Sometimes Even an Artist Needs Inspiration



I checked this amazing book out of the library the other day. Full of inspiration, techniques, art projects and ideas, it’s given me new inspiration to get back to work. I have always struggled with pastels, but in a little over 15 minutes this first sample project came out pretty good I think. Most of what I have learned as an artist I learned at my art desk from books. I have a great colored pencil book and a watercolor book as well that I have used for years to study from.


What do you do to stay inspired?



Two Books That Changed My Life

I read both of these books before I was 21.


The first I read in fourth grade. Sasha, My Friend by Barbara Corcoran. This book is about a little girl who moves to Montana with her dad after her mom dies in a car crash. They live on a Christmas tree farm in Northwest Montana. After reading this book, I decided I was going to move to Montana. All through High School I received Montana Magazine in the mail and although I can’t say I ever read any of the articles, I devoured the pictures. When I was 21 I moved to Missoula to attend the University of Montana. My junior year, I got a job for a private contractor planting trees for the USFS. I met my husband on a mountain and the rest is history. Coincidentally we live on 20 acres of Christmas Trees less then 50 miles from where Hallie the girl in Sasha My Friend lives in Montana…


Washington Square Press [Pocket Books]  1987

The second book was Laura Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe.  This biography not only introduced me to one of the greatest artists of all time, but Georgia’s move across the country to Texas and then eventually Sante Fe, not only inspired me to move out west but gave me the courage to do it. I left for Montana less then a year after reading this novel.

How to brighten a painting to look like the original?


Do you ever get frustrated when things don’t go how you want them to?

I usually say there are just computer challenges, no computer problems but this summer has been this motto has been harder then usual to keep. Today, I found myself at my art desk, starting a new old project. I thought I’d figured out the solution but it wasn’t working either.
Then I broke out my computer to see if I could figure out how to brighten a photo of a painting I took so it would look bright like the original painting when I printed my notecards. I think I might have brightened it up a little but I still feel like the greens are just too dark and not like the bright lime greens of the original painting.


I also can’t seem to figure out how to make my jpegs rotate in wordpress. Even if I rotate the image in iPhoto or Preview, when I upload it to wordpress it still shows up vertical instead of horizontal.
Ohhh maybe time to go back to bed? Or back to the drawing board…


The Saavy Painter

Wow, found a great new podcast to listen to. The savvy painter. She rocks with great interviews and inspiration for building your platform and creating a growing business out of the work that you love.

I have only listened to a few episodes so far.


Duane has some great pointers for reaching out to people on the internet and building a tribe that enjoys your work and giving them access to your work.

Two weeks since my last post!

OK, well the biggest lesson I learned if I make a challenge to write 10 blog posts and post them every 3 days is I better write them first. Haha. Well I have 9 days left to write 6 more posts I think, so I still have a bit of time. I also think that I need to make a better estimate of what I can get done while working full time.


Some other challenges that have got in my way these last two weeks. I can’t seem to update any changes on my website I created with iWeb. I remember someone from Godaddy telling me they didn’t think iWeb was supported anymore and I am wondering if this has finally come into effect for me an I have to redo my whole site. I am avoiding this thought as I can’t imagine having to redo all of that work, but I suppose it’s a possibility. Maybe the next site will go faster?


I am also still trying to learn how to put an email capture form up on my WordPress blogs. I think perhaps I am going to have to buy a hosting site? Or maybe I just need to call Godaddy support? I have an account with them. I don’t know. It all seems much more complicated then I expected. And I have watched several videos etc. I have learned a lot about other topics for future reference but I still haven’t solved this problem on my blog itself.


I have done a lot of reading. Thanks to Stephen King’s On Writing I don’t feel guilty about this at all. I actually feel like this is the best thing for me to do. He has a schedule he keeps where he writes 2o00 words each day no matter how long it takes. The rest of the day is spent reading. Since I am working full time, there are lots of days where the only energy I have left is to read so I feel like if I read on those days and other days when I am in the writing mode and can write 2000-5000 words in a day, that works best for me. Perhaps it’s an excuse not to be as disciplined as some but it works for me right now.


I think I had a bit of impostor syndrome creep in as well. I feel like I constantly hear people say “You need to add value” in order to build a following, and I wondered what value I am really offering. I guess eventually following my journey might add some value to your life. I hope so anyway.


Do you ever get impostor syndrome? How do you overcome it? What challenges have you succeeded in and what ones have made you feel like you met your match? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Jones Beach with my nieces.

When at the beach this summer on Father’s Day with my brother’s family, my niece said to me, “What’s that?” when I was writing in my journal. I thought haven’t you ever seen a real journal before? How can that be? I have over 40 of them at least. I realized that one of my special skills is describing things in a visual way with lots of details to capture a moment.

A lot of times, my sketches in my journal provide valuable images for a final product and can enhance a photograph’s limitations when expressing the mood. One example of this is my Glacier Park Bear Notecards I made last summer. I took lots of pictures of the lake, but it was my journal entry from my first day there that helped me capture the essence of the sun hitting the lake and the young couple in love on the bench.

