Telling a Story with Pictures

Japanese sumi-e ink and collage on rice paper

Japanese sumi-e ink and collage on rice paper

Happy Friday!  Welcome to my current style.  I’m also practicing the idea of carrying a character from illustration to illustration.  What do you think will happen next???

Inspiration Underground

I had the opportunity to go to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky over the holidays.  What an experience!  I’d never been in a real cave before, let alone one underground.  Did you know caves stay the same temperature all year round?  All I knew was that I was looking forward to seeing stalactites and stalagmites 😉  And boy did I!  It was quite magical being so close to the mysteries of the earth like that.  Some animals literally lose their sight because of how dark it is.  We weren’t allowed to use any flash photography.  We were also told not to touch anything to help preserve the environment.  We even had to clean our shoes after to keep from spreading a virus to bats in the area.  But again, it was worth it.  I always feel inspired seeing natural wonders, but this one was unique in that we were actually invited inside the wonder itself.  It gives new meaning to the story of journeying to the center of the earth.  I had a whole new appreciation for the dark and the light.  Sometimes, you have to go out of your natural surroundings so that you can come back and see your own situation with  fresh eyes.  I think this is especially important for artists and writers.

Now lets skip ahead to the week of the blizzard and cold temperatures.  It’s no fun being snowed in like that, but it does make you realize how much clutter you have around the house.  My husband and I decided to tackle the basement.  And I’m so glad we did.  I found some additional wonders down there!  Specifically, I found several old notebooks I’d kept as a child and young adult.  What a treasure to discover what I had been thinking in second grade and then again at age 17!  Most importantly, I realized I’d been writing stories all my life.  Many of them were unfinished, but the intention was there.  I realize now that just by finishing a novel I’ve completed an amazing feat.  If only I could assure my younger self that 😉

If you can’t get underground, I encourage each of you to find a way into the dark.  Sit in the closet or simply turn out the lights.  Be still and notice where your mind wanders.  The point is to really go inside YOURSELF.  I think you’ll be surprised at what you find.  I know I found courage to continue on my creative journey.  What inspiration will you find when you have the courage to look inside yourself?

Note: This is the 100th post on this blog!  Another amazing feat 😉



The theme for this year’s Tomie dePaola children’s illustration competition couldn’t be more fitting with the current weather we’re having in the Midwest.  We had to illustrate a poem titled “Sneeze” in full color for babies and toddlers.  As you can see, I got a wacky idea in my head (or should I say nose) for this one.  I chose bold, basic colors and a simple image for this age group.  Children can count the train cars and learn their colors while identifying the familiar train image.  Kids love trains!  It’s reminiscent of Donald Crews’s Freight Train, but with a twist 😉  Older siblings will appreciate the oddity of the situation.

Click here to check out other amazing entries.  Apparently, great minds think alike.  See if you can find another image with a similar concept as mine.

Stay warm!

My word for the year 2014

It’s a new year and that means it’s time to make resolutions.  [groan]  I know, I know.  Life is stressful enough as it is without asking for one more thing from ourselves.  But we must.  It’s our only chance to grow and evolve.  And more importantly, it’s the best way to feel alive.  Still not convinced?

What if all you had to do was come up with a one word resolution?  Better yet, you don’t have to resolve to stop doing something or fix anything.  You can focus on a theme.  Something to strive for.  Something to be.

For example, my husband chose ENDURANCE as his word for the year.  As he continues to push on in pursuit of his MBA, this word will be very useful to him.  It’s a great word for staying the course and going the distance.  Think Field of Dreams.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”  —  Andre Gide


I first heard about this idea from a friend last year.  She encouraged me to come up with one word for the year.  I chose POSSIBILITIES.  The funny thing is, the word kept coming up for me in mysterious ways.  It encouraged me to try new things and search for my voice and style.  To be open to new challenges and opportunities.  I entered contests, took several art classes, travelled, and networked like crazy!  I learned that life IS full of possibilities.

It’s hard to let go of 2013.  But I realize there is still more work to do.  This year I plan to build my platform, continue my submission process, find an agent/editor that is a perfect match for my style, and then get published!  Tall order.  How do I plan to accomplish this?  Quite simple.  I need CONFIDENCE.

Yes I said it.  Confidence is my word for the year.  I promise to have confidence in myself, my ability, and my resourcefulness.  Just saying the word gives me goosebumps.  The word actually terrifies me.  All the more reason to choose it.  I’m going to embrace this word and take it a step further.  I will have confidence in others and their ability to follow their own dreams.  I will have confidence that the world can change and become more peaceful.  Confidence inspires confidence.  It’s an attractive quality.  A gateway.  Think The Never-Ending Story.

“Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself and thus make yourself indispensable.”  —  Andre Gide


What word scares you the most?  Consider making that your word for the year!

Here are the most popular resolutions according to the U.S. government.

Check out The Happiness Project for some ideas on how to set the tone for the year with one single word.