Grandkids – Family Portrait

I love doing art projects with our grandchildren. I especially enjoy adorning mugs with their masterpieces for our morning coffee enjoyment.

This year, they each drew a full body self-portrait along with the rest of their household. This little beauty became a wrap around mug with each of our little ones contributing their part.

Tim and I enjoy our morning coffee time…and having their art as a part of our morning ritual is bliss indeed.

Family Portrait by our grandkids.

Family Portrait by our grandkids.

 

Thankful Bliss

Gelett Burgess Award.

Kandis Lighthall, Mary A Livingston and Patricia Schetter sport their new book award bling. Percy Learns to Fly was awarded Gold in the Motivation and Inspiration category.

I couldn't have illustrated Percy Learns to Fly without loving support from my wonderful husband, Tim, The Forester Artist.

I couldn’t have illustrated Percy Learns to Fly without loving support from my wonderful husband, Tim, The Forester Artist.

Patty, author of Percy Learns to Fly (ABTA Publications and Products), Kandis, educational contributor, and I, the illustrator, received our Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award medals. I’ve already expressed how wonderful Kandis and Patty are to work with and how supportive my husband, Tim, the Forester Artist, has been, now I’d like to thank someone very special for his help getting me going with children’s illustrations.

Mark Mitchell of How to Illustrate a Children’s Book and Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! online course was instrumental in my progress as a children’s book illustrator.

I started getting braver with art as I participated with the liturgical committee of my parish. During the summer of 2011, I stumbled across Mark’s website while I was looking for some artist resources for an illustrator of one of Red Tail Publishing’s titles. I bookmarked the page, and later, when I was alone, and no one was looking, I gave the site a good going through.

I so wanted to illustrate, but lacked the confidence. Typically, I’m a fairly confident person and don’t shy from a challenge. As the calling to art rose louder and louder, it terrified me. So I lurked and stalked the course website, I check out all the email updates.

I have always hung around, peeking over Tim’s shoulder, admiring the way his brushes danced across his canvas or how he could just sit and draw anywhere, with anyone looking. But I wasn’t brave enough to just jump in.

Then, finally, in the spring of 2012, I signed up for Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! Tim was so happy, he bought me my own art table and new brushes for us both.

That May, I had my first critique. Angst swept in and consumed me. I had to listen to the replay because I was so overwhelmed during the live feed I could barely hear the comments. It was okay, it was encouraging. Mark and the critique group of my piers gave me wonderful tips and encouraging pointers to help me grow.

Before this course, I had been brave enough to pick up watercolors five times. This course demystified illustration and made watercolors feel like an extension of my heart.

While I was working on my own book for my company, I was hired to illustrate Percy Learns to Fly.

Percy Learns to Fly

Percy sports his award bling.

Percy Learns to Fly was the first book I illustrated as I finished it before completing No Place for Ugly Birds. Just image how thrilled I was to learn that Percy won a national award.

I can’t express enough how beneficial taking the Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! course has been. I highly recommend it for anyone considering illustrating for children.

Thank you, Mark, for all you do for the children’s illustration community.

Next up a peek into Picture Book Academy.

Pursuing Bliss

It’s been a pretty full summer as I have been pursuing bliss. Just over a year ago I signed up for an outstanding online course and critique group over at Make Your Splashes, Make Your Marks.  Through this awesome course with Mark Mitchell I connected up with Picture Book Academy.

 Growing in bliss is addicting!

One final plug about pursuing bliss, don’t miss Marsha and Mira’s Best Character-Driven Contest!!

Best of luck to you all!

In Search of Dirt

GrandThing 3 sets out to find dirt.

GrandThing 3 sets out to find dirt.

There are defining moments that burn themselves onto our internal processors. I remember vividly four years ago, today,  the moment he popped into this world all wet and shiny new. But in my mind’s eye, he will forever be the little boy in search of dirt.

