Nov 28, 2014

New Traditions

Today we are still celebrating Thanksgiving in my family. My side on Thanksgiving Day, Brian's side on Friday, and Saturday is the day we set up for Christmas. These are our traditions.

I have strong views about consumerism mixed with Thanksgiving, and my heart isn't aligned to shop.

So I had this crazy idea, that on Black Friday, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, because I am so very thankful for all who follow, support, and encourage my work, I'd give something out for free. Instead of a sale promo in your inbox, you get something free as a Thank You!

I hope to create more down the road, but here are some free desktop wallpapers for your computer, tablet, and phone.


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To Use As Wallpaper

Click the resolution you need and wait for the image to load in a new tab/window. Once it has, right click on the image and select "Save Image As" to download it onto your phone, tablet, or computer.

Please keep these images for personal use only. There is no permission or rights to reproduce or alter these images. They're for fun! :)

"Quiet Time"
320 x 480   ✬  Phone
1024 x 768   ✬  Tablet
1600 x 1200   ✬  Desktop

"Hide and Seek"
320 x 480   ✬  Phone
1024 x 768   ✬  Tablet
1600 x 1200   ✬  Desktop

"Life Song"
320 x 480   ✬  Phone
1024 x 768   ✬  Tablet
1600 x 1200   ✬  Desktop

Nov 14, 2014

SAHM Artists Need Help

I have always been a free bird, doing something the hard way... a hundred times to get it done, impulse buyer and doer, and I love to organize but hate to follow organization/schedules. So when we had Norah on top of all this, I felt a bit topsy turvy. How do you stay full time mom, full time artist, and full time wife?

Help. Lots and lots of help.

I'm sitting here writing this post as my mom does my dishes. It's something she truly enjoys doing for us on a monthly basis (often times twice a month). And it's AH MA ZING! There are many Fridays where she leaves work early and comes to give Norah hugs and kisses (and books, and play, and animal sounds, and walks), that frees me up for an hour or two. Big help.

On Tuesdays my mother in law, Karen, watches Norah for several hours in the morning. A good chunk of time to get some painting done, and Norah gets a lot of snuggly hugs.

Wednesdays I have my dear friend Andi come and watch her for several hours in the morning with coffee and then we all do lunch.

On Thursdays my sister in law, Joni, watches her for a couple hours while I go sit at a coffee shop and breathe. When my niece and nephew get out of school the cousins hang out for a bit together. Great family time.

My sister, other friends, and our parents will help watch her in the evenings so Brian and I can have date nights.

And then there's my hubby. He does so much! After a long day at work he comes home, grabs Norah out of my hands, and he's on daddy duty for the rest of the night. I can get so much done because of his willingness to do the evenings. Same with the weekends, we alternate.

I am always curious as to how stay at home moms who are also artists get their work done with a baby/toddler around. Norah has gotten to a stage where I can get very little done while she is awake and I have to give in to that. I WANT to give in to that and watch her explore, learning about the world around her.

I would not be able to get what I get done without the help of others. I know some who do, and that just blows me away. I applaud them with a standing ovation because I know myself well enough I would overheat and give up. My discipline still has strides of work to go in the field of 'getting it done'. It takes a lot of practice!

I have messed up in my business because of the many, many tasks I do, I have allowed Norah to watch tv so I can get a task done, I have even let her stay in the crib wanting out after a nap just to finish up an Etsy listing (I am aware these are very normal events all of us parents do), I have mailed orders out later than intended because I simply got overwhelmed and forgot, and I have checks that have sat around waiting to be deposited from months ago.

I'm not ashamed, and won't be. I will be realistic that life happens, and stuff needs to get done. My daughter has me all of the time, and I give almost just as much into my marriage and business. I think we're good. I say it all the time, but it never seems like enough....

I am SO BLESSED to have the life, the people, the husband, and the time I have today.
Wow. So good!

How do you manage life?
My situation is we can't afford childcare or babysitters, and I understand everyones situation or circumstance is very different from the other. This is how we make it work. 

Nov 7, 2014

Mini Inspirations

It started here. I made five fairy busts for my book demonstrating the different ways to approach painting skin tones.

It then moved onto this without me realizing it, I began doodling them with this crazy spiral hair during Inktober.

At the end of October I listed the five busts from my book to be sold during my first Flash Sale at my Etsy shop. They went so fast! I didn't think something so small and so simple would be that popular.

Once the sale was all finished and I had so many envelopes to draw on, I decided to continue with these wee fairy busts as a way to "brand" the sale. I came up with a simple design and modified it for each envelope. Every envelope from a sale during that day has a fairy bust drawn on it. You can view all of them on my Facebook Page.

Now, with all of that said and done, here is where I have ended up.

I think I am border line obsessed with these wee ladies. They are quick, full of sweet personality, and I really can't wait to paint them. I envision them in tiny ornate frames hanging together or in the smallest of nooks and crannies around the house. Just like a fairy! They measure about 2x2 inches.

