It’s ok to go slow


Take a deep breath. Wherever you are is where you’re meant to be. It’s the perfect starting place for the journey ahead. 

Where do you want to go? All it takes is small, slow steps and you’ll get there. 

It’s ok to go slow. 

I’m slowly working towards my illustration deadlines. Work is going well, but I’m choosing not to be overwhelmed by complications or setbacks. Slow work is better work, because I can focus on excellence (but not perfection, of course! )

Flower moon


I resolved to paint every full moon of 2018, and most of the nights have been cloudy, or stormy, or both. Last night thunder raged through the sky, and I had to cuddle my little three-year-old and sing “I hear thunder” over and over to help her understand that it wasn’t anything to be scared of. 

The full moon in May is called the “flower Moon” for obvious reasons. Right now the climbing roses are in full foison, and the lavender is about to bust into purple, heady scent. The garden is reaching for it’s peak, and I’m trying to savour the moment every day. Literally, stop to smell the roses.

Can you stop for a minute today to savour the wonders of the season? We’re doing it by cutting flowers to bring inside, jumping in post-storm rain puddles, and running through the sprinkler when it’s sunny and hot.

Be great in little things


Be great in little things. After a week off to tend to a convalescing daughter, I am ready to jump back into my regular routines. But, I’m realizing that I need to focus on little things: small steps. If I think about everything that needs to be done, I freeze like a statue. However, I know that I can be great in the little things. I don’t need to paint a whole picture, I just need to make one brush stroke: and that brush stroke can be great (but of course, never perfect… let’s not fool ourselves).

Rain is sluicing down the window pain, and thunder is rumbling on the horizon. There is something about rain that immediately gives me perspective. The world shrinks down to what I can see outside my window: water droplets and low clouds. All the extraneous distractions on the horizon are obliterated, and the important things stand out in bright focus.

Are there a few small things you can do wonderfully well today? Just focus on those, and you’ll go to bed satisfied this evening.

May goals


How is it already almost May? I thought it was February yesterday? Haha! Approaching the beginning of a new month and finishing a big project means I’m realigning my goals and priorities. 

This morning, over a frothy decaf latte, I made my list of goals and intentions for May in my Powersheets Goal Book. Then, to make sure I wasn’t overwhelmed by it all, I drew a little mini-me in the margins giving me encouragement in a speech bubble. So, that’s my daily drawing today. A little boost of encouragement for myself, and for you as well.  We’ve got this! We can do it, whatever “it” is. 

What are your goals for the merry month of May? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to know!

Pink moon


The Pink Moon: the full moon in April. Today is a bright, sunny, crisp day: the calm after yesterday’s storm. Yesterday, by contrast, was a deluge. I got drenched when I ran outside for the school run and errands. Pink cherry blossom petals roiled in the overfilled street gutters, rushing down the street and into the drains. By the evening the sky had cleared and it was cold — winter cold.I could see the glowing sky above our house, and just glimpse the moon over our eaves. I intended to sneak out to look at it, but the warmth of bed beckoned after a long day. So this scene is something I imagined. The cherry tree stands at the gate to Richmond Park in London. I see it almost daily… but I have never seen by the glowing light of the full moon. Maybe someday I will.

One of the reasons why I’m painting full moons this year is because I want to connect to the natural world in a regular way. Our ancestors relied on the moon and the stars for so many things. Even my Canadian grandmother lived by the rule that one should never plant your veggie patch until after the full moon in June. In our modern life do we think about the moon at all? Or the stars? We mostly rely on the glowing screens of our phones and computers instead of the glowing moon and stars.

The one thing I’ve learned from observing the moon is that the seasons change. I’ve been through lots of seasons of growth, from feeling stuck, to grief, to excitement and rest. They never last forever, and there’s beauty in that.

What kind of season are you walking through right now? Tell me below, and I’ll pop over to your feed to continue the discussion!

Chronos and kairos


My desk is a whirlwind of paper, pens, brushes and paint. One book is almost finished, with a little luck and prayer I’ll send it off by the end of the week, and then I can focus on two other book projects that need to be completed “emergently” (my daughter’s new word for urgently and emergency)

My other little whirlwind is napping, and then we’re going to bake banana muffins for our playgroup tomorrow morning. And maybe spend some time smelling the cherry blossoms down the road, and chasing the petals as they float to the ground.

There are perks to working from home: being able to set my own hours, spending lots of time with my daughter, and making coffee and stepping out into my garden whenever I want. But it’s not always glamorous. Being able to set my own hours sometimes means I work too much. When work is at home, how does one set boundaries?