When he visits, he inevitably is drawn to his daddy’s old Tonka toys. So it was, one spring day. With a lot of rain, the wild grasses and weeds had taken over the fields. What this little boy really needed was dirt.
Nothing more.
Nothing less.
Just dirt.
He spent the better part of the afternoon dragging the backhoe and tractor around, looking for a proper place to put them to work.  Alas, he spies a pile of decomposed granite.

Bliss.

Happy Birthday GrandThing Three!

Bliss! perfect dirt for play.

Bliss! perfect dirt for play.

Fishing with Grandpa

Fishing with Grandpa – The Forester Artist

Showing off his catch. This one went back after the photo.

Showing off his catch. This one went back after the photo.

GrandThing 3 tells Grandma all about his painting.

GrandThing 3 tells Grandma all about his painting. “He caught grasshoppers with Grandpa and they caught a fish.”

Granddaughter Gift – part 1

girl on horse, horse art

Work in Progress…girl on horse for T1. She loves horses. This is a start to a Christmas painting for her. What do you think so far?

The Duckel’ing

One soppy morning, on our way to the hen house to gather chicken eggs, my oldest granddaughter was just the right height to spot movement in the tall stasis near the duck pen.

“Grandma, what’s that? Something moved.”

It caught my attention about the time she finished speaking. A newly hatched duckling was attempting to get back into the duck pen. On the other side, floating lifeless in the water was another newly hatched duckling. The pen was not a safe place for the hatchlings. I quickly rescued the living duckling and wrapped it in my top against my belly to keep it warm.

“Is it okay? Is the duckel’ing okay?”  GrandThing1 was very worried.

We hurried back to the house where we gathered a storage bin, some rags and a heat lamp. When the makeshift brood box was ready, I slipped the little bird from under my top. Thing1-ducklingMy granddaughter’s eyes widened as she raised her delicate little hands in an open cup to receive the tiny baby.

“Oh, Grandma, it’s so cute. Hello, baby duckel’ing.” Reassured by her soft little voice, the duckling settled in. She cuddled it close.

“What will it eat?” She leaned over and whispered into her hands, “Are you hungry? Grandma, the duckel’ing is hungry.”

I dialed Grandpa’s cell and held the phone to her so she could leave a message.

Grandpa, we need food for the baby duckel’ing.”

We placed the feathered baby into its brood box. GrandThing1 announced, “The duckel’ing needs a nap.” Off she rushed to where she napped during her visits.
Thing1readsI heard rustling, a little bit of grumbling, then, “Here it is!” Back she came with her favorite nap time storybook. She seated herself so the duckling could hear. Her little voice did not miss a beat retelling her memorized tale.

“Brown bear, brown bear…”

The Duckel'ing as she remembers. Of course now she says "duckling" it has been many birthdays since this event. We will always remember the "duckel'ing."

The Duckel’ing by GrandThing1. Of course now she says “duckling” it has been many birthdays since this event. We will always remember the “duckel’ing.”

Happy Birthday GrandThing1
Love,

Grandma

GrandThing1 draws pictures for Grandma in a hangout.

GrandThing1 and Grandma draw pictures together  in a hangout.

I Don’t Do Princess

Our grandchildren love for us to carry them to bed after story time. Such was the case on this particular visit.

T2, our second granddaughter, wanted me to carry her this time, instead of Grandpa.

She says, “Grandma, carry me.”

Pleased to have the honor, I approach with arms out.

“Grandma, carry me,” she repeats. “Carry me like a princess.”

Princess? Really? Princess? Anyone who has read my posts, especially Wedded Bliss, can ascertain – I don’t do princess.

I gently leaned down and tenderly said, “Grandma doesn’t do princess.”

Well, she stood very tall, placed her hands on her hips, cocked her tiny head to the side, peered at me through her brow and in a pleasant, encouraging voice not matching her stern posture said, “Grandma, you can try.”

Princess it is.

One of Thing2’s art pieces displayed on The Repository of Bliss.

