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Behind The Scenes Of The Black Rhino Drawing


Many of you know about my African Elephant drawing I completed last year, shown below. That was the first drawing in a series I’m dedicating to Endangered Species. (Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to let me know which animal I should do next in the series!)

My African Elephant graphite and colored pencil drawing, 18×24 inches big. 20% of proceeds from prints sold will go to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

This specific series is bigger than my other drawings, with each piece being at LEAST 18×24 inches big, most of which will be even larger. They’re all in black in white with a stark white background, not only to bring attention to the animal, but to indicate their habitats are disappearing and eventually, these animals will be extinct if we don’t do something.

The Second Drawing Of The Series

My Black Rhino graphite and colored pencil drawing, 24×30 inches big. 10% of proceeds from prints will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund.

I have now finished the second drawing in this series, my Black Rhino graphite and colored pencil drawing, which was finished just in time for World Rhino Day (September 22nd).

Rhinos are critically endangered, likely with 5,000 or less left in the world. 10% of the proceeds from this drawing and prints sold of it will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF created the first Rhino sanctuary in Kenya and the plight of the Rhinos is one of the reasons the WWF was created!


Starting The Drawing

This drawing is quite large, at 24×30 inches big, and larger than my drawing table! In order to work on this drawing, I had to move my drawing table away from my wall and bring over a large piece of cardboard as a backer. Of course then I realized that as I was drawing, the lines from the cardboard were showing through in my drawing, so I also had to put a large piece of smooth mat board behind it to help keep it sturdy and provide a smooth backing for me to work on.

It took a while to just grid this paper and draw the outline drawing of the Rhino. Then, like with most of my graphite pieces, I started from the top left and moved down and to the right. I do this because graphite smudges easily and I’m right handed. I also have the habit of resting my hand and arm on the piece I’m working on, so I smudge my work easily! Working from top left and down to the right, it helps avoid this problem and lets me work the way I like without too many worries.

Line drawing and the beginning of drawing the Black Rhino.


Making More Progress

I started this drawing in the beginning of the summer, but I had a commission and some other projects that needed to take priority, so I had to set it aside for a while. It sat on my drawing table looking like it does above for a couple months until I finally had a week where I had no commissions and I had some time to draw my own work again.

That’s when this piece started to take shape, and quick progress was made.

I started with the left side, the top, and the left ear. I layered in three different shades of graphite (2H, HB, and 3B), and then used a black colored pencil for most of the textures and the darkest areas.

Next was the face and the horns, which are one of the main reasons Rhinos are killed today. In the past many were killed because they were considered pests. Now many are killed because their horns are valuable to those who believe they help with longevity or as cures for other ailments.


Finishing The Piece

I knew World Rhino Day was Friday, September 22nd, and it was that week that I was finally able to work on this drawing. Therefore, my goal was to finish the drawing by that day, if I could!

I worked for hours each day that week and kept posting the progress shots on social media.

Thursday, the day before World Rhino Day, came and went and I was almost finished, but not quite, so when I woke up Friday morning, I went to work straight away on the drawing and finished it by about 11am!

What’s Next? I want your opinion!

Now you can buy prints of the Black Rhino here, and prints of the first drawing in the series, the African Elephant, here.

You can also buy photographic (not archival, but cheaper) prints of them and others in my Etsy shop here.

Now I am in the process of deciding what my next drawing will be in this series! Here’s the options and tell me which one you think I should do next in the comments!


Which should be the next in my Endangered Species series? Tell me in the comments!

  • Sea Turtle

  • Snow Leopard

  • Gorilla

  • Orangutan

  • Lemur

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Featured In The Seven Days Annual Animal Issue

Hi everyone! I hope your August is going swimmingly. Mine has been going well, albeit a little crazy!

As most of you know, there’s a lot going on for me right now. I have:

  • a LIVE Demonstration happening during the 25th South End Art Hop at 100 Main Street in Burlington, VT on Friday evening, September 8th, and likely on Saturday afternoon as well
  • I have an exhibit of my artwork at New Moon Cafe in Burlington, VT that I’m preparing for, which will be on display September and October

  • I have an Opening Reception for the New Moon Cafe exhibit on September 22nd, 5-7pm
  • I’ll be signing posters at the Tunbridge Fair this year because I was the artist commissioned to create this years “Rare Breeds” poster
  • I’m working on two new series of drawings, one on wood furniture and one of large graphite drawings of endangered species
  • I just published my book, How To Build Your Art Business With Limited Time Or Energy
  • I’m writing all kinds of guest articles for art business sites that relate to my recent book
  • AND I was just featured in the Seven Days newspaper for their annual Animal Issue!
My Blue-Eyed Kitten colored pencil drawing.

About The Article

I met Sadie Williams, a reporter for the Seven Days, in a busy cafe in Burlington last week to talk about my artwork, how I began drawing, my new book, and my upcoming events including those I listed above. It was a great atmosphere and Sadie was a great host. We talked for an hour.

The article is part of their annual Animal Issue, an issue of the Seven Days that is devoted to things relating to animals. I knew without question that was the issue for me and my artwork!

Check out the article here, and the rest of the articles for this issue!


Good Timing & Stay Up To Date On Events!

With everything happening right now, this is great timing for this article. Don’t forget to check it out in the Seven Days newspaper this week! Also, follow me on Facebook to keep up to date with all the events I have coming up! I have multiple event pages right now and new products and prints of my artwork will be available at those events! I’ll also be doing a raffle for one of my small metal prints of my Hermit Crab at Art Hop, but you have to be there to sign up and be a potential winner!

