Thirty

Original Photo: Brooke Lark / Unsplash

In my social circle, I’m one of the last to turn thirty. There seems to be a lot of mystery about it, as the closer each of my friends approached their thirtieth birthday, the less and less they wanted to acknowledge their aging. This doesn’t seem to be a new phenomenon, as I’ve had one aunt in particular who has remained 29 for decades…

But I guess I’m odd in looking forward to turning 30. In fact, I’ve been telling people I’m thirty for a year now. I’m READY.

I can’t say I necessarily feel thirty. I don’t think anyone would claim I’m particularly mature, and when left to my own devices I can seem pretty helpless (lunch? That’s a thing I have to do EVERY DAY? Uuuggghhh.) But as someone who repeatedly got carded to sit in the emergency exit row of a flight only a few years ago, I’m looking forward to being older, and hopefully I seem it now, at least a little… Seriously, you have to be 15 for those seats! FIFTEEN! It’s not a compliment at that point…

I guess I hope that 30 brings wisdom. I hope that wisdom brings confidence. I hope I don’t use that confidence to belittle others who are still “just figuring it out.” I feel like I heard that a lot when I was just out of college. Older people reminding me that I’m a newly established adult wobbling around and learning as I go. Now that I’m older, what a bunch of bull. I’m probably less wobbly, but I’m definitely still learning and figuring it out.

May I never speak the words “you’re just a kid” unless it’s specifically to encourage a younger person that there is no rush in figuring it all out! It’s myth to think otherwise. That myth is the origin for the “mid-life crisis” after all. A major change at forty is no less significant than any other age, but it’s also not any more so either. It’s only because we expect ourselves to be “figured out” and “settled in” that it’s a crisis. But change is a part of the process, at every age.

I didn’t think that at thirty I would have two cats (I’m mildly allergic to them after all), or that I would have a degree I don’t use (but don’t regret pursuing). I never would have guessed that my parents would move away to get ready to eventually enjoy retirement, but that my brother and sister-in-law would be my neighbors instead. I wouldn’t have guessed that I would be an artist. I don’t think I would have expected to work part-time at a warehouse for years, and quit on Thursday morning because I realized if I didn’t right then at that moment then I’d never have the courage to leave, and that was worse than quitting. I didn’t realize just how incredibly supportive my husband is for cheering me on and how much he believes in my ability to reach my dreams. (although I shouldn’t be surprised, he’s the best.)

Thirty isn’t going to start at all as I anticipated. But the wisdom with turning 30 is that I’m a-okay with all of it. Even if it’s hard stuff, like making sure I eat lunch everyday, or running my own business, I know I am capable. I have the capacity to be able to do these things, even if it’s not right away and I’m still just figuring it out as I go.

Maybe thirty won’t be so different after all. But I’m grateful for it all that same.


As a birthday gift to me, tell me what your favorite lunches are! I don’t have much interest or skill in cooking. So, what are your go-to sandwich combinations, or toppings for an egg (I did learn how to cook that, at least). Let me know in the comments below!

A Summer Survey

Original photo credit: Marisa Harris / Unsplash

I thought I’d shake things up a bit this month, I hope that’s okay!

First, I want to offer my gratitude.

Like any community, the internet is not an inherently welcoming place. We all have the opportunity to participate and share, but there is no guarantee for how it will be received. In the time that I’ve been blogging and sharing my art, I’ve been fortunate to only feel supported and encouraged by others. I do not take this for granted. I am incredibly grateful for every order, like, share, and comment (in person or online). I notice and appreciate it more than I can say. So instead let me just say, thank you!!

Second, I want to take a survey of sorts…

Whether you have just started following, or have been here from the beginning, I’m curious — what kind of content do you prefer to see here at Summer Child Designs?

I have a general idea of what kind of posts to share each month, and try to have a fairly specific area of focus. I tend to share general updates for what I’m working on, my attitudes on work in general, and in the Summer I tend to share a little reading list. That said, I’d love to know if there are any kinds of posts that you would like to see that I’m not currently doing…

There are other things I can talk about as an artist: more behind the scenes of how I work, art project tutorials, home decor ideas, and maybe even lifestyle or philosophy stuff. I would even be open to starting an unofficial book club – maybe even focusing on books about artists, or the “art world” if that’s something people are interested in…?

