A Knitting Victory!

Well – I got word today – I PASSED Level I of the Master Hand Knitter Program offered by The Knitting Guild Association!  I am THRILLED!  Very excited…!  I can’t wait to work on Level II!

Here are pics of my notebook and my mitten project:





What a WEEK!

Wow!  Ok – so, I’m going to blop out a bunch of stuff!

First, I got up this morning and realized my client, the Arts & Science Council, published the presentation I illustrated for them on their blog!  How COOL!  You can see it here….

Also, I decided to publish an eBook version of my illustration portfolio on Blurb.com!  I mean – HEY – why not?  The truth behind that whole project is that I needed to update my portfolio, and I decided that actually doing it as a publishing project would be a great learning experience.  Believe  you me, it was just that…  Click on the cover below to see the listing on Blurb.com!


As if THAT wasn’t enough this week, I dug into the business side of things and started using Xero.com for my bookkeeping!  I know – ACK!  Bookkeeping?!  Yep – part of running a studio is running the business side of things.  And I actually kind of enjoy it – or, well, I enjoy having my business and if I want to keep it that way I have to make sure I do what has to be done from a back office perspective!  At any rate, if you are interested, check out XERO!  I really like it!

The World Was Me: Hatchfund.org Picture Book Funding Project Page LAUNCHED!

I’m collaborating with the MOST AMAZING novelist and poet – Laura Kasischke – on a picture book project called ‘The World Was Me’.  Kasischke has been a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, won Pushcart Prizes, and has been a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow.  As if that isn’t enough, one of her novels was made into a movie – The Life Before Her Eyes starring Uma Thurman.  Kasischke is – to say the least – a master of the art of weaving threads of language into incredibly textured cloth of meaning.

Here’s a video about the project that is being funded through my Hatchfund.org page!

Shape(s) Shifting

Yesterday I was working on some fun icons for a graphics project for one of my clients.  I’d been curious as to how Adobe Shape worked, so I decided to give it a shot.  Really interesting little tool!

Yesterday I drew the elements I needed with illustration markers and then used Adobe Shape to convert them to vector/smooth line images.  After importing them into Photoshop, I colored them.  Here are some of the pieces from yesterday.


This morning, I decided to see what would happen if I used Adobe Shape to capture one of my really pencily sketches.  Here’s the one I decided to use – it was an exercise I did last year to work with interior perspective.

FullSizeRender 2


This is what Adobe Shape did with the sketch – I had to increase the contrast ALOT:


The final step was to take that Shape image into Photoshop and add color:


I have to admit I’m a sucker for unruly lines – so this came out really cool!

Ok – that’s my experiment for today!

Motherhood, Vulnerability, and the Power of Poetry


Recently I was reading through bunches of material online.  Fairy tales, folk tales, fables, and then…poetry.  I was looking for something to illustrate as part of the constant exercises that are so much of the work I do in my illustration practice.  I sat on my couch, coffee in hand, and opened up PoetryFoundation.org.

On the homepage, I noticed a poem called ‘Two Men & a Truck‘ by Laura Kasischke.  I am not entirely sure what about that poem drew me in – as I certainly had no particular emotional connection with the title’s offering of the idea of two men and a truck.  But something most assuredly did pull me in, and when I read the poem I was absolutely floored.  I was moved to the very bottom of my soul.  Because I’m a mother?  Because I’ve been through divorce?  Because, like many parents who are brave enough to be open and honest, I can say that I have done some things well – and I’ve stumbled quite a few times in my attempt to raise my kids?  Probably all of those things.  And more.

I read through the poem and cried.

Then, the next day, I started working on something far less touching but equally as sob-inducing.  Taxes.

During the several days I spent doing my accounting (yes, artists have to keep their books too…) and figuring out what the final upshot of all of that number crunching would be, that poem haunted me.  The first lines crept in and out of my thoughts.

Once the tax adventure was done (don’t worry – I won’t be posting anything about the tax process…), I felt compelled to take a look at the poem again.  This time, at half past five in the morning, I printed it out, parsed it into segments.

I’d had the idea that this would make an incredible picture book.  Not for kids, necessarily – but for the countless women who have either given birth to, or taken into their lives, small human beings who for one moment thought their mothers were The Everything.

When I sat down to ask my pencil what to do about this whole emotional tangle of a poem-with-pictures thing, my pencil responded by giving me the entire storyboard set.

I cannot describe what it was to again cry – or, in this case sob – over this poem.  I watched my tears fall and run around between the lines of graphite that were laying claim to the paper.  And – when I was done – I photographed the whole thing and emailed it to Laura Kasischke, the poet who had strung together these perfect little strands of motherhood, joy, and the sort of grief that can only be felt in the long, sweeping arc that is parenthood.  I asked Laura if she would allow me to illustrate her poem as a picture book.

Her response: “Wow!  I’m incredibly flattered, and so moved and impressed by your work.  Of course I would be thrilled and honored!


I was thrilled – and excited and terrified.

This morning when I sat down to work on one of the illustrations for the second time – the first feeling like a completely abysmal failure – I got angry.  When I untangled the mess of feelings that had me in an uncomfortable place between immobility and nausea I realized the reason this first illustration was so incredibly difficult to get going was that it left me utterly


So, I’m sharing the results of this first piece – the initial spread of this picture book – because I have to.  I have to know I am strong enough to share the feelings I have – towering love for my children, thoughts about my failings as a parent, shiny and sometimes glowing little triumphs here and there – through artwork that will only dance if it is an apt partner for the incredible work given to the world of mothers by Laura Kasischke.


