I haven’t been very good at blogging this past week but I’m happy to say it’s because I’ve been really busy ~ and busy is always good. My picture book illustrations are coming along nicely and I’ve got some fun new projects in the works for licensing (getting art ready for my agent to show at Surtex in May). Add on the busy-ness of daily life, track starting for my younger son, and the hustle and bustle of final decisions and trips to colleges for my older son (he needs to commit for football in the next month and it’s going to be a hard decision). Phewww – it’s crazy around here, but I’m enjoying the ride.
To keep my mind clear, my creativity flowing, and my sanity in place, I’ve been finding a lot of joy and inspiration from various places. Here is a peek at what’s been in my world and on my mind lately:
My husband and I are dreaming of travel these days. We can’t seem to get enough of our favorite shows (lately it’s Anthony Bourdain’s NO RESERVATIONS and THE LAYOVER , on the Travel Channel). Another place I love to go to get my ‘travel-fix’ is my niece, Sam’s, travel blog called THE WANDERLUST ADVOCATE. If I could redo my early years of my life I’d follow in her footsteps. Sam is amazing and she’s traveled all over the world already (in her 22 years) studying and experiencing all that this amazing planet has to offer. Currently she’s in Laos teaching english to novice buddhist monks. She posts stories, pictures, and fun short videos about her travels and experiences. Check it out – my travel bucket-list is growing every time I read her blog!
3. GOOD READ: THE FOUR AGREEMENTS by Don Miguel Ruiz *
Academy Awards Day is a major holiday for me! It means my husband cooks for me (love that) while I park it in my favorite chair at 3:00-ish and watch the Red Carpet coverage while giving myself a luxurious pedi-mani! I can’t wait! I must confess I haven’t seen all the nominated films, but I have some faves: I’m partial to Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook (especially Sally Field, Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day Lewis). I wanted desperately to see Argo but never made it to the theater for that one, however everyone is raving about it and I’m guessing it’ll be a big winner. Others I’m rooting for are: Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Should be a great show ~ I can’t wait to see Seth MacFarlane as host, too!
Oh my GOSH – how did I not know about these before?! My amazing and talented friend, Janice, stopped by the other night and delivered this gorgeous and oh-so-warm and snuggly neck scarf she crocheted for me! I am LOVING it so much. My house is super cold in the winter, especially in my studio, and I seem to never be able to get warm. Now that I have my new neck scarf I am a happy camper! If you are talented like Janice, and can crochet or knit, click HERE for some fun neck scarf pattern ideas! Seriously – these things are the BEST!
6. My absolute favorite TEA
Every afternoon around 3:00 I have “tea time” and I make myself a huge mug of this awesome herbal tea! There’s nothing better on these cold late winter days!
7. Daily walks with my dog
8. YOGA Move of the week: DOLPHIN POSE
I love this yoga pose. It’s a wonderful exercise for an aching artist (or anyone who sits for long periods of time). Click HERE to learn more about it.
Oh, side note – re: MUSIC – for a while every day I tune into my “The Buddhist Monks” Channel on Pandora. It’s wonderful music to work to and/or to do yoga to and I find it really clears my “monkey mind” (as Eckhart Tolle calls it).
For all my creative friends who may not have purchased this book yet – please go and do it now! It doesn’t matter if you create art for fun or for work, Lilla Roger’s new book I JUST LIKE TO MAKE THINGS is simply wonderful! On page 36 she talks about creating inspirational rituals for yourself. For me, my daily ‘pre-creating’ ritual is to pour a good strong cup of coffee and sit for 20 minutes with one of my favorite Somerset Magazines, Art books, and – now – Lilla’s book. She has great wisdom to share and the book has some fun exercises for sparking up the creative juices too. You’ll LOVE it, I promise!
A little eye-candy reading:
If you’re a licensing artist you know that there are a few image motifs that you will need to have AMPLE of in your portfolio – a couple of the main ones are all things Christmas (especially Santas and Snowmen), and Birds (particularly cardinals and chickadees). I’ve got a long way to go in these categories so with this in mind I just picked up the latest issues of Romantic Homes and Birds and Blooms magazines. I’ll be honest with you, I have purchased Romantic Homes for various issues in the past, but Birds and Blooms is a magazine I seek out. The bird images are gorgeous and I’m always finding inspiration in its pages. I was excited to see this latest issue had a gorgeous cardinal on the cover. Don’t be surprised if you see some cardinal images by me soon.
Design and creative reading:
My friend gave me Brene Brown’s new book, Daring Greatly. This is a book everyone must read at one point in their life. I’m truly inspired by Brene’s words (though the topic can be a little hard to digest at times).
