My 2021 Year in ReviewRead Now
Welcome back to The Sweet Spot , where we focus on All Things Essential, Simple, and Satisfying!
For this post, I will be sharing with you the significant and relevant life experiences and developments I have had in this past year and why they matter to me. Some will be practices that I have carried from previous years and some are new to my spiritual/creative practice. I'll be dipping into my art, music and journaling practices I've tapped into this year, along with other relevant happenings. Thanks for joining me on my 2021 Year in Review!
I would have to say that my most Exciting and Rewarding development was with a focus on MUSIC, and specifically with learning to play piano. Let me give you a bit of history...I started writing spiritual songs several years ago being inspired by sacred text as well as with prayer/meditation, essential parts of my spiritual practice. In my third year of writing spiritual songs, I decided I needed to learn to play an instrument so I could accompany myself as I sing. Up til that point, I was using a tambourine for percussion.
I got myself a piano app to try my hand as learning to play one of my spiritual songs by ear. I succeeded in that endeavor, so after a few months, I decided to get myself a digital piano! Back in March, it arrived and I was absolutely thrilled! I have added new songs to my piano book over the months and now have over twenty songs I play. I don’t have any of them fully memorized, but I’m learning to play some parts by memory just from regular practice. I learned the keys intuitively rather than putting stickers on the keys to remember where each one is located. I have also watched various YouTube videos by Pianote and Jazer who teach online. So I’ve learned to play 1, 2 and 3 note chords in addition to the melodies in various ways for my songs.
I am super excited with how far I’ve come since March. It is deeply satisfying to compose, play and sing my spiritual songs on my piano. It lifts my spirit, strengthens my faith and calms me when I’m stressed.
Sometimes I play several times a day, and even when I’m waiting to do something else, because I enjoy it so much.
Music has always had an important place in my life and heart, and this just brings it to a whole new level that deeply touches and satisfies me.
As an artist, my goal is to learn new skills and expand on what I’m already doing, especially if I’m deeply curious about a specific skill I haven’t learned yet. Last year, I learned to draw a cartoon properly and, as a result, I consistently draw myself in cartoon when I create my daily evening doodle, which consists of a word that summarizes my day. I draw myself (with the clothing I wore that day) inside one of the letters (similar to the header at the beginning of this post!).
One day I asked myself, Wouldn’t it be cool to draw other garments on my cartoon figure? So I decided to create a drawing illustrating myself in a dress which you can see below. I had so much fun with this new approach to fashion illustration that I decided to do more than one!
I also tried my hand at illustrating one of my nieces in dance ensembles which you can see in a previous post. This was a fabulous learning experience with body anatomy and fashion combined.
I intend to do more of this Fashion Illustrated cartooning in 2022. I may also dabble more in face cartooning on a larger scale.
Also, on the art front, I’ve taken a deep dive back into Art Journaling. This time I’m focusing on using gouache, ink, pastels, fabric and embellishments in my art journal play. The collage aspect is super fun for me and fabric is a deeply satisfying element to use in my spreads. The combination of texture, design and color is perfect for my purposes. It’s interesting that I’ve been collecting a fabric stash over the past several years and I’m finally using this in my art application. I enjoy pinning my fabric on cork for inspiration and cutting and trimming to fit different fabrics in specific spaces that work for me in my composition.
I have deeply missed the entire intuitive process of creating from my heart onto the page using color, texture, mark making, stamping, inking and collage, with messages that reveal themselves over time and place. Art journaling is a process that enables me to express myself deeply, honoring who I am and what Spirit wants to say to me through this medium. Plus, it’s a whole lot of fun!
In other journaling news, I continue to add Bullet Journaling to my daily mix, using it to track important aspects of my life, from sacred study notes and song writing, to keeping track of my wardrobe choice with color and daily choices, to Gratitude and Sweet Spots (moments in my day that I want to recall that lift my spirit, make me smile or laugh, etc.). I don’t make it fancy or elaborate. I keep it simple, relevant and fun. One of the advantages of my bullet journal practice is keeping me aware of the things that are deeply meaningful to me, like what I’m thinking about, dreaming about, and keeping track of what I accomplish each day. It’s a totally different approach to my narrative journaling in my blank sketchbook. And using them in tandem just broadens my journaling horizons in meaningful ways.
In the earlier part of this year, I co-hosted two episodes of Keeping It Sweet with my dear friend, Carrie Aulenbacher, You can view all episodes by searching navigation for our page here on this website. We have such fun together taking about all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying.
