New Look!

Okay, okay. Breathe. Don’t freak out. Sometimes, change is good. Really! ;o) I’ve been meaning for ages to update this blog’s Theme, but haven’t gotten to it until now. And I LOVE it! Hopefully, you do too. I find it much easier on the eyes, it fits my artistic personality much better, and it matches the full GLA Website really well!

Not only does this blog look different, but my body sure does, too. Thank the Lord pregnancy (normally) takes a full 9 months, or this would be way more painful. I’m in the middle of week 38, and I’m so ready to meet our little lady. But I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed pregnancy. Despite the swelling, the fatigue, the weight gain, the acid reflux, and a slew of other fun changes, it really is all SO worth it. To feel those precious little kicks and rolls inside, knowing there’s a little me in there… it’s awe-inspiring.

I do have to say, though, that a huge part of my success during this pregnancy has to be attributed to my husband and his unconditional love for me and my transforming physique. I don’t know how any woman could mentally sustain 9 months of constant change without a man like mine loving her just as she is and reminding her how beautiful every pound is for the purpose.

"Just the Three of Us" by Natalie Grace

“Just the Three of Us”
by Natalie Grace

I drew this pic a couple weeks ago while being overwhelmed by this feeling of immense contentment and gratitude for my husband. (Neither of these characters look like me or my husband, by the way.) I was also inspired by the sweetness in the art of Brittney Lee‘s work, like in this picture. There’s such an indescribable beauty about this time when all the pieces fit just right and you know that God is weaving your family’s story together for His glory.

Whatever phase of life you find yourself in right now, I hope you’ll take the time to slow down and cultivate a spirit of gratitude each day. It makes any major (or minor) life change look completely different and doable, especially for people like me who are a little hesitant to accept change. Try it out. I think you’ll like it.

So grateful,

Natalie Grace

Relay for Life Commission

Gosh, God is doing some really fun things lately! So Koda’s owner, Jeff, is a Team Captain for his area’s Relay for Life event coming up at the end of this month. Since he liked his Koda pic so much, he asked if I would be at all willing to draw up a piece that they could sell through a silent auction to benefit Relay. This is just the thing I would love to give my time and talents to, so I told him I was all in. My only hesitation was time, since I knew there would be a deadline for this kind of thing and Little Lady could want out whenever. But I’m pleased to say that after about two weeks of dedication to this project, I sent it out to Jeff today, and I’m thrilled to be able to be part of this!

I’m sure by now you’re asking “So… Where’s the Art?” Before this turns into an artistic Wendy’s ad and Clara Peller comes knocking on my door, I’ll show you. Here are the three reference pics Jeff sent.

I had a terrible time choosing the right one to work from. I loved the idea of recreating the Falls, but I thought the pic of the River would maybe be easier to get done in time and a little more defined. So I took that one to Black and White for my charcoal work.

"Snake River" Black and White

“Snake River” Black and White

Finally, I was ready to get started. Here are the pics of the whole process. It’s fun to look back on it step-by-step. And maybe someday I’ll learn, especially with charcoals, that I need to start on the right side of the picture since I’m left-handed. It would be SO much easier that way…

I’ve been really critical of my work on this piece since I’m not REALLY a landscape artist. It’s definitely not my forte or passion. But I certainly had fun trying and I hope it reels in a good amount of cash for the Relay team!

I also had a great time learning about this area. I got started on this project, then finally wondered what I was actually drawing. I know next to nothing about Idaho other than that its potatoes are tasty. Jeff told me this is the Perrine Bridge spanning across Snake River. Of course, I had to look them up right away, and I learned that the Perrine Bridge is famous within the BASE and bungee jumping crowds because it hangs 486 feet above the river. How thrilling! I think I’ll keep my feet on the ground, but art is a great way to “dive” into learning about a place like this!

Taking the leap,

Natalie Grace

“Koda”

And more blessings keep coming! Since posting “Rocky Boy” to Facebook, two friends I used to work with at Disney World have requested their own commissions. I love it, and I’m grateful people love their animals so much. :) Unfortunately where we live right now, pets aren’t allowed, so this gives me an awesome opportunity to feel like I have some pooches around!

The first commission request I received was a great surprise. It was fun discussing what kind of final product Koda’s owner wanted without having seen Koda at all, leaving me wondering what kind of pup I’d get to work on. Ah, but when I finally received this pic, I was relieved and excited. What a cutie!!

"Koda" Original

“Koda” Original

Instead of a painting, Koda’s dad wanted a black and white drawing. Definitely a less expensive choice since it’s going to be shipped well across the U.S.! I chose to go with a sturdy 16×20 piece of Canson art board and dig out my charcoal pencils and stumps. I’m definitely a little rusty on these. Don’t think I’ve shaded like this since my Sophomore year of college (which, hey, wasn’t THAT long ago), but it’s so fun to jump back into using this medium.

The first thing I did was edit the photo to a Black and White copy and print it out for reference. So the progress goes something like this:

And the final product (though I’m always tempted to do more, so this might continue to evolve a little before I send him off):

"Koda" Final (WM)

“Koda” Final (WM)

I’m really happy with the way Koda looks. From what I’ve heard, his owner is pretty thrilled, too, which is really what it’s ALL about. I think an artist’s true mantra has to be “Happy Customer, Happy Life.” As long as my art is making people smile, I’m content. :)

So glad to have another project under my belt,

-Natalie Grace

Using Art to Cover Precious Little Buns

I just HAVE to share this exciting development with you all! I promise I won’t use this blog to plug products often, but when something this good and uplifting comes along, it must be shared. As I’ve mentioned, my husband and I are expecting our first little bundle of giggling joy very soon. Being the researcher I am, I’ve been doing lots of investigations on all things baby, including the great diapering debates: disposable or cloth? Thankfully, both my husband and I are very middle-of-the-road people. On pretty much every issue, I can see the pros and cons to either side and don’t feel that anyone has the right to tell another person what they have to do with their kid in order to be a good parent. It’s ridiculous how angry, self-righteous, and judgmental anyone can get about parenting methods (even if they’ve never been a parent!)… but I digress. The short of it is that diapering-wise, we’ve chosen to do a little of both.

