on my desk :: What I’ve been up to lately

A few things that I have on my desk these days. Books Birds, and Handmade Patterns.

Some books that I I’ve been flipping through lately. Mainly all about folk art. For the past few years I’ve been really enamored by it. I like the simplification of forms, the almost childlike drawings, the symbolism and the way the art was integrated into everyday life, both in objects and family documents. 

I’ve been drawing a lot of birds for a recent assignment and I’m rather fond of the way these are turning out.

The funny thing is, that am actually deathly afraid of birds, AND I have a crazy scary fear of Pigeons. They make me jump and wince if they start coming too near.  On two separate occasions now, I’ve been dive-bombed by a bird that has plucked out my hair. So, I’m fearful for good reason (well sort of).

And I’ve been experimenting with making stamps and creating patterns. I really rather like the way these turned out. You might even see one or two of these wind up as background to a new piece of art.

ABC’s & 1 2 3′s


Kindergarten is no longer ABC’s & 1 2 3′s. I honestly had no idea how fast pace is was going to be or how quickly they were going to blow through the basics.

Last week was a tough week. I was unprepared for how intense Kindergarten was going to be. We had a rude awakening when we attended the open house and got the rundown of the years curriculum. Ava Blu’s a smart kiddo, but how can she keep up if she was never taught this stuff.

You see, we didn’t send Ava Blu to a traditional pre-school. She was in a at-home daycare. At the time I thought it was the best decision. The hours worked best with my schedule, it was reasonably affordable, and I liked the lady that was running the program. Ava Blu was comfortable there and so was I, but maybe a bit too comfortable. It was simply easier for me to keep her there, then it was for me to coordinate the juggling act that would have had to occur if we had put her in a pre-school. I had somehow convinced myself that her daycare was covering all the basic pre-schooler stuff anyway, so she would be fine. I mean it was just kindergarten.

Well, I was wrong, and last week I was feeling like a terrible mom. I should have prepared her more. I should have put her in a pre-school program. I should have done more. I should of know better and trusted my gut. I broke down into tears more then a couple of times. I was (and still am) feeling really guilty that I didn’t prepare Ava Blu for such an academic first year of school.

But now that the weekend has passed and I’ve had sometime to sit with it, I’m better. I accept where we are at this moment and know we can only move forward and start from where we stand today. I’m so grateful that I am now working for myself and have more flexibility then I ever had. I can easily pick her up before 6pm and spend the extra time that will be necessary to get her up to speed with the rest of her class. I guess there’s always a silver lining :-)

Sketchbook Story :: Caroline Simas

I met Caroline for the first time in-person at this year’s Surtex show. We had chatted on the phone prior to the show and I was thrilled to find out that we were in the same row and were booth neighbors. Caroline is one of the sweetest ladies you’ll ever meet, and I was so glad that I had a chance to hang with her while we were in New York AND again in Atlanta.

Caroline started her career teaching elementary school, and then transitioned into running her own decorative painting business. This extremely talented lady was hand-painting everything from children’s furniture to baby linens and lamps. Her business was booming, but the demands for keeping up with continually creating custom work was just too difficult. It was just about this time, that she was struggling to find a unique birth announcement for her soon-to-be-born twin girls. And from those experiences grew a collection of inspirational greeting cards and gifts. She’s been licensing her art ever since.

Caroline is best known for her colorful, inspiring and uplifting art. Her distinctive style and passion for her family and faith truly comes across in all that she creates. It’s a great reminder, to all of us, to do what you love and follow your passion.

Her brand Multiple Blessings by Caroline Simas is really starting to be recognized in the marketplace. AND in January 2012 she will be launching over 50 skus of inspirational gifts for DEMDACO AND in June 2012 she’ll be launching a variety of home decor goods and furniture for Creative Co-Op. YAY, Caroline!!!!!

Keep your eyes out ’cause you’re going to be seeing this ladies work EVERYWHERE!! :-)


Here is Caroline Simas Sketchbook Story ::

CS: I was blessed to inherit my grandfather’s artistic talent and knew it from a very young age. I dabbled in everything I could get my hands on…watercolors, oil, acrylic, charcoal, clay, jewelry making, cartooning classes, and I even remember searching through Mom’s fabric scraps trying to create clever outfits for my Barbies.


CS: Our two sons and twin daughters were the inspiration behind the name Multiple Blessings. And because the greeting cards and gifts contained scripture and messages of inspiration, joy and blessings were multiplied as they were sent all over the country.

CS: I am most inspired by God’s creation. I notice details in nature’s smallest places…water droplets on flower petals, the color palette of a sunset, the chartreuse green of a granny smith apple, the intricate pattern on a monarch butterfly.