IMG_0023  DSCN5030 DSCN5032IMG_0022



Publisher’s Weekly’s Children’s Bookshelf

Well, today, all I have is a suggestion that you subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly’s Children’s Bookshelf email. The best way to stay updated on what’s going on in children’s book industry is by reading what Publisher’s Weekly has to say. This has to be one of the most valuable resources and informative newsletters that is available for any niche across the board.

Do you subscribe to publisher’s weekly? Is there a resource you can recommend? How to stay up-to-date on the industry?

SCBWI meetup

Napoleon Hill’s masterpiece Think and Grow Rich outlines the 13 steps successful people follow to grow their legacy. Among the steps is to belong to a mastermind group that works with you to help you achieve your goals. Jim Collins also talks about this principle in his book Good to Great, describing the process of selecting the right people for your team before moving forward as a common characteristic of great leaders.

When I was recently in New York, I tried to connect with a variety of networks. I attended several local Toastmaster meetings, I met with an online study group each morning before work, and I researched different writing groups of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Although only one SCBWI group fell within my schedule, I did find one other author/illustrator to meet up with.

It was one of the best things I ever did. I learned so much from her experiences. Best of all was meeting someone so much like me. We had so many things in common. I really enjoyed our time together. We made simple concrete goals to move our projects forward and it was nice to talk about the challenges of completing our goal, the successes and to have someone else sincerely interested in our work.

Here is a great post on how to find the people you need to start your mastermind.

Do you belong to a mastermind? If so how did you begin and where did you find your fellow master minders?

A Baker’s Dozen of My Favorite Career Books

  1.  Hitting Your Stride by Nan Russell is a great book about leveraging your strengths at your job in order to create positive changes and find fulfilling work. By bringing your best self to your organization you are helping everyone succeed. Full of actionable steps that you can take and implement will help you start seeing results immediately.
  2.  Platform Get Noticed in a Noisy World: A Step-by-step Guide For Anyone With Something To Say or Sell by Michael Hyatt. This book is essential for developing your online presence. Start with the Wow factor and then learn how to build an internet audience. Michael is an inspirational leader who shares his knowledge of publishing and management in his podcast This is Your Life, another amazing resource.
  3.  Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki is one of my all time favorites. I read this over and over several times a year. The lessons in this book are invaluable to anyone who wants to control their financial bottom line, and learn how cashflow works. Everything from understanding taxes to creating jobs Kyosaki will change how you think about money forever.
  4. The Live Your Legend Workbook by Scott Dinsmore. I count this because as soon as I downloaded the book and saw the cover I said, I’m already ½way there, as it was a picture of my everyday life. Scott’s email and blog post about when it’s time to quit, cemented the idea as well because for two years, I had been saying, I never want to be my boss. I had read Seth Godin’s The Dip several times and still went back and forth debating, is success just around the corner or is it time to pivot? Forcing myself to find accountability allies was as helpful as creating actionable goals with deadlines and putting them all together in one place.
  5. The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction To Life by Noah Lukeman. This is essential for any writer. Lukeman’s character sketches will give your work a whole new dimension. This is one you will want to buy and refer to every time you start a chapter book.
  6. On Writing by Stephen King. I never felt so much like a real author until I read this. I found that I already have a lot of the habits of a successful writer, (except the courage to submit at this time – haha) and so when I am ready, I should be able to create a strong career. His simple challenge to write 2000 words every day and the knowledge that a novel should take roughly 3 months or a season for the first draft made everything so much more palpable. It didn’t seem like some long lost dream, but a project with a deadline and actionable steps to complete.
  7. You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction–from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between by Lee Gutkind is also full of great action steps, writing exercises, and concrete insights on writing creative non-fiction and the genre as a whole.
  8. The Martha Rules by Martha Stewart is where I first heard the saying, Write the book you want to read. This motto plays through the back of my head constantly. What do I want to know? What have I learned? What can I share?
  9. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This book was originally going to be titled: The Thirteen Steps to Riches. Personally I prefer that name myself. Napoleon Hill spent 25 years researching hundreds of successful people and created a list of principles that he believed could easily be replicated by anyone.
  10. The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. This is also essential so just buy it, and maybe a copy or two for some friends. This book has expanded my network more then any other. Not only does it help you find like minded friends on the internet, but it will also give you actionable challenges to meet each day. I have learned so much from completing different tasks he gives from contacting a famous person to tips on how to place a successful bid on Priceline.
  11. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey has great strategies to improve your performance and effectiveness in both professional and personal relationships. I found them beneficial as soon as I would implement them especially the chapter on how to form a proactive response which helps you take control of your present and  future.
  12. Fish Philosophy! by Stephen Lunden, Harry Paul, and John Christensen is a great read for any work situation. These entrepreneurs have mastered the philosophy of creating the best attitude no matter where you work and how to motivate anyone. I read this during a leadership class and feel it’s effects each and every day. Learn how to use the four basic principles (choose your attitude, play, be present, and make their day) to create a world class business.
  13. Refuse to Choose: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the LIfe and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher came to me at the perfect time. Although I am not particularly happy about her “scanner” term she uses to describe someone like me, who has lots of interests but her idea to put it altogether in one scrapbook/journal or as she calls it “Scanner Daybook” is amazing. Having everything in one place has made everything come together for me and help me focus on the overall goals I need to keep in mind in order to move forward. It’s almost impossible to believe I didn’t always have this essential book as part of my life. I’m still trying to come up with a better name then ‘scanner’ though…haha.

