Monday, August 4, 2014

The Angel Portrait Project: Comfort to Those Who Mourn

This is a project I have been really excited about.  I'm really happy to finally get to share it with you all.  I have been so grateful and happy with the success my little illustration business has had.  I'm super busy and it's really great.  But, I have been really searching for a way to give back and show my love for those around me within my crazy schedule.  Visiting hospitals and soup kitchens would be wonderful, but it's really difficult to do with a toddler and everything else.   SO, I had a little bit of inspiration and decided I could still find a way to serve others and show my love.

The Angel Portrait Project. I have always had a extra soft spot for those families who have experienced the loss of a child.  This project is my way to give comfort, support and love to those who mourn. My hope is that these portraits will be cherished for years to come by these families and let them know they are thought of and loved.   I have donated paintings in the past of children who have passed to be used in their funerals and it meant so much to them that it made me want to help out even more. I have heard from friends that have lost a child that their biggest fear is that their child will be forgotten.  These portraits will help each of these little angels be remembered forever in a unique and special way.

I will be giving custom portrait paintings for free to families who have lost a child in the past 3 years between the ages of 1-10.  I will be starting with 30 portraits and see what happens.  Each portrait will be in an illustrative style and include a special item, place, or activity that was precious to that child or their families. 

But I need your help guys.  I need to spread the word to find these families who could use a little extra love.  I'm hoping you can share this however you can so it can reach the right people.  Share this image with someone you think might appreciate this and have them email me with "The Angel Portrait Project in the subject line:

See some examples of how the portraits would look below.

All my love,

Friday, August 1, 2014

Being a Mom and an Artist: Schedules

I have had two major dreams in my life. More like my two purposes in life. One was to be a wife and mother. A full time mother. I knew if I had children I wanted to be there to raise them each day. This isn't the only successful way to parent of course but I felt strongly about it. The other dream was to be an artist. To create images that are moving and inspiring to someone. For the first time, I feel as if I am finally fulfill both of my dreams. Motherhood is my priority so I have had to make my art career fit in. I'm sure my path is different then it would have if I chose not to have a family but, I'm really happy with where the path has taken me. Both of these dreams take a huge amount of energy, education and most of all--TIME. I get asked often what my schedule is or HOW I get everything done.
First off, I don't get everything done. My yard is not immaculate. I don't have a perfect manicure all the time (or ever). But, this is the schedule I have found that works for me so I can succeed at the two most important things in my life. I hope this can give anyone else who dreams of being a mom and have a passion for something else an idea of how it can work. It takes discipline and doing lots of things even when I'm tired, but it makes me happy and fulfilled to accomplish a day like the following. It doesn't happen everyday-- but probably 75 percent of the time. I also have a babysitter come 2-3 times a week for two hours at 10:00 am so I can get an extra couple hours of work in. This helps!

  • 6:30 -- Wake with baby, breakfast along with scripture study 
  • 7:00 -- Clean up, 1 hour of house chores while LouLou wonders around and plays-- ie clean kitchen if it didn't happen the night before, laundry, vacuum, etc.
  • 8:00 -- Walking/exercising with LouLou and dogs 
  • 9:00 -- Reading books, doing flashcards, listening to classical music with LouLou 
  • 10:00 -- Shower, Dress, hair/ make up. I usually do this while LouLou is watching an episode of "Baby Signing Time" (the BEST videos for babies and toddlers-- she has learned SO many signs, lots of language building.) 
  • 11:00 -- Lunch 
  • 12:00 -- LouLou Naps, I paint as hard and fast as I can.
  • 3:00 -- LouLou wakes, I play/watch her. If the weather is good we go to the park or the pool.
  • 5:00 -- Make dinner 
  • 6:00 -- Husband comes home, have dinner and we all hang out. 
  • 7:00 -- Matt puts LouLou to bed while I clean up dinner 7:30 -- I start painting. I will usually do some emailing/networking/ blogging at this time while I'm hanging out with Matt but I do get the majority of my art done at night. 
  • 11:00 -- Bed, unless it's a project with a deadline or I'm on a role then I might stay up till 1:00, but then the next day starts later and I'm more tired so I try not to do that often. 
And the best part about being a mother and a creative?  Both endeavors inspire the other.  My creativity inspires me to be a better mother and my baby inspires my art work. 

What schedules work for you? I would love to hear any thoughts or ideas!  Happy creating and mothering.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Art Series: "Let's"

It's a new art series!  I hope you love it as much as I do.  I think it's my favorite.  This "Let's" series was inspired by the woods out my back door and all the woodland creatures I see each day.  I imagined a series where children and these creatures were interacting in inspiring and sweet ways.  Sizes available of Giclee prints are are 5x7, 8x10, and 11x14.  Check out my shop to purchase the series!  Available without text as well.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Double Trouble

It's been a crazy couple of weeks. A new puppy makes everything cuter-- but much more hectic. Also, let's not forget the puppy potty training. It's can be -- well, let's say it definetly is-- extremely frustrating. 

