More about Penelope
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Hi Penelope, thanks for being here!

I think I first discovered you through your journal. What prompted you to start blogging and do you think it's helped you professionally?

HelplessI started blogging just for myself, really. I wanted to document my experience and was usually close to a computer (I started out in advertising), so it was a really convenient way to journal. I enjoy blogging because I can see myself progress and evolve...all I have to do is go through my archives and see where my mind was a year ago. Looking back is sometimes embarrassing, but that's how you know you're growing. I also think it's helped me professionally because I've met a lot of good people through my journal - inspirational people who are now my friends and encourage me and push me to do better. I would never have met them without my journal. Also, my journal gets me a lot of work - word of blog, if you will. :)

You share many of your emotions in your journal, especially the struggle to find balance in your life. Is that something that you're still trying to conquer? Or have you reached that elusive nirvana that I think we all strive for?

Oh, I'm far from nirvana. Ha! Balance is really hard for me. I love what I do. So much so that it's hard to stop at times. Plus, my studio is in my house, so when I get an idea at 10 p.m. it's much too convenient to just start working on it then and there. I am looking to find a balance between my work life and my personal life...but in a creative profession, the lines seem blurred. I write about my struggle with balance to try to sort it out. And if I happen to help anyone else out in their path, all the better.

FriendshipDo you feel like creative people go through more emotional ups & downs than non-creatives? Or, that we're more in touch with them simply because our emotions have a tendency to influence our work and motivation to create?

I'm no psychologist, but I think that creative people do have more ups and downs. I think that it's related to how personal our profession is. Each piece of art is an extension of us... how we see the world, our thoughts, our beliefs. And to create is to put those out there and subject them to rejection and criticism. I've gotten rejection letters that have left me in tears on the bed, hiding under the covers. And I've gotten acceptance letters that make me absolutely ecstatic. That's just how it goes. It's hard to deal with this roller coaster, but I don't think I'd trade it for being numb.

Speaking of motivation - is there anything or anyone that exceptionally inspires you?

Caged BirdHmm... I classify motivation as something different from inspiration. They definitely affect each other though. I'm motivated by the goals I set for myself - small ones that lead the way to bigger ones. Like dangling a carrot in front of a horse, leading it forward. My goal used to be self-employment and is now to be published in such-n-such magazine or to have my own gallery show. Things to strive for.

Lots of things inspire me. I love reading about different kinds of art work. Lately I've been reading a lot about contemporary Japanese painting and Mexican retablos. I'm inspired by walking in the city and seeing old architecture and decorative wall paintings. I'm inspired by watching people and overhearing little snippets of conversation.

Do you have a ritual to help you to begin a project? Personally, I need to make a fresh pot o' coffee, put on some good tunes, and give myself a pep talk!

I don't know that I have a ritual or routine. Lately I've liked to start a project by doing something totally unrelated to it - a warm-up, I guess. I'll do a quick illustration for myself. Then I'll start the project at hand. I do a lot of sketching to get out ideas and angles until one feels right.

What about "Illustration Friday?" Looks like that idea really took off for you - lots of participants!

Illustration FridayI started Illustration Friday as a way to challenge myself weekly to think about a topic and come up with a conceptual illustration for it - to flex my creative muscles. I opened it up to everyone else as a way to help other people be creative, too. Professionals and novices alike can participate - no judging; just fun. Initially it was just hosted on my site, but I started getting so many participants that I created a site dedicated to it. Now Illustration Friday gets over 200 participants a week! Amazing... I'm very happy about it. It's awesome to see what people come up with.

Rose SkirtHow's married life Penelope? I read that you're trying to share some of your work space near your hubby - does that help you to not feel so isolated from him while still allowing you to get work done?

Married life is wonderful. My husband is a writer and we've just started doing collaborative projects. A local paper has hired us as a team to go out to cover stories (him doing the writing, me the illustration). It's lots of fun.

We now both have laptops so we can be together in the same room doing our work. It makes a big difference with the self-employment isolation issue.

So what's on the horizon for you Penelope? I see that the book you illustrated, "Denise's Mold" by Katrina Martin Davenport, comes out in April. Is that your first? Any plans for your own children's book?

Yep, Denise's Mold is my first. I'm excited to see it up on Amazon in April (another goal of mine). I have also written my own kids' book. I'm still working on the sample illustrations for it - takes a while, but it's really fun. Wish me luck!

Another thing on the horizon is my group art show in April. I'm really excited to be a participating guest artist. I've been working on putting together my art and framing and all that fun stuff. I hope it's successful!

And finally m'dear, what do you do for fun?

When I'm not working? I like to go antiquing, collecting antique jewelry and other odds n ends. I love to read and to travel and to be outside doing absolutely nothing (a challenge!).

Thanks a lot for taking the time to play with me Penelope! You are a shining star!

My pleasure!

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