Hermit Crab
In colored pencil

Questions Or Comments

As always, if you have any questions or comments or want to interview me or hire me to speak at an event or for a group, please contact me!

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On The Drawing Board – Upcoming Series Of Drawings


Hey everyone! It’s finally July and a LOT is happening here! Here’s just a few examples:

  • Soon my ebook (How To Build Your Art Business With Limited Time Or Energy) will be published! I’ll be writing another blog post about this when it launches. Tentatively scheduled launch date is August 1st, and I’m scurrying to get things ready!
  • I’m finishing up my current commissions and then I’ll be CLOSED TO COMMISSIONS for the summer. This is so I can focus on all the other things I have going on this summer!
  • I’m still working on drawings on wood and this summer I’ll be doing my first drawing on a piece of wood furniture! I’ll keep you updated.
  • I’m getting ready for the annual Art Hop in Burlington’s south end! Always a great event, put together by SEABA.
  • Plus I’m getting everything ready for an upcoming solo exhibit of my artwork at New Moon Cafe in Burlington, VT for September/October! This will have artwork that’s never before been seen in public! Tentative date for the Opening Reception is September 22nd. Stay tuned for more details.
Solo exhibit at New Moon Cafe in Burlington, VT will take place September/October 2017! Tentative date for the Opening Reception is September 22nd.
  • I’ll also be at the Tunbridge World’s Fair in September to sign posters!
  • And finally, what this post is about… I’m currently working on a new series of drawings of endangered species! Learn more about them below.

Closed To Commissions This Summer

Unfortunately with everything going on and getting things ready for a VERY busy September, after I finish my current commissions I’ll be closed to new commissions this summer. It’s likely that I will begin accepting commissions again sometime in September or October (for the holiday season), but that’s not known yet.

As demand rises, prices are rising somewhat as well. The more commissions I’m asked to do, the less time I have to work on them and everything else, so prices will be increasing later in the year (for commissions only, everything else will stay the same price).

One of my favorite commissions of this year. Jada, 11×14 inches big, in prismacolor pencils on mixed media board.

If you know you want a commission, get your name in soon! I’m already making a list of people who want one when I open back up to them, and it’s first come first serve, so even though I’m not accepting them yet, if you think you’ll want one for later this year or next year, contact me and I can add you to the list!

New Endangered Species Series

I’m excited to say that this summer I’ll be working on a new series of drawings focused on certain well-known, and perhaps some lesser-known, endangered species. You all know my love for wildlife and that I strive to have my artwork bring awareness to animals and conservation efforts. I continually donate to organizations that work toward land and wildlife conservation.

This series is meant to differ slightly from my usual drawing style and really bring attention to certain animals and their struggles to survive in this world as they lose their habitat or are being hunted.

Each drawing will be much larger than I usually work, with the one I’m working on now being 22×30 inches big (bigger than my drawing table!).

New drawing is bigger than my drawing table!

These drawings will also be created in graphite and black colored pencil, instead of in full color. I think the black and white nature of these drawings, along with the size and detail, will make them stand out and garner more attention. Each drawing will be JUST the animal, no background, bringing stark attention to each one alone, and their disappearing habitats.

The First Of The Series

The first drawing of this series was my African Elephant drawing! This piece was 18×24 inches big and was created to help bring awareness to the plight of the African Elephants, of which 96 are being killed each day for their ivory by poachers.

Example of a metal print of my African Elephant drawing.

As you may recall, I filmed this piece as I drew it and created a speed-drawing video of it, which you can watch again below, and 20% of the proceeds from prints of this drawing are being collected and donated to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants conservation campaign. If you’re interested in a print, you can purchase them here.

Next In The Series

My next drawing in the series is one that I just barely started of a Black Rhinoceros! I’ll be posting the progress of this piece on my Instagram account and on Facebook, so make sure to follow me on both of those! Plus I’m filming the piece to make another speed drawing video, similar to that of the African Elephant.

Progress on the Black Rhino drawing so far.

What’s Next?

What’s after the Black Rhino? You tell me! Which one do you think I should do next out of the following? Tell me in the comments!

  • Snow Leopard
  • Western Lowland Gorilla
  • Baby Orangutan
  • Sea Turtle
  • Ringtail Lemur
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Behind The Scenes Of The Tree Swallow Drawing


I’m currently working on a string of commissioned drawings, which is part of why I haven’t posted about new drawings much on social media lately. However, this weekend I decided to have a little fun with a quick drawing of my own since I had a couple days before I could start my next commission.

This was the result!

My Tree Swallow colored pencil drawing on wood. No official title yet.

Planning The Piece

This drawing started because I knew I had a couple days in between commissioned drawings and I wanted to make a drawing for myself. This meant it would have to be a quick one! So when I came across a photo of this cute little Tree Swallow by Mary Villazon, I knew I had my project.

With Mary’s permission I used her photo as a reference and decided to draw this piece on one of my wood plaques, hoping the final result would look like the bird is popping out of the wood.


Starting The Drawing

I started the drawing by using a stencil to create a circle where I was going to draw. Then I sanded that circle because I wanted the wood there to be smooth for use as a drawing surface, where the wood on the rest of the plaque could stay rough.

You can see the difference between the sanded circle and the rest of the wood.

