Saturday, June 24, 2017

Insect Map, Finally Complete!

Wow!  Undertaking the map project was enlightening in a lot of different ways.  First, I didn't realize how much time it would take to produce something that large, with that much detail, especially when trying to capture something from my youth.  I'm happy to have done it, but happy that I can move back to something a little smaller and more manageable through a couple of hours.
I also learned that drawing a map of a place you once knew brought back a lot of memories, transported me back in time to almost reliving some of the things that occurred there.

When painting this map, I remembered being chastened once for not watering Dad's garden the way that he showed me, but also how he rushed to me in the garden after that reprimand when he noticed that I was tearful at the rebuke.  I remember him kneeling in the soft, dark soil and asking him to forgive me for hurting my feelings.

I remembered laying under the massive cherry trees we had in the yard and playing with my dog, "Pepper" and watching the birds come and eat the cherries that were in abundance.

I also remember tying strings in a 45 degree angle to the side of my house, staking it to the ground, and then finding tomato worms in the garden and having races up those strings as the worms slowly crawled from the bottom of the string to the top.  GOOD TIMES!

Anyway, I hope you get as much enjoyment out of the finished product as I have had making it.  It's clear that I love painting insects, studying them and finding out what makes them tick...but I think I'm going to take a pass for a while on the little critters.  I also learned that when you do big projects, its harder to document.....I couldn't really scan anything, so I just had to take pictures of various details.  Sorry about the poorer quality on the photos.

Here's a few close-ups of some of the insects:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Insect Map, Day 2

Today I continued to hammer away at the map project that I addressed in my last post.  Maybe because it is Father's Day tomorrow or maybe because I am feeling nostalgic, I decided to do a map of the place where I first remember becoming fascinated with insects; my childhood yard.  This challenge has proven more time consuming than I expected and I haven't even started in the insects or labels yet on the map, nor have I made it to the front yard.  Hopefully o can find some time in the next couple of days to keep plugging away at it.  There's lots more I want to add!
So far, this has been done largely with gouache.  I added just a hint of ink to pop some colors off of the darker paper that I'm using.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Compass Rose

This week I was challenged to make a map, something I have never done before...aside from the treasure maps I would make as a kid, trying to mimic the ones in the movies with stale paper, burnt edges, and that always lead to a buried treasure with "X" marking the spot.
But as an adult, I've never really looked at making a map as a creative project to undertake.  So, tonight I dove in and started with the compass rose.  Not sure yet what the rest of the map will look like, but it was a little intimidating to start.  I pulled out the cheapest piece of paper I could find, an old newspaper sheet, and started doodling on it.  I find that when I have "intimidation block" that it is cured quickly by working on something that doesn't hurt to throw away, hence the cheap paper. I actually liked the toned paper look, even though the scan was a little wrinkled because of the way the water from the gouache wrinkled the paper.
Anyway, here's the start to some type of map dealing with,..YEP, INSECTS!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Another Moth for a Friend

Yet another great young man that I know is about to head out to serve a mission wherein he will dedicate two entire years, all day long, looking for people that need help, and doing his best to be of service.  So, this week's envelope and letter goes out to him and hopefully it will get to him as he arrives in South America just as he is starting this new endeavor.  I chose a moth, since in South America I know he will experience his share of many colorful insects. (And, if honesty prevails...I just really like to paint insects.)
Also, as noted in other posts, I'm fascinated in the metamorphosis that certain insects make in their life span, starting first as something formless, ugly and undesirable, yet, with the potential and inborn capacity to turn into something breathtaking and amazing.
Isn't this true with all of us, to some extent or another?  We grow, we change, maybe we don't like what we see in the mirror at times, or what we see in other people....but if we could just see their full potential, catch a small glimpse of what they can become, wouldn't we be so much more accepting, kind and patient with ourselves and others?
This young man is one of those amazing moths, who has grown and continues to grow, and I have no doubt he will look for others, see their potential, and help them along the path of metamorphosis.

Saturday, June 03, 2017


This week's doodle envelope and letter goes out to someone who has been faced with recent challenges that would cause any normal person to pause and ponder just how to move forward, how to cope with the changes, and to be able to keep their head above water.  I like the image of a turtle coming up for air while swimming.  To the casual observer, it might appear that it is struggling to survive, barely able to keep the nose up where the needed air is available.  Yet, built inside of the sea turtles is capacity.  They have ability to swim, to maneuver in water that would pose as a threat to other animals, and the ability to stay under those currents for a very long time.  Even though they need air to live, to survive, they can handle being away from it for 4 to 7 hours if needed.
I did this letter to remind the individual that although it may seem like they may drown, that they have the ability to draw upon other strengths, other built in abilities, to handle something that may appear, on the surface, to be something that would harm.

