Thanks to Covid-19, we’re home from school and home FOR school for the duration of the year. My children’s assignments are inspiring me to make some general templates for their projects that I’m also sharing here with you.
I’ll be updating this page as we go along. Stay well, everyone!
Disclaimer: All digital download files are free for personal or non-commercial use. Please contact me for commercial inquiries.
6 Page Book Template Suitable for grades K-3 * I put together and am sharing this simple 6 page low-ink-use PDF book template that you can print at home to allow kids to make their own books for assignments or just for fun. * It requires 4 pieces of paper, un-printed sides taped or glued together and then folded in half. Two staples in the middle are optional.
7 Page Alphabet Project Template Suitable for grades K-3 * A 7-page low-ink-use PDF 8.5 x 11 inch landscape template (prints from Portrait) to allow kids to make their own illustrated alphabet project with 4 labeled panels per page * Requires 7 pieces of paper.
Like what I’m doing? Buy Me a Coffee? Sure! why not?
I’m a freelance illustrator, graphic designer, and visual artist living in Reston, VA with my husband, two small kids and one large, furry cat.
Born a fourth-generation New Yorker, I spent my formative years in Arkansas, my teen years back in New York, and my twenties in Los Angeles.
I earned a BFA in theatrical design from Syracuse University in 1993 and completed continuing studies in children’s illustration at UCLA in 1997.
How’d you get into art and decide to become an artist?
I’m not sure I ever wanted to be an artist. I think it’s always been what I am, how I move through and deal with the world. Bad things happen, good things happen, and I’m driven to create. It’s a mode of communication and self-expression. Having a creative outlet helps me to get through the things I can’t control in my life.
I come from a professional but creative family. Being a creative was supposed to be a hobby. That might have been the smarter career choice, financially.
What kind of art do you do? What materials do you use?
Story is at the heart of my work. It’s illustration, really.
I love having control over the little worlds I create — each little image in each little story. I create vignettes and slices of life the way I want them to be.
Right now my primary medium is colored pencil, but I love experimenting with everything. The medium is a part of the story too, and can enhance or detract from what I’m trying to communicate.
What is your approach for creating a work of art? What is your inspiration?
Sometimes I start with detailed sketches which I digitize and composite on the computer. If I’m using dry media like colored pencil, I’ll print in light k-tones directly onto art paper. If the media is wet, like inks and paints, I’ll use a light box. Sometimes I don’t sketch or digitize at all but just jump right in. Each medium requires a different approach.
Is it cliché to say that inspiration is everywhere in the world around us? To be honest, I can be inspired by anything at random if I’m in the right mindset. I tend to have too many ideas at once and too many projects in the works at any one time. I’m scatterbrained. I’m not yet sure if that’s a bug or a feature.
What do you hope viewers of your art experience upon seeing the exhibit?
Art has the power to change and influence people’s moods and how they relate to the world. If I have that power at all in my work, I’d like to think I use it do to good. This is why my work is mostly colorful and peaceful. I hope some of it is thought provoking in its own way. Nothing big and grand, but I’m aiming to add a little more light into the world.
My little goddesses are back. While getting ready for Reston’s annual Gifts from the HeART, I came upon the pieces I had created but never finished into pendants. So I decided to turn them into pins. I made 24. I have 13 left. I have a feeling there will be more. Meanwhile, here is a little information about the symbols I used.
I began designing the goddesses as gifts for my friends when I was 8 months pregnant with my son in 2012. Originally, they were meant to be fertility goddesses, based on the ancient statue of Astarte. But most of the symbols I chose were about life and renewal. I made several designs using these symbols.
Heart Love Goddess
The Glitter Heart Love Goddess. She really just speaks for herself. And she’s all warm and glittery inside. I love the way these came out.
Special days to celebrate love include St. Valentine’s day, Beltaine, and Tu B’Av (the 15th of the month of Av), the Jewish holiday of love and rebirth. But loving yourself every day is the most important way to begin.
The Lotus Goddess is a mixed cultural metaphor as my design does not represent any of the eastern religions, rather just the symbol of the lotus itself signifying rebirth and enlightenment in the feminine. In Buddhism, the lotus represents spiritual experience and growth on our journey through the world, fortune, and purity. The lotus flower grows from the dark mud under the water and blooms above, unsullied, into the light of day.
The Pentacle Goddess was inspired by the goddess, Astarte, goddess of war and sex. One of the symbols of this goddess is the star in a circle, indicating the planet Venus. Adopted by the Greeks as Aphrodite and then by the Romans as Venus, she became the goddess of beauty, love, fertility, and sex. In modern times, this symbol represents the Wiccan religion.
The Pomegranate Goddess represents the cycle of the seasons, death and rebirth, as well as fertility. Inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone consuming the pomegranate seeds in the underworld and thus being compelled to return there for six months of the year, and the biblical story of the Israelites bringing Moses a pomegranate to demonstrate the fertility of the promised land.
