Celebrating my new book launch!

bookLast year during November, I participated and succeeded in the Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) challenge, coming up with a handful of ideas I liked and a couple ideas I LOVED. This book is one of those concepts originally scribbled down a year ago!

The Very, Very, Very Bad/Good Day is a FLIP-BOOK about attitude.

It was very important to me to create this as a flip-book because I wanted the reader to experience physically flipping the book upside down in order to change the perspective of the day. WHY? To drive the message further to the reader that changing one’s attitude takes ACTION. You shouldn’t just sit and wait for something to happen to change your mood around. Don’t depend on people or circumstances. You must make the effort to change your own attitude!

This book shows the reader exactly how attitude affects not only how you view the world around you, but how others may react to you (or NOT react to you).

I guess part of my inspiration was the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray lives the same day over and over until he finally gets it right. The book takes a boy, Danny, through the exact same day twice, to show what happens when he lives the same day with two completely different attitudes!

I had so much fun making this little book trailer, below:

I’ll be having an official Book Launch Party on the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) website starting December 1, which will also launch a special giveaway contest where you can win original art from the book (I created all art with marker on paper, which I then scanned and manipulated in Photoshop)!

The Very, Very, Very Bad/Good Day is already available for sale on Lulu.com, and I’ll be getting my own samples soon to sell autographed copies.

My Art Licensed on Rubbermoon Art Stamps!

IMG_2660For the first time I’ve learned what it feels like to license your artwork on product. I’ve designed products for other companies, but this is the first time I get to see something produced using a piece of my ART on it. Not just an illustration, but something that came out of my heart and soul.

These little gems express how I feel about sending my art and books out into the world. By sending out my heart’s expressions through art and writing, I am sharing my humanity with the world. This includes  sharing my imperfections, making me vulnerable.

What’s cool about having your art on rubber stamps is that it teaches you not to be too much of a perfectionist. Each time you use a rubber stamp, it will look slightly different each time. You might think the whole purpose of a rubber stamp is to create something exact every time you use it – as if it’s your own personal printing plate. Not the case. I you WERE using a printing press, maybe that would be the case, but you are using your own human hand to apply the stamp to paper – and that allows for human error (pressing just a little harder sometimes, or not enough at other times).

Therefore, it’s important to use rubber stamps as a way to challenge your creativity. How creative can you be with the stamps? How many uses can you find for a single rubber stamp? And how can you mix and match different stamp design sets? I’ve been thinking about this as I play with all my Rubbermoon Art Stamps.

I’ve only begun to play with my own set, and I have to admit I haven’t been too creative yet because I’m so close to the designs – I see them as little art pieces themselves, so I want to highlight them to make my own notecards and use to decorate parcels I send out.

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Here’s a little tutorial on how to customize notecards at home:

MATERIALS: Paper of your choice, patterned or solid-colored notecard from your stash at home, Scotch double-stick tape, oil-based paint marker or gel pen, and of course a Rubbermoon stamp of your choice (I chose my new creation, the “tree hugger”, which you can find in my Etsy shop).

1. Stamp on paper of your choosing (I just found some loose notecard material I found at home). I really love my “tree hugger” stamp and wanted to highlight it as art on a notecard.

2. Grab a patterned or solid-colored notecard at home (I have plenty that I feel I can recycle because I simply don’t use them enough).

NOTE: I happened to feel like using these notecards with a golden sheen to them – so I decided to use an oil-based paint marker to create shiny gold accents/embellishments to the stamp art. This was fun to play with. I suggest doing this BEFORE attaching your image to the card, in case you don’t like how it looks, to allow yourself some time to experiment.

3. Attach the stamp art paper onto your notecard. I like to use double-stick tape (I know – not too artsy, but it works). I trust Scotch double-stick tape. It just works well. No buckling or peeling to worry about. Simple. If you’re more picky about using an archival quality tape, feel free to use the kind found in scrapbooking aisles in the craft store.

And VOILA! You’ve transformed some store-bought notecards into your own personalized pieces of art to send through the mail with love! This particular set of stamps I designed would work out well to use as valentines (rubber stamping works very well to use for your kids’ valentines to had out at school… that will be my next project!  🙂

The Publishing Dream of a 12-Year-Old Girl FINALLY Comes True!

