Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Stay-Cation

Every year I say I am going to take a couple weeks off at Christmas time, but I get bored and come back to work early.  This year I decided I really needed the time off.  I painted a lot of paintings this year, especially the last two months, and I wanted a break to think about what kind of art I want to make in 2013 and what kind of projects I want to publish.

I'm not made of money, so it's not an option for me to actually take a vacation anywhere, but we went and visited family for Christmas, and since we got home I have been doing all the things I put off all year because I don't have time.  Mostly that means cleaning my house.  I know that sounds boring to everyone else, but I get to really clean so rarely that I enjoy getting the house tidy, especially since I know this will probably be the last chance I have to deep clean until next Christmas.  Yikes.

I have also been watching a lot of TV.  I usually only watch TV when I paint, and then I only watch things that inspire me.  I really like TV shows like Bones, My Name is Earl, X-Files and so on.  Since I have been working since I was 16, I have missed most of these shows, so they are like new to me.  :)

I don't want to talk about any of my art ideas or projects until they're done (new resolution for 2013?), so I'll shut up and show you some pictures of my Christmas Stay-Cation.

The first thing I see when I get home is a Victorian street lamp, dusted in snow and lighting up the snow-covered raspberry shoots behind it.

The second thing I discovered was a steampunk Christmas tree waiting for me in my old bedroom.  My mother and grandmother came up with this together, and grandma even made some of the ornaments herself.

We let Wolfgang open presents every day, so hopefully he would not be overwhelmed.  In one of his first gifts was this awesome motorcycle jacket.

For years, this was the first thing I saw every day.  The mountain is much taller, but is hidden behind the clouds and fog.  I think the mountain is called Thorp Mountain.

My grandpa has had this Christmas train for years, but Wolfgang was mesmerized and obsessed with it the whole time we were there.  He caused many derailments and drove us all insane with the train whistle.  ;)  The man in the picture is my 75 year old grandfather.  Nobody believes me, but he's really not my dad, and he really is 75.

We got Wolfie a lot of things for his lunchboxes.  I like to make him Bento boxes, and he likes to eat them, so I made him hard-boiled eggs shaped like cars and bunnies, strawberries cut into flower shapes, and a cheese sandwich shaped like a kitty face.

The antlers light up, and Wolf is still wearing them around the house.

I took over 100 pictures of snowy trees.  I never have any to look at when it's time to paint Christmas art, so I wanted to have lots of shots to work from.  I might have gone overboard.  Here are my favorites.

By the time we got home, of course our Christmas tree had died.  My husband worked the next day, so I struggled through carrying it out of the house, and with some help from one of our dogs got it out the back door.  Then I diligently swept up all 200,000 pine needles it dumped on the floor and packed away the ornaments.  Our son spent most of the time rearranging them, and the tree was a mess, so I leave you with a shot of my favorite decorations.

Now it's time to resume my new favorite TV show (Bones) and finish this cup of hot cocoa.

Goodnight, and happy holidays!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Clean Clean Clean

Today was a strange, slow, lazy day for me.  I don't normally have days off, so it felt strange.  ;)  I think I just didn't get enough to eat and was cranky and slow all day long.  I had two helpings at dinner and that seemed to make up for whatever I was missing out on.  Now I am busy restocking prints, reorganizing our print storage system, cleaning the studio, you know, all the fun things about running an art business!

I like to try to keep at least one of each print on hand at all times.  Then, no matter how busy I am, I can ship things quickly and only have to make minimal amounts of prints on demand.  Some prints I keep more of, because they are the most popular.  Usually after I do this, two customers will order the prints I only made one of.  Figures.

This time of year it's really important to keep on top of inventory, though.  I was shocked when I realized I only had 3 of my fancy bookmarks left.  I'm going to order some more, but I don't think they'll be here in time for Christmas.  There is only 1 left on my site now, and I put the other up on eBay as an auction.

I'm going to work on getting some classic paper bookmarks with tassels as well.  I doubt they will arrive in time for Christmas, though, but you never know.  ;)

It was snowing a little bit ago, so I had to run outside in my bare feet and dance in it.  I won't say more, I don't want to jinx it and make it go away.  ;)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Changes in 2013

I just wanted to post today about some changes that are coming in 2013.

First, we will likely be changing the format of my prints.  Right now I sign the prints on the image, but I would like to get away from that and be able to sign and number the prints on the white border.  We'll be adding a title to the white border as well, so you can always identify the work and where it came from.

The 2014 calendar will likely be published in the first half of the year.  We will take pre-orders for it and offer special packages similar to the perks we offered for the IndieGoGo campaign to publish this year's calendar.  We may even do a Kickstarter campaign for the 2014 calendar.

Spellbinding Darkness, my art book, will be released this month.  I wanted to wait until 2013, and we may do a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 to get a quantity of the books printed, but Amazon will have the book for sale this month.

The release date is: December 13th!

I will put a pre-order up on my site once I've approved the proof, and if you don't pre-order you very likely won't get a signed copy, since I won't be ordering a lot of extra books.

