life

Sunny Summertime

Is there anything (other than maybe the beach) that says "summer" more than sunny sunflowers? How bright and beautiful they are. You usually think of flowers as being dainty, but not sunflowers.... some of those stalks are incredibly THICK...  they're just sturdy flowers. 

These girls had so much fun running around in the larger-than-life flowers while I took countless photos. There are plenty to choose from too - they were smiling so big that there isn't a bad picture in the bunch!

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And bees LOVE THEM too! There were THOUSANDS of big fat beed buzzing around trying to suck out all the nectar. We didn't bother them and they left us alone too - they were more interested in their meal!

I was so inspired by the sunflower patch that I came straight home and drew one of the dinner plate-sized flowers for my #100daysof4x4drawings !!

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Toes in the sand...

Summertime is beach time. 

I say that, but until last month, I hadn't been to the beach in WAY too long (like YEARS)... which is silly since we live to close to the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. 

Anyway, Steve had to go down to SanDestin, Florida to speak at a conference, so we decided to make a mini-trip out of it and take a friend for Maggie (since Abby was at camp). We stayed in Sandestin for 1 night and then headed to Mexico Beach, Florida (about an hour away) for a few more days. 

We walked on the beach, we ate tons of seafood, we played games at night, we never turned the tv on, we took naps, we ate sandwiches and chips under our umbrella on the beach, we swam, we played in the sand... 

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We even ran into some sweet friends from home! 

One thing I had plenty of time for was painting and I'm so glad I took my travel paint bag with me. I usually carry a water brush and a few extra small brushes, watercolor pencils, my travel watercolor pallet, and some pens in my bag and it worked out perfectly! I'm an early-riser and I would go outside on the screened porch in the morning to start my daily painting and then I'd pack it up in my bag to paint on the beach too. 

When can I go back? Who wants to go with me? Let's rent a house and go spend a long weekend eating seafood and sitting on the beach painting!

I'll bring the umbrellas!!!

And so it begins...

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While looking through photos the other day looking for that hideous one I posted on the blog yesterday, I came across this one. This, folks, is a picture of me on Christmas morning in about 1984-ish when I got my very first drafting table (otherwise known as an "art table"). I can't see what those papers are, but I can only imagine that I had ALREADY started "creating"...

... and I've been creating ever since!

 

Awkward phase

Everybody has a dorky phase. Everyone. Some people get over theirs when they're little, some are teenagers, some are 30, and some (like me) have super awkward dorky phase that lasts from about age 7 all the way 'til they're out of college. I mean, it was the 80's... being dorky was cool, right? 

Come on...don't leave me hanging over here...

Whatever... I'm saying I win. 

Anyway, a few weeks ago I posted 20 random non-artsy facts about myself and fact #8 was about my favorite stuffed animal growing up - Goat Boy. Since NOBODY asked, I thought I'd share a bit more about him. I got Goat Boy at Carowinds in Charlotte when my dad's company went there for their company picnic one year. We usually went to a park and had an ACTUAL picnic and played games (egg toss, sack races, bingo, etc.), but this year we went to an amusement park. Dad told me when we got there that he would buy me one thing and to make sure I made the right choice, I waited until the very end of the day to choose. We were literally walking out of the park and Dad said, "If you don't choose something NOW, we're leaving!" I looked up and the heavens parted (literally - Goat Boy was hanging from the ceiling at this little toy hut) and I said, "I want that one" and pointed to my new best friend. There have been debates over the years if Goat Boy is in fact a goat or a deer or a llama... but I know the truth. He's CLEARLY a goat (and a very handsome one, if I might add)!

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This picture of me with Goat Boy is from about 1985-or-so. I'm not sure why Goat Boy is wearing clothes in this picture... maybe they're pajamas. He normally chose to wear only his birthday suit and I'm ok with that because he is a GOAT. For that matter, what am I wearing? I hope to goodness it's some sort of pajamas or gown... or maybe it's a robe. 

I still have Goat Boy, although I'm not sure where he is. But you wanna know what else I still have too? The airbrush t-shirt I had made in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with Goat Boy's portrait on the front. Wait, what? Why yes, I did say, "Airbrush"... everyone had a shirt with their favorite stuffed animal on the front, didn't they?