After the sanding, the line drawing was done to map out the basic shape of the bird. Then I finally took my colored pencils out and started with the eyes and beak of the bird. At this point, it looked pretty creepy.

This shows the line drawing and how I started with the eyes and beak in colored pencil.


Adding The Layers Of Colored Pencil

After working on the eyes and beak, I moved to the chest and belly of the bird with my white and yellow pencils.

Starting to add layers of colored pencil.

To add depth, I added some gray and browns to the edging of the belly and sides, creating shadows and starting the sense of 3D.

At this point I also started adding layers of color around the eyes, making sure to make my strokes short to look like the little feathers on the bird.

Then, keeping those small strokes and working them in the direction of the feathers, I added the first few layers to the head and back of the bird, working from light to dark.

Layers being added to the rest of the bird, and the black hole being started.


Creating The 3D Effect

The whole idea of this piece was to make it look like this bird was really sitting in a hole in this piece of wood, so the next steps were to keep adding layers to the feathers, and make that circle look like a hole.

More layers to the bird and the black of the hole blending into the feathers as a gradient, creating shadow.

I had to make sure to leave the correct areas for the wings and feet when I added the black of the hole. I also had to add the black as a gradient on top of the feathers to make it look like a realistic shadow instead of colorful feathers and then suddenly the black background.

The black background is mostly done, leaving room for the wings and legs.


Finishing The Drawing

Finally, it was time to draw the wings and the legs, making sure there were plenty of shadows where appropriate to make the bird look like he’s popping out. I made the top of the wings come out over the circle and made part of the feet come out over the circle and added shadows beneath each of them to give depth.

I then drew a couple circles around the black background to make it look like an actual opening in a piece of wood, like a birdhouse. With a little bit of shadow added with a light brown to the very edge of the inner circle, it looked rounded and 3D.

My Tree Swallow colored pencil drawing on wood. No official title yet.


Now all that’s left to do is varnish, urethane, sign it, and attach a hanger!


If you’re interested in purchasing this piece or a print of it, contact me! It will be available soon. OR, have suggestions for a title? Let me know in the comments! 

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5 Ways Drawing Is Like Exercising


Exercising is something most of us have in common at one point or another, whether it’s walking, yoga, weight lifting, running, zumba, or sports. There’s a huge number of ways you can exercise, just like there’s a huge number of ways you can create artwork. Below are a five other commonalities between the two activities: 

1.) Sometimes the hardest part is getting started.

Drawing, writing, or creating anything can be one of the greatest feelings in the world, but it can also be difficult to get up the motivation to start. Similar to exercising, sometimes the hardest part is getting started.

A lot of people can relate to this at one time or another in their creative endeavors. You’re staring at that blank page or canvas thinking about how to begin, hoping the idea in your mind will somehow manage to translate to the paper. What if you screw up? What if no one likes it?

Sometimes the reason for having trouble starting is unclear and then it’s particularly frustrating. Why don’t I want to draw today? What’s holding me back?

There are days, just like with an exercise regimen, that you just have to push yourself to take that first step, or in this case that first pencil stroke, and most of the time it’ll get better after that.

2.) You usually feel better afterwards.

Even if you didn’t think you were in the mood to exercise, you usually feel better after you do. That’s because you’ve jump-started your system and boosted your endorphins just by moving around.

Similar feelings arise when you’ve created something. Even if it was difficult to get yourself started, you usually feel better afterwards. Usually you’re happy you accomplished something, even if you’re not always 100% satisfied with the results.


3.) It’s hard work.

Even if you’re in good shape, exercising is hard work, especially if you push yourself to keep getting better. The same goes for creating. Even if you’re good at it, drawing is difficult work. There’s a lot of misunderstanding from people who don’t draw that if you’re good at it, it must just come easily to you and is the easiest job in the world! 

This isn’t true. At all. 

Me working on my Two Capuchin Monkeys drawing a few years ago. Back when I had short red hair!

Not only is drawing hard, keeping up your creativity and motivation to draw is hard, and doing everything else that comes along with being an artist, ie. promotion, marketing, exhibits, proposals, bookwork, etc., is difficult as well. 

4.) Success is measured individually.

When you work out you can only measure your success by how far you’ve come. The only thing you should compare yourself to is your past self. And the only thing you should strive to be is your best self. 

Exercise isn’t something where you should compare yourself to others, instead focus on your own path and your own progress. 

The same can be said of creating art. You can’t compare yourself to others because what you’re creating is entirely YOU. Success depends on what you think success is and is determined solely by you. So focus on your goals and keep track of how far you’ve progressed. 

5.) You get out of it what you put into it.

You’re not going to lose 30 pounds by exercising one day. You’re not going to have abs by doing one set of crunches. And you’re not going to be able to run a marathon tomorrow if you just started running today. 

It’s the same with creating artwork. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. And the more you push yourself outside your comfort zone to try something new or by attempting progressively more challenging pieces, the more you’ll grow as a creative. 


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Sneak Peeks and Explanations – The Adventures of 2017 So Far


You may have noticed both on my blog and via social media, that I haven’t been around much lately. 2017 started with a bang and I was creating lots of artwork, like the Kitten Heart drawing (shown below), other drawings on wood, commissions, and more.

Then I disappeared.

This blog post explains what’s been going on to make me disappear and unable to produce artwork for a number of months, and also gives you some sneak peeks at what’s happening later this year!


