Loosening Up

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I am beginning to work on a group of art prints to sell at Narragansett Beach this summer.  I usually start by loosening up.  I doodle and look for inspiration all over. I also pull up lots of photos of animals and buildings to make sure I am familiar with how many segments are in a lobster body or how many windows are actually on that historic building.

From there I begin sketching lay-outs and illustrations on tracing paper.  I create the image I am happy with on the tracing paper, then I scribble an entire piece of paper with graphite pencil.  The graphite-filled paper will then allow me to engrave and transfer my image to a high-quality piece of paper.  I do this because I can then start painting with a really clean image with no erase marks or damage to the paper.  The other bonus, is if I don’t like the painting, I can re-transfer my initial drawing. I also use them as reference. As the layers of paint get applied, your initial drawing is no longer there to work from. I have a copy of my original ideas.

I am close to finishing the sketching process.  From there I will start painting… I’ll post the progression.

Now to get my cat off all my papers….

Congrats My Dear Friend!


Have you ever tried writing a book?  I have at least 4 books rolling around in my head.  I never get past page three out of complete frustration! However, my friend Jeanine, she did it and I am so darn proud of her!


Years ago Jeanine founded a group called Rhode Island Families in Nature.  Her mission is to share her passion for the great outdoors with kids, grandparents, moms, dads and any significant other. It’s do-able, it’s accessible and it’s enjoyable.  To quote Jeanine, “People who regularly spend time outside are happier, healthier, and even smarter than those who do not. And hey, let’s face it: it’s just plain fun to get outside and play!”  Jeanine offers a monthly hike on her website.  All you have to do is show up!


Jeanine 2 cropped

Now let me get back to the hard work part…  So first she had to write the book – kudos right there! But there is so much more. Jeanine picked the most family friendly hikes from her own experience and then set out with a GPS app to painstakingly map out all 42 trails in her book.  I went out with her a few times on this mission and I tell you she was counting how many steps from the tree until you turn left and documenting any inaccuracies in previous mapping attempts.  She checked parking, strollers, time frames, you name it.  Ok. so she got that done and then had quite  a few more hurdles.  On her own, no backing – her own money, Jeanine hired a map maker, an illustrator, an editor, a graphic designer and alas a printer!  Each process took months and months and she saw it through all by her lonesome.


I received a text of this photo one day. To most of you this looks like a trunk full of boxes right? 

To me, this photo was filled with so much symbolism, I just love it.  I picture Jeanine  all by herself, giddy and needing to share this with someone – anyone!  I imagine when she looked at her car she must have thought ” HOLY SHIT I DID IT! This is real.There are  actual boxes of my book in my trunk!”  There will be a book launch party this weekend and a lot of celebration, but I’d imagine grasping the reality started with this trunk.


So I say to all of you who live in NY, CT, MA and RI – think HOLIDAYS!!!  With this book you can go to a place where there are no cellphones or sirens.  It’s quiet and you are hand in hand with the people you love.  Sounds to me like a gift that will keep on giving!


Congratulations my friend. Job well done!


Book Launch Party:  Join us on Sunday, September 27, as we explore the northern section of the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge and celebrate the launch of The Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide and Journal!

Sunday, September 27, 2015
50 Bend Road, Charlestown

Go Jeanine!


My girlfriend Jeanine has very carefully hiked the entire state of Rhode Island, very often with her kids and many others, and compiled the perfect guide for family friendly hiking.


Quite fitting that she is the founder and director of Rhode Island Families in Nature!

It’s been a long time in the making and she can almost taste the fruits of her labor.

Congrats Jeanine!  I can’t wait to receive my signed copy!  Woot! Woot!


These were other illustrations I did for the book many moons ago… everything is beginning to get finalized.  The final stages…the finish line!

You don’t have to wait for the book.  Simply go to RI Families in Nature and see where this month’s featured hike will be and if you do, tell my friend Jeanine that Mary sent ya!

Take a Hike!


These are illustrations I have been working on for a Rhode Island family hiking guide. The book should be out within this year and will provide a wealth of knowledge about where to hike with your kids in the Ocean State.  The author Jeanine Silversmith, is a mother herself.  So, as well as trying most of the trails out with her own kids, she has enlisted many other families to try them out as well.  Her courses are tested and approved!  I marvel at the nature she has already exposed me to and look forward to finding more amazing journeys.