I trust that by sharing my Year in Review, that you have been inspired to focus on what is Essential to you, what areas where you can keep it more Simple, and finding ways to find the deepest Satisfaction in what you do on a daily basis. It’s important to celebrate your wins, take care of yourself in ways only you know work for you, and finding the Sweetness in every day!
You’re welcome to share below how you’re Keeping It Sweet and how you plan to continue in 2022!
I also want to take this moment to thank you, my friends, for following my art and music and journaling journey in 2021. It has been fun and inspiring to share what I’ve been up to along the way. What else would you like to know about my practices? Let me know in the comments.
Wishing you All The Sweetness in the New Year!
Welcome back to The Sweet Spot where we focus on all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying! And for me, Experimenting with my Approach to a sector of my Art has taken CENTER STAGE, which is very exciting for me. It’s so important to expand our Creative Horizons to see what we’re capable of! And have Loads of FUN in the process!
Anytime I’m working with the Dynamics of FASHION (which has been an interest of mine for decades!), I find it immediately engaging. In the past few posts, I’ve been sharing my exploration of combining fashion illustration and cartooning. You can view my Illustrative Sketches from my first post here, and Part 2 is here. And if you’re curious to see my sketches of a family member in dance ensembles, go here.
I am back with a new Fashion Illustrated Cartoon Sketch as I continue my exploration and experimentation with pen, watercolor markers and dynamic designs I’m drawn to, All while emphasizing my new-found skill in cartooning; not as a funny comic but as a way of illustrating day to day life, only with a focus on new wardrobe possibilities! Why not “try on” some new options for “size” visually? Sort of like using a virtual try on room only through illustration. Yes, it’s fun! ☺️
Ok, so, I’ve had the resourced image for this garment stashed in my drawer for Years. I finally pulled it out with combining the fashion illustration and cartoon approach and thought it would be fun and challenging. The black and white design drew me in immediately as well as the pose “in motion” in which the model was engaged.
My first decision was to replace the head with my cartoon version. The face was an Immediate challenge since I usually draw it like a portrait with it fully forward. This was almost a profile but not quite. But I managed to portray without too much a-do.
The arms positioning was a fun but challenging aspect of this dynamic posture. It reminded me of the finger position of this family member in ballet pose.
The garment itself self along with the dramatic creases based on the figure’s pose was fun to create (using varying grays and dynamic strokes to create the illusion of depth. The actual black design with white negative space was super fun to follow with my India ink Fabre Castell Pitt Artist Pens, then using my Tombow marker to fill the larger areas of black. Then there was the fringe along the edges, a combination of applying grays, carefully placed black marks, to emphasize the negative aspect of white. The whole process of seeing what works with my tools and their application is truly dynamic and fun for me. And seeing the result, even as just an experimental sketch (This is not final artwork), is truly Satisfying and motivates me to keep going and see what else would be Fun and Dynamic to try!
For this 3rd experiment with a Fashion Illustrated Cartoon, the drawing I rendered the first time was on a larger scale, filling the sketchbook page from side to side. The other two (linked above) were smaller in size. So I decided, for this one, to do two renderings instead of one, making the second closer in size to my typical illustrated cartoon I do each evening. So, yes, I drew the dress twice! It was fun the second time around, since the marks had already been created with the first drawing. I simply repeated the pattern I had already done for the second mini version, so it didn't take as long. I used the same approach with pens and markers for shading and depth. I was a bit more "sketchy" with the boots since this is not final artwork, just experimental.
This experiment, with both drawings, shows me where where I can improve as far as proper form of the figure goes. Not trying to be exact since this is a more sketch-like approach with cartooning in mind.
Since I have many years of experience with contour drawing of models in dynamic fashion (all the way back to the 1980’s-yes, I’m dating myself 😉), it’s easy to fall more toward realism as opposed to cartoon drawing. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both. 👀 (Maybe more cartoon-like with the second drawing, more like the size of my daily illustrated cartoon doodle.)
I’m enjoying this foray into these new combinations to see where it will take me. Using limits and, yet, expanding my horizons at the same time. It feels good. It satisfies. And it’s enabling me to grow as an artist in these areas that interest me, which is essential for my Creative Well Being.
So, how are you growing your Creative Horizons? Any curiosities you want to follow? Anything inspiring you to try something new? Share in the comments below so I can cheer you on!
Let’s create and discover those Sweet Spots together and see where it leads us; it just might make each of our worlds and the world overall a happier, more colorful and joyful place.
