Fan club: The other side of a critique group

Little monster sketch

Fan club: The other side of a critique group

It is very important to get precise, sometimes brutal, feedback about your work, and if it comes in the right form, and from someone you respect, you can survive the critique and push to make your writing or art even better than it was before, but it is also very important to have those people who cheer you on, no matter what. I call these people my fan club.

My fan club is sometimes my family. My kids who love almost everything I do, and who draw up a storm, and borrow my art supplies to make their own creations, and my husband, who listens to my latest ideas, and shakes his head at me telling me I need to paint more because he loves what I do.

Other times it is my critique group, or the people I have connected with through writing and art groups who are feeling the same way I am, and cheer me on. I see posts that reflect exactly what I am feeling, and see encouragement abound.

We all need these people in our lives to cheer us on, because just as there are many high points in working creatively, there are many low points too. I have been experiencing some low points lately, in which I see so many talented people vying for the same agents I am, and the same audience. In my busy life it seems like the work I create comes along so slowly, and even though I have come a long way, the road to there suddenly seems so long.

But it is at times like this that those little gems given to you by your fan club can shine the brightest.

A few weeks ago the head of SCBWI Alaska Chapter (part of my critique group) told me that she felt my writing was getting stronger. It had been a few weeks since she had read anything of mine, and the compliment practically made me float two feet off the ground. I have been going to critique groups almost bi-weekly for nearly a year now, and to hear her say this was amazing! I have been writing like crazy (to the point where I have almost finished my middle grade reader…, only to find that I want to re-write most of it, but that’s another story) and through my critique group’s feedback, guidance, and example my writing has improved. Yippee!

I also received my first official rejection, and for me that makes things official. I’m a writer! I received a rejection, and that’s no big deal, because there will be a lot more of those to come. There will also be those gems in there, those “we’d love to hear more from you” comments, and when they come I will be ready for them.

And here’s a big thank you to all of you who create an draw, and inspire me everyday! Thank you!

Who inspires you, and who is your fan club?



Guest Post on Paint Is Thicker Than Water

Today I am a guest on Jennyann’s wonderful site Paint Is Thicker Than Water. This post is chock-full of tidbits I haven’t even shared with you guys! Plus there is a giveaway. Go check it out here!

Everybody’s A Critique

In this Part 2 of my everybody’s a critic mini series we will talk about who you should and shouldn’t listen to when being given criticism.

Understand who is giving the critique:

I am so lucky to have wonderful experienced writers in my critique group. I am the least experienced writer in the group, and admit that my knowledge of the proper use of commas, and semi colons is limited. And when did they eliminate the double space after a sentence? I have been correcting my kid’s papers incorrectly Continue Reading…

Under The Scope, Getting A Critique

I just recently received some professional critiques through a group critique session held by my local SCBWI chapter (if you are interested at all in being an illustrator or children book writer then you should join….. believe me, it’s more than worth it). I sent in critiques for a picture book manuscript, some illustrations, and a middle grade 1st ten pages.

Let me just say, the experience was… Continue Reading…

snap building blocks

Building Blocks

Today is just a quick note of inspiration to keep you drawing and creating. This week one of my kids was practicing on an online math facts program that helps them practice math facts in a more exiting way. These aren’t games, but it’s not just doing flashcards, or paper print-outs either. But this one time my child was getting very frustrated. They either got the problem wrong, or something was Continue Reading…

Cheater, Cheater

I was lucky enough to go to school in England during part of my high school career. In the international American curriculum based school I participated in an International Baccalaureate Art program. In today’s free drawing lesson, I will tell you how I “cheated” in my art at that time. I still do it, and now you can too!

Being in England and studying art was an amazing experience. You can find great, inspirational art everywhere, but I lived close to London, and countless art galleries, big and small were an enriching experience. I was also a hop skip and away from France and Italy (yep!), and saw a lot of famous “old masters” paintings, although I am not sure I appreciated it at the time.

One of the things that I now appreciate about the program, but not so much at the time, was Continue Reading…

How To Draw The Human Face

In this free art lesson of the DOT Drawing Challenge we move on from the human body, and get more specific with the face, and its proportions.  The plan was to give more exercises to help draw the basic skeleton of the human body, but things have been crazy up here (including the weather), and making videos has not been an option for me.

The human face, as with anything else human, can seem tricky, but once you understand where each feature normally occurs, and where to put your guidelines, it will become easier, I promise!

