despite being under the weather lately, Helena has finished the painting we anticipate for use as the cover image! I love it, but I love all her work so I think I could never be disappointed. :)

I have sent the bios off to a friend for review. Another pair of eyes never hurts even though I did pay for professional editing. I also am going to go forth with registering the name of my book series. So please wish me success in that area. I have done brief searches and did not find any thing with the same name registered so I hope it is not rejected. I don't really want to hire a trademark lawyer, but.....maybe I will check around with some other sources first. I know someone who works at a brand marketing company. Maybe they could do a brief service for me at a minimal price.

And hopefully spring will be here soon and Helena will have more daylight to paint and I cannot wait to see more of Beatrice. This is they type of butterfly Beatrice is: Polyommatus icarus. She is so beautiful, is she not? 

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17. Author in the House!

Helena has been taking such wonderful steps to move things forward with the project, I felt it was time for me to do something on my end to keep the momentum moving forward. I have researched trademarking and believe that I will pursue that soon. But what I really needed to dive into is the world of self publishing. I needed to educate myself more on the process, the services, the types of publishers, and figure out what is really right for me, for Helena and I, and for this project to be successful.  Success is not the only key, but to also have the outcome we want, and for us to be in control.

My vision is one I want to make come true and start on this journey having the end product most represent this vision. Not that I could even convince a top end publishing house to be interested in my stories yet, but they will hand the story over to an editor whom has their own vision based on what they read. They may not be versed in the background, and may not convey the original intent with the right style illustrations, colors, sense, feelings, or overall package. So this is part of the reason why I intended to self publish first. To, 1) have control, and 2) Because the odds are against someone who is not yet established in the market. And I have a day job, and young kids, and no time to spend sending thousands of query letters to prospective publishing houses. And 3) Because the market is rapidly changing. E-book sales beat out paperback this last year for the first time ever. More self publishing companies are offering conversions to e-books like Kindle and iPad in their publishing packages or as add-ons.

So, the first night I found a few companies. Some offered free newsletters or publishing guides and asked for some brief information. To my surprise the next day 2 companies were knocking on my door. Now I fully understand that publishers are putting their own money into the production, while self publishers want to sell you their services. But I was still shocked at the immediate response. One company really seemed like they were just trying to sell me something. Wanting me to call them back and wanting to know if I wanted more information or was ready to sign up. But I still needed to know more. The other company's publishing consultant took the time to answer my questions, send me the contract upfront for review, explain to me the packages, the options and learn from me what I was looking for without sounding like a telemarketer. They took the time to build my trust.  They offered a great discount and shared much advice with me.  I spent the last week searching and researching many more companies, but still really feeling comfortable with this one until I found some complaints about them. The complaints did seem to sound like they came from others whom may not have done their research so well or didn't fully understand the contract they entered. I questioned the company and they calmly and rationally explained the reasons for the complaints and in many cases websites set up by competing companies, and honestly just plain stupidity of some people to not comprehend that your book is not necessarily going to sell. You have to market it. And if they didn't for example take the time to get it professionally edited, that could also be a reason why it was not selling.

Some self-publishing companies are called vanity presses. This one was referred to as such, but is not that way today. This is where you publish and have to pay for a certain amount of books like 1000 to be printed and delivered to you, but they do not get distributed, and you have to sell and store them.

Others are called Print-On-Demand or POD publishers. These publishers print on demand when someone orders the book from a site like Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com. However most of these companies also offer editing, distribution to wholesalers to be printed or ordered, list you in the Library of Congress, and so basically

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18. Painting on Dark Days, continued...

At the left side in the top photo are 2 images. One is the Beatrice painting Ive been working on in this blog. On the right you see an older, rejected version. I wasn't happy with body or face and was using this reject to experiment with, mainly exploring the nature of the paper . While working on the leaves a motif came to mind which I hope to draw this evening.

Until there is a brighter day its very difficult for me to predict how these will reproduce. The paper is bright white but as you can see, it looks much darker. even though I brightened the image in Photoshop.

While experimenting I was thinking of the kind of books I liked when very young. Lots of color, clear patterns, contrasts. Somehow this triggered a cascade of ideas which may or may not be plausible for the book.

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19. Beatrice Gets Her Wings Day 3

At right you see the art as it looks right now, at the end of the day. A layer of pigment has been applied to each wing segment. Im using the following pigments:

1. Sennelier's Aquarelle Extra Fine

2. Winsor & Newton

3. Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus Fine Art Liquid Watercolor

4. Danial Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

And these brushes:

Blick Master Natural Pure Squirrel Round #8
Winsor & Newtons Artist's Kolinsky Sable Round #5

First fill in the small area with water, then flood in a drop of dense pigment at one end. This color flows the puddle and depending on the pigment, may or may not plume. While its still wet float in a different color at the opposite end, and allow them to flow together. If a stain is forming around the shape but isn't desired, gently apply a small, dry natural hair brush in order to wick excess liquid and color right out. In this instance the stains are desirable and I'm deliberately creating them as a way of delineating the veins outlining each segment. Areas that should stay white are simply painted around. After the entire wing area dried I used a wet brush to float in a pale wash of cerulean, applying lightly and avoiding contact with the paper surface - this way the first layer of color is not disturbed. Note that in the larger wings, this wash has been brought right over some of the areas that were initially left white.

