I must read this– and that– and this!

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The Half frame003binternet is a lot like impulse buying.

You find yourself inundated with articles you didn’t know you needed to read, things you didn’t know you needed to look at, videos you didn’t know you needed to watch, and arguments you didn’t know it was important to dedicate three hours responding to.

Sometimes you just need to let it all slide by and live life.
It’s enough. Continue reading

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Announcing Hearthside Studio!

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I kinda forgot to announce this, but…. I’ve switched my blog over. This is now “The Songbird’s Pencil”, dedicated to my more thoughtful, non-business related writings. My art and studio stuff will go on Hearthside Studio…..and I’m excited. So, come see me!

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No Rules, No Art

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Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.

G.Carl OstersetzerK. Chesterton wrote that, and he was right. If we don’t have a standard by which we measure what we see and create, we have no right to call a masterfully executed painting ‘art’ and that overflowing trash can ‘not art’. If there is no limitation, you cannot call one thing beautiful and another ugly. You have no point of reference for discerning between the good and the evil. I read this article a while back, and it really stuck with me. The author, Zach Franzen (himself an illustrator), talks about many artists in our modern day– who set themselves up as the standard for beauty, and expect their audience to bow to their definition. Why is that garbage can, littering the sidewalk with noxious refuse, art? Because I said so. Because I decide my own limits, or lack thereof.

“No limits!” sounds like a battle cry of freedom– when really it is a declaration of slavery. 

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And the Lord answered my prayer

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Ilya Galkin

{Artist: Ilya Galkin}

My Lord is so kind.
I’ve been working on a project, an illustrating/handlettering set for friends. We went over and over different designs. Days were spent trying to perfect one concept after another, only for us to come to the end and decide that they weren’t right after all.

Time was running out yesterday afternoon. Schedules were packed, and  yet this important project was getting nowhere. One more design was set forward for drafting.

I started praying over it as I bent over my paper once again. ‘Lord, please, please, guide my pencil and help us find the right one soon…’

Rejoice evermore.

Pray continually.

 In all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.”

-1 Thessalonians 16-18

Henriette Browne

artist: Henriette Browne

I was about a third done with the concept draft when plans were changed again. Time had run out: we were just going to settle for a ‘meh’ design that no one was particularly excited about.

“O.K.,” I replied, laughing to ease the stressed nerves between everyone. “No worries.”
Just for the sake of it, I sent a photo of the design I had been working on. “I’ll stop this and work on the  new one.”

“Wait. Hold on.”

Guess what? That prayed-over, last-resort design was EXACTLY what my friend had in mind originally.

 

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The Industrious Hedgehog (& co.) returns

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While working through possible-card-designs, a family friend (you know who you are, Mrs. B) was so kind in her remarks about my hedgehogs (which I’d forgotten about). Not real ones, it’s OK. I mean my drawn ones.

[drawn last night with pencil & watercolor pencil]

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In which taking pains pays off, and so does haste

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One day.

One handlettering piece. IMG_0859

I don’t like working with pressure to finish a thing ASAP. I did it. But I rushed at the end. And that messed it up, and messing it up upsets me. You know, one of these times, maybe I’ll learn? Continue reading

The Effects of Death Upon the Living

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Our scene opens upon two young men conversing together. One is of very earnest and animated countenance, with a manly bearing and the stamp of virtue upon his face; the other is of a manner more carefree and inclined to enjoy the youthful pleasures of life without considering the more sober, but necessary elements. We come upon Joseph, the former, speaking sincerely upon the matter of death.

4cc8c8d67e88a5f9e1c04bc07325f876“The voice of a dying man seems to be more readily hearkened to than that of his lusty neighbours. Perhaps this is on account that death strips away vanity from his thoughts, and he is given new eyes to shun that which is of no account in the ever-approaching light of the world to come. Death! How it banishes the thoughts of vain pleasures and the care for esteem of men. For who so foolish as  to seek the acclaim of masses when his soul is quickly departing to the Presence of the One before whom the opinions and esteem of men hold no weight?” Continue reading

Sketchbook Wednesday~ A Card-Scribble: “Trust in the Lord”

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I like to draw my own greeting cards, and I occasionally practise my handlettering. This was for a dear friend, and I took a quick picture with my digital camera to show you. What do you think? I’ve designed some cards– not just like this, but in the same style– that, Lord willing, I’ll be selling in the next few months. And that excites me!

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Candles and all they stand for

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I have a vision. A vision to bring back the timeless warmth of the home. A vision to introduce my generation to real living, which has been robbed of us in this cold day of efficient technology. I’m not at all against technology, but I do believe that too much of our culture is focused on efficiency rather than cultivating beauty and warmth in the home. As Maesimund Panchos once put it:

A stranger to our culture observing our commercial eating places might conclude that eating requires a stopwatch.

And it doesn’t stop at eating. We are more concerned with making everything ‘fast and efficient’, and less concerned with savoring the moment and cultivating relationships. We live in a world of speed at the cost of the things that really matter.

As I considered this great lacking in our culture, read books which mentioned it, and discussed it with friends, I came to write this (fictional) essay some weeks ago.

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“Apple Pie”

The words caught my eye as I stood before a broad display of candles, trying to choose a gift for a new neighbor.

shelfApple Pie?

I picked up the candle and smelled as my eyes fell upon another further down the shelf. “French Vanilla”
I began reading the names as I walked slowly down the row.

“Fresh Laundry”

“Spring Flowers”
“Fir & Cedar”

“Pumpkin Spice”.

Jim DalyAll of the names sounded so warm, so inviting, so homey. I remember my grandmother’s house smelling like that. But those smells came from warm cobbler in the oven, freshly baked cookies laid out to cool, and a warm fire crackling around the cedar logs I’d split for her in the fall.

Sometimes the house would have the fragrance of lilacs wafting upon the sun-warmed breeze that made the curtains dance as it blew through the open windows. I remember the smell of moss as I picked up hazelnuts in autumn, the spicy scent of fir boughs in the winter, and the hazy, warm smell of hay in the summer as I sat on the board fence and watched the men harvest the fields.

I used to watch Grandmother hang up baskets of wet laundry in the sun and later help her take the clothes down again, sweet smelling and warm from the sun’s gentle rays.

seasonalI remember the smell of berries on the hillsides and the fresh breezes that came off the lake below. I remember the sweet aroma of the strawberry preserves we would eat with our bread and butter.

Continue reading