A Sea Of Sketches…


Yesterday I started sketching an illustration – again a practice piece – with the intention of exploring a more classic aesthetic than I sometimes employ.  Here are the process shots – up through a color sketch.  All are really rough, but you get the idea here.  Also, you can see I pieced together sections of a sketch – I do that pretty often.  I’ll put together a sketch that works one way, and then decide to make adjustments, so I sometimes photograph my sketches, print them out, cut them up, tape them together, add on some tracing paper with cruddy scotch tape, and keep on like that.  I end up with sort of a monstrous thing of a sketch when it’s all over, but I get to actually feel my way through the whole thing

After I get something kind of close to the sketch I was aiming for, I decided to play with color.  This isn’t exactly what I would go for – and, in fact, it’s possible that I might end up digitally coloring this instead.  But, for now, this is the idea.


Ok – moving along!

All That Lies Beneath

When we tore down our old barn a couple of years ago, in preparation for the new building we’ve yet to erect, we found an incomplete skeleton – perhaps of a rat?  I was fascinated – I had always assumed there were a million black snakes living beneath the building as we have had no shortage of those around the knoll on which we live.  But – no snakes.  Just this skull and couple of bones.  I took photos of it, and loved the way the textures of the dirt and leaves and detritus fell into a swirl – lifting and falling in a dance of stillness that isn’t ever really still.

When my new support samples came from RayMarArt.com, I had to try them.  So, since I have been really looking forward to working through this skull and bones image, I decided to pull from the set of samples that came.  I used the #15 Belgian linen, double primed, museum quality panel for this.  I truly wasn’t sure how the tooth of the linen would work – and whether or not I would like it.  But…I love it.

So, in oil, in double primed Belgian linen panel, here is “Skull and Bones From Beneath The Barn” 6″ x 8″.


Big As The Sky

Sometimes, when things seem particularly sticky, I notice I take respite in the sky. I don’t mean to say I’m one of those skydivers, or anything along those lines.  Nor do I mean to imply I’m an overtly religious person.  I’m really not – and to use a phrase I’ve come to abhor for various reasons, I suppose I’m more spiritual than religious.  Side note:  that phrase galls me because somehow it feels like a loophole – a way out of a deeper conversation.

At any rate, I just finished a painting called Big As The Sky.  It’s of a place not far from my house – a farm tucked back a bit from the fairly busy road it abuts.  I drive past the farm more than several times per week – and every time I drive by I imagine there might be a loving family, all gathered around this table or that, trading stories about that day’s work, all the while taking great pleasure in the retelling of toil and of roots.

Here is a photo of the finished work, and one of the work in progress alongside a sketch I did before painting.

Big As The SkyPainting_bigskysketchprocess

On the morning I snapped the picture from which this painting was made, I noticed the sky seemed to stretch farther than I’ve noticed in some time.  Here in North Carolina we have a beautiful blue sky, but we don’t necessarily have tons of broad vistas as we are – generally speaking – a pretty heavily treed state.  On the morning I drove past the farm yet again the colors drew me in, and the stillness beneath the everything seemed to hold me.

The Studies: Winter at Williams River House

In 2012, when I went with my partner to the Williams River House inn in Chester, Vermont to get married, it was scorchingly hot.  Unusually, horribly, uncomfortably hot.  The heat laid on top of Vermont like an oppressive blanket.  Nobody was happy about the heat, and nobody was used to it.

North Carolina offers an abundance of marvelous, beautiful features, including beautiful summers that occasionally offer the most humid, sauna-like conditions one can imagine.  Apparently we had taken that to Vermont with us.

Recently, the owner of Williams River House, Mark Martins, posted a photo of a view from their back porch – the same porch on which I got married – in winter.  I was fascinated by the photo for its palette, and for its view of a place I adore in a season I’ve not had the pleasure of enjoying there.

I asked for Mark’s permission to paint the photo and permission was graciously granted.  This painting is the result of his photo and that interaction.  It is oil on canvas sheet, roughly 8.5″ x 11″.  What a joy to paint this since we don’t often get winters like this in North Carolina – not even on the little knoll where I live, tucked up on a hill that feels like countryside but is, in fact, hidden in an outer fold of the city.

IMG_0405 Williams River House in Winter

The Studies: Victoria Harbour circa 1990

My father was a captain in the U.S. Navy.  As a result, we moved very frequently.  My parents were stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, for a time.  During that period I was a college student at James Madison University in Virginia.  During breaks from school I would travel to Yokosuka.  When my father’s ship came back from the second Gulf War, my mother and I traveled from Japan to Hong Kong to greet the ship.  This image was painted yesterday from a snapshot I just recently found in my photo albums from that time frame.  I remember standing in a high rise building in Hong Kong, looking out the window.  My instamatic camera was held to my wrist by a tiny cord.  I thought the scene was absolutely captivating.  I’d never seen anything like it in my life.  Hong Kong was this wild tangle of people and business and traffic and history and modernity.  I snapped the photo, no idea that sometime in the future I would be recalling that trip in this way.

This work is 8.5″ x 11″ roughly. The sketch is pencil on acid free paper.

Victoria Harbour - Snapshot and sketch Victoria Harbour:  enlarged inspiration photo and work in progress Victoria Harbour around 1990