Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Illustration Friday - Pioneer

The Railway Man

This is a little ATC I made today for a lady in Finland who collects cards related to steam trains and the men who work the railroads.  It got me to thinking about how the world was changed by these pioneers of travel and commerce.  Certainly here in the US we attribute the true opening of the West to the railroads.  It is a part of our elementary education.  I have been fascinated by trains, like most people, since childhood.   Cabooses were still in use when I was young, and we would always try to get the "caboose man" to blow his whistle for us as the train passed by.   I miss cabooses.  As a young adult I actually bought myself a miniature passenger train set that I still have some 20 years later.  Did I ever mention that I was something of a tomboy? :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Illustration Friday - Undone

Digitally altered photo of unfinished glue and acrylic painting
12 x 12 inches

Something very different from me this week.  This is an unfiinshed (undone) non-objective piece that I had started earlier in the summer.  I had set it aside when my focus shifted to....well things like Illustration Friday, folding origami cranes, and artists trading cards.  In this version, some of the color has been undone to give it a stronger focal point. Also for your listening pleasure, here is a link to Duran Duran's Come Undone.  I loved these guys as a teenager in the 80s.  Dang... I just dated myself.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Illustration Friday - Hatch

Hatch Happy
Pen and Ink

Just a quick one this week.  Art teacher that I am, I just had to use the art vocabulary version of this week's word.  I have never had the patience to develop precision hatching technique, but sloppy hatcher that I am, I still enjoy using it to develop values and form.  I thought about a composition with a hand drawing another hand, but I decided the simple hatch marks were more effective.  Happy hatching everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Illustration Friday - Crunchy

Monty Python's Crunchy Frog
colored pencil and gel pen
5.75 x 3.75 inches

OK, I really took it down to the wire this week, but it has been a crazy busy week.  This submission was inspired by a Monty Python scene that I am going to attempt to attach below.  I am not a huge Monty Python fan but I have been known to appreciate quirky British humor when I am so tired that I am no longer thinking straight.  That would be my general state this whole week.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the illo and the link to the skit.

Not quite what I intended, but the link does work.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The PUT UP A CRANE Project is installed

The PUT UP A CRANE Peace Project is now installed in the atrium of the Lindale High School Foyer.  We surpassed our goal of 1000 cranes and finished with a total of 1160 origami cranes.  To learn more about this community art installation project see my earlier blog post at:

The entire project took about 2 1/2 months from conception to completion.  And I never could have done it without the support and participation of the Lindale community and my family.  Many teachers, classes, and individuals participated in creating the cranes.  The LHS Key Club helped start the stringing process.  My sweet 14 year old son Todd spent 5 hours after school helping me hang the installation.  He also helped string hundreds of cranes, as did my husband and mother.

Overall I am very please with the experience and the strength of the message that the finished artwork conveys.  Lindale is a wonderful place to teach and make art!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Illustration Friday - Entangled

Come Back to Bed
2.5 x 3.5 inches ATC
mixed media

I really like this weeks theme word, it is full of all kinds of possibilities.  The resulting illos I see going up on IF are wonderful overall.   The theme brings to mind the entanglement of our personal relationships for me.  Perhaps the holidays are also responsible for putting me in this mindset.  I made this ATC for a personal trade with a lady who likes to collect cards themed with a mermaid and an octopus as a couple.  Entanglement is a given for these two. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Illustration Friday - Music


Behind Closed Doors
hand colored etching

Music is part of what makes us human and we learn to love it at an early age.  I performed many of these solo, audienceless concerts when I was growing up, and I admit to still being a compulsive car radio singer.  People who see me driving down the road probably think I am insane, but I NEED to sing and sing out loud!

I admit to a slight cheat this week.  I took an early stage of an old etching and added watercolor to emphasize the figure a little better.  So it only reached this finish state today, but its not technically a brand new piece.  In my defense, I have 23 people showing up at my house tomorrow morning and Thanksgiving is only a vacation for those who don't have to cook :).  Regardless, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is all about family and gratefulness for blessings.  It also crosses religious and cultural boundaries that otherwise tend to divide us as a nation.   I truly love Thanksgiving and I hope you all have a wonderful, love (and food) filled holiday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Illustration Friday - Unbalanced

