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!
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.
Hello friends! Welcome back to The Sweet Spot where we focus on all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying.
For the past two posts, I've focused on my illustrated doodle cartoon and combining that with Fashion Illustration, where I illustrate fashion from other imaged sources aside from my own wardrobe. I have always enjoyed fashion illustration from a young age, mostly with contour drawings in my younger years.
But since I have been using Markers and Pens for my evening doodle, I have translated my love of fashion illustration into cartoon format and have such fun doing so!
I recently tried my hand at combining my cartoon with a multi colored floral dress design which you can see here.
I just completed my second try at this new combination, this time with a belted floral coat of sorts. The original color scheme for this piece was lighter than what I used, more like pink and orange pastels. But, since I don't have those colors readily available in my art supply stash, I went with a bit of a bolder color scheme with darker pinks and deeper oranges, which suit me just fine. It does give it a lot more pop than the original. Not sure which color scheme I like better, but, to keep it SIMPLE, I went with the colors I had.
Usually I try to match things as closely as possible for a more aligned image, but this time, I chose to simply go with what was in hand. And be okay with that.
I'm not really into pastel colors, although I do have a lighter purple in my stash that I use a lot. Vibrant colors are usually my go to, which, if you've followed me for any length of time, you know it's what I create with and what I wear, for that matter!
In my first attempt, which you can see here, the drawing of the dress is smaller is size. This 2nd attempt is broader with the shoulders and pattern. I'm still trying to decide if the cartoon head should have started out a bit bigger. But once it's drawn in ink, it's permanent. It's often in retrospect that I see what I could have done better. But, alas, this IS an Experiment and I'm having a delicious time with the process.
I always start the drawing with the head and move to the contour of the garment right from the shoulders. So placement is key for sizing. If the shoulders are drawn too wide, then the whole garment will be broader. Every drawing for me is a learning experience. I'm still proud of my work and my efforts to expand my artistic horizons.
Would I draw this again to make the proportions more accurate? No, probably not. Moving on to the next thing with new knowledge is the way I'm most likely to go.
This is a very busy pattern of mixed florals. I really love larger motifs like this and the contrast between the white detail and the varying mixed color palette. Would I wear this? Probably not. I would choose a less busy pattern personally, but it was a fun challenge to draw.
This approach to fashion (a combination of cartoon and illustration is pen and marker) is a work in progress and it's fun to see the choices I make as far as images I'm drawn to each time.
Art really does equal awareness: of what I like, the color patterns, the motifs I enjoy, the size of the detail and design, the layers I incorporate as I draw and "Paint" the colors to accentuate shadow and depth.
To me, art is a gift. No matter how you apply it. Creation is all about paying attention to what you love and what you care about. And using creation as a way to express yourself. Give yourself that gift in whatever form is Sweet for you!
Thanks for sharing in my artistic journey!
I wish you all the Sweetness!
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 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!
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.
As another year comes to a close, and WHAT A YEAR IT HAS BEEN, like none other I’ve experienced before, as you, my readers, from around the world can attest to.
The purpose of my sharing these highlights, as I do each year, is to show my evolving path, as artist, journal keeper, business owner and woman.
Some of what I list is personal, some professional and some, just downright fun!
What I have chosen to list would qualify as Essential, Simple and Satisfying in one way or another. So, shall we begin? Come along on my 2020 journey with me!
As I proceed, I will focus on my Professional Life first. As Office Manager of Bill’s Quality Electric, LLC, which is headed by my Master Electrician/Electrical Contractor Husband, I am responsible for all things having to do with our business, and that includes Social Media Marketing. We have been on Twitter and Facebook for many a year. But this year, I decided to add a YouTube Channel, new territory for our business!
This year was also a more creative year for me as writer of our Electrical Safety blog. Each time I publish a new post, I now promote it on our YouTube Channel, which is Your Electrical Safety Resource! I have so enjoyed this new venture and am excited to share it with you! You are welcome to subscribe for electrical safety, shock and fire prevention tips!
The next item I’m super excited and pleased to share involves a very close, special friend of mine. This year I decided to launch a new LIVE SHOW called, Keeping It Sweet, where we focus on all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying, which is how I describe a Sweet Spot! So, My dear friend, Carrie Aulenbacher, and I co-host together, with each of us sharing how we’re Keeping It Sweet right now! Plus we share tips on how we focus on what is Essential, Simple and Satisfying, giving daily life examples of what that looks like and what a difference it makes to our happiness, JOY and well being. You’re welcome to check out the episodes here. Just a head’s up: there’s a LOT of FUN and LAUGHTER going on!