Hello friends, and welcome back to The Sweet Spot, where we focus on all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying!
I'm excited to share more ARTSY related stuff since I've been doing a LOT of Experimenting. For me, experimenting gives me space to follow my curiosity, expand my horizons and try new things that interest me. Following the Question: Would I like to try that? is hugely motivating, especially if the answer is yes!
In this post, I plan to share with you my most recent venturing into what I'm calling my illustrated cartoon journey.
But a little recent history first: Back in 2020, I learn how to draw myself as a cartoon and do so each evening in my illustrated cartoon doodle, which you can check out here.
Then I decided to try my hand at doing a cartoon style portrait of each of my daughters, which you can view here.
Then I decided to try my hand at combining myself in cartoon with fashion illustration of garments not in my own wardrobe which I did here and here.
I have been having so much fun with all this cartoon illustrating! It's definitely been a Sweet Spot for me for sure!
Then just a bit ago, I pulled out a small photo album filled with photos of my two nieces, daughters to my one and only older sis. (Permission given by her to share the drawings of one of her daughters below. :))
I started to peruse them and decided to try my hand at drawing an illustrated cartoon version of my younger niece who is a dancer, and has been taking tap and ballet since she was young and still going strong in high school.
I consider all the drawings below as sketched experiments, not final artwork. I use permanent India ink pen when drawing the contour as well as the color for the details. I also used some watercolor markers for the hair. Since ink is not erasable, there are lines that I had to adjust/correct, so these are by not means perfect. But so fun!!
I decided to start with the youngest image with her dressed in a tap dance costume with stripes and polka dots, which I thought was the cutest! I really enjoyed the whole process of drawing the details of the garment and accessories as well as rendering her face as accurately as possible without going into too much detail; after all, it's considered a illustrated cartoon version.
For the above image of her in floral with gold background with black lace detail, I took the same approach. I used India ink and some watercolor markers to render this older image of my niece. My goal was to do several of her based on age, from younger to older.
In the above image with my niece in a green flapper style dress, I went a big larger with her face, so this is almost a portraiture in illustrated cartoon style. By this third experiment, I was getting more comfortable with the skin highlights and using the right lightness of grey for shadow purposes.
With the two above drawings of my niece in her most recent ballet assemble, we jumped a few years in time! I was so impressed with the beauty of her form, I decided to do two cartoon illustrated renditions of her ballet images. The first was more close up for more detail and the 2nd was so I could include the whole figure. They look similar in size side by side, but the first one is larger than the second one. It was good experience to experiment with both sizes and working with the details in both. I would say my biggest challenge was rendering the hands with such dramatic positioning of the fingers. In addition to the India ink and watercolor markers/pens, I also added some oil pastel in lavender, pink and purples since I didn't have proper paler colors in my markers for this rendering. I simply sketched the tulle portion of her ballet skirt with pale grey.
This entire experience was invaluable to me of rendering another family member in this illustrated cartoon approach! Each drawing teaches me something new. Plus with the repetition of drawing the same face, I build muscle memory, so each time it gets a little easier.
One of my future goals is to eventually draw the figures and faces without a black outline. I have yet to try this with my evening doodle cartoon, so I'm thinking that may be the best place to start. But, we'll see.
I've seen some portraiture approaches with just flat marker color, starting with a light base, adding a medium base for more definition with parts of the face, then a darker base for even more shadow work for depth and dimension; then using pen for all the fine details. I haven't tried that approach just yet, but am looking forward to the open possibility!
Experimenting is prime for me right now as I make my way in the illustration and cartooning world with which I'm having so. much. fun. As always, I'll keep you up to date with my latest ventures so you can follow along with me.
Art is one of my most Essential Activities that brings me Simple Pleasure and Deep Satisfaction.
What is most Essential, Simple and Satisfying for you right now? Drop and comment and do share! I'd love to hear from you!
Let's Keep It Sweet together and make this world a better, happier (and saner) place.
Wishing you ALL the SWEETNESS. <3
P.S. All drawings are Copyrighted to Dawn Herring, 2021.
Welcome back to The Sweet Spot! I share all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying in my life with the purpose of showing what a difference it can make to be mindful of these elements. As I recognize what is Satisfying to me, I want to do more of it. When I see what is Essential for me, I want to be sure I make space for it. When something gets too complicated for me, I want to find strategies to make it simple and do-able.
