What A Year!

So I just realized it’s been a YEAR since I first posted the story about collaborating with our 4-year old!  And while a lot has changed (she’s 5 now, for one), so much is still the same.  I thought it’d be sort of cool to share a bit about the whole experience, and what we’ve been doing since…pizza

1. People have been SO super nice!  I still get SO many wonderful comments, messages, posts, and emails, saying wonderful things and sharing wonderful stories about how this fun little project that Myla & I do together has affected them in some positive way and it’s such a wonderful thing to hear.  New-mom artists saying they couldn’t figure out how to still create while caring for a kid have told me they have hope now for a new way to create.  Other type-A’s like me, who have been reminded to let go a little bit and enjoy the ride.  People spent time doing similar projects with their kids, their students, their patients, and shared the stories with me.  It feels really good to hear that something we did just for fun has had such a positive effect on so many people.

The fact that people take a little time out to say something nice to someone they don’t know personally, is very heartwarming, and makes me feel good about the fate of the human race.

2.  Some people can be jerks.  I have learned the age-old internet rule, and will agree that it is most definitely true (mostly on external blogs, not my own, thankfully):  DON’T READ THE COMMENTS.  SO many websites, instead of linking directly to my full story, retold the story using my photos on their own website.  Usually, they don’t tell the whole process I went through, leaving readers confused and critical, and more likely to make random nasty (and not at all constructive) comments.  Everything from “She’s holding her pen wrong,” “the mom overindulges her,”  “the mom probably does those herself, for attention,” “those drawings aren’t THAT good,” and “what the hell am I even looking at???”

…Some people make a point to take a little time out of their day to be total jerks to a complete stranger, which makes me a little discouraged about the fate of the human race.  Thankfully, though, there are WAYYYYYYY more positive comments than negative, and I do my best to ignore them, and focus on people who AREN’T talking out of their butts.


3.  We self-published an AWESOME BOOK.  We had a few publisher nibbles after the post, and even worked for quite a while with one, trying to narrow down how we might possibly turn it into a book for children, until they finally gave up on the idea altogether.  It wasn’t until then that I realized it might not BE a children’s book.  So I made my own  Kickstarter video, and with the help of SOOO many people sharing and getting the message out there, we were able to exceed our goal and make a book I am very very proud of, that tells the story of our collaboration, has pages to doodle in yourself, and is a collection of a great many collaborations, and the fun little titles I gave them.  We also were able to make a little children’s book of animal collaborations.  I can’t seem to part with the originals, so I don’t sell any of the originals to anyone.  I keep them in a very full binder for her to enjoy later.  So since we weren’t able to have a professional publisher work with us, at least I was able to make our drawings into a fun little book that we can share with people.


4.  We still get around a bit, from time to time.  Aside from a great many interviews & articles from all sorts of places in the world, we’ve had a few little online adventures.  We had someone contact us to see if they could purchase a few prints to use on a TV show as set design background if the show stayed on.  (We allowed it, but I haven’t seen them on the show, and I don’t think it was picked up for a new season.)  A theme park on the other side of the world asked if they could display a few for a Mother’s Day event they were having.  Our post was shared on facebook by a couple of fun names…

photo-1 copy


(None of this at all means anything to Myla, though. She just likes to draw.)

5.  People have asked us to do stuff.  We have been asked to do custom work, but trying to “control” what a 5-year old draws is nearly impossible.  Sometimes I can give her suggestions, and sometimes she turns the person into Nightcrawler or a mermaid, just for fun.  You can never tell.  Nor would I want to stifle what she does, or put any limitations on it.  The very few times I’ve tried to steer her in a certain direction is hit or miss:  sometimes it works out like magic (as in the Hellboy doodle we did below), and sometimes it doesn’t work, and it’s just frustrating for the both of us.  So instead of getting frustrated, I just take the pressure off by saying no to most custom work, unless it’s something fun that we can do in a way that has little to no pressure.  (Reading Rainbow’s Kickstarter, for example, is running an art contest for their calendar.  We’ll give it a try, but if it doesn’t work out, no big deal.)

We have been asked to design logos for products, but aside from just the logistics listed above, it just feels weird to use them for a product.  I don’t have any big political belief behind that thought.  It just feels weird, so I just say no.

We were once asked to have a film crew film our day to day life and doodles, but I couldn’t see how that would work, since both my husband and I have agreed that we’re not comfortable with the idea of having Myla’s face fully openly out there in internet land.  Why not?  Well, aside from just the regular worry of creepy old creepers, people can be plain nasty, as I said earlier, and nastier when they have something in front of them to point at behind the safety of their screens.  She’s adorable, but she’s five.  I don’t need random people commenting and judging her SOLELY based on her physical attributes (as I’m sure the world will do in plenty of time when she hits puberty).  No thanks.


