Archive for the ‘Encouragment’ Category

boo boo kiss no script

A week or so ago hubby wasn’t feeling up to par and he went to bed early.  When I went to bed later I did not turn on a light so as not to wake hubby.  Big. Mistake.

Earlier that day I’d been folding clothes and putting them away – but failed to close a dresser drawer. You guessed it.  I ran into it in the dark…twice….!  Yeah…it’s complicated.   (But I didn’t wake up hubby, but I scared the dog.)

Anyway I wound up with a technicolor shin bone and two big scrapes.  Fast forward a couple days to Sunday.  Grandkids were here.  My oldest grandson (22 mo) had a sore finger which he showed me. I promptly kissed it for him.   Then I showed him my shin bone.  He looked at me with his big blue eyes then leaned over and kissed my sore leg.

It touched my heart so deeply.   He recognized a hurt and quickly did what he thought would help.    

There’s a friend of mine with a little boy having brain surgery-again- in either October or November.  I believe this is the 4th  surgery for a severe epilepsy.    Their  expenses to stay near the hospital, commuting and meals are enormous.   There is a fundraising site set up for them.  If you could help by donating or spreading the word it would greatly bless them and help alleviate one part of their worries.  The links to the site are below Renn’s pic:

Donations:  Renn’s Medical Bills and Family Lodging

Renn’s Story:  www.thebrainofajedi.blogspot.com

Your caring and compassion will be a blessing.

Thank you, Laura (grandmamiller)

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Having so much fun with Alison Hertz’ and her daughter Erin’s Doodle Day May challenge.  Did not have time to post over the weekend (those are always full days with grandbaby sitting and church activities).  Then I misplaced one sketchbook (it was in the car trunk).  So  here are my sketches from Days 4-6.  (Remember Doodles are not completed drawings-you’ll see pencil lines and scribbles…which makes doodling fun – it doesn’t need to be perfect.)

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Doodling every day is loosening me up and helping me to see potential in everyday objects.  It is helping me to develop a style.  I’ve seen a wonderful change in two of my friends’ styles.  Alison’s and Charlie Eve Ryan’s sketches – are much looser and confident.  They’ve developed a strong spirit in their characters. from sketching regularly.

Thanks again, Alison.  And thank YOU for stopping by.

Blessings on your day,

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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A group of 12 x 12 writers and illustrators is helping to promote Epilepsy Awareness today by wearing purple.  One of our own has a son with epilepsy and many complications, doctor’s visits, tests, and surgery as a result.  His name is Renn and you may read more about him at this post.

I am wearing a purple sweater, purple jewelry and a scarf with purple flowers. epilepsy I have purple gloves for when I go out today and a purple toothbrush for my dog.  AND I just decided I’m going to go out and buy a package of PURPLE peeps to eat and tell the cashier why I am buying them (okay – I realize that’s more about my benefit).

Along with meeting Renn through our 12×12 group, I have an aunt that suffers from epilepsy.  She used to sometimes call when she was living alone to ask, “what day is it?”  She had just suffered a seizure and was disoriented.   I also have a young friend whose husband has epilepsy.  He has to be very careful and take meds at the exact same time every day or he will have an episode. (They even had to schedule the time they got married to accommodate his medicine.)

Please support our friends and just mention or visit these links.  We can make a difference.

I am forced to be brief today.  I am finishing editing on my husband’s doctoral dissertation which we want to complete by Friday.  (It is due Tuesday.) Check my Sanity Wednesday and then it’s tax time…..


Laura Miller (Grandmamiller)

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Spring is certainly somewhere out there, I’m seeing bunnies and lambs and yellow chicks in stores everywhere….especially the soft, squishy, yummy packages of Peeps…..Ahhh…..     Er, uh, anyway,  I chose a fun picture book about sheep and one little lamb in particular who does not follow the flock.

Title:   WoolburWoolbur

Author:   Leslie Helakoski

Illustrator:   Lee Harper

Publisher: Harper Collins 2008

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age: 3-8

Themes/Topics: Independence, Sheep, Creativity

Opening Sentences: “Woolbur had a little trouble with the herd today,” said Maa.  ‘What happened?” asked Paa.  “I don’t want to stand still with the sheep,” said Woolbur, “I ran with the dogs instead.”

Synopsis: Woolbur is a young lamb who is not just one of the flock.  He is his own shepherd, finding unconventional ways to do traditional things in a fun way. This worries his parents, Maa and Paa.     It’s all a happy ending when Woolbur’s creativity catches on.