2017 Started Off So Well…

January came around and the crazy hectic months of the holiday season were behind me. I had a short break from commissions and I spent some time cleaning my studio and writing out my big goals for the coming year.

Then I was asked to participate in a charity event by Rustic Roots restaurant that was going to benefit Spectrum Youth & Family Services, and I said yes! It involved a number of artists making artwork on heart-shaped wooden pieces, which were on display at Rustic Roots through February. I created the above Kitten Heart drawing, and it was my first colored pencil drawing on wood!

The Kitten Heart, my first drawing on wood, donated to the Rustic Roots Heart Auction to benefit Spectrum Youth & Family Services.

This experimental piece got me interested in trying more drawings on wood, so I bought some wooden plaques and kept experimenting, including the piece below. Within a few weeks I’d popped out 5 drawings, which also included the popular Jada commission.


Red & Green, in colored pencil on wood.


Tiger Eyes, in colored pencil on wood.


Then Disaster Struck

Many of you are aware that I’m chronically ill. Unfortunately, despite having been progressing well, chronic illnesses are not known for being consistent or predictable, and suddenly I was getting worse.

Honestly, we’re still not sure what’s going on, but I do know it’s getting better again and I’m optimistic that I’ll have a relatively good summer. But for the last 4 months, I have been very sick.

Nausea, migraines, extreme fatigue, digestive issues, stomach pain, dizziness, depression, and body pain have plagued me for the last few months. Despite doctors running all sorts of tests each week, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It has been all to familiar to my 6 years of being sick with Lyme and no one being able to figure out what was wrong.

The first three months were especially bad, and then the symptoms started to change and I’m finally starting to feel a bit better and I’m finally able to work on some drawings (and other work) again!

The finished drawing of Jada, 11×14 inches big, in prismacolor pencils on mixed media board.

Illness Wasn’t The Only Problem

Unfortunately, illness hasn’t been the only thing holding me back lately. I won’t go into all the crazy details, but here’s just a few of the things going on as well: family members in the hospital multiple times (and myself in the ER once as well), we had mold in our apartment, which was making us sick and forced us to move, car trouble, studio equipment malfunctioning, other family members sick, in the hospital, and having multiple surgeries, and then my computer died!

I was really hoping 2017 would be a lot better in a number of ways, especially when it came to stress, than 2016 was, but so far that’s not the case.


Things To Look Forward To!

Now I’m finally, slowly, starting to feel better and get more energy, feel less, dizzy, and am able to focus better on the work I need to do. This is good because there’s exciting things ahead for the rest of 2017! Here’s a few:

My African Elephant graphite and colored pencil drawing.
  • My African Elephant drawing is on display for the first time and can be seen at Main Street Landing Union Station in Burlington, VT as part of Arts Alive’s Festival of Fine Arts! Opening Reception Friday June 9th!
  • I’ll be taking my new interest in working on wood to a new level this summer and creating a few one-of-a-kind small pieces of furniture with original drawings on the surface of the wood! Think stools and small tables to begin with. Stay tuned!
  • Current exhibit of my artwork at Phoenix Diagnostic Labs, in Burlington, VT!
  • Antiques & Uniques craft show in Craftsbury, VT on July 8th! I’ll have a booth under one of the tents, so come check it out!
Me talking with customers at a craft show.
  • Solo Exhibit of my artwork at New Moon Cafe in Burlington, VT for September and October!
  • Solo Exhibit of my artwork at Island Arts South Hero Gallery for the month of November!
  • More videos! Once I get my camera and my computer up and running again, and sort out my new studio space, I’ll be creating more speed drawing videos and more videos for my Drawing With Corrina Series!
  • NEW BOOK! I’ve written the manuscript for a new ebook I’ll be publishing very soon for artists called: How To Build Your Art Business With Limited Time Or Energy. More news about this when it’s published! If you’re interested in getting this book right away, contact me and I’ll make sure you know as soon as it’s been published on Amazon.
  • And More!


Sneak Peeks – On The Drawing Board Now

Finally I’ve been able to start drawing again, and thankfully, I have very understanding clients. Below are some sneak peeks of what’s on my drawing board right now!

This butterfly drawing, currently untitled, is a recent drawing that was filmed as I drew it. I’m hoping to be able to make both a speed drawing video from it and an instructional video from it, but I’m still sorting through which files I have and which I lost since my computer died! Hopefully I have all the necessary video files to complete these videos, so keep checking back to find out! You can see other drawing videos I’ve done on my YouTube channel.


This work in progress is a drawing of a Leopard on wood. I started drawing this for a demonstration during Open Studio Weekend, which I participated in at The Art Shop in Cambridge, VT! Once I finish my current commission, I’ll get back to this drawing!

I also have a commission I’m working on at the moment, which I can’t reveal yet, of a black golden retriever! That drawing will be finished soon!


Have questions about anything that’s happened or that’s going to happen? Contact me! I respond to all inquiries and messages.


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An Emotional Post – What It’s Like Being A Chronically Ill Artist

I thought perhaps I wouldn’t be writing a blog post this week because I’ve been feeling pretty horrible lately. We’re currently doing medical testing to figure out what’s going on. Then I realized this morning that maybe that’s the exact fuel I need in order to write this particular blog post.

As many of you know, I have chronic Lyme disease, a couple co-infections (also likely from a tick), hashimoto’s thyroiditis, malfunctioning adrenal glands, etc. I went 6.5 years without a diagnosis and during that time I was mostly bedridden. Two years in, I began to draw as a therapy, because there was nothing else I was physically able to do.

