Shadow Boxes

After years of building with clay and painting with watercolors I believe I have finally found the place where they meet, shadow boxes.

Our school community hosted a show for the women that make art. This ranged from a group of teachers, alumni, and moms. Everyone helped to build the event, it was a very special night. This was the first time it was hosted so, the event was just for community members. Perhaps in years to come we will be able to open the venue up to more folks.

When I was asked to be a part of the show, I had just created my Red Riding Hood piece. It wasn’t completed and it was my first attempt at building a wood panel painting with a sculpted figure. The creator of the Women of Art event loved it and asked that I put her in the show. I decided to then look at two other fairy tales and put my own twist on them.

Beauty and the Beast has been getting a lot of negative coverage in my mind of late. There is an outcry that it teaches girls to believe that whatever man they find they will need to fix him to be a good person. My main exposure to this story was from Disney and I never got that message. I saw it that only his appearance that made him beastly and he should not be judged based on that(maybe because I myself have a facial/neck birthmark?). True there was some needed growth for him to do as a person, he did that during the story, and yes Belle was an incentive for him to change. There I also did not see that as a problem, we all have to grow as couples. I think most couples feel their partner helps them to be a better person. Is that unhealthy, I don’t believe so.

I wanted my piece of Beauty and Beast to be her finding the kindness and beauty within him and loving him just as he is. I am much more a reptilian monster maker, especially since I think they are sweet misunderstood animals. It fit perfectly for me to make him a lizard man. For Beauty and Beast I looked into French fashions to build their clothing. Making lace out of sculpey was a blast, I want to do more.

Sleeping Beauty, sadly was not completed. I put everything together and showed it as a work in progress. The shadow box had to lay down for the show because the glue that kept Sleeping Beauty in place was not fully cured. (This is my third shadow box, I have a lot to learn. In the past month, I learned how to build the outer box frame and attach everything in a way that allows for the art to come back out of the frame so it can be cleaned in the future.) For some viewers this actually had an added element. Sleeping Beauty is known as the princess who is found laying down but, in this image I have her running through the woods. Sometimes failures are exactly what your piece needed.

I have a photo of the Sleeping Beauty on my instagram as it was setting but, upon further examination I want to remake the figure because her head didn’t cure in the correct position. It makes her body off per her movement through the piece. I look forward to finishing this image up. I loved making the background, adding all the leaves, painting the trees and adding the tiny animals!

My hope for my next step is that I will be able to make some smaller shadow boxes of amphibians and reptiles in woodsy habitats. Then, some open square boxes with a section of scales. This way they are a tactile art piece that you can walk by and touch whenever you want. I am very excited about getting to all of these pieces. I am continuing to balance my work time. I do actually get work time on a regular basis now which, is wonderful! Now to get all the things done within the still limited time I have. Trying to figure out what I can really get done.

Also is there any interest in purchase of these images as prints? Comment if you want one! The pieces are for sale too if you want the full shebang. Just email me.


I love to read. I started reading when I was 8. I had always wanted to read but, I found the words on the page would not speak to me. I remember sitting in front of my book shelf and pulling down book after book until I was surrounded by a pile of books, crying because I couldn’t figure out how to read their stories. I especially struggled with Chris Van Allsburg books because you have to read them to really know what is going on. His pictures are beautiful and I loved them but, I never knew what the stories were about. I actually never read any of his books until I became an adult and had gotten over the hurt of them not sharing enough with me as a child. It was a tragedy against those books and this child.

Picture books could give me enough information to get by. The pictures generally shared an equal amount of the story letting me gain enjoyment. I also eventually memorized some of the books my parents read to me.

Yes my parents read to me, everyday. My Dad is severely dyslexic so, his reading of Calvin and Hobbes can never really be recreated for me. He doesn’t read sentences he reads each word and puts whatever punctuation comes to him. Strong nostalgia there. My Mom read to me everyday all the way through elementary school. She made up stories for me as well, those characters were like friends and family. However, none of this was enough for how much I wanted to read.

Once I learned how to read, my level was above average but, my speed was never very quick. I have learned that I have an audio dyslexia, I must hear the words out loud or in my head to understand them. So, speed reading is out. I had tried for years, I end up feeling like I read nothing. High School was such a challenge. The rate with which I was required to read in English was impossible with the amount of other homework and sports I was involved in. I would do my darnedest to get ahead to only fall behind half way through the book and never finish it. It is doubly sad because I loved all the books we read. However, I had to give them back to the school before I could ever finish them. I am putting those books into my reading lists now to finally finish them.