I love them so much I made myself into one!

Oct 31, 2014

Tutorial - Background Color Around A Subject

Laying in a background color around a subject can be tricky, and it can be very frustrating, especially after taking the careful time to draw out all of your details. It can be approached loosely, or with a tight hand. I will demonstrate both.

Keep in mind, these are my methods, and by no means the ONLY way to go about it. Watercolor painting is a very personal in application. Trial and error are the best ways to learn the medium. The worst thing you can do for your painting is get furious and give up. Give yourself grace and have patience.

Okay, here we go.

Set Up

Place your water, paper towel, and paints on the side you write with, keeping your painting in the middle. Grouping your supplies will help you grab what you need more efficiently.

Choose your brushes. I usually have three different sizes on hand. They are #2, #5, and a #12 (or around that). These are not my BEST kept brushes, and are typically used for events such as this.

Prepare enough paint to fill the space you're going to cover. Choose a transparent color, like my Sap Green here. It will allow light go travel through down to the white of the paper and back. Trust me. I have also chosen a color that will work well with the other colors I'm going to lay down, such as blues, yellows, and reds.

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Painting Around the Subject
The Tight Hand Approach

Choose the smallest of your brushes to start, but keep that medium size close by. You want it to be small enough to get into the tight spots, but large enough to hold a decent amount of paint/water mix. You can see I have placed it close to the face (most important to me) to ensure I'll be able to get in around the nose and lips with the point of the brush. 

Scary part, start laying in the color. Charge (meaning fill the brush) with your color making sure it's full. Lay down next to the subject, but NOT along your line. Give yourself wiggle room. Make a little 'puddle' of paint, but don't over extend it. The idea is to keep plenty of wet paint sitting there, hence the 'puddle'.

Now pull from the puddle to your line with the color. Slow down should all be wet enough to give you at least a moment to do this. It will take practice to find your sweet speed spot. Remember, give yourself grace. 

To prevent unwanted lines, RIGHT after you do some of the face move to the other side of your puddle with a rinsed brush. Fade it out, this way, if it dries, you'll be able to paint and fade over it giving the illusion that you painted it all at once. ;) NOTICE I didn't do the entire face all the way down. 

Work in little puddles/spots and work your way down and around, using the same method over and over again.

Again, fading out with a rinsed brush and clean water, getting rid of any unwanted crisp edges.

With this method I can confidently move away from my subject and begin to venture out. You may need to switch to your medium sized brush to have enough paint and water.

I will begin to add droplets of clean water in to help give my background texture, depth, and this will give the eye something to look at other than what I may have missed. Naturally, in my opinion, this is the most beautiful characteristic of watercolor, they're called blooms.

You can continue the entire painting with this approach. 

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Painting Around the Subject
The Loose Approach

Grab your big brush and charge it up. Lay down a good size puddle, but small enough that you still have a puddle (remember, don't over extend your paint). Also, don't go to your lines, you need the space between.

Rinse out your brush and return to the edge of your puddle, pulling the paint towards and OVER your line art. You are fading out the color on top of your subject. 

Like with the tight approach, take your rinsed brush and fade out the back end of the puddle. Repeat.

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Touching Up

In the tiniest of spots, take your smallest brush and pull the wet paint in. If it's dry charge your brush, but first dab it on your paper towel so that it won't over flow or bubble in the tight space you're painting. Try to match the intensity of the color.

If there are crisp edges you don't want...

...go back in with a rinsed brush and clean water, gently scrub and fade them out.

There are tiny little white spots left around the forehead and nose...see them?

Very lightly, and very gently, with your small brush, pull the paint left in the crisp edge onto the white. Go in, lightly do this, and get out. Too much scrubbing too aggressively will leave inconsistent marks you don't want.

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Fading Color on top of Faded Color

Just to show I know what I'm talking about, once your first faded section is dry, go in to a new section and start again with a puddle.

Keep making puddles and scooting/painting them over the dry faded area. Once you've overlapped start to fade out your puddle with a rinsed brush. Again, might take some practice, so use light water droplets if you need to. ;)

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Finishing It Up

Good Luck!
And feel free to ask me any questions or if there is something you need a tutorial in I'd be happy to help out if I can. 

Why Halloween Doesn't Matter Anymore

Happy Halloween! 

It used to be my favorite holiday. Seriously, over Christmas. Who needs gifts when you can dress up into your wildest fantasy? That's what I used to think. 

The question I ask myself this morning, on Halloween, is:

The image on the left was painted in 1996. I was in 8th grade, obsessed with the movie "The Crow", listening to heavy metal,  and addicted to Gen 13 and Witchblade comic books. I believe it was around that time I dressed like the Catwoman from Batman Returns for Halloween. Whip and all. Yep, I thought I was quite the bad girl. I hid behind a made up character I named "Raven", who I drew all the time, made stories for, and just simmered there. Angry and lost.