Basically, as we shift gears into Summer, now is a great time to let me know what you think! This blog, like my art, is always a work in progress. So if there is something I can do to be of more use (or more realistically– entertainment) in your inbox or feed, I would love to hear it!

Thank you again for your support!

Happy Summer!

The Camp Sunshine Collection

I would like to introduce my newest surface pattern collection!

Camp Sunshine!

This collection was inspired by a summer spent outdoors, and the aesthetics of the 70s. I never went to camp as a kid, and I wasn’t around in the 70s either, but this collection is how I imagine it — yet updated to fit in a modern setting. I tried to keep the colors bright, but in motifs that are comfortable and cozy.

With that said, these patterns are now available today as throw pillows in my Etsy shop! It’s a very limited run, of only a few of my favorite patterns. But I do plan on adding more soon!

Happy Summer!

The General Store (Update)

Original Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Can you believe it is May already?!

I can — the holidays feel like forever ago… and I cannot — should it be only like March?

I thought this month would be a good time to give a general update about things here at Summer Child Designs. I don’t have any big announcements this time, or musings on life and art right now.

I’m mostly just focusing on my work and making sure I’m actively doing things to reach the goals I had set for this year. It can be very easy for me to lose sight of what I’m working towards, which then becomes work just for the sake of it. I’d rather be less “busy” and instead be intentional with how I spend my time.

There. How’s that for an epiphany? (Although if social media is any indication, I feel like that’s just #goals for everyone in 2019. I dig it.)


In case you missed it — I’ve been pretty good about adding new artwork to Etsy recently! There are a handful of new “achievement” stickers (affectionately known as Meritless Badges).

I’ve also added quite a few illustrations to the shop. While I love using colored pencils, and learning to watercolor, I’ve really enjoyed going back to drawing in ink for a bit. It’s fairly relaxing for me, and doesn’t take much in terms of supplies — so I can easily work on drawings while re-watching New Girl from the couch. Don’t judge. 🙂


I’ve also decided to revisit surface pattern design. I haven’t done much in that area since I first released The Prologue Collection when I started Summer Child Designs. I’ve added a few new designs to my Society6 since then, but nothing featuring repeating patterns.

While I’m still proud of the work I did for that collection years ago, I think my style of illustration has evolved quite a bit since then. My goal now is to create a new collection for this year that features more of my drawings — something that wasn’t really incorporated in The Prologue Collection at all.

So, I’m really excited for this new project! It’s still very much in the early stages, mostly just brainstorming. But the good news is that I have A LOT of ideas right now. It’s pretty refreshing since sometimes I can hit a definite lull in coming up with ideas for standalone drawings. I think it will be a good challenge for me, and it doesn’t mean I can’t work on both moving forward… And believe me, I will definitely share my collection when it’s ready!

Expo! Expo! Read All About It!

Original photo credit: Thanos Pal / Unsplash

I signed up for my first trade show.

Okay, technically, it’s not my first trade show by a long shot. (For those who don’t know, my last career was trade shows. I basically grew up in the industry, thanks to my hard-workin’ Mama). But this will be the first show where I’m running a booth and not the dock.

I am equal parts excited and nervous.

In the past, when it was time for the conference to start, my job was finished. I could literally hide behind the curtains until everyone had left. Not so anymore! I will have to find my courage and gasp talk to people! Or at least stand around and watch people walk by and think, “well that is… colorful.” (AND IT WILL BE.)

I’m nervous because one of my goals is to become such a successful artist that I can justify being eccentric enough to never leave my home. I’ll only have friends over for annual house parties, but they will be catered and very posh and exclusive. And no one will be able to judge me because my work is so brilliant. (Okay, so not really. But I am very comfortable not leaving my house for long periods of time. A fun excursion out is typically a second trip to the grocery store for the week.)

I’m excited because one of my goals is to take up space. I don’t want to feel like I need permission to share my thoughts, ideas, and art. Or, better yet, if I could just use a relevant hashtag on Instagram without having to basically do research first– man, that would be courage! And I think part of what motivated me to sign up for a show was that it forces me to physically take up space too. 80 square feet, to be exact! Dedicated for my work– to share my art. With others. On purpose.