Until this year I have never been able to keep up with what I have desired to be my reading habits. The discovery, someone told me about their cousin who also has audio dyslexia, reads via audiobooks and can speed up the audiobook to 3x speed. I have been listening to audiobooks on an off for 6 years. Somehow I missed the setting where you can speed them up, probably because I started with cds, itunes, and then a library program. Since, I started technology has improved and on both Audible and my Library program; I can turn the speed up to at least 2x. Audiobooks are much more accessible for me because I can intake a story at the proper speed for my brain to take it in and for me to maintain interest. When the story is going to slow, I get bored because there is room for other thoughts to intrude on the story. If it is going fast, I can’t stop paying attention.

An added benefit to this speed listening is I am finding I can actually read faster. I never quit picking up actual books as I began listening to more audiobooks. As I sped up the audio, my mind could sound out text faster as it had gotten used to hearing words played faster. The joy this all gives me is immense. It has made me realize reading is the thing I will drop everything else for to do. As soon as I finish a book I check out what will be next. I have 35 audiobooks always at the ready on Audible, at least 5 on the library audio system and my recent visits to the library have become maybe too over zealous. I have 10 books out to myself right now. It does work okay when they are all middle grade which, 8 of 10 are. (I don’t like to keep a book out for long, I want to make sure it gets back in circulation asap so someone else can find it and enjoy it)

I am so satisfied by all of this. I once watched so much tv in the background as I worked(art, clean house, etc). I now hardly ever do, I’m listening to audiobooks. Even when I watch the COPA America games at home, I’m reading a book at the same time.

My son also enjoys listening to audiobooks. He isn’t at 2x so, we tend to share a book at separate times. It is nice to be able to double up on sharing stories together. I sadly can not read to him all the time. I’m so glad this technology is there for him in his childhood. They say listening to audiobooks helps with reading too. Take advantage of this tool to read more. Libraries have pretty excellent catalogs of audiobooks now.

If you care to see what I’m reading: follow along at Goodreads

Happy Reading!

Plein Air Painting

I was able to go on a road trip for Memorial Day. It was so neat to see the coast of Northern California. A friend and I drove up to Crescent City to visit a friend. Doing a short day trip. Mostly we spent a lot of time on the beach. The goal had been to find agates but, I decided to paint. I used some mussel shells to hold my water and used a newly set up gouache travel kit. This is what I made:

Crescent City003

Crescent City

Crescent City004

Crescent City005





I loved having time to stretch my painting skills. I hope I can do some more of this during the summer. We will see what I can do. Perhaps another trip up the coast and I can also spend time drawing the trees in Humboldt County. Also, next time I won’t forget my coat. It was so cold!

Specimens for SF Bazaar at Maker Faire

Totally excited that I got into SF Bazaar at Maker Faire! Go here for details. It has meant that I am in deep production of many specimens. Here are some works in progress and I prepare them for full preservation. Taking pictures before the caps go on is nice because you get a little more light on their heads.

I’m working on making many small and mini specimens for the show. Here is the first batch. They are all of the amphibian and reptile creature variety.


I am introducing Hippopotamus Specimens to my repertoire. Here are two angles of one of the Hippos.

hippo-specimen-2  hippo-specimen-1


I am playing with longer specimens within my regular jars. This is a long Diplodocus wrapped a bit around itself to fit into its jar.








Finally for this post of new, the new long vials. They will have amphibians, reptiles, and sharks.

long specimens

These are the new categories I have gotten to thus far. I have some other ideas I’m hoping to flesh out by May 20th. Now that this update is made, I’m going to get to it!

A Hippo for Christmas

A new beginning. I love painting but, I also love building with sculpey or other clay. These two styles of mine have been at odds with each other for years. I feel like I had to take a long while away from finishing major illustrations to play with these mediums to find the way to bring them together. My family Holiday card, per delays it ended up being a Valentine’s Day card, was my first in depth exploration into a full image with sculpey and paint. I started out building a structure. A large sculpey project is best built with armature.


I had wanted to make holes in the back of this armature to attach the sculpey build to the wood. This insuring its full attachment to the piece. It did not work out on this attempt and I will be continuing to play with that to see if I can make that happen. I ended up using a strong epoxy which, worked just fine. The next step was to put down a base layer of sculpey on the armature.


