Un-gift Guide

  • Food + Drawing

    I don't know why it took me so long to start drawing food. I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to combine my two interests somehow. In the last eight months, I've done lots of food drawings, beginning back in October with my Inktober recipes. I wanted to illustrate for someone other than myself, so I reached out to friends who have a coffee business. I'm working on a series of illustrations for different methods of brewing coffee. It's so much fun for me, and I find it satisfying to be working for "clients" other than myself.  

  • Chickens

    These chickens were modeled on my own chickens, Duck and Cluck. I took an online class from Anita Lehman through Carla Sonheim's website that was a very thoughtful look at composition. Sometimes it's nice to get back to basics and see how structure influences outcome. And, on a side note, it's been nice to have fresh eggs to eat and use in baked goods!

  • A New (Old) Way of Working

    I don't know why it took so long for me to go back to making collage and mixed media pieces. Maybe I didn't think they were "serious" enough, or I forgot how much fun it was for me to work this way, or maybe I just forgot how to do it. Recently, I found some fruit that I painted simply on canvas paper. I took out cheap, thin acrylics, poured green and yellow on top, and pushed the paint around the paper. After it dried, I tore out the fruit and saved them for a collage. That's where my playing around with fruit bowls began the other day. For a slight change of pace, I took a yellow piece of painted paper and turned it into a French press. I've mainly been using really smushy media, like a soft pencil, conte crayons, and Faber Castell gelatos. These collaged pieces really feel like me, and I'm loving all the color!

  • New Things!

    I'm test driving some new products at the market this Saturday. It's so much fun to play with color and shape on functional bags and totes. I like the simplicity of playing with fabric, paint, and potatoes. Yes, potatoes! That's what I used to make my stamps......and, they're compostable!

  • Stretching

    I decided to challenge myself with an online course, Explore Florals, taught by Victoria Johnson. It was three weeks of design briefs, each focusing on a different way to think about florals, with an accompanying palette. It was harder than I thought to get out of my own way of doing things and try something new. Just like life, I suppose.

  • Creative Thinking


    I am so thrilled to have my very first drawn illustration in the current issue of UPPERCASE Magazine! 

    I drew this on Thanksgiving, 2017. We decided to stay home and celebrate, just the three of us. I wanted my daughter to feel like that even though we weren't going anywhere, it was going to be a special day. So, I let her pick the drinks!

  • Pushing Forward

    I'm trying to remember this and to boldly learn new things without getting bogged down by self doubt. It's hard!

  • Plugging Away

    I'm trying to enjoy the quiet stillness of winter. We've had lots of snow (and snow days) and rain, which has made for long weeks of nasty weather. I'm drawing daily and I can see myself steadily improving. 

  • Winter

    above image—not winter

    Winter is not my favorite season. It's cold, it's dark, it's icy....but with those restrictions comes permission to quiet your mind, think, make. It's the season when I have the most time. My daughter is in preschool, and farmers' markets are few and far between. It allows me to focus on my art and on all the other little projects that I think about during the summer. This year I'm stretching and taking Make Art That Sells, an online course from art agent Lilla Rogers. So far, I feel out of my element, which I'm taking as a good sign. Growth comes in fits and starts, and it isn't always comfortable.

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Un-gift Guide

You may have guessed that I'm one of those people who make the majority of their holiday gifts. I do–but not always in the most well-intentioned way. After an entire month of making things for the farmers' market and focusing on what other people want to give their loved ones, I become gift-stupid. I forget about the gifts I'm supposed to get until a few days before we load up the car to drive south and visit family. Then my husband will conjure a list which has been in his head for the previous few days and gets worriedly translated to mine with our rural, limited shopping venues to keep in mind. Then, I'm in the basement staring down the least popular jams that are lingering on the shelves and wondering about the shelf-life of wrapped biscotti. After piecing together the most desirable edibles left over from the holiday market and any finished craft projects that may have been gathering dust for the past three years, some sort of homemade present takes shape. I don't necessarily feel proud of my efforts.

This year, I feel slightly more prepared for the season. I am trying to think about presents pre-emptively, order things, and have cute packaging on hand before I get busy making candies, truffles, and cookies for other people. One of my favorite things to do is to check out the gift guides: best books of 2011, best kitchen gadgets–really any sort of "best of" list instantly grabs my attention. I like looking at all of these things, but I don't imagine actually buying any of them. The guide that I am most inspired by so far is the one at Design Sponge for gifts made with your hands. And while they mention all the usual suspects, the guide could have been subtitled gifts made with your heart. It wasn't about invoking your inner Martha Stewart, but about really thinking about the recipient of your gift. What would she like? What would make her life better/easier/calmer? It made me think about how often we don't do that for people, even our close family and spouse. We get so wrapped up in finding the perfect thing that we forget why we're buying it in the first place.

So, maybe the true gift to put on your list this year is compassion. Imagine yourself in someone else's mental space for a minute. Maybe this person has been especially grouchy or happy or angry this year. There's probably a good reason even if it's not something that you can rationalize. Don't judge her, or tell her to snap out of it; instead, be accepting of where she is. And then cook her dinner or make her bath salts while keeping in mind why she's so important to you. Let everything else go.