Saturday, October 08, 2011

Ghosts, Monsters, Witches and Ghouls...

Be careful to choose your direction wisely this Halloween...

My latest Wayfinding sign is available in the Interimaginational Institute Gift Shop as a poster (just right for your Halloween party decor!), on party invitations, on greeting cards, and on a trick-or-treat bag!

My Halloweenland map is also available on a number of products in the Holidays & Occasions section, and the original map is also available in my Etsy shop.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Yer Verrry Own Treasure Island, Matey

I am very excited to share my latest offerings, in the works for a long time: custom 8" x 10" initial-shaped treasure maps! These are original watercolor maps, customized in multiple ways, starting with any letter of the alphabet, to make the perfect gift for your favorite swashbuckler or pirate of any age. Perfect for kids or adults as birthday gifts, Christmas gifts and holiday gifts.

Please allow four weeks for completion (order now to beat the holiday rush!). More details here.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


I never, ever dreamed that being a parent could be so all-consuming, and by all-consuming, I mean we have a child who never, ever wants to be left alone, even across the room, but also does not usually want to be carried or held because there's too much wiggling and toddling to be done, and isn't really old enough to "help" with all the chores around the house.

Although he's thinking of taking up golfing.

I am mostly okay with all of this, even though it's been a very difficult adjustment for me to have so little time to draw, paint, read or even clean the house. He needs us. I do not believe we are spoiling him by holding him, cuddling him to sleep, or by co-sleeping until very recently (in fact, co-sleeping was an amazing discovery that made night nursing vastly easier on the whole family. We gradually stopped, not because I wanted to, but because Connor wasn't getting enough sleep, partly because our bed is too small, and partly because he's an extremely light sleeper and my husband and I both thrash a lot in our sleep), by still nursing occasionally for comfort, or by playing with him a lot instead of Getting Things Done (and our house is small with distinct rooms and no line of sight from room to room, so to wash the dishes means to be out of sight to someone in the living room, which is unbearable for him, and that's okay, because he's 15 months old).

Learning about attachment parenting and high-needs children through Dr. Sears and other parenting sources has helped a lot. I'm not the type to subscribe wholeheartedly to any philosophy, parenting or otherwise, and I have a lot to learn, but I have found much reassurance and inspiration from the these communities of parents.

We've also been getting out a lot more. The first year, we were very housebound. I have what I have renamed Attention Disparity Syndrome and on top of that, I am easily overwhelmed, and far more so when I'm sleep-deprived. Some days, just getting the diaper bag together while getting Connor ready to go out the door just as he had a blowout left me nearly in tears. I canceled a lot of appointments over the past year. This past year has been an intense course in just coping with daily life, but I am very proud of how far I've come in being able to plan ahead, anticipate problems, and keep my cool.

I've also - and this is even more important - learned to be gentle with myself, and that helps me be gentle with my son.

I've purchased memberships to the Norfolk Botanical Garden (which has a great kids' play/fountain area called the World of Wonder), the Virginia Children's Museum (which is like a much smaller, calmer version of Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum, where I went as a kid), and the Virginia Aquarium, and I signed up for a local Mom's group. Connor is so busy looking at things when we are out and about when we are out and about that he is much, much mellower than he is at home, and even though keeping an eye on him in the midst of clamor and distractions is harder for me out and about, the overall benefits for both of us make it more than worth it. (One of these days, I might get the take-picture-transfer-to-computer-post-to-blog process streamlined enough to actually blog about these adventures!)

What he doesn't do well yet is play by himself or entertain himself at home. I have just recently started bringing my books or my sketchbook into the living room, and gently encouraging him to play while I draw or read, with mixed results (that usually involve him throwing a ball at me as an invitation to play).

We did move the safety gates in our living room recently to allow him access to the piano (this is not our piano. This is), and that has been AWESOME, even if the piano bench did suffer from an encounter with a harmonica last week. Sometimes we play together and improvise duets, but he loves to go over on his own, and play around on it for a while, and frankly, he's far better than I thought a 15-month-old could be.

When my husband is home, we are busy trying to clean the house, eat dinner, bathe C., and fit in time together. My husband is pretty good about giving me an hour or two most days when he gets home, but I rush to spend that time in the studio, because, after all, I'm trying to be a work-at-home Mom!

I also try to avoid watching any television with him, unless we are both having a melt-down-ish day, and I restrict any computer time in his presence to when he's sitting at his high chair eating. I don't want him to think that's what people do all day, even if someday he has a job where that is what he does all day.

So all of this is to say, I have read VERY few of my favorite blogs in the past 14 months. I've spent most of my online time trying to share my artwork and sharing pictures of C. with friends and family on Facebook. But today, in anticipation of a two-week-trip with Connor which my husband will have to miss, he gave me the day to myself, and I've spent a nice chunk of it browsing Google Reader and Pinterest, which I just joined this week (find me here!).

I am sad to see that a lot of my favorite bloggers have disappeared - even their blogs are just gone - but happy to see that many are still around and sharing their lives. So, I'd like to say:

Get well soon! to Corey...

Congratulations to Melissa and Sara...

Merisi, you are always an inspiration...

Hi, Tinker! ...

... and Bonjour to Anne, who has moved 3,000 miles from Baltimore to Paris!

And hello to all of you who read this blog. I can't promise any sort of regular blog reading or posting from here in the near future, but I will try.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Hide Your OWN Treasure!

Just in time for International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19, I am so excited to offer my first pirate map printable coloring page, a treasure map where YOU get to hide the treasure yourself, and add in any details you like!

I've been planning to offer something like this for a long time, and I am very pleased with the way it turned out, and how great the map looks when printed from the PDF. I also had so much fun coloring with crayons for the first time in ages.

It's available in the Interimaginational Institute Etsy shop for purchase as a PDF download (delivered to your email address after purchase).

Perfect for kids, adults, teachers, adventurers, storytellers, doodlers and Talk Like a Pirate Day partiers!

Coming soon... a tutorial on making your own treasure map from scratch, as well as more treasure map and fairy tale map coloring pages. Watch this space! Or this one! Or this one!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happiness in Every Direction

Another of my new Wayfinding series:

You can find prints in my Etsy shop and goods for home and self in the Wayfinding section of my Zazzle shop.

I am so excited about these! I am bursting with ideas for the signs, and just like with my maps, I have many, many more ideas that I have time to draw them.

Happy adventuring!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Find Your Way to Amazing Things...

I am so pleased to announce my Wayfinding series of illustrations:

You'll find prints of three different street signs to amazing places in the Wayfinding section of my Etsy shop, and there will be more to come, as well as different sizes, in the near future.

The signs will also be available on all kinds of goods in the Interimaginational Zazzle shop this week.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The City of Mapperly Love

Philadelphia, PA, ink and watercolor on paper, 16.667" x 6.25"

This is my entry for They Draw & Travel's recent map contest.

It was my first big map since Connor was born - one of the biggest I've done, actually - and it was good to work under deadline again. I originally hoped to do maps of multiple cities - Philly, Reno, Los Angeles - but in the end, decided to put all my energy and time into one great map, and I'm glad I did.

Of course, I did waste away half of that time and energy moaning over how many of my favorite shops and restaurants have closed since I moved to Virginia. And most of the rest of the time and energy trying to whittle down the list of things to include. It was impossible to include every building or landmark I wanted to - I've always thought of Philadelphia as a small city, but it really isn't, and even just the walkable portions of Center City and Old City (the actual map above) are chock-full of interesting things - so I aimed for a nice balance of cool-looking buildings, historical and personal landmarks, and geographic balance.

I'm very proud of it, and also proud to be part of such a great group of mapmakers. Take a look around They Draw & Travel's site to see amazing maps in every style imaginable!

