Lover of nature, color, art, life, adventure. Choosing to find beauty. I hope you can find inspiration and joy while you're here.



I just finished reading the book #Girlboss, by Sophia Amoruso and it was pretty great:

Though I usually lean more toward fiction, in the last two years, I've begun to enjoy reading more non-fiction and memoirs. I enjoy hearing about the way other people overcome challenges through hard work in order find success.

This book was full of empowering words and motivational lessons for women (although the lessons can apply to anyone, of course). Also, spoiler alert: I love it when the answer to "Where did your success come from?" is "my own hard work" and "not giving up."

There are some business and relationship nuggets that can be plucked from Sophia's story, for sure, but I had to get used to her take-no-prisoners language. I have a feeling that if we met in real life, though, that we could be great friends. Her writing voice is unique and engaging and humorous.

Have you read his book? Or I should probably start by asking: do you even like reading memoirs? Do tell!


To the Summit

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hiking to the top of my favorite mountain, Timpanogos. It's around an 8-hour round-trip hike and requires some serious stamina and stair-climbing skillz in some places. It's not a hike I recommend to people who just get the urge to go on a hike one day and think climbing a mountain would be a fun thing to do. While it is super fun (for me, at least!) and infinitely rewarding, you have to be prepared.

You have to take about 2 meals worth of food, as well as a lot of water (I'm talking several liters). You should take some toilet paper too, for answering nature's call out in the wilderness. You should probably take a jacket because it gets super windy at the summit and it can be chilly in the shade. You need to take excellent shoes because you will be hiking in them for at least 15 miles and (depending on the time of year) could be crossing several glaciers. You need to take a flashlight if you're starting your hike before dawn, and sunscreen for after the sun rises and when you are above the treeline. A first-aid kit, pain reliever, and hiking sticks are also good to consider.

With all that preparation, though, there is even more preparation that must take place days and even months ahead of time. You should hydrate yourself for at least the week leading up to the hike. Your shoes need to be broken in to avoid serious injuries. You should have taken several longer hikes in the months and weeks prior in order to get accustomed to the type of movement your body will be using and to adjust to the altitude change. Above all, you should study maps and learn from experienced hikers to better understand what to expect from the trail in terms of terrain and time.

This is not to say that it is impossible to hike without preparing (because any normal, healthy person can totally hike to the summit without serious repercussions), but you will be more exhausted, hangry, dizzy or nauseous with altitude sickness, and sore the following days. Every year, several people are airlifted from the mountain, and it is usually because they were poorly prepared.

That being said, the rewards are incredible. How many people have truly seen a sunrise from a mountain peak or watched the mist slowly dissolve from rows upon rows of mountains in the morning light? How many people have watched--in person--a pika building a nest out of twigs and leaves, or have born witness to a grouse strutting about unabashedly, or walked with mountain goats ambling along ridges and rock slides or seen a bull moose wading in a pond? How many people have actually walked through a meadow while a huge herd of deer runs by, or been so high up that even the soaring birds are flying beneath their view? How many people know what it feels like to have the hairs on your arms tingle while standing in the middle of gathering clouds, or know what it feels like to stand at the highest peak and then know how someone can feel so big and at the same time so small and proud and scared and thrilled...and how it can all be contained in a single human heart in a single moment.

Totally worth it, but it is a lot of work.

Recently, I've set a personal goal for myself that likewise requires a lot of preparation but that could potentially be just as rewarding. I knew well ahead of time that it was going to be a ton of work. It's a little arduous and can be discouraging but thus far the view is looking good, and I'm getting excited about reaching my goal. And who knows? Maybe once I'm at the top, I will see another peak in the distance that I'd love to climb. Or, maybe I'll feel inspired to climb it over and over again.

On our hike, we ran into that guy, who told us it was his 661st time reaching the summit, which is incredible! What an inspiration! Also, it could be a little intimidating to compare his 72 years of summit accruals to the handful of times I've been, but guess what? Every person's goals are different and I am at a different place in my life right now than he is. He told us one reason he continues to hike to the summit is to inspire other people. He said people can do hard things and that you're only as old as you think you are. True dat, guy. True dat.

Do you have a big goal that your are working towards or have already met? What is your mountain summit? What preparation went into it and what were the rewards?


4 Ways to Sketch, Part IV (Shapes)

On Instagram, I showed a sketch I had done of the same flower using four different techniques. I thought it would be helpful to dive into the types of sketching since each technique is used to hone in on different illustration skillz.

The last type of sketching is using basic shapes. This is the method I use to make my most realistic-looking pieces and allows for a little more evolution and correction than the other highlighted sketching techniques. Feel free to join in while we explore this type of sketching a little more:

First, you'll want to identify the main shapes that make up your subject. Imagine the subject as a bunch of geometric shapes with a sheet laid over them. Imagine the framework underneath the surface. Look for protrusions and curves, angles, and general shapes and lightly indicate them on your paper with a light touch:

Once you've identified the main shapes, connect them and go over them again, paying closer attention to detail with each pass. Draw over each line, still with a light touch, but correct shapes and angles you may have gotten wrong the first time around:

Repeat as many times as necessary, always refining the details and shapes you've already established. Keep a light touch the entire time, since the repetitions of your lines and shapes will naturally darken the lines and redefine the shapes. Continue until your corrected shape matches the subject. Notice and add in smaller details and shapes:

This type of exercise is ideal for learning how to notice the underlying skeletal structure of a subject. Knowing how to show that helps give your subject weight and volume. It is also a great platform to use if you're ready to start adding different values (tints and shadows) to your artwork.

This four-part series highlighted 4 of my go-to sketching methods and the illustration skillz they help develop. Did you find these how-tos helpful? If so, I'd love to know! Is there another sketching method you'd like to see? I'd love to hear what you think.


4 Ways to Sketch, Part III (Contour)

On Instagram, I showed a sketch I had done of the same flower using four different techniques. I thought it would be helpful to dive into the types of sketching since each technique is used to hone in on different illustration skillz.

The third type of sketching is a standard contour. There are several ways to treat a contour sketch (like part II- continuous) but this is usually what comes to mind for me. Contour basically means an outline. Depending on the details of your subject matter, this can take a little or a long time, but you can decide how much detail you want to include. Care to join? Please do:

Before drawing, you'll want to identify the details closest to you and work your way out from there. I identified this set of petals that seemed foreshortened and the main perspective point. This is not to draw attention to that part of the drawing, since it will blend in once the drawing is completed, but it will be so much easier to draw (especially if using a pen without pencil sketching beforehand) if you know where to start:

Once you've laid down your starting point, begin working in the remaining details. The purpose for this exercise is to practice observation skills and line control. One thing to take note of when sketching using this method is to never intersect lines. Lines should touch other lines but never run through them.  Each artist is different, but I often like to include lines that appear in the subject but don't necessarily start and stop at other lines, such as wrinkles or folds:

Continue filling out the image, paying close attention to overlapping pieces and ensuring lines don't overlap:

I love how clean and light this type of sketching looks, and think it can make an excellent finished art piece if done correctly. Some people like to use this style for finished artwork, but I like to try my luck sketching this way with a pen.

So, what do you think? Do you like this kind of look? Have you done it before? I'd totally love to see!