The Pregnant Goddess design simply represents the bond between mother and child. A strong symbol of fertility and potential.
Sea Turtle Goddess
The Sea Turtle Goddess was inspired by the turtle’s ancient association with creation. A sea turtle can lay hundreds of eggs at a time and has become a symbol of longevity, fertility, and good fortune in many coastal cultures. There are so many myths and legends surrounding the sea turtle (and turtles in general) worldwide, that it would be hard to discuss them all here, but among the many attributes of the sea turtle are freedom, patience, virtue, love, wisdom, protection, perseverance, and rebirth.
“The Turtle is considered by some Indigenous North Americans to be one of their the oldest, most sacred symbols. They believed that North America was created on the back of a turtle. To this day most Indigenous peoples refer to North America as Turtle Island. “
The Spiral Goddess is based on a prehistoric goddess design and represents the creative power of the earth mother and the ongoing circle of creation emanating from her womb.
The Triskelion Goddess was inspired by the ancient Celtic triple spiral which represents the three aspects of women (mother, maiden, and crone). Early Christians also adopted the symbol of the triskelion to represent the father, son, and holy spirit. It may also be a symbol of mystery and rebirth as it was used to decorate many prehistoric tombs, notably Newgrange in Ireland where the sun shines down the passage into the tomb on the shortest day of the year.
Filled Heart Love Goddess
I first painted this original design in watercolor and acrylic on a brown paper shopping bag, probably around 1995. The image is of a woman looking to fill the void inside herself with a heart symbolizing love. Now, almost 20 years later, I thought it would be fun to add her to my goddess collection as a symbol for bringing love into your live.
Ok so I’m a little late. The holidays snuck up on me as I was buried beneath work from a new client as well as the usual end-of-year to-do kinds of things, and of course, the care and feeding of the Jaegerlings (now aged 4.5 and 2.5). The ridiculously warm weather didn’t help. It only started to really feel like Christmas on its 12th day. Hanukkah is already a distant memory as Tu B’Shvat is at the end of January this year. Seriously?
Now that the loose ends of 2015 have been mostly been tied up, I can get on with it being 2016.
Of course I have a few new resolutions for 2016. I was thinking about these as I was sorting out my kids’ artwork the other day. I went through LITERALLY hundreds of my 4-year-old’s drawings from Sept through now, thinking she’ll hit her 10,000 mastery hours LONG before I will at this rate. Picasso was seriously on to something. I realized I have much to learn from watching my daughter progress while “wasting” tons of newsprint paper.
So I resolved that in order to really practice and progress, myself, I’ll have to try and “Art” a bit like a child again. That is to say:
Don’t be afraid to waste materials.
Don’t think too hard about it (the sketching will lead you where you want to go).
Don’t edit while you sketch.
Don’t overdo it. Stop when it’s done.
Make it sparkly (this is the kid version of “make it pop”).
Move on to the next.
The natural progression of this resolution is also that I need to stop worrying about the consistency of my media choices and if everything works in a series. I just to make more “stuff” the way I used to when I was a kid. Throw those ideas and creations out into the world and see where they lead.
On my way upstairs, I stopped to check in with Facebook (as you do) and caught some of the first 52 Week Challenge posts in my feed. By the time I’d got up to my studio, I was pulling out a bunch of “stuff” to “make something” for the “Fancy Dress” challenge, and this lady (above) emerged. Ok I went a little crazy with the glitter, which is also hard to photograph, but I felt better. I did it. Baby steps.
Another of my resolutions is to get more of that “stuff” out on social media and for sale without worrying too much if it’s “fitting my brand.” I think the definition of “personal brand” may actually be more or less the same thing as Giuseppe Castellano’ definition of personal style. It’s often hard to be objective about the way one actually looks. I have been told that my personal signature should shine through whatever I create as well. Looking at Fancy Dress Lady, I see that’s probably true.
Last year on Instagram I met a fellow artist and mom named Anna who lives in Sweden. Her children are roughly the same age as mine but she is somehow managing to create complete pieces of dynamic art, illustrations, and intriguing Tangles daily, posting them out on the interwebs and in her etsy shop. I am in awe as well as inspired that she is able to do this. I want to be able to do this, too. I know there are only so many hours in a day and that I sometimes have graphics work that takes priority to my personal work, but it’s a goal.
Like Anna, I don’t want to just wait around for people to hire me. I can get my work “out there” myself. My young self had hundreds of personal, creative obsessions. While I don’t fall in love with things as easily as I did when I was 9, I still have my own stories to tell and projects to complete. Another resolution is to get my own projects started (if not completed) without wondering if or how I’m going to earn money from them. I believe that if there is a true passion shining through in the work, an audience will come. We can’t all be J.K. Rowling, Johanna Basford, or Jacquie Lawson. But we can certainly try. So for starters, I put Fancy Dress Lady out on the interwebs and on Etsy for sale: http://tiny.cc/eppx7x Ok that’s something. Not a large project, but another baby step. On to the next.