12 x 15 3/4 inches
Pen and ink
Self Portrait

This is a sample of a project that I do with my Art 1 students.  It starts as a grid drawing that is then developed by creating values using patterns and textures.  Students have to control the value within a given pattern as well since the pattern/texture changes with each grid square.  I am always trying to get the students to take more compositionally interesting photos to work from so that we get more dynamic final images.  This means that I start by taking a lot of very unflattering pictures of myself to get them to loosen up about how they look.  The girls always want to be "pretty" and the boys just want to give me mug shots.  Teenagers are soooooo self-conscious!  I just tell them to loosen up and let their freak flag fly!  Of course they are certain that I am completely mentally unbalanced as the above image would seem to prove.  I also let a student choose which image I will work from which is guaranteed to be the one that is the most unforgiving. :)  Good fun!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Illustration Friday -Blur

Mixed Media 3.5 x 2.5 ATC
I love the soft blur caused by falling snow.  This little ATC was inspired by a poem by Robert Frost.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Illustration Friday - Skinny or A Peace Crane Project Update

mixed media ATCs
Dancing Japanese Cranes

I came close to not getting this week done in time again.  The word "skinny" can be a touchy word especially for women.  So about 4:00 AM this morning I finally settled on doing a series of ATCs with some skinny birds that would also allow me to give an update on my origami peace crane project that I am spearheading at school.  We currently have about 588 cranes produced by students, teachers and a few community members at large.  We are a little over half way done with folding and I would like to have the installation hung by early December.  It seems a fitting theme for the upcoming holiday season.  If you would like to know more about this project you can see the entry on my blog at .   Oh and by the way, these cards are available for trade for comparable hand drawn or painted cards. Show me what cha got. :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Owl and the Pussy Cat

2.5 x 3.5 inches ATC
mixed media

The Owl and the Pussycat
by Edward Lear

 The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are."

Pussy said to the Owl "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?"
 Said the Piggy, "I will"
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Illustration Friday - Fast

oil pastel on black paper

I really don't have anything cryptic or unusual about this week's submission.  It is simply a fast sketch of a fast dog.  I raised, showed, and lure coursed greyhounds for a number of years.  They are exhilarating to watch doing what they do best.  I have had as many as 14 hounds at one time but I am now down to my last two retired greyhound girls and I don't anticipate getting back into competition with dogs any time in the near future.  I simply don't have the time or energy for all of the political maneuvering that goes along with it.  If it had been more about dogs than people, I might have stuck with it a bit longer.

Annabel Lee

Colored Pencil on Bristol
made for a poetry swap on Illustrated ATCs


Author: Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love -
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me
Yes! that was the reason
(as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we
Of many far wiser than we
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In the sepulcher there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Illustration Friday - Frozen

Frozen Embryo
2.5 x 3.5 inches ATC
watercolor and colored pencil

I had nearly given up on participating in Illustration Friday this week.  I was feeling utterly uninspired and I didn't want to submit something that seemed  like simply another version of what a lot of other people had already done better.  But.... as luck would have it, inspiration hit me just as I was going to bed last night.  Frozen embryos are typically found in the form of an 8 celled blastosphere, similar to what's in the upper right hand corner, but I wondered what the little guy might look like if he were just a little more developed.  If frozen embryos all looked like this I wonder if science would handle them any differently?

I'm not making any political statements, nor taking a stance on one platform or another.  It's just an interesting thing to think about.  What does it mean to be human?  If you are frozen, and in an early developmental stage, have you become human yet, or are you still waiting?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Illustration Friday - Flying

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”  Freidrich Nietsche  


This was the quote that came with this week's word in the illoannounce e-mail.  It inspired me to consider a literal look at the struggle of learning to fly.  We have lots of  bluebird, cardinal, and swallow babies at our house each summer and it is always exhilarating when they finally leave their nests.  

Click the picture to make it bigger.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Illustration Friday - Germs

A Good Day
The surest way to keep your kids healthy and boost their immune system, is to let them eat a little dirt.
I was the female version of this kid when I was growing up, and aside from being accident prone, I am really a rather healthy adult.  Age is starting to catch up with me though.  I sure wish there was a cure for that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Illustration Friday - Pattern or the PUT UP A CRANE Peace Project

hand decorated paper origami crane
This is the first week since I started the self-imposed Illustration Friday assignments that I almost missed participating.  I feel like I have a very good excuse for being so late this week.  Besides grades being due for the 1st six weeks of school, I have initiated a somewhat ambitious project that I am trying to get not only my students, but the community involved in. 

First a little background information.  Last week a teacher at a nearby high school was stabbed to death by a student in his classroom.  The exact motivation for this tragic event is still somewhat sketchy, but it impacted me deeply as I am sure it did many other students and teachers in this part of East Texas.  In response to this heartbreaking incident, I decided to have my students make a positive statement to our community concerning their personal accountability for promoting peace, tolerance and understanding in our community.  What I had initially intended to offer my own Art students, I have broadened to include the entire high school,  I hope to continue to extend it even further into the school district and the community.

