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Grandma's Feathered Bed by Laura Anne Miller after John Denver's Song

Grandma’s Feathered Bed by Laura Anne Miller
after John Denver’s Song

I was going through my art cabinet, purging and sorting when I happened on this old colored pencil drawing I did a few years ago (prob. 2009).  John Denver was a favorite singer of mine (yes, I know, I’m telling my age) and one of my favorite songs he did  was “Grandma’s Feather Bed.”

The song makes me smile every time.    I think because it reminds me of when family would get together at my maternal grandmother’s farm in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.   They had mostly cows, pigs, chickens, and once in a while a horse, a couple of farm dogs and lots of cats.  (We never “stole a piggy from the shed” tho’….ewww)

There were my three girl cousins  up from Chicago,  some of my other ‘local cousins’ and some younger cousins I don’t even remember their names.  At night all of us kids would pile into a huge bed with a high head board. The little ones had to be boosted into it. It had the creaky kind of bed springs (really fun to jump on).   We would giggle and squeal, argue about blankets, have pillow fights and tell ghost stories.

Sometimes the neighbors would come over for singing.  Grandpa got out his harmonica and spoons.   The neighbor lady had an accordion.  My dad had a guitar.  We kids got to sing and learn a little square dancing. Once my grandma even grabbed an empty pop bottle and started blowing into it.  The treat was when my grandpa started doing a little Irish jig.   Usually we were sent to bed before the party was over.  HOWEVER,  that didn’t stop us from watching.

Grandma’s house didn’t have a forced air furnace.  It was heated by an old coal furnace.  There were huge grates in the upstairs floor to let the warm air rise.  We would crowd around the grates, laying (lying?) on our stomachs and peering through to the going on’s below.  We’d start arguing about who was hogging the space and yelling ‘move over’   when one of our parents would yell, “Are you kids out of bed?”   Of course we’d all scramble back in bed (creak-creak-creak) and yell “Noooo!”

“It’d hold 8 kids, and 4 hound dogs, and a piggy we stole from the shed…

We didn’t get a lot of sleep, but we had a lot of fun in Grandma’s feather bed.”

It’s been several years since I did the picture and I’ve taken several art courses since, I think I may try reworking this in both watercolor and digital.

And by the way I HIGHLY recommend these  courses: Mark Mitchel’s   “How To Be a Children’s Book Illustrator” and Will Terry’s online Folio Academy courses on “Digital Painting.”   Folio Academy has many more courses available – I’ve just taken the digital.

Thanks for sharing some memories with me today. (oh-by the way, make sure you find all 4 hound dogs, the piggy and 8 kids [see if you recognize me])

Blessings on your creativity!

Laura (grandmamiller)

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Two things Today:

The First Thing not to be forgotten, my friend, Susanna Leonard Hill, has a

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release of Can’t Sleep Without Sheep in Ebook format for only $4.99.  She held a contest earlier with lots of fun/silly promos, the complete list of all the creativity and links  is here and my entry is here just for more fun.  I bought my Kindle copy and the grandgirls gave it 3 baa-baa-beautifuls. The places to find her wonderful  ebook are here:

iTunes (for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch)

Amazon (for all versions of Kindle)
Barnes&Noble (for Nook)

And secondly –  an opportunity to post the last of my Doodle Day May drawings, I mean doodles.  I posted to the Facebook Page, just didn’t have a chance to chronicle here as we were out of town.   And of course I know you’re all dying, to see them here (ho-hum, I’m probably talking to just myself and my mom…er…I think my mom reads my blog…)  Anyway, the last doodle post was #28….so pencil drum rol-l-l-l-l-l-l…

Day #29  Ribbon

Ribbon

Day #30 Shell

Shell

and   Day#31 Wave – and a final goodbye to Doodle Day May the way I say goodbye to people I love…like YOU.

wave

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Still having lots of fun with Alison Hertz‘  Doodle Day May.  The subjects today are ‘ shoes’ and ‘design a font.’  I dedicated the Circus font to Alison (if you don’t know why – you need to read her bio/look at facebook pics.)   The shoe doodle made me think of my little girls growing up.

Circus font

Circus font

I sketched Circus first, then colored it in Photoshop.  I used colored pencils & ink on the shoes.

Shoes

Shoes

Now on to my pick for Susanna Hill‘s  Perfect Picture Book Friday.

This book reminds me of when my girls were little and it was bathtime. When dad supervised it was always lively with lots of giggling, shrieking and splashing.  The walls were dripping, the floor was submerged and the bubbles were everywhere.  (When I supervised – somehow it never seemed as much fun.)