Last year I surprised myself by falling in love with the media and world of colored pencils. And here I’d thought I was supposed to be a painter. I discovered this love while working on my 100 Days project (which I also resolve to finish in 2016 – I need to continue working on simplifying). This year, I aim to improve my colored penciling skills and techniques. I also plan to work on improving gesture in my illustrations. I resolve to pay a bit more attention to contrast (didn’t we call that chiaroscuro in art school?). And maybe get into a workshop or master class later in the year…
Of course, finding creative representation in 2016 wouldn’t hurt either!
Apart from my creative resolutions, I resolve to manage my not-so-spare time a bit better, de-clutter the house, spend more time with my family, lose about 10 pounds, and get back to the gym – you know, all the usual stuff.
Just signed up for an 11 week yoga class starting next Tuesday. Let’s get this year started!
Sometimes the best projects begin as collaborations. In the past year, JaegerThing1 (now aged 3.5) has been asking me to draw cards for her so she can finish them. Mostly, we’ve put them on her friend’s birthday presents but we’ve also starting doing a few holiday cards, get well cards, and cards for friends who have moved away. She likes to finish them by doodling completely over the text with markers and putting as maky stickers on the front as she can fit. You might think I’d have taken a photo of these to post but I didn’t becaue I hadn’t had this brilliant idea yet. So stay tuned for a photo.
But now, to tell you about my brilliant idea. I had been trying to come up with a downloadable file project for my Etsy store that involved creative kid crafts. I’ve been making cards for my daughter. Hmmm. Why not make a bunch of half-finished cards to post for other kids to finish at home? Am I brilliant (don’t answer that)?
There are a lot of coloring pages and coloring books out there created with that comfortable and easy-to-do hard black outline. I didn’t want to do that for multiple reasons. Primarilly, I wanted the card to look kind of like the kid drew the entire thing themselves. It’s a bit of a cheat, but it looks a lot nicer to me than that hard black line. Second, when I was a kid, I HATED coloring inside the lines. Without that hard line, you can color right over the outline it you want. And you can change it’s color.
Yes, the other kids made fun of me because I wasn’t neat and pristine with my inside-line coloring. I still remember standing on a chair in the hall outside my second grade classroom to help color my team’s craft-paper Halloween pagent backdrop, and my classmates demanding I stop because I wasn’t doing the nice neat horizantal line coloring they all were doing. I was totally messing it up. Ok fellow classmates, lessons learned. I don’t always follow the rules. I still went on to get a degree in scenery design after that. But I digress.
Third, you gotta get a gimmick! So Coloring Cards were born. I’ve started with a couple of autumny cards and will be making more for the winter holidays. I’ll be doing these for a very long time. If nothing else, I’m getting the illustration practice and learning what you shouldn’t attempt to do with a crayon (I mean on PAPER! I didn’t put the crayon up my nose, that honor goes to my one-year-old). Look for birthday cards, Valentines that work with Avery tear-off’s, and Thank You notes among many others I plan to post in the coming year. I’m currently offering cards on the same one-time purchase with and without inside greetings in case you want it blank inside. And you can print out as many as you want.
If you have any ideas for cards you’d like me to start for you or your child (or cards for holidays that I might miss like a Diwali card), let me know. If I decide to make them, they’ll be added to my store at the same low price ($.85!) as all of my other cards. To make the card, simply download the file to your computerand print it out on a letter size sheet of plain 8.5 x 11 paper. Fold the printed page in half from top to bottom, and then again from side to side. Go!
I first painted this image during in my purple & silhouetted people phase. So probably in 1995. The original was done in watercolor and acrylic on a brown paper shopping bag. The image is of a woman looking to fill the void inside herself that was left when she lost her heart. She is choosing to replace it with a new heart symbolizing love. I’m pretty sure I did this one after a breakup. I was in my early 20’s. Everything was much grander back then. So a breakup was kind of epic.
At any rate, in 2003, I updated it in order to enter a small Valentine’s card competition (it won). I recreated the image digitally in order to make it into a template so I could construct it into three-dimensional layers using cardboard.
In 2005, I went back to the rough digital and cleaned it up to make it available for sale on Greeting Card Universe. The inside of the GCU card reads, “Of every heart, I choose yours. Be my Valentine!” I realize it’s a bit of an odd image for a Valentine’s Day card. Conveniently, it went along with the Illustration Friday topic that week, Choose.
And now here we are in 2014, almost 20 years later. This little image has become part of my Goddess pendant collection that I used to sell on Etsy.