1499473_10202539900319288_2051712005_nLet me tell you a story.

This is a story about a book that took 28 years (YES… YEARS) to become a glossy-covered reality!

In 1986-87 I hand wrote my book in two blank books when I was thirteen years old. Then I typed it up (104 pages typed – with a typewriter) to send out to publishers. I don’t remember how many manuscripts I sent out, but I received 3-4 rejection letters back. The first letter was a Canadian publisher and was quite a nice, supportive letter. The last one was merely a postcard form letter with my name written in the blank.

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Young author, Wendy, in Monroe, NC (that’s me in the flowered skirt in front) – sister Laura behind me, and Daddy at the grill!

I quickly lost hope of getting my book published and plummeted into a pit of self loathing for even trying. I burned several pages of my book (the ones I KNEW were horrible), and I cannot thank my younger self enough for NOT burning the whole thing.

In the year 2000 I took a Creative Writing course at my community which turned my writing life around. I needed material to bring in every week for eight weeks of the course, and with a lack of inspiration to write something brand new, I turned to my old manuscript to see if it was worth saving. There were bits of it that I still thought were good, and one chapter that even won an award when I was in high school. I decided to use the course to see if I could turn the book into something I could be proud of.

The course, taught by Debi Bucci, was the best writing course I’ve ever taken – not only because of Debi, but because of all the amazing and gifted writing friends I made through the class. I took this 8-10 week course TWELVE times during a 5-year span, and by the end I had two out of the three books COMPLETED, and learned more about editing my own material than I’d ever learned before – and I say this having graduated with a Minor in Creative Writing from CASE Western Reserve!

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CAWG writing group turkey fry gathering (around 2005-ish). Left to right: Craig, Christy, Christine, Alan, and me. Craig’s dog, Tucker, in front wearing the cone of shame.

When our teacher, Debi, decided to move on, I was fortunate enough to be included in a writing group formed by my writing workshop classmates. I continue to meet with most of these people and we call our group CAWG (Cleveland Area Writers Group). Our group still meets monthly at The Coffee House in Cleveland’s University Circle, and I try to make it as often as I can (which has been seldom these past couple years, but not giving up).

Finally in 2012 I discovered NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo as convenient and cost-free resources to motivate me to add to my collection of chapters and to revisit them once more to fine tune and explore how I should actually complete the book(s). I decided I wanted to include illustration and ultimately decided to use loose doodle art in the book to make it look like something I would have scribbled down in my journal when I was twelve.

All along I’ve kept the original humorous and adolescent tone as was originally scribed. That was important to me, to keep it authentic to what the story was originally – a collection of thought-provoking memories by a 12-year-old girl. I was just as thoughtful at age twelve as I am now – I just know a lot more about writing, thank goodness!

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My finished cover!

I’ve known for years that self publishing was the way to go for this book. Really, I have to admit… What publisher would say yes to an autobiographical story about a 12-year-old girl who moves from Canada to the States? I’m not interested in trying to morph my story into something a publisher would say yes to.

No.

What I am interested in (and this brings tears to my eyes) is to make Little Wendy’s dream come true. To publish her intimate stories of struggle, and to tell her she doesn’t need a busy editor behind a desk to give her validation that her story deserves to be printed and shared around the world. I love this little girl, Wendy, and I admire her for her courage and gusto to never give up on her dream.

So what was the final “boot in the rear” to getting this book OUT?

Perhaps it is because I’m turning forty soon.

Perhaps it is because I look at my own daughter, age eight, as she also exhibits an interest in writing and passion for books.

Or perhaps it’s because I have a huge pileup of book ideas that I need to get moving on, and this series just HAS to get out the door before I can move forward with the other projects.

Regardless, I’m glad the “boot in the rear” finally came.

Please check out my book website – the platform I set up for the book series. You can order an autographed copy directly from me, a print-on-demand copy from CreateSpace.com, or a Kindle version – links are all on the book website!

If you are a writer who is interested in self publishing your book, feel free to contact me. I am happy to share more about my experience with you! We writers need to stick together!  🙂 We need to CREATE-A-WAY!!!!

Blessings and YESsings to you!

My Little “Angel of Compassion” Rubbermoon Art Stamp

Original stamp with finished embellished doodle-illustration.