If you’re looking for a resource of great business books, look no further then John Lee Dumas’ recommended book list of books the entrepreneurs he interviews suggest. What books have influenced your career and life? I’m always looking for more content to consume.

Build Your Platform TODAY!


As an aspiring artist/author/illustrator everyone needs a platform today. Having an internet presence is essential for any creative professional, but it doesn’t have to be fancy or scary at first. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either! Once you have your basics started I can’t recommend enough Michael Hyatt’s book Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World: A Step-by-step Guide For Anyone With Something To Say or Sell to learn how to grow your platform and even help you complete some of these basic steps.

Step one.    Establish an email address just for contacts. If you can get your that is probably best, but you can use a business or nickname as well. It’s best to keep it simple.

Step two. Create a wordpress blog. I say wordpress because this has been recommended to me the most. I had my blog and website for two years and never got one follower. At wordpress you get new followers almost every time you add a new post. For example, when I posted the 30 day challenge I had 6 likes in less then 24 hours?! I don’t understand how it works or how people find me to follow but it is amazing. The idea of getting 10,000 followers will feel palpable once you post regularly for a few months. And It’s Free! There are lots of tutorials on how to create your own wordpress blog. Here is a link to Michael Hyatt’s tutorial. You can add pages to your wordpress blog and have samples of your work etc all here until you’re ready to expand to a full blown website.

Step Three. Create an email capture page. Use MailChimp for free or Aweber for a small monthly fee. Your email list is your most valuable ASSET. These are people who are interested in your product or service enough that they have invited you into their inbox. They believe that you are adding significant value to their lives and giving you their time to read what you have to share. Make sure you respect this privilege by creating actionable content that improves your tribe’s lives if you want to see your success soar!

Step Four. Define your AVATAR. This is your ideal client. Is it a reader? a viewer? a listener? How old are they? What do they do for a living? Are they married? Do they have kids? Why do they like your product or service? What do they use it for? What need is being met? Be SPECIFIC. Niche it down to the most basic detail. Try to describe this person in 500 words. Who is the most ideal person that you would like to find your website? The best resource for defining your Avatar is at John Lee Dumas’ site. It’s a mere $7.00 and you will reap the benefits of knowing who your “ideal reader” is, as Stephen King refers to him. You will refer back to your avatar over and over when you make decisions for your business, and knowing your avatar can help you with those difficult choices.

Step Five. Create 5 blog posts. Yes, Five. The first one might take a day or even a week, but then the next one should be easier and shortly you should be able to create 5 blog posts in a day. You don’t have to post any of them, but get 5 ready. You might come back to these at a later time, but you might just move foward. Decide how often you plan to post and commit to that. Maybe you want to post everyday, but I think once a week is plenty. You might decide once a month is enough and you might choose 3 times a week. You can always increase later. The biggest thing is being consistent, something I desperately need to work on, which is part of why I made the 30 day challenge, hoping it will build a habit. Remember, once people find you they will probably go back and read some earlier posts so it’s important to get content building. I also know people who do well with blogs that consist of simply posting an original illustration.

Step Six. Create a minimal viable product (mvp). This can be as simple as a pdf file or a short eBook that people can download in return for their email address. It took me over a year to create this and I still don’t have it posted, but start thinking about it and rolling ideas over in your head. When it’s ready, add it to your email capture. I am STILL working on this. I don’t know why it is so hard for me?

Step Seven. Create a Facebook Page for your business. Plan to post here daily if possible for a month. Simple little valuable content with pictures if possible. This is probably one of the easiest tasks to complete.

Step Eight. Create a Twitter account. If possible, start tweeting with family. Also, start following some topics you’re interested in. This is where I would recommend reading Gary Vanyerchuck’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. It’s one you might choose to read again and again. Its known as the  Social Media 301 textbook, and for someone who still struggles to understand twitter and/or pinterest it’s very helpful. I was listening to John Lee Dumas talk about how he finally got twitter. It was after an earthquake and he wanted the most up-to-date information possible. When he realized twitter was the answer, he started going there for more information. I find when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, etc, this is a good time to check out my twitter feed. I’m kinda starting to get it …

Now Breathe! 

And then get ready for more!

Eventually you will probably want a YouTube account, a Pinterest page and to join Instagram among other social media venues. You may begin to hold google hangouts, create a podcast or videocast, start posting guest blogposts, join a mastermind, and so much more.

Found this great blog post on why you need a Platform this morning: