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ArtGraf Water Soluble Graphite, my newest obsession. What a nice entertainment for a warm Wednesday evening. A little Guy Clark and a block of graphite and a bamboo brush. Nice to do a little drawing away from the computer. Easy enough.

Graphite Sketch

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Illustration Friday, Sometimes

In typical fashion, I’m embarking on participating in Illustration Friday without a great deal of thought about how I might be able to keep up with it. It just sounded like a great way to keep me drawing, which I haven’t been doing much lately. Illustration Friday is a lovely web site, with lots of eye candy. Illustrators both professional and hobbiest, follow a weekly prompt to illustrate and post their work.

This weeks topic is SWIM. Perfect for someone who is battling winter fatigue and longing for the warmth and sunshine of spring. The website only allows you to post one illustration per prompt. So… I’m posting this week, without trying to perfect my illustration. Mainly Just To Get Started. So.. I’ll move forward and illustrate and post when I can. I hope you’ll follow and enjoy!

My version of SWIM.


I thought about how when I was a kid, we would go to the public swimming pool and the lifeguards would call, “Courtesy Check”. This meant that everyone under the age of 14 or something had to get out of the water and let the adults swim. Kids would line the cement rim, kicking the water impatiently with their toes. I watched my mother, who was terrified of water, gingerly moving though the water… waving her hands and never letting her toes leave the solid bottom. And, she would take pity on me and come to the side, taking my ankles in her hands and laughing. Her skin was soft and beaded with oil, her smile enough to see me through the 6 minutes until I could hit the water again. And, then they called  “All Swim”!

I invite you to leave a comment, if you feel so inclined. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Pantone Color 2013 – Emerald… So?

green-ornamentHappy Holidays… and oh yeah, Here’s the Color of  the Year. I’m not sure how long ago Pantone started their color of the year program. My goodness. Time magazine, and the LA Times have written about Emerald Green, the 2013 Color of the Year this week. This is BIG news, almost as big as the Academy Awards! On Pantone’s website, you can see the “Color of the Year” back to 2007. Admittedly, I am old enough to remember when there was no color of the year. Before there was an official Color of the Year, we, as graphic designers, just used the colors that inspired us… or the colors our clients requested…..

It’s funny. People who not too long ago didn’t even know what Pantone was, now tout and shout about the color of the year; which, by the way… happens to be Emerald green for 2013. And, while I really don’t put much stock in it, I have to admit that I look forward to what everyone has to say about it.. the mockups they are showing…. the layouts they are creating. Funny thing is, everyone is on the bandwagon now. Sherwin Williams has a color of the year. Benjamin Moore has a color of the year, which is Yellow Sorbet – in stark contrast to Emerald Green.

So, I’m wondering… I need to think on it, but I think I’ll come up with my own color of the year. Stay tuned for my announcement. And, in the meantime…do you have a color of the year? I’d love to know your thoughts!

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Design Your Customer Experience, Everyone Wins

Design is more than pretty colors and a pleasing layout. At it’s best design encompasses form, and particularly function and usage. Whether its graphic design, architecture, interior design… businesses today are looking at designing the entire customer experience, beginning with how phones are answered to final packaging and delivery/followup. Here’s an interesting read from Forbes, on the emerging awareness of design in our culture today. What is not mentioned, is that the design process is thought driven and takes time and consistency to implement and perfect.

“What is certain is that the design bar has been raised and design-oriented businesses are winning”. – Adam Swann

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We’re Making a Little Shift in Our Sand…

If you visit this site now and again, you may have noticed a shift is taking place. I am slowly dedicating this site (and blog) to my Graphic Design business. And, exciting news… I am building a new website that will be completely devoted to art journaling and creative living! Excited does not describe what I am.

I hope you will enjoy the new changes. Very soon, this site will focus on all things graphic design and design related while the new site (my Studio site, I’ll call if for now) will feature news and musings about Creative Living, Class offerings and yes, products that you can purchase to support and expand your creative yearnings!

Thanks for sharing the ride… and stay tuned…..

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Doodling for Valentine’s Day

Last night I sat and contemplated Valentine’s Day and I took out my pen and doodled.

I doodled for my Father who was my very first Valentine. Remembering his kindness, his humor, and the way he played the harmonica for me at night. I doodled my late husband and remembered the good times and how beautiful he was, and how I would watch him sleep and feel grateful. I doodled my sweet daughters, who now grown, are my ultimate Valentines! I doodled my mother and my sister, strong women who try to keep me sane and in-check… and inspire me. I doodled my friends, particularly the ones that I have known for more than 20 years. They are the people who knew me when I thought Valentine’s Day was only for lovers. And when I thought Valentine’s Day was a ridiculous, commercial venture that put pressure on us all to perform. (I still think that sort of). And, finally I doodled this little sketch. My Valentine to the world. A plea for joy that comes from every corner, and the willingness to send it back out, loud and big! Wishing you that kind of Valentine’s Day and every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day to You! 

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Techniques in Water Color Journaling

Art journaling is a passion of mine, and Atlanta artist Marilynn Brandenburger is a very talented water-colorist and art journaler. Forstall Art Supply here in Birmingham hosted a workshop tonight (and ongoing Saturday) taught by Marilynn, and I was fortunate enough to catch wind of it and sign up at the last-minute.

Picking up some water-color tips and exploring a bit tighter style than I usually have in my journals was tons of fun. Here’s the sketch we worked on tonight. The whole class (about 10 women) sketched the same berries, and as always, it’s so much fun to see the variations that arise from a room full of artistic people.

Art Journaling with Water Color

Usually my journals have no particular theme, they are a witness to my daily life… whatever is happening at the time. I feel inspired now, however, to start a separate journal with a particular theme….. now, hmmm…. what shall it be?

PS – if you’d like to see some of Marilynn’s work, check out her website here.

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The Small Business of Creative Living

Do you have a small business? You do, even if you don’t realize it. It’s your life. Running a small business and living the life you desire are very closely connected, requiring much the same things from the boss (yes, that’s you). This occurs to me as I have closed one small business and am now concentrating on building a new one.

FOCUS. This is very hard for me…. remaining focused. I love the next shiny bright thing. They say a creative mind is like that… curious. An asset, yes, but sometimes a liability, if you don’t know how to channel all of that energy. For instance, my daily sketching has really suffered lately. Priorities have shifted, but I tell you now… I am recommitting myself. I miss my sketchbook! (See the last post).

THINK IT AND IT WILL BE. I love this idea. Of course, you can’t just think it, you also have to act it. But, I do believe that how you think leads the way for how your life will be.

BUILD A TEAM. No one can do it all, in business, or in life. Do what you do best and delegate the rest. Surround yourself with people who can support you, both emotionally and in a very real, tactile way. If you don’t know a gardenia from a dandelion, but have a friend that loves gardening…. trade out for that knowledge. You have something you love that someone else desires to know.

BE QUIET. You have to refill the creative well. Get in a routine of unplugging. It may be walking, meditating, praying, cooking, just sitting with the sunshine on your face, or (my favorite) sketching. Whatever lets your mind rest and then just wander, it is good for your spirit, and the business of life. It’s where ideas and strength come from.

And now that I’ve meandered a bit, musing about the business of life… I guess I’d better get on with it! (Life, that is). I’m sure you can add to this little list I’ve started. How do you run the business of your life?


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Design assistant


My new design assistant seems to be lacking in motivation.

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Beach Sketching

Landscape SketchingLandscapes have never been my thing, not as a subject for drawing. Drive through them yes. Admire the view yes. Landscapes have such jaw-dropping scope that I am completely overwhelmed at the prospect of capturing the vision on paper.

Amazingly, I’ve just discovered that being at the beach does bring out my hidden landscape artist “wanna-be”. But the fear of translation still resides inside me. This scene is ever changing. Every moment reveals a different reality – look away, now look again – the view has changed. The sand has moved, the colors have altered, new cracked up pieces of sea creatures have floated in, old ones have now churned under the surf. Fascinating to watch, frustrating to try and capture, and impossible not to become a participant, the beach is life rocketing by in slow motion. I find that I am not quick enough to capture all of this hand-wringing, life or death drama on paper.

But, I try. And, there’s the thing.

Looking at what I’ve sketched falls decidedly short of the drama that I’m witnessing. But, it’s OK. Because the act of tracing it all with my eyes, of becoming part of each wave’s curl, of watching every quick and crooked step of the tern, of comparing the blue shadows in the sand, has solidified my own place in this landscape. I’m now emotionally and physically invested in This Very Moment, and no other.

Sketching is living in the moment. One moment.

There isn’t room, now, for common worry or plans to be made, or broken, or guilt… my only concern is to really see, and understand as deeply as I can, this single space of time. Later, when I look back at this amateurish sketch, instead of dissatisfaction, I will relive, in a real and sensory way, that little life experience. I will recall not just a general memory of a day at the beach, but I will smell the salt, feel the small pelts of sand that the wind throws against my face, see the tern’s knobby knee legs and look again into the eye of the gull that sat close by and kept me company. In that sketch I will feel the melting autumn sun again. And, there my friends, is the magic of sketching. Just begin.


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