Tag Archives: military

Flat Myla

My husband’s in the Army, deployed a billion miles away. Deployments are not easy for anyone, to be sure.

About halfway through my husband’s last deployment, my dentist told me of the stuffed animal her daughter gave her husband on his deployment, and how he took photos with it everywhere.  It reminded me of those Flat Stanley paper dolls kids send to family & friends to take with them on their travels.  I liked that.  So I made my husband a Flat Myla.

To his credit, my sweetheart took her everywhere in his cargo pocket.  He took her for pizza and for dinner at the chow hall.

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He took her for coffee at Green Beans, to work with him, and out for pie.  She used to laugh at the photos…they cracked her up.

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He even took her flying, on bus rides, and showed her his tents and some of the sweeter sides of Afghanistan.

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This deployment, I thought he needed another updated one…so I just now sent him a new Flat Myla (she designed her own Pokemon shirt).

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The older one sits now, retired, in a glass frame on our fireplace, worn from the wear and tear.  This new one is triple laminated, which (hopefully) will help her last a little longer.   He says he’s looking forward to getting her in the mail, because it’ll give him an excuse to get out and visit places and take pictures with her.  That makes me smile.

He’s gone for awhile.  Through Christmas and through the holidays.  Through our 14th anniversary, through our birthdays.  We’ve done it before–it’s a bit hard, but it’s okay.  We used to joke that he ASKED for a deployment when Myla was a year old specifically to miss her “Terrible Twos” (which were TERRIBLE, by the way, in Alaska with 8 months of dark winter, 24 hour summer, and then her 2-year molars)!

Now, Myla is older, and she’s always such a sweetheart to handle.  I can’t wait to put all her Flat Myla pictures in a book to show her how much her dad was thinking of her while he was gone.  It’s special, for sure.  Myla’s a good army kid–she takes things as they are.  She focuses on the moment, because she’s six.  But from time to time, she’ll miss something that Dad does, and get a little bummed.  But she always thinks of him when she draws pictures or talks about our family.  She really is a pretty great kid.

And then I was thinking–the world has a way of telling me to keep my chin up and not focus on my own little world.  Today I went to the post office, and just in that short time, feeling a little blue myself, I stood next to an older man struggling to write an address label because his hands were shaky.  I helped him write it out, and he told me how much harder little things like that have gotten now that he’s gotten older.  I heard a woman say her daughter was in the Middle East for the first time ever, and she hadn’t filled out a customs form before.  A woman who lost her phone (and then found it) said, “my husband just passed away and all my recent photos are on it.”  People are going through things, all around you.

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So no time to feel sad or mopey.  Everyone has issues.  Everyone’s going through their own things.  You can let it swallow you up, or you can focus on the good things.

So it’s time to focus on what we do have.  We have each other, even if a million miles away.  You can share kindness with a stranger, just with a smile, or by holding a door open.  My favorite part about the holidays is how for a moment, it seems that sometimes people turn up the charm a bit, turn up the kindness, and it spreads a little.  It’s a great thing to see.  But we can do that all the time!

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Have you ever read the “Pout-Pout Fish“?  How he “spreads his dreary-wearies all over the place”?  Well, it works the other way, too.  This past week, Myla and I brought the crossguards at school hot chocolate in the morning–Just two cups of SwissMiss, and they were so grateful that it lasted the whole day–one even made a point to give Myla a hug later in the day and tell her how good it made her feel.  That stuff SPREADS, you guys.  Even the kid knows that.

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The bad things ALWAYS shout louder than the good.  The good is harder to find, but you can if you look, and if you focus just on that.  It doesn’t always happen right away–it’s an active effort.  You have to spread it around to balance it out, and then it spreads to others.  They don’t even have to know it was you.  A smile.  A piece of trash thrown away.  A held-open door.  A little something to make someone’s day better.

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A little kindness.  A little understanding.  A little COMPASSION.  Regardless of your beliefs, of your politics.  All year round, every day.

As for the husband, I hope he gets to take lots of fun trips with the new Flat Myla, and take her on cool adventures, and spread a few little smiles around, from across the globe!

(We love & miss you , Babe!)

 

Everything You NEVER Wanted to Know.

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I don’t normally like to be in the spotlight…I’m more a “behind the scenes” kinda lady.  But since this blog began in the spirit of sharing, I thought that just for today–while it might be extremely awkward and uncomfortable for me–it’d be fun to continue with that tradition, step out of my comfy little coccoon, and share a few random facts about me and my little world.

Just because.

It’s sort of long, so if you’re not interested in reading it ALL, feel free to skim.  If you’re not interested in reading it AT ALL, I hope you enjoy all the pretty pictures…

I learned to draw from my mom & dad.  My parents are both artists, so I learned early on the importance of shapes, shading, fine art, a respect for the traditional masters…and always rinsing your paintbrush.

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A have a younger sister.   My sister is a few years younger than me, but has two teenage daughters (I got a late start in the kid department).  Aside from our mom, my sister’s been the biggest mom-spiration to  me when I had Myla.  She’s very talented, creative, and WAY tough.  I go to her when I need the flat-out truth about whether or not I should be worried about something, or if I just need to “suck it up” (as they say in the army).

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I spent four years in the U.S. Army as a Photolithographer.  Basically, I printed maps and scowled a lot.  I dealt with some VERY difficult people, but I also learned that I’m pretty stinkin’ strong.  Despite the difficulty, it changed parts of my personality forever–for the best.  Plus I got to roll around in the dirt in the woods.  And remember that time I found a 5-inch centipede in my field gear??  Good times.

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I got a late start.  My husband and I were married for SEVEN years before we decided to have a kid.  Best decision EVER.  I never really considered having kids, I just never really gave it much thought.  It was my husband’s awesome idea, really, so he deserves a million high fives.  I just needed some time to give it some actual serious thought.  She wasn’t an accident, though–she was VERY thought out…probably TOO thought out.   But once I’m in, I’m all in, and she’s been the most challenging–and most absolutely magical–thing to ever have happened to me.  I always say that if I’d never had her, I’d never know, so I’d be quite happy and fulfilled, thank you.  But I can’t even begin to explain how much happiness she’s brought to me, and how intensely ecstatic I am to be her mom.

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I played roller derby for a few years.  I wasn’t super great or anything, but it felt REALLY good to skate around and knock other girls down.  And when YOU got knocked down, you didn’t even mind.  It was worth it, as long as it was a good hit.   I sprained my collarbone and my jaw in derby, got countless fist-sized bruises, separated my fibula from my kneecap area, and twisted my ankle, and it was all worth it.  You could all hate each other, and then get on the track and still play a great bout, and hug each other afterward because of the general respect it takes just to get on the track.  I can’t explain how much I love derby.  (Sadly, I don’t play anymore, but I still love it.)

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This also might explain why I started putting Myla on skates when she was two…

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I tattooed myself.  Not something I’d recommend to everyone, but I have some prior tattooing experience, and I felt confident I could pull it off.  It was awkward, and at one point I was afraid I was totally going to mess it up, but I love it.  It’s from a retro photo of a girl roller skating with a pillow strapped to her butt, except I drew my own derby skates on her.  It sort of signified my whole “all out–but carefully” attitude about most things, especially in derby.  Bonus: the little girl had SUPER curly hair like Myla.

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Although someone recently told me I don’t LOOK like it (whatever that means), I have many tattoos.  I even trained a little to learn to tattoo from artists in different places we’ve lived.  I never really developed this skill the way I would have liked, but I have had some very brave friends who let me tattoo them over the years.

Myla wasn’t always interested in drawing.  We spent three LONG winters in Fairbanks Alaska, which is well below negative temperatures for 8 months out of the year.  My husband was deployed.  Myla (who had just turned two) and I spent a LOT of time indoors.  We had to find ways to entertain ourselves.  This usually involved tea parties with water, stacking up megablocks, baking soda & vinegar volcanoes, and trying not to climb the bookshelves.  Eventually, it turned into fingerpainting and drawing on ourselves.  It was hard, but it was fun.  By the time she was three, she began turning her little doodles into “monsters,” and was suddenly VERY into drawing (and has been ever since).

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I like to sing.  I don’t have a picture for this…but I learned guitar in high school pretty much so I could have something to sing along to.  I have an alternate-life fantasy that I could play Fantine in Les Mis,  Judas in the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar,” or Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors (mainly because they have the coolest songs).  Bonus trivia: I get teary-eyed at the National Anthem and some spirituals.  Basically anything with the big feels.

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If I could have dinner conversation with any of my favorite inspirational figures, I’d want Terry Gilliam, Sia, Jim Henson, Amy Poehler, Maurice Sendak, Beck and Tom Waits.  Okay, so it’d be a pretty big dinner party, but think we’d all get along.

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I am a horrible cook.  I am not domestically skilled in the slightest.  Anything I do in that field is purely functional.  All of the creativity I have in so many other mediums stops dead cold at the threshold of the kitchen.   One thing that has helped:  getting one of those services that sends ingredients to your house for you to make your own DIY weekly meals by following a set of instructions.  It’s a worthwhile splurge.  It’s like paint by numbers:  I don’t really know what I’m doing, but BAM–I have a delicious meal when I’m done.

I’m a perfectionist.   The funny thing is, I THOUGHT I was pretty “laid back.”  This line from my sketchbook explains it all:  “I didn’t want to be perfect.  I just didn’t want to make any mistakes.”  …Yeah, I actually SAID that to a counselor once, and it wasn’t til those words came out of my mouth that I realized THAT was what being a perfectionist IS.  I think it got worse with the deployments, and having full responsibility of the happiness and care of our kid on my own in Alaska.  That’s a lot of pressure!  Nothing in our lives is perfect, of course.  But the fact that it wasn’t (and couldn’t be) and I expected it to be, frustrated me and made me feel bad about the way I was handling things.  It’s weird, but I’m working on it.

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Random tidbit:  If you had asked me when I was five, I might have told you I wanted to be a ballerina and a vet.  Which is funny, because I’m completely clumsy (and I’d just make a horrible vet).

I hate magicians.  I repeat:  I. HATE. MAGICIANS.

Another random tidbit: When I was a kid, I used to think if I practiced hard enough, I could learn telekenesis.  Don’t ask me why.  It was a combination of a bunch of sci-fi movies and strange books.  I was a weird kid.

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In my natural habitat, I have a potty mouth, which sort of blossomed during my time in the military.  Despite this, I DO NOT swear in front of Myla.  Sometimes it’s hard, but I’ve learned to appreciate words like, “goshdarnit” and “DANG.”

We have two dogs.   A boxer named Scout, and a boston terrier named Adie.  They are both old ladies who love and tolerate eachother.  And we love and tolerate them immensely.

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Adie (the boston) was my “hairy baby,” so she especially took awhile to warm up to Myla when she was born (mainly this occurred when Myla became old enough to eat–and floor drop–solid food).  Scout, however, has always been a big sweet teddy bear (except with other dogs.  She has dominance issues, probably from being bossed around by the boston).

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I’m forty-one.  Yeah, you heard me.  If you’re young, I know that sounds ancient, but you know what’s awesome about forty?  I. Don’t. CARE.  I know who I am, and I’m pretty happy with that.  I’m introverted, but I’m not shy.  I’m awkward, but I can handle myself.  I’m like a happy little snail with my shell, and I come out when I want, and I tuck in when I want.  And I’m totally comfortable with that.  Now the fun part is getting to know OTHER people!

I have a back disorder that I discovered after an injury in the army.  I have some fairly rare thing called B27 in my blood that they don’t really understand (my sister has it too, surprisingly).  They classify it as “spondyloarthritis,” which basically means “ongoing chronic back pain that we don’t understand and can’t really do anything about.”  It’s always been a sharp pain in the same exact spot.  Sometimes I am fine, and other times I’m in so much pain that I can barely walk.  It’s become such a normal thing to live with, that even I get tired of complaining about it, so I just grin & bear it, because what else can ya do?  But it basically means I’m in some level of back discomfort AT ALL TIMES.  I’ve tried every treatment I have access to–from injections to infusions to medication–and they’ve all either had horrific side effects, or didn’t help in the slightest.

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I love my job. I work from distance as a graphic artist for the army’s MWR in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  I design posters for all of their events & facilities.  I worked in-office for a couple of years, and when my husband was relocated with the army, I was lucky enough to have them keep me on.  I love the people I work with–they were a great group when I worked in-office and they’re a great group from far away.  Working from home sometimes means that my “desk” is occasionally on the floor, surrounded by dogs, and that in between work orders, I can throw a load of laundry in, or empty the dishwasher.

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So that’s about it.  And now I feel a little…exposed.  Not my ENTIRE life in a nutshell, by any stretch…but enough to have fun with.  So while I hurry and wrap myself up tightly and snug back in my snail shell, what are some strange and interesting facts about you?  Think of three things, and comment–tell me some trivia or quirks about your own life!

The Tale of Donkey

(This is not so much art-related, but I thought I’d share a little story.  So if you’re up for it, just sit back, relax, snuggle up, and tuck in.  Here we go…)

People often wonder what it’s like to grow up in a military family.  Unlike the TV show trope, my dad didn’t march us around the house, barking commands at my sister, mother, and me.  After a long day of formations and the field, that was probably the last thing he wanted to do.

Being in an army family means lots of things, but most significantly, it means moving around.  A lot.  My husband once commented that our daughter at 3 years old, had flown more often than he had the entire first 25 years of his life.

I grew up around the army, and I was very outgoing…until it all slammed to a halt in about 5th grade.  I remember it distinctly, because that was when all the social awkwardness happened, and the things I loved (like drawing, reading, bugs, and sci-fi) suddenly became “weird” to the people that had so recently played side by side with me.  Being a military family meant that just as social awkwardness set in, we got into an unfortunate pattern of moving nearly EVERY YEAR.  So just as I was settling in somewhere, it was just about time to pick up & move.  I became a bit more introverted.  I stuck my head in my sketchbook and didn’t bother to get to know anyone.

Boohoohoo.  Believe me, it’s not a story of pity.  My parents took us to so many wonderful places and we did so many fun things.  I’ve seen amazing and wonderful parts of the world that my heart STILL aches for.  Yes, school was rough at times, but isn’t it always?  I lost & found my voice many times, and I’d be a completely different person if anything in it had changed.  Years later, I JOINED the army, and found my voice again.  I spent four years in that were some of the most important years in my life.  Now I’m married to a soldier, and we have our own “army brat” (that’s VERY loving term of endearment and respect, for non-military folks who may be unfamiliar with the term).

But one of the down sides of moving around so much is that we either hang on to things too much, or we let go of things too easily.  Maybe that’s also  true metaphorically, but I’m talking in this case about actual THINGS.  I’ve had friends who spoke of family heirlooms and things being passed down from generation to generation–an idea that fascinated me when I was younger, as we didn’t really have that sort of thing.  Moving a lot means the army gives you only so much weight allowance, so sometimes you have to dump the excess.

When I was around eight, I got a Steiff donkey (Steiff  is a German dollmaking company).  I was in LOVE with that donkey.  My sister got a teddy she called Molly Bear.  I tried to name my donkey, but he always ended up Just Donkey.  He was my go-to guy.  I cried many tears into his furry gray neck, and I cuddled with him on many happy nights for many many MANY years.

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Me in my Care Bears jammies with my Prince Valiant ‘do, and a brand new Donkey.

When I was old enough to go off to college, like Andy in Toy Story, I left Donkey behind at my parents’ house, and they eventually put him in storage in the shed with a few other of our childhood dolls.  Several moves later, he stayed forgotten in a Rubbermaid container, and when I thought of him, I thought of him with a smile.  And years later, when my dad retired, I asked about Donkey.  “Oh gosh,” my mom said.  “He’s probably in a container in the shed somewhere.”

Several MORE years later, not long after Myla was born, I asked again about Donkey.  Sadly, it was discovered that most of the dolls and boxes in the shed had suffered at the hands of a major mouse infestation.  Dolls and clothing had been shredded by them, paper and stuffing used to make nests in what was once assumed to be sealed-tight containers.  Quite a few things were lost or destroyed by mouse-droppings and nibbles.  It was a mousetastrophy.

I had heard (for a military family, especially) that it helps comfort a kid to have a doll that is a special “lovvie;” the one constant thing that your kid can connect with and keep, and with a new (and VERY fussy baby), I would have loved for that to have worked.  I am here to tell you, my friends, that in my experience, you cannot MAKE a doll be a lovvie.  I tried to make many dolls and blankets her lovvie, and nothing stuck.  I constantly put them by her in bed, I’d give one to her when she’d cry, and she could really not care less if they were there or not.

And then, just before Myla’s first birthday, mom sent a package to us in Alaska.  It was my DONKEY!!  And he was FINE!   He had somehow survived the rodent apocalypse unscathed!  Mom had washed him and sent him to us when they cleaned out their shed.  I happily gave my beloved Donkey to Myla, who I assumed would simply cuddle him for a bit and toss him aside.   But for some reason, out of ALL the dolls that have ever come and gone, THIS one stuck.

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From the minute I gave him to her, he has rarely left her side.  So Donkey has been with her since before she could walk, and though other dolls have come and gone, she always goes back to Donkey.  New dolls are the occasional favorites sometimes (I may have mentioned she has a stuffed animal addiction), but she always goes back to Donkey.

Donkey has been there for doctor’s appointments, shots, airplane rides, hotel nights, and was a MUST the time she had to stay overnight at the hospital after a bad flu.  He has been puked on, accidentally painted on, and had food and drinks spilled on him.  His fur, once fluffy and soft, is now matted and course.  His neck flops from years of constant cuddling.  His mane and tail are nearly threadbare.

And if you ask her if she’d like you to open him up and add a bit more stuffing to make him less floppy, she would tell you “NO, PLEASE.  I love him JUST the way he is.”

He is hers, and she loves him.

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I can’t change the fact that we move so much, and as an army brat myself, I think it actually ends up making you strong.  You appreciate what you have, and enjoy the people around you.  You have friends from all over, and even when it’s hard to keep in touch, you can be miles apart, and still feel close to them if you’ve been lucky enough to find some good ones.  So in her world, it makes me feel good that something so loved in my life has been so well-loved in hers.

So do you or your kids have a special doll?  Some sort of  “lovvie” they can’t part with?  Do you have something special you’ve passed down to someone else?

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.

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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.

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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…

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(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.

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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:

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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:

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She’s also had a thing for mermaids lately…

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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:

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

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There is always a WHOLE lot of Star Wars:

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And some of them come straight from her own imagination:

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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!

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

 

 

Duty Station Lovin’

duty stations

I’m an army brat.  I grew up around the army.  Later, I did about 4 years in the army, where I met my husband.  I am army wife.  Now I’m an army mom.  I’ve been all over the place with my family, and wanted a way to show all the places we’ve been.  For years, I’ve seen the plaques with pendant boards hanging down, listing each duty station (like this), but I wanted to see if I could do something a little different.

My husband & I met when we were both stationed in Hawaii.  We got married there, and when I got out, I worked as a photo editor/graphic artist for King Digital in Honolulu.  The photo paper they used came on these large thick cardboard “toilet paper roll” tubes, which they sent out for recycling.  Before we PCSd, I was able to get a few of them to take with me.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them at the time, but they were calling my name.  They looked REALLY fun to paint on.

I decided to make each tube a sort of painted collage of the things we had done at each duty station, the things we remembered most about it.  My husband and I have fun trying to choose what will go on each tube.  I started with one for Oklahoma (where I was born) and one for Ohio (where he’s from).

We’ve got a good collection going!  Only now….I can’t seem to find the “toilet paper roll” tubes anymore!  I’ve run out!  I have a couple of smaller ones, but none like these.  I was even the crazy lady, asking for them at Wal-Mart’s photo lab.  I can’t seem to find any anywhere!

So I’m going to keep looking.  I’m running behind, though, since I try to do one after we leave each duty station.  We left Alaska several months ago…so we’re due for a new tube!  In the meantime, share your stories!  If you’re a family that moves around a lot, is there a special way you commemorate your duty stations, or the places you’ve lived?  Do you frame a photo?  Make a list of license plates?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

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