Inspiration Wednesday: From My Sketchbook

I’m continuing my quest to manage my time so I can keep sketching and drawing ideas in my sketchbook while keeping up with my licensed art projects and graphic design clients. I have quite a collection of sketches, so I’ve been busy inking and digitizing them to further turn them into marketable work. Here are a few recent illustrations from my sketchbook pages, along with some reference photos that inspired me.

sketchbook secret garden gate

sketchbook page wood nymph butterfly

I love the eyespots on Common Wood Nymph butterflies and on some birch trees!

olbrich birch forestbirch eye

sketchbook page birch eyes

I’m continuing my quest to Make More Work on advice from established designers and illustrators. Make so much work that you can’t be ignored. I love to draw so it’s a great challenge to draw more, to draw all the time, to continue to develop my unique illustration style.

Hope you’re on the look–out for things that inspire you.


It’s Fall At the Market

There’s always lots of cheese and bakery at the farmers market from spring to fall, but I love seeing the variety of flowers and produce, especially as the crops change through the seasons. This time of year, the flowers and bouquets are so vibrant! And the harvest crops produce fun shapes, colors and textures.

sunflowers at the market flowers at the market

bouquets at the market bouquets at the market bouquets at the market cockscomb flowers at the market

celosia intenz at the market tomatoes at the market

mini pumpkins at the market indian corn at the market gourds at the marketHope you enjoyed some adventures this weekend.



Speaking of Sketchbooks

I have a collection of really nice sketchbooks. But I don’t use them. I have this phobia of the first page of any sketchbook, but especially a nice sketchbook. I don’t want that first page to suck. So I often skip the first page and start drawing on the second page.

nicer sketchbooks

I also don’t want to use my really nice sketchbooks in case my drawings suck. So I started using Moleskin sketchbooks more lately, since the paper isn’t that great, especially for pencil drawing and inking. The paper is thin and smooth, not the best for either graphite pencils or black ink markers.

moleskin sketchbooks

But you know what? These very basic sketchbooks seem to be doing the trick because I’ve been drawing a lot lately. I filled up one sketchbook this summer, chock full of sketches that I really like. These clovers are the last drawing in that now-full sketchbook (actually on the second-to-last page – the last page has notes written on it).

sketchbook clover

And then I picked up a second sketchbook right away and did a drawing on the first page! Yay!

sketchbook eyes

I know it may sound silly, but I think a lot of artists have issues like this with their sketchbooks. Some artists draw on loose sheets of paper because of the fear of messing up their nice sketchbooks. I fully support doing whatever works, if that means drawing on not-very-nice paper, as long as it keeps me drawing and illustrating, experimenting and creating.


Back on the Trails

When Fall weather arrives, we are ready to hit the trails. Another one of my favorite things to do is to go hiking.

trail in September

I love treasure hunting for artifacts on the trails and in the woods.

oak leaves and acorns on the trail

It’s especially fun to find hidden critters.

chipmunk hiding

I think it’s magical to see all the different textures, colors and shapes hidden in plain sight in the woods.

Queen Annes Lace closed

Queen Annes Lace opening

Queen Annes Lace

Queen Annes LaceI love to take notice of how the same plants create different textures, shapes and colors as they mature.

wild sunflower opening wild sunflowerWe also noticed a few different types of ferns in these woods.


fern fernNot only were the exercise and fresh air good for the soul, but all this photo reference will be great for filling up my sketchbook with more illustrations.





Photo of the Week – Concerts

My photo of the week is actually from last weekend, but it was from an adventure that has stuck with me all week. Hope you don’t mind that it’s more than just one photo ;)

One of my favorite things to do is going to concerts, which I don’t get to do often enough. I was lucky enough to go to a huge concert in Chicago over Labor Day weekend, so I wanted to share a couple photos from the two shows we saw. We were also lucky enough to have great seats, about 10 rows behind the mosh pit.

Thirty Seconds To Mars

30 STM carnivores concert

30 Seconds To Mars Carnivores concert


30 STM carnivores concert

Linkin ParkLinkin Park carnivores concert

Linkin Park carnivores concert Linkin Park carnivores concert

Linkin Park Carnivores concert

Linkin Park Carnivores tour

This is the second time I’ve seen both bands, but these shows were so much better than the last time. In fact, they were incredible! I jumped, screamed and sang every word, and then lost my voice ;) Needless to say, we had a blast!