Original stamp with finished embellished doodle-illustration.

I like to see what kind of art I can “fit into” my busy lifestyle. I’m a full time digital artist at Blue Frog Gaming, a angel1mother of two elementary school-age kids, a caricature artist-for-hire, and I love to see what kind of magic I can fit into my life on the side to spice up my life. I usually find an online class or two to participate in and keep me growing creatively and spiritually, nurturing myself as best as I can. I definitely tend to treat myself more harshly at times (we are always our own worst critics), and I can definitely use a dose of self-compassion every day.

A couple friends in my Online Accountability Group encouraged me to join them in an online class hosted by Oprah’s Lifeclass called “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown. I’ve committed myself to following the course all the way through, and it’s been tough to keep up with the readings, but the exercises have been very fun to do. The exercises involve art journaling, which fit in with one of my goals this year – to get into art journaling.

In the meantime, I’ve joined the Rubbermoon Creative Team and have consequently been playing more with stamps as I baby-step into art journaling (or should I call it Art Journeying?).

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Simple materials for my quickie art journaling moment!

Sometimes I create time for an extended art project, and sometimes I have only five to ten minutes to whip something together before the creative moment has passed and now it’s time to get the kids ready for bed, feed them, bathe them, or help them with homework.

As a professional artist, I tend to be very critical of my own work. But sometimes I have to simply tuck that inner art critic away into a closet so I can just scribble or spatter something down quickly before that fleeting creative moment passes. And when I DO create something quickly, I tend to grab whatever materials I have close to me. I keep those art materials out in the open for my kids to play with, so I tend to use the same materials: glue sticks, construction paper, washable markers, etc.

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My “Angel of Compassion” becomes a regular character in my art journal!

I wanted to share one of such experiences I enjoyed over the weekend while catching up on my art journal work for the Gifts of Imperfection class. I had pre-painted in gouache some lines in my art journal, intending to use that space for note-taking and recording my musings. As an afterthought, I thought it would be fun to create a little artsy spot in the corner of the page using one of my new Rubbermoon stamps, a little girl holding a heart. It was very similar to a doodle I drew at the top of the page, illustrating how the word “compassion” made me feel. I knew immediately I needed to add wings and a halo to her to make her into a little angel, and then realized she could be my very own little “Angel of Compassion.” So, VOILA! Now I have my own little character to stamp down and customize with wings and halo as I journal through the rest of the course! In a couple following pages, I thought it would be fun to simply stamp her onto the page and add the wings and halo with a ball point pen (again, I like to use materials easy to pluck when I need to instantly grab that creative moment).

As I go through this Gifts of Imperfection class, I am faced with my inner critics that tell me:

  • If you can’t do something perfectly, you shouldn’t attempt it at all!
  • Wait until the paint dries before closing your art journal!
  • Washable markers and glue sticks are for KIDS, you dummy!
  • What are you doing using washable markers on tissue paper?! Don’t you know that will bleed??

I patiently remind my inner critics that this art is for me, not for print or sale in any way. Besides, this art journal is about IMPERFECTION, so you inner critics can go take a vacation to Disneyland where you can take a nice yummy chill pill, okay?

I do intend to make some more time-focused art with my Rubbermoon stamps as well, but for now it was fun to play with this new character I’m coming to love in my art journal. I’m looking forward to the wisdom she shares with me as we journey together in future pages!

Angel Children Caricatures – My Artella Membership Article on SERVICE

Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 12.57.51 PMI was so happy to be featured in Artella’s new ARTbundance Membership!

You can enjoy my feature here, and then you can also sign up for a FREE sample Adventure from Artella: a Free ARTbundance Adventure to The Gratitude Garden, which includes tons of fantastic tools, downloads, and tons of creative inspiration: http://www.artellaland.com/free-adventure.html

This article comes out at a very timely week. I just found out an old college friend (who was actually very young) just passed away last weekend, and I have been very shocked by her sudden passing into the heavenly realm.

There are so many ways we as creatives can help give to those around us.

What talents do you think you can offer in service to your fellow human beings in the upcoming year?

My Caricature Process!

I felt like making a fun video to show the process of what happens when someone orders a custom caricature.

I’ve challenged myself to create a video every day for the month of May, and I’ve been determined to do an edited movie to see what it’s like. It’s SO much fun to do! I used iMovie to edit.

