The Death of Magic.

Today is a personal post. 

Last month I attended Nashville's Creative Mornings and Chris Olux did a powerful talk. A talk so bold my toes were numb and I wanted to get off my chair and scream, "YES!!" Yes to everything new. No to everything old and tired and repetitive. 

His talk focused on making work that YOU want to make. Not what everyone wants you to make. Not what everyone thinks you should be making. Because I will tell you - it's easy to get boxed in and feel a tremendous amount of expectation and pressure. But we cannot be put in boxes and we certainly cannot put ourselves in a box. We are complex beings that grow and when you are making work, work grows too. A quote that he shared that morning that pierced me:

“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.”

It's the destruction of reputation that resonates so strongly with me. I am not saying that millions of people know my work or that I have a preconceived reputation. We all have reputations and they must all be reflected upon and possibly destroyed.  The truth is, it's hard to change course in a true and pure way. As I was talking to my friend, the wonderful illustrator, Lauren Lowen, she mentioned that she had to differentiate the joy she found in making work with the joy she found in other's approval of the work. When she said this, my head exploded. THIS. This is the struggle that I am currently going through.  I want to make work that I just can't. stop. making. 

This morning I was sharing all of these utter frustrations with my friend Greg Oberle, whom I admire so much for his personal resilience and ideas. He shared this line with me from an interview with Bill Waterson.  "Repetition is the death of magic." The whole interview is incredible and I urge you to read it - but those lines just struck me (which is why he geared me in that direction.) It's why I have such a difficult time making prints, or cards, or teaching online classes about my style or how I work. Because every day should feel new and I have no idea who I am artistically. I hope I never do - because that will mean I've ended up in a box. 

You'll see I've taken down so many of my paintings from my site, and while I appreciate the huge amount of support and care for those and so many works, I have to cut that attachment. Close my eyes and jump.  Forward ever, backward never. 


This Spring I was approached by Salamandra to illustrate A Princesinha, the Portuguese Edition of A Little Princess written by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Immediately I knew I wanted the job. Not only was I trying to make my way into the publishing/book world, but I have loved this story since I was a little girl. When I was in 7th grade, I did a book report (along with 3D Diorama) of this story and I have always loved the magic of it. 

I owe a huge thank you to Isabela Jordani who invited me to work on this book, and worked so hard to iron out all the details. She put a huge amount of trust in me and gave me creative freedom to make the best work I could and I know it made all the difference. This was one of the most rewarding, challenging projects I've had and I feel like it's just the beginning. I'm sold on storytelling and narrative illustrations. I finally feel like my work has a home. I'm getting sappy but I'm excited!  

Here are a couple of my favorite illustrations from the book, and I'll share one sketch for you as well. Each illustration was created with gouache and colored pencil on smooth bristol paper. To see all of the illustrations, go my the Gallery Page. To order the book, visit Salamandra. 


What To Do When A Ghost Finds You.

Happy October my chickens. 

I just finished this little story as a celebration of October, which is my favorite month. It's funny, I realized while I was working on this that while I don't often have the chance to do personal projects exclusively for myself, every October some little fire gets started inside me and I have a burst of inspiration. I just love. this. month. 

Two years ago, I made a little 3D set of a Fall Party. Last October I did another 3D piece of Hortense and The Love Bug. This time I was totally into storytelling and drawing. 

Truth be told, I was actually sketching out a new illustration for Flow Magazine. I was thinking of a little girl reading to ghosts..and I drew it out and wondered what books ghosts would read. And then 8 hours later of frantic writing and sketching, this book was born. Well..the framework anyway. The actual thing took hours, hence me not actually getting it out to the world until just this very moment. 

The more I draw, the more I realize my work is headed back to where I was 5 years ago. I used to love dark stories, character development, writing narratives. Somehow my work has gotten more refined and world, I've had enough! I'm going back to drawing like a kid because I can and I want to and someday I'll be dead. are a couple images, and you can find the full book on my site here! 