CS: I don’t have one specific process. Sometimes I sketch and plan ahead and sometimes I don’t.  I use watercolors, gouache, acrylic, pen and ink, watercolor pencils, paper, and even twigs and lichen. I am constantly trying new ways of creating art…to me that’s one of the best parts about being an artist..the freedom to explore and create without boundaries. I also create mixed media pieces. These originals are sold at local galleries here in Charlotte but they are also for clients who use the designs on other products. Double exciting!

CS: My 7 year old girls trying to sketch like me…. :)

CS: My fabric collections for Robert Kaufman “Finally Free.”  (You can find out why I named it that here.)

CS: Some of my products :-)

CS: And some of my designs for Skinit . New ones with scripture coming out in the 4th quarter of 2011.


 Here’s where you can find Caroline Simas ::

   website :: http://www.multipleblessings.net

        blog :: http://carolinesimas.blogspot.com/  

      fabric ::  Robert Kaufman and here

  coasters :: Coasterstone

 tumblers :: Tervis

    invites :: Tiny Prints

      skins :: Skinnit

I’m in for round 3!! Surtex 2012:-)

I just sent off my 1st check. I’m in for round 3!! :-) Surtex 2012!! 

I was a bit unsure if i wanted to do it again. I mean it’s a really BIG expense, takes a ton of energy and time and the preparation is a huge undertaking. It has payoff, but even still, I was debating if there was another way to market and get my work “out there”. Is there another way for manufactures to see and view my work that’s a bit more affordable and still get me the same results?

And then a funny thing happen, that helped me answer my own question. As I was playing out all of the possible scenario in my head, I was contacted by someone asking if I would be likely to pay to be part of a “online art licensing trade show”. What they described, sounded like your typical illustrator portfolio site. The only difference being that it would be geared toward art licensing. So would I be interested in joining and paying for something like that? I would interested, but then I found myself writing this:


The shows are very expensive, but the best part about them is that I actually get to meet people in person. I get that face to face time with clients and they can touch and feel my products. There is a very visceral and tactile experience that effects all 4 senses that doesn’t come across in the same when online. Honestly, I don’t  think an online gallery can actually replace the experience of meeting someone in person at a show, but I would definitely welcome another way to market.

It was after writing that email that I signed my contract and committed for another year :-)

Sketchbook Story :: Mary Beth Cryan

Mary Beth a.k.a. “The Princess of Pop-up” is an amazing paper engineer and illustrator to boot. Her career path is quite serendipitous. She studied illustration at Syracuse and after graduating she worked at a few different companies designing products in the home goods and children’s toys market.

…AND then everything changed, when she happened upon a book about designing pop-up cards. From that point on the entire direction of her career changed course. She spend the next year learning the craft and mustering up enough freelance work to quit her toy designing job. Mary Beth has been working as a freelance illustrator with a specialty in paper engineering ever since!! 6 years and counting :-)

Mary Beth has engineered and illustrated pop-up cards, books, and paper craft kits for many companies including the MoMA, American Girl, Barnes and Noble, Ladybug Magazine, Highlights High Five, and many, many more :-)

Here is Mary Beth’s Sketchbook Story ::

MC: Art has always been a passion of mine. I am very lucky to have supportive parents who are also in the field of art (my mom was as an elementary school art teacher and my dad is a professional photographer) .  As a child I would ask for and receive many various types of craft kits every year for my birthday and Christmas. I’ve done almost every craft that exists from mosaics, to tissue paper flowers, to pot holder loops, to crochet, to rubber stamps, and origami. Illustrated papercraft is the perfect mix of my training as an illustrator, my love of crafting, and my business experience as a toy/product designer.

 MC: I’m very inspired by fashion. My favorite designers use a lot of bright unusual color combinations, interesting shapes and bold patterns. They include Marc Jacobs, Viktor and Rolf, Miuccia Prada, and Dries Van Noten. I love bright colors from growing up in the 80′s. :)   I like very clean design so I am naturally drawn towards the patterns of Scandinavian design.  I include a lot of patterns in my work.

 MC: Here are some of my initial sketches:

MC: Then I built the shapes out of cardstock and drew directly onto the models.  Here I’ve scanned them in.

MC: I then draw them again in Adobe Illustrator right into the dielines.

MC: And here is the final product.  You can buy them here!! Here’s where you can find Marybeth Cryan ::

   website :: www.marybethcryan.com

        blog :: www.everythingmarybeth.com

now in the uk

Check it out I’m offically international!! So for those of you in the UK you can now get your hands on my cards at Must Get A Card. Pretty Cool Huh?!?

Sketchbook Story :: Marisa Anne

I was first introduced to Marisa thru her blog, Creative Thrusday. It was years ago when the online daily painter’s movement first started and you still had to explain to folks what a blog was.