I have found some great resources to share Continue Reading…

The Dark Side: Confessions of a Scaredy Cat

When winter comes…. well eventually when it comes, it gets dark here.  Very dark.  You get a very narrow window of daylight here.  Northern lights, yep.  Star gazing…., aplenty, and normally I would be all for that crisp and chilly dark morning or late afternoon walks, but it just isn’t the same unless I am dressed up in full winter gear and risk my life scaling icy trails.  The snow isn’t here yet.  It’s been freakishly warm, and I know that most of you reading this have colder temperatures and unseasonable large snowfall, so hearing me complain about Continue Reading…

How To Draw The Human Body

Drawing the human body is probably the most challenging lesson in the DOT free art lesson Drawing Challenge.  It’s not that drawing the human body is hard, it’s just like drawing anything else, it takes practice.

It can also be frustrating when you try to draw something and it just doesn’t look right.  The human body is complicated, and learning to see what the human body is actually doing can be hard.  I know.  Drawing the human body is not my strong point.  In fact, when Tricia Lawrence critiqued my artwork, she said Continue Reading…

Back from the land of Oz, and ready to create!

Phew!  I’m back, I’m back, I’m back!  And now I’m ready to tell you all about it.

I attended the Anchorage SCBWI  (Society For Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators) Conference a few weekends (okay, maybe more than a few..), ago and it was amazing!  It was exhausting, and exhilarating, and exciting, and on top of all of that I won a door prize!  But the best part was meeting Tricia Lawrence, agent extraordinaire of the Continue Reading…

Pssst. Can you keep a secret? Preparation of a Conference… Here we go!

Climbing out of my black hole…

I have decided I should climb out of my black hole and make contact with you guys.  You may have noticed the lessons schedule has been a bit sketchy the last few weeks, and you also may know that I have been preparing for a SCBWI.  The two are not unrelated.

I have been working hard at getting images just right, and making those last few illustrations, but the best part of what I have been up to is just getting ready to meet people and, however green I might be to all this, get my images and name out there.  The conference is this weekend, and to be better prepared I am going to take this week, and next week off, and resume lessons the week after(that is, in two weeks).  I will still post, but no official art lesson.

I did wanted to share a few things I have been working on.

I have finally ordered business cards.  I know, I’m all grown up, and taking this illustrating thing seriously!

The second one is… post cards.  I have taken a few of my images and created fun postcards to give to anyone I meet (in a neat package with two images, and a business card.

And third, I ordered a tote bag with one of my images on it, and t-shirts, so I will basically be a walking advertisement, but mostly it will be fun!

The conference starts tomorrow.  Wish me luck…, I think I’m going to need it.  🙂



Not So Accidental Tourist Blog Hop:

Thank you Dani Duck for Tagging me for the Not So Accidental Blog Hop!  The Not So Accidental Tourist Blog Hop is a way to celebrate artists of all genres.  So hop, and be inspired.  This blog hop was created by Crystal Collier, and I was tagged by Dani Duck.  Go see her post here.

dani pic






          Bio:  Married, toddlered and reluctant cat owner. Writes, Illustrates and Moms.

Basically awesome. Seldom boring. Avid coffee drinker and chocolate fan

The Not So Accidental Tourist Blog Hop:

What am I working on?

Too many things.  I am working on art to expand my portfolio, and to get a few last pieces for a juried portfolio contest at my local SCBWI conference coming up in a few weeks!  I am also working on a collaborative coloring book, which will be available for free when it is finished :), and I am constantly stewing up new art lessons and experimenting with those for my private art students, and for my blog art students.

I want people to look at my work, and laugh, then wonder what the heck is really going on.

Continue Reading… is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to ("Imp and the Storyteller" (,, or

Dot Drawing Challenge Lesson 9: 1 Min. Figure Sketch

Sketch from a figure drawing class… back in the day.

Drawing the human body is not hard.  Sure people can spend a lifetime continuing to perfect the craft, but it isn’t any harder than drawing an apple…, it just has a lot more bones, and muscle, and wrinkles, and variations, but once you understand how to draw the human body, or at least unlock a few of the secrets, you have just entered a new world of possibilities.

I am not an expert at drawing the human body, but in my own studies I have found some great resources that have helped me learn, bit by bit, how to get better at drawing the human figure, and also those details that help you see and interpret the human body better.

The first resource would be, of course, a human body drawing class.  If you can find one in your local area, and have the time and means, do it.  Carla Sonheim was told “if you can draw the figure, you can draw anything.”

If a local class is not available, you should check out Drawing Tutorials Online.  Click on the link to read about my post reviewing the free resources there, and also my wish list for a membership.

There are a number of free videos on Youtube that showcases how to draw the human body.  My favorite are by Mark Crilley. You can read my post about him here.  Although his style in most of the videos is manga, the tips and details he gives in his drawing process is amazing.  I also really like him because his videos (to date) are very kid friendly.  I would feel very safe letting my kids watch his videos and draw with him.  Mark Crilley also has some great how to draw books that are awesome, even if you do not want to draw in the Manga style.