These are things I contemplate as I rush towards illustration deadlines, and also try to slow down time with my daughter. It’s the endless push and pull of chronos and kairos: time that is fast, and time that is slow.

How are you starting your week today?

Progress not perfection


Progress, not perfection. That’s my motto at the moment. Does that resonate with you, too? Are you also juggling a million tasks, and sifting through a gallon of priorities? How do we even start? 

This is how I started today: this morning I lay all the illustrations for one children’s book on my desk like stiff, white quilt squares and started painting them assembly-line style. I mixed my colours (cobalt green, opera rose and indianthrene blue) and lay the colour in washes on each illustration, one at a time. Slowly the layers built up and the squares of paper transformed from white to multi-coloured. 

This is an efficient way of painting. Quick even. But not easy. It means pulling the images apart in my mind so that I’m not painting people and characters and emotions, but fields of colour. The emotions will come at the end when I add the final details. 

So, I repeat, “progress not perfection” to myself as I work. The perfection will come at then end. Right now, progress is the most important. 

What are you working on? How could you simplify it? Make it easier and more effortless? Would making progress of any sort give you a confidence boost? Can I give you permission to start today, just start and do anything so that you’re toes are wet? I promise the water is nice, once you dive in!

The magic spell


Watching my daughter grow up is like watching the progress of a magic spell. From one day to the next there is a new light behind her eyes, a new imaginative idea, and a deeper comprehension of the world around her. 

Her favourite thing to do right now is put on a lace and chiffon dress-up dress and dance around the room to the tinny twinkling of her plastic music player. She transforms from a leggy three-year old girl into a Renaissance Italian princess, bedecked in brocade, lace and silk. Her tiny leather ballet shoes peek out from the bottom of the dress. She takes deep, swaying steps, then rises on tip-toes and holds the long layers of her chiffon skirt delicately between her fingers. Then she turns slowly and does her “balancés” to the other side. 

When did she grow up? How did she know how to carry her head and her shoulders like a princess, as if she were born to it? 

And, what will she be tomorrow? Where will this magic spell take us?

In the studio


Most days you can find me hunched over my studio table, pen flying across the page, trying to finish the art for three children’s books before the end of May. Colourful papers are scattered everywhere like flower petals falling from a tree: reference sketches spread on the floor so I can see them at a glance, working sketches and final art layered on my table in a careful sedimentary arrangement. The most recent and most urgent work is on the top. My laptop is open and humming, so that I can search for reference material at a moment’s notice. My favourite kuretake brush pens are never far from my side, and several can often can be found wound into my messy bun, or tucked behind my ears for safe keeping. Time of of the essence, and my mess, rather than chaotic, is actually a sign of efficiency.

Growing up


Every day after lunch Mary and I sit together and watch some of her favourite cartoons before we cuddle down for a nap. We sit on her “reading cushion” on the floor. She folds herself onto my lap and stretches her legs along mine. Every day she measures them, and stretches her toes as far as they can go. “Mommy, I’m growing. My legs are almost as long as yours are!


She grows and changes so fast. I try to hang on to these little moments and sweet memories. Recording them in my sketchbook is a way to stop time from spinning forwards too fast.

Don’t forget, dear friend, that you still can enter to win a signed and doodled-in copy of my newest book. Just check out the link on the post below this. You don’t want to miss this chance!

Meet Lily and win a copy of On Our Street


Meet Lily.

She’s loving, loyal and creative. She gives her clothes to charity. She collects books. When she sees someone who needs help, she always has a minute to stop.


She’s a character in the newest children’s picture book I illustrated called “On Our Street,” which is a compassionate look at poverty and homelessness for young children. It approaches the tricky issues as a conversation between and adult and a child, and offers simple ways for even the youngest children to help. It is an incredible and inspiring resource, and I’m certainly looking through it with my three-year old daughter. It is written by Dr. Jillian Roberts, child psychologist extraordinaire, and Jaime Casap, Google’s Chief Education Evangelist.


For my daily drawing, I decided to doodle Lily on the title-page of the book with my Japanese brush pens.

But I can’t keep Lily to myself. I’d love you to have her!

To win a copy just head over to this link! The grand prize is the doodle-in and signed copy plus an exclusive greeting card and sticker pack.  Five more North American winners will win copies of the book sent out by Orca Books. All are eligible to enter this giveaway!

It might be your lucky day!


enter here!