So here is what we are doing:
 Participants are asked to take a 6x6 inch piece of copy paper, and write on one side of the paper, their thoughts, hopes, wishes and intent for promoting peace and tolerance in our community.  After writing, they are asked to draw on the other side of the paper an image that relates to what they have just written.  With my students, I talked about a lot of different traditional/cultural symbols for peace.  Students are allowed to use one or more of these symbols in their drawn images if they wish.  One well-known symbol that we talk about is folded origami cranes, and the story of how a wish is granted if you fold a thousand cranes.  I tell the students that if we are of one mind and have essentially the same wish, that we as a group can have our wish granted as well.  We then fold the written and drawn paper into origami cranes.  We will string our cranes on fishing line and hang them as an art installation in the school.  I encourage those who participate to imagine the power of a work of art in which so many people have the same goals and the same desires for our community.  No one will be able to read what is written or see the entire drawn image, because it is all folded up inside the crane, but everyone will know its collective meaning.  The strength of the message is in each individual crane.

I came up with a simple anagram for the title of the project. It helps us talk about connected themes that participants might write/draw about
P eace
U understanding
T olerance
U nity
P ersonal
A ccountability
C ommunity
R espect
A ltruism
N on-violence
E mpathy

I have it in my head that either the entire art installation, or maybe individual strands of cranes can be offered to other schools in the future to encourage them to participate along with us.  We'll see how successful I am at getting that first 1000 cranes.  We currently have a little over 200 finished cranes so we have a long way to go.  I'll keep our progress posted here as we approach our goal.

The pattern on the paper for the crane above is supposed to be an olive branch design - another common symbol for peace.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ukulele Lessons

I had an impulse a couple of days ago and decided that I wanted to take up the ukulele.   It seemed like just the kind of quirky cool thing that I needed to do at this already over committed point in my life. :)  Did you know that you can learn how to play the ukulele on YouTube?  I bought a tenor sized ukulele yesterday and I already have about half a dozen chords down.  I can also play about 3 or 4 children's songs and "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles with only minor mistakes.  My mother took up the ukulele for a while when I was a kid.  Like all things, it must be genetic.  Next song on my list to learn is "I'm Your's" by Jason Mraz.


This is a picture of the usual state my studio work table is in.  I realized that the previous pictures I had put up were a tad misleading.  Here I have been working on Artist Trading Cards of some of the pears from my pear tree.  Our new (deaf) kitten Lola likes to be involved  in making art.  I'm not sure paint and white kittens are a safe combination, but she is too cute to shoo away.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Illustration Friday - Infinite

Where does the infinite hide?
I'll tell you true, I cannot lie.
You'll find it there.
Look deep
down in the glistening depths
of a cat's eye.

This weeks IF submission had me stumped for a while.  The infinite is a tricky thing to describe, and perhaps it is not a truly describable concept. Rather, it is something to be sought and understood according to the perspective of the individual.  Anyway, I got very philosophical about the whole thing and this is ultimately what I ended up with.  Below are some quotes that pushed me in this general direction.

Nature is full of infinite causes that have never occurred in experience. - Leonardo DaVinci
Nature is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is  nowhere. - Blaise Pascal
In natures infinite book of secrecy a little I can read. - Shakespeare

Click the picture to see it bigger.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More trading cards

ColourLovers Challenge "Japan"

These are cards made for a group swap where swap members had to work from the same limited color pallet.  The name of the pallet for my group was Japan, so I used that as a theme for my images.  It could have been anything though.  Color was the only restriction.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Illustration Friday - Welcome

Papillon  Welcome
You're home, You're home,You're home,You're home!
I'm so happy happy happy happy to see you!
You've been gone all day,
I didn't think I would ever see you again!
I can't believe you're home!
Welcome home!
I'm so happy happy happy happy to see you!
etc. and so on.... this is the somewhat ecstatic welcome home I get every day.  Not in so many words of course , but in wags and wiggles and vertical bounces, it translates pretty closely.  Now if I can just get the cat off of my laptop keyboard maybe I can finally post this weeks IF submission. :)
click pic to make it bigger.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chimerical Critters ATC Swap

Finally, I have finished the cards for the Chimerical Critter swap on Illustrated ATCs group site.  There were some interesting request.  Here is the list of combinations:
1. Unicorn - lady bug - tiger
2.Anteater - Reindeer - Bumblebee
3. Tiger - Monarch Butterfly - Lion fish
4. House cat - Ringtailed Lemur
5. Painted Lady Butterfly - Orchid - Birch tree
6. Kiwi bird - Lemur
It was a fun exercise and I can't wait to get my Toubsters in November