She followed me all through high school and into my freshman year of college.


In college she began to morph, just a little. And although I invented other stories to hide myself behind, she was always there. I tried so hard to hold on and not forget who I thought I was.

2003 - Heavily into Manga and still learning watercolor

2004 - Style used for my senior project in college.

When I left college the real soul searching started. I continued to practice witchcraft, but grew in my watercolor and figure drawing skills. I entered into some really difficult relationships, did my years of exploring the night life, and hit rock bottom.

Enter the church. Now wait, don't jump the gun yet. There was LIGHT. I lived in the shadows so long, it was refreshing and very unexpected. I was skeptical but continued to find faith in it. I always had faith I would find LOVE. Find TRUTH. Find WHO I WAS. Who I AM. 

I can't paint the darkness like what's above anymore. I try, and this is what happens:

This image (just below), after many years of searching, is the truth of who I am. I hide behind masks to protect my heart, but it's golden because I am a child of light, the daughter of He who is LIGHT. I wander through the night, not because I am lost, because I'm hunting evil and snuffing it out to make the night safe and beautiful. I have wings so that I can fly, because I am free. These are the truths I have learned through the years, and it is because of these truths I can not go back. I am glad that Raven is now a face who smiles, who comforts, who flies in to bring LIGHT. Not death, pain, or sadness. 

So Halloween you say? Sure, I'll dress up, I'll laugh and find the joy in it, but the holiday used to have such meaning to me - freedom to hide. I think today as we celebrate dressing up and scaring away ghosts and goblins, I see myself as a warrior who doesn't need to hide anymore behind costumes, it doesn't matter anymore. So, I'll happily eat some zombie finger pretzels and begin to look forward to Christmas, when family, love, light, and joy are all dancing about. 

Oct 24, 2014

Life Inspired

"Leaf Sprite" Tin

Lindsey Stirling strings, autumn leaves, pattern, floral, clean lines, crisp mornings, Mucha, sunlight, comfy sweaters, and the list can go on and on. Many things inspire me, constantly. It wasn't until this week I stopped to actually LOOK at what inspires me, and WHAT it does to me.

I am changed by it, and I alter myself to fit whatever "it" is. If an artist inspires me, my work takes on some of their style and technique. The same goes for clothes and fashion. Or quite possibly the way I arrange my house. How about changing myself because of how someone lives, and being inspired by their beautiful life? All based on what I see, of course, not knowing the day to day. Which leads to how my life is seen on social media and in crowds of other artists.

I'm impressed by how impressionable I am, and this week it made me wonder - "Am I missing who I am?"

"Believe in Yourself" Original Art Journal

I believe it is healthy to be inspired by others. Jesus asked us to follow Him, do as He did. It isn't mentioned to be inspired, but He inspires me to be loving, caring, and full of grace. Yet on the other hand, there's a line that can be crossed into changing just to be accepted, to feel worthy, or to gain superficially.

I asked a fundamental question in church one Sunday about six months ago...Who Am I? I prayed to be shown who God says I am. It's a very large struggle of mine - for many of us - and it's been present for as long as I can remember.

My Quest? To feel free to be who I was designed to be. The other night I stumbled upon Kelly Rae Robert's website. An artist I have always been drawn to and admire, yet just now actually following her.  She openly shares her self discovery, and while reading her website it clicked. Her story, along with her business, creative soul, being a first time mom, and insecurities that are faced made me realize I'm OK.

"Dance to Your Own Beat" Original Art Journal

I felt this release to BE ME. You could actually see the JOY in her. The PEACE within herself. I have been seeking peace my whole life, especially since my daughter was born. It could be the new mommy stress and sleeplessness, but I believe it's old stuff heightened.

I have this tribal, gentle, feisty, fiery self inside waiting to take off and FLY.

Who am I? Who do you say I am?
I am free to be who you created me to be. I am free to express my light with no fear of what this world will say.
I was given an imagination to share. To lift peoples hearts, to bring them peace and love. To take them into their dreams and fantastical places.
I am a person and soul very much loved. I am loved by SO MANY people! I am so filled with love I even have some left over to give. I am more full, more accepted, then I ever realized.
I am a child of light, of His light. A light of love. I am His child filled with the grace, mercy, power, love, strength, courage, and forgiving spirit that He has. I am a child of light called to share my light. I am NOT darkness, I am NOT pain, I am NOT disgusting, dirty, unforgivable, or hopeless.
Another thought Kelly brought to my heart through her writing, was her understanding of who she is. A seeker of Joy. She lives for joy through and through. I am meditating on this. If there was one word to describe me - humm...I'm not sure yet. I'm still figuring this out, but it gives me one thing..focus for my spirit, soul, art, and not just for me, but for my daughter Norah (light), and my husband Brian (strength).

My name, Sara, means princess. I want to be a princess of dreams and light.