Once I had the hippo and ground completed I put together the children. I planned to paint everything but, really enjoy mixing and creating colors with sculpey. I also like having a colored base to paint on top of.


Once all the sculpey was completed I painted the background, glued down the cooked sculpey and then painted the sculpey. I used some found objects, dried plant pods, to make the shrubbery on the ground. I liked the added depth. Sometimes the best solution in a dimensional piece is a found object.


I am very happy with how this came out. I feel good about this direction for my illustration. My goal now is to complete a new portfolio with pieces like this. I am going to be in a Women of Peninsula art show in the fall. I am going to use that as a jumping off point for what themes I will apply to these pieces. I’m looking forward to the process.

Shared Sketchbook 2

This sketchbook is on a very relaxed schedule. Thank you for that eHawk! I had our book for most of the fall and then past Christmas. Then I finished a Holiday card for the family and couldn’t postpone anymore. I hadn’t intended to dally on my page for that long, I even had an idea.

This is what came of it.


This is a battle in Thailand of the bugs and faeries there. It was so much fun to look up all the bugs and apply their coloring and wing designs to the faeries. Of course looking at this more now I wished I could manage to get my humanesque (in this case) bodies to have depth as much I do with animals and bugs.

I practice, I started out drawing people when I first found I couldn’t stop drawing as a kid. I still practice figure drawing. However, whenever I leave my sketching level I lose whatever gesture I have expressed in my sketch. I think this is a common problem and one that is worked out by 10,000 hours practicing. One of my goals for this year to spend even more focused time on them. I am hoping some other mediums will help me find the missing piece.

Until then looking forward to what eHawk draws next.


Why a Blog or Art

It’s been an increasingly slog of a process creating art for the past 3 years. I know there is still joy in making art and occasionally I actually get into a project and am happy for the work. Most of the time however, I start to work and instantly get tired and want to go to sleep. I can only assume it is a depression. I have been trying to make art for over 10 years now. There are some years you could discount, when I was focused on designing or raising children but, I was always making art and hoping to find security in selling it. I probably went about it all wrong. I recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and she said she never put the expectation on her art to make money, that in doing so would have put an unfair pressure on it. Perhaps that is the burden my art is living under and why whenever I attempt to be creative I am overwhelmed with exhaustion.

I’m sure some would say I am not cut out to attempt a career in art. However, I can not believe I am alone in feeling hopeless looking at years of work not finding their audience. From all the stories I hear this is a familiar circumstance. The artists that become successful never give up and just keep making until they finally find their people.

I find my deepest struggle is the since of being completely alone in the search of support. I am introverted but, I am extroverted too. I need to feel I am part of something where a group is succeeding. However succeeding may be expressed, gathering together in support, enjoying a common love, building a project that brings people together, anything that causes a sense of community.

Art is not a group effort most of the time. There are critique groups and online chats and conferences but, they aren’t always reachable. Critique groups struggle to meet, online chats aren’t necessarily at good times of day, conferences are expensive. Social media creates a community but, it’s easy to be lost in the crowd. Any time taken away from posting for any reason and suddenly your relevance is gone.

Time is a limited commodity. I need to be making art but, I have a need to know people see it and want to see more. Being a part of an online community means putting myself out there potentially sounding stupid or giving up my feelings to strangers who may not care and may make me feel worse.

What I know, I want to share my thoughts. I want to share my art. I don’t know why there is a fire inside me that burns to keep trying. I can’t imagine not honoring that feeling.

I’m going to keep trying. I’m not going to give up on myself or my work. No matter how much doubt lives in here. I feel so ridiculous needing to say all of this. Being an artist seems like it should be the easiest job in the world. I can tell you it is not. It requires more than just doing the work, it requires courage and heart. There is a mob of people saying art isn’t a real job, isn’t a skill or deserving of any compensation. There is a subtle war on art. Maybe because artists help us stay human, keep us connecting to each other, bringing a sense of wonder, remind us to ask questions and seek improvement in our lives. These are valuable components to life.

I hope this time I belief my own words and stay committed to myself. I have been sketching and practicing quietly for myself. I have needed this time and more time than I expected to work internally. I think this time I am ready to start sharing. Now to end here and go prepare some more blog posts.

Thanks for reading.