And of course, hopefully to sell something too…

Even if I don’t though, I’m excited for the opportunity and challenge to demonstrate for at least a little while that I can be as bright and bold as my illustrations.

Maybe.


I’ll definitely share the event info as we get closer! But I couldn’t wait to share the initial excitement now!

A Sketchbook Tour – Part One

Most sketchbook tours I’ve seen are videos, and the artist will talk about their work while flipping through it. A sort of retrospective of their recent work… But, if you know me personally, you know my voice is like a weird blend of Gilbert Gottfried and Elmo. In consideration, I’ll spare you all, and present a photo tour of a sketchbook I’m working through (and am by no means finished with — hence, part one).

If you don’t love reading, I’m sorry. But really, it’s better this way, I assure you. (And I won’t judge if you just skim and look at the pictures!)

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So for this sketchbook, I wanted to keep it semi-focused. It’s a fancy Strathmore mixed-media sketchbook. Normally I would just fill it with random doodles, scribbles, and the occasional notes from a voicemail. But I wanted to keep this one neat.

It’s mostly for practicing with ink and watercolor colored pencils, which I obviously love now (see last month’s blog). I added in quotes because I love quotes, and words, and just wanted to play with lettering. Nothing crazy; this sketchbook is just about enjoying the process and getting in good practice…

“Talent is pursued interest. In other words, anything you are willing to practice, you can do.” – Bob Ross

This page was just me learning how the colored pencils work. I saw in a video that you could dip the pencils in water and draw with them that way for a fun technique — and that if you were just going to apply water with a brush you “might as well just use traditional watercolors.” Well, I tried that method, and it’s AWFUL. I hate the thick texture and it was destroying the pencil. Right off the bat, I was convinced I had ruined this sketchbook’s pristine first page and my new art supplies…

But there was no going back, so I threw a quote on it, and voila! All better…shrugs…

“We’ll make friends with wind and sky and sun, and bring home the spring in our hearts.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery

I love Anne of Green Gables. Whatever. Don’t judge. It’s so good… This page was me learning the BETTER way of using watercolor colored pencils: treating them like traditional watercolors!! …I love this page. It just makes me happy.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

So, my husband bought lemons. I saw a lemon, thought “I could probably draw a lemon?” and then did. I added the avocado and lime for fun. I’m actually really pleased with the avocado because I can’t remember the last time we had one in the house and I didn’t use a photo reference, and I’d say it doesn’t look to bad from memory. So I am very proud of that avocado. More than I probably should be. But there you go.

I picked the quote because it says “food”, and I love Lord of the Rings.

“You are the home for your spirit and you are sacred.” – Maia Toll

I secretly aspire to be a hippie and Maia Toll’s The Illustrated Herbiary is one of my favorite books. These things inspired this sketch. It’s actually not my favorite drawing, I think the line work was too heavy, but still… good practice!

“In the warmth of love, the soul can be itself.” – John O’Donahue

I decided that I wanted to include a quote from John O’Donahue, but a lot of his writing needs context to really make sense. This one, however, was cozy enough to work with this super cool teapot.

“Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

Okay, first – I only recently learned about Mary Oliver and her poetry has changed my life.

Second, drawing fire is really really hard.

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” – Terry Prachett

This page makes me smile. I drew the cat toy because it’s been sitting on our living room floor FOREVER and I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I googled “cat quotes” saw this one by Prachett and thought it was perfect.

“Give me books, french wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.” – John Keats

This page is a mess. The fruit should be called a “appleberry” because I accidentally put the coloring of an apple on a strawberry. I also did the color first and forgot to account for the green leafy top covering the front of the strawberry as it would in real life, which is why it looks sooo weird. Oh well. I still kinda like it.

“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” – Benjamin Franklin

We finally got a Switch. I bought it before a snow storm so we could play it all weekend (which we did). I know people are worried about bread and milk before a blizzard, but I had other priorities. I just didn’t think we’d have so many more snow storms after that… ugh.

This part of the sketchbook was laying rather flat on it’s own. I find that kind of rare in bound sketchbooks like these, so I took full advantage of it and did a two-page drawing.

