CityKid Style + Me

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photo and styling for all CityKid model photos by Gina Brown of Phoenix Street

When i first started to work as a full time artist, i was lucky enough to begin designing screenprint graphics for some super talented indie clothing designers for kids. One of these AMAZING clients is the uber-talented Claudia from CityKid Style. Do you see those kids in that photo up there? Do they look great or what? Claudia has a great eye for styling. She also has a pretty gorgeous muse in her skater-chic young daughter. Claudia initially contacted me to do a sketch of her daughter! That was our first interaction. We worked so well together, that we just kept doing it. Since then, i’ve designed her new brand logo, hang tags, some web graphics. … 

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Who Inspires Me! – A Bloghop

Last week, an amazing artist named Mary Tanana asked me if I wanted to join her for a bloghop. The bloghop is entitled,  Who Inspires Me. Mary chose me!? as one of the people who inspires her, which was about the nicest thing ever. Click HERE to read Mary’s post.

I met Mary last fall while taking an online course through Lilla Rogers Studio called Make Art That Sells. The course helps surface designers suss out their strengths in the various markets available for licensing. Anyway, we developed quite a friendly community during the course and i am so proud and lucky now to count Mary as a friend. Her design company is called Groovity and her designs are intricate and colorful and often folk-inspired. She is fabulous. Just look at some of her work – my favorites – below!

Gorgeous color, balance and POP!

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ummm…awesome, cool, contest-winning fun!

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Fabulous textile pattern that looks like the most awesome blanket ever crocheted, right?

Mary’s eye for color and intricate design is only surpassed by the sweetness of her personality – plus, she’s funny! Give her a follow on Instagram or Facebook for a little daily color in your feed.

My part on the blgo hop is to answer a few questions about myself, and then name 2 more people that inspire ME….and then i pass the buck forward….you get the idea.

First things first, the questions:


Well, right this VERY second, my desk has this on it.


i have been making kids pencil portraits forever, even before i was working full time as an artist. i will never get tired of it. Kids faces and eyes and smiles are so pure and so joyful to capture.i’ve actually been working on my very first series of painted kids portraits, which will be revealed soon. ; )

In a more broad sense, i’ve just finished 2 BIG projects, that i can’t talk about too much yet! Such a total bummer for someone like me who stinks at keeping my mouth shut. i feel like my instagram and facebook feeds have been so dull the past few months, bc all the new stuff i’ve been making is not quite ready for sharing yet! Ah well, i will just say that 2015 will see some fun new products and textiles-y things that might be recognizable : )

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Besides those projects, i have been making lots of doodles for my kids summer video series, Doodle Days of Summer. In fact, i’ve been spending a big chunk of this year putting together videos and demos. And while i don’t feel comfortable calling my online offerings “classes”, i settled on “workshops” as an acceptable substitute. They are comprised of video demos, and me sort of sharing my own way of working. It’s not the right way or the only way….it’s just the way i’ve come to know ; ) Right now i have Doodle Days of Summer (which will be archived and made available permanently once the summer session wraps), Layers of Color; a painting worskhop, and Character Sketch Workshop; a demo-heavy offering that shows how i create my characters with pencil. It’s a lot of behind the scenes and sharing of what goes on here when i am making art. All the links are right over there in my sidebar of you want to read more! : )



i love stories. i’m a sap. i love to tell a story with a sketch, commemorate a milestone with a painting, capture an emotion with a sketch. i used to think i just liked making pretty pictures. But i know now that the pieces with the most meaning for me, have a story behind them. Sometimes it’s my story.

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Sometimes it is the story a customer is trusting me to put down in color and paint and type.


i love a good quote. i love a sassy, detailed character. i love an abstract painting that reminds me of a song or a day.



Maybe it’s because i have such a wretched memory? i really do. It’s criminal what i forget. But being the mush sentimental person that i am, i just love to save a memory for future day. That’s why i create the particular art that i do.

…and also- sidenote – i like a bit spontaneity. i like a bit of messiness. i like a bit of “not taking yourself too seriously.” So my style of art is those things too. : )


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When i sketch, it is because i saw a certain photo with just the right cheek curve, or a child wearing a too-adorable outfit, or eyes that are just especially full of sparkle. Then i quickly, scribbly capture it in my sketchbook. It’s recording people in their best moment.

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But when i paint, it’s often very much a journey. It happens organically when the paint starts hitting the paper or canvas. The most i might have when i sit down, is an idea in my head of some odd colors i want to try.


i wish my answer to this question was way more interesting. But i speak the truth. i try to only draw or paint when i really feel like it. i make a bunch of crud when i’m not feeling in the zone.