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I was talking to my husband the other day about Goat Boy and our secret language (Shut Up!!... I was an only child, ok?) and he brought up something about my wonderfully realistic airbrush portrait of Goat Boy... Can you IMAGINE what the artist thought? Good grief... what a DORK I was!!! I mean, she did a GREAT job on the representation, but can you imagine what she was thinking as Goat Boy was sitting for his portrait? 

Well, my parents thought I was cool...

At least I THINK they did....

 

20 random, non-artsy facts about me...

Ok, I'm having writers block today, so what Im going to attempt to do is give you 20 normal, random, non-artsy facts about me. 

EDITED: this was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Not including art-related stuff? That makes up a HUGE part of my life! 

  1. I played the handbells in high school. I went to a small private high school and handbells was one of my electives. Weird, I know. I haven't picked one up in over 20 years, but I can still remember my part in Carol Of The Bells.
  2. I love the color orange. Red orange, sunset orange, pumpkin... LOVE!
  3. I LOVE taking my shoes off. Seriously, as soon as we walk in the door, I flip them off - in the kitchen... much to the dismay of my husband. 
  4. I collect Chinese Checkers boards. I've got several and I'm always looking for "new" ones when I'm in antique stores. I found a really cool one the other day, but it was $65. That's a bit much for me. 
  5. I'm an only child. No siblings... my Mom and Dad were my playmates. 
  6. I LOVE the smell of gardenias. WE have a huge gardenia bush in our backyard and I cut a new batch of flowers every few days in the early summer to bring inside. 1 gardenia blossom can make an entire room smell HEAVENLY!
  7. My favorite flower is a Black Eye Susan. They're so happy and sunny and I LOVE to see them growing wild on the side of the road.
  8. I had a goat stuffed animal when I was a kid and his name was "Goat Boy".  Go on, laugh... I bet I'm ALSO the only person who had an airbrushed t-shirt of her goat stuffed animal. Ok, don't make fun - remember I said I was an only child? Yeah... my PARENTS thought I was cool...
  9. I LOVE grape flavored stuff. Grape soda, grape bubble gum, grape koolaid, grape popsicles... 
  10. I love to read and re-read books. When I find a book I love, I will read it over and over again. I like to read new books too, but there's something neat about re-reading an old book... I ALWAYS find something new the second (or third) time I read it. 
  11. Taco soup is probably my favorite meal. It's so cheap and easy and I make a HUGE batch and we eat on it for at least 2 days (3 if the kids are at their Dad's and it's just me and Steve). Steve likes to eat his with Tostitos Scoops.
  12. I hate to vacuum. I put it off and put it off 'til I can't stand it anymore. We're talkin' dog hair blowing around like tumbleweeds. 
  13. I hit a lull just now and asked my 12 year old to give me a fact about myself and she said, "you love to cook". She's right - I love to cook.... and I'm really good at it too. I like to try new recipes, but for the most part - I just make it up as I go. One thing I can't cook though - biscuits. Can I even call myself southern if I can't make biscuits? 
  14. I'm allergic to cats. Yes I have a cat. Yes I'm allergic to her. My allergies aren't as bad as they USED to be, but if the accidentally scratches me, I get all itchy and my skin swells up like a mosquito bite. 
  15. I LOVE pens. I have hundreds - felt tip, brush pens, fine tip, markers, gel pens, ball point pens, fountain pens. It's not an obsession... I prefer to call myself a connoisseur. For real.
  16. I have a pair of Teva sandals that I bought in 1996 or 1997 and I'm still wearing them in 2018. I know they have made leaps-and-bounds in comfort, but my shoes still look brand new... If it aint broke - don't fix it (or buy new ones).
  17. My youngest loves stuffed animals (specifically pigs) and I'm more than happy to buy them for her, because you know what? I love stuffed animals too. 
  18. If I had to chose my last meal, it would be pinto beans (cooked with a ham bone), soupy taters, and cornbread with spicy chow chow. My Granny was an EPIC cook and she could make an awesome meal out of the most humble of ingredients: a $0.99 bag of dried beans, a leftover ham bone, a $2 bag of potatoes, a little bit of butter, and some cornmeal. 
  19. I would LOVE to have a chicken coop in my backyard to have fresh eggs and sweet chickens clucking and pecking around. They're allowed in our city, but I don't have a fenced in backyard, so I need to figure that out first. 
  20. I like to sew. I don't do it very often anymore, but I used to love to be elbow-deep in a box of fabric scraps piecing together a quilt or hemming pants or sewing curtains... there's a really awesome sense of accomplishment when you make something useful. 