I love landscapes but don’t usually feel comfortable tackling them when I’m working in ink or pencils (so, hardly at all…). But since this sketchbook is about practicing, I felt like I had to at least try. And I really like the way it turned out. I will definitely be including more landscapes moving forward!

So, yay practice!

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Well, I hope you enjoyed this little sketchbook tour! I guess I’m focusing a lot on sharing the behind-the-scenes stuff this year… Again, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments!

What Should I Draw?

Original Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

If there is one question I’ve asked more than any others, it’s been “what should I draw?” I’ve always loved to draw, but I’m (still) terrible at coming up with subject matter.

It rarely starts with a formal idea.

I usually start with an emotion. That’s only weird because I treat each drawing like a puzzle to be solved with only a few right answers. So the fact that the process is less logical and more emotional and intuitive is personally a surprise. But there you go.

Anyway, it’s usually a positive emotion. I’m most often inspired by watching a favorite movie, listening to a great song, or sitting idly in the sunshine with one of my cats.

I’ll then start to get ideas of stuff I could draw that matches the feelings of contentment, comfort, or cheer. A lot of times it looks like flowers or food. I get very snacky while I work.

If I’m feeling particularly attached to an idea and a sense of place or time, I’ll build it all together into impressions as a single-page comic. (I don’t do this often, but it’s personally some of my favorite work).

And after I start to get something that looks like an idea I could draw, I think about texture next. It sounds weird, but texture determines media — what surface I’ll draw on, and what drawing tools I’ll use.

If I want a matte surface, I head to the computer. Sometimes I’ll sketch my idea out digitally first, or I’ll draw on paper. Either way, I always ink it by hand. Always. I’m proud of this fact, even though it really doesn’t make a difference (especially if I scan it and color it digitally). But I like knowing that about my work anyway. It just feels like an extra bit of love that goes into every piece.

For digital work, I color “by hand” with a tablet. There are fancy tips and tricks for selecting large areas and filling with as single color. I know this. But I’m stubborn. It’s another TLC for moment for my work, to make sure it’s not rushed just because it’s on my computer. For me, the special perk of working digitally is that I don’t have to think too hard about my color palette before I get started. It’s very very easy to adjust as I go.

Plus, I like the process — it’s meditative to color. I sit at my computer, drawing tablet and pen in hand, trying to meticulously fill in the 200% zoomed in illustration using my trusty 9 pt. permanent marker brush in Photoshop… I am not a smart gal.

“The Night Out” (11″ x 17″ digital illustration) was largely inspired by Neil Young’s song “Harvest Moon.”

But sometimes I don’t want to be stuck in my office all afternoon. (Who does, right?!).

If I’m okay with varying degrees of texture in my work, that’s when I grab my pens and pencils.

Actually, Bristol paper and ink pen is basically smooth like butter. It’s high-contrast, allows for fine details, and is probably one of my favorite “looks.” But I don’t do it often, because…I have no idea. I should do that style of drawing more often!

“The Pine Cone” (18″ x 24″ Ink on Bristol Paper)

I also really like the combination of colored pencils on bristol paper. The paper isn’t textured, but the pencil marks are super textured, so I definitely keep that in mind when deciding to use that combination. It takes so many layers too. So many. I honestly don’t bother to keep count. But it’s a lot. These pieces are usually smaller but take the most time. It’s why I don’t have very many in my shop. I enjoy it, but it takes patience. Boo.

“The Pears” (7″ x 11″ Colored Pencils on Bristol Paper)

Probably the most textured, and newest method for me, is my watercolor illustrations. Rather than ask myself, again, “what should I draw?” I scribble fields of color across watercolor paper. Add water. Let dry. Repeat. I’ll make pages and pages of these color-field watercolors. It lets me flex my creative muscles without doing any heavy lifting.

Then, when I finally feel ready, and have something like an idea, I’ll grab one of the finished watercolors and draw on top of it with my ink pens. I really like this process, and will probably be exploring it a lot this year. (So I hope you guys like the result too!).

“The Colorful Hills” 4″ x 6″ mixed media from start to finish.

So there you have it — my creative process, in full!

It may be more than you ever wanted to know about how I work…but then again, maybe not?

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If you have any questions about my process, feel free to ask in the comments!