Commissioned by Save the Children, this piece was a portrait of Malala Yousafzai who was recently in the news for promoting education for girls in the middle east. She was then targeted, and shot in the head, by the Taliban for it. But this brave young girl survived and became a symbol of defiance against militants, empowering young women worldwide.
For the illustration, I showed her proudly carrying a school bag against a middle-eastern landscape. The pencils in the corners are all pointing at her, drawing the attention in and bringing the image around again to targeting female education.
In general I don’t feel that I’m so great at representational portraits, but I think this one turned out well. And my client was pleased, too. :)
Part of my new venture into homemaking (and loving it!) has been making all my own cleansers. You only need a couple of ingredients (basically vinegar, baking soda and castile soap), an empty spray bottle and the right kind of cloth for the job and you’re done. It’s so easy and cheap. And NON-TOXIC. You won’t cough or choke using these products, I promise. And if you don’t like the vinegar smell (it’s grown on me), then just wait a few seconds – it dissipates really quickly. Or you can use essential oils to make it suit you. Vinegar is a natural and safe disinfectant, so I pretty much use it on everything.
I really have no idea why so many cleaning products are on the market. They are mostly all toxic, pollute the planet (with the toxins and the crazy amounts of packaging) and don’t work any better than the homemade stuff. So basically, store-bought cleaning products are just a way for big, non-conscientious companies to make you consume more than you need and get you to open your wallet.
Try these instead:
All-purpose Cleaner (counters, tables, tubs, toilets, walls, etc):
3 parts water
1 part vinegar
5ish drops of favorite essential oil (optional)
Combine in a spray bottle and shake before using.
3 C vinegar
1 C water
5ish drops of favorite essential oil (optional)
Combine in a spray bottle and shake before using. Wipe with microfiber.
Scrub (toilets, showers, stovetops, pots and pans):
Sprinkle baking soda in toilet/shower.
Scrub with brush.
Follow with a splash of vinegar.
Liquid Dish Soap:
Pure Castile Soap (like Dr. Bronner’s). I like the Baby Mild so I can add essential oils if I want. Buy the big one and refill a pretty bottle. (For those of you who have Kroger nearby, I found it there in the organic section for 11.99 instead of 16.99. Score!)
(I find watered down dish soap works just as well and makes it last a loooong time.)
1 C baking soda
1 C washing soda (in laundry aisle at grocery)
1 C borax (in laundry aisle at grocery)
1 bar Dr. Bronners soap (I like Peppermint. It smells good, and it’s a dollar cheaper than the rest. I get it at Kroger or Whole Foods for 3.49.)
Cut up bar of soap into small chunks on a cutting board and pop it into a food processor until fine. Or you can grate the bar with a hand-grater, but this takes a while.
Mix all ingredients together in wide mouth container.
Use 2 TB per load.
Laundry Fabric Softener:
1/2 C vinegar
Just add it as you would fabric softener.
Static in the Laundry:
Throw a few tennis balls into the dryer while the clothes dry instead of using those smelly sheets.
* * * *
Best cloths (to eliminate paper towels):
For basic cleaning, wiping up counters, etc: Cut up t-shirts (I cut them into large 10″ squares)
For dusting, windows, mirrors: Microfiber
For scrubbing: A nubby washcloth, a natural sponge or a bristled brush
* * * *
It’s easier to clean the shower when you’re in it, so I sprinkle baking soda around before I get in and keep a bristled brush in the stall to do a quick scrub before I wash. It only takes a couple of seconds.
If you clean often instead of waiting until things look dirty, it’s faster and easier.
* * * *
I hope this helps you in case you’re on the fence about trying some safer homemade products. It really is ridiculously easy and will save you loads of money. And more recipes like this are all over the internet. Start with Pinterest if you want pretty pictures to go with it. :) Or you can just douse your house in vinegar and call it a day. It’ll work.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” ~ John A. Shedd
This is the quote I wrote on the card I handed my creative directors when I resigned from my position as an art director to become an illustrator in 2004. It’s the quote that I’ve had on my email signature since then. I think it’s safe to say that it’s also the quote that has inspired me to DO… to stay inspired and keep pushing myself into uncharted, sometimes uncomfortable territory throughout my life (quitting my steady day job, becoming an illustrator, changing my style, having a child, getting trained as a yoga teacher, studying Thai massage…). It reminds me that I am built for taking on life’s challenges and adventures… and not to linger long where I am safe and comfortable (which is way easier, yeah?).