Maybe that last one was a bit artsy, but not in the traditional sense (painting, drawing, crafting, creating, etc.). So that was 20 random non-artsy facts about me. These were really fun to come up with! 

 

 

MIA... update

Ok, so I'm ashamed to say that I just looked at my last blog post... and it was almost a month ago. Ooopsie. I was hoping I'd get better about the frequency of my posting, but I'm just having trouble MAKING myself sit down and write. Writing is something I've never really been too fond of and I don't honestly think I'm that good at it. Right now I'm doing an online "business for creatives" class that teaches you how to take your art/business to the next level. It's called Level Up, and it's by Caylee Grey, and I really love it. ANYWAY, lesson one (#1... the VERY FIRST LESSON right out of the gate) is about writing.

Wouldn't you know it?

Write your story. The story of me. My story as an artist and business owner. 

Whatever... I guess writing IS pretty important...

 

SIDE-TRACK OVER. Sorry.

I wanted to give y'all a bit of an update on all things "me"... What's been happening in the world of Laura Murray Creative! Well for starters, I'm working on a 100 day project of little 4" line drawings. Some are things out of my head and some are everyday things like my dog sitting in her bed looking out the window. I'm sharing those images on my Instagram @alabama.pen.paper and I've created a specific hashtag if you want to look those up: #100daysof4x4drawings . I'm on day #29 right now and they're really making me happy (for the most part...  a few of those days I just wasn't feeling creative and I struggled... I see you, Day 22 and Day 24). Here are a few of those images to whet your appetite: 

Last week I had the honor of being the guest artist at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art in Auburn at their Family Art Day, and it was a BLAST! We made our own "Amazing Alabama" travel journals. The little books included a fun colored front and back cover, a county map of Alabama, some plain pages, some graph paper pages (because who DOESN'T love to draw on graph paper?), and we stitched it all together using a VERY simple version of the Japanese stab-binding technique. This is a very detailed version of our binding.

Here are a few photos from the event: 

The 4th photo from the left I'm with my friend, the fabulous artist Lauren, who owns The Local Market in Auburn. LOVE her!

Another thing I've been working on is my garden... finally. I'm super excited about the things I've got growing this year. I planted 3 different types of tomatoes (1 large slicing tomato, one heirloom grape tomato, and one yellow cherry tomato - my FAVORITE), bush peas, vine peas, sweet potatoes, romaine (because why not - I MISS eating salad), mesclun, chives, basil, rosemary (my plant didn't fare too well over the winter), heirloom carrots, radishes, and spinach.  I don't have a HUGE garden, but I only planted small amounts of everything. My biggest issue with our garden is that we don't have FULL SUN ALL DAY. It's full sun for a few hours, then dappled sun the rest of the day. Surprisingly tomatoes and peas work pretty well back there - I'm just waiting to see about the other stuff... 

All-in-all, I'm keeping busy. Between drawing and the yard and the garden and cleaning house and working on a few new projects (more on that later) and end of school tests and recitals and stuff, I'm ready for summer.

Are you?

This is just a fun little spread I've been working on in my art journal...

This is just a fun little spread I've been working on in my art journal...

Random holidays that are TOTALLY worth celebrating

Recently I did this survey thing on Facebook where you see what random national holiday falls on your birthday. Mine is National Pasta Day (October 17th) and I couldn't be happier. Well, that got me to thinking about all the other strange holidays we celebrate as a country (some bigger than others), and there is REALLY a holiday for just about every day of the year... and some days there are more than one! When doing all this super technical research (read: procrastinating and goofing off), I came across this list : 12 Totally Random Holidays Every Designer Should Celebrate. The article lists holidays like National Sweatpants Day (Jan 21), Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (Feb 18), and Drawing Day (May 16), but I've got a few more that I'd like to add to this list. 