Title: Big Red Tub  (Note: Released as Big Red Bath in UK) 

Author:   Julia JarmanBig Red Tub

Illustrator:   Adrian Reynolds

Publisher: Orchard Books, 2004

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age:  2-4

Themes/Topics: Bathtime, Imagination

Opening Sentences: Stan and Stella in the big red tub.  I splash! You splash!  Splash! Splash! Splash!

Synopsis: Dad is supervising bathtime. The children have lots of fun  especially when all kinds of animals join in.  Dog, lion, kangaroo, duck and even a hippopotamus!  And bathtime ends up going beyond the walls of the house….

Why I like it:  It’s  sudsy fun and the rhythm and rhyme are a rollicking good time.  The illustrations are big and bright.  Matter of fact they are so bubbly and soapy you either need a raincoat or a scrub brush.  When I read this to my grands they immediately wanted a re-read.   This is for a younger audience, but definitely a lively selection.  (You probably won’t want to read it at bed time, tho’ it is such a romp the kids get excited.)

Activities/Resources:   Ms. Jarman has a coloring page from her website here.   And an activity sheet .

 I could recommend something about hygiene, but that’s not fun…. how about   B U B B L E S ?  (Click and scroll down the page to find a dozen bubble activities.)

Availability: Barnes & Noble, Amazon

(Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.)

Have fun enjoying the book.  Stop by tomorrow for another Doodle update.  Blessings on your day!

Laura (grandmamiller)

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This was probably the most doodle fun so far – because I imagined the future…..

Window of the future

Window of the future

I looked at myself through the window sometime in the future.   Realistically,  my hair might be gray by this time….but no one will ever know thanks to my Aunt L’Oreal.

And I wish this moment for all of you too!

(Oh- just a side note:  I left yesterday’s doodle of my grandson’s hands taped to the wall.  It fell down – and all that now remains is part of the right arm and wrist….the bunny ate it (Click there and you’ll see why I should know better–scroll all the way to the bottom).  Glad I took a picture.)

This is all part of  Alison Hertz‘ (author of FLAP!) challenge to Doodle every Day in May.  Alison has created a FACEBOOK GROUP called DOODLE DAY MAY so join the challenge and the group.  It’s for ALL ages and ALL abilities.  You can even still join in the fun.

And….Don’t forget to stop by Susanna Hill’s blog to vote on your favorite jingle promoting her e-book.  Lots of prizes for the winners.  You can check it out here.  Voting  ends Thursday, May 16th at noon EST.

Thanks for stopping by and blessings on your creativity!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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Grumpy Kitty

Grumpy Kitty

Exciting News!! After about a year of dedicated effort, classes like How To Be a Children’s Illustrator by Mark Mitchell, mistakes, redos and learning from so many other fellow artists….someone bought some of my  illustrations!!!  And even more exciting….she’s a published author….like…she  knows real people who can do real illustrations…but she picked one of mine!

Okay – time to act more professionally….I’m sorry I can’t.  There’s still some giddiness left inside….

All right….I’ll try again.  Susanna Leonard Hill is a wife and mom, former

Susanna Hill, Children's Author

Susanna Hill,
Children’s Author

special education teacher and a multi-published children’s author.  She has written Punxsutawney Phyllis, April Fool Phyllis, Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, Taxi, and Not Yet, Rose (which was just printed in German) to name a few of them.   Her popular blog is a delightful, funny read in which she shares her passion for chocolate as well as what she does so well:   encouraging and inspiring fellow writers.  She is also the creator of  Perfect Picture Book Fridays in which I’d started participating to try and be a better blogger.

Around the first part of November  I received an email from Susanna .  The memo line said, “teensy question.” Oh-oh, I thought I’d done something wrong in one of my PPBF posts.  Turns out she had a teensy question that gave me such a motivational boost and validation….  She had seen an illustration on my blog of “Grumpy Kitty” and wanted to know if she could purchase it for a project of hers!!!!

Adventure Girl

Adventure Girl

——–YAhhhhhhhh-ooooooo————-(sorry)   someone actually wanted an illustration!  Who would have thought???  I know, I know,  that’s what I was working for….but…Ahhhhhhh!   Okay – I think it’s all out of me now.    But you see, I couldn’t say anything at the time, because the project was still in the planning stage and still a secret, not yet ready to reveal.   (Well—I did share with my family…sorry, Susanna.)  At last, I can share with everyone – but more importantly tell you about a GREAT, NEW WRITING COURSE by Susanna Hill.