For this post, I plan to share a bit of my cartoon doodle art (and the history behind my process), which is something I create on a daily basis in the evenings. I started off about 8 or 9 years ago, when I used a word to summarize my day, and took up a challenge to create a doodle a day for 7 days and used that word as my source for the doodle. Well, I guess you can say, I never stopped! I was having so much fun creating doodle designs, I just wanted to keep going with it. It was fun and inspiring and a relaxing way to end my day.
Once I started using markers and pens to bring color into the. mix, then the sky was the limit! Winsor Newton watercolor markers, Tombows, and Faber Castell Artist Pitt Pens came into the mix, for detail, full color, highlights and designs. I found myself using dots, circles, Lines and spiral motifs repeatedly since that's what I used in my paintings as well. I just go with whatever comes to mind. It's a very intuitive process that delights my Artist Self.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Illustrated Doodle Cartoon, where I share my recent foray into fashion illustration from an outside resource other than my wardrobe, I greatly desired to learn how to draw myself in cartoon form. I've wanted to do this since high school! Over the years I looked for instruction through different books on cartooning, and I finally found one that suited me with a step by step. After several months, I began to create a cartoon that resembled me somewhat and have improved it with facial expressions (eyebrows really do make a difference!), and work on the figure (which is a work in progress!). Of course I do all of this in pen, so NO ERASING. My work is all free-hand.
There are times when I really like the result. Other times, not so much. I've learned what to draw first so it looks naturally layered with no lines interfering with other illustrated parts. I just go with the flow and learn from my perceived "mistakes". I'm having so much fun with it! It is truly a Satisfying engagement for me as an Artist.
When I first began my evening doodle, I just used black and white. So I was purely focused on the design aspect of filling in the letters and creating a doodle that looked like what the word meant. I even read a book on the subject to learn various letter designs to try and incorporate the feeling of the its meaning.
Once I added color, I was still outlining in black pen. Several years ago, I decided to draw with colors for the outline of the letters, eliminating always outlining in black pen, and that really made a difference in the way the doodle looked. Brighter, more intuitive, and lively. So, now I always start with color. I rarely just draw the doodle outlined with black pen.
When I entered my cartoon into the mix, I drew with black pen from the start and still do. I fill each cartoon with go to colors for skin and hair, plus adding design elements for the wardrobe, such as lines for stripes. I try to capture the motif design as much as possible without making it too complicated. When I draw the fabric, I don't reference the garment in front of me. I just go by memory. I think back to what I wore that day and just run with it.
One thing I want to point out. When I started this doodle process, it was just for fun. In black and white. Adding color came almost 2 years later. Drawing with color instead of black pen even later still. Adding my cartoon has been a recent venture in the past year and a half. All these elements took time to develop and include in my daily art practice. Not all at once.
So, if you're looking to create a routine with an art form, keep it simple right from the beginning. Simplicity is key to trying something new. And if you run into something, a new idea, that feels right, try it, with no expectation for the outcome. And if it works, run with it and see how long it keeps your attention and satisfaction. Change things up if that's what suits you. Be patient with yourself if it doesn't turn out "right" every time. Practice is key, especially daily practice.
I look forward to creating my illustrated cartoon doodle each evening. It always relaxes me and gives me space to practice design elements, cartoon form, illustration, and overall capturing of what matters to me in my day. Essentially, it's a visual colorful diary in addition to my evening written reflection. It shows my ups and downs and keeps me in the know of how I'm doing. In other words, it's relevant to me on a daily basis. It holds meaning that I feel is important to myself as an Artist, a Creative, a Family member, a Business Partner (with hubby), an emerging musician (Just learning to play piano!), and female human.
I trust you have enjoyed this foray into my illustrated cartoon doodle journey and my goal is to inspire you in your creative pursuits, whatever they may be. Just remember to keep it Essential, Simple and Satisfying to creative as many Sweet Spots in your daily life!
Wishing you all the Sweetness!
Welcome back to The Sweet Spot where we focus on all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying!
I’m excited to have something new to share in my artsy world!
A little back story is in order, to give you some context to my new venture. Last year I decided I wanted to learn how to draw a cartoon of myself. After many months of practice, I began adding this cartoon to my evening doodle dressed in my daily wardrobe pick ( the doodle consists of a word drawn in large letters that summarizes my day’s experience with fun designs inside the letters). I draw one letter a bit wider to make space for my cartoon, and I illustrate what the word means for me.
I started doing this months ago (not sure how many!) and an idea came to my mind in the spring to try my hand at illustrating fashion not in my wardrobe by referencing an image from a magazine and use my cartoon as a starting place, so she would be wearing it!