If you haven’t read the story about how I became an artist through and despite of my illness, check out this blog post here that tells that story.

Below isn’t that same story about how I became an artist, it’s about what it’s like trying to keep my business going and growing despite my chronic illness and constant setbacks. It’s how I keep myself happy and moving forward despite being in constant pain. It’s how frustrating, depressing, and emotional it can be at times, but also how inspired, changed (for the better), and hopeful I am.


Please take a moment to read along, and share it with someone whom you think would benefit from it.


Always Needing A Backup Plan

My life is unpredictable. Some days I can function, at least for a while, like a normal human being. I have energy to go out and socialize, I have a fairly clear head and can hold an intelligent conversation, and I can look and act perfectly healthy. Other days, I’m in bed.

Fatigue, nausea, and migraines can overwhelm me at any moment, and they’re a constant threat. It’s like walking around with a cloud over your head that could pour down on you at any moment.

Because of this, I have to make back-up plans for everything. I land an interview with the local media? Great, but I make sure I don’t do anything the day before to help save my energy and then I prepare someone else to be able to be there and answer questions about me and my artwork in case I get taken over with a migraine and can’t do it. Opening reception? Awesome, but I make sure someone else drives me because I probably won’t be able to drive back at the end and I also make sure the venue knows there’s a chance I might have to send a proxy if my illness flares up.

I’ve learned over the last 8.5 years of being sick that I need to have a back-up plan ready for any situation I get into. This includes sitting at the back of an event if I suddenly have to leave, or having someone on speed dial in case I can’t drive myself back home.

I never know when I will feel well and when I will feel horribly sick.

The threat of being overwhelmed by a migraine or fatigue is always there, like a dark cloud hanging overhead.

Learning To Work Around My Illness

I used to really enjoy having a schedule. At school you have 1st period and then 2nd period, and everything in your day is planned out. You work on math, then science, then English, etc. Then I would have basketball practice, eat a snack, shower, and do homework. Every day had a specific schedule and you knew exactly what you were going to be doing.

After I became ill, I tried to do that same thing. I thought the only way I could be productive (especially after I started treatment and had a little more energy), was to schedule my day and week out and follow it.

Trouble is, my brain and my body don’t work like that anymore. Not even close.

I was getting so frustrated trying to stick to the schedule and failing on the first day. What was wrong with me? How could I be productive if I couldn’t even stick to a schedule for one day?

I was so frustrated and bogged down by that failure because it just didn’t make sense to me. Common sense says that the more you plan things out, the more efficient and productive you’ll be.

Common sense like that doesn’t work when you’re chronically ill.

It took me a long time to realize that I would be most productive if I just had a list of things I needed to do and worked on whatever struck me that day. Some days my brain, due to headache or brain fog or lack of sleep, just couldn’t focus on writing, or planning a reception, or marketing, so instead I would draw or do something else. Some days, drawing is like pulling teeth, so instead I move on to researching or working on the computer. And so on, and so on for all of my tasks.

I learned to adapt and tackle the tasks that my brain and body could handle, specific to each day.


Sometimes I Just Can’t

When I was healthy I had a “Type A” personality. I was efficient and I like to do things and do them well. I played 3 sports, I had a 4.0 GPA, and I was healthy and fit.

That’s why it was especially hard for me to accept not being able to do things after I became sick. At first I thought if I just pushed myself harder, I could get through it and get stuff done, which obviously made my health much worse instead.

It’s very common for people in the beginning stages of chronic illnesses to not understand their limitations and overdo, making themselves feel much worse.

This can also make you feel like you’re just not worthy of anything. You can’t do much, you keep messing up, you’re not productive or social or really adding to society in many ways. Those voices in your head keep putting you down, making you feel horribly guilty and worthless. It’s very common for people who are chronically ill to feel this way, and despite your best efforts to stay positive, some days it just overtakes you. It’s fine to let myself fall into this once in a while, but then I have to get up and move on and focus on the positive.

Now I’ve learned that there’s things I just can’t do. I can’t go hike a mountain or run 5 miles like I used to. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be somewhere or be able to go out and socialize. I can’t work on a deadline, and I’m very upfront about that with my clients because sometimes it’ll take me a week to complete a commission, and sometimes it will take over 2 months depending on how I’m feeling.

Learning to accept these limitations (and many more) has been one of the hardest parts about being sick.


Emotional Roller Coaster

I’ve been on treatment for the last 3 years and I’ve seen huge improvement overall in my health. I can drive some now, I don’t have a chronic debilitating migraine anymore, just a headache usually, my anxiety is somewhat better, I can go for walks and grocery shopping sometimes, etc.

So progress with my treatment has been positive and I’m able to do much more than I could a few years ago. However, there’s constant setbacks.

It seems if it’s not one thing, it’s another with me, and I know it can be like that for many people.

If I’m feeling better for a while, some other stress will occur, like financial stress, or family members in the hospital, and other life stresses. That’s life. But I also keep having health setbacks. For example, I was feeling really good (for me) a year ago and then moved into a new apartment. Gradually, I started feeling worse and worse, and we realized in the winter that there was mold on the windows and it was making us sick and causing all sorts of problems.

There are many examples of this. Another one is that as my energy returned when I started treatment, I started walking more and more. It was amazing being able to get out in the fresh air and move around, because I could barely do that for the 6.5 years before treatment. Then every time I went for a walk I would have excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. It was so bad I buckled over in the road and could barely get back home. Turns out I had cysts on my ovaries that were causing problems and I had to wait for them to resolve themselves, which took a year and a half. So much for my daily walk.