SO!!! now for my challenge to choose a couple of artists who inspire ME!

It’s a tough call, because ever since taking the online course, i suddenly am surrounded by a beautiful community of gifted artists! Many of us are tagging each other along this blog tour – so its should be pretty great to follow as many posts as possible. Lucky me, i got to snag Sarah Ehlinger of Very Sarie and Rachel Schafer of Rachel Schafer Designs. They are both so amazing, i was almost too shy to ask! But these awesome peeps said “yes!” So off we go.


Sarah Ehlinger. Is. Ridiculous.

Her work is bright and fresh. She has worked for clients like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Her color sense is all at once whimsical and sophisticated. How does she do that? She is gifted, that’s how. : ) Here are some of Sarah’s pieces that are standouts to me.


Gorgeous frenchy-french soiré invites that sarah designed and then styled into a glam photoshoot. She is literally good at everything, man……even…..


…making enormous patterned paper flower displays for her booth at Surtex this year! Yes, she MADE those huge blooms out of paper….and everything else you see there in her stunning booth!

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Oh, and this? just a crazy, stunningly textured watercolor she dashed off during her morning meditation recently and posted to facebook….no big whoop. WHAT!?!? She just leaks pretty artwork out her fingertips, i think. : )

Give Very Sarie a follow on Instagram or Facebook if you want a bit of silent awe to be a part of your future days.


And last, but certainly not least we have Rachel Schafer up to bat.

If you think i’m exaggerating when i say that this girl is inspiring, just click here and take it all in. Yeah….she is the bomb diggity.

Rachel’s work is FUN! It is professional and brilliantly executed too, of course. But when i think of it, i just start smiling. There is a joy and a GO FOR IT type attitude in her designs. It’s not wishy-washy. You are seeing her unique vision on the page, people!

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Strong shapes, confident, well-edited color and fresh layout abound in this gelatin-inspired pattern.

This fanciful awesomeness from our course together where we were challenged to design a HYPER-LUSH makeup style pouch. Rachael hit it out of the park, right?

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 10.45.14 PMThen finally, this….because i dare you to keep from smiling when you look at it! It’s magic when a person can convey joy in 2 dimensions, using only color and form. but here it is. JOY.

And did i mention she’s a lefty? i learned that on her website. Whaddya know!? Lefties are some of the best people.

So, go visit Rachel’s site, stalk her Instagram and jump on her Pinterest bandwagon. You will be so SMILEY that you did.


What’s New


So much is in the pipeline for this spring, i thought i’d share a little.

i’m doing a juried art show in april at Historic Yellow Springs, here in Chester County, PA.  Busily painting for that as we speak. A bunch of new licensed products have hit stores recently, including these doodle book spinoffs.

i’ve also been hard at work designing lots of items that you guys will see available in shops in 2015. More details on that later!

My first ever online workshop, Layers of Color, starts on April 7. So i am VERY busy getting all the content up and running for that. Please join in! It will be a very loose, self-guided worskhop delivered via blog posts, step by step photos and videos on a password protected section of my site. The workshop basically shares all my favorite supplies, techniques, and ways that i lay down color and texture in my signature style. No experience is needed to play along. And you have access to the posts for a full year after the 6 week session is finished. $75. Read more & SIGN UP HERE!!

Some fun collaborations are upcoming with 2 wonderful artists; Stephanie Fizer Coleman and Jenny Alexander. Those will be posted very soon!

I’ve also been working on lots of new commissioned pieces, which is always so rewarding. Portraits, screenprint designs like the one above, logos and canvas paintings have all been heading out the door. If you’d like to chat with me about a special project; check out the basics here, shoot me an email at, or post a comment on this page and i’ll get back to you lickety split!

One bit of super-exciting news is that my husband and i will be breaking ground in about a month or so to build a new studio space onto our house. I’m hogging the first floor master right now as my workspace, but since we added our third little boy last april, it’s apparent that we need to make some room. We’ve been saving our pennies and plan to do much of the finishes and electrical (hubby is an electrician) ourselves, so i’ll be making a new series of blog posts in the warmer months to document the creation of this project. i am soooo excited, but also super nervous to take this big step. agh!

i can’t think of anything else right this second. Daylight savings is making me so happy for longer afternoons in the sunshine. Spring is finally trying to break through the waist-deep snowfall that slammed us this winter. My last little baby turns one next month. Finally, all the kiddos are feeling better and off their daily breathing treatments, There is just an overwhelming sense of hope and anticipation of what the year will bring.

i’ll leave you with a favorite sketch i made this weekend that is a sneak peek to some VERY different painting work i’m going to be doing in the coming months….enjoy!!

xo, s

Kids Art Collaboration

A couple months ago, i put a shout out on my facebook page asking for some kiddos to try out a collaboration idea i had. i got a few takers and embarked on a sort of “art pen pal” project. What happened next was maybe the best experience in my art business so far. SO much joy and experimentation and fulfillment and surprise.

