Walk to Mt. Doom

In an effort to take better care of myself, I started to eat less and exercise more. So far I’ve lost 15 pounds! YAY! You can really tell if you look at my ears. My ears are so svelte right now.

Anyway, my folks and I will be walking to Mt. Doom. Thanks to The Eowyn Challenge, the mileage is already mapped out! I made us little Hobbits. My mother is going to be Frodo, I’m Samwise, and my dad is Bilbo, and he’s thinking of following Bilbo to the Lonely Mountain, because he doesn’t think Mordor would be a nice place to walk to. Too many orcs and evil overlords. Something like that. How we’ll keep track is a mile walked is a mile walked and if we ride a bike then 2 miles riding =1 mile.

Bilbo, Samwise, and Frodo completed on the Procreate App

If you’d like to join us, feel free to I’m in! in the comments and post your updates along with us as we move forward!

If you’d like to follow a real life adventurer, follow my buddy Bruce‘s blog, who has been walking the Appalachian Trail since April! Bruce is AMAZING!

Drawing Hobbits, by the way, was so much fun. IF ANYONE ENDS UP MAKING A CUTE LOTR GRAPHIC NOVEL, I’M AVAILABLE! 😀

Highlights Foundation: Your Guide to Graphic Novels Workshop 2019

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending “Your Guide to Graphic Novels” workshop at Highlights Foundation. This was my second Highlights workshop, and both times were restorative experiences.

We had some amazing faculty/guest speakers. Merrill Rainey, Nidhi Chanani, Lila Weaver, and Colleen Af Venable. They were so informative, honest, and friendly. Everything you would hope for in an educational setting. We learned about how the process of graphic novels works, how to write a script, and how panels work. Each participant had an opportunity to bring a favorite graphic novel and after we introduced our favorite books, they went on a table for a weekend library. It was a wonderful ice breaker, and a great way to connect with other participants (“I read the book you brought! that was great!”)

If you’ve never been to Highlights Foundation, it’s a pretty remarkable experience. They have a very kind and industrious kitchen staff that will cater to your specific dietary needs. As much food as possible is sourced locally, and prepared with pride. The grounds are easy to walk around with gravel paths leading everywhere. You can stay in the farmhouse, the lodge or small individual cabins. I’ve stayed in a cabin both times, and they are quite comfortable, private and ideally suited for introverts. You’ll hear scary stories about ticks, but there is bug repellant available in the rooms and even in the Barn so if you stick to the mowed spaces and paths, you can avoid any icky bugs. It’s a lovely landscape, but the staff are really the ones to make the place feel welcoming and friendly.

I’m glad for the time I spent at Highlights. It really gave me a sense of purpose and direction. I came home feeling rested and ready to go for the first time in a few months, and I recommend going there for any artist who would like to meet new people, recharge their batteries, and learn something new.

Switching from Photoshop to Clip Studio Pro

Clip Studio Pro recently came out with a full-program app available in the Apple Store, and yes, it IS a subscription. There are two tiers and you can choose monthly or annual subscription. I chose the $24 dollar annual subscription. Yeah. $24 dollars. I love that price.

What initially drew me to Clip Studio was when Adobe started their subscription services for Creative Cloud. I wanted a one-time purchase product, and at the time, they were having an amazing sale so I got Clip Studio Pro EX for $109 dollars. I think you can buy it today for about $220, which is still an amazing price. The app syncs beautifully with the computer program, and I find the interface intuitive and for the bits that aren’t, there’s a wonderful link for tutorials, how-tos and a forum to ask questions.

But what about my photoshop files? Well, those will import nicely into Clip Studio, with all the layers intact. And if you love the Procreate App on the iPad, you can export those files into the Clip Studio App and save it to the cloud so you can access it on your desktop and tablet. Which is SO NICE, especially when one’s wireless printer is not apple compatible. Its’ also nice just to check out my art on a Windows machine and an Apple Machine so I have a better idea how it may show up on different screens.

Basically it’s an easier program for me to use, and it checks off all the boxes I have for illustration. There’s no need for me to keep photoshop anymore, especially now they are playing around with their subscription prices.

Coughing and Writing

I’ve been sick with a cold for two weeks, and I’m pretty tired of feeling yucky. I’ve been sleeping a lot, and seeing how fast I can beat my last record of going through a box of tissues.

