Monday, September 18, 2017

The Sketchy Reader Debut: A Note From My Heart




Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  I want to forewarn you that this is a rather lengthy post. However, I'm writing from my heart, and I hope that you'll take the time to read the entire post (especially my blog friends who've followed me for years).  This has been a difficult post for me to write; I can't tell you how many times I've edited it.  I tend to have a bit of a stoic persona here on my blog, but in real life I'm not that way at all.  I've always been a little "guarded" on my blog, but I intend to change that ~ starting today!

As you know, I've changed the name of my blog from Art @ Home to The Sketchy Reader.  I have several reasons for the change, and over the past month I've left hints and clues about what I want to achieve here on The Sketchy Reader.





Reason #1:   For the first time in almost twenty-five years, I'm an empty nester.  I didn't want it to be a rough transition for me because I've placed quite the focus on home and family.  One thing you need to know about me is I was not a stay at home mom by choice.   I had to end my career because our youngest daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at eighteen months old.  Suddenly our lives were filled with numerous therapies per week.  Shortly after Shelley's diagnosis, Shanley Belle was diagnosed with dyslexia.  She needed therapy in order to read, and all of her therapy was private. You see, the State of Alabama didn't even recognize dyslexia as a learning disability until 2015, the year Shanley graduated from college.  I made a conscientious choice to make the most of our situation, and threw myself into the role of domestic engineer and chief advocate for our daughters.  I admire both my daughters so much because they learned from a young age how to work hard.  Both experienced challenges that I can't imagine, yet they both overcame their disabilities:  Shanley Belle is a scientist at LSU and a published fiction writer;  Shelley is a college athlete and artist.  Although they will always need me as their mom, now is the time to focus on myself.

I wanted a new challenge, (I think I've found one), and my blog will be a big part of what I'd like to accomplish as an artist.  (More on this later in the post.)

However, I will continue to allow the Westies to guest post occasionally and share family events.


Reason #2:   My blog, like my life, has been "scattered" since 2010.  I really want to narrow the focus of my blog, and from now on I'll be focusing far more on books, magazines, and reading in general.  I know that I will probably lose many readers because of this, but I feel like I need to be honest with myself and you, my Sweet Readers.  What exactly will this mean for my blog?  Let me explain.





Why books?  I've loved books since I was a tiny little girl.  My mom says that when I went to toy stores as a child I'd almost always choose a book rather than a toy (but I still loved my bike and all things Barbie).  I can remember when I was in middle school I walked to the library after school and waited until my mom picked me up after she left her teaching job at our local high school.  I loved the independence (although it was only two blocks away), and I loved finishing my homework and finding good books to read.

Math was always my strongest subject in school, but I've always loved stories.  My grandmother used to tell my cousin and me stories especially at night before gong to bed, and I've been hooked on good stories ever since.  I enjoyed my high school English classes, and I was an English minor in college (I think I had enough English credits to declare a double major).   English class wasn't always easy for me because it seemed like I always read things a bit differently from the rest of the class (some of you who know me well aren't surprised at this).  But I still loved learning about different writers and poets. After working in my major field of study for a couple of years, I decided to go to graduate school in English Education and become an English teacher.

I read to my daughters all the time while they were young, including the entire Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  One is a voracious reader, and the other one?  Not so much, but I did influence her in the art department!

Many of you have asked me: "How do you have so much time to read?"  I think we make time for what's important to us, and I enjoy reading.  We've never watched much TV in our home except for Hallmark movies and Chicago Cubs baseball.  I don't read as much at all during baseball season because if we're home, we have the game on either inside or outside on our patio.



I will read and review more home decor books in the future.


A couple of you have asked: Will you continue posting about home decor and featuring your home?  Yes, but it will be related to either home decor books I'm reviewing or magazine articles that are inspiring me.  I might also feature blog posts that are inspiring me in my decor, so again the focus will be on what I've been reading and then how it's inspired me.




Another goal is to read, try recipes, and review cookbooks because I hope to make more time to learn new things in the kitchen.




Y'all have seen every inch of my home.   I want to keep my blog's content new and fresh, so as much as I enjoy taking out the same pumpkins every year to fluff the house for fall, y'all might not care to see them.  Again.  But if I do change something around here, I'll share that and the resources that inspired me because although I'm an artist I'm far more resourceful than creative!




Practical Magic Party



Mad Tea Party


Another way I'll feature home decor will be participation in book-related link parties.  An example: Practical Magic Parties and Mad Tea Parties.  You can see some of these parties on my Link Parties Page.  Mayhap I will also host a few of my own.  Stay tuned!









Reason #3:  I enjoy art journaling, and I journal about my life which includes books.  I will share these posts maybe once or twice a month along with any completed paintings. Sometimes I like to create little journals or other works of art with ephemera, and I will share those, too.  And because I'm such a book nerd, I'm sure several will be book related.






Reason #4:  I've been so inspired by Janice MacLeod and her Paris Letters.  Who wouldn't want to read about Paris, especially from someone who's lived there, is a talented artist and a talented writer!?!? Plus, who doesn't like getting fun snail mail?  I subscribe to Paris Letters, and they have all been so unique and fun: I love receiving them in the mail.  By the way, I've been sending and receiving snail mail from these fun Dutch ladies via Instagram, too.

I've been so inspired by Janice that I wanted to do something similar.  But who wants something called "Birmingham Letters?"  No one.  So I had to think about what I have to offer other than my art, and I had a revelation....book reviews!  That's how "the Sketchy Reader" was born.  Now I know that anyone can read my reviews for free via my blog and Goodreads, but they won't get fun snail mail, my art, a set of discussion questions, and other surprises from time to time.

Not only that, but subscribers will get to discuss the questions and the books on my Facebook Page. If you would, please take the time to click on the above link and like my page.







I will offer three subscription choices, either one month, six months, or twelve months.  There will be two categories, either a Favorite Book of mine, or a book from a recent Indie Next List.



On the left is a letter featuring a Favorite Book, Outlander.  On the right is a book from the Indie Next List, The Almost Sisters.



I know that because I'm writing about books my audience will be limited.  But one of my main goals is to build a community of others who will enjoy discussing these books with me.  I've had difficulty locally with book clubs.  One club is overwhelmingly political, and I was in the minority.  I join a book club to read books and have spirited discussions.  Another club was code for drinking wine in the middle of the day while the kids are in school.  I was usually only one of two, maybe three who even attempted to read the bookclub's selection for the month.  I join a book club to read books and have spirited discussions about the books.  I know I said that already, but darnit!  It's frustrating!

So if you know a bookworm or two who might appreciate fun snail mail complete with discussion questions, send them to my Etsy Store.  Or, if you have a bookworm in your life who'd enjoy these letters, please stop by and subscribe!




Here is a close-up of the Outlander letter.  All letters will be addressed to the recipients.  


Here's a little bit about my process.  I lightly sketch my art on high quality watercolor paper, and then I color them using Derwent Inktense pencils.  Then I add the water so it looks like a watercolor painting.  The reason for using the Inktense pencils is they turn to "ink" when wet and if I need to write over the art once it's dry I can do so.  

Once a letter is ordered, I'll make a colored copy on 8 1/2" X 11" card stock paper.  Discussion questions will be printed on regular copy paper.  


I'm working on the October letters now.  They will be ready to ship by October 15th.  Books are not announced beforehand: they are meant to be a surprise.  The Almost Sisters and Outlander are September's letters: They are "back issues" because letters are mailed on the fifteenth of each month. However, all back issues will be available for sale in the shop.

There's a link to my Etsy shop in the navigation bar, above.


Reason #5:  I need to be true to myself.  I want my blog to be authentic even though I'm inspired by books, other bloggers, and other artists like Janice MacLeod.  

I hope you'll continue my blogging journey with me.

However