Monday, September 13, 2010

Back in the saddle again...

My new schedule is a dream.
I'm working at home now and teaching just two days a week.
Get up, make coffee, fix breakfast and brown-bag lunches, kiss the family good-bye and then skip upstairs to my new digs.
Yeah, all is good.
Except that I can only stare at the computer screen for two hours at a time or
(I swear this is true) my eyes start to cross.
It's been an adjustment.
The house is really quiet.
I turned on Good Morning America just so I won't feel so alone.
Heck, I'm used to a flurry of kids for six hours each day.
But I persist.
I create new art lessons.
I work on revisions.
I watch Photoshop tutorials because Isabelle showed me some really cool graphic applications and I want to join in on the fun.
I think about things.
Like how funny it is that an editor requested a full after
a NINE MONTH query letter.
But then I get excited about my book again and start looking at it with fresh
"are-you-really-ready-yet eyes."
Then I get out my pens and start drawing a scene (even though it's a picture-less novel) because art is really my muse lately.
Then the kids start slamming doors and calling out for food, and even though they can fix their own snacks, I do it anyways because it gives me a chance to talk to them.
I'm not as scrambled as I may sound.
I'm really happy.
I'm living the life I was meant to live.

Friday, July 2, 2010

It has occurred to me lately that writing might not be what I'm meant to do. Even that clumsy sentence is proof that writing is a bit of a struggle for me. But I need to write. Story ideas surface all the time. Most ideas never take root. A few rough chapters, a couple of character and plot exercises and an assessment of how important this story is to me, is usually all it takes to throw an idea away. I keep the drafts, of course, but I never feel guilty for not revisiting them.
A story or better yet, a character, needs to consume me. If it doesn't now, then three or so years working through revisions probably won't go so well.
Summer is my most creative time of the year as far as writing goes. The long, lazy days bring me back to my childhood on Prince Edward Island where all ideas form. I've been dreaming up a plot. A character. An event. A setting. I'll be heading to PEI in a few weeks where one beach walk will yield all the sensory details I need for an entire book. It's been a fun draft to write. I know how the story starts. I know how the story ends. I know the characters.
Now I just need to pour through the draft...let the words come...allow the memories to trickle onto my keyboard.
I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gee's Bend Quilts Art Project

I picked up a little packet of postcards at an antique store a while back. A small bundle of color, pattern and inspiration. The postcards featured quilts from Gee's Bend, a remote backwater of Alabama. Four generations of African-American women created these quilts from fabric scraps. Personally, I love the striking color arrangements, not typical in Dresden Plates or Baltimore Album Quilts of which I'm more familiar.
The packet sat in my desk drawer until last week when I was searching for an art project inspiration that I could do with my daughter. (We all look in our desks drawers for that, right?)
I found the postcards, zoomed off to Michael's for some 8" x 10" canvases and went to work.
Elly and I picked our favorites (she did the red and white dots and the red stair pattern) and went to work.

It sure helps to have a drawer full of acrylic paints on hand because sorting through our stash to find (and mix) the right colors gave us plenty of time to talk about softball (her current obsession) and how good it feels to be out of school.
Mixing gooey colors together confirmed the reason why I do what I simply feels good. Teaching art to kids might not be the ideal choice for many, but a lazy summer afternoon wading through color choices might change your mind.

The original Gee's Bend Quilt is on the left, and our interpretation is on the right. I love how they turned out. We ended up making six panel, but I think we want to do more.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My List...20 Things I plan to do this summer

Many have one. Now I do. Here is my short list of the 20 things I intend to do this summer.

Here are a few others that I like...

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Zinnias are blooming in my garden, but not nearly as brightly as the ones in magazine spreads. I must have been in a tangerine and lime mood yesterday as I picked up a few pots from the thrift store and the colors were an exact match to the picture I pulled from a magazine.

Think the white background is nice. Must get Photoshop installed so I can eliminate the lime!

Friday, May 21, 2010

A study in cross-hatching...

Wanted to experiment with cross-hatching. I'm a bit rusty but it was still fun.
It took a long time.
Spent the hours thinking about my story (not to mention the fact that Dree's neck is too long) and what scenes feel visually dynamic. Thought about the architecture of Greenwood Academy. It has always felt "Edwardian" to me. Love the red brick (reminds me of the red dirt in PEI) and old stone archways.
This is a door that I photographed while at Reed College in Portland last summer. The plaque above the door should read "Doyle" but I changed it to "Taylor".
Not sure why Dree is sneaking into Taylor Hall...perhaps there is something for her to find?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Color sorting my books

Yes, it's true. I was bored. But don't they look nice? I think everyone should color sort their books. The spines look so lovely. Almost begging me to read them one more time...

My upstairs office, AKA The Retreat, has become my official workspace. For Mother's Day, I received a new iMac. After 10 years of being a PC customer, I've finally made the switch. I'm sure once my files have been transfered, it'll be all worth it. Fun part? Creating an inspirational space. Now that my books are organized, I'm ready to move onto my "boards".

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Playing Around with Cartology

This is my map for my fictional boarding school for teen athletes. I might have made the lettering too small or crammed too much into a tight space. I will try again using a more open style to see what I get.
Elly thought the map would be perfect for inside the front cover. Don't you love books with maps?

Friday, April 30, 2010


Spent the morning playing with color and line...watercolor and acrylics.
Still experimenting.
Weekday stress is melting away.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Finding inspirations for illustrations

I'm primarily a figure artist. I've drawn so many fashion illustrations in my day, I'm pretty sure I could draw them blindfolded. Objects are new for me. I've made it a pact to pull and paint one item from my newly created folder of inspirations each day. This pot of succulents was inspired by a clipping in the LA Times last week...
I found this boathouse in a "Coastal Living" magazine. You've already seen the results yesterday of my drawing attempts.

I'm a magazine junkie. Even with my pledge to reduce the amount of paper that arrives in my mailbox, I'm ultimately a sucker for flipping through pages, not screens. I did, however, manage to stack thirty magazines on my table and slice my favorite images from the pile and sort into categories.
I wonder what image will speak to me next?