Being chronically ill is a huge roller coaster for your emotions, and the emotions of those closest to you. One day you’ll feel good and go for a walk or be productive and you’re like YES! things are happening and I’m getting better! Then the next day you have the worst migraine or fatigue you’ve had in months and you’re right back to feeling miserable.


Building A Business That Fits My Life

Working on a drawing/video during my good time when I can sit up at my drawing table.

You might be reading this and think, how the hell could someone in this type of situation start to build a business? It just doesn’t sound possible!

Building any business, even if you’re 100% healthy, is a crazy amount of hard work, stress, and frustration. Ask any artist you know and they’ll tell you that building a business based around their artwork is likely even harder. Now add the chronic illness and constant up and down and not knowing how much you can accomplish or being able to work on a deadline or necessarily show up for events, and the path to success gets especially tricky.

Like I said above, learning to work according to how I feel each day has been key. Sometimes a great opportunity will come along, and unfortunately I have to say no because I know it’s too much for me right now. But I’ve learned to accept some of my limitations and I constantly strive to find ways to build my business that accommodate my illness.

For example, passive income. If I can make a product, like a drawing, and then sell prints of that drawing, that’s fairly passive income because it doesn’t require a ton of energy from me, although it does require some. True passive income is more like creating a pdf tutorial, like this one for my African Elephant drawing, and selling it as a digital file. Once I’m done making the pdf, I upload it to my website and people can buy and download it on their own, with no more effort from me other than reaching out to see how they liked it.

If I can build products that don’t require ongoing energy from me, that’s the best way for me to grow my business.


Upcoming E-Book

Another way to create passive income is to write an e-book, which is something I’m in the process of doing right now. I know there are a lot of artists out there with either limited energy due to something like what I have, or just limited time because they have another full-time job, or kids, etc.

The e-book I’m writing is: How To Create An Art Business With Limited Time Or Energy.

Upcoming E-Book

This book will be available via Amazon and will go into detail about productivity, learning your work-type, adapting your business to your own personal situation, growing at a pace that makes sense for you, creating a community, enhancing your marketing, creating goals that are easier to achieve, and more.

If you think this book is something that will interest you, or someone you know, contact me and I can add you to my email list to let you know when it is released and exactly how to get it.


It’s Not All Bad

There’s been some surprisingly good things that have come out of my illness. One is my ability to adapt and take things as they come, one day at a time. Sometimes everything will still weight on me and I’ll have a day or two where I’m lost in desperation, worrying and feeling frustrated with my situation. But most days I know what’s in my control and what’s not, and I only focus on what is. If my body needs rest, I rest. If I can be productive, I’m thankful and do what I can.

Since I became sick in 2008, I’ve also become more empathetic. I’d say I’m a lot less self-centered than I was before and much more open to the people around me. I want to help people and make a difference as opposed to just thinking about my own success.

I’m also happier, which sounds crazy, right? How could I be happier when I can’t do half the things I used to love doing? Well, that part sucks no matter how you spin it, but I’m still really grateful for what I CAN do. I’m thankful for my supportive family and friends who have stuck by me, and it’s easier now to notice the little things in life. Right now I have my cat curled up next me and out the window I can see buds forming on the bushes and both of those things make me happy.

My very supportive family.

And last but not least, I discovered my interest in drawing. If I hadn’t gotten sick, I may never have started drawing. I may never have been an artist, or an inspirational speaker, or connect with any of the amazing creative people I’ve connected with. I never would have met my boyfriend, I probably wouldn’t have been an entrepreneur, and it’s possible I would have been doing a job that I didn’t love.

Not everything about this illness has been horrible. There’s certainly been a number of silver linings, and it’s focusing on those things that keeps me going and keeps me focused.

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Behind The Scenes Of The Jada Commission

I was recently asked to do a commission for a friend of their show dog, Jada, who passed away last year. Having met Jada, a black field spaniel, on a number of occasions and knowing how beautiful she was and her friendly, loving spirit, I was more than happy to take on that task!

Below is a behind-the-scenes look at how I drew this commission, including the difficulty of drawing black fur!


Line Drawing And Initial Strokes

As with every drawing I do, I began with a light line drawing in graphite. I do this in graphite so that I can easily erase the lines if I need to, to either fix a mistake or make sure they don’t show through the colored pencil layers when I draw over them.

I started with a line drawing in graphite and then sketched in the elements of the face.

After I finished the line drawing I started sketching out the elements of the face, such as the eyes, nose, and mouth. This way, even if my line drawing gets smudged or erased, I knew exactly where everything was.

I love drawing eyes, so that’s something I usually draw first in a drawing like this. Then I move on to the areas around the eyes and the rest of the face.


Initial Layers On The Face

The hardest part about this drawing is that the fur is black. Black fur is difficult because if you use too much black, it will come out looking flat and have no detail or depth. If you use too many other colors, the fur will look too light. I wanted to get the look of black, shiny fur.

Using a light under layer and grays and black on top, I started layering the face.

To get that look, I put down a layer of white in just the areas I knew had bright highlights. This included the upper and lower lips, around the eyes, part of the nose, and the eyebrows. Then I went over those areas with a medium gray.

I started layering the fur of the face with various grays and then added black on top, adding the black earlier to the darkest sections to map them out on the drawing.