Anyway – longer story short…..Susanna  was going to launch a fabulous online Picture Book writing  course (who better to teach than such an accomplished author?).  She was seeking about 10 artists to illustrate the course curriculum.  I was included in the pool of talent.  Then just recently, she came back to us and asked for more illustrations!!!! (She likes me, she really likes me, er…uh…I mean us!)

Pink Polka Dot Rainboots

Pink Polka Dot Rainboots

Anyway, Susanna said some wonderfully encouraging things and asked for  a couple more of my illustrations, some of which I’m showing here.

Susanna’s online course, “Making Picture Book Magic”  is a 4 week course that will teach you how to write a picture book.  There are 20 lessons, each  designed to be completed in 15-30 minutes (how nice of her to fit it around our busy schedules – that is so Susanna).    Also there are 9 supplements to the lessons, membership in a private Facebook group, and opportunity for personal interaction and discussion with Susanna and other members of your class.  And at the end of the course Susanna will read your finished story and make some comments.   All of this is at a very affordable cost.  CLICK HERE to go to the direct link. Her first two month’s classes have already been filled.  (Smart people  register quickly!)

Also I must mention the 9 other uber talented illustrators who have contributed to Susanna’s course.  They are:  Dana Atnip, Dana Carey, Elizabeth Rose Stanton, Hazel Mitchell, Heather Newman, Julie Rowan-Zoch, Loni Edwards, Martha South, and Tracy Campbell.  Please visit these ladies and you will be treated to beautiful art and inspiration.

I’ve shared  all this to say …..if you have a dream, a goal, then pursue it!!!

Follow Your Dream

Follow Your Dream

Do the work that is needed in any “teensy” amount of time you can squeeze it into.  Seek  professional advice from classes and networking, have an online presence….and work at your passion!   Along the way you’ll meet wonderful people like Susanna  and Mark  who share their talents and abilities and encouragement.  I waited til I was a grandma to pursue my real dream….now I’m determined to go all the way….

Imagine this commercial with me:    ” Laura Miller,  you just sold your first illustration…..what are you going to do next?   I’m going to ……….MY DRAWING BOARD and CREATE SOME MORE!!!!!

Blessings on your creativity!!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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Kitties Never Sleep

YAY – finished the challenges of PiBoIdMo and SkADaMo.  Congratulations to all who participated!!   This was my first time participating in both.  I must thank Tara Lazar of PiBo and Linda Silvestri of SkAD for their energy and talent.  I have learned so much and improved on my skills in writing and drawing.  I’ve been inspired and prodded to do better.

Here are the last of my sketches.  I did some character studies of kids and a couple illustrations for some poetry for my daughter (she’s working on an ebook).   I think my total for the month posted here was somewhere around 28.   I did sketch every day.  Some were just quick sketches to get an idea down on paper – others were for current projects – and some just for fun.  There are a couple I’m not showing because they are just ..um..bad…and since Linda said no rules I don’t have to show them  (thank goodness).

Anyway for those of you who may be brave enough  it looks like Linda and friends have come up with HoHoDooDa Day for the month of December.  The title just makes me laugh.  It’s another drawing challenge – again just for fun.

If you are interested in  any of my sketches you missed  you may click on the links below.

Sk#7     Sk# 8      Sk # 10        Sk #21      SkAD Update (8 sketches)

Update Too (7 sketches)

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Prepare to Meet Thy Doom

Meowlrr

Meowlrr
Character Studies

Character Studies

SkADaMo 022

Charct. Study: Dance! Read! More Sugar!

Bubba

Bubba

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Cissy

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Big Sis

If I Had A Dragon

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Butterfly Wishes

AS promised here are a few more sketches from the SkADaMo challenge.  I do my sketches the ‘classic’ way(I prefer that to ‘old-fashioned’) w/pen, pencil and paper.  I’ve not made it to the digital age yet (thinking about it) and admiring of those who use that media.

Sir Reginald

I’m curious about how you get the pencil/sketch look in the lines.  When I try in my very basic photoshop elements the lines are very heavyhanded.  If anyone using digital would like to comment I’d love the education. (Hurry -while I can still make a birthday/Christmas gift request :).

Lighthouse dog

Anyway  – here are a few more of my sketches from the past weeks of SkADaMo.   

The dog study is for a true story based on the German shepherd I grew up with.

The sketch on the post-it is for a scene about my uncle who was mentally impaired. He brought such love to our lives and lots of giggles too.

The bunny seems a little out of season w/Thanksgiving, but what can I say, the hat fit.

I did NOT flush the slippers!

I Hate This Hat!

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