I do have to give a huge thank you to my sweet guy, Matt. He is an English teacher and reads a ton of books - his favorite books are sci-fi and horror, and while this isn't a horror story, he was an incredible support in helping me put it together. He's an ideas man, what can I say?

Happy October Everyone! May the leaves fall around you and may coffee be abundant. 


Epic Fail….Already.

So I did Inktober for a day. The second day I didn't really draw anything new - I just took a picture of something that I think I drew last month. There. The truth is out. But here's another truth: I have been drawing everyday, but I can really only do one side project at a time. This time around, it's a little story about ghosts and I am having so much fun making it, that it's all I want to do. That, and eat semi-sweet chocolate chips out of my baking cabinet. I'm going mad.  


Here is a peek of one of the illustrations. I will be releasing this little diddy soon (for free) for you, for your friends, for myself, for my friends, for your grandparents, your enemies, and your weird uncle Terry. It's for everyone. So keep your eyes peeled. 

Good Night! 

Must. Draw. Everyday.

Inktober (1) : October 1, 2015

Ok! I'm doing INKTOBER! And not just on IG, but it's my goal to post my drawings everyday here on the blog. I know, I'm already late as I am posting yesterday's drawing but that just means two in one day. Lucky you! 

Yesterday was INCREDIBLE. So chilly here in Nashville, windy, rainy, creepy, gloomy, perfect and mysterious. I wore my green shoes that I bought at a thrift store, drank some apple cider, and sat on my porch and read The Shadow over Innsmouth by HP Lovecraft - which is a long story so it might just take me all month to get through it. (I'm a slow reader, I get bored easy, and I don't think I've actually finished a book in over three years, although I've started about 100.) 

This little cutie bat never visited me but a girl can dream. 

Later: Inktober (2) : October 2, 2015. 

Along the Water's Edge

This past month I finished a commission for my dear friend, Agnes. She lives on a lake in Michigan and has the most adorable little home, where she let me stay while I was there visiting in July. Agnes loves all things adorable (I found out after I had begun the piece, that otters were her favorite animal - win!), she has a particular fondness for grays and yellows, and has been so kind since I met her way back while I was living in Grand Rapids.

Her piece is titled, 'Along the Water's Edge', and is 17x24" Gouache, Colored Pencil and Acrylic Gold on Canson Illustration Board. I started out with the main figure, and used tracing paper cutouts of the otters to figure out the best placement before actually drawing/painting them in. 

Happy Monday my fellow Earth cherubs! 

PS> I'm really going to try hard to post more blogs. I have been MIA lately, as it's been a very tiring year. I have some new projects about to come out that I am stoked about so stay tuned for those and more art on the way.  

Emogene Blue

This year I was invited to take part in the 'IN BOX' Group Exhibition at Giant Robot, curated by Audrey Kawasaki. Not only was it a huge honor to show alongside some of my absolute favorite artists, but it was a great chance to jump into some 3D work - which I don't normally get the chance to do. 

Each artist was sent a 12x12x6" wooden box with an open request to fill it, with whatever we wanted. It was really interesting to see all the different directions artists went in creating their work. I wanted to work more in puppet building so I wrote a little story about a girl named Emogene Blue. 


Treasures untold cost
A speckle of gold
If you buy them
From Emogene Blue. 

She cleans off the mold
And the dirt and the old
But doesn’t deal
In anything new. 

On the East side of town
The girl can be found
Sat amidst her
Treasures for sale.

You can buy by the pound
Or a piled up mound,
But she’ll get you
To buy without fail.
In snowflake and bloom
(Except on full moon)
She’ll be selling
Her treasures untold. 

For Emogene Blue
Wouldn’t know what to do
If there weren’t anything
Scavenged or old.


Emogene Blue was born in a haphazard way. Originally, I wrote a story about a girl who gets sold through a peddler (which is based off a true family story and too good not to finish someday). When I realized my original tale was too hefty for one box, I just sat and stared at all my trinkets and salvaged finds and felt completely and utterly stuck. 