Handwriting Day January 23

This is something I'm trying to get better about. When I get to writing too fast, I'm super sloppy. I'm trying to slow down and really concentrate on writing neatly.

Napping Day March 12

Seriously? This is TRULY a holiday I can get behind!
(checking calendar to make sure I'm free this day...)

No Housework Day April 18

Ok, most days are "No Housework Day" for me... but I'll totally celebrate it on April 18th!

Read a Book Day September 6

Again... clearing my calendar for this day! I absolutely LOVE to read and I've got an enormous reading list right now.

International Coffee Day October 1

Ok, I honestly celebrate this every day, but I'll be happy to make this a special holiday!

Author's Day November 1

YAY! I had NO IDEA this was a holiday! ESPECIALLY since my first book, Amazing Alabama, was officially published on November 1, 2017! It was meant-to-be! 

Make a Gift Day December 3

EVERY YEAR I like to sit down with the kiddos and make Christmas gifts. Whether we do it for one person or multiple people on our list - making gifts is something we (I) love to do! This year I'm going to have to start thinking of something SPECIAL to make on "Make a Gift Day". Maybe I'll create a DIY and you can make a gift with me! 

What random holidays do you remember to celebrate each year? Certainly I'm not the only one who can TOTALLY get behind National Inspire Your Heart With Art Day (Jan 31) or National Coloring Book Day (August 2) or Candy Corn Day (Oct 30)... Right?

Well hello there!

Remember me? I'm your fun and funky pen-and-ink artist... the one whose ashamed and appalled that it's been TWO MONTHS since posting anything. I know, I know... but I've had quite a busy couple of months launching my new book, Amazing Alabama, traveling all over the place hosting book talks and coloring parties, we moved my stepson and his girlfriend into their new (adorable) little house, we had family here for Thanksgiving, more family for Christmas, celebrating an engagement, more family after Christmas, football (GO DAWGS)... I'm POOPED! 

For now, I'm going to leave you with this little piece of SOLID GOLD!

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From one artist to another...

I really don't have the words to describe New York. We walked over 45 miles in the 6 days we were there, saw some incredible artwork (more on that in a bit), ate some FABULOUS food, saw some quintessentially "New York" neighborhoods, rode in a yellow taxi, the subway, AND a taxi boat, saw 2 Broadway plays (one of which was actually in the "Broadway Theater"), ordered food from a street cart, got honked at while crossing the street... and that's just the tip of the iceberg! 

Now, being an artist and reading books about art and artists, and studying art and artists, we HAD to hit a few art museums while we were there. We didn't get a chance to go in the Guggenheim - even though we took a picture of it (from the street), but we did go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET) and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and between the 2, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! 

Saturday we went to the MET and we ended up staying 7+ hours and totally closing them down. We were seriously some of the last people in the building and we didn't even see half of everything. From Matisse to Van Gogh (we saw the sunflowers, the cypress, and his SELF PORTRAIT) to Cezanne to Monet, this museum was right up my alley.  When you think it couldn't possibly get any more incredible, we even got to see a Leonardo Da Vinci (I was so in-awe that I didn't get a picture. Sorry.)! Steve was even surprised to find that the MET is the home of Emanuel Gottlieb Leutz' painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware. I must admit, it's a bit surprising to round a corner and see this larger than life (seriously - at least 20 ft wide) painting that you've read about and studied your entire life! It's exhilarating and awe-inspiring, to say the least. 

Wednesday we were flying out at 4:15, so we decided to walk to MOMA before heading to the airport. Once again, I was ASTONISHED by the paintings that are there... Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Dali, etc. Some of these works were the ACTUAL works that I studied in Art History 101... I definitely had my little freak-out moment when I got to see The Starry Night... 

There were a TON of Picasso paintings at MOMA, but I honestly think I blacked-out from excitement. When I came to, with tears on my cheeks, I was a bit disappointed that this was the only Picasso I managed to take a photo of.

Oh well, I've got them all in my memories.