Years ago I did another little turtle sketch, also exploring the same ideas as expressed above.

Monday, May 29, 2017


Normally, I only knock out one envelope per week.  At least, that is my goal.  But, since today is a holiday and I am not at work, why not do another?  This envelope will go out soon to an individual who has been silently, and without fanfare, helping our family in multiple ways for a long time.  A great example of work, service and kindness, and to top it off, he loves to fish (hence the trout themed envelope).  This one is done in gouache, pen and ink and acrylic.

After looking at previous posts, I've realized that there are a handful of fish related entries...I guess I'm a fish guy as well as an insect guy.  You can see others here, here, here and here.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Recently I have had an opportunity to reflect on individuals that were placed in my life which served as great influences which turned on lights inside of my soul by their mentoring and their kindness and patience with me.  Todays letter goes out to such a man, Richard Summers, who affected my trajectory in ways that I probably still do not fully understand.  This envelope was done in acrylic, gouach and pen and ink.

Friday, May 19, 2017

...on Eagle's Wings

The majority of the recent "doodled mail" that I have sent out were to great young men and women that I had the chance to get to know while serving in Rome, Georgia.  These people chose to go out of their comfort zones and serve full time missions for their church throughout the world.  The envelope I finished tonight, however, goes to another outstanding young man, also from that part of the country, who is embarking on a different, yet no less important type of mission.  He has chosen to serve our country in the armed forces, and just recently left to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp.  I'm grateful for him, and for all the other brave men and women that put on the uniform to defend my liberties.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

...more Japanese mail

A few months ago I sent off a little doodled envelope to a friend serving a mission in Japan.  He's an amazing young man.  His sister, who is equally amazing, is also serving as a missionary there currently. I feel blessed to know them.  This was the envelope I just sent off to her in Fukuoaka.  Background is in acrylic, to get a little bolder color, and the koi is in gouache.  

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Red Completed

Alas, I am finished with least for a while.  I added a tomato, some Chinese maple leaves, and a curious little chicken head to continue the study of the color red, but I can say that I am happy now to move onto another color.  Here are a few details, and then the final painting.

Now it's time to go mow the law and pick weeds...I'm sure I'll find other colors and critters to inspire.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Red, continued...

I stated in the previous post that there is something deeply satisfying for me to paint in red.  Continuing with the "red" theme, I added this little fella to the Umbrella Monk doodle that I did the other night.  Lady bugs are such a beautiful little insect.  The bright color is actually a warning to predators that they don't taste too good.  But, OH, how fun they are to paint!

What's coming next on the "Red" page?  Not sure yet, but it will be fun to paint, whatever it is.....

Sunday, April 30, 2017


This weekend, I had more time than isual to fiddle around in the studio, and felt a longing to paint red.  There is a joy thay comes in painting crimsons and reds...  I love adding the greens to make shadows, popping the orange to pull out highlights.  To quench the "red" fever, I started this little buddhist monk with umbrella, and will add more and more red items in the future....who doesnt love a nice, flowing RED?   As I painted this, I was reminded of my little Tibetan children painting I did a while ago.  There are so many awesome colors in the orient....let's move there!

...and that is dying.

This week I was reminded of an individual in my neighborhood that recently lost her mother.  Years ago, at a funeral of a loved one, a thought, or poem of sorts, was shared.  It was penned by Henry Van Dyke years ago, but it was insightful, and I remember it often.   This week's envelope was to this person who lost her mother.  In it I put this thought, and doodled the ship on the frront.  

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.


Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."


Gone where?


Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"


And that is dying...


Saturday, April 22, 2017

...more value than many sparrows

Confession Time:  The past few weeks have been rough with various pressures, challenges which consequently bring me to a place where I face a crossroads of fear or faith.  Normally when I get into these circumstances, I become grumpy, even unapproachable at times.  Last night as I lay in bed  I pondered my circumstances.  I reviewed how I have reacted to them, and recognized that I could do better, be better, and trust more, I came upon a pleasant reminder in Matthew 10:28 - 31 that circumstance does not determine personal worth.

