"Little Wolf, Big World" (Project Preview)

So, as some of you know, I've started working on writing and illustrating a children's book! With so many friends and family who either have young kids or are about to very soon, I've begun thinking a lot over the last year or so about how I might contribute to welcoming these little people into the world. How can I help provide nurturing spaces for children to start learning the world around them and for parents to learn their children and themselves in their new roles as "mom," "dad," etc.? What can I make and give that can add even just a hint of the beauty that helps love grow?

A very early mock-up of the book's cover. We'll see how things develop!

A very early mock-up of the book's cover. We'll see how things develop!

I'm finding numerous answers to those questions, and this book project is just one of them. The progress will be slow and steady, but I'm keeping track of much of it on my Instagram feed under the hashtag #littlewolfbigworld, and I'll also be updating the blog periodically from this point forward. In the meantime, as the book itself is developed, I've opened an online store full of prints and other home goods that feature the characters and scenes from the book that folks can purchase. You'll find a collection of illustrations for Kids & Nursery, Coffee & Kitchen, Home & Family, and my Iconography series all available at society6.com/sarahduetCheck it out if you're curious! 

And on a personal note, I've been finding the process of working on this to be quite enjoyable, and I think healthy for me as well. As a person who tends to take things pretty seriously, focus on complexity, and think in primarily abstract terms...it's a good exercise, I think, to immerse myself in work like this  that requires a foundation of delight, simple communication, and very concrete ideas. It's been refreshing thus far and I think a valuable complement to my more introspective creative process for songwriting, painting, etc.

I'll keep you posted. Thanks for stopping in,

sd.

Remember all that snow we got this winter in Shreveport? Well Lowe the Little Wolf and his fox friend Ferdinand got some time to play in it!

Remember all that snow we got this winter in Shreveport? Well Lowe the Little Wolf and his fox friend Ferdinand got some time to play in it!

Baby wolves need nurseries, right? So here's a view of Lowe's.

Baby wolves need nurseries, right? So here's a view of Lowe's.

Ferdinand playing on his  Index Drum (indexdrums.com)  and Lowe the Little Wolf sporting his  Space Bees  onesie! Local Shreveport makers will hopefully be making periodic appearances in this project.

Ferdinand playing on his Index Drum (indexdrums.com) and Lowe the Little Wolf sporting his Space Bees onesie! Local Shreveport makers will hopefully be making periodic appearances in this project.

Influences: Lisa Congdon / Art Inc.

Lisa Congdon's new book has officially been added to my  Arts & Creatvity Bookshelf .

Lisa Congdon's new book has officially been added to my Arts & Creatvity Bookshelf.

Visit Lisa's website:  lisacongdon.com

Visit Lisa's website: lisacongdon.com

I've recently discovered Lisa Congdon, fine artist, illustrator, and author, and she's quickly becoming a big influence on my work. Lisa found her identity as an artist in her 30's and has built an amazingly successful career in the last 10-15 years or so through smart, hard, and dedicated work. 

She shares in-depth details of how you can make a living by making visual art in the book Art, Inc. (The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist)There is more practical guidance in this book than in most resources of a similar sort, which I expect I'll go back to and reference as needed. The design of the book is also excellent, which I appreciate as the book is indeed about art/design. (It only makes sense I suppose, but this is not always a given.) There are other books in the "Inc." series including Creative, Inc. , Blog, Inc. , Craft Inc. , and Mom, Inc.

Hear/see more about Lisa Congdon's life and work in the videos below:

MLK, Jr. Icon

In honor of Dr. King's courageous and invaluable contributions to our society and as a personal commitment to continuing the work of realizing his dreams for our lives, I made this new graphic icon to share with you today.

Also, below is a far-too-small collection of Dr. King's words in hopes that we might reflect on them honestly today. And that in our reflection, we might be moved to act in some way. Maybe this year more than many in our recent history, I think it is clear that we have a long way to go in making Dr. King's dreams a reality. So may we be challenged and emboldened by his example, and may we be the "creative, dedicated" ones who help this hurting world to get better, little by little...

I hereby pledge myself – my person and my body – to nonviolence, peace, and justice for all people everywhere.

Therefore I will keep the following commandments:

I will meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
I will remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory.
I will walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
I will pray daily to be used by God in order that all people might be free.
I will sacrifice personal wishes in order that all people might be free.
I will observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
I will seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
I will refrain from violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
I will strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
I will listen with respect to those who love and teach me.
— MLK, Jr. (Pledge of Non-Violence, 1963)
As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond...either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force.
— MLK, Jr.
Almost always the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.
— MLK, Jr.
God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.”
— MLK, Jr.
We must use time creatively in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.
— MLK, Jr.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
— MLK, Jr.
Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.
— MLK, Jr.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
— MLK, Jr. (Letter From Birmingham Jail)
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
— MLK, Jr.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. . . I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
— MLK, Jr.