And this movie also features my kids and the cat, showing the real-life interruptions that happens when I need to do my work with and without solitude.

Let me know if there is anything else about my process you would like to know about! I plan to make more of these videos!

And visit my caricature website for samples of my caricature work and prices for custom orders.

Supporting the Justice-Makers and Family of Travis Alexander through Caricature Ministry

travis caricatureHaven’t had cable TV for a few years now, so when I was commissioned a caricature of a murdered man named Travis Alexander, it was news to me. I had never heard the story before. I began looking up details about Travis to understand more about the story behind the man I was being commissioned to draw (as a gift of encouragement and support for the family). I learned about his reputation as a great motivational speaker, and I really gelled with that, being a former Toastmaster myself. I thought, this is a great guy! How horrible that someone took his life away so violently!

So I became intrigued with the story, learning about the woman accused of killing him, and surprised by the brutal pictures that would show up when I Googled Travis’s name. There was ONE photograph that made me quiver more than any other, though, and it ht_jodi_arias_nt_130114_wgseems strange that nobody else is talking about this picture. It’s a photograph that speaks volumes to me, and I wonder if it says the same to anyone else. It’s the LAST photograph (I’ve now learned for certain) of Travis before he was attacked. But long before I learned that for certain, I KNEW it. When I look at the photograph of Travis looking straight to the camera, I could feel something very creepy going on. I felt strongly that this was a photograph taken at the very moment Travis’s awareness shifted into realizing he was in danger. Only seconds after this shot, the camera fell, as his attack began.

It seems weird for me to write this observation on my nice happy blog, but I am wondering if anyone else has had this feeling about this particular image. I just HAD to post it.

I also wanted to share the caricatures I created for Travis’s family and one I enjoy of Prosecutor Juan Martinez that I personally lovejuan martinez.small (sent to him again in support as a gift by my client as we continue together on our Angel Caricature Ministry). I held off sharing this one of Juan Martinez because I didn’t want to jinx the outcome of the trial by posting the message, “Thank You for bringing JUSTICE!” I was already worried of making that prediction before the jury made their decision, and was RELIEVED when I heard the verdict. I know the story isn’t completely over yet, but as the hype about this story is still fresh, I thought it a good time to post about this at last.

A final call out to Travis’s spirit… May you be remembered as the person people loved when you were alive – not the person fabricated and spewed through the media by your murderer. May you rest in peace, Travis!

Dear Mr. Watterson ~ I just want to say THANK YOU.

Last night was one of the best date nights ever with my husband. It has been difficult to keep enthusiasm going to nurture our own relationship, and this film was just what the doctor ordered. We turned and smiled at each other many times during the film (are we nerdy for wanting to hold hands while watching a documentary about Bill Watterson?). The film rekindled passionate feelings inside us for the art of illustration, and for the comic that had influenced both our lives. It was a wonderful common interest to bond us together again in the most special way.

David and I met in Art School. He was such an amazing artist there, I felt like I was dating the quarterback by being his girlfriend in school. So watching and hearing about the reclusive genius, Bill Watterson, made me remember also how I remembered David back in Art School as well (they have a few things in common).

And I remembered how Calvin & Hobbes affected and influenced me growing up into an artist. I noticed the superior quality of Calvin & Hobbes art in the newspaper. I was drawn to it immediately, and it was always the first comic I would go to, often clipping out the strip and saving it to put in my special collection jar, or to paste into my journal. Calvin and Hobbes even started to affect the way I would journal. Just as Watterson pushed the envelope with the layout of his cartoons, I pushed myself to explore different ways of journaling – using pictures instead of words to express myself – even if it was collaging cartoons together to make something humorous of my own.

So I wanted to write my own “Dear Mr. Watterson” as well as a thank you to the director of this film, Joel Allen Schroeder, for creating this wonderful reflective tribute that has rekindled love for a lot of people I am sure. I certainly know it did for me.

THANK YOU!

“Holy Watercolors, Batman!” + an Artist’s Way Inner Critic Dialog.

The Artist’s Way was my first real introduction to the concept of inner critics and synchronicity, and both of these things came up for me while developing my idea for my Holy Watercolor Paintings.

