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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!

Hello 2019

Original photo credit: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept it; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

At a glance, I don’t quite understand why a New Year is so exciting. It’s just a date on the calendar.

Most of the time, it’s important for me to stay in the present. My anxiety often comes from the past or the future. The present is where I am, and where I try to focus.

But I appreciate that the New Year is a time to contemplate the past with a graceful judgement. It’s a time of contemplation– of reminiscing and goal-setting. We get to purposefully celebrate where we have been, reflect on what we’ve endured, and recognize what we’ve accomplished. It’s probably not healthy to look back all the time, but one day can’t hurt.

I seems silly to pick one day to set new goals for the future, when we could realistically do that at any time. Every day offers new possibilities and potential. But if that’s one day, what does a year bring? 365 new and wonderous days. That’s a lot to consider. After all, some goals take time, require gradual progress, and setting intentions. Some goals NEED 365 days, not just one. And maybe there is something comforting about starting a New Year together. We all have resolutions of some kind, to varying degrees of formality. And knowing we’re starting this new thing together is a weird form of accountability, or at least relateability.

Like, we all know the gyms will be packed starting today, and the regulars will be annoyed. But they all had to pick a day to become regulars too. Maybe next year you’ll get to be annoyed with the rest of them. That’s community, my friends.

My favorite way to celebrate the New Year is to write a letter to myself. No, you can’t read it. But in general, I like to talk about the things I remember most clearly for the year. I’m surprised by what leaves the biggest impressions. And I write about what I learned, and what I want to do in the next year — what I want to work on, where I want to go (literally or figuratively). I’ve only done this two years so far, but it’s been a rewarding experience. It helps me to put it all down on paper, the thoughts and feelings that linger as the year turns once more.

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If you have resolutions or traditions for the New Year that you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear them!

Happy 2019!

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

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The holidays are upon us!

It’s a wonderful time spent with family and friends eating delicious food, watching holiday classics, and listening to music genres that normally I would ignore. (Why is Christmas so jazzy?)

What I don’t love is buying gifts. I don’t mean to sound like Scrooge, I swear. It’s just so stressful to find the right gift for everyone. And my list of “everyone” is fairly short!

My husband is the hardest to buy for and I usually get him something random and weird (i.e. gimmicky trash). When I do find the perfect something, I can’t wait to give it to him. For instance, he found out about his Christmas present this year the day before Thanksgiving! I just had to tell him!

So I’m not great at buying gifts. I just know that about myself. But I’m really good at buying art supplies. And I’ve bought a lot of them.

So if there is an “artsy” or “craft-sy” loved one you are shopping for this holiday season, here’s my recommendations for awesome supplies! I can’t fix the fact that I thought fancy cuff links were a good idea, when apparently they require a specific fancy shirt to be used. But hopefully I can help make some of your holiday shopping a little easier!

**In case you are feeling a bit humbug yourself, let me just say that these are all products I’m familiar with and enjoy. I’m not making ANY money off of the products and these are not affiliate links for this stuff. I just really like ’em and want to spread some arts and crafts cheer!**

Drawing    |     Fiber Arts     |     Books

Drawing Gifts

Tombow Fudenosuke Pens

These are hands-down my favorite pens to use and would make a great stocking-stuffer! I have other pens and markers that I really enjoy, but these are still my favorite. They are a brush pen, so they can make big marks on the page, but are fine enough to work on small detail elements. (Basically, they do it all!) I use them for most of my drawings. They just released a line of colored pens too that I’m excited to try too. The colors seem a bit more neon that I would use for an illustration, but seem perfect for bullet journaling!

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

It’s hard to go wrong with a set of colored pencils. A set of these colored pencils can be super versatile — they work great for fine art projects, but would do just as well for coloring books. They aren’t exactly cheap but a set of 12 is more than enough to get started! It helps that they are fairly prevalent in the art stores and craft sections; I found the gorgeous set of botanical colors available at Target!

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Neenah Exact Vellum Bristol

My husband actually bought this ream of paper as a gift for me one year. I know, a ream of paper doesn’t sound fancy, but I loved it! I’m always afraid I’ll run out of drawing paper, and now I’m pretty confident that won’t happen for a while! Honestly, I don’t think there is a right or wrong kind of paper. But Bristol is my favorite, since it’s a thicker type of paper, than say regular printer paper. The vellum means it’s a bit “toothier” so it has texture (versus a smooth Bristol) and holds pencils really well (but I still use mine for ink drawings too). If a ream of paper still seems a bit clunky for a gift, sketchbooks are a great option! It’s hard to have too many sketchbooks!

Fiber Arts

Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn

I love this yarn. I had been using just acrylic yarn for all my crochet and knitting projects, but after buying this yarn for a specific sweater project, I’ll be hard-pressed to go back. Now, it is still acrylic yarn, but it has just a bit of wool blended in it to make it extra soft but still easy to work with (hence the name!). It comes in soooo many colors too. It is a thicker yarn, so it does need bigger needles or hooks, but I actually tried it arm knitting recently and it worked really well for that!

5mm Cotton Rope

You guys. I’m obsessed with macrame right now. I know, I know, that’s so 70’s. But to be fair, I remember growing up with macrame plant hangers in our house at least through the 90’s. So it’s practically timeless! …One of the few Black Friday purchases I made was for bundles of rope. I hadn’t bought from Modern Macrame before, but I’m definitely in love! It shipped quickly, they had a lot of delightful colors, and they had accessories for projects too. I’ve actually had a really hard time finding rope for projects, at craft stores and hardware stores. (I keep hearing about how “trendy” it is right now, but it’s definitely not everywhere yet!) So I’m really grateful for this resource! If you think someone is feeling those vintage vibes, I recommend 5mm bundles to start, they can be used on a whole variety of projects! (Also their how-to book is amazing!)

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Books

Oh man, I buy a lot of books as gifts. And I’m always looking out for new and helpful books as an artist and creative. There are a lot to choose from, and it may just depend on what they are into as artsy and crafty people, but these are two of my favorites!

Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative by Danielle Krysa

If your are buying a gift for a particularly shy artist or craft person, this book is like a friendly kick in the pants. Being creative is like one part practice, one part inspiration, and one really big part confidence. I usually alternate at which one I’m struggling with, but it’s most often that last one. If you are buying a gift for a diamond-in-the-rough that just don’t know it, this is the book for them!

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Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels  by Brian Michael Bendis

If you want good advice, why not start with the best? Bendis, in my mind, is absolutely one of the best. For all the books on comics that I’ve read, that cover each step of the production process, this one is the one that I remember the most. It’s comprehensive and insightful. If you know someone that keeps talking about making their own graphic novel or comic book, this is a great resource!

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My last bit of advice would be this: don’t be afraid to ask the artist! I know for me, if someone shows enough interest in my creative work to ask what kind of work I’m doing or what supplies I use, I’m more than happy to talk about it! Artists tend to be “gear heads” and love what they use or have a pretty long wish list of stuff they can’t wait to try. If you are really nervous about buying the wrong stuff, I definitely think it’s a-okay to work with them and find something they’ll truly appreciate and use!