In my search for the best cloth diaper brands, I came across a boat-load of information. It’s overwhelming how many brands are out there and even more confusing trying to figure out if you should buy microfiber, hemp, bamboo. I mean, there are cloth diaper glossaries out there because the process truly has its own language. But in the midst of trying to sift through all the info, I discovered a product and a mission that I can totally get behind.

Enter The Little Bee Co. Just one visit to their website and I was hooked. Not only do they make cloth diapers, which are obviously environmentally friendly, but here’s the kicker: for EVERY diaper I buy from them, a second diaper is shipped to an orphan in need. They’ve partnered with orphanages all over the world, and once they get enough orders to provide a diaper for each orphan within a given orphanage, they do a “diaper drop” for those precious children.

So here’s where I got even more stoked about all of this. After finishing “Rocky Boy” and turning him over to my friend who had commissioned him, I realized I never really set a price for the painting. Really, I am an artist and not a businesswoman. I told her I’d lower the price for her since I handled the situation poorly and she was a good friend and all, but she replied and said she’d actually been expecting to pay about twice as much, the original price I had wanted for him. So I came up with what I think was a pretty sweet solution. If she was willing to pay the full amount she offered, I would promise to devote all of that money to getting the Little Bee Co. diapers I had been looking to buy. That way, she knew that her money was going to not only cover my precious bambino’s buns, but she would also be using her money to cover precious little buns around the world! I don’t think it gets better than that. She was thrilled with the idea, and that plan is just what happened.

The Little Bee Co. Package

The Little Bee Co. Package

After receiving her check, I put in my order. I just received my package of The Little Bee Co. diapers today, and I was SO thrilled to open the box!

The Little Bee Co. Diapers

The Little Bee Co. Diapers

These things are dang cute. Not only are the colors really pretty, but each color is selected to represent a group of needy orphans around the world. Check out this page of their website that describes the significance of each one. How cool is that?

All in all, I’m really excited to have been able to use the money for my art in this way, and I want to keep finding ways to do this. Of course, I can’t just keep buying diapers with everything I make. One kid can only make so much mess. ;) But this is definitely an awesome start. If anyone has other ideas of companies that I could partner with like this one, please leave me a reply and let me know!

Thoroughly pleased, delighted, and blessed,

Natalie Grace

“Rocky Boy”

I’ve been wanting to post my progress on this commission, but it’s definitely bad form to post the work before the commissioner sees the final product! A great friend wanted a piece to capture her beloved and hairy best friend, and I was more than happy to give it a go. I always welcome the challenge to step outside of my cartooning box and see what I can do. However, that usually means a longer-than-normal process. Because I’m not totally confident of my skills, I often start into a work like this and do exactly what I did this time around – I work on bits and pieces pretty steadily, and then I abandon the project for a while because I don’t want to ruin what I’ve done. “Creativity takes courage” (thanks, Henri Matisse), and sometimes my courage-o-meter gets pretty low.

I did most of my foundational work for this project back in October and November, then I went on hiatus over the holidays and had major trouble wanting to jump back in. But when my friend text me about him in late January, I decided it was finally time to get back to work, and I ended up finishing him in two days. And that’s the way it goes. I just need a good swift kick in the pants (or a text) to get me in go-mode, and it takes no work at all.

I wish I could say that I will learn this lesson, but this is quite consistently true.

Anyway, without further ado, the pictures:

Sticking with it,

Natalie Grace

The Joy of Painti… Er, Pregnancy

Sitting on the couch last night feeling Little Lady move, I was suddenly inspired to doodle.

"Little Feet"

“Little Feet”

I haven’t seen quite this much distinction from her yet, but I’ve heard tell of some rather Alien-like activity brewing in the womb. Even though that sounds terrifying, I absolutely love drawing these little moments and imagining seeing something similar soon. As a parent, I already know how easy it is to have your body in one place while your mind is already frantically trying to organize the future, and I’ve only been in this game for 30 weeks! I can’t imagine what it’ll be like once she shows her face. But here’s just a little reminder to take in every little moment as it happens. Don’t while away the hours, because they’ll be gone before you know it.

Slowly learning,

Natalie Grace

Pyrography for the Beginner

Wow. I just looked up ‘pyrography’ on Google to make sure I was spelling it right, and the Google images that showed up blew me away. This really is a sweet art that I would love to master someday, but… not right now. :) Too many other goals to finish before I start another. But I did want to share the Christmas gifts I gave to my family this year.

Wood Burning 1

Wood Burning, Part 1

Wood Burning 2

Wood Burning, Part 2

I have a really cheap wood-burning pen that I bought over three years ago to burn a wedding gift for my husband that says ‘Our Love Is Here To Stay’, but I had completely forgotten about it until I was trying to think of some sweet gift ideas. So I got it out, dusted it off, and here’s the result! It sure takes a lot of patience to get the good, deep burn I was looking for, but it’s so worth it when you’re done.

I bought the plaques at Jo-Ann Fabrics, then found a flower stencil I liked. The writing I printed off from my computer and traced onto the plaque, and then I just drew the heart design free-hand since I couldn’t find anything on the internet that I really liked. Again, this is some pretty basic stuff, but it’s really fun and great to see such a lovely finished product.

Any ideas for what I should do next? Let me know below!

-Natalie Grace