I may be offering prints of this in my Etsy shop, but in the meantime, you can find large poster versions and other goodies in the Interimaginational Zazzle shop, and They Draw & Travel will also be offering prints on canvas soon.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Tour de Shore Bike Race Map

I am working on a map of Philadelphia for the They Draw & Travel contest I wrote about today on Cartophilia, and in the process of looking for reference photos, found this map on my hard drive. A friend of mine commissioned it two years ago to commemorate the annual Tour de Shore bike ride from the Irish Pub in Philadelphia, PA, to the Irish Pub in Atlantic City, NJ.

I was uncomfortable with this map while drawing it, and for a long time after, because it was so necessary to include people in it, and I don't draw people very often, so I'm not skilled at them. These bicyclists brought me all sorts of angst, but my client loved them, especially the ones who represent real people, and now that I look at them, I don't think they're that bad. The leprechaun could maybe stand to gain a few pounds (more potatoes! more Guinness!), but for the most part, I am kind of fond of them.

Overall, though, I have always been pleased with this map, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to create it. If you're in the Philadelphia area, I've been told the original is now framed and hanging in the Irish Pub, although I haven't had the opportunity to see it myself. We'll be heading up there later this summer, so I will make sure that's finally a stop on the agenda.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Sharing the Love of Maps on Cartophilia

I'm very excited to be a new contributor to the blog Cartophilia: Maps and Map Memorabilia; I just posted my introductory post, featuring, among other things, a map I brought back from Ireland when I was 14.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Little Traveler, Now Online

I am delighted to announce that my sketchbook from the 2011 Sketchbook Project has been digitized and is available for your perusal at the Art House Co-Op web site. Go take a look!

I am so thrilled to see it again; there were drawings I had forgotten. Of course, there's a few mistakes I made, that I cringe slightly to see, but more about that in another post. More than the cringing though, I am delighted by the way it turned out, and by the way it forced me to think outside the Etsy shop and try new things. Some of those things have turned into larger art projects currently in progress that I will share with you soon.

The sketchbook is still on tour around the country, along with all the other submitted sketchbooks. You can see them in Chicago from July 14 -17 and in Winter Park, FL, from July 29-31, and of course, after that at the Brooklyn Art Library. My mom went to see the tour in San Francisco and she said the place was standing room only. Now she wants to do a sketchbook for the 2012 Sketchbook Project and sponsor mine as well. It was a lot of work and time out from my other projects, but I think I might take her up on that offer, because a) as I said, it was invigorating and inspiring, and b) next year the world tour is going to Melbourne and London... maybe we'll just have to go visit the books there.

Hmm. That makes me wonder why I don't have a passport for my son (my other little traveler) yet?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweet Spring Days

Connor and I ended up at the Norfolk Botanical Garden earlier this week, by chance, and took a lovely walk on a perfect spring day.

All pictures taken with the Hipstamatic app for iPhone.

Friday, April 08, 2011

In Case of a Government Shutdown.

This is my professional art blog, so I avoid political discussion here and on my Twitter account as well, but I am going to make an exception right now. Please hear me out.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion about government spending and taxes, and I can accept that your opinion might not be the same as mine (which I am not actually going to detail here).

But here's what I wish everyone realized. The government is not an abstract entity. It is made up of real people with real families who put real money back into the economy.

My husband is in the military. I am a work-at-home mother with an income that is unreliable at best. We rely on his paycheck to pay our bills, and it is suddenly very much in question, not through any fault of his own. Furthermore, even if the government shuts down and he's not getting paid, as a member of the military, my husband will be required to report to work without pay. So he won't be able to go get a second job or stay home with our son so I can go rustle up some emergency short-term job.

There are 2.8 million U.S. federal employees. Whether you think they all deserve their jobs or not is irrelevant to the fact that if they, or even just some of them, suddenly have their pay cut off because of a government shutdown, that is a whole lot of money that will suddenly not be in circulation.

