Answering a few interview questions for a friend recently inspired me to share some of my inspirations and thoughts here on my blog since all of my inspirations are from the grace of God (all the good ones anyway) and perhaps some of this will lift your spirits today. It’s always good to hear someone’s story!
1. What does Drawing On Grace mean to you?
It’s the new name of our website and illustration business. I say “we” because my daughter-in-law, Regan, is my business “consultant” and does the business side of the work. My family is very supportive of me. The name came to me all at once after many months asking in prayer for a name that expresses what we do and why we do it. Without any false humility, I wanted to give glory to God in the name because grace doesn’t come from me, it comes from Him.
The Right Time
It can be very dark out in the world for everyone, especially during this pandemic. In fact just today I saw a commercial pop up on my screen advertising clothing products that are divisive and polarizing. Division and godlessness are everywhere. We need things that unify us, not divide us. Division doesn’t come from God. I made a decision a while ago that I would do what I could to let God’s Grace shine through me in whatever way possible to make the world a lighter, happier, and comical place to be. Beauty and art can do that for people who don’t know how much they are loved by God.
Soon after that intention grew in me, it began to pour out on paper. I need God’s grace every day. Drawing made me feel better and I wanted others to feel better too. I hope to be a small conduit of grace to help others stay afloat so we can just show up and try again every day.
2. What is your favorite part about drawing/watercolor?
There are two answers to that. I think the inking process primarily because the ink has the confidence that I yearn for in saying “yes I mean it!” The pencil whispers an idea and the ink says “Yes! Let’s do this!” It is permanent…no turning back. The pencil is like my thoughts getting organized but the ink is more like words. Permanent and real. The pencil is like my personality, a little unsure. The ink is the boldness I want to have.
Once a priest said to me in confession “Never get tired of trying to begin again.” I am hard on myself when I make mistakes and I needed to hear that. We can begin again every time we fall. I sometimes wish life was as simple as the eraser on my pencil!
Secondly, the water color is like music or poetry because you have an idea but the colors take on a life of their own and you feel grateful to have suggested them into spaces, even though you have little control over the way they animate your feeling. You just get to be a kind of partner or co-worker with them. That’s humbling and exciting. In faith we might compare that to the Holy Spirit, although it’s reversed and He is the one who suggests and we animate. We are co-workers in Christ when we try to bring him into the world.
3. How long have you been an artist?
I always doodled on napkins or whatever I could get my hand on but didn’t start really developing into illustrated pieces until 2019. I always had a pen in my hand, even while driving. I am a writer too and so my pen is an extension of my brain. If I am not putting pen to paper, I am not deeply processing. I figured this out one day while teaching a religion class to sixth graders (as a volunteer) and one of the girls was drawing on the whiteboard with a marker the whole time we were reading the gospel. It was distracting for the other kids at first, but when I asked what she heard from the reading, she astounded us all with the depth of her answer. It was spiritually profound. She had deeply processed with that dry erase marker in her hand. It revealed so much to me about why I am the way I am. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t dumb or weird because I learned a different way than others. Growing up I had these thoughts about myself at times because I didn’t fit into any academic box. When I got into college I wrote everything every professor said, filling notebook after notebook with my class notes. I relied on my notes because I processed the memory of the information that way. I graduated with an excellent GPA. I had to figure out how my brain worked and it took years!
4. Who do you get inspiration from? Why/How?
I love Susan Branch and the way she tells her story. She letters, illustrates and dapples her pages with photos and pressed flowers, all topped off with with pop-culture references and good clean humor. I love Richard Scarry books, especially when he slices a drawing of a house in half and you can see all the goings-on in the home! Love it! Churches are especially attractive to me because I know every good gift is from above and so many important events happen in churches!
I didn’t think much of my own work but when I started to share it with people—especially my daughter-in-law and son, my kids, parents and sisters and a few specific friends—I was always egged on and told to do something with it. I had drawn houses and buildings…not architectural style, but the bits of accents and things people do to make it a home are really beautiful to me. All the touches and decor say something and tell a story. Houses and churches and especially in places like England, where building have been preserved for centuries—they all have a million stories in them. I read biographies a lot. I love people’s stories, especially how they overcome difficulties.
As I take more time and try more kinds of projects I realize that I have a great honor and privilege of accompanying people in places and moments that mark their lives. This is a reason our friend, Fr B said he wanted to be a priest (of course that is much more profound to be sacramentally accompanying people.)
I know drawing and painting was a gift from God so He could meet me in another place in the world where He was waiting for me all my life. I had been so active and busy and He made a special inner room for me to quiet my spirit and meet Him where He is the Almighty Creator and Divine Artist! He knows what we want before we want it. I didn’t know I wanted this. I thought I would be a writer, which is another kind of inner room in my spirit.
I don’t think I would have had the guts to go through with any of it, not understanding the business side of things, unless it had been for my daughter-in-law, my son and my husband who all have impeccable business sense and skills. My other son and daughter cheer me on as well. It’s easy to be more courageous when you have such amazing people in your life.
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