Why I like it:  The story is fun and the artwork is delightful and captures the free thinking  spirit of Woolbur.  While I feel it is important to teach traditions and conventional ways, it is just as important to encourage ingenuity and creativity.   Woolbur, in his enthusiasm, does just that.  Rather than stand still with the flock, he wants to run with the sheep dogs.  Or instead of being sheared, he wants to keep his warm, fuzzy wool.  “But your wool is so long!”  said Maa.  “I know, ” said Woolbur, “isn’t it great?”  And in my favorite picture – instead of carding the wool separately he cards  himself into an enormous fluff ball.  He also dyes himself blue to his mother’s horror.  An then there’s the illustration of him after he weaves his own wool while it’s still on him (think Marie Antoinette hairstyle).  Every time he tries something new his parents response is, “but [spinning] is not supposed to be fun!”  To which Woolbur responds, “I know!  Isn’t it great?”   Although Maa and Paa worry about Woolbur’s nonconformity and pull their wool each night, Grandpaa (who looks to be old and wise while he does yoga) assures them they should not worry.

Maa and Paa finally tell Woolbur he MUST do what the flock does, whether it’s spinning, or dyeing, or carding or, shearing.  This keeps Woolbur awake all night until he comes up with another creative solution.

Activities/Resources:  Lee Harper, the artist for this book has some delightful coloring pages from Woolbur and even Woolbur masks.

Art is always a wonderful way to try new things.  Doodling can always generate new ideas.  Try this lesson plan

Also retelling a familiar fairy tale promotes creative thinking.  For instance in  “The 3 Little Pigs” what if the wolf was a nice guy?   Or what if the pigs got jobs to build new houses?  Ask your child ways one of the character(s) could  change something with a different reaction.  In Cinderella, what if the step-sisters were nice.  Would they get to move into the castle?  What if Curious George wasn’t so curious?  What is another way he might have met the man in the yellow hat?

Availability: Major bookstores.  (If you go to Amazon, you can see some of the book pages and art work.)

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

Think Spring and enjoy the book!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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Today’s post is part of a blog-hop to encourage Renn, a five year old with rennsevere epilepsy.  He will be in the hospital this week to undergo many tests.  Renn has already had many tests and major surgery for his epilepsy.  You can read more of his story here.

Renn – I spent a lot of time in hospitals when I was your age.  I had a bad appendix – but it wasn’t where it’s supposed to be – so they had to do sooooo many tests.  I understand how tough it is.  My dad always brought me a comic book and my mom brought coloring books and crayons to cheer me up.

Orig 3

We must find a way to encourage Renn!

Renn is a HUGE Star Wars fan so  Knowing that laughter is a good way to battle ‘the dark side’  I thought a few chuckles would help:

Knock, Knock                                 Who’s There?

Maida                                                  Maida Who?

Maida force be with YOU!!


Knock, knock                                   Who’s There?

Art                                                        Art Who?


Why does Princess Leia keep her hair in buns?    Because she doesn’t like bagels!

And here are a few ‘mind’ games you can play while sitting in waiting rooms….r2d2

I spy with my Jedi eye…..  (similar to ‘I spy’ and a combination of 20 questions)    The person may ask questions like….Is it bigger/smaller than Yoda?   Is it shiny like  C-3PO.  Is it fuzzy like an ewok?  Does it roll like R2D2?

Who am I?  Think of a Star Wars character or prop.   Then the other person has to guess by asking questions like:    Are you a human?  Are you an alien?  Are you on the Dark side?   Can you use the Force?   Can you fly a starship?  Do you use a lightsaber?   Are you made of metal?   Do you have fur?  Do you glow?

And here are a few mazes I found online.  Click on the maze  below to go to the actual page.  If mom can’t print them out you can trace the way with your finger on the screen.

Maze yoda face


Maze yoda

Renn, I am amazed at the talents and thoughtfulness of my friends in the cyber world.  You are blessed to have so many wonderful people thinking of you (and your mom and family).   My family is praying for you, too.

epilepsy Susanna Hill is the ‘producer’ of this blog-hop effort.  You can go here to see all the other links and best wishes for Renn.  And don’t miss Erik’s (an 11 year old) video salute to Renn —it is AMAZING!

God keep you strong!   “. . .and the power of the Lord [be] present to heal [you]. Luke 5:17

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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To my many dear friends in the world of children’s books,

As writers and illustrators for children, the impact of the tragedy at Sandyhook Elementary has been deeply felt.  Like so many of you I haven’t wanted to write or draw for days.

Yet that is what we must do.  We-make-a-difference,  especially to children.  If what we draw is with love, then it is greatly needed.  If what we write is with love, then it can change the world.  And that is also greatly needed.

Let us not be stifled by an act of evil, but let us reach within to draw out the love and creativity that can be a balm.  Let our energies and inspiration  flow to bind up the wounds and bring comfort to children and families.

Love can be painted, love can be written, and love can heal.

With great respect for the difference YOU can make –WRITEDRAW-CREATE  with love!!

I love you all,

Laura  (Grandmamiller)

Devotion on coping with Sandyhook Tragedy

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In Everything Give Thanks by Laura Miller 20112

Give thanks to God for all he has given you and may God Bless You today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Laura  (Grandma Miller)

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I’m trying to be braver about showing my work in progress.   So here are a couple rough drafts and color studies of ‘Grumpy.’