Meanwhile, I was visiting with one of the most captivating women on the plantet: Miss Emogene Nagel. Her 80+ years have enabled her to tell the most colorful stories you never knew you needed to hear. One day she fried us up some okra, squash and pinto beans, and we drank sweet tea and she told me stories and showed me all of her precious belongings, some of which her own artist mother had made. (Also - Emogene never says no to a selfie.)


These two experiences sort of weaved themselves together and Emogene Blue was born. (Blue came from Belue - the last name of Emogene's sister, Erline, who is equally as adorable and vibrant). I started playing around with sketches and words and got to work building her. 

This was the first time I had ever used doll hair, and it was a total game changer. Huge thanks to my friend, Amy Sprouse (aka doll genius), who sent me the most perfect hair for Emogene. I'm definitely a beginner in the world of hair application but it's nothing that a little old comic newspaper hat can't hide.


After she was completed, I spent a million hours painting tiny houses and smoke and details inside of a box, which due to human elbow constraints is surprisingly difficult. 

I struggled a little with the balance between a warm Autumn feel and a cold purple spooky feel. After the buildings were complete, I created a boat load of trees. 

Once the box was finished, I hand painted the poem to hang alongside the piece. 

Here are some details from the final. As you can see, I collect a lot of little trinkets which were perfect for this piece. It's honestly really sad for me to let them go, but I am happy the piece sold and it's going to a great home! 

The show is up until September 16, so if you're in LA, go check it out! 

In the meantime, I'll be concocting my next little adventure and dreaming about writings loads of books, sleeping in a million hammocks, and baking lemon bars all day long. 

Farewell, Salutations, and so much Gratitude. (Oh! And ART!)

It's finally a cool morning here in Nashville. Our coffee mugs are unpacked and in full use and I finally have time to share with you some updates that are long overdue. This post is slightly more personal than usual, so if you're looking for illustration soundbites, you can skim, I won't mind. 

Before I left Denver, some of my favorite humans and I went for a walk and I painted the things I collected. This piece is part of my show 'Paper Trail', opening tonight at Madelife in Boulder, CO. 

Before I left Denver, some of my favorite humans and I went for a walk and I painted the things I collected. This piece is part of my show 'Paper Trail', opening tonight at Madelife in Boulder, CO. 


On June 19, we loaded up what little we had and drove East out of Colorado. It was bittersweet. I already miss those mountains, that dry air, and some of the best and most generous people I have ever met. When I think of Denver, I think of having our back door open, making pancakes on a Saturday and I melt knowing I'll never step foot in that kitchen again. But I'll be back to CO. It's the best place I've ever lived and I'm already looking forward to my next visit. 


After heading out, we made it to Michigan where we spent three weeks seeing family and friends, holding new babies, smiling at weddings, and driving all over the state. I have so much gratitude for every single person there, that made us feel so welcome and at home. For those who willingly gave up their kitchen and dining room tables, their jewelry benches, their empty offices, and their car garages, so I could have somewhere to work. Thank you to my friend who let me stay in her adorable lake house, and for my mom and her husband who took care of our sweet animal babies while we were making our rounds. 

I do have to apologize, as I know there were people who I did not get to see, and many people I didn't get to see enough. Although I was there visiting, I was also juggling a huge amount of work, which kept me tied up, tired and busy. I wanted desperately a vacation, but sadly this summer has been one of the hardest and busiest ones of my life. I haven't even dipped a toe in water and it's already August. 

'The Service Bell' 8x8" Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper. This piece is part of of the show, 'Paper Trail' which opens at Madelife in Boulder, CO tonight. 

'The Service Bell' 8x8" Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper. This piece is part of of the show, 'Paper Trail' which opens at Madelife in Boulder, CO tonight. 

I also want to thank everyone who came out to Lafontsee for my demo while I was there at the end of June. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces, and so many new ones as well. A huge thank you to the gallery, and also to the people that came to watch, for those who said hello, and for those I didn't get a chance to speak with that night. 

