Hello December

Hello December! Lots of nature experiences and inspirations this month for my sketchbook art and storytelling.

A few years ago, I created a daily doodle project where I set up a monthly grid, illustrated a seasonal border, hand-lettered the month and days, and filled in the squares with nature doodles and tiny illustrations.

It’s one of my all-time favorite personal illustration projects I’ve ever done. The best part is I frequently refer to these pages for inspiration. I’m planning to use these little spot illustrations to create larger illustrations and prompts for my character design development, vignettes and storytelling.

There are so many wonderful stories to tell from this month of doodles!

Thanksgiving Preparations

We are only having four of us around the table for our Thanksgiving celebration so I thought it would be fun to try creating a lovely set of place cards to help decorate and personalize our tablescape.

I created a set of wreath greeting cards a few years ago as an experiment. Illustrating wreaths always seems to be a trendy thing so I wanted to try it.

I love how they turned out so I used them as inspiration to create matching place cards.

I’m so happy with these lovely additions to our place settings! I’m so excited that I’m going to try this again for Christmas and maybe even New Year’s Eve – check back to see how those turn out.

I think it would be so fun to sell custom name tags like this as a little side gig. Would you order a set for your family gathering?

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, cheers and enjoy your time with family, good food and a little break from work.

Roxy’s Forest Illustrated Map

Since I love to read and illustrate maps, I knew immediately wanted to do a map for the end pages of my first picture book.

Each book comes with an art print insert of the illustrated map of Roxy’s forest adventures.

I always start my illustrations with a thumbnail sketch and then a pencil drawing, which is actually my favorite part of the process. I just really love to draw! My concept was to draw the map from left to right as the story takes place, traveling across the spread.

The next step is to transfer the drawing to watercolor paper and paint it, which is my next favorite thing to do.

Each of the books in this Daisy Books series will have an illustrated map printed on the end pages showing the location of the story’s adventures. I’m excited to see the future books and future maps all together on a bookshelf!

Book Release Party

We had our book release party over the weekend with family and close friends to celebrate the release of our first picture book, Roxy the Fox!

It was fun to share our story with everyone and to release Roxy the Fox’s story into the world!

Click here to learn more and click here to buy your own copy!

Meet Roxy the Fox

It’s here! My first illustrated children’s picture book is here!

My author partner Deb Glenn and I are so excited to share our first book – Roxy the Fox, about a red fox with a beautiful coat of fur and the fluffiest tail! Join us as Roxy gets into misadventures on her travels through the forest.

The end pages feature a fun illustrated map of Roxy’s forest where her adventures and mishaps takes place, which will be a consistent highlight in each of the forthcoming books in our series.

Click here to learn more and click here to buy your own copy!

Backyard Shenanigans

One of my greatest joys lately, especially because of the ability to work from home over the past 18+ months, has been watching the shenanigans going on in my backyard, from squirrel zoomies to observing the bird migrations over the seasons to chippy caching nuts for the upcoming winter season.

I hope you’ve been able to spend time to get outside, take a deep breath and watch nature during these crazy times!

Bird bath Bath Time!

We have two bird baths set up in our backyard that the birds, squirrel, chippy and even the raccoons love to hang out at.

Working from home allows me to practice my photography skills throughout the day which has been really wonderful!

Chasing a Monarch

One of my favorite things in life is a monarch butterfly.

They are magical to me, as are all butterflies really. And their survival is in jeopardy which makes them feel even more precious to me.

They can be hard to capture with my camera because they are always on the move, like most butterflies. So it was a joy to chase one in my garden this week and to photograph it while it explored the new coneflowers I added to my garden last summer. Note to self: plant more coneflowers!

A patch of milkweed appeared near my mailbox a couple years ago and it keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. It’s not the ideal spot but I’m afraid if I move it when it first comes up in spring, it might not be a successful move and then I won’t have any milkweed. So I’m just going to appreciate it no matter where it decides to flourish.

It’s always a treasure hunt to find a monarch caterpillar on the milkweed. And how amazing to realize that yellow, black and white striped caterpillar turns into a beautiful orange, black and white monarch!

It’s magic and magical! And it brings me great joy!

Summer Weekend Adventures

Weekends are never long enough, especially in summer.

Spending a long holiday weekend at my parents’ house on Lake Michigan is always full of adventures, from kayaking to hiking. This time we also hiked The Ridges and the Mink River Trail.

Exploring the variety of flora is a fun treasure hunt throughout the seasons.

Noticing the wildlife is an exciting outdoor activity too, finding birds, wildlife and insects.

Some critters are hard to capture with the camera, like this pileated woodpecker, and other critters are fun to watch their shenanigans, like these cute little red squirrels chomping on cones right outside our kitchen door.

And of course, there are many varieties of butterflies and dragonflies to follow. I’ve never seen this particular 12-Spotted skimmer dragonfly before. I had fun following a tiger swallowtail and a few monarchs too.

I always cherish these weekend getaways and wish I could stay longer. I’m already looking forward to the next one! Cheers to more summer weekend adventures!