The next item is focused on books, specifically the author and spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle. I learned of him several years ago with his book, A New Earth someone told me about, which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. Then I found out about his other book, The Power of Now, which I also read. Well, this year, I began to watch Eckhart on video, listening to his teachings from events held around the world, based often on questions from the audience. I really appreciated his calm and kind manner, his sense of humor and the truth of what he spoke. So, now I make Eckhart part of my morning routine, and I recently re-read the books mentioned. I highly recommend them to anyone who is interested in spending more time in the Present Moment and less time caught up in the crazy thoughts running through the head focused on past and future.
Now for one of my favorite subjects: ART. I have several things to share in this category.
First, is my practice of EXPERIMENTATION with watercolor (I share more detail in this post.) I won’t go into too much detail here, but I will say that it has been truly rewarding to try New Things as an artist and how much fun it has been to see what I am capable of creating with my paintbrush and Winsor Newton watercolors! My goal is to apply what I have learned over the past almost-decade of time since I first dabbled in watercolor and see where it takes me.
For most of the time, I have focused on the intuitive approach to painting, but 2020 brought me to try my hand at replicating subject matter that appeals to me, thus I have succeeded and it has brought me great Satisfaction and has been a huge Sweet Spot in my year.
The next aspect of ART I want to mention for my year end review is adding some real fun to my daily doodle, which I started 8 or 9 years ago, first with black marker, and then adding color, texture and detail. This year, I determined to try my hand at something I’ve always wanted to learn: CARTOONING. Yep. But not just drawing a figure. But dressing that figure in my own wardrobe every day! How fun this has been for me, since FASHION has always been of interest to me, especially concerning illustrating. So each night, I’ve added myself in cartoon form, which only enhances my daily doodle far beyond just a fun word.
And lastly, for Christmas, I decided to try my hand at creating a cartoon/illustrative portrait for each of my daughters. A larger version of my daily cartoon. And I am happy to say that I succeeded! This is also a new approach for me using the same tools I use for my daily doodle.
For many years, I did pencil portraits of my family and of many celebrities. But drawing in pen is a completely different experience and a rewarding one at that.
Now onto a subject many of my readers are familiar with and that’s JOURNALING. I won’t go into the details of my extensive journaling practice; instead I will simply share one addition I made starting in December of 2019: BULLET JOURNALING. I read the book and have it in my personal library.
I will say this: I have only adopted some of what is taught, such as daily rapid logs, Collections, and monthly spreads. Nothing fancy. You can see some of the inside pages in this video/blog post I created for The Journal Showdown hosted by Jamie Ridler. My Bullet Journal has added more Order to my days and a place to delve more deeply into what matters to me. What I love about it is the way you customize is to fit your goals and needs.
My final focus for this year in review is MUSIC. I had two developments to share this year.
The first was acquiring a mic with stand and speaker. So, now I can sing the spiritual songs I have written and amplify my voice. (I was given this gift right around my birthday! What a delightful surprise!)
The second development has involved learning to PLAY MY SONGS on the PIANO. I’m currently using an app until I get a piano keyboard. When I do acquire one, I’ll let you know! I’m still researching what kind to get before I make a purchase.
Playing the piano, learning the keys to play the melody, is something I have desired to do for a very long time. It’s basically a musical dream come true! It makes me so happy! Yay!
So, putting it all together, writing spiritual songs, playing them on my piano and using my mic to amplify the sound: a SUPER SWEET SPOT FOR MY SOUL. INDEED.
So, that sums up what I wanted to share with you all as 2020 comes to a close and 2021 begins.
My wish for you, dear readers, for 2021 is that you will find the SWEETNESS and savor it every day from what is ESSENTIAL, SIMPLE and SATISFYING for you! And you are always welcome to share what your Sweet Spots are here on this blog or on social media where we are connected.
When we share what is Sweet for us right now, we #spreadthesweetness in community, thus, making the world a Sweeter Place. And we can always have more of that, can’t we?
Thanks for your interest in my 2020 Year in Review and I wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
All images Copyright 2020 Dawn Herring
Hello friends and welcome to Ep 4 of Keeping It Sweet Christmas Edition, co-hosted by me, Dawn, and my dear Friend, Carrie Aulenbacher!
Our focus is on all things Essential, Simple and Satisfying and for this episode, we talk about all things Christmas, going down memory lane and offering some great ideas to make your Christmas time extra special.
Do leave a comment and let us know how you're Keeping It Sweet this holiday season!
This video was originally recorded LIVE on Facebook.
Catch the replay of Episode 3 of Keeping It Sweet, co-hosted by Dawn Herring and Carrie Aulenbacher. We focus on how we keep it sweet by focusing on what is Essential, Simple and Satisfying for us and that qualifies as a Sweet Spot.
In this episode we share some autumn sweetness and some wardrobe Sweet Spots. Think Fun and Laughter!
Do join us and share a comment below about what is your Sweet Spot right now! As we share in community, we make the world a Sweeter Place!
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.