Photo credit and copyright: Lafontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI

Photo credit and copyright: Lafontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI

Photo credit and copyright: Lafontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI

Photo credit and copyright: Lafontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI


It's true that every time I think, say, or hear the word, 'Salutations!' I think of the spider in Charlotte's Web. That'd be a fun story to illustrate, wouldn't it? But sometimes you shouldn't redo a classic. I love that story. 

And I suppose a little barn full of animals is a good segue into our very warm and happy hello to Nashville, (which I know is a thriving and bustling city but it's still the South and farms remind me of the South so let me have my segue.)

We made it! Mori and Junie love it here so far. The cicadas are out of this world loud and I think they are sort of freaked out by it. 

We made it! Mori and Junie love it here so far. The cicadas are out of this world loud and I think they are sort of freaked out by it. 

We arrived just 5 days ago, and while I haven't really left our little house too much (I've been unpacking, cleaning, and working on more projects due this month) I am really excited to be here. I have been welcomed by so many people that I look forward to meeting and knowing. Once this month is over, I'll be taking September to find a little studio somewhere in the city. I am really looking for a place that is already set up - maybe has 3-4 other illustrators in it, and always has someone there working and the coffee's always going. Is that too much of a dream? If you know of something like that, get in touch! 

Otherwise, I'll see you at the coffee shops, on the trails, at the Social Sketch at Craft South on Aug 30 perhaps! Or maybe I'll round up everyone who's reached out and we'll all get a coffee and make many friends at once. I'm happy to be here and can't wait to really dig my heels in the dirt. 

NOW. Some art talk.



I was invited to participate in Spoke Art Gallery's 6th Annual WES ANDERSON show, which opens TONIGHT in NYC. The Gallery decided to do a pop up show in New York this year at the Joseph Gross Gallery in the Chelsea District. The show will run all weekend and I just heard the announcement that all of the tickets are sold out!

I chose to do Agatha, from the Grand Budapest Hotel for the show, and she wouldn't be complete without her Mendl's Chocolates. I've had this wooden frame for years, just waiting for it's perfect use, and I found it. I haven't done 3D work in a while either, so while talking to my friend and fellow illustrator Greg, I was pretty inspired by the possibilities for this show and I'm glad I went the little extra mile and made some sculptures as well. 

'Agatha' Wood, Clay, Fabric, Acrylic, 2015 (photo by Bud Kibby)

'Agatha' Wood, Clay, Fabric, Acrylic, 2015 (photo by Bud Kibby)

Since I don't normally draw actual people, it was a little bit of a challenge to fit Agatha into my world and visual vocabulary, but after drawing her over and over and over again, I was able to capture her. After this sketch, I did a full size, full body one which I used to transfer onto the board. I'll also share one of the chocolates mid-process. 

Here's a detail of the finished painting, where you can see the gold paint and the details in the face. I'm not normally one for so much pink, but the colors in the film are so striking, it was hard not to use such a wonderful color palette.

(photo by Bud Kibby)

(photo by Bud Kibby)

Thank you again to everyone at Spoke Art and Joseph Gross Gallery for having me, and putting this event together! You guys have fun this weekend! 


Paper Trail at MadeLife

Tonight is the opening for my solo show, 'Paper Trail', at Madelife in Boulder, CO! I sadly cannot be there but if you're in the area, I know it should be a great reception. 

'The Mouse Box' 8x8" Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper

'The Mouse Box' 8x8" Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper

For the show, I decided to change course a little and focus on something that I don't have much time to do, despite my love for it: painting from life. I love to study and celebrate objects and moments but normally when I am painting, it's for someone else. I often feel guilty taking the time to work on my own projects - and if it's not out of guilt, it's that I do not feel like painting after a 8-10 hour day of painting. 