Colors used in the wings include: burnt umber, burnt sienna, alizarin, French ultramarine deep, Winsor & Newton's neutral tint gray, and yellow ochre and thalo green and blue.

Just for fun I began painting in a few of the violet and pink wild flowers that will eventually cover part of the background.

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Its December 30, 2010. Kimberlee and I are both caught up with the usual year's end and holiday season distractions. Family, children home all day on midwinter vacation, Christmas aftermath, work related year's end projects. Working from home when family is also home all day is daunting. One may close the door to one's studio but everyone knows the artist /writer is in residence. Doorbells, telephones, the pressing concerns of family members, such as:

1. When are we eating?

2.What are we having?

3. Can't we have something else?

4. Where are my jeans (shirt, flashlight -you name it) We are supposed to know by some sort of feminine telepathy where everything is at any given moment...and to then go get it for them because, of course, the questioner has 'already looked there.'

5. 2 many treats = heavy duty pastry+ cookie binging = serious sugar/carb overload.

6. Loving family members and visiting friends want us to 'take a break' and join the fun.

7. Cooking cooking cooking

8. Shopping for groceries

9. Cooking cooking cooking

10. Laundry and more laundry. Time spent outdoors in melting snow and rain means muddy wet clothes.

11. Finally, Kimberlee and I love creating but we need a break too, and this is a good time of year to take it!

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Owls are wonderful parents and talented hunters, navigating the woods in the night, spending their days in the treetops alone, avoiding the crows and pestering starlings. Some creative individuals are this way - we like others of our species just fine but need our space and time away from the flock. This week I'm addressing the need for a space of one's own, and sharing the experience start to finish.

Some creative individuals prefer working in a group, especially those in the hobby and weekend workshop categories. These group sessions are about social and communal needs as well as creating. What about those of us who aren't 'joiners', always flying off on their own and lacking the 'flocking' instinct? Like owls, we prefer flying alone, and associate with a limited circle of like minded creatures. I require space and no interruptions or conversation when painting because all my focus is directed toward the work at hand. Socializing when creating jewelry or beading is great, but painting and drawing access my deeper processes and require focus and dedication of a different sort.

With family returned home and a husband who works from a home office this place can get busy, its like an airport terminal or busy storefront around here. Creative and work time has decreased significantly since my menfolk have returned to the nest, while domestic responsibilities have increased. Its getting out of hand lately and like many working at home women I'm feeling pressed into a choice. Either become a full time domestic goddess, or get a separate space where I can create and run my business.

After trying all the obvious solutions it may become apparent that you, too, will seek a place in which to create without the frequent interruptions that result when adults share a small living space 24/7. This is a common and understandable situation today, when parents who've downsized suddenly find themselves with adult children and often, older parents, moving in. We love our families , value their company, and like communal living...but we need our space too!

In the next entry Ill begin the process of deciding what is required and the adventure of hunting for and finding that space.

The owl in the photo was rescued after being wounded when somebody shot at her. She lives at one of our wonderful Illinois wildlife refuges and is well cared for. This photo was taken when the local preserve staged a community awareness day at the local strip mall. Her protective handlers demonstrated knowledge, gentleness and understanding. The owls and hawks were kept safe and out of children's reach.

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22. Outer and Inner Space

I’ve been looking into alternative spaces and honing my list of essentials for a rented space. If you are creating at home, and sharing that home with partners running their own businesses, children and often, aged parents consider an outside space. It might prove helpful to your creative flow and quality of work. Unless you have a wealthy partner and need a tax deduction, pipeline, economics play a determining role in finding the right space because rent is funded out of art earnings, savings, a grant, or small business loan. Bartering might be an option as well.

First, investigate what’s out there. Artist spaces can be found listed on Artist Guild billboards, publications, online art communities and Craig's List. Be flexible - for example would renting a small room belonging to a law firm or real estate office serve your purpose – many are now renting their empty rooms. Next blog entry will focus on pros and cons. An other option is seeking out individuals with a large spare bedroom, walk in attic, or other spaces. Many empty nesters and singles or working couples are happy to renting out unused space for daytime use.

Factors to consider when sourcing out locations for your space, aside from monthly cost and rental details are below. Italics are responses particular to my own requirements.

1. Estimated travel time to and from, and traffic patterns. I loath driving in heavy Chicago toll way and north side city traffic on a daily basis, even with great music or an audio book.