I’ll keep you posted when the book comes out!



Thanks to a friend, I was able to score Newport Folk Festival tickets last-minute.

I had never been.  It was pretty darn cool.


We did arts & crafts.



We bopped to the music.

I have to say, the smaller bands in the smaller tents were the best part of the day for me. My favorite was a band called Spirit Family Reunion.  If you click on their name right here in my post, you can hear what they sound like.  I’m telling you, I thought their feet were going to go through the stage, they were stomping so hard.  Awesome energy.  I’m going to try to catch them in NYC at some point. Oh, and one of the musicians played a wash board.  My son was amazed!  He’d seen it in cartons but couldn’t believe how great it sounded in a band. It was awesome to expose the kids to so many instruments and to so much talent.


They also had state of the art headphones so you could hear bands that were playing inside the caverns of Fort Adams.  That was different.


Somehow we were there seven hours and I still had enough in me to come home and create a little painting.  It’s folk music so of course I had to include a banjo.  It’s in Newport overlooking the Newport bridge, so I added that.  And some might tell you the Rhode Island Red (chicken) is our state bird, but I’d like to argue that in reality, it really should be the seagull.  They are everywhere!  So I made the musician a seagull as a little nod to our locale. I also thought it important to add a little patriotic nod, mainly because folk music is so very uniquely American.

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No complaints here.  We had gorgeous weather.  Spectacular views.  Terrific music.

A perfect day.


A ride back over the Newport Bridge and we’re home again.

Cool Beans.  Thank you universe.  I’m sure diggin’ this life!


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We left for the airport at 10am this morning…It’s now 7pm and we still have two more flights to go.  We are in DC where our latest flight was cancelled.  If we are lucky we will get on a 9pm flight to Boston and a bus back to Providence, RI.  Yep, I’m pretty sure we will be getting home early tomorrow morning sometime.  So, I am sitting in the airport while my husband helps me get my doodles off the phone and onto the laptop, so I can then add them to this blog.  Heck, we have two more hours…why not?  The rumor is everyone has been rerouted or stranded due to Obama visiting Boston.  How lucky are we?  Flights to DC and Boston!!!  Woo Hoo!

So the doodles are just that, doodles.  Who knows why I started drawing silly fish?  Beats me.  I started with two blobs, one left, one right.  Then I had the idea to turn them into fish.  I added the eyes, fins and lips.  After that, I just started to play with patterns.  I like tattooed “male” fish on the left. He seems a little tough.  While the fish on the right seems a little bit of a princess….Yep, applying social constructs to doodle fish….been in the airport too long!


Next, I told my kids we could get a new cat after vacation because our beloved cat “Pina” died during the last hurricane.  They are very excited.  They told me to draw our new cat….I don’t know what our new cat is going to look like…But I had fun doodling anyway.  As a family, we all agree, the only prerequisite for our new cat is that it is friendly.  We had Pina for 12 years and she hated people.  That included us!  Why do we want another cat????  Yeah, exactly!

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So this is my current state.  I’m so glad I washed the chlorine off of myself this morning!  I am about to hit the “post” button and then continue on with the airport monotony.  I am pretty sure after 3 hours of looking at the Boston Terrorist footage, I could ID them if they walk by…Uggh… Total sadness, drummed into my head non-stop… Way to end my vacation!

But really, we are OK.  We have tons of electronics, tons of junk food, and each other.  Who could ask for anything more!


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Today I tried another illustration for my friend Jeanine’s hiking guide.  Refer back to POST #68  for the back story.

Today’s assignment is to represent a little bit of everything you’d find in the Rhode Island forest within the confines of a 12×9 inch border.

This wasn’t as easy as I thought.  I had ideas of forest, rock ledges, waterfalls, ocean, meadows, swamps and then all of the flora and fauna one might find on their journey.  As I started to sketch, reality set in.  How do I fit all of that into a one inch radius?

So, I settled on all the cool things one might see on their hike and will illustrate the landscapes somewhere else in the book or we will have to create a couple different field journal observation pages. That is an option too.

So now it is up to Jeanine.  She will have to begin to figure out what exactly she envisions for what she has written. She will have to decide if my style coincides with this vision.  I know it must be very difficult to give birth to her creative baby.  Real childbirth’s nothin’!

So good luck Jeanine!

I will gather your thoughts tomorrow.


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