'The Chair of Delight' 8x8" Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper

'The Chair of Delight' 8x8" Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper

'Stamps' 8x8" Graphite, Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper

'Stamps' 8x8" Graphite, Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper

There are twenty pieces in the show, each 8x8". My mother and her husband performed a miracle and in just 4 days, cut, sanded, and painted each and every beautiful handmade frame for the show. I owe them a huge and heartfelt thank you. If you go to the show, you'll be able to see just how gorgeous the frames are. I'm really lucky to have such talented people on my side. Thank you mom. 

Alright. Thanks for sticking with me through the end of this ridiculously long post! If you read all of it, you deserve a fancy lemon cookie and I hope someone gives you one today out of the blue. 

I'll be sure to share more of the work from the Paper Trail show, as well as current and upcoming projects. For now - it's lunchtime. 





Live Painting

This last month has been mad with packing, moving, saying goodbye, saying hello, leaving a place we love, visiting our hometowns, and looking for a new life in Nashville. I'm also juggling a new project that I super excited about, but cannot share with you until August! 

While I am in Michigan this week, I will be doing a live painting demo at LaFontsee Gallery in Grand Rapids. Tuesday night from 5:30 to 7, I will talking a little about my process, doing some live painting, sharing new work, and the gallery will be selling fine art giclee prints. Those in attendance will be entered into a drawing to win the painting that I'll be working on that night! Hope to see you there! 


I just finished working on the Album Artwork for The Crane Wives, who are releasing their sister albums in August! I've worked with them on all three albums, and it's been really inspiring to not only grow in my image making with them, but to see and hear them grow as well. They are a seriously talented group of musicians, and even better - they are stellar people. I got to listen to the album while painting for it, and it's SO good. One song in particular I had on repeat like 15 times in a row. 

Do yourself a favor if you like indie folk, and check them out. You can also help support them by pre-ordering the first or both of their double release albums here!! 

For the artwork, I wanted to include not only coyotes, but one made of wood - as when I think of Michigan - mine and the band's home state -  I think of trees and wooden homes. They gave me pretty loose perimeters wanting only something that was blue/purple with a light warm spot, a girl, and coyotes, with one fox on the back. I gave them the front sketch, and being the awesome flexible people they are, they let me run with it. 

The sketch was done in graphite and I laid in colors and coyotes digitally. 

Once the sketch was completed, I went to final, using gouache and colored pencil on paper. The entire painting was completed before I went back in and added the coyotes in white gouache. I drew them each out on tracing paper, and played around with their composition before settling and transferring them to the final. Here is a progress shot of the back side, and then some details of the finished piece. 

HOORAY for music and art TOGETHER. 



This week I finished my piece for the group exhibition, GRIMM: Visions of the Brother's Grimm Fairy Tales. The show opens June 5 at Helikon Gallery and will feature a ton of really talented illustrators. I am so excited and honored to be part of this show. If you're in Denver, you should definitely come and check this one out. 

I illustrated the story, Jorinda and Joringel which was one that was new to me. The story begins with a witch who lives in a castle in the forest and by day takes shape of a cat or an owl. When a girl comes in front of the castle, she turns them into a bird and cages them in her castle. She has 7000 (or 700 depending on which version) birds hanging in wicker cages. Later in the story, we are introduced to the couple, Jorinda and Joringel who are to be married. Jorinda gets kidnapped by the witch and Joringel has to find a red flower with a pearl to set her free. 

I chose to illustrate the beginning of the story, because the thought of thousands of bird cages in the castle was visually stunning. Placing the witch inside of the castle, I was able to show the interior and exterior. As you can see, the witch is not only a woman, but has cat ears and stands in front of a tower which resembles an owl. 

My friend Toby and I went Castle hunting in Denver and I got lots of great photos of castles and architecture, which I was able to use in the final. I love finding magic and calling it research. 

YAY! If you come to the show, come say hello! I'll see you there….

Friday Night.

I have been working on a couple of projects this week - one of them being my upcoming show at Faye's in SF! Here's one that was just finished! It's called Finding a Way Out, 11x14" Gouache and Colored Pencil on paper. 

More to come! xoxo