I Can't Draw

When I tell people that I left my corporate career behind to try my hand at art and a creative practice, the reaction I get most often is some version of: “Oh, that’s nice but I can’t draw.”

I hear that voice in my head a lot too but I want to share something with you. It’s not true. Drawing, just like learning anything, takes practice. If you want to learn a new language, you need to practice it. If you want to learn a new sport, you need to practice it. This applies to nearly everything unless you are fortunate enough to be a genius or to have been born with a specific talent. And even then, geniuses and talented musicians, for example, hone their skills and practice them!

I’m going to get very vulnerable here and show you some drawings that I did in one of the online art classes I took several years ago. The assignment was something like: draw 8-10 images from memory of your childhood. No visual references allowed.

Here are mine.

Look at them! They are hilarious, childish, “bad” in the sense that I can’t draw very well at all. I didn't draw these when I was five, I drew them three years ago. 

I cringe when I look at them although I try to maintain my sense of humor. I know that this version of me and my drawing abilities still lurks inside of me and could come out at any moment.

But here’s the thing. Practice, exercises, prompts, and a supportive community make all the difference in the world when you are passionate about trying something new.

I kept at it and embraced the idea that practice would eventually make me better. Taking classes that introduced me to a bunch of different drawing exercises helped a ton. And watching free YouTube videos of people drawing or showing me how to draw something became a bit of an obsession.

Drawing a face or attempting a portrait of a real person is super intimidating. I still shy away from this type of artwork. However, during the same year that I drew those childhood drawings, I decided that I wanted to learn basic facial proportions. I googled: “how to draw a face" and a whole bunch of YouTube videos popped up.

My favorite one, still to this day, is by Tom McPherson of Circle Line Art School and is called: How To Draw A Female Face: Step by Step.

I have literally watched this video over 50 times. It’s very straight-forward with no frills. There is no voice over, only music, and it's just under thirteen minutes. While Tom draws, simple instructions appear on screen, such as: “Step 1: Sketch an oval shape.”

As part of a drawing challenge, I attempted to draw the face in Tom's YouTube video for 20 straight days. I did each drawing while watching the video. I'd stop the video often to complete a step and then hit "play" again to watch the next section and so on.

Here are my drawings.

It’s still amazing to me that each one is different and none of them look like the drawing I’m trying to imitate.

If you’d like to watch Tom's actual YouTube video to see what I was trying to imitate, click HERE

Nevertheless, most of them have decent proportions and look like a woman so for me, that’s progress!  A lot of drawing is attempting to get out of one's own head and just DRAW! Very small changes in line and shape make a very big difference. Doing the same exercise over and over is extremely helpful.

It may seem nearly inconceivable that these sketches were made by the same hand that created those "childish" drawings I shared with you earlier. But they were and really the only difference is that I didn't have a reference for my childish drawings and I did for the faces. I also had a step by step process to follow when drawing these female faces. And that makes a huge difference. 

I highly encourage you to try this exercise. Pick an object you would like to draw, google it and watch videos of other people drawing it while you do the same. Do it over and over again to see the different results you get. And have FUN!

Next week I’ll share another drawing exercise that I enjoy. I hope you will give some of these a try.

Remember, “It’s Never Too Late To Create”. 



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Here is an audio version of last week's blog. Download it and listen on the go!

My Story, Part 3

It’s the end of February already! Hard to believe. 

The end of the month is always special for my email subscribers because I give them free downloadable wallpapers for their desktop, laptop and phones as well as a free printable calendar. I put mine on my fridge which means that I see it a lot!

If you would like to join my list, please click here and you’ll get these freebies as well as weekly updates from me about my art journey and how a creative practice has changed my life.

I hope you enjoyed my wedding photos from last week’s blog post. It was really fun to find them and choose my favorites.

Here is where we left off in my story...

Getting to Now

Our son, Matthew, was born a few years after Tom and I got married and we moved to beautiful Mill Valley, California. We love Mill Valley with its easy access to San Francisco, hiking, biking and jogging trails and lovely small-town feel.

After my stint in investment banking, I moved into retail and worked for 25 years at global brands including Esprit, Gap and Old Navy. I was hardworking, dedicated, loyal and worked my way up the ladder to the VP level. While these jobs were challenging and rewarding in many ways, something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then, in 2012, I got laid off! It was a huge shock and I was totally unprepared for it. However, it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me. But I didn't think so at the time!

For several years, I moved from job to job trying to find the right fit for me in the corporate world. I finally realized that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for there.

When my son left for college, I decided to take some time for myself to explore what might be next for me. I took an online art class called “Y is for Yellow” and it was a revelation.