"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.   Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
So I decided to watch the sparrows today, and think of someone who is needing reassurance more than myself.  I decided to sketch out this envelope for a friend who has been asked to face a very challenging circumstance recently.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Today I painted the life cycle of a silkmoth.  Why?  I love insects, but I thought that today, of all days, it was nice to see the type and shadow, even in nature, of the fact that something  slow, unappealing, and gross to some can be transformed into something that can soar, that is beautiful, and that is ever attracted to light.  Happy Easter to all, and may we see the potential in ourselves and others, even when it may not be apparent at the present time.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Under the Radar

It's been a while since I last posted.  Ive been flying under the social media radar a bit lately, but have continued to doodle.  Here are four more envelopes that I have sent off with letters to the dear recipients.  Two of them went off to amazing Sister Missionaries that I admire. One is serving in Paris, France and the other is serving in Utah.  One doodle ties into the "Fishers of Men" invitation given to disciples of old, while the other is a little garden and empty tomb to reflect on the upcoming Easter weekend.  Two other envelopes went out to dear friends from Georgia that have been asked recently to face some new struggles, yet who are faithfully moving forward a step at a time.  

Friday, February 24, 2017


This week's envelope and letter goes out to another awesome missionary that is serving in Washington State, home of some of the best growing for Cherries in the Northwest part of the U.S..  No doubt, she is doing a fabulous as she works to bring aid to people in that part of the country.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tropical Goodies

I haven't posted for a couple of weeks, but I have still been doodling.  Recently, I've chosen to do some envelope art for young missionaries that I know, and that ROCK as examples of great young people willing to step out of their comfort zones to serve other people, full time, for 18 to 24 months away from their families.  The two envelopes this week went out to a couple of Sister missionaries both of which are in different parts of Brazil!  
This one is of a fruit I knew nothing about till I served my mission in Brazil.  It's the cashew fruit, and the cashew nut comes out of the bit that protrudes from the top of the fruit.  
This one is just a nod to all of the amazing wildlife found throughout the tropical areas of the world.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Fruits and Vegetables

This week I knocked out a couple of "Mail Art" doodles and letters to people that have brought me specific happiness, or took time to help me and my family feel welcome.  It is wonderful to see just how many tender mercies are afforded each of us through the kind hands of others when you stop to look and take an accounting of the many blessings.  The first, to a friend with the last name "Pepper"...hence, the pepper sketch.  The second, for a gentleman who exemplifies bearing "good fruit" as explained in Matthew 7:20.   These were done in Gouache and I enjoyed the way the color popped on the white background.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servant

For the past 18 months, our daughter has been serving a full-time mission for our church in the great state of Tennessee, but will finish her labors on Wednesday the 1st, when she comes home!  We are excited for her, happy about her choosing to put others before herself, but we are happy to get her back home.  This week's envelope will be waiting for her in her room, with my final "mission letter."  I think I'll miss writing to her every week...all the more reason to find others to send a little something to each week! 😀 Here's our missionary!  
Here's her envelope:

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Soccer Parks and Japanese Mail

Today was my turn to take my youngest to his soccer game up to North Phoenix.  He plays all over, but the complex he went to today, the Rose Mumford Sports Complex, is my favorite because of all the older trees that dot the landscape.  So, while he was out there vigorously defending the goal as "keeper", I watched the game, as well as vigorously sketched the trees as a "doodler." The game finished before I did, but here's what ended up in my sketchbook:
Also, last week I doodled yet another envelope and sent it off to a friend who is serving a mission in Japan.  I envy the amazing beauty that he is likely seeing every day in the architecture, the symbolism and the culture.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Air" Mail

This week's doodled envelope, sent to a neighbor who is down on her luck.  

Saturday, January 07, 2017

A Couple More Letters

After finishing my annual Christmas Can, it was back to the regular sketches and doodles.  I did one last week but failed to post, and finished another envelope up today.  The goal is to send out a letter a week to someone who has come on hard times, who has impacted my life in some way or another, or who just might be in need of a fun, little envelope.  Here are the two most recent:
A little lighthouse for a friend who's husband recently passed away.
A more tranquil doodle for an individual who helped me remember some truths about myself and reminded me of some key insights that I had forgotten.  This one was fun to put the mailing address right on the big lily pad!