Last week I waved back at at my safe harbor again as I raised my sails and made yet another leap. On Friday I announced my resignation from Illustration Friday… a site that I created 10 years ago (!) and have been running ever since. Illustration Friday was one of the first of its kind — a site designed to be an online community for artists, illustrators and doodlers from around the globe, inviting people to participate in a weekly creative challenge. When I created it, I didn’t anticipate it becoming anything big, but it grew in the most beautiful, organic way into something vast — over 17,000 strong! It’s unbelievable to me, even as I watched it happen.
It’s inspired me so much over the years to see people post their artwork each week. I’ve gotten to know a lot of great illustrators and creative folks who’ve helped shape my own work and helped me push my style. I am forever grateful for that. And for being in the awesome position to hold the space for such a large, positive group. I ran support, posted weekly newsletters, interviewed professional artists and became the channel for relevant art news for the community. It was all so fun and taught me so much!
But over the last year, I started to feel the tug to move on. With Veda turning 4 and starting school in a year and a half, I felt my time with her was becoming supremely precious and I wanted to make space to soak it up as much as possible. She was, and always will be, my first priority. And I wanted my time spent to reflect that.
The tug was also spurred by a little nagging voice in my head gently whispering to me that I should start to reclaim my analog life. Close the laptop screen… put down the iphone… unplug from the digital world in order to dig in the dirt, pick up my paintbrush, build something with my hands. I’m not sure where this is leading exactly yet, but it just feels right.
For a while when I would hear that subtle whisper, I felt physical fear about letting IF go. With so much community, life and work now being held online, I wondered if it was irresponsible to let such a large virtual asset go. Would I fall into some inescapable unknown abyss of nothingness if I didn’t have IF to validate me? That felt so real. It felt like IF was my security blanket, my ace in the hole, and I was haphazardly ripping it off and throwing it into the fire.
But then I thought more… and realized if I continue to just follow my heart and passion, something good always happens. It’s often not what I expect, and it’s my challenge to stay open to what will be. Possibility. That’s what finally convinced me I was doing the right thing. The possibility of starting something new. Of clearing a space for different opportunities to come to me. Or not. The possibility of space, period.
Space to be fully present with Veda. And my husband. And my new homemaking dreams (more on that later if I ever start writing in this space regularly again). And to studying Thai massage. And gardening. To being present with what is.
I toyed with the idea of shutting IF down completely. But in the best timing, Thomas James of Illustration Age emailed me asking about a partnership of ads with Illustration Friday. And I knew Thomas from his other site Escape from Illustration Island and knew that he was also very passionate about illustration and supporting the online art community. And he did it beautifully and steadily. So I nervously pitched him the idea of thinking even bigger than ads… And I asked him about taking over Illustration Friday. And serendipity was on my side, because he was happy to consider. He responded right away with a yes – he was wanting to make his career go in the direction of online community management (the opposite of me! How funny!) – and we got to planning and making it happen.
I feel like I’m leaving Illustration Friday in excellent hands. I know Thomas will do a wonderful job with “my baby” and that he will run the site in the spirit that I built it. I’m excited to see the site flourish under his care.
And I know I’m doing right by me and my family and whatever else is coming my way.
My ship is, once again, heading out of the harbor to vast open seas. I’m excited to see where I’m going.
“The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.” ~ Isak Dinesen
In this case, the cure was the sea.
(I’m a week late with this post, but better now than never, right?) Last weekend we went to the coast for a much needed weekend away at the beach. The motel we like is a 60′s styled, dog-friendly little place complete with kitchenette and a retractable dividing wall to make it easier for us parents to stay up later than Veda’s 8 o’clock bedtime. The place is definitely not fancy, but it’s simple, practical and easy. Perfect.
So last Thursday I prepped a bunch of food (lasagna, salads, trail mix, pasta salad, etc) and we hit the road Friday afternoon, arriving in time to eat a late dinner, get settled in and hit the hay. The weekend was wonderfully relaxed. No computers. No work. Just the soothing sound of the ocean, time to read (bundled up in blankets — it was chilly!) and lots of shell collecting. I hope you enjoy my photos.
Waking up early each day to see the sun rise.
“I’m allowed?!” she asked. Mm-hmm.
It was chilly, but that sun…
I had time to read while Colin and Veda went out to climb the live oaks. This was my best moment of the weekend. Curled up on the balcony, book in hand and feeling the sun on my face.
With Vince by my side.
This is where Colin usually is — behind the camera.
This bridge was beautiful.
All of us.
Do you see her drawing of an elephant? I couldn’t love it more… :)
A few months ago You and Who approached me to work on a t-shirt design representing Raleigh, NC (where I live). Because Raleigh is known as the City of Oaks, and because you know my affinity for the woods around my house — my design shows the winter trees I see every day. I like that it’s simple and subtle. This is a design I’d actually wear. :)
Also: when you purchase of these tees, another one is given to someone in need. Really cool idea!