6.  Life is pretty normal.  When we first did the collaborations was just before my husband was deployed, so he missed the majority of the hubub, and watched it lovingly from a distance somewhere in the middle of Afghanistan.  Now that he’s back, things are pretty normal again.  Myla started Kindergarten, and is on a mission to share her love of superheroes with the world.  Like everyone, we have good days and bad days (but they are very nearly all good days).  She loves superheroes, mermaids, and “crafty crafts” (which is what we call all the artsy art things we enjoy doing).  I post our work primarily on Instagram, but also on Facebook and Twitter.  I also use Instagram to post a ton of whatever strange drawings, sculptures, or projects I’ve personally got going on as well.

7.  We still draw.  A LOT.  When we first started collaborating, it was incidental.  It just sort of happened.  Now, she ASKS me for heads to draw, and sometimes for certain characters.  I like to mix drawing, say, a certain actor’s face for her to draw a certain character’s body on, and she has fun with that.  If she wants to do one of Wolverine, for example, I draw Hugh Jackman.  It’s fun for both of us.  Her drawings have become more narrative, with so much more going on, and it’s been REALLY fun for me to try to make them make sense by making the background more detailed, adding more highlights and shading to the artwork, to the faces.  It’s so much fun!

People have asked me about her tiring of drawing only the bodies–but she doesn’t LIKE how I draw the bodies on her heads (she hasn’t worked on that “letting go of expectations” thing that I’ve worked on, and is sometimes critical if I go off-course).  Drawing faces and characters on her own, though?  She’s WAY into that!  Oftentimes, I’ll tear out pages from my sketchbook of drawings I haven’t finished, and don’t intend to finish (even if it’s just an eye), and let her just use her imagination:


But now that she’s a little older, a great deal of our work is directly influenced by the things that influence her:  superheroes, characters from shows and books and comics.  This past summer, I signed her up for day camp (basically 3 hours a day of themed daycare).  She could choose between Princess Camp and Superhero Camp.  She chose Superhero camp, which has been a huge influence on her drawings:


She’s also had a thing for mermaids lately…


There are also a great many characters she’s never really watched the actual shows of (she’s only 5, remember, and she’s not too fond of too much action & violence), but has seen or heard of the characters.  I’ll usually just tell her a toned-down, simplified story about the character, and let her elaborate:


She will draw characters from some of her favorite, most beloved tv shows, books, and movies:


There is always a WHOLE lot of Star Wars:


And some of them come straight from her own imagination:


8.  We still LOVE to share…  Whether it’s between Myla and me, or other people, we love to share our doodles.  I recently did an art trade with an artist on Instagram, whose 4-year old daughter decided to make Myla a little sculpture to add to the package.  It was so awesome!  Myla loves to show people how to draw “step by step” (but she will almost NEVER tell you what it’s going to be in the end…probably because she makes it up as she goes).   She loves drawing marker “tattoos” on any visitors we have who are willing.   Last time we visited my husband’s family, they all gathered round chit-chatting and waiting their turn for Myla-tattoos.

…SO WHAT’S NEXT?  Well, we’re just gonna keep on keepin’ on.  Since I have all these books now, I thought it’d be fun to take them to a vending table at Wizard Con in Austin, Oct 2-4.  So I’ll be doing that, and bringing my niece along to help.  Myla will mostly be hanging at home with Daddy, and only stopping in on occasion (since I’m guessing it’d be pretty hard to keep a kid at a booth ALL DAY for THREE DAYS??) to see costumes and such (conventions scare her, though, so we’re gonna play that one by ear).  I’m bringing TONS of books, some prints, a few of my own originals, and whatever else we can muster up.  It’s gonna be FUN!   So if you’re anywhere in the area, PLEASE come see us!

I absolutely LOVE watching her develop her drawing.  I get so excited when I notice her drawing something new, like Wolverine’s “fists,” and the amount of detail she remembers just from seeing a few pictures of a character.   We’ll keep on doing them for as long as they’re fun.  And if they’re not fun, we’ll lay off them for awhile.   But right now, we still love drawing together, so that’s what we’ll do.  And I’m always happy to post them!

Most of all, I love love LOVE hearing from other people who have been inspired to do their OWN doodle projects with their friends, family, students, and kids, so if you’ve got stories to share, I’d LOVE to hear them!

Love, love love.  Just realized there was a WHOLE lotta love in this post.  And that’s awesome.

(Posted below are just a couple of the wonderful doodles people have sent me that their kids have done after being inspired to draw by our doodles.  I love seeing all that imagination growing!)

So that’s a little update on our doodles this past year!  I’m so grateful for all the positive response we’ve gotten from something we just love doing together.  It’s SUCH a good feeling to put something good into the world!


(I constantly post new prints for purchase at Society6.  Please feel free to take a look!)



23 responses

  1. Wow, what an amazing year you’ve had. I loved reading your post last year, and I’m so glad Myla and you are still enjoying this amazing experience. One thing does intrigue me – what kind of pens or paints do you use? I’d love to have a go myself, but how do you get that quality of colour?

    1. Thank you SO much, and thanks for keeping up with us! We draw in ballpoint pen, color in sharpies or crayola markers (whatever’s around), I add detail in prismacolor markers, and add highlights and detail in acrylic. I did a little post about it last year here: https://busymockingbird.com/2013/11/18/how-we-doodle/ Thank you again!