Rejoice! copyright Laura Anne Miller 2012

The original is below ( I first did this on a vacation with a cheap watercolor set -then it got lost in an art bag for almost a year.)  When I rediscovered it I revised the painting above for my art class (trying to be specific to an assigned color palette, and mixing my black instead of cheating and using premixed black).  Between the choice of flowers,  I think I prefer the black-eyed Susans to the pink echinecia (Yeah – I tend to be specific rather than fanciful-but remember, I’m working on loosening up.)  The gold color shows up better.  You can vote for  your preference, because I am going to redo for my portfolio…and I appreciate kind critiques.

On to my Perfect Picture Book Recommendation:

Title:   All Together Now

Author:   Anita Jeram

Illustrator:   Anita Jeram

Publisher: Candlewick Press:  1999

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age: 2-8

Themes/Topics: Family, Adoption, Diversity

Opening Sentences: “When Mommy Rabbit says, ‘All together now,’ one thing Bunny, Little Duckling, and Miss Mouse often do is sing their special little Honeys song, ‘All together now!'”

Synopsis: Mama Rabbit has a family of three children, Bunny, Little Duckling and Miss Mouse.  They each have their own special abilities and accept each other’s differences playing and singing and being a family together.

Why I like it:  The book celebrates different abilities and loving one another.  In the story the animals take turns playing different games together where each one is best because of who they are.  Little Duckling is best at splashing games, Miss Mouse is best at itchy-twitchy games and Bunny is best at running games.  Although they are different they love each other for who they are. There is a line that  Little Duckling and Miss Mouse say, “It means, even if I don’t look like a bunny, Mommy Rabbit’s still my mommy just the same.”   The lovely illustrations are done in watercolor and ink depicting  the beauty of the woodland scenes where the animals play.  The blended family even has a song they all sing, which my grandgirls like to repeat as well as thumping their ‘great big feet’ along with the animals.

Activities/Resources:   Some art and crafts projects about DIVERSITY http://www.kidactivities.net/category/diversitymulti-cultural.aspx

Some fun online games about pets/animal activities and coloring pages are here:


Availability:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, hardback & paperback

Perfect Picture Book Fridays is hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Check out the entire categorized/abc list at the link  and her blog every Friday for new recommendations.

Enjoy the book and blessings on your day!

Laura (grandmamiller)

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ImageThese two pictures represent a technique I’d never tried before, but often admired.  It’s called negative painting.  I’ve often admired this technique – but never understood how to do it until a recent lesson in Mark Mitchell’s How to Be A Children’s Book Illustrator.  It involves painting in layers from behind.  There are also videos on YouTube that teach this Image

Sometimes it’s scary to try something new. I tend to be a perfectionist which often intimidates the creative flow.  Too often I procrastinate starting a piece of work because I’m tentative about color selection, or placement of characters, or successfully capturing a moment.  Yet if you set a piece of paper and crayons or paints in front of a child they start to draw before you can say Dr. Seuss.  They are not inhibited by worrying about the appearance of the final drawing, they just embrace the opportunity of expression and excitement of creating.

Changing goals at my age I often hear myself saying,   What if I fail? What if other people think I’m foolish?  It’s taken me a while to answer myself, “So what?  At least I’m trying.”  Winston Churchill once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”  And another of my favorite quotes is, “You always pass failure on the way to success,” from Mickey Rooney (now don’t pretend you’re too young to know who he is).

Part of the process of becoming a published writer or illustrator is going to be accepting rejection (not something I do well).  As a former school principal I often had to take an unpopular stand and was not always liked by a student(s) or even a parent. But  Art and writing are more personal, and are always subjective.  Not everyone will like what we do.  That’s okay.  Some people prefer a Picasso to the Mona Lisa and Gone with the Wind author, Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejections before being published.  Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit was rejected 6 times, so she self-published (and you thought self-publishing was a new idea!). She was finally published by the London firm of Frederick Warne & company and according to them Beatrix Potter’s stories “have never lost their popularity. Today more than two million Beatrix Potter books are sold every year worldwide – which is four books every minute!”

So failure or rejection might happen but it is just part of the process.  And if you receive a rejection letter HURRAH – it means you’ve submitted something and you’re on the pathway to success.  (Myself- I’m hoping to have something to put in the mail  before the end of the year–it may be rejected but it might not.)

I encourage you to determine today to learn a new way to try writing or painting or illustrating.  Be adventurous.  Join a writing group, an art class, or a critique group for the support, encouragement, and accountability. My critique group made suggestions for improvement on both of these paintings and it didn’t even hurt.

So- why not help me out and any readers  and leave a comment on HOW YOU SPARK YOUR CREATIVITY?

Blessings on your day!

For a devotion on Rejection click here

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