Add to that my crazy desire to potty train my 19 month old? The Murdock house is a potty training mess. 

I vowed long ago to never make a single post anywhere about potty training when I became a mom. But, this is off the charts. 

A normal mom would happen upon a puddle of pee and know right what to do.  I have to figure out which species of oee it is before I can take and disciplinary action. 

A normal mom could say "go potty" and not accidentally set the puppy off on the dining room carpet. 

A normal mom would care if their child went pee in the backyard. I count the backyard as fair game for potty training at this point. I mean, my daughter has been hearing me tell the puppy to go potty outside for 2 weeks so it only seems fair.

My day today consisted of holding Beatrice, the puppy in my lap (so she wouldn't get away and go potty on the carpet) while sitting on the floor next to my daughter who was sitting on her little potty. We read about 30 books. 

My poor husband watched everyone while I slept in on Saturday morning. The first thing he said when I came down "Hello beautiful, I have cleaned up 5 pee spots and I'm not sure whose they were". What a trooper. 

Anyway, after making a few adjustments in both the puppy and the child training routines, things are progressing. I just don't have a lot of spare time to blog.

This photo shows LouLou going commando in the backyard with the dogs following her. I'm probably begging the puppy to go potty at this moment. My life right now. 


Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Dog and a Derby

A new puppy! Meet Beatrice, the newest member of the Murdock family! Bea is the sweetest most laid back puppy I have ever seen and I'm dying over the cuteness.  I have been searching for a fur sister to Winifred and this girl showed up unexpectedly. Her daddy is a champion and has almost all champions in his lines and her mama has lots of great champions as well. She has a long pedigree of healthy and beautiful dogs.  We are so excited about her! 

I have been working like crazy on art commissions and sales, and with a new puppy and a 19 month old daughter you can imagine how hectic it gets. Here are some pics of what's been going on! 

Oh we also went to the Kentucky Derby. Um, you guys. So fun. Amazing weather, fabulous fashion, great company and I picked the Derby winner! 

This face! 

Lots of work in the studio. 

First meeting!! Happy happy happy! 

We do like to play around here. This is us Driving to the Kentucky Derby! 

At the derby! 

The hat! This was small in comparison to what was there. 

Matt takes this betting thing very seriously ;) 

A shot of the paddock where they walk the horses. It's packed! But you can see some fancy hats. 

Hope you all have a great weekend. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter: Free Printable

Happy Easter this Sunday everyone! I'm so excited for my second favorite holiday of the year.   I drew this from a slightly random piece of inspiration.  I have always been just a tad bit intimidated by drawing or paining Jesus Christ.  But I just decided to go for it.  I was actually happily surprised with how my first try came out.  This version of Christ is just about exactly how I imagine Him.  Calm, peaceful, dignified, and of course -- spending time with children.  I have this print in my kitchen and it brings a special Easter cheer each time we see it.

I was going to go into all my feelings about Easter and the back story on this drawing, but I decided I did not want to let that all get in the way of this simple and sweet artwork.  I just hope it speaks for itself.  I hope you enjoy this free 8x10 printable (no watermark or copyright symbol).  It is also available as a fine art giclee print in my shop.

Download file WITH text here

Download file withOUT text here.

Happy Easter! I hope we can all truly remember the love, and hope this holiday brings.

P.S.  The color looks a little off when viewed in google drive but looks fine when viewed in the PDF format. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

How To Keep Your Teen Interested in Art

I has a friend ask how to help keep her tween interested in his art assignments. I started a lengthy email back and realized it would make a great post for all my readers.

Visual art -- like any of the arts -- can sometimes seem boring and difficult. Especially in our culture filled with interactive screens, and plethora of instant gratification

There are a few common problems I have seen that come up when teaching older kids and teens art. Some of these (and some ideas to combat them) are below.

1.  "I just don't care about art"
Even though this is like a dagger in the heart for me, I can understand why kids feel this way.  I thought football was extremely boring until my husband helped me gain some background in it.  Now I see how it's fun! Here are some ideas to help your child care a bit more. 

--Art museum trips. Now, you have to be thoughtful when you take an art newbie to an art museum. Have a time limit (probably about 45 minutes) and only see the top 5-8 best works of art in the museum. Nothing is more boring to a teen then wandering mindlessly through a museum they don't care about with their mother. So choose really spectacular pieces to see and understand their story before you get there so you can explain really interesting and engaging things about them. Also, LEAVE before the newbie gets tired or bored. Then make a fun date out of it and get brunch, have a picnic, or stop for that child's very favorite treat. This will all help instill great feelings about art. 

