Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Artistic Genius of Annelie

Oh, how I love bed head on a little kid

Okay, so perhaps you wont look at Annelie's work and think WOWEEE! That girl is phenomenal! But remember, I'm her mom and thats what we moms are like. My kid is PHENOMENAL.

It is very hard for me to think that Annelie is the age that Gracie was when we started the Tootsie and Grace shop. Annelie was only a year old then, and now that she is coming up on age three, I still want to think of her as a little baby.

But this morning, she came over to show me her picture and it was like a slap in the face. My baby is a grown up! Look at that skill! That talent! She is amazing!

In case you can't figure out what the heck is in the above picture... those are people! No, not amoebas... people! Mommies and daddies and children and babies... isn't that a work of art?

I stopped working on Tootsie and Grace pictures with Gracie when she turned four. Her work became a little too sophisticated for the look I was going for with our Tootsie shop.

Not to mention, she sorta has the biggest, most gigantic crush on Harry Potter, so every picture she draws is one of she and Harry getting married, or she and Harry as mermaids.

Or she and Harry building snowmen together with Hermione Granger. Yes, my kid is a little kooky. But she's cute, so its okay.

I do have a few pictures she drew when she was three, that I have yet to color in. A couple of farm animals, a sea turtle (its a really great one, too!) and the King and Queen above. I have pretty much left Tootsie and Grace by the wayside. It was never supposed to be more than just a little fun and pocket money for Gracie, so I tend to forget the shop even exists...

But maybe its time to involve Annelie in our artistic fun. Annelie is definitely at the skill level Gracie was back when we used to work on our sharpie/colored pencil collaborations, and art has definitely become a passion of hers (good girl!).

Whether I color in any of Annelie's work or not, there's no doubt in my mind that my kid is an artistic genius. Yes, just her mother talking... but still.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Camera... AAAAHHH!

I just had to share... nothing is cuter than super excited kids opening presents on Christmas morning.

I especially like that Annelie had no idea what her present even was... she just needed to scream to let that excitement out (translation in case you don't speak 2-year-old: she's screaming out, "A new THING!")

** Please note: I got an "oh, your poor terrified dog!" comment to that video, yesterday... but my dog wasn't at all terrified. The girl's commotion excites him -- the more excited they get, the more excited he gets, until its one loud shout/bark-fest in our house. Didja see his wagging tail?

And then of course, there's this look... it's the "I just took the wrapping paper off and I got THIS BOX... Hurray!" face.

Christmas was pretty darned awesome in the Hopkins house this year. I'm not sure anything can beat our very first Christmas in our very first house... and it didn't hurt that snow was still all over the lawn. Present opening, hot chocolate drinking and a snowball fight, all in one morning... that's heaven.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and if you are looking for a way to beat the post-holiday blues, head over to The Mama Dramalogues (here) to see what we'll be doing today.


Friday, December 25, 2009

How I Know My Husband Loves Me...

He gave me a sizzlin' hot Latino lover for Christmas...

Meet Esteban.

Why yes, those are glittery red roses.

Learning how to play the guitar has been on my list of Things Marisa Must Do Before She Turns 30, Or Else... and I don't just mean playing the opening notes to Nothing Else Matters or Stairway to Heaven. I'm gonna learn the guitar and I'm pretty darned stoked.

For all the Christmas celebrators out there, I hope you had a wonderful day! And for everyone else, well, I hope your day was 100% awesome, too!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter Wonderland

None of us were dreaming of a white Christmas, but we got one anyway! Yesterday, we were all out on the porch, in the sun, eating bubble gum ice cream from the ice cream truck. Seriously. Just yesterday.

And today:

Up over four inches now. Such is weather in West Texas.

The girls liked the snow for all of 2.5 seconds. Just long enough to stick out their tongues for a taste. Then they complained about the cold and wanted hot chocolate and cinnamon biscuits covered in honey inside our warm and snug home. They take after me.

The snow couldn't have come at a more perfect time. It really makes the our upcoming Christmas feel extra special!

Happy Holidays, from our family to yours!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Paperie Switch and a Super Cute Logo

So, I opened my paperie shop last winter/spring because I was getting so many messages from people letting me know that I should have <insert illustration title here> in my shop as a gift tag or notecard... to which I always replied: "But I do!!"