That is, if those people don't get paid, they can't pay their bills, their mortgages, etc. They also can't buy food and discretionary purchases from cars to clothing to vacations. All of the companies and organizations who normally receive portions of that money will suddenly see their revenue drop as well - and that probably means employee layoffs, so those people won't be able to pay their bills too.

Unless you live completely off the grid, all of this will affect you, just as the recession affected us all.

This is very personal. If you feel government spending should change, whether you want the whole government to be bigger or smaller, or one part bigger and another part smaller, you are entitled to your opinions, and I support your right to ask for whatever changes you would like to see, just as I will continue to fight for my own beliefs.

But whatever changes are made, cuts or increases of any sort, they should be made in a responsible, well thought-out and cooperative manner. There are real people behind all this, relying on paychecks, which they have earned, and they and we don't deserve to be held hostage to precipitous whims on either side.

Thank you for your time.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Connor's Island

I've had my hands full lately, trying to get caught up on both business and personal administrative things. I pretty much abandoned the bookkeeping when Connor was born, but now that taxes are looming, I've been working frantically to catch up.

So since I only have an hour or two to work each day, anyway, I've put most other things on hold, including commissions and new projects. To relax, I've been working on Connor's first map, which I hope to finish and have framed in time for his first birthday in June.

I added a few more things by ink after I shot this photo, but now the inking is done, and this week, I'm painting the ocean.

This painting is one of the largest I've done, at 18" x 24", and not for the first time, I'm learning that I must work more slowly with water than I can on a smaller painting. I generally choose not to stretch my watercolor paper ahead of time, because it changes the texture of the paper in a way that makes ink spread sloppily, and if I stretch the paper after I ink it, then I run the risk of it buckling irreversibly. I guess that's not supposed to happen if you do it, you know, correctly, but it's happened to me. So instead, I usually do a sort of post-stretching, in which I saturate the final painting from the back, sandwich it with absorbent paper or cardboard, and weight it down with heavy books so it dries flat. It might not be proper, but it works beautifully for me. (It helps that I have a lot of large, heavy books. I feel this gives them a chance to earn their keep around here.)

This lack of pre-stretching, though, means that it's easy to over-saturate the unstretched paper while painting, so I must work in smaller portions. It's a good exercise in patience and working slowly and methodically, which is not my usual m.o., especially now that I have so little time on my hands.

I'm anxious to be finished, but I'm very pleased with it, and it is a special process to make something for my own child. I hope he will treasure it as he grows older, and I hope that, in the meantime, it brings him hours of happy adventures through imagination.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Your Undersea Adventure Awaits...

Have a hankering to go exploring the seven seas? I've listed a bunch of new steampunk-y submarines in the Interimaginational Shop, including these four, and there are a few waiting in the wings...

Submarine No. 13, 2.5" x 3.5", India ink and watercolor

Submarine No. 10, 3.5" x 2.5", India ink and watercolor

Submarine No. 9, 3.5" x 2.5", India ink and watercolor

Submarine No. 12, 3.5" x 2.5", India ink and watercolor

Bon Voyage!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

You'd Be Home By Now

The Sketchbook Project turned out, more than I even hoped, to be just what I needed to jumpstart my creativity. Not only has sketching become an integral part of my daily life in a way that it wasn't before (and why not?), but as a result, I am feeling re-energized and am swimming in ideas for new artwork. I plan to have some new pieces up in the Interimaginational shop in the very near future.

Benefits aside, it was a fun project to work on, in and of itself. Here's a sampling from my sketchbook:

I opted to have my sketchbook officially digitized, so the complete book will be available online on one of the official sites (I'll add a link and instructions when I know where to send you), and of course, you can always go visit it at the Brooklyn Art Library or any one of the stops on the nationwide tour (along with 20,000+ of my sketchbook's closest friends!).

(Ahem, I have just realized my sketchbook will be going to Austin during South by Southwest before I do myself...)