Even at a young age, I’ve always been fascinated by fashion illustration. I used to look at newspapers back in the day in the ARTS section to find them and copy them as practice. Now, Drawing my own wardrobe each evening on my cartoon is a fun way to incorporate my fashion focus in a doable format that is fun, colorful and satisfying.
So, when the idea came to me to use my cartoon to draw fashion from magazines, I thought, why not try it? It could be fun and doable as well. So I did! Below you can see the image of my first attempt at fashion illustration mixed with my cartooning. I’m excited to expand my artsy experience to include more of what I love and to stretch my skill and have fun doing it!
For this illustration, I simply started with drawing the head like I do with my doodle cartoon each evening. Then it was a matter of sketching the outline of the fashion piece in black marker (I use Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens in India ink). Once I had the garment drawn with as much detail as possible, I then filled it with color! I used a combination of Winsor Newton watercolor markers, Tombow markers and Pitt Pens as mentioned for detail. I love layering colors, which helps give the illusion of depth, transparency, and texture (oh, how I adore texture!!).
I wasn’t overly concerned with being anatomically correct with the figure itself; I just sketched my best and had fun. I’m super pleased with how this first attempt came out and plan to do more. It was fun getting in the zone with my illustrative focus on fashion, which never seems to get old, even as I get older!
I love it when I get ideas for trying something new to expand my artistic horizons, especially when they align with my overall goals as an artist, this case being illustration, combined with cartooning, fashion, and layering color and adding detail. It’s essentially a win-win-win!
What is Essential for you right now that brings Satisfaction and keeping it Simple at the same time? I encourage to pursue what you’re curious about and follow your JOY.
You’re welcome to share below in the comments what’s working for you to express yourself in a way only you can. Because your voice matters!
Wishing YOU All the Sweetness!
All images copyrighted to Dawn Herring 2021
Welcome back to The Sweet Spot!
I have begun a Series of Videos Called Satisfying Sound where I share songs I've written from my spiritual practice. I sing and play my new piano!
For this second in the series, I'm sharing my spiritual song, Your Face Shines.
Thank you for watching and if you like it, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel for future videos in this series!
If you would like to watch the first video in the Satisfying Sound Series where I sing and play my spiritual song, Because You, please click here.
All words and music are copyrighted to Dawn Herring, 2021.
Welcome back to Keeping It Sweet co-hosted by Dawn and Carrie where we focus on All Things Essential, Simple and Satisfying!
For this episode, we focus on Seasons of Creativity, whether it spring or summer or we're changing things up based on our curiosity! Join us for some fun and laughter (and for some beginning piano playing by Dawn!) and leave a comment about what season of creativity you're enjoying!
Hello friends! Welcome back to The Sweet Spot, where we talk about all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying!
Today’s Sweet Spot Episode is very special to me.
It focuses on my spiritual practice and more specifically, my music practice.
I share about my song writing based in my spiritual study, my history with the piano app and playing by ear on my new piano.
The featured song in this video is “Because You,”
I sing and play my new piano! I am super excited to share this video with you. I do hope you enjoy watching/listening and are inspired to pursue what your heart desires!
Wishing you all the Sweetness!
Words and music in this video are copyrighted to Dawn Herring, 2021.
Welcome back to The Sweet Spot! I had such joy with nature sounds in my office that I decided to take a walk and share it with you, my dear friends and readers/watchers. The Sweetness of Spring is so Essential, Simple and Satisfying, isn’t it? Let’s listen to the birds, see butterflies and ducks and share what’s happening with each other. Life is Sweeter when we do it together!
Thanks for joining me and you’re welcome to share this video with a friend. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, you’re also welcome to join my community where we talk about all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying, which, for me, is the description of what a Sweet Spot looks and feels like.
Let’s Keep It Sweet together!
Welcome back to Keeping It Sweet co-hosted by me and my dear friend, Carrie Aulenbacher. We focus on all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying!
For this New Year's Edition, I share extensive tips on bullet journaling and making things sweeter in the home, and Carrie shares a meaningful project she's been working on!
Do leave a comment about how you're keeping it sweet in 2021!
(This edited video was originally recorded live on Facebook.)
You can view previous episodes of Keeping It Sweet here.
Hi. I'm Dawn Herring. Here at The Sweet Spot I love writing about how I'm keeping it sweet with music, song writing, cartooning, doodling, watercolor painting, movie watching and book reading. My goal is to share what feels really sweet to me and why. Perhaps it will inspire you to do the same.