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Illustration Friday - Strong

mixed media on vellum
There were two quotes that inspired me for this week's IF theme.  
The first one is:
"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." - Frederick Douglass
And the second:
"Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong." - Winston Churchill
Another very quickly finished piece, completed within about two hours.  If I hadn't gotten it done this evening, I am afraid I would have missed participating this week.  So needless to say, I wish I could have spent more time on it, but isn't that always true. 
I have nearly completed the cards for my Chimerical Critter ATC swap and will be posting those within a day or so.  I originally misunderstood the instructions and thought I was to make six cards of the same animal.  Instead, I was supposed to make one each of the animal combinations proposed by my swapmates.  I'm glad I reread the instructions before I got started.  It was much more fun to create six different critters than to do six versions of one "toubster".  I will be receiving six toubsters in the mail from the other participants at the end of the swap.  Fun!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Illustration Friday - Magnify

Sure Sign of Old Age
My Illustration Friday submission this week is just a quick and dirty sketch in my moleskine.  School is now well underway and I just couldn't find time do do something more finished.  John left for India on Sunday and will be gone for a month, so Todd and I are holding down the fort by ourselves until he gets back.  I guess I am moderately co-dependent, because I was none too happy about the length of his stay on this trip.  But I do like to eat and make our house payment on time every month, so I feel guilty if I complain too much.  You would think having been married for 22 + years that I would be happy to get rid of him for a while. :)  I guess I must really love him, middle aged gut and all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Illustration Friday: Caution

"Swim at Your Own Risk!"

Here is my crack at Illustration Friday's topic "Caution." I had a lot of fun with the idea even though I'm not completely happy with the execution. I find that I am more prone to inking an illustration when I am not satisfied with the early results. I am more likely to keep it a simple watercolor or gouache painting if it is going well early in the process.

Today was the first day back at school, and so far it looks like I have a pretty good group of kids. For a first day activity we played a drawing game called "The Exquisite Corpse." It was a fun little collaborative assignment, that kept things light and easy. If you have never played it before, do a quick Google search to learn how to play and give it a try with some of your friends.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Illustration Friday- Wrapped

"No Lulu! Bad Kitty!"
Click pic to make it bigger

This is illustration Friday submission #4. I felt a little rushed on this one, but I like the overall feel of the image. There are a lot of bright blue shadows on the TP that just got washed out in the scan.
Teachers are back at school this week getting ready for kiddos next Monday. It will only get busier as the school year gets going so I will have to figure out where this self-imposed assignment will fit in. Right now I am using the time that Todd is at Band practice to work on IF assignments, make artist trading cards and go to the gym. I am signed up for a series of illustrated cards based on a chimerical animal. Since I just did a project at art camp based on mixed up animals, I figured I would stick with the little Toucan/Lobster... "Toubster" that I already created. I will post the ATCs here when they are complete.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Welcome to my studio!

This is my current working space looking surprisingly clean and organized. It is amazing how fast I can fill up this big table with art supplies, sketches, books, and 3 days worth of mail that hasn't made it to the trash. My studio space was supposed to be an out building that is next to the house, but the wasps, humidity and tendency for it to be used as a storage facility finally drove me back into the house. This space was our kid's game room, but since Todd is the last podling still home, we moved his TV and video games into Kelly's old room, and I finally have my own space again.

Illustration Friday: Impatience

It takes ten to twelve days for a Monarch butterfly to emerge from it's chrysalis.

This is my 3rd Illustration Friday submission and even though I don't like to toot my own horn, this one is my favorite by far. Probably because the little boy so closely resembles my son Todd who is now 14. I am also including the original sketch that I drew yesterday. Sometimes I prefer the immediacy of the original idea even more than the finished piece.

Click on the pictures to see 'em bigger.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Illustration Friday: Modify

...but what Julia really wants is A BUNNY!

This is my second submission for Illustration Friday. I had to get it done today because I have kids art camp every day this next week. It is not a paying gig, but it will bring in much needed art club money. I have to keep reminding myself that I love my high school students more than my summer break. :) I'll be getting up at 5:30. That's in the AM.

Click the pic to make it bigger.

Have a great week ya'll!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Illustration Friday: Idle

"Idle Worship" click picture to see it bigger :)

This is my very first submission for Illustration Friday! Hopefully it will be the first of many as I really want to improve my illustration skills and this is a perfect opportunity. I think the pun is obvious, I just hope it is also original. :) I haven't checked IF yet to see what everyone else is doing. By the time I had finished this, I realized that it looks a whole lot like my brother Tom and me some 25 years ago.

Monday, July 27, 2009

This is a test...

of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test. Should this have been an actual emergency....
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