2. Fuel or transportation costs Fuel costs are estimated to double by the end of 2011- am I prepared to move out of the studio and find a closer space if this occurs, within a year?

3. Do you want to work around other artists or prefer a quiet place? If another artist in the shared space is overly talkative, plays her music loud or has many loud visitors will this be a problem? For me, solitude is preferable.

4. How much space does your medium require? 200+ square feet is fine.

5. Do you require natural daylight, ventilation? I prefer indirect natural daylight.

6. Days and hours – when will you be using the space? Sometimes you can split the rent with another artist. I’m planning on 3 full 8 hour days in studio per week. Other days will be used for my jewelry business and art related business like web maintenance, invoicing, preparing and shipping orders, phone calls etc.

7. Do you need somebody available to sign for and receive shipments when you are out? No

8. Heat and air conditioning. Heat is a must; a fan might be fine in the summer. In the Midwest temps range from frigid to sweltering.

9. Do you need a location near galleries? Often, nearby artist buildings are included in

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23. Finding My Three Little "P"s

So I have been focusing on this next year and moving forward, and read in Oprah that we all need to work on finding Joy. I thought, "How true is that? Amen, sister." When I sit back and observe how people treat each other publicly, and see how self absorbed everyone is, yet - oh - so in touch with someone on the other end of the cell phone, yet so disconnected to the here and now of what they are actually doing and people with whom they are physically interacting, it deeply sickens me. It sickens me what we are not teaching our children and what we are not personally experiencing. I hope through my stories and my writing to bring the here and now and joy back into our lives and our children's lives as well. After all we are the examples of what they become. If we cannot find JOY, how will they ever have a chance of finding it?

So as I focus on 2011 I came up with three words to focus upon for myself, and really for everyone as sort of mantras to remind ourselves in 2011 what is important and by focusing on these words and practicing them,  may we all find JOY and be good teachers to our future generations on how to find JOY.

PURPOSE – To have purpose behind everything that is done. Not to pursue anything without a purpose, in essence not to waste time on meaningless things.

PRESENCE – To be present at all times, taking in the present experience and not worrying about the past or the future, but just being in the present.

PATIENCE – Exhibiting patience as much as possible, relaxing and taking in the moment, not worrying about being late or getting uptight that things are not happening on my timeline the way I envisioned them or wanted them. To be comfortable that the universe may have a different clock than I do.

So as we all move into 2011, let us focus on purpose, presence, and patience and hopefully find a very JOYOUS year ahead!

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24. Painting Beatrice

In the last blog I wrote about looking for a new space and since then have found one. We'll save the details of locating an affordable work space for a different entry because today was a painting day without interruption and I'd like to share what was happening with the art . People sometimes ask whether I use a frisket or mask to keep paint from covering areas where it dosnt belong. The answer is no, never. My work is detailed and to use frisket would take too long, its far easier and much quicker to just paint around the white areas. After regular practice your hand/eye coordination will adapt. A hot press surface is best when leaving minute white areas, the water and pigment glide off the brush and there are no textures to inhibit the flow. At right you see a close up of what is being worked on, at the tip of my brush. In some paintings I draw the negative space in before beginning, other times I just move along leaving the white spaces while painting, wherever they feel right. They can always be washed over later.

Here's a closeup of the above section, partially filled in. I painted the stems first, then came back later when they were dry and applied the browns.
Notice the segments in the leaf and how they are rendered. Compare the penciled lines in the leaf in photo 1, above, with the same leaf, at right. Eventually Ill be coming in with even darker browns and purples, adding some depth to those shaded areas. Doing so will cause the foliage to 'pop' and create the impression Beatrice is sitting above and upon the foliage. This is a timely process, hurrying will result in sloppy brushwork and blurred lines.

I have a difficult time aligning all my photos in one entry. Ive a photo of the entire painting as it looked when finished, but can't seem to get them loaded correctly. On tomorrow's blog Ill include a photo of where I left off today. Sorry!

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25. Painting on Dark Days...

Today was a typical cold, dark January day in Illinois. Sounds like a great day for being inside, painting, but at this stage a brighter day is preferable. My lighting is designed for artists and mimics daylight, but when working with blues and blue greens it gets tricky because even though I have made myself a color coded chart and endeavor to compensate, contrast and intensity will always be a bit off. After today's work, the foliage may be too saturated and busy. I'm unhappy with the paper as it continues to shed filaments in abundance. The photos here were taken early afternoon, by sliding glass doors.

While waiting for one section to dry I was experimenting with a discarded version and happened upon an idea for the book, which Ill work on tonight ( a pencil drawing, not painting). Meanwhile I took photos of the Beatrice painting as she is now, and the first version. The top image is what Ive been working on, with abundant foliage and wing details being filled in.

In the nest blog entry Ill compare her with the discarded painting and discuss why it has revived my interest~

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