Some thoughts on completing the PiBoIdMo challenge

Nevis the black Scottish terrier dog has a dignified and thoughtful appearance

Sexy beast. Nevis would love to pen rabbit murder mysteries. Sadly, a lack of opposable thumbs has stymied this talented storyteller.

This morning I jotted some notes down for my final journal entry in the Picture Book Idea Month challenge. This is the first time I’ve ever completed an internet challenge event. I’m not really one for these public group goal-meeting activities: In fact, I usually avoid them. What made this one more accessible for me was the fact that we didn’t have to publish or upload our work online, thus sidestepping the whole exhibitionistic aspect of so many of these events.

Some things I noticed as I wrote my daily entries:

  • Quite a few entries were based on New Mexico life and culture. This is the first time in the 2 years I’ve lived here that local flavor has influenced my creativity. I guess it means I’ve finally settled in! 🙂
  • A few entries came out of some deep childhood memories, not always pleasant. After I wrote them down, I said, “Whoa, that’s kind of scary. Let me sit with that a while.” Don’t know if or when they’ll get more exploration.
  • At least 2 entries were snippets of conversation from the day before.
  • Characters predominated over plots.
  • Often, I’d jot down a brief idea, opening the door to other, more detailed ideas.
  • Other times, I’d write a quick idea on one day, only to have more details for it the next.

Tomorrow, I’ll go to Tara Lazar’s blog and sign off in confirmation of completing the project.   Thanks to Tara Lazar for her hard work in organizing and hosting this large event and all of the guest bloggers who provided inspirational essays about their experiences as writers and illustrators over the course of the month.

Did you participate in this challenge? What did you notice about your ideas or the writing process?

Current project: Polyphemus moth

An in-progress view of a colored pencil drawing of a Polyphemus moth.

Using a colored paper support has definitely given a psychedelic feel to this gorgeous moth!

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working in the early mornings on a drawing of a Polyphemus moth. I discovered and photographed this beautiful creature while walking the pups at a local pocket park when we still lived in Houston.

To add variety to my routine, I decided to use colored pencils only, on a support of ColourFix suede-textured paper. I think this color is called “jacaranda.” Purple Haze would be more fitting. 😉 The textured paper means the pencil layers on more thickly and covers more area more quickly, which is a nice change of pace from the usual tedious building up of color on a hot-press paper.

When I first sketched out the moth onto the paper, I had thought to just freehand the grass it had been lying on at a later point in the project. But as I continued to work, it became clear that a more formal and abstract background was what the composition needed. I had some snapshots of Japanese textiles left over from my V&A project, so I incorporated the design of one of the brocades. Kaffe Fassett would be proud!

On my walk: Chamisa Trail hike

A view of a boulder in the Santa Fe National Forest on Chamisa Trail.

The snow has melted from the lower slopes of the Santa Fe Ski Basin. Spring hiking season can begin!

This weekend we took our cell of Scottish terrorists up Hyde Park Road for some training maneuvers in the Santa Fe National Forest. The pups loved it, as always. The icy chill of meltwater in Tesuque Creek does not deter them in the least from jumping in and splashing about in the shallow stream. And what could be better than getting your feet muddy after you’ve gotten them nice and wet? 😉

A black and a wheaten Scottish terrier playing on a boulder.

After a refreshing dip in an icy stream, 0ur Scottish terrierists dry off in the sun of a mountain meadow.

Wildflowers are just now coming into bloom. I noted 4 different species.

Wild strawberries start blooming in April in New Mexico's mountains.

I think these are wild strawberries.


Mountain wildflowers in April in the Santa Fe National Forest.

These little white stars are about the size of a pinhead. You really have to keep a sharp eye open to spot the early bloomers.

Thorny leaves like holly or mahonia, yellow blooms. This small shrub could be Fremont's barberry.

The thorny, holly-like leaves and yellow buds belong to Fremont’s barberry.

White wildflower, multi-flower umbral flower head, clover-like, found on the forest floor in New Mexico.

The florets in the umbral make you think of clover, don’t they?

I was such a dolt! I brought my big camera with macro lens and forgot to take it out to document this little beauty! >:-(

In my defense, though, I was being yanked down the trail by 20-lbs of Scottish muscle. Pausing to set up a careful series of macro shots on a narrow hiking trail would have been difficult.

While we took a short break at the meadow, I pulled out my sketchbook and drew the creek bed.

Moleskine sketchbook spread of a mountain landscape.

A very quick sketch of Tesuque Creek. I took just enough time to note the verticals of the multi-trunked trees and the rough spheres of the creek bed rocks.

I had only a few minutes to jot down the essential elements of the scene while the Scottish terrorists dried off from their swim.

All in all, it was a great way to spend a morning of Easter weekend!

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