The event organizers don’t let fans bring nice cameras into concerts (cameras with a removable lens), so these are cell phone pictures from a cell phone that’s a few models behind the latest and greatest. Note to self: buy a point–and–shoot camera with a better zoom feature for the next concert.

Hope you have some fun adventures planned during these last days of summer.


Licensed Art: Christmas Catchphrases

My second collection of licensed art collection of illustrations with Nancy’s Notions and Amazing Designs was released this week. It’s called Christmas Catchphrases, and includes 25 designs centered around a cheeky Christmas theme.

Licensed Art Christmas Catchphrases

Licensed Art Christmas Catchphrases

The illustrations are digitized into embroidery designs that are put onto a CD for you to load into your computer. You can adjust the size and colors of the design before saving and uploading to your embroidery machine. These designs are intended to be stitched onto kitchen accessories, sweatshirts, totes and more. How fun to have kitchen towels or table linens with these jolly Christmas sayings and designs!

Licensed Art Christmas Catchphrases mockups Licensed Art Christmas Catchphrases mockups

You may recall the story I told you about first meeting my rep at my portfolio show last December, and then connecting with her earlier this year to work on this collection. She provided the concepts and I sketched out ideas in my sketchbook before going digital. Here are a couple scans from my sketchbook. During the digital process, I ended up adding a lot more details, highlights and shading.

Christmas sketchbook page

Christmas sketchbook page

Christmas sketchbook page

Christmas sketchbook page

The collection is full of Christmas characters and symbols including Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, holly, candy canes, stocking, presents and many more. Here are a few examples of some of my favorites from the collection:

3-Be.Naughty 4-Believe 8-Be.Merry 15-Jingle 16-Joy

I finished two more collections in the summer couple months that are currently being digitized to embroidery designs for the Christmas season. They should be ready for release in October and November, so stay tuned for an update.


Remember That Time I Went Back To School?

Today is the first day of school for many around the country, including students at the college I recently graduated from. It feels weird not to be taking any classes this Fall semester.

It has made me look back to four years ago, when I quit my job to go back to school to learn a new career.

I remember being worried about a couple things – learning how to draw and not having enough ideas to keep up. So I pulled pictures from a variety of projects I worked on over the years, mostly concept sketches, drawings, sketchbook pages, and illustrations, some that were later developed to be icons, logos, posters, tshirts, and more.

daisy thumbnailsleaf thumbnailsrooster thumbnails

1st heightened drawing first heightened drawing

charcoal drawing

powder day pen and ink illustration

final trail runner illustration copy

hiking sketches

far out sketchesfar-out-sketchesI went through SO many hours of class and homework to learn how to draw, to learn how to explore ideas and concepts, to learn the technical tools (analog and digital) and to learn how to design a wide variety of projects.

  • I had no idea how to use Photoshop or Illustrator or InDesign; now I don’t know how to use anything else. I’ve also gotten to the point where I do more with shortcuts than the dropdown menus or toolbars.
  • I didn’t know what the Pen Tool was or the Blob brush or what it meant to put a stroke on an object.
  • I had no idea how to use rubber cement to mount my artwork onto black illustrator boards for formal presentations.
  • I had never touched charcoal before, much less drawn with it. I didn’t know you could draw with white charcoal to create a “heightened” drawing (just the highlights of an object).
  • I had no idea there were pencils for drawing that weren’t either No. 2 lead pencils or mechanical pencils.
  • I had no idea the differences between gouache, watercolor and acrylic paints.
  • I didn’t know people still dipped pen nibs into drawing ink to write and draw. Goodness, how I love drawing with pen and ink now.
  • I thought paper was paper – you either get copier paper or cardstock.
  • I didn’t know what CMYK or RGB meant.
  • I didn’t know the difference between JPG, PNG or TIF file types.

It’s amazing to look back on all that I’ve learned and all the material I’ve created. I had a few really fabulous art teachers.

At home we made SO many sacrifices so I could go in this new creative direction. We haven’t been on a vacation (or on an airplane) in over 3 years!

I am very thankful to be where I am today. I’m looking forward to the growing list of things I want to continue to learn and creative things I want to accomplish. And I’m looking forward to being able to afford a vacation again soon ;)


 PS – I’ll tell you a secret, what I really wanted to do (and still do) was learn how to be a surface pattern designer. Along the way, I also fell in love with illustration.

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