Early next week I will have some videos that will showcase the basic rules in proportion for the human body, and also some guidelines you can use to draw a human figure, but for now we will do some quick warm up sketches.  Ready.  Set.  Go!

1 min. figure drawing exercise.



Paper, or sketchbook,


Person to draw (an actual person, or a picture reference).

Method to the madness:

Set your timer for one minute, and draw.  Concentrate of the overall movement and position of the figure.  This is not an outline sketch, and don’t erase, you don’t have time.  It’s okay to jump from one spot to another, or to draw as many fluid lines as possible.  Stop after a minute, choose another pose, and get drawing.  Do at least ten of these at a time, and you’ll be surprised at how human your sketches look.

Make sure you are looking at your reference the majority of the time.

Artology, the why behind the what:

You’ve done it.  You’ve drawn a person, but in the best way possible.  These loose gesture drawings will get you accustomed to drawing the human figure, and will look more fluid and real, in some ways, than a stiff drawing that took hours to do.  The human body is alive, and supple, with hills and valleys, and crinkles and wrinkles, But never a straight line.  There is always some curve to the line, and drawing quick sketches will help you become used to drawing the human body in this fashion.  Your drawings should flow.

Just For Kids:

Kids can enjoy an exercise like this on many levels.  The unfinished look of the drawing is appealing, and takes the pressure off of making the drawing look as mirror image as they would like it to compared to the reference.  The timer adds an added element of fun, where they try to beat the clock in getting their drawing done.  No pressure if they really want to continue the drawing, but let them know they can always come back and add more detail later on.

Don’t stop at drawing people with quick sketches.  This is a great technique to get warmed up drawing anything.

For those who may have missed a lesson, no sweat.  Find them on the Art Lesson Page!

What about you?  Are you terrified of drawing the human body? is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to ("Imp and the Storyteller" (,, or

Giveaway Announcement, and so much more!

And The Winner is….

We have a winner!IMG_2309

To all who participated in the giveaway, thank you!  I am so pleased to announce the winner of the Drawing Lab for the Mixed Media Artist giveaway is …. Drum roll please.. Continue Reading… is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to ("Imp and the Storyteller" (,, or

Create, Invent, and Explore!

Inventors Invent, Explorers, Explore!

Finally, here is the fun lesson I have promised!  Another free DOT Drawing Challenge lesson that the whole family can enjoy!

Today we are talking about inventing, but that’s not new to you guys.  Whenever you put a mark on that page, or create something, you are being inventors, so why not create some clever inventions to solve those mundane tasks, or make dreams come true?

I must admit I love inventions.  From the absent minded professor, to the whimsical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Caractacas Potts, oh and Calvin.  Who wouldn’t want a transmogrifier or time machine of their own.  Those could really be handy.

In this lesson you will create an invention (or more than one).  That’s it.  Invent, sketch, solve problems from the mundane to the fantastical.  I love the idea of a great big long machine that accomplishes simple tasks like cracking an egg, but you can do whatever you like.  From a steampunk submarine, to a futuristic sleek modern hover home with automated changing table, it’s all good.

I delayed posting this video because I have had a cold, and have delayed taping the video because my sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough has lingered.  So no video today.  But never fear, I will be back and ready with a video for the Human Body lesson later this week.




Optional Materials:


colored pencils


watercolor paints


Think about what you want to invent.  It could be as simple as a task you don’t want to do (picking up after the dog…, for instance), or a machine that would make your life easier (like picking up after the dog), even if it is as simple as a page turner.

Then think about different household objects that could be used to make this invention.  Light bulbs, kitchenware, toilet scrubbers, door handles, boxes, light switches, tubing… you get the idea.


What parts will you use for your invention?

Jot down your ideas, and sketch a quick layout of your machine.  Think in shapes, boxes, spheres, cylinders, with tubes and conveyor belts connecting the different parts.  Fill in the details, add a splash of color if you want, and push the start button.  Oh yeah.  The start button is one of the most important parts.  Think pushing, pulling, and switching.Scan10003


This is just drawing at its best.  Don’t worry about perspective, or shading, or making everything look solid.  Just get your ideas down.  I loved this lesson because I did have fun, which made it easier to get ,my ideas down.  I didn’t worry about everything looking perfect, and can’t wait to sketch out my next invention…. can you guess what it might be?

Just For Kids:

You don’t have to adjust a thing in this lesson for kids.  Just tell them to invent something, and let them have at it.  Better yet, give them a great big cardboard box, papers, crayons, and some paper towel rolls.

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