Update: Designing a new line

Over the past couple months, I’ve been in deep with a new project- developing what has become a new line of products. At first, I was just experimenting with a new illustration style…very soon I was in over my head! I wanted to share some of my process for how this has happened.

Here’s the first drawing I did on that first Sunday, moving through its phases of development- a pen and ink owl.

When I finished I couldn’t believe 7 hours had gone by since I settled in on the deck with my pad and pens. I hadn’t gotten this blissfully lost in the process of making art in more years than I can count.

I could hardly wait to start on the next creation- an elephant.

Since I embarked on this journey, I have spent many days immersed in this process, resulting in about a dozen new designs! I will share more of them on the blog upcoming, and they are being introduced as high quality prints, suitable for framing.

Obviously, this line is a departure from the colorful style you see in my current gifts. These have a different feel with the intricate pen and ink detail, but I think the new designs, while fresh, retain some of what makes my stuff my own. I’m still drawn to the whimsical, to images from nature, animals, and celebrating the important things in life. Stay tuned to see how I these themes appear in this new line of prints. You can get your hands on them this holiday season!

Mary Engelbreit inspiring change

A few days ago, Mary Engelbreit, a fellow artist and designer and a native of St Louis, posted this illustration and reflection on her Facebook page:

“When situations turn horrible and I find it hard to move on, I usually draw my way through it. These drawing hardly ever see the light of day, since they’re really just a form of therapy for me. But these events unfolding now in my hometown and across the country , shining a light on the ugly racism that still runs rampant in our country, made me think that maybe this drawing could help in some small way. While it’s not a cheerful little picture you’d want to hang over the sofa, you might know of a school or an office or a police station that could use it. All proceeds from the sale of this print will go to the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund.
mary engelbreit hands up don't shoot

http://www.maryengelbreit.com/store/In-The-USA-Fine-Print.html

Mary received a huge response to the image, raising $25,000 over the next few days for the memorial fund. While most of the comments were positive, she also came under criticism from some who viewed the image as inflammatory.
Mary kept her resolve, later posting this update:

mary commentary

The above was removed by Facebook, and she followed with another update:

“Thank you all—-well, most of you!— for your kind words and support over the last couple of days. They far outweighed the negativity I received. Obviously tempers run high during a terrible situation like this, and without any clear leadership in Ferguson or St. Louis releasing accurate information, it’s going to take a long time to settle down, I’m afraid. I hope my drawing was a help to some of you, anyway. We’ve made well over $10k so far that will be donated the the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund, so thank you for that. I know it’s been difficult to get on our website due to the large numbers of people trying to get on, but the print will always be available, so there’s no need to rush!
Also, Facebook got in touch with us and said they would put the post back up (although I don’t know what’s taking them so long; we put it back up in about 5 minutes, without the picture) and they told us they would make sure it wasn’t removed again.
I’m going to return to my “regular programming” later today, which I know will bore the crap out of a lot of you, so thanks for being here for these few days, and thanks to most of you for being so kind.
Meditate, pray, hope and/or work (whatever works for you!) for peace and SANITY to return to our world. Be the change you’d like to see.
Love,
Mary, A Known Subversive. ( My absolute FAVORITE comment!)”

Thank you, Mary Engelbreit for showing compassion and conscience in the face of a difficult situation. It is the role of artists to do what we can to make this world a better place- through inspiration and encouragement, but also through responding with courageous truth-telling. Your actions point the way to a better world.

Mary Engelbreit was interviewed on her local NPR affiliate about the story. Listen to what she has to say here.

 

 

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home

Last weekend I was walking through the garden center outside of the grocery store looking for flowers, and saw a basket full of clear plastic tubs. Curious, I walked over to see what they were and was surprised to find that they were filled with ladybugs. Now, I know ladybugs are supposed to be lucky. They are also said to bring prosperity. But none of that has anything to do what with why I did what I did.

I could blame it on the fact that I was pretty depressed. My cat had just died and the flowers I was shopping for were to plant on her grave. But for whatever reason, seeing 1500 beautiful little ladybugs trapped in each of those plastic tubs made me really sad.
decorative ladybug refrigerator magnets in tinThese ladybug magnets  I sell in metal gift tins remind me of my little friends in captivity….
I stood there for a while and looked at them, then went inside the store and did the rest of my shopping. But I could not stop thinking about those little ladybugs. When I finished getting my groceries, I found myself back outside, standing at that basket. At $10 a tub I couldn’t ‘save’ them all, but I felt compelled to set at least some of them free.
ladybug travel alarm clock
I know, I know. They were all  meant to be purchased and assuming they were, would be set free eventually. But what if there weren’t? What if they died in those tubs? And how miserable must they be all heaped in there on top of each other? Those were my sad silly thoughts at the time. Inwardly was laughing at myself. I couldn’t really believe I was doing it… so when the woman at the register asked what I was going to do with the ladybugs I simply mumbled “Um…Well….they’re good for aphids.” Not that I have any aphids. Heck, I don’t even have a garden.
ladybug nightlight
When I got home I took the tub outside put it on the deck railing next to Ramona’s new grave, and opened it. I kind of hoped a huge cloud of ladybugs would rise in the air like a tiny flock of red birds and fly off into the blue sky. But that’s not what happened at all. They just gradually begin to crawl over the edge of the container and onto the deck and explore. And eventually I got impatient and poured about half of them out into the grass.

So yeah, it was pretty anticlimactic, but it still felt good. I keep hoping I’ll see some of them around but they seem to be long gone. But hey, ladybugs – if you do bring prosperity – don’t forget me, okay?