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!)

***

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!

***

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!

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!

 

Season of Awesome

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Hello!

It’s officially Summer! Yay! 🙂

There is so much I love about this season, but honestly it seems like if I don’t make an effort to pay attention I can wind up in September wondering where the last three months have gone…

It’s usually such a busy time of year– taking full advantage of the longer days. I mean, what’s not to like about being able to buy groceries after work and still have a bit of daylight left to enjoy?! It seems like there is now finally time to do all the errands and chores that have been long neglected over the Winter hibernation. I guess some people believe in Spring cleaning, but I stick with “do everything in the Summer — or bust” plan.

It’s not just work stuffs, it’s fun stuffs too! As if I were still in school (I’m not), the excitement of Summer is palpable. There is so much I want to do this time of year, before the arrival of Fall. It’s outdoor stuff like concerts, sporting events, and sitting by the pool reading a good book (or mediocre book that I’m desperately trying to finish so I can read a good book next!).

It’s also camping, BBQ-ing, and maybe a road-trip somewhere only a few hours away. Basically, the goal is to be outside or near enough to a window to enjoy the warmth of the sun, as much as possible.

But it’s also little stuff, like a vivid sunset after a long day. Fresh fruit. Refreshing cocktails. Ice cream for days. Farmers markets. Iced Coffee. And even the inevitable video game binges (often World of Warcraft or Civilization)… Our office is upstairs and is already on fire all summer. But goodness if I don’t make it worse by sitting up there for hours with the PC churning out it’s own flames. Why I don’t hang out there in the winter and use the computers for heat, rather than a source of misery I’ll never know… Wait. The Steam Summer Sale. Duh. 😉

Anyway. In honor of this season of awesomeness – I created “The Beach.” I’m trying my hand at comic-style illustration, which is one of my favorites. This piece is kind of a story about a trip to the beach, and those smaller details that make up the memories of a fantastic place. It’s a reminder that even if I’m not going on an official vacation this Summer, I’m still in a good position to make these kinds of memories and to be grateful for the moments — big and small — that make up this season, which I love.

-Belinda

The Beach

Work In Progress

Hello!

So, I think my quest to become more organized was a result of the realization that I am in fact an adult with sh*t to do. For what it’s worth, I started the bullet journal and it’s been super helpful. It doesn’t actually get anything done, that still is all internally motivated; but at least I can clearly see what items on my to-do list are being ignored and what goals I’m tracking that are being woefully neglected. (But in all seriousness, I highly recommend it).

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Kinda sorta almost keeping up with my goals!

And after way too much introspection, I’ve realized that I am in fact a “grown-up” technically. I mean, I’m a twenty-something business-owner. It’s not that I’m afraid of thirty (it’s still too far away for that), but I’m definitely more aware of it (it’s not that far off either). But I also feel emboldened. I’m a twenty-something business-owner. Sure, it’s more accurate to say I’m a paperwork-plagued artist, but still. It counts. And if I can do that, which I never would have thought possible even this time last year, then what’s to say what is or isn’t possible this time next year?

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Frances Ha (2012)

I guess in a way I don’t want to be an adult by technicality alone. I want to own it. More than that, I want to mold it and define how I choose to experience it. I think we all do that, certainly, but right now I’m acutely aware it’s an option. This is too positive to be mistaken for an identity crisis. It’s more like a set of resolutions that resulted from the hibernation of winter to be revealed with the fresh air of spring! Why should the Gregorian calendar have all the fun, anyway?

I want more gratitude, more joy, and laughter. I want to be a good hostess, and a great friend. I want to be more organized, less afraid, and a better listener. I want to live each day aware of grace, beauty and sunshine, even if I can’t always see it. I don’t want to worry about perfection, or perfection…or perfection…

It’s definitely a work in progress.

-Belinda

Artist in a Coffeeshop

Hello!

I’ve been lacking inspiration lately. It’s hard to find something new to inspire you when you sit at work or in your home office day after day after day…as I have been known to do. I’d been reading Steal Like an Artist and it suggested to shake things up and get outside. So naturally, I assumed it meant go get coffee.

I had a plan. I packed my sketchbook and planner in my purse, scouted the busy times on Google maps for a couple places, and was determined to pick one and spend an afternoon listening to singer-songwriter mixes, enjoying some fresh air, and feeling inspired (and let’s be honest, very cool). Naturally, I would be so overwhelmed by the new perspective and caffeine-boost that I was sure I’d be unstoppable!

(I mean, why else do I see people working in Starbucks all the time?? It must be the place to get stuff done.)

Yeah, so it turns out I’m not that person.

I should say, I have anxiety that is usually pretty manageable (it’s kind of my “normal,” I’m like the Hulk of anxiousness). But working in public, or just being in public for too long is not my cup of tea… or coffee. Honestly, I didn’t even try this time. I walked in, got my beverage, and returned to the safety of my home. It wasn’t even that busy inside, it just mostly wasn’t for me.

Which makes for a striking contradiction to my latest project in progress: Go & See.

It’s a play on the more common phrase “wait and see.” If you don’t know how something might turn out, just be passive and wait. (Not to say that there is anything wrong for patience, in it’s time.) But sometimes, it’s better to get sh*t done, and experience stuff…


…but in the meantime, I’ll be drinking coffee on my couch.

-Belinda