Once Upon A Time:
Yes, I admit it – I’m totally hooked on this show! I am SO happy it’s back for the Season!
I am working on embracing my new CS6 (especially Illustrator). I’ve been taking a lot of online tutorials through Lynda.com and I can safely say that website is my lifesaver. Another awesome learning tool has been a couple of online courses I recently purchased by Michelle Fifis (from Pattern Observer). She is one of the best online instructors I’ve run across and I love her easy and clear way of instructing and educating! Even more, she gears her courses for the latest in technology so it is even more simple to keep up with this changing world, or in my case – catch up.
I love Tim Burton. He is a creative genius and last October when I visited the Tim Burton Exhibit at LACMA I was so excited to see that Frankenweenie would be out this Halloween! Any new Tim Burton project is a reason to celebrate!
Last … I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “Gangnam Style”:
I am thankful everyday for my boys, but lately I’m thankful for them keeping me up to speed on pop culture. A couple of months ago my younger son showed me the original Gangnam Style video and a few of the parodies. Now there are parodies everywhere and the song is such a viral hit I don’t think it will be going away anytime soon. Recently my older son showed me this latest version Ohio University Marching band did … no doubt you can’t help but have fun with this song.
It’s moments like this, when the clouds are pink and the air is finally cool after two weeks of miserable daytime heat, that I can sit back and say …
“I’m ready for some football!”
It’s Fall … well, not really, but according to our school district’s calendar it is. In addition to the start of homework, tests, and projects, the daily grind of football has also kicked into full gear. This year is big for the Pitner family. My oldest is wrapping up his public school life and will be putting out college applications in a couple of months, and my youngest will be finishing off his pop-warner football experience and Jr. High days. Where does the time go? I took a photo yesterday morning of my boys standing outside the front courtyard gate. I’ve taken that same picture every year on the first day of school since they started pre-school. It struck me that this year would be the last ‘first day of school’ in the traditional sense for my oldest son. Seriously, where does the time go? I’m having a moment right now…
As we enter into the busy, and often times chaotic Fall months, my goal this year is to try and savor each moment rather than ‘just get by’. With the extra time right now while the kids are in school I am looking forward to getting back to a routine with my art. I’ve tabled a lot of projects over the summer but now I’m looking forward to digging in. On the flip side, I’m also excited to be present and available for my boys as they both experience big and monumental years in their lives. As Danielle LaPorte would recommend, I’m taking out the word “balance” from my daily vernacular and aiming for a ‘whole-hearted’ way of living.
A big part of that whole-hearted living is making room for some ‘me’ time, and for me that is eeking out time to do some long overdue reading. That’s not an easy thing to do for many of us, but I’m working on it and I encourage you to do the same. Here’s my reading list at the moment: Danielle LaPorte’s FIRE STARTER SESSIONS (reading it for the 2nd time and starting to go through sections with a friend), Wayne Dyer’s WISHES FULFILLED, Geneen Roth’s WOMEN, FOOD, AND GOD, Mark McElroy’s I CHING – for beginners, Deepak Chopra’s JESUS, and David Whyte’s THE THREE MARRIAGES. My current list is a little heavy and eclectic, but I’m loving how each book is stirring up new thoughts. If you’ve got any good book suggestions, drop me a note. I love referrals! Next on my list is DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. I really loved the HUNGER GAMES books and my friend said this is the new “it” series to start reading. I’m hoping the birthday fairy brings me an ipad for my up-coming celebration so I can start downloading the kindle books. Hmmmm – hoping my birthday fairy is reading this because that was a major hint. :0)
I have been following Danielle LaPorte’s blog for a long time now. I’ve watched every web talk she’s ever done and have waited with bated breathe for her new book THE FIRE STARTER SESSIONS to come out (April 2012). Since I received my copy last month, I’ve poured through the book and have purchased 5x more copies for my nieces and friends. It is an amazing read and I can’t recommend it enough to all my creative and entrapreneurial friends out there! If you want to get a little taste of what’s in the book, check out her “30 day Fire Up Your Creative Genius” videos on the Huffington Post. It’s sure to spark your inspiration fire!
Here’s a description of the book on Amazon:
Lately I’ve been obsessively reading the three Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins. If you haven’t read them yet, I suggest you race out right now and get them!
When I first heard about the stories from my nieces last Christmas, and what they were about, I was horrified that books about kids killing kids in an arena was something that was resonating with our society and youth. However, I was wrong about both my simplistic impression and understanding of the story, as well as the level of writing Ms. Collins brings to this series! Wow – these books are both horrifying and enlightening with a complex storyline that unfolds beautifully into a tale about human nature and how frail our moral base can be. I can only say I’m super sad to be done reading them, but I finally had the chance to see the movie and unlike many book adaptations, this one actually didn’t leave me walking out of the theater frustrated. I liked it. there were some liberties taken to the story, but that is to be expected … it’s why you have to read the book as well as see the movie. Preferably in that order.