St. Francis of Assisi

I love learning about the lives of the saints in church history. Their stories can be so valuable as encouragement, inspiration, and motivation for us on how to shape our lives today. One of my favorites is St. Francis of Assisi, coincidentally the namesake of the current Catholic pope–appropriately I think, as Francis was one of the first to critique and warn against the dangers of capitalism, lived with a deep value and care for the environment/all of Creation, and was actively non-violent and doing the work of peacemaking in a time of war and crusades. We can benefit greatly from the wisdom of Francis, and today is the day the Church remembers him collectively...

This is a copy of an "icon" of St. Francis that I made for a friend's birthday present! (I'm considering illustrating more icons of saints and sharing their stories in a series here on the blog. Is this something anyone would be interested in? Comment below to let me know? :)

This is a copy of an "icon" of St. Francis that I made for a friend's birthday present! (I'm considering illustrating more icons of saints and sharing their stories in a series here on the blog. Is this something anyone would be interested in? Comment below to let me know? :)

Shane Claiborne wrote today in regards to St. Francis...

"Today is one of the great holy-days of the year. Happy St. Francis Day!!!

Christians around the world remember one of the great heroes of our faith, and the Pope’s namesake – Francis of Assisi. But Francesco Bernadone (Francis of Assisi), who died on October 3, 1226 must be laughing at the irony of it all. 

He was one of the first critics of capitalism, one of the earliest Christian environmentalists, a sassy reformer of the church, and one of the classic conscientious objectors to war. Even though it’s hard to imagine a saint whose life is more relevant to the world we live in today, Francis was not always so popular. 

Legend has it, the first time he preached at the Vatican, the pope told him to go preach to the pigs. But later the pope had a vision: the corner of the church was collapsing, and little Francis and the youth of Assisi were holding it up. Arguably that youth movement was one of the most powerful restorations of church history. While he did not hold back on his relentless critique of the church, he remained humbly and hopeful. He stopped complaining about the church as it was and started dreaming of the church as it could be. As Francis said, he heard God whisper: “Repair my Church, which is in ruins.” 
So perhaps it’s Providential that 800 years later the Pope is named after him.

Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, born into a society where the gap between the rich and the poor was increasingly unacceptable. It was an age of religious crusades, where Christians and Muslims were killing each other in the name of God. The Church and the world were in chaos… Sound familiar?

Francis did something simple and wonderful. He read the Gospels where Jesus says, “Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor,” “Consider the lilies and the sparrows and do not worry about tomorrow,” “Love your enemies,” and he decided to live as if Jesus meant the stuff he said. Francis turned his back on the materialism and militarism of his world, and said yes to Jesus.

One of the quotes attributed to Francis is a simple and poignant critique of our world, just as it was to his: “The more stuff we have, the more clubs we need to protect it. Be free like the lilies and the sparrows.” 

With a childlike innocence, Francis literally stripped naked and walked out of Assisi to live like the lilies and the sparrows. He lived among the outcasts and ostracized. He lived close to the earth and, like Jesus, became a friend of the birds and creatures, whom he fondly called brother and sister. In light of that, many a birdbath wears his iconic image. But his life is worthy of more than a lawn statue. His life was a powerful critique of the demons of his day, which are very similar to the demons of our day.

One of my favorite stories about Francis was when he decided to meet with the Muslim sultan during the Fifth Crusade – in Syria of all places. It was a tumultuous time. War had become a necessity and a habit, and was sanctioned by much of the church. Francis was sent off as a soldier, but he could not reconcile the violence of war with the grace of Christ . . . and so he got off his warhorse and put down his sword. He pleaded with the military commander, Cardinal-Legate Pelagius, to end the fighting. Pelagius refused. Instead, Pelagius broke off all diplomatic relations with the sultan of Egypt. The sultan in turn decreed that anyone who brought him the head of a Christian would be rewarded with a Byzantine gold piece. Francis, however, pursued his vision in steadfast faith, surmounting all dangers in a journey to see the sultan. He traveled through fierce fighting in Syria and inevitably was met by soldiers of the sultan’s army, who beat him savagely and put him in chains, dragging him before the sultan himself. Francis spoke to the sultan of God’s love and grace. The sultan listened intensely and was so moved that he offered Francis gifts and money. Francis, of course, had no desire for the money, but he gladly accepted one gift, an ivory horn used in the Muslim call to prayer. He took it back with him and used it to summon his own community for prayer. Both Francis and the sultan were transformed by that encounter, offering much hope to our world of troubled interfaith relations.