First my inner critics piped up, saying, “Who do you think you are, using Holy Water to paint with? You know other people will criticize you for doing this, right? This is a terrible idea. People will hate you for doing this.”

I remembered from the Artist’s Way that I could try having a dialogue with my inner critics, so I gave that a try.

It took all my inner strength to quell those inner critics enough to listen to the part of my soul which told me this was a really cool idea, and reminded  me why I felt inspired to do it in the first place. I told my inner critics, “It would be so wonderful to have a piece of sacred art that actually USED Holy Water as an INGREDIENT. It would make the piece of art itself a sacred, blessed piece of art. What’s wrong with that?”

Of course my inner critics had an instant reply all ready: “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with that! Holy water is sacred. And you’re going to mix it with your sloppy paint and brushes? How dare you? That’s not what you’re supposed to do with Holy Water!”

I answered back: “People sprinkle Holy Water on ANYTHING. It is meant to be used as a blessing. As long as I use it respectfully, and knowingly, acknowledging it’s sacredness as I paint, it will add a special meaning to what I’m doing.”

My inner critic at this point starts to soften up, but doesn’t give up yet. It says, “Okay, then – but what do you plan to paint using this special Holy Water? You’d better not paint anything stupid.”

I discuss back and forth with my inner critics about what the best choice of subject matter would be, at least to start with, to get myself confident with it. Through consultation with my inner critics, I realized illustrating Bible verses would be a great idea. That made my inner critic satisfied, and even brought my inner critic to a silencing point. WHEW!!! Sometimes those inner critic dialogues can be brutal, but if you hang on and negotiate with them, they really can end up being a good way to gain confidence in what you’re doing. If you can beat your inner critic dialog, you’re prepared for outer critics that might come up to attack you.

I appeased my strict inner critic even more by purchasing a Holy Water font to use as my vial to hold the water as I painted, dipping my brush into the font to make the whole act of painting a sacred experience. I even said a prayer before every painting session, to bring myself to a spiritual place of sanctity.

Regarding synchronicity, I have actually always hated painting with watercolors in the past, and as I grew older, I realized WHY I hated painting with watercolors… It’s because I didn’t feel in complete control when I painted with watercolors. When you paint with watercolors, you really have to let go. Watercolor paint can be manipulated to a certain extent, but in the end, the water will stain the paper at it’s own speed. I’ve learned to appreciate to accept and admire the synchronistic aspect of watercolor painting. It’s like life – you can only control so much, and at some point you have to let go and allow “The Great Creator” to work it’s magic. So with my Holy Watercolor paintings, I decided to have the background painting be 100% synchronistic by using mostly Holy Water, mixed with a little paint, and letting it drip all over the place, allowing the background to be one big abstract, drippy, beautiful mess. The control happens when it is time to paint the lettering overtop, and even then I allow Spirit to guide me as far as adding any swooping embellishments or adding the stamp of the cross somewhere.

I’m looking forward to doing more with my Holy Watercolors now, thinking of stemming on to painting some of my favorite Saints and angelic images. The journey has just begun!

I’ve been collaborating with Wenona Morning Star Gardner lately, and my painting story was highlighted in her wonderful Google + Hangout this week. Check out her recording to view other Artist’s Way testimonies this week.

AIMM Giveaway Drawing: And The Winners Are…

I decided to include in the drawing the people who also shared my Blog post on Facebook, because I didn’t know if I was being clear that I wanted people to also post a comment on my blog to officially enter the contest.
I decided to have my kitty pick the winner, as I did last time I had a drawing, crumpling the names into little paper balls and throwing them on the floor, to see which paper ball she plays with first.
However, kitty was not in a playful mood, so she just sniffed the two paper balls closest to her and that was it. So, we have TWO winners, the two people whose names smelled the sweetest to kitty, I guess!
And lo and behold, the two she sniffed just happened to be the two people who made the effort to comment on my blog (I appreciate you both so much): Lisa Lynn and Kat McNally!
Lisa and Kat will both be receiving a FREE INTENSIVE MONTH of Art in My Mailbox! Whee!
Thanks to those who shared and spread the word about this program.
I’ll continue to promote this program – it’s such an affordable gift to give to a friend (only $10 for a month of AIMM), so please help spread the word and treat yourself if you like to a month or more of AIMM to support young artists!