Happy Birthday GrandThing2
Love,
Grandma

Catching Bliss

Have you ever noticed that children left to their own devices will gravitate toward an activity to capture bliss?
No one has to tell them to use a crayon to draw upon the walls or that when paper tears it makes a cool sound. They are fully capable of finding these pleasures all on their own.

Curiosity and discoveries fill their hearts and open the world.

Our youngest was the most prolific scribbler of walls. He loved to draw on paper, but what he relished most was a simple wall canvas.
What must have gone through his mind when I grumbled while cleaning the walls before selling the house?

I hope he knows we saved his paper art. He must, because in his home, his children have an art table at the ready for spontaneous creations.

So today, as we celebrate his birthday, we can only speculate what wonders of bliss his children will reveal to their dad and mom.

Happy Birthday Stephen
With love,
Mom

– By Stephen Livingston (age 5 years)

 

Taming the not so idle hands

We have all had moments like this when working with a group of kids. One child is so full of energy that sitting still is impossible. Yes, impossible, and I do not say this lightly.

I watched this energetic child squirm, wiggle and twist. With hands that drummed, fidgeted and poked it seemed like we were in for a long night of religious education.

One quick glance from me garnered an, “Am I in trouble?” response.

The child seemed to be trying so hard to sit still, listen, and not interrupt the lessons or other pier participation.

“Am I in trouble?” the child queried again.

I slid a few sheets of paper under those fidgeting fingers along with some colored markers. “When I am easily distracted, it helps me to doodle. Give it a try.” My smile was met with a broad grin and my offer accepted.

An amazing peace fell over the room. Oh, the hands were still busy, writing each pier name on a paper airplane. Then a dove with an olive branch followed by three crosses on a hill.

The student was listening and exchanging in dialog all the while creating little masterpieces.

Religious education class is opened and closed with prayer. That evening, the doodles during class were placed in the center of the table as we all prayed together.

When trying to reach a kid, try art.

Granddaughter’s Note

Grandchildren are purveyors of bliss. In my office, just below the window side of my desk, the backside of a dry-erase board is visible. The dry-erase board is facing the wall to protect it.

Okay, I know, I can take a picture of it, and I have taken a picture. The picture does preserve the memory. But a picture, though it may be worth a thousand words, can never take the place of my granddaughter’s note to her grandpa and me.

Grand Thing One wrote an wonderful “Rainbow Note” to Grandma and Grandpa. Fresh out of Kindergarten and on the way to first grade, here is Grand Thing One’s “Rainbow Note”

During a visit when Grand Thing One had just completed Kindergarten, she spontaneously wrote a note to us on the whiteboard from my office. She changed out color markers as she pleased, and the adorned the note with an illustration of herself with Grandma, Grandpa, and Tom Dog. (Tom Dog is her daddy’s dog.) The lovely note, exactly as written is in the picture. Here is how she read it to us:

“I Love Grandma and Grandpa. Your dogs are cute, I love them too. I love to read with you and they make me laugh. It is funny. I love to stay up with you, it makes me happy to stay up with you. When I see the sunshine it makes me sing about you. You fill my heart with love. I do not want to leave. I want to stay right here. I will not move. It was nice to see you but it was fun with you. Good-bye, I will see you soon. Good-bye, I love you, good-bye.”

 A straight line from her house to ours is 1350 miles. She is in 2nd grade now. I think I will send her some stationary, addressed envelopes and stamps. We Google Hangout often, and we call, but a nice note from little hands is a moment of bliss a grandma cannot resist.

As you see, I have a picture, but I do not, and never will, have the heart to erase her letter. So, all of you people out there in blog land, someone must know how to preserve this dry-erase message.

Is there a spray? Can the surface be laminated? Do I leave it as is and just pray nothing happens? Do I buy multiple dry-erase boards and experiment?

Your suggestions are welcome in this grandma’s desire to preserve bliss.