New Year of the Peacewalks


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Family Portrait Commission


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New Things

So at the coffee shop where I work I make an effort to talk with people that come in. I don’t try to force anything, but I do enjoy engaging with everyone that comes in. I was thinking about this the other day…just how lucky I am to work in a place, in a city, that has people traveling from all over because of their jobs, visiting family, seeing shows and sites and so on. I feel very blessed to serve and get to know people even if for a short amount of time. There’s a man named Kenneth that would come in with his work buddies quite often…they travel a lot. At one point…months later of chatting here and there I asked him what he was up to on his off time and he asked the same of me. We started talking about how I draw and what I was drawing most recently…the pet portraits :) His ears perked up when I let him know about dressing them up in clothing. He had to leave, but he said to me, “I may have a proposition for you for next time.” I was intrigued. So the next time came around and we chatted about his parents dogs…

A little over a year ago, his parents were looking to get puppies after their 18 year old cockapoo died.  Cockapoo = cocker spaniel / poodle mix.  They knew they wanted to name one of the dogs Jordy, and after going back and forth on names, they decided that Nelson was a ridiculous but fitting name for the other.  So there you have it, Jordy and Nelson. Kenneth’s mom is a fan of the Kansas State Wildcats, making her a huge fan of Jordy Nelson. Jordy Nelson grew up on a farm in Riley, KS, which is less than an hour from Manhattan, KS, where K-State is located.  He walked on at KSU and became one of the best receivers to ever play football there.  He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, and has become not only their best receiver, but one of the best receivers in the NFL.  By all accounts, he remains a humble, aw shucks farmboy, and during the offseason he comes back to KS and helps out on his family’s farm.

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So, back to the dogs :) Both of them are practically identical.  They weigh roughly 15 pounds and have sandy brown and soft but wiry fur.  They have very sweet personalities, and at one year old, they are still rambunctious puppies who love to play together. In order to tell them apart, Jordy always wears a purple KSU collar, while Nelson wears a Green Bay Packers collar.  They also occasionally wear jerseys which makes it easier to tell them apart.

This project was new for me, but I could not have been more excited for this opportunity. These portraits were to be a surprise christmas present for his parents. For the most part people have asked for formal wear on their pet portrait so I was thoroughly stoked to take on a couple football jerseys. The thought of color came to mind as well…which is another thing I haven’t tried with these portraits yet…or this style of drawing. I was rather nervous to attempt, but I felt that it would display a difference in the dogs and represent the teams a little bit better. The first portrait came fairly easy, but the second one I struggled with the fur…I kept drawing on it and wanted it to work, but with the encouragement of a good friend of mine I knew that it would be best to start over. I wouldn’t have been happy with it and I would’ve worried about Kenneth’s parents being okay with it as well. Sometimes it’s hard to start over…I really struggle with it honestly…but I’m really glad I did. Once completed, I wrapped the frames safely in bubble wrap…wrapped that in christmas paper and shipped it off to Kansas with a card. Another reason that this project was special to me was that my own family are Packer fans…so it was kind of a feeling of being with my family…which was nice.

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Rosie and Patches

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So, this commission was back from Christmas time…my friend Jessica Ball asked me to draw portraits of her cats for her daughter, Olivia. So, like I’ve said before…when I compose one of these portraits I ask for names, personality traits/mannerisms, and a possible time frame that their owners see them most resemble. They have two cats, Rosie and Patches. Rosie is Olivia’s best friend…loves to be held and is also a little naughty at times :) Patches is always napping and will typically NOT leave you alone when you are using any form of technology….a true lap cat :) These two cats are very sweet sisters and remind Jessica of the late 50s or early 60s. When I first started looking for reference imagery for their clothing I looked through clothing store catalogs from the library and was taking imagery of middle aged women, but I stopped myself and asked Jess at what age she felt the sister cats resided….she told me that Olivia saw them as little girls :) So, I changed my search and found some of the most perfect outfits for these two! Each time I make these pet portraits I feel like that inner excited child in me comes out to play :)

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Santa Claus Parade

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I haven’t written too much about this on my blog, but there is a group in Peoria that I have been a part of now for…oh, about a year.

I became involved with PCAV through Sharon, one of the regulars at my place of work. She informed me of an event they were hosting called P-Town Soup. I saw so much heart and perseverance emitting from this group and the many others that participated and I wished to be a part of such a thing.

So, fast-forward….there is a subcommittee in PCAV called Brains-R-Us :) Hahaha…I think it’s clever. We have been trying to brainstorm ideas for fundraising and special events. One of the well known ‘activities’ PCAV organizes is their PeaceWalks. Now during the winter…well, it’s a little chilly to be doing such a thing at times. So during a shift on bar at the coffeeshop, with Sharon sitting to my left…she and I began to brainstorm more ideas…one of them being to extend our peaceful walks into a more positive and proactive event…the Santa Claus Parade :) We want to be there for our community! Peoria is our home and yours….and we want it to be a lively, friendly, and safe environment for anyone to grow up. So why not participate in a walk that says all of that around the holidays? :)

Now, it’s one thing to have an idea…if you want it to happen though, you’ve got to do your research and deliver. So I looked up the Santa Claus application, spoke with one of the Co-Chairs of the parade and presented any questions I had…..since I’ve never done anything like this before….I was nervous (like seriously…). I took the idea and presented it to PCAV members at a board meeting and it was well received. The theme for 2015 was “Christmas Plays in Peoria”, so for our costumes we decided to make tiedye shirts and wear elf hats….summing up the concept of being the stewards of peace :) We held a banner as we walked with a Peoria Police truck and handed out candy. The weather was fairly cold and kind of drizzly, but to be honest I was really happy with the turnout both in participators and the crowd. I think we’ll be doing it again next year as well…making tweaks here and there to our presentation.

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What makes something special?

A sunset…a crawling fuzzy caterpillar…the changing of the leaves…an ironic moment……we experience so many things within our lifetime. We are living in a world currently that has lingered into the idea of something being more meaningful when it is shared with the rest of humanity. I know that I get caught up in it at times. Now, I’m not saying that sharing pictures or feelings with people through the media is a wrong thing to do, but I know that in the times I feel like I ‘have’ to….I’m losing my own appreciation of what I’m experiencing…feeling strange about the fact that I’m experiencing it alone and can’t share it with others right then in that moment. I want to encourage myself and all of you out there to be okay experiencing something by yourself…to take in the moment for what it is and not worry about taking a photograph to capture the moment….to realize and believe that something can be just as wonderful even if the rest of the world doesn’t know about it.

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