During this year-long class, I received an email every two weeks with an embedded video outlining a new technique to learn. The class covered drawing, painting, mixed media and many basic techniques that you learn in art school including blind contour drawings, master copies, and much more. I was in heaven! Here are a few pieces from the class.

That experience led me to explore other online art resources. I’ve created a guide called Kickstart Your Art Journey. In it, I review and recommend my top four online art resources. Please download the guide here. It’s intended to help you find a resource that you’ll love.

Fast forward to today and I’m in such a great place! I wake up every day and can’t wait to jump into my latest projects.

Current projects include:

·      creating a new Skillshare class

·      adding direct access to my classes through my website

·      starting Marie Forleo’s b-school

·      continuing my pattern design learning journey

·      adding new art prints to my Society6 shop

This creative space energizes me every day. My dream is to continue to share my journey of discovery with you and encourage you to incorporate a creative practice into your life as well.

I truly believe that art brings joy.

If you are frustrated, feel that something is missing in your life, or keep telling yourself “I can’t draw!”, join me and together you’ll discover that you can draw or paint or collage and that creativity lives within each of us.

Don’t forget: It’s Never Too Late To Create!



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Here is an audio version of last week’s blog. Download it and listen on the go. I always throw in extra commentary because I just can’t resist!

My Story, part 2

Welcome back! Before I jump right into the next part of my personal story, I need to celebrate something with you.

One of my goals this year is to start teaching what I love and get my classes out into the world so people can find them, enjoy them and learn new skills. I have two classes on Skillshare.com now and I’m thrilled that “From Sketch to Wrapping Paper” just reached a key milestone with 100+ students!

Here is my private link to the class: http://skl.sh/2E39ckb  Please share this link with your friends and family and anyone else you know who might be interested in learning these new skills.

I’m hard at work on my next class where I’ll teach the mixed media technique I use to create beautiful floral bouquets and how to sell them as art prints on Society6. Whoop, whoop! I’m super excited. Check out my new work using this technique in the photo gallery below.

Okay… Now, where did we leave off in my story? Oh yes, I’m living in Paris and have just learned that my dad’s expat gig is up. We have to move back to the US.

What happened next, you ask?

The middle years

The original plan was for us to move back to upstate New York and for my dad to return to essentially the same job he had before he gained all this fabulous international experience. But not so fast!

Instead, he was recruited to a fabulous job – a huge promotion – in, wait for it…San Francisco! What a great reentry spot with its beautiful hills, gorgeous bay and international flavor. We were also very lucky to move into a lovely home on Russian Hill right around the corner from Lombard Street, San Francisco’s famous “crooked street”, flanked by the historic Powell Street cable car.

Fast forward through high school and college and I’m ready to live overseas again. My experience living abroad at a young age definitely created an insatiable desire in me to continue to explore other cultures, languages and cities!

With an East Asian Studies degree and a few years of college level Japanese under my belt, I moved to Tokyo and lived with a Japanese family for a year. What an incredible experience! That led to a short-lived romance with a Japanese “salaryman” who was transferred to Hong Kong. I moved there with him and we lived in Happy Valley, right across from one of the horse racing tracks, for about six months until my dad finally put his foot down and told me to return home and get a “real” job.

Back in San Francisco, I traded my Japanese language skills for an entry level job at an investment bank. The bank had raised funds from large Japanese institutions interested in investing in U.S. companies in the tech, consumer and medical fields. I worked my way up from the secretary pool into an associate position where I helped analyze and recommend companies to the investment board.

But, and this is much more important than all that, I met and married the love of my life, Tom! We were introduced to each other by a mutual friend who was a friend of mine in college and became a friend of Tom’s in law school. Even though our courtship took about four years, I knew right away that he was “the one"!

To be continued….

Remember: It’s Never Too Late To Create!



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My Story, part 1

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day!

As I build my tribe and create a community of like-minded women who want to start or maintain an art practice, I realized that many of you don’t know me very well yet. So here is my story. I’ve broken it down into a short series that I’ll share with you over the next several weeks.

The early years

I was born in upstate New York in a company town called Corning. Everything about the town revolved around Corning Glass Works, and both my dad and my grandfather (his dad) worked there. Corning isn’t very far from the Finger Lakes region and the area is pastoral, beautiful and has four very distinct seasons. I can remember:

  • tons of snow and learning to cross country ski in our backyard
  • hot, hot summers and creating a whirlpool in our make shift swimming pool – one of those pools that you build temporarily above ground with corrugated siding and thick plastic – by running in the water in the same direction as my two older sisters
  • listening to torrential rain storms from the enclosed porches in our house, sheets of water clearly visible moving across the fields

I also vividly remember riding in the backseat of our station wagon on our way to the local country club when I was 7 and my mom telling us that she was expecting a new baby! And a boy no less. As the baby in the family until then, I wasn't too sure how I felt about this!