All of my paperie goodness was getting buried underneath the piles of illustrations in my shop. BUT now that I've had my paperie open, I have to deal with the hassle of people wanting things from both of my shops at the same time, and me not being able to have them all in the same transaction with combined shipping and payment... so annoying! Whats a girl to do?

I made the decision today to just shut my paperie down and move it all back into my Elegant Snobbery shop... maybe things will just go back to being lost behind all of my other shop items, but that's okay. I'll have one less shop to sign into daily and one less email account to check every day. Sounds kinda nice.

On a different note... check out the logo design I created for the fabulous Alyssa of Stitch N Stones:

I'm happy to say that she had a sale within a few hours of having her new logo up on her shop banner. Dare I say I drew her a lucky logo? Yes! I dare!

Thanks, Alyssa for giving me the opportunity to design for you! Glad you love it.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Santa is Kinda Pissed Right Now

Sack of coal soap - Yummy Suds

Gracie and Annelie must not truly care about getting presents from Santa, because they have been at their all-time bad this week. Like, the worst. Aren't they frightened by the idea of being on the naughty list? Doesn't the threat of not getting any presents from Santa and his elves mean anything to them? I'm beginning to think they might actually want coal this year.

Kids fight. That I know. After working in childcare for years, I have seen my fair share of 4-year-old cat fights... but Gracie and Annelie are taking things waaaay too far. I've had it up to my eyeballs with self-help books that haven't worked one bit. The naughty step, a la The Super Nanny, works great... for the four minutes they sit on it. Then they're back to their usual fighting, screaming, kicking, biting, destructive little selves.

The other day I snapped. Gracie and Annelie were sweetly playing in the backyard and I was watching from my studio window while I worked on a custom order. I could see them over by the slide. They love to cover it with dirt and rocks and then take turns sliding through it. Little did I know, Annelie and Gracie were actually a step behind the slide, taking a brick to the canvas bottom of my garden swing. After punching a hole through it, Annelie used her super-human strength to rip out the entire bottom of one side. It took her 2.5 seconds to do the damage while I scrambled outside in my pajamas, working hard to contain my temper lest the neighbors think I'm psycho, while hissing through my teeth that they better GET. INSIDE. RIGHT. NOW.

Can I just tell ya... Santa was PISSED. He was veeeery close to packing up all of their Christmas presents and donating them to the local children's home. But I didn't really want to do that. I'd actually like my kids to have fond childhood Christmas memories, rather than holiday trauma from not getting a single present. So I packed up their dress-up (devastating) and ALL of their Barbie stuff (again, devastating) and put them on the top of the closet, not to get back for four entire days. THEN I put them to work with a soapy wash cloth and they spent an entire hour washing my wood floors in silence.

Mad Santa Pin Back Button - Susan Urban Designs

Did they learn their lesson? Uh, no. Not a chance. It only took a minute before they were cat fighting and scratching and hitting and knocking each other off the swing set. When Santa sent them a video email (seriously, if you have kids and you haven't yet made them a video from this website... what are you waiting for??!) and informed Annelie that she has been working very hard at being nice to her sister, Annelie just shook her head and informed him back that she just pushed Gracie off the swings and pulled her hair and made her cry. She was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Like, "Listen Santa, if you actually think I've behaved myself for even a second this year, then you don't know jack, cuz I've been a wretched beast."

We're three days from the night when Santa and his reindeer fly over our house with his big bag of toys... and at the moment, my kids are getting coal, a letter from Santa himself, letting them know just exactly why they are getting diddly-squat... and maybe just maybe, he'll leave a couple of presents in my care, so that I can pass them to the kids if they are truly being good.

Moms, here's your chance to unload your years of wisdom upon me. I know I'm not the only mom out there with high-energy preschoolers with behavioral problems... so any advice is appreciated. We've cut almost all sweets and sugars from their diet, they don't eat things with red food dye and they only watch a little educational TV in the morning... so what gives? When they are good, they are very, very good... but when they are bad, they are horrid. Help!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Flashback: Our Christmas Wedding

BEWARE: Cheesy post ahead!

Tomorrow is our 5 year wedding anniversary, so I thought today's Flashback Friday post would be good as a WEDDING post! I love weddings. I wish I could have about 30 of them. Will and I actually had two wedding, two months apart from each other because immigration laws bunked up the legalities of our first ceremony... but our wedding on December 19th, 2004 will always be one of the absolute BEST days of my life (preceded by the night Will and I met at the airport in Ireland).

With Will and I, it was pretty much love at first sight. I know, I know.... total cliche and hopelessly romantic in a made-for-TV-movie kinda way... but its true. I was on the escalator when I saw him sitting in one of the waiting areas at the Dublin airport and I was like, "Whoooo! Lets go sit in the empty seat next to the cute guy!"

So I did and Will and I ended up talking for 10 hours straight (our flights were early the next morning and all the hotels and hostels were booked). He confessed later that he said to his mom as soon as he arrived back home, "I just met the one."

I know. Awwwwww, right? Totally made-for-TV movie. So anyway, here are few photos from our wedding.

I had to walk down these stairs in my dress and heels. How I didn't fall to my death, I have no idea. But isn't the staircase pretty?

My best friend from high school and maid of honor, Jenni, helping me get ready!

My wedding party!

Will with his brother Tom, and brand new brother-in-law, Dan

My adorable little flower girl!

This is my favorite of all my wedding photos... the moment just before my rugby-playing bridesmaid (and best roommate ever) Jean plowed into my tiny little flower girls, on a mission to catch the bouquet.

And then... um... I hesitate to post this... but this is our wedding video. The ONE AND ONLY wedding video. Our wedding is featured a grand total of 20 seconds of it.

Basically, this is what you get when your drunk Welsh friend offers to make you a wedding video. It features drunk Will in Wales before he flew out for the wedding, Will and his two friends, Keryn and Dean and their drunken day trip to San Francisco, and ... a lot of British drunkards being drunk. I don't know how to describe it any other way.

Just FYI, our wedding/getting ready for the wedding begins about 2 and a half minutes into it, when all the groomsmen are rapping. Yeah. I may just have the most unusual wedding video on the planet. I kind of love it, though. Thanks, Deano!



Have a flashback of your own? Head on over to Tia's blog at www.ChristopherandTia.blogspot.com and join in the fun!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dangerous Wands and Three Wolf Moon

Click picture to view trailer

I only wish this was a real movie... I'd totally watch it.

And for the Twilight fans, this one... I'd totally watch it, too.

Click picture to view trailer

I love internet time wasting, don't you?


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dumpster Kittens and Other Assorted Cat Stuff.

My little dumpster cats are going back to their roots!

And speaking of kittens... I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, I'm a mean ole mama, filming Annelie with her head stuck in the cat house.... But seriously, this is hilarious.

See? Hilarious.

And one last thing, while we're on the subject of kittens... I did the logo design for Sassypants Knitter and wanted to share! Wendy is a cat-loving, cupcake-loving, glittery-ninja-belt loving knitter... I think I captured her well, what do you think?

You can find her blog/podcast here.



Saturday, December 12, 2009

On the Drawing Board: An Illustrated Alphabet

Okay, so I know an illustrated alphabet isn't the most original of ideas, but I just have to say how excited I am by my newest collection-in-progress.

I've wanted to come up with a bright and cheerful alphabet collection for ages now, but wasn't sure what to do, to make my collection unique. As I'm still in a super-obsessed-with-plaid phase, I figured some plaid backgrounds and super cute illustrations would be just the thing.

When Gracie was a baby and I was decorating her jungle themed nursery, I wrote out her name, letter by illustrated letter, and framed them individually above her crib, hanging the frames by ribbons. It was the cutest thing EVER.

Annelie has a Scandinavian name, and finding personalized stuff for her inside of the US is pretty impossible. I can't wait to finish up this collection so I can frame ANNELIE just for her. The more popular letters of the alphabet I will be creating two different prints of, so that kids with repeating letters in their name will have options to choose from.

Do YOU have alphabet illustration suggestions that you might like to see in my collection? Let me know!

All ideas are appreciated!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Flashback: Dear Santa

I wrote this letter to Santa when I was 4 - the age Gracie is now. I'm pretty darned positive my big brother Dan was helping me write it, as is apparent in the last item on my list... not to mention the year I wanted all of this stuff, I didn't know how to spell yet. Clearly my brother didn't either, but thanks for helping anyway, Danny!