The good news is, I’m also writing a lot more. I have a couple story ideas that I’m really excited about, and so I’m writing my first drafts which are AWFUL, and that’s wonderful. If writing is like cleaning out a closet, the first draft is emptying the closet and throwing everything on the bed. All your ideas are out there, messy and disorganized, but once you work through it, you know you’ll have a good story/ tidy closet.

So far my writing process goes like this:

  1. Write two sentences
  2. Stare into space.
  3. Write another sentence
  4. Stare into space visualizing the scene and curse once I realized I stopped typing.
  5. Try to “rewind” visualization and type it out poorly.
  6. Make a cup of hot cocoa and wish it was the kind with marshmallows.

I’m having a BLAST. 🙂

A thumb drive from 2011

About a year ago, I cleaned out the back of my closet and sorted through old boxes. There was this thumb drive that was covered in fuzz and dust and I almost threw it away, but thought “I better make sure nothing is on it.” And then I put it on my desk and avoided it.

I assumed that it would be full of old forms and documents from my working in higher education. My last job wasn’t a healthy experience for me, and I wasn’t ready to bring back memories and sort through the files yet. I wanted a cup of tea, a sunny day, and a good feeling.

Today is snowy, I’m a little cranky, and too impatient to make tea. My desk is cluttered and I better see what’s on this stupid thing before I throw it away. And I was surprised. There was a folder of old tax returns, a folder of work documents (already labeled) and a folder that said “Fun fun fun”. I opened it, and there were two stories. One had a brief outline and some thoughts and the other was outlined and 8000 words written. I vaguely remembered these ideas and checked the date: 2011, my last year working in higher education. I left my job at the end of the spring semester in 2012 to pursue children’s book illustration.

I had forgotten that I wrote to help escape my job. To just find some comfort. I also found a letter I wrote “To Future Me” and in it 2011 Me wrote “This is really happening.” and outlined all the horrible things that were happening on a regular basis at my work with a note of “Because you’ll start to forget and doubt if you did the right thing.”

I carefully cleaned off the sweater fuzz from the drive and put it away. I’m going to finish those stories for my past self. But first, a cup of hot tea.

Photo credit Autumn Seybert 2019

Back from a short break

I went away to Florida for a week, and it was really lovely. The weather was warm, sunny, and full of warm breezes. Did I mention it was warm? I’ve sorely missed feeling warm. Even my toes felt warm!

I’ve been doing some unofficial polling, and the general feedback seems to be that weekly posting would be enjoyable, so I will endeavor to fulfill those wishes, kind followers.

You may have noticed some updates to the website! I’m working on making it user friendly. If you encounter something frustrating or have a suggestion to make, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

The kidlit community is proud to support students around the globe who are on school strikes to voice their concern for our planet’s future. The above image is my contribution- to find out how you can get involved, check out this website

Bears for #kidlitart28

For the month of February you can follow me and a lot of other illustrators by searching for #kidlitart28. It’s a drawing challenge to keep you drawing every day and for the dreary winter days, I was pretty excited for it. The theme this year is “Draw what you love” After some consideration, I chose bears to be my “what I love” I don’t have a bear for each day, because I often went back to finish up a bear or add things here and there. This past weekend was the SCBWI* Winter Conference, or #Ny19SCBWI so that also took away from my daily drawing time ( but totally worth it! More on that to come)

This panda was funny. I enjoyed sketching him so much. He is the absolute picture of relaxation. So I wanted to draw him on vacation. Rough sketches, colors, and I still like the first sketch the best. I may need to revisit this one with traditional materials since it’s not working at all for me digitally.

Well, I am really tired from my trip, and I want to review my notes from the conference so I can share some highlights with you! Have a great day everyone!

*SCBWI stands for Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators


I always have mixed feelings about winter. Sometimes I love to get out in the snow and shovel it out of the driveway. I like snowballs and sound of the snow crunching under my boots. I love how quiet winter is. No one is mowing the lawn, the birds have flown south and the only sounds are the ice cracking in the sun.

Sometimes the sun hasn’t been out, and it’s cold and grey and COLD. Yes, it’s definitely worth saying cold twice. Because it’s not a cozy cold, it’s a bone-cold that turns your skin scaly like a lizard, and there’s just NOT ENOUGH COFFEE EVER.

And some days are compromises. A warm cup of coffee, sunshine, and bitter, bitter cold. These are the days for wooly socks, fluffy mittens hot coffee, and a good book to escape into. How are you staying warm?