In honor of the Hunger Games and my love of all things cupcake, I had to share this picture of the Hunger Games themed cupcakes my talented friend, Katy, made for her daughter Claire’s b-day. There’s something somewhat wrong with the idea of a Hunger Games Cupcake, but then again – for those of you who have read the books, I can imagine there would be lots of these Mockingjay Cupcakes in the Capitol! :0)
Growing up this little story, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward and illustrated by Marjorie Hack, was one of my favorites to read, whether it was Easter or not (as evidenced by the lack of binding, falling out pages, and torn corners). I haven’t thought about this book in a long time and seeing it brought back a ton of memories. If you haven’t read it to yourself or to a child, please do. It is the one and only Easter book that made any sense to me as a little girl whose imagination was very precise and who had a lot of struggles understanding the logistics of holiday traditions. It actually provided a ‘clear ‘ story as to how the heck a bunny could possibly deliver so many eggs on Easter morning and why he/she should want to (I just gave you a little book spoiler, sorry). That part too, the fact that in this book the star was a girl bunny who fought her way to the top always resonated with my young feminist mind. The illustrations are sweet, soft, and quiet, and remind me a lot of the artwork by Beatrix Potter, E.H. Shephard, and Flavia Weedn.
This Easter weekend I’m going to be spending some much needed down-time with my family ~ working in the garden, dying Easter eggs, doing a little painting, and most of all being thankful for the amazing blessings God has bestowed on me and the sacrifice He made for my life.
I wish you a wonderful Easter, and may your day be filled with lots of chocolate!
I am working on egg images at the moment, and having a lot of fun playing with my watercolors. Eggs are fascinating to me; all the colors, sizes, and varieties … they’re simply gorgeous!
When my boys were little they always loved eggs. I remember them begging me to buy the REALLY expensive container of tiny little quail eggs at the grocery store just to keep in our refrigerator to look at (we weren’t allowed to cook them). To this day I love dying Easter eggs, and when I was a little girl I would blow out the insides of eggs, paint the shells, and make egg ornaments. Eggs symbolize life, rebirth, nurturing, and renewal, but beyond all those deeper meanings – I just plain like the way they look.
I found this book in my picture book collection that I had forgotten I had ~ An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Aston and Illustrated by Sylvia Long.. The illustrations are fantastic!
I’m starting a new post series on Appreciation. My friend Jill told Mark and I about a book that has changed her life called The Art of Appreciation by Peggy Halevi. I just ordered it, and in the spirit of this whole idea I want to take a moment to share a bit of Appreciation to someone who I feel very lucky to know.
This GORGEOUS vase was lovingly made by my talented friend Sioux. She is a teacher at the school I teach art at, and back in May she and her students gifted me as a thank you this vase that Sioux made. Though my photos above turned out pretty good they still don’t even come close to showing this vase’s true beauty. I can’t say enough how much I love and adore it, and now that it’s sitting on my table filled with van Gogh worthy sunflowers, it is even more spectactular!
What is wonderful about Sioux is how she understates her talent. If you try to compliment her, she humbly shrugs it off. She isn’t creating for the praises (though she gets them), she creates because it’s in her core to do so. She is driven by an unseeable force that finds its voice through clay and glaze. Sioux is authentic and real and it is a joy to watch how she not only inspires her students with the art of pottery making, but how she shares her gift with her friends and co-workers. Sioux is a pure craftswoman; throwing all her pottery by hand, experimenting with different glazes and techniques, and creating such personal and lovely end products that I know it must be hard for her to part with them. What a beautiful soul Sioux is, and I feel blessed to call her my friend.
(I’m not an affiliate for this book, I just wanted to share an Amazon link in case you’re interested)
On Friday I was SO thrilled to see a package in the mail from a friend of mine from my college days, Dave. Dave and I recently reconnected thanks to Facebook and it has been so wonderful to learn all about what he’s been up to. One major thing I discovered is that he owns his own publishing house, New Year Publishing. Dave had read my post about my newest addition to my children’s book collection and put together this fabulous goodie bag of picture books published by him to add to my stash! In particular were some adorable books written by his amazingly talented daughter, Paris. If you, or a young girl in your life, aren’t familiar with the book series, MY FRIEND PARIS, I highly recommend you check them out. Especially if twins are in your world! I am so honored to add these books to my ever-growing collection. I told my husband that I think I need to buy a special bookcase now. :0)