I think that's it for me!  There will be more announcements throughout 2013, but these are happening first, and I don't want to spoil the rest.  ;)

Oh, here's my newest painting, too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Human Again

November has been a rough month for me, but I'm finally starting to feel human again.  After my last post I started getting really sick.  I struggled with it for almost a week before I finally went to the doctor.  It was that or go to the emergency room, and I've already had to go to the emergency room once this year for illness and didn't want to go again.  The doctor diagnosed me with a respiratory infection and put me on an enormous dose of antibiotics.  It still took a really long time for me to get better, and I actually didn't feel markedly better until I was done with my antibiotics.  Usually they help right away, but this was one stubborn infection.

I am still coughing a lot of junk up, but other than not particularly enjoying the flavor of the inside of my lungs, I feel pretty good.  I'm going to try to take better care of myself, working maybe one or two less hours a day, sleeping at least 8, and eating decent meals from here on out.  I have been sick since we started having wildfires in July, and I think I have had a mild infection since August.  I've been on a lot of antibiotics in recent months, but my friend told me of an all natural concoction consisting of elderberry syrup and silver hydrasol.  I think that is what finally knocked it out.  I'm going to take some every day from now on, because I truly hate missing work!

Once I felt well enough to sit at my desk (I was really too ill to do anything but cling to my sofa) I managed to get a painting done.  Then I felt so good when I got home from visiting relatives for Thanksgiving that I made another one yesterday.  I need to finish two more this week and then I will hopefully be able to finish formatting Spellbinding Darkness.  I wish I could get it ready and released in time for Christmas, but I am running out of time and have a ton of obligations that have all stacked up since I've been sick.  Maybe I still can, we'll see.

Here's the two paintings I finished:

"Winterborn", 16"x20" in Photoshop CS5 with Wacom Cintiq 24HD Tablet (yes, I finally got used to it and am loving it now!)

"Winter Spirit", 12"x20" in Photoshop CS5 with Wacom Cintiq 24HD Tablet

The top one was inspired by some stock photos I saw of a girl sitting in a big "bird's nest".  I thought a fairy emerging from one would be cute.  The second one was inspired by Snow White on the TV show Once Upon a Time.  I really like Snow White, but I am not really fond of her "normal" half, Mary-Margaret.  If she wore some of Snow White's costumes and the long hair I'd probably like her more!  ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bad Blogger

I've been a bad blogger again, I'm sorry.  My son and I have been sick for weeks with colds, and then on Monday he suddenly got really, really sick.  We made an emergency appointment with his doctor and he was diagnosed with croup and given some steroids to keep his throat from closing.  We went home and he seemed to be about the same on Tuesday, then yesterday he wouldn't eat or play or really do anything but cry.  I decided I should take him back to the doctor, so made another emergency appointment and went back.  Of course as soon as the doctor came in he was happy, wanted her to play peek-a-boo with him, and crawled right up in her lap for a snuggle.

She said his throat was probably just bothering him and to get him something cold to eat.  We talked about his lack of speech so far and she referred him to a speech therapist.  As soon as we got in the car, he started talking.

Seriously, kid?

Today we're having our first named winter storm.  I don't know why they started naming them, but I think it's kind of cool.  Brutus is currently snowing on my house.  I'm hoping I'll get a chance to take some Christmas products outside and hang on one of our little trees so I can take some nice pictures of them.  I'm also hoping I'll get a chance to paint today.  It's been too long since I got to paint.  My husband's work schedule has been really crazy lately and that means I have less time to work, especially when our son is home sick from school the one day a week he goes!

I am also hoping today I'll get orders ready and ship them tomorrow and maybe get a little closer to being done with lots of other projects that desperately need to be wrapped up.  I am not sure if I will get to paint, thinking about all that I have to do.  :(

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Long Time No See!

Recently I've been thinking about resurrecting this blog and using it for posts that are a little more personal.  I don't always want to detail everything that is happening at, but I know sometimes people are curious.

Yesterday I photographed all of our cards for this year's holiday season.  I try to make sure they can be used for Christmas or Yule, but I don't really have any cards for Chanukah or Kwanzaa.  I might try to do that next year.

This year we could only offer six designs.  Last year I handmade them as they were ordered, so I could print a variety of cards, but it was very time consuming and they were expensive to make.  This year we decided to order them from a card printing company, which meant we could only pick a few designs to keep it affordable.  See, when you order things that are custom printed, the fewer you order the more expensive they are per item.  If we could afford to order 1,000 at a time we could probably sell them for $1 and make a ton of profit, but we would only be able to buy one design and then we'd have them around forever.

Instead we ordered very small quantities of cards and only six designs, that way we could have a variety but have enough to make packs out of.  The printer sent us way more than we ordered of some designs, though, so some of the cards will probably not sell out.
They did a really nice job on them, though, and I like these a lot more than the handmade cards.  The handmade cards were nice, but they were two pieces of paper.  These are one piece.

I also got a new tablet for drawing on this week.  I use a digital tablet for drawing into the computer, and for almost seven years I have used the same one.  I really wanted one with a screen in it, and last year when the Cintiq 24HD came out my parents offered to help me get one (there was no way I could get it while still paying for the Million Dollar Baby Boy).  Earlier this month there was finally enough money saved up so I ordered it.  After a lot of shipping problems and the first one getting lost and returned to Wacom, I finally got mine on Thursday.

It is almost as big as my desk and I haven't really gotten to use it yet.  I am a little afraid to touch it but I'm hoping this weekend I'll get some time to use it.  I'm always like this when I get a new tablet, sort of hesitant and afraid of it.  Hopefully I'll get over it quickly, I miss painting!

Here are the pieces we released yesterday for our first November update:

These are all for sale at, of course.  :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Watercolors and Watercolor Books

I always get questions about watercolors, which I find kind of funny because I haven't used them in my professional work in years (I should do some new watercolor paintings...) and most people know my digital work, but I do have a few favorites.

My favorite book of all, oddly enough, is just a visual reference from Winsor & Newton about mixing watercolor. I frequently use it for digital paintings as well when I need to make a palette for a new painting or one I'm stuck on. I bought my copy from some years ago for several dollars, but it is available on for what seems a very expensive $16. It's really not a large book so I would buy it used or with a coupon, it's definitely not worth $16 even if it is handy. It is $1 cheaper at

My next favorite is Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's Dreamscapes. I linked to the Kindle Edition because it was the first to come up, but I recommend the paper version. I hate e-books though, so take that with a grain of salt. Even if you don't learn anything from this book you can't help but be inspired by it.

I also love Linda Ravenscroft's books, particularly this one. I've had it for ages but I always go back to it for whimsical inspiration.

My favorite non-instructional and purely inspirational watercolor books are Amy Brown's books and Brian Froud's Pressed Faeries. The Pressed Faerie books were hard to find for a while (about 10 years ago) and I spent several weeks tracking them down and ordering used copies, but I have a few of them now and they are worth the work. The hardcover is the best.

When it comes to watercolor itself my favorite paints are Holbein (tube), Winsor & Newton (tube), and Yarka pan/cake paints.

A note about sprinkling salt, rubbing alcohol and so forth on your watercolors to achieve different effects: These methods change the ph of the paper and ruin any archival quality they might have, so keep that in mind before you do it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Facebook are evil. You are a vile, time-wasting invention, created by, and I am pretty sure of this, the devil. I vow to spend less time on you, because you are seriously worthless. WORTHLESS. You hear me? Stay out of my computer.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year

Every year, like most people, I am asked approximately 1,000 times what my resolutions are for the new year. I don't have any. I think it puts too much pressure on a person to decide to change a bunch of things about yourself or in your life just because it's a certain day. No wonder "New Year's" diets fail so frequently. If I want to do something, I just do it. I don't put it off until January 1st, because if I did that would indicate I don't really want to do it!

I have also gotten away from saying things like, "I hope 2012 is better than 2011!", because if it's not better than 2011? I am dead. Heh. Literally. If by March 6th, 2012 has not tried to kill me, it will officially be better than 2011. I'm not too worried about the Mayan calendar thing, either. I see no good reason that the world should end so soon, so I'm not sweating it.

So, 2012? I have absolutely no expectations of you. I'm not going to jinx myself by dragging it out and detailing all the things I would like to be better in 2012, so, bye bye, 2011.

Monday, January 2, 2012

No, wait, extend my vacation, please!

I haven't really managed to get anything considerable accomplished during my vacation. I realize that for most people, a vacation is a time to sit around and do nothing, but I am most relaxed when I'm working, and I was hoping to do that quite a bit. But here I am, just a couple days away from re-opening and I've accomplished pretty much zilch on my list. I actually already processed orders, because I couldn't wait any longer, so I guess I am technically already taking orders again.

It seems like the last two weeks just flew by. We spent a good chunk of it in Washington, where it was basically impossible to get any work done. There was food, and lights, and people, and my attention span sucks anyway. Plus the internet there is slower than any dial-up I've ever had, and I couldn't even get on Facebook for most of the trip. Anything more intensive like website work or whatever, was not going to happen there.

My studio is still an enormous mess, I haven't done inventory, and all the end-of-year stuff I've accomplished so far was mostly done by my husband, who did all the number-y stuff and determined that if I were a postcard manufacturer, I'd be rich by now. During 2011 I sold at least 10 times as many postcards as 8"x10" prints. This year we'll only be offering postcard packs, because selling the individual postcards is a pain in the ass, and not very lucrative. The 12"x16" poster prints are also phased out now, and I'll be working on phasing out some other stuff this winter/spring, and it looks like more key chains and definitely magnets in the future.

I think once I get the studio back into shape and get more than a few minutes to myself, I'll be able to get back into the swing of things. I also need to figure out what to do with a current commission. One of the faces in it is driving me bonkers and I can't figure out what I don't like about it. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it and worry about it all day long. I need to do something with it soon, or paint something else so I feel a little less worthless. I have another commission almost done, but not quite, and all that's really left is painting a foot and a bunch of leaves. I hate both of those things. I am not sure if it's worse to paint toes or 100 leaves. I'll let you know.