Ella the Elephant

Ella the Elephant.

Even as a baby, Ella was an exceptional elephant.
Her charm and her wisdom were immediately evident.

Not only was she stunning and delightfully elegant,
she was also most exceedingly well-spoken and eloquent.

As Ella grew she organized an annual innovator’s event
where she spoke about the things she was going to invent.

Carrying a book wherever she traveled and went,
Ella could easily recite the most informative content.

She understood the principles of what democracy meant,
and she cared very deeply about the environment.

Ella had a backbone that simply couldn’t be bent.
She clearly was destined to be the President.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Ella the Elephant is another in a series of paintings and poems I am working on for a new children’s book.  This new book will be special because it is going to feature characters that are based on the grandchildren of my best friends.  Ella is the granddaughter of Joyce and daughter of Nikole, and they are three very special ladies in my life, as are their guys.

I have one more special character to create before I begin putting this book together.  The poem for Mason the Monkey is already written, and I can’t wait to paint him.  Mason is Ella’s brother, and I’m looking forward to sharing him with you.

Prints and greeting cards of all of these paintings are available in our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop, where you can also order a customized painting and poem of or for someone dear to you.

Lily the Llama

Lily the Llama.

Lily the lovely La La Llama
lived in a posh resort down south in the Bahamas.

There were not many llamas
that lived in the Bahamas.

But Lily, the queen of drama,
never did see the prob-llama.

She lounged in her pajamas
that were purple with polka-dottas,

and liked to sing sonatas
like Hakuna Matata.

With a floral headband she wore all the time-a
she quickly became part of the local fauna.

It sure was fun for a lovely llama
to live in the Bahamas.

It made a nice vacation for her Dad and for her Momma,
and even for her Grandpa and her beloved, silly Grandmomma.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Lucas the Lucky Lion

Lucas the Lucky Lion OriginalWatercolor Painting – 11×14

Lucas the Lucky Lion.

In a faraway land that was known as Zion,
lived Lucas, the exceedingly lucky little lion.

No matter the game – played morning or afternoon,
Lucas the lion was always the most opportune.

He seemed to be blessed
with the very best success.

And never did he possess
even the teeniest bit of stress.

Lucas knew he was king
of kickball and juggling.

This extremely lucky lion was tops at kicking balls and batting.
He even stole the show when dribbling, dunking, and passing.

But the thing that made Lucas the luckiest of all –
the skill that made him so very exceptional…

Was Lucas the Lucky Lion’s quintessential charm.
For there wasn’t a friend or foe he couldn’t charismatically disarm.

************************************************

Lucas the Lion is a special surprise for one of my BFs.  I was looking for recommendations on what to paint after taking a little break for the holidays, and she requested a Lucas the Lion and Harper the Hippo for her two grandchildren, who are fans of Klaus the Mouse.

I thought you might like to see a bit of the process I go through for a painting.

First I draw a pencil sketch.

Once I am happy with a design, I either redraw in pencil on watercolor paper or use a light box to trace the basic outline.

If the pencil markings are too dark, I then use a kneaded putty eraser to lighten up the lines.  If needed, I use some masking fluid to preserve any areas I want to assure stay white.

I then consider colors using my watercolor swatch charts, choose a few brushes I may use, fill my water bucket, and assure paper towels and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge are handy.

I am then ready to put on my first wash of paint.

After the first wash is dry, I rub off the masking fluid, and I begin adding layers, allowing to dry as necessary until I am happy with the painting.

Once my original is finished, I take the best photo I can of it for printing.  Most all of my paintings are available in our McKinneyX2Design Etsy shop in prints (sizes 11×14, 8×10, and 5×7 – matted or not) and greeting cards, like below.  For those friends who are local, my daughter-in-law (who makes beautiful rustic wood pallet signs) and I also have our art on display and available at Berry Vine Gifts in BradfordWoods, PA.  You can find all of our information here.

  

Look for Harper the Happy Hippo in my next post here at The CreativeLifeInBetween, which is scheduled to post Tuesday.

By the way, if you are interested in a custom watercolor painting of an animal character for a child you love, you can order via our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop at this link.  Let me know the child’s name and the animal you would like.  It will be an 11×14 original watercolor painting.  If you would like an original rhyming poem to go with it, that can also be ordered for an additional charge.  It will come printed on an 8.5×11 sturdy cardstock sheet that can also be framed.  Please allow two weeks for any custom orders.

My artwork can also be made into pillows and clocks and coasters and mugs and tote bags and a lot of other fun things – all available at Society6.  Let me know if there is a piece you like that I should add there.

Lucas the Lion Pillow

I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of this new year and settling back into your normal routines after the busy holiday season.  It was good to undecorate from the holidays yesterday and find time to paint again.