The city that never sleeps

My 40th Birthday is next week, so my husband suggested we go to New York to celebrate. I'm super excited - neither of us has ever been! We're staying about a block off Central Park and are planning on doing a bunch of touristy stuff (Empire State, Ellis Island, Staten Island Ferry, etc.), but we both have other MUSTS in mind as well. I definitely want to go to the Brooklyn Art Library and the Russian Tea Room, and we also both want to go to the New York Transit Museum.

Steve and I usually plan our trips down to the minute, but we're both kind of flying by the seat of our pants on this one. We have a shared google map with places we'd either like to go or restaurants we can't afford (but will take a selfie in front of anyway) , but other than the few things we definitely want to do, we're open to anything. 

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A little partisan debate...

Fall brings with it some wonderful things - October, my birthday, falling leaves, cooler weather, pumpkins, mums, scarves, boots and candy corn. My life is better in the fall when I can easily get my hands on these delicious little orange/yellow/white beauties. In fact, my husband and I have a serious love affair with candy corn mixed with peanuts. Anyway, I resisted as long as I could, but the other day I broke down at Kroger and bought several bags of candy corn and a jar of roasted peanuts. Oh RAPTURE!

Let's count the positives about these beauties:
1) They're like this heavenly miniature bite of Payday candy bars.
2) They look adorable in a little jar on the counter.
3) I don't care to hear any negatives... they're perfect!

That's a jar full of happiness.

The other night I fell asleep on the sofa and Steve, in glorious rapture at being left alone with the blessed jar of candy corns and peanuts, posted something on facebook about them and a very partisan debate ensued. I am extremely shocked and hurt by all the negativity surrounding candy corns. Seriously, what's wrong with people? I don't need that kind of negativity in my life, people!

Candy Corn + Peanuts = Angels singing from above! 

To show my love and support, I am offering another FREEBIE to download and color. Click on the image to download.

Any and all donations to the cause can be made in the form of more candy corns and peanuts (they've got to be roasted)... just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to tell you where to drop them off! 

A few outtakes

I recently had to have some headshots done, and while going through the mountains of photos, I found these gems... 

I always feel awkward having pictures made of myself. Thankfully a good friend of mine took was the photographer, so she had a good time laughing at all the faces I was making. There are definitely more that are even WORSE than these 4... but sometimes it's just best to laugh at yourself. 

 

Another thing I noticed while looking through the photos was that Kellie must've walked around the house taking pictures while I was fixing my hair. 

These are absolutely my favorite shoes. They really go with everything: short, jeans, dresses...

I've obviously been doing quite a bit of research on Alabama lately... not to mention my husband is a historian.

She even found my impressive washi tape collection... Why keep it in a drawer when you can display it in a glass vase?!

I want to move to Corfu

 

Have you seen this show? I was feeling sorry for myself today with Steve away in DC, so I ate some chocolate Easter eggs (4, actually) and turned on the tv to find this gem in my Amazon "things you may like" section. The Durrells in Corfu is the most magical show by PBS Masterpiece... and it's apparently a true story!

It's about a widow in England with 4 children who uproots them all to move to Corfu, an island off the coast of Greece.

Here are the real Durrells (minus Leslie): Gerald, Margot and Lawrence with their mother, Louisa.

Now I want to uproot my family and move to Corfu too! Holy COW look at how picturesque it is!

And after searching through Tripadvisor - I REALLY want to go there! But for now... I'll have to settle for drawing some quick sketches of it... I may redraw this (not in my bullet journal) and add some watercolor. 

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Satellite office

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A couple of days a week I go to Starbucks and take my work with me. These days are usually really productive. I don't have any of the usual distractions (cat) at home (dog) in my office/studio (laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc.). Now that I've got a REAL office space at home, I'll be able to go in there and shut the door (to block out "crazy cat").

As you can see, I'm here quite a bit...

This Starbucks is seriously the best one in Columbus, GA.  And a BIG shout-out to the manager and staff - they REALLY do a great job of making people feel welcome. The manager created this little community of patrons who come back day after day. I've even seen him sitting with customers sampling new drinks. I feel like Cheers when I come in here - everybody knows my name!

I'm here enough... they SHOULD remember me.  :)