At 8, my family had the incredible opportunity to move to Europe. My dad was offered a five-year overseas assignment, first in Brussels and then in Paris. My mom, ever the romantic, decided that we should take an ocean liner to get there instead of flying. So she embarked with me and my three siblings on The France, a magnificent luxury liner that took four days to traverse the Atlantic Ocean. Upon arrival, she put us immediately into the French school system to ensure that we would learn flawless French and not just hang out with the expat community.

We moved from Brussels to Paris when I was 10. This was in the late 60’s during the Vietnam Era student riots. We lived in a fabulous apartment in the 6eme arrondissement right on the Place St Sulpice, very near the Sorbonne. I remember walking to school, which was only a few short blocks away, and passing small vans (camionnettes) full of policemen armed to the teeth with rifles at the ready should riots break out. I was completely oblivious to what was happening politically and actually felt very safe on the streets of Paris.

This was a truly special time. After spending a year and a half at the local “maternel” or grammar school, I graduated into the Lycee system and attended the Lycee Montaigne. Getting there involved a lovely walk from our apartment, up rue Ferou – a famous street that the three mousquetaires lived on – through the Luxembourg Gardens and out the other side where the Lycee was situated.

After each move, either to a new country or to a new school, I always managed to connect with one, or at the most two, really close girlfriends. These relationships were not complex but were very important to me and helped me stay grounded through these changes.

I’m now 13 and the news arrives: my dad’s assignment is up and we have to move back to the United States… WHAAAAT? But I’ll get to that part of the story next week...

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.



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I've included a recording of last week's blog post in case you missed it. Just click on the audio file below and listen on the go!

Preparing for Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to create some free papers that you can download and use to wrap small gifts. I’m including five so you're covered for your partner, your in-laws and your mom! These are printable on regular paper: 8.5 by 11 inch size.

These were fun to make and I used three different techniques:

·      Sketched motifs using iPad pro and Apple pencil

·      Sketched motifs by hand and then digitized in Illustrator

·      Painted motif and then digitized in Illustrator

Here’s a short behind the scenes video of how I made the one I’m calling Valentine Hearts. Wow, that’s a really original title, NOT!

Personally, in my family we don’t go totally overboard for this Hallmark Holiday but it is nice to find something to give to those special people in our lives. In Japan, the tradition is reversed and women give gifts to their husbands or boyfriends. I've adopted that tradition and still frequently struggle to figure out what to give to my husband.  However, here are a few ideas that have been big hits in the past that don’t require buying anything!

·      A handmade card with a love note inside

·      Dinner at home with his favorite main dish

·      Time together to watch a sweet movie like “You’ve Got Mail”

Here is the recipe for one of our favorite dinners adapted from Martha Stewart’s Real Food magazine (now defunct) from years past. It’s super easy to make which is key in my book!

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Reduction Sauce


1 lb pork tenderloin

1 tablespoon dry oregano

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon salt

½ tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

How to Make It

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Prepare a cookie sheet, one with sides – line it with aluminum foil and spread about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom to coat it

Rinse the pork tenderloin and dry it completely with paper towels

Lay it inside the pan (cookie sheet)

Combine the oregano, coriander, salt and pepper and coat the tenderloin with this mixture

Combine the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar in a small pan and heat over medium flame until it simmers. Let simmer for about 2 minutes to reduce it slightly.

Cook the tenderloin for 7 minutes and then spoon some of the reduced balsamic over it. Add 1-2 more minutes if your tenderloin is larger.

Cook the tenderloin for another 7 minutes and spoon more of the balsamic over it. Again add a few minutes here if your tenderloin is larger.

Cook for final 7 minutes and check internal temperature. Once internal temperature reaches 155 degrees, it’s done.

Take it out and let it rest, covered with foil for about another 7 minutes.

Slice thinly and drizzle remaining balsamic vinegar over the top.

We generally serve it with steamed asparagus or a simple green salad and some fresh bread.

I hope you try it and enjoy it. Here is a link to a PDF of the recipe so you can print it out at home.

 Click inside this box to get the PDF

Click inside this box to get the PDF

I’m so happy to have you in this warm, supportive and creative community. May these little gifts and ideas help you prepare for Valentine's Day next week.

And remember: It’s Never too Late to Create!

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I’ve included an audio version of last week’s blog in case you missed it. I sometimes go off-script so you might want to listen to it both to hear my voice and find out what I added. :)



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Stinson is one of my favorite places to visit. My family makes a point to go for a week or two every year and it's always fantastic. On my most recent visit, the weather was both beautiful and, on my last day, raining and stormy. I always have my camera handy and snapped a few shots to commemorate the New Year.

 Sea glass

Sea glass

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My first art show selling original art, photographic prints and holiday greeting cards.

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