Basically, i mail out a blank canvas to each participant with some simple instructions, examples and tips about how i like to work. But i also encourage the kids to experiment and am sure to tell them “there is no wrong way.” Then i wait for the white canvases to come back to me with color! It’s like christmas when i see a manila envelope in the mailman’s hand!

Here is an example (left) of Layer 1 as it was sent back by one child (actually 3 siblings) and then the layer i added for my part (right). i then mailed the canvas back with more instruction and examples for round 2. Below (left) you see the kids’ next stage painting with their doodles added. Then (right) you see how i finished it off with a few of my own doodles and some colored in areas. i mailed the final back to the kids with my signature on the back and encouraged them to sign their names on the front or sides of the canvas, That’s it!

The whole process has been such great fun for me and getting to be part of an artistic journey with kids is so rewarding. Some of the moms have told me the kids feel nervous at first to “ruin” it all. But i hope they come away with the confidence to realize that they can’t possibly ruin their own art. Any mark they make speaks to their own creative eye and hand. It’s authentic and so (to me) it is good!! i’ve gotten such a variety of color combos, shapes and forms back. Some paintings feature neat, tidy brush strokes and some are made with wild abandon. It is just so awesome to see.

Here are some more in-progress images that have been coming out of this project.

The above is stage 2 and completion….

This one is stage 1 from my kiddo collaborator and then my additions – all ready to be shipped back through the mail.

…another stage 1 then my additions all ready for my partner to tackle stage 2.

…one last example of how they look when they first arrive back to me and then go back out for step 2.

In the course of creating these artworks, my wheels started turning, and one day i had a shower idea. Do you get all your best ideas in the shower? What is it? The smell of shampoo? The steam? Aaaaaaanyway, i thought; wouldn’t it be great to sell prints of the finished art in my etsy shop and contribute the proceeds to other kids? Maybe kids at CHOP? or a local arts program?

Kids helping kids through art!! AGHHHH!!! Do you love it!?

Of course, the kids would have to all give a thumbs up. i would never sell their work without permission or recompense. But the few i polled so far all seemed on board. So, when i have a collection of completed works in hand, i will be calling around to find a cause that will be a perfect fit. Oh happy day : )

For more information on these collaborations, take a look at the listing in my etsy shop! Or just follow along and try collaborating with your kiddos at home! You don’t need me! Trust me. You will surprise yourself and your kids will get a confidence boost times a jillion.

xo, s


Me + Kid + Packing Tape = ARtsy Collaboration

i have been dreaming this fun project for a while now. The details were bogging me down a little and keeping me from seeing it through. So i am doing what i always do; throwing details out the window! i have decided to  do 3 TRIAL collaborations and play this idea by ear, test the process and see if it’ll fly.

What the heck am i talking about, you say?

Well, imagine that your favorite kiddo receives super mysterious package from me on the front doorstep, all cute and purdy. Upon opening the package, you find a blank canvas or piece of watercolor paper + instructions titled “STEP 1.”

You then help your child complete STEP 1 and pack it all back up and send it back to me. Then i complete super mysterious steps of my own…..adding my touches to your piece…..and….you guessed it! I send it back to you with instruction for STEP 2.

We continue like this til we’ve each done 3 steps and have what can only be considered a MASTERPIECE of COLLABOR-ICIOUS-NESS! Then i sign it, photograph it, and send it back to you one last time.

YES! YOU GET TO KEEP IT! And yes, your child should sign their name really big next to mine. And yes! i fully expect a photo of ya’ll and the finished art to post on my page and show off. : ) The whole thing is a little bit tag-team-art-making and a little bit mini-art-lessons as we go.

Sound like fun? Interested?

Drop me a line or comment here if you’d like the nitty gritty info on involved costs/materials and such. Hopefully, i’ll find 3 willing artistes to help me try this crazy plan out!

-xo, stephanie

update – all trial slots are now full…stay tuned to follow this project along the way!

Case Study: Branding + a little extra


i want to share a fun branding project with you. Months ago, i was fortunate to receive an email request from a very cool photographer in Alaska, named Leslie. Look at this stunning work she creates!?

We did so many fun elements! She wanted to do a logo,

some pattern for her site wallpaper,

a little initial watermark/favicon,


a business card,

and a blog header design with tabs,

We did these projects and had such a great time with them… and time marched on.

About a week ago, i was so excited to see Leslie’s name pop up in my inbox again! She wanted to add a few new “Alska-fied” motifs to her wallpaper pattern, (do you see the narwhal, moose & fox?)

and do some nostalgic, heart-tugging silhouette-style art for her packaging that features her own 2 little girls riding a narwhal; the veritable unicorn of the ocean. (Yes! they are real!) Kids + a fantastical looking creature that hails from the icy waters were just the perfect combination to tell Leslie’s story. Storytelling art is my very favorite kind of art to create! Woohoo!

In doing that piece, we stumbled into an unplanned project that turned out to be really magical. See, i think we both knew that the silhouette/graphic style would match the branding the most….buuuuut.….. a storybook-looking pen & ink illustration of her actual children would be just too special to pass up. Leslie decided to do both.

….and i got to google narwhals…..and draw with a very fine pen for the first time in a very long while.

Thanks so much for trusting me with your vision, Leslie! Helping you build such a special brand just makes my job so worthwhile.

If you would like to work with me on artwork that tells YOUR story…visit my “work with me page” and let’s get to chatting!

Beauty Salon Party Printables with Lil Blue Boo

Have you guys seen the amazing Beauty Salon Themed party thrown by Ashley at Lil Blue Boo? I made a printable graphics package for their online shop and what they did with its humble little self was spectacular!

Below is a little peek at the printables download that you can purchase here.

And you can check out LBB’s ginormous and fun party post FULL of inspiring photos like the ones below, here.

Yay for Productivity!

Nothing like the sun streaming through the studio window on a sunday afternoon. Endless possibilities. This is such a beautiful sight to me.

Every weekend i swear i will catch up on overdue work and get some fresh new artwork done.

Every weekend flashes by in the blink of an eye and i come up short.

But this weekend, for some reason….i got it ALL done??? …and then some. So that meant that i could spend some time this lovely sunday afternoon being creative.

i’ve been keeping a little secret. i was contacted by an artist/author whom i consider to be pretty. darn. great. and she asked if i wanted to be part of her upcoming Blog Book Tour! Wow! Yay! (Once my very wet-behind-the-ears-in-the-world-of-publishing self came to understand what that was, i was stoked!) Essentially, she’ll be guest posting on popular creative blogs all over the web in the coming weeks talking about the launch of her new book, offering tips and tricks. interviews, videos and the like. Its a press junket that doesn’t require leaving your couch.

Turns out that this artist is about to roll out her own doodle book this month and thought we could partner on some fun press opportunities!!

Now, this is the part where i get all soft and squishy thinking of how many beautiful people i’ve met since embarking down this road toward my dream of being a full-time artist. i have found this community to be so giving, so willing to help. Nobody is looking to hog all the limelight and i have yet to meet a fellow artist who has been anything but amazingly generous.

Anyway, i’m still going to keep the full details under wraps a tad longer, but i thought i’d post some little tidbits from this first collaborative project we are working on together. i got to do Phase 1, then pass my work off to her for Phase 2, then i get it back for round 3 and …you get the idea. i can’t wait to see what develops! Happy Sunday!

a DIY collaboration with Lil Blue Boo

AWESOMENESS!! My friend, Ashley, at Lil Blue Boo asked me to illustrate a coloring-book-style backdrop for her adorable “Box o’ Princesses” tutorial, and i’m making the download a freebie!

Just click here for the B&W, letter-size download that you can print at home. It includes a label for your box, the color-able princess village backdrop, and some sweet little extras; a wishing well and flower cart.

Hope your little ones have a great time personalizing their own set!
Ashley’s BEAUTIFUL example is shown below and tutorial is here.

artist collaboration – stone coasters

Just had to share the fun goodies that came to my doorstep yesterday afternoon!

These beautiful, heavy, cork-backed natural stone coasters were made by Jenny at The Painted Lily, and feature my artwork! Such a nice way to add a colorful home accessory to your mix, right? There are 3 different sets. Can’t decide which i like best, but i’m leaning toward the Pattern Burst Set! See the print it came from in my etsy shop!

These aren’t listed in Jenny’s etsy shop just yet. (i think these were the first set!) But go ahead over and look at all of her other beautiful things here!

Thanks for a lovely collaboration Jenny!