  2. Hardly seems like a year ago since I first read that post! I am glad however that it has been an amazing year for you.
    I think your drawings are pretty awesome, so anyone leaving negative comments is, in my book, jealous!!
    Keep doing what you both do, it brings a smile to many faces, including my own 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for following us! Yep, the bad ones do punch you in the gut a little, but there are really SO few of them compared to all the good. I am so grateful for all the positive response from people! Thank you again!

  3. Thanks for the update. Your work with your daughter is wonderful thing. I have been following you for about a year now so it’s been fun watching how Myla’s skills and talent are developing. Plus the time you spend with her will only make her a better adult. Don’t bother with the negativity, people are just limited and probably jealous. I ask myself almost every day, what is happening in the world? Not to get political but why do some people have so much and some so little? Two of my granddaughters Nora 10 and Ellory 4 and I have done some water color painting together when I infrequently have time with them. I am what I call an almost artist, but have taken several art classes and learned watercolor painting a couple of years ago. It was fun sharing with the girls. I let them use real paper, real water color paints and last summer, we painted a still life we put together of some fruit and vegetables we found in the kitchen all in a pretty bowl. We had a “show” after we finished. At the time, I was going thru treatment for breast cancer and had no hair! After they first saw me and we all had a laugh, it was never mentioned or even noticed again. Kids are amazing! Anyway, thanks for what you do! Best regards,

    Keep up the good work and I will keep following you. This is a little slice of joyfulness in an often sad world. Best regards,

    Anne Murdoch (grand other of 7!) 15 Lullwater Estate Rd NE Atlanta, GA 30307 404-378-5173 cell 404-558-2058 anneandpaul@mindspring.com

    1. Wow! Thank you for keeping up with us for so long! Feels good that something that’s fun for us to create has been such a positive thing for so many other people. So good to hear your stories about your grandkids. Sounds like you’re a pretty “real” artist to me! Thank you so much!

  4. You are so right about not reading the comments–I learned my lesson when a novel I wrote got reviewed by readers on Amazon! Everyone’s a critic.

    Your book and your daughter are both marvelous and I recommend them every chance I get–and your mothering skills are beyond reproach. Can’t wait to read your blog and see your next project together! Your rock!

    1. Wow! Thank you so much. Yep, as curious as I get about how people received it, the comments from other blogs are NOT the place to look!


  6. i am so in love with these collaborations with your daughter!! blessings to you, for nurturing the magic that comes from the fertile ground of a child’s imagination; would that more adults did so!! i have very young nieces and nephews, and i am always awed (and delighted, even humbled!) by the scope of their vision 😀
    looking at this post this morning, the Dalek art particularly caught my eye; do you have that available as a print?? all of the works are amazing, but this morning, i’m particularly (weirdly?? LOL) drawn to her, lol…
    THANK YOU, Mica and Myla, for sharing these with us!! i am very glad i came to visit! 😀
    ~christi 🙂
    Virginia Beach, VA

    1. Hi there! Thanks so much! We have prints up at http://www.Society6.com/micaangela, and I’m pretty sure I put the Dalek there too. If not, I’d better get it there soon, huh? 🙂

  7. I am a little late to the game as I just discovered you and your daughter’s gift just now but I must say how much your story touched me AND how much I LOVE the finished pieces! So vivid…so interesting to the eye…they are wonderful collaborations! Keep up the great work and take care!!

  8. where can i get a copy of this book? phyllis Miativity Room

    1. On this blog! There’s a tab called “The Book,” or on the right hand side, there is a link called “Buy the Book.” 🙂

  9. People are the best and people are the worst. Which is confusing. They really should just pick one.

    1. They should, huh? Myla often asks me if someone is “good” or “bad,” and I tell her what my grandma told me: that people have both in them…but only the one you feed grows the biggest!

  10. It’s so funny – I had started following your blog last year when I saw you in Freshly Pressed. Now you pop up in my Facebook feed all the time as friends post your work. Love it!

    1. How wonderful! Thank you so much for sticking with us for so long!

  11. I still find your whole project lovely! Keep going and leave the jerks behind!

  12. I LOVE IT!!! Pls include me in your list. I cant get enough of it. I LOVE CHILDRENS ART…pure, unaffected, instictive. We learn to be the most sophisticated, complicated people when really the only this important is the CHILD IN US. How many times can i say love love love it!!!

  13. I love every piece I’ve seen. And I love the story of how this collaboration developed. I have enjoyed her creativity and admire the courage you had in letting your daughter share your work. Bravo to both. I think this is going to be one of my favourite blogs!!

  14. I love this. As a teacher I see parents who do very little to foster positive traits like sharing or, dare I suggest, creativity in their children. This little girl is going to grow up with a very good mind–I guarantee it.

    I also noticed that if you really look at some of the drawings, you can actually see your little one gaining skill, trying things like poses and perspective, that she didn’t do in what I assume are some of the earlier drawings. The teacher-y part of my brain thinks it’s beautiful, getting to actually see the development of a skill like that. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Oh I have very MUCH seen how her little drawings have developed over this year–seeing her draw hands with bent fingers, people turned around backwards, it’s just so much fun to see. Thank you!

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