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New Year, New Sketches

It’s 2017 and I’m coming back to this place after almost three years to share a little bit of my art, to collect a few thoughts.

I’m working this year at creating a sketch a day, and sharing them over on instagram. I’d love to connect over there.

And I’ll pop in here to share thoughts, now and then, about cultivating creativity and connection and conversations around art and faith and everyday small graces.

Sunday hopes. #besmallstudios2017 14/365

A photo posted by Annie Barnett (@besmallstudios) on

If you want to stay connected, there’s a little box at the bottom of this page where you can drop your email address, and hopefully, one of these days, a little newsletter, or a pretty print will arrive in your inbox. I’d love to connect with you there too.

Happy New Year, friends.

The Art of Illustrating

Today I opened our old metal mailbox and found Morning waiting for me.  Each of the Growly books, when I have first held it in my hands, has filled me with a little bit of wonder.

I’m still amazed, grateful that I have the privilege of bringing these characters to the page, visually; characters that were born in stories in someone else’s imagination, characters that I’m reading in letters and words and sentences and filtering through my stories and childhood and imagination, and then penciling out in simple lines. Wonder and a bit of trepidation: I hope I’ve done them justice.

The process of illustrating a story means sifting through pages of the story you’re drawing out, and then revisiting the stories that shaped you. The bears in the Growly Series brought me back to my love for Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear and Garth William’s illustrated animals, and the bears that slowly slugged through the back woods of my childhood home.

How much, as an illustrator, do I draw out the humanity of these characters, stretching lumbering bears into walking, talking friends, or do the bears and monkeys and birds I’m sketching lean more heavily on realistic animals? Is their clothing solidly representative of a past era, the future, or somewhere in-between?

IMG_9500The pencil meets the page somewhere between the litany of detailed questions and the gut-level impulses that happen when you just start drawing. Visually, characters are planned, but characters also emerge. Sometimes I’m surprised myself at how they take form…

(Hop on over to The Growly Books blog to read the rest of the post!)

The third book in the Growly series launched this week, and they are offering the first book, Begin, for free on Kindle until Thursday, June 12th. More info on







Hey, friends.

I am thrilled to share today that I’ve been working on a top secret project that is out in the open!

Today, Emily Freeman, Myquillyn Smith, and their dad, Gary Morland, introduced Hope*ologie. It’s a brand new community, a resource full of honest, hopeful encouragemnet for your soul, your family, your home.

And, with each month’s subscription, you’ll receive a hand-lettered printable that I get to hand-letter! I love the heart behind the writing in this space. It’s a crazy honor and thrill to be able to offer my art alongside these three – voices that have inspired and encouraged me in more ways than I can tell.

So hop on over and check out all the beauty at Hope*ologie.

(Oh, and here‘s a little sneak peak of the art!!!)

Wherever you are, be all there.

Jim Elliot