Marisa initially started blogging because she was advised that “every business should have a blog” and that coupled with the intention to be more creative one day a week while working a 9 to 5 job has turned into so much more!! Creative Thursday, has become Marisa’s full time business, a home for her paintings, podcast and blog, where she chronicles the best parts of her life.  

It’s totally inspiring to see someone navigate with their heart, follow their dreams and live a truly creative life. Marisa’s art sells worldwide and can be found in her own online boutique as well as select galleries and shops including Urban Outfitters, Land of Nod and Papyrus.

Here is Marisa’s Sketchbook Story ::

MA: Growing up I also collected miniatures, and I think this early love for all things tiny and cute is exactly what inspired my present style. They’ve stood by and cheered me on, these little fellows, during a very delicate time in the development of my career and life as an artist, the time when I finally learned to trust my own creative voice. My hope in sharing them, especially through the fabric, is that they do exactly the same for you, support, inspire and cheer you on in your creativity.

MA: When I first started painting as a kid, I replicated exactly what I saw, either from photos or still life. Over time that realistic process transitioned into a more impressionistic style. Always colorful. I’ve always loved color!  It was really through the committed practice of daily painting that I began to challenge myself with inventing characters. For a while there, I was really loving the color orange. {and still do} ;)


MA: It was just before Halloween when I first sketched these characters which also inspired the little ghostie fellow. That sketch became the first version of my character Ruby and the ghostie was named ‘Imaginary Friend’, also the title of this daily painting from October 2006.

MA: In the second painting “The Gang Celebrates” you can see the evolution of Ruby, and her expanding group of friends, in her follow up appearance in March 2007. Pulling this project together and actually putting these images next to one another is the first time I’m seeing the transformation so clearly. It’s so amazing to see how one tiny sketch evolved into an entire fabric line in just five years. A lot can happen when we decide to commit to ourselves and our creativity. Ruby and my cast of characters are now the designs and inspiration for my first fabric line launching this fall 2011 and right now, this very moment I am writing my first book! to be released in September 2012.

Here’s where you can find Marisa ::

       blog: http://creativethursday.typepad.com/

etsy shop: http://www.creativethursday.etsy.com/

  web site: http://www.creativethursday.com

    twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/creativethurs


share out :: Toca Boca


hair styling by :: Ava Blu

I recently downloaded this app for Ava Blu and all I can say is WOW!!! What a well designed app!! Great illustrations and great interface!!

Now, I’ve downloaded and tried out a ton kids apps and I’ve learned not to expect too much as most fall short of my expitations. Either the interface is too hard to navagatre, the accompaning music makes my ears bleed or the illustation and design is so bad that I just can’t stand to look at it.

BUT this company is reallly raising the bar and putting out some quality kids apps. This should be the standard of what apps for kids should look like.

Totally makes me want to do some work with them!! We liked the Hair Salon so much that we just had to download their other apps :-)

share out :: matchbook & blair

Have you guys checked out this online rag yet? I just recently ran across it for the first time and fell in love. AND to my surprise, as I was flipping thru the pages I came across this article about Blair Eadie!

See the funny thing is, I actually know Blair. Ok, Ok, I don’t really know her personally, but we did worked together…well at the same company and I definitely KNEW OF HER. I mean, how could you NOT notice this lady? She’s always dressed to the 9′s in a sea of casual wear. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t some some super stylish ladies working at Old Navy, there are, but none of this caliber.

I would see Blair all dressed up on the morning train, in the café, on the elevator. And at lunch we would sometimes get a glimpse of her posing for her daily photoshoot.

She’s a super stylish and confident lady that’s going places. You gotta totally admire that!

Happy Friday :-)

Still room for a cherry on TOP!

WOW! Oh my GAUD you guys!! Today has been an AMAZING DAY & it’s not over yet. There’s still room for sprinkles & a cherry on top. (yes, somehow it always comes back to my sweet tooth.)

Today it just feels like all of the planets are starting to align. Everything is beginning to click into place. Things that I’ve been wanting and asking for are starting to arrive at my door. And not just one at a time, mind you, they are coming in two by two!!! :-)

Oh my gosh, this has been what I’ve been wanting for almost my whole life and I am soooo ready for it!!

I was just chatting with a friend today. Our conversation took a somber tone, as we began to talk about the state of the economy, how hard it has been for some folks and how sadly some artists have had to abandon ship. But, then it turned into us talking about hanging in there, sticking it out and being truly grateful for all that you have. Your health, your happiness and your family.

It all made me think about this song. It goes:

“One more year, one more year
Let’s hold our breath and give it just one more year”

Now, they maybe singing about a love affair, but really it’s all the same to me!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Kasey Chambers And Shane Nicholson – One More Year