In case you can't figure out what the heck I wanted for Christmas in the year 1985, here you go:

Dear Santa

I want
Rainbow Brite
Baby Brite
Purple Brite (I wanted Indigo, not Shy Violet)
and Glo Worms
and Sweet Secrets
and Transformers

I didn't get any of them, just in case you were wondering. I'm sure my brother got his Tranformers, but that was the year I got the mother load of Strawberry Shortcake toys, including the ginormous Strawberry Shortcake doll house which was practically bigger than me. I was very happy.

I didn't sit down with Gracie to write out a list for Santa this year, but I did hand her a toy catalog and a pen, with the instructions to circle what she wanted. I got the catalog back and apparently the only thing she wants is a hot pink Vespa. Santa has other ideas... like a Crayola kids digital camera which is already wrapped and ready to be put under our tree on Christmas Eve while the girls sleep. I'm pretty sure she'll be cool with that, since she's been begging for her own camera for the last year.

Got a flashback of your own to share? Join in the fun over at Tia's blog (www.christopherandtia.blogspot.com)!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Creating a Buggy School - From Start to Finish

Work-in-progress shot of the ladybug

I finished a custom illustration for a preschool auction in Colorado, the other day. You might remember the t-shirt design I showed a few months back (click here) for the team Alex's Angels, as they biked in the Courage Classic race to benefit the Children's Hospital... well, this illustration was a request by Elizabeth, who I worked with on that piece. I loved designing the Alex's Angels illustration and was more than thrilled to work on this one - and thought it would be fun to share my creative process from start to finish.

My style is very... scribbly - and if anyone were to ask me what my technique is I'd probably have to say I'm a blendy scribble-scrabbler. Kind of like a preschooler, so its appropriate that this picture is going to benefit a preschool!

Okay, there are a going to be a lot of pictures, with the final, finished illustration at the end, but I wanted to show the layers of color/blending that went into this piece. For the other color pencil artists out there, I used Prismacolor pencils, and my time spent on this illustration, which measures 11 x 14 inches, was about 7 hours (time gauged by my 60 minute CD played 7 times - its a good mix of music).


Layer One: A little bit of Cool Grey 20%, little bit of Limepeel, little bit of Goldenrod.

Blend, then another layer of color:
Little bit of Burnt Ochre, Pink, French Grey 70%, and Grass Green

Blend, then another layer of color:
Little bit of White and Warm Grey 70%

Lots more blending.

Okay, at this point, I can't move forward with the snail until I get the background around him finished. So here comes some Spring Green grass, some Light Cerulean Blue sky, and French Grey 70% of the eyes.

Okay, I skipped a couple of steps, but I think you get the idea. Shade with Grass green, blend. Shade rock with Violet Blue, blend. Outline with black, blend. Add white to highlight.



Yikes, what a mess. Okay, Spring Green grass, Cool Grey 20% rocks, Crimson Red school, Burnt Ochre roof, and Spanish Orange windows/door


Okay, I clearly skipped a lot of layers here, but I shaded similarly to the snail/rock, with the exception of adding Tuscan Red (I heart Tuscan Red!) to shade the school.

And then BLEND!

Here is the finished school. The flag features the caterpillar logo of the preschool this will be auctioned for, and was the inspiration behind the entire piece.
Is that not the cutest logo you have ever seen in your life?

As for the entire illustration... well, I won't go in detail on each step, but here are some work in progress photos, as well as the final, finished illustration.

Aw... its just a baby! Here's my newborn sketch. Quite a bit will be changed and polished. Like the bee - I didn't really like him flying upside-down. Also, I made the snail, caterpillar and ladybug larger for the final illustration. You can see in the next picture that they take up more of the foreground than they do in the sketch.

Ah, here we are at the gawky teenage years of my illustration's work-in-progress life.
Very scribbly, half blended, and a little difficult imagining that it will turn out cute in the end.

Now it's a full blown college student, somewhat confident, but still finding itself in the big, bad world of illustration. We have a long way to go before it graduates into a finished illustration.

DONE! (click to see larger, if you want!) Yay, it got its diploma and is ready for a job. Way to go.

Before I go, let me just say... If I can creatively inspire people with my illustrations, I feel like its been a job well done. Four-year-old Gracie, who loves pulling up a chair and working next to me, was inspired to create a little buggy school scene of her own, and I've just got to share.

Nothing is cuter than the work of a preschooler!

Okay, I hope you liked seeing my process from start to finish! If you are interest in seeing more of my work-in-progress posts, click on the link: Inside The Artist's Studio

And if you have any questions about my creative process, just ask!



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