Although the church is prone to forget his witness or to make a monument of his movement, we can still celebrate his critique of an economy that left masses of people in poverty, so that a handful of people can live as they wish. We still rejoice in his love for the earth as we work to end the ravaging of our world. We remember his witness that there is a better way to bring peace than with a sword. 
These are the words of the famous prayer attributed to Francis. May they inspire us to become better people and to build a better world, right alongside Francesco Bernadone of Assisi and Pope Francis of Argentina.

Lord, Make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon, 
Where there is discord, union,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is error, truth,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is sadness, joy,
Where there is darkness, light.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive,it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

NOTE: FOR A GOOD FLICK ON FRANCIS, CHECK OUT THE CLASSIC BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON"

SHOW YOUR WORK

Austin Kleon is "a writer who draws" who lives in Austin, TX and online at  austinkleon.com .

Austin Kleon is "a writer who draws" who lives in Austin, TX and online at austinkleon.com.

This is the 6th of 25 books I have committed to read & review this year for a project I’m calling “25/25.” Follow visual updates on Instagram (& Twitter) with the hashtag #read25in25.

This was a fun, quick read so I'll try to mirror that in this post. I'd put Show Your Work  in the category of what I call "kickstart books" (others in that category being Do the Work by Steven Pressfield and V is Vulnerable by Seth Godin). "Kickstart books" are concise, direct works that purposefully lead you on an efficient path to one place: making your own work. I've found it important to supplement deeper, more long-form reads with kickstarts like these to keep me active and focused on my work. It's rarely easy to stay on track and keep momentum in making and shipping creative work. It is, after all, called the war of art for a reason. Kleon's Show Your Work focuses specifically on the sharing or shipping of your work. His previous book Steal Like an Artist focuses more on the process of making the work itself.

Sometimes there is an aversion for artists to anything that looks or feels like self-promotion, but I love what Kleon says in the first chapter of his book. This eliminates any thought of self-promotion at least from the early stages of putting your work out into the world to find its audience, your tribe:

The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others...Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts, no matter how bad they are at first. Don't worry, for now, about how you'll make money or a career off it. Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you. (19)

So what are you learning? What are you making of it? Share it with us! We'll all be better for it. And I'll certainly be learning, making, and sharing as well...

sd.

An illustration in the book about the percentages in the total amount of work we make. You've gotta make a lot to get that "not crap" percentage up...So true.

An illustration in the book about the percentages in the total amount of work we make. You've gotta make a lot to get that "not crap" percentage up...So true.

The back cover of the book with Kleon's 10 things it takes to share like an artist and show your work.

The back cover of the book with Kleon's 10 things it takes to share like an artist and show your work.

CREATIVE CONFIDENCE (Book Review)

This is the 3rd of 25 books I have committed to read & review this year for a project I’m calling “25/25.” Follow visual updates on Instagram (& Twitter) with the hashtag #read25in25.

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I ran across this book by happenstance while taking a rare glance at the business section at Barnes & Noble recently. The handwritten type on the front cover stood out among the more traditional business-style designs, except for Seth Godin’s books of course. Those were popping out at me as usual, but I’ve bought too many already so I directed my attention back at Creative Confidence. I’d heard of IDEO, one of the world’s leading design firms, but I knew next to nothing about the Kelley brothers who founded and run it. And I’m all about instilling confidence in folks, as well as reminding us that we’re all infused with creative impulses and gifting––not just those people called artists, designers, writers, performers, etc. So the book seemed right up my alley. And in addition to the cover that caught my attention, I have to say the texture of the book jacket, paper choice, illustrations, and the overall design/layout make this a very pleasing read. I suppose this should be expected from the elite of the design world, but nonetheless I noted and appreciated it.

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There was good balance of storytelling, discussion of values & ethics, and practically applicable information and exercises. These categories are not always offered cohesively together in one book, but here Tom and David Kelley accomplish it quite well. I also benefitted from their focus not only on the individual, but on crafting a communal culture that can better encourage creative confidence among members. 

One of my favorite parts of the book includes a list of principles and mindsets that the Kelleys suggest help “to foster creative confidence in a group setting, consider[ing] the social ecology of your team” (184):

  • Keep your sense of humor
  • Build on the energy of others
  • Minimize hierarchy
  • Value team camaraderie and trust
  • Defer judgement––at least temporarily

Download the Preface and Introduction to the book for  free  here.

Download the Preface and Introduction to the book for free here.

Watch David Kelley's TED Talk on "How To Build Your Creative Confidence" here.