--Have good quality art books around. Be sure to choose art books that are engaging to the age your child is. I LOVED the Norman Rockwell books my mom had in her studio and read, looked at and copied from those books for hours as a kid. Did I look at the Rembrandt books? Not really. But now his work is my favorite. Pollock and  Kandinsky probably won't be interesting to your child either (or anyone really for that matter) so don't bore them from the beginning.  Having these available and talking about the stories / artistic choices in the paintings will help spark their interest.

--Have choices and make the art choice seem more interesting. Ok, so your teen is resisting working on their art project? Tell them they can either do the dishes or draw. Let them know that their Shakespeare essay is waiting for them if they don't want to work on their art appreciation lesson. MOST kids will choose art over many things.  I sure started caring more about piano when my choice was piano or cleaning the house.

--Choose works of art for your child to study that could be interesting to them specifically.
If you have a girl who loves romantic or princess things, you might want to share with her the romantic and narrative works of Waterhouse,  or Edwin Austen Abbey.  Don't share David's Napoleon or war paintings. If you have a boy who really likes to figure things out, maybe share some paintings that have great details to understand or stories relevant to boys like works by Norman Rockwell, or J.C. Leyendecker.  Trying to get that boy to really love the color choice that Renoir uses in his ballet paintings isn't going to work so well.   Some kids love the story behind the paintings too.  If your kid like history, choose an artwork that has really interesting stories surrounding it and tell the story while the child works on drawing or painting. Many paintings have historical significance or interesting details about how their were done.  Lots of these stories can be found by just searching the good old internets.  Once they show interest in some aspect of an artist push it! Don't worry about other art for now.  Eventually they will be open to expanding their horizons a bit.  

2. "I just can't draw"
My biggest pet peeve is when people say they can't draw and they can only draw stick figures. It's probably the number one thing people say to me when they hear I'm an artist. Well, of course you can't draw if you have never practiced. Would you expect to pick up a violin with no lessons and spontaneously start playing a Paganini Caprice? No. Drawing is not some special, magical talent some are born with and others are not. It's a skill that needs to be learned, and developed just like any other skill. Some people do tend to pick it up quicker (just like some kids pick up how to kick a soccer ball a little faster then others) but that doesn't mean that others can't keep learning and getting better too. I have seen so many artists improve drastically with correct training and lots of practice. Everyone can draw if they learn how.

3. "Art is boring and has too much detail"
 Some kids rush through their art assignments simply to get through it. Of course this will cause sloppy work. Some ideas to help prevent this are: 

--Set a timer for each step.  Don't allow moving on to the next step until the timer is up and the step is complete. Sitting there staring at their page will get boring if they rush through the step and most kids will learn to slow down a little. 

-- Focus on one skill. Many times a child is overwhelmed by art assignments that are too difficult for their level. Step back and ask "is trying to get my 12 year old to replicate a painting by Matisse just too much?" Yes, it most likely is. There are so many difficult skills that are involved it is helpful to break it down. Focus on brush work -- fill a page with the same brush strikes Mattise used. Or focus on color. Spend the assignment just mixing up the same colors he used. Color matching is fun and surprisingly takes more time and skill then you think. But mainly, I would focus on ONLY drawing with ANY beginner. Asking a beginner artist to do anything else before becoming at least decent at drawing is like asking a horse to jump before it's learned to walk. Not going to be pretty.

-- Add a little competition. 
When teens get bored sometimes they need things to get a little more real. Maybe they won't be so sloppy and uncaring if they have a sibling or a friend who they are competing against for a prize. One of my art teachers awarded a prize to the best sketch done at home each week. We would put all our drawings up on the board for everyone to see and she would grade each drawing in front of everyone and award the prize. Oh man. My every thought throughout the week was how to get my drawing to be chosen as the winning drawing.  Competition is a great motivator sometimes.

4.  "I'm never going to use art--it won't be my career-- so why should I learn about it?"

Well, it is true that there aren't many professions that will expect you to know how to layer oil paints versus watercolors, or expect you to know why the Mona Lisa was significant. But, you can help your teen understand that being an overall cultured person will help them significantly in their quality of life. Being well versed in the arts will help develop friendships, help in having quality conversations with other intelligent and cultured people, and can help determine what significant relationships will happen in your life. What intelligent, high quality, educated person wants to spend their life with someone who can only talk about sports, and daytime television?  I would argue that being an accomplished, well-rounded and cultured person is more important than learning just one single technical skill.  That's the whole idea behind a liberal-arts education.

And my last piece of advice-- Always end on a good note!  If your child seems excited and happy about their work (even if just for a second) stop right there.  Don't let them continue. Ending on good feelings will hold over to your next lesson and is worth much more then a fully finished drawing.  Pushing to the point of frustration and tears means you might have done a bit too much.

Do you have any ideas on how to help your child appreciate art or do better with their artwork? Or any questions?  I'd love to hear them!