Happy Sunday!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Liz the Lizard

Liz the Lizard Watercolor – 11×14

Liz the Lizard.

Have you heard of the lizard whose name is Liz.
Classiest lizard in the desert she is.

With pearls and diamonds and sparkly pink nails
She daydreams often of being in show biz.

She practices rhymes and humorous lines
as if she was preparing for an audition or pop quiz.

Nailing them every time – she surely is a wiz.
She’s a modern-day lizard, so be sure to call her Ms.

Yes indeed, Ms. Liz
that is.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  Liz the Lizard was made especially for a friend’s grandaughter, who loves Klaus the Mouse – my very first published illustrated children’s book.  Granpap asked if I could make an Alex the Alligator and a Liz the Lizard for his two special little grandies.  I hope they all enjoy these two characters as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Alex the Alligator

Alex the Alligator Watercolor – 11×14

Alex the Alligator.

In a swamp near the equator,
lived Alex the alligator.

Alex liked to jump and kick.
Doing fancy tricks
was part of his famous schtick.

Alex was often the very first pick
because he was so doggone slick
in the eyes and hearts of the alligator chicks.

For not many gators could be so quick
doing fancy acrobatics
and even arithmetic!

So if you ever find yourself near the equator
and see a slick jumping and kicking gator,
Say Hi to Alex…

Alex the Alligator.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

PS  Alex the Alligator was made especially for a friend’s grandson, who loves Klaus the Mouse – my very first published illustrated children’s book.  Granpap asked if I could make an Alex the Alligator and a Liz the Lizard for his two special little grandies.  This is going to be a surprise for him.  I can’t wait to create Liz next.

 

 

 

Projecting Beauty

Projecting Beauty – 18×24 Acrylic Abstract on stretched canvas

Every baby is born beautiful.
It is what we project on them
that makes them ugly.

-Ruth in Small Great Things

Sharing this quote today from the book I’m reading that I mentioned yesterday –Small Great Things By Jodi Picoult.

The quote is spoken by a labor and delivery nurse, Ruth, talking about the most beautiful baby she has ever seen born.  The baby was born with severe birth defects that led to him not having a face.  A small mouth with one tooth was in the place of where an ear should have been and the face was just a mass of skin.  A student nurse screamed upon seeing him.  Ruth shared how she would never forget the transformation that occurred as a result of the love the mother, and eventually the father, projected onto this sweet baby for the short time they were blessed with his presence on earth.  The love in their eyes saw his beauty.  The love they projected on this baby made him beautiful.

This really spoke to me.  Of course there is the old adage that beauty is only skin deep, but isn’t it so true?  I have known people who were absolutely flawlessly attractive in physical appearance, but had such ugly hearts and souls that it blinded the beauty.  I also know people that aren’t necessarily physically attractive, but beauty just shines from them.  The beauty that is deep within their being. It just consumes the space that surrounds them.  And when you look at them, all you see is that beauty.

As parents (and grandparents), we have the power to project this beauty on our children.  We have the responsibility to teach them they are beautiful – not because of the color of their hair or skin or the shape of their bodies or the unique intricacies of their personal appearances… They are beautiful because they are loved for just exactly who they are.

Let us love our children by projecting beauty on them.  Let us teach our children to project beauty.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

This painting is quite a diversion from my usual watercolor art.  I worked on it for a few days as a special housewarming gift for my oldest son and daughter-in-law, who just moved into their new home.  This abstract acrylic was inspired by the beautiful work of Osnad Tzadok.  I did it using a palette knife, paper towels, a spray bottle of water, and a brush for a few strokes.  All paint by Golden.  I may just want to stretch and try some more of this type of work.

I’m calling this painting “Projecting Beauty.”

I Need to at Least do Something

I Need to at Least do Something.

Like so many
of you
my heart
has been heavy.

Heavy with grief
for the families
who have
lost a child.

A child whose life
was stolen
from the devastating act of violence
that has so sadly become commonplace.

A life
taken away
in the blink of a moment…
in the shot of a gun.

An innocent young life
with a future stolen
in an event that has become
too commonplace.

A young person
robbed
of the privilege
of growing old.

A mother’s heart shattered,
A fathers’ soul shook,
A grandparent
left horrified.

What can we do?

We all ask the question.

So let’s make it our goal –
our contribution
to life…
our demonstration of love.

Let’s do
at least
one
small thing.

Maybe a hug
or maybe
a shared
story

of how
it felt
to be
that one.

I once was
that one –
alone
without a friend.

But I
made
it
through.

And there
is so much
more
to life

Once we
get through
those difficult
years

When
we think
it is all
that matters.

Let’s tell
our stories.
Let’s share
our anguish.