Layering And Creating Highlighted Fur

As you can see below, I layered the fur from light to dark, with the darkest sections having mostly black, and the lighter sections having less black. Then I went back over some of the highlighted areas, like the bridge of her nose and eyebrows, with a light gray, keeping my strokes even with the ones underneath.

This technique blends the pencil some, and also adds that highlighted look to the fur.

As I went along, I also used a blending stump to help blend some of the color together. It can be difficult sometimes to blend black with anything else and not have it come out looking very flat, so I used the stump carefully, as though I was drawing more fur strokes with it, instead of blending them all together. With enough layers your blending stump has the potential to smear all of your strokes together and take away that detail of the fur. So I was selective where I used it and made sure to maintain those strokes.

I layered the fur from light to dark and then added light on top of the highlighted sections.


Drawing The Ears

The ears were one of the more challenging parts of this drawing. Black fur is a challenge. Long fur is a challenge. So when you add the two together, you have a double challenge!

The ear was a challenge, with the highlights and longer fur.

For the ears, I had my initial line drawing that mapped out the really distinct dark sections of them to begin with. Then I added a layer of white where there were the most highlights, so the majority of the left ear, and about half of the right ear.

After that I continued as I did on the face, layering up with grays and then adding black to the darkest areas. The only difference is that I used different strokes because it’s longer fur. So my strokes for the ears were looser, longer, and wavy.


Finishing The Drawing

The finished drawing of Jada, 11×14 inches big, in prismacolor pencils on mixed media board.

I did the same thing on the right ear as I did on the left, except that I added more highlights to the bottom half where the sun was hitting the ear, creating a shadow for the top half.

For finishing touches, I took out my handy x-acto knife and went back over the highlighted sections of fur and etched away the pencil color. This brought back the lighter under layers I had laid down there and allowed me to create fine details in the highlights. I went over the ears, the eyebrows, the lips, and around the eyes.

Then I took my light gray pencil and went back over those details to make them blend more with the rest of the drawing and added the background coloring you see above. I took a white pencil and went lightly over the eyes to create that sheen, and then took a blue pencil and added a little blue to the highlights on her face, because her fur was reflecting the sky.

The final image, matted and framed.

The client and I picked out the frame together, and now Jada has officially been delivered to her owner!


Prints and products of this piece will be available soon, so contact me if you’re interested!

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My New Fascination With Drawing On Wood

January has been the month of drawing on wood! In my last blog post, I talked about my first drawing that I’ve done on wood, the Kitten Heart, which is shown below. This was an experiment for a charity event being held at Rustic Roots during the month of February.

The finished drawing, with background.
The Kitten Heart drawing on wood.


My New Interest In Drawing On Wood

I was shocked at how well the colored pencil laid down on the wood grain. I thought it might be dull, or not adhere well to the wood, but I was wrong. I can’t get quite as much detail as I do on paper, mat board, or illustration board, and some of my techniques, like using an x-acto knife, are somewhat useless on wood, but I can still create a vibrant drawing.

Drawing this kitten was a great experiment and it showed me what could be done. Then I wanted to know if I could draw on other wood. I was bitten by the bug to experiment some more with this whole concept.

My Second Wood Drawing

My second drawing on wood was this loon colored pencil drawing. This is on a paddle-shaped coat hanger and was a commission for a summer rental cottage up in Craftsbury, VT called Great Hosmer Rentals.

The Loon coat rack commission drawing on wood.
The Loon coat rack commission drawing on wood.


This wood was much softer than the wood I used for the Kitten Heart drawing, so it was slightly more challenging. The pencil tips kept jolting into the deeper grooves and it was harder to make a line go in the direction I wanted. The color wasn’t quite as bright as I was hoping, but I still liked how it turned out, and so did the client so that’s all I can hope for!

My Third Drawing On Wood

After the Loon coat rack drawing, I went out to a store and bought a whole selection of different shapes of wood to draw on. My Third drawing, the Mandarin Duck shown below, is about 9 inches by 5 inches on wood. The drawing is finished and varnished, but I still need to urethane the wood.

Mandarin Duck drawing on wood.
Mandarin Duck drawing on wood.

The wood for this piece was harder and allowed me a little more detail. Water is always a bit challenging and the different colors of the feathers was difficult on the wood, but it was a fun drawing.

My Fourth Drawing On Wood

Now that I had a little taste of this type of wood, I took another piece that had a slightly different cut to it, and drew my next piece, the Tiger Eyes.

Tiger Eyes, in colored pencil on wood.
Tiger Eyes, in colored pencil on wood.

I love drawing eyes, especially cat eyes. This drawing was a lot of fun, and working on the wood to create a fur texture, without being able to use my x-acto knife, was a challenge. Usually I draw the eyes of a subject like this first, but this time I decided to draw the eyes last. I’m glad I did, because at the end the drawing was suddenly brought to life as the eyes were added.

My Fifth Drawing On Wood

Here’s the same type of wood, except with a different edge cut. The biggest challenge with this piece was (surprisingly) the background. I thought a simple background like this one would be fairly easy, but the wood grain made it difficult to get a smooth color.

Untitled (for now), in colored pencil on wood.
Untitled (for now), in colored pencil on wood.

My favorite part of this drawing, other than still feeling experimental because I’m still not used to drawing on wood, was the red feathers. I hardly ever get to use bright red! It’s very rare that I draw an animal that has red, especially bright red, as one of its colors. And it’s always fun to use colors I don’t normally use.

Pegs Or No Pegs?

Now the question comes, pegs or no pegs?

What do I mean by this?

Well, I bought these last three pieces of wood with the intention of making them into keychain holders, with pegs along the bottom to hang your keys by. Of course now that I’ve drawn them, I like them the way they are as well.

These pieces will be about $150-$200 each. This is much less than what a typical original drawing of mine costs. So the question is, should I leave them as strictly pieces of artwork, or should I make them artwork that also has a use?

This is still to be decided. I think I’ll do a little more experimenting and choose one to add pegs to and see how I feel about it when it comes to the others and future pieces!

Do you have an opinion about it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Behind The Scenes Of The Kitten Heart – My First Drawing On Wood

The finished drawing.
The finished drawing on wood.


The Kitten Heart is officially my first drawing completed in 2017, and the first time I’ve done a drawing on wood!

In December I was contacted by Rustic Roots in Shelburne, VT about a call to artists for their first annual Heart Show. They were looking to get a bunch of artists together to create artwork on wooden hearts to exhibit in February 2017, and were wondering if I’d be interested in participating.


Exhibit For A Cause

One of the special things about this exhibit is that there will be an auction for the artwork, and the proceeds will be split between the artists and Spectrum Youth & Family Services! For those of you who don’t know, Spectrum is a great organization in the Burlington, VT area helping at-risk youth in a number of ways. Through their programs Spectrum helps teenagers and young adults and their family members find housing, get meals, learn life skills, get counseling and mentorship, and much more.

Those pieces of artwork that don’t sell in the auction will be on display throughout the months of February and March at Rustic Roots and for sale for $75 a piece!


Experimenting With Drawing On Wood

Rustic Roots provided all the participating artists with the laser-cut wooden hearts in December, and we have January to create our piece.

At first I wasn’t sure about the wood surface because I’ve never used my preferred medium, colored pencil, on wood before. So, assuming it wouldn’t work that well, I cut used the wooden heart as a stencil and cut out a piece of illustration board to fit and was going to use spray adhesive to attach the illustration board to the wood and draw on that. However, I then decided to make a few pencil marks on the wood to test it out.

Surprisingly (to me anyway!), the pencil strokes showed up great on the wood, so I decided I’d start drawing my piece and if it turned out well, great! If it didn’t turn out well, I knew I could still adhere my illustration board to the wood and draw it on there.


Starting The Drawing

Initial line drawing.
Initial line drawing.

Like with any other drawing, I started with a simple line drawing to map out the subject on the drawing surface. I chose a kitten because they’re extremely popular, and I love drawing them! My reference photo is by a woman named Nadine Thome, from a free reference photo site.

Also, I knew the ears of a cat would lend themselves to the heart shape of this drawing!


Adding Color

Starting to map out areas with my white colored pencil, and work on the eyes.
Starting to map out areas with my white colored pencil, and work on the eyes.

I then used the line drawing as a reference so I could start adding some white with my colored pencils to areas I knew I wanted to keep white, like the whiskers. I was surprised at how well the color laid down on the wood surface, and how bright it still was. My fear was that it would either be too dull, or the sharp pencil would start digging away parts of the wood in splinters. Neither ended up being much of a problem.

Next was the eyes and nose.
Next was the eyes and nose.

The eyes are my favorite part of drawing cats, so I did that early on. I did this because I knew if the eyes didn’t turn out well on the wood, then I’d scrap it and work on illustration board instead.

Truth be told I couldn’t get quite as much detail or as many layers down as I usually do, but I still liked the result and therefore kept going!


Working On The Fur

Adding the white under layer of fur.
Adding the white under layer of fur.

This kitten has white and grey fur with grey striping, so my underlayer was white. My Then I went over sections of it with the various greys to add the fur details, trying not to lose my whiskers in the process.

Each stroke in this part of the drawing is like it’s own piece of fur. You have to draw the fur in the right directions, with the right length of stroke to make it look realistic, even in the first layer. Thanks to having drawn a few cats in the past, this process is becoming somewhat quicker for me than it used to be.

Adding the greys to get the depth of fur and the patterns.
Adding the greys to get the depth of fur and the patterns.


Finishing The Drawing

The finished kitten, with no background.
The finished kitten, with no background.

This is where I started to question myself. I kept flipping back and forth in my mind with, should I add a background or should I leave it the way it is?

I brought the dilemma to social media and received many comments about what I should do. Of course, everyone had a different opinion, some thinking I should definitely leave it the way it was, and some saying it looked unfinished and that it needed a background!

So I decided two things: 1.) I was going to add a background. 2.) When I make prints of this piece available, they will be available in BOTH ways, with the background and with the wood background.

I added a background because I wanted to make the kitten pop. I also knew that when I went to varnish it, the wood might soak up the varnish in a different way than I was used to, so I wanted the whole surface covered to make sure it would varnish evenly.

The finished drawing, with background.
The finished drawing on wood, with background.


Varnish & The Finished Product

Usually I use a satin finish or a matte finish for my colored pencil drawings, because they’re already shiny and I like how it evens out the wax shine. However, for this one I wanted to use a glossy varnish. So I bought some acrylic glossy varnish and sprayed the final drawing. You can see more detail of the gloss and the finished piece below, that a still photo has trouble capturing.


This piece will be on display in February at Rustic Roots in Shelburne, VT! Don’t forget to check it out!