And then
let’s share our joy.
Let’s share
our happiness.

Life is
so much more
than a
teenager believes.

They just
don’t know it
at the
moment.

But we can tell  them
there is hope
and there
is a future

Where
more matters
than what
a friend thinks.

Let’s teach
our children
the value
of life.

Let’s teach
our children
they are worthy
of love.

Is it enough?
I really don’t know.
But it is something
I can do.

And I need
to do something.
I need to at least
do something.

Hugs,

Jodi

Lion

Lion.

Have you seen this movie?

After a busy few days this wonderfully long holiday weekend, hubby and I settled in by a warm fire, Christmas tree lights lit (yep – I put it up this weekend), pizza delivered from our favorite shop in Mars (Posti’s – Bacon, Onions, Mushrooms on hubby’s half, and extra cheese!), and a tall pour of red wine, and we watched one of the most amazing movies I’ve seen in a long time – Lion.

I really had no idea what it was about, which is unusual for me when watching a movie.  Hubby always gets exasperated when I want to pick the Friday night movie at home.  My routine begins with scrolling through the entire list available on Pay Per View and Netflix’s new releases.  When I find a title that appeals, I go to my iphone or laptop to google the movie and read the synopsis and reviews.  When I finally choose one (about a half hour later), it is usually not the best movie…. I fall asleep halfway in… and hubby ends up watching it and waking me at the end to go to bed.

But Lion is one our youngest son has mentioned a few times as one he thought we would really enjoy, so when I began scrolling and came to the title, I simply chose it – no synopsis – no review – no clue what it was about – just figuring it was about a Lion.

Ha! Not about a lion in the way I thought.

First of all…. Dev Patel.   (happy sigh) Such a gorgeous, gentle, sweet-spirited actor and human being.  You may remember him from Slumdog Millionaire and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (two other wonderful movies if you haven’t seen them).

Second… the cinematography!

Third…  the story!  A TRUE story.

I think many of us will relate on different levels, but for me, I could relate to being “lost.”  Maybe not in the same way Saroo was, but nonetheless “lost.”  I can also relate to the reunion, the brotherly love, and adoption.

But what I was completely blown away by (and driven to unstoppable tears in the end), was the powerful spirit of this 5-year old boy who survived his ordeal, and then his journey at the end of the movie (which I don’t want to spoil for you), so I won’t say what happened.

I can’t imagine anyone who would not be touched and inspired or their heart warmed and literally nourished by this movie.

Take some time, and give yourself the gift of this movie.

And then, if you feel so inspired, you can give a gift to help the over 80,000 children who go missing in India each year by donating to the #LionHeart Campaign.   The #LionHeart Campaign has collaborated with extraordinary organizations working on the ground to protect children in India and around the world. Contributions will provide critical financial support to enable the charitable organizations of Magic Bus, Childline India, and Railway Children India to do even more.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Classic Red Truck with Christmas Tree

Classic Red Truck with Christmas Tree Watercolor - 11x14 - 140lb Fabriano Artistico

Classic Red Truck with Christmas Tree Watercolor – 11×14 – 140lb Fabriano Artistico

Classic Red Truck with Christmas Tree.

Is anybody else starting to think about Christmas?

When my boys were young, I loved getting ready for the Christmas holiday.  I would often start playing Christmas music in October… much to Hubby’s dismay.

We prepared letters to Santa, and I shopped and put carts full of toys on “lay-away” months ahead of winter.

My best friend and I went to craft shows and stores and bought santas and snowmen and other holiday decorations, as well as things to make decorations – often while pushing strollers and carrying diaper bags.

I would prepare for “Sammy” the elf to make his arrival at our house and plan out his adventures each night when the boys went to bed to surprise them in the morning.

I created homemade Christmas cards for the boys to color (and later they drew them) to send to friends and family.

I stocked up on sugar and flour and baking supplies when they were on sale and collected festive tins to make hundreds of cookies and dozens of sweet breads and nut rolls to share with friends and neighbors.

As the boys got older, the excitement of Christmas dimmed a bit.  We still enjoyed it, but the excitement leading up to it was not the same as when they were young and the magic existed.

But now….. I’m a grandma!  And that just makes me absolutely giddy for Christmas again!

And since my daughter-in-law, Colleen, and I have created our McKinneyX2Designs Etsy shop and have started also selling our art at a local gift shop, Berry Vine Gifts, it is so fun to get excited about preparing for Christmas again.  And it seems there are others like me out there, because holiday cards and paintings have already sold!

So I’m having fun creating Christmas and holiday art… like this classic red truck with a Christmas tree.  Doesn’t it just make you so nostalgic about Christmas?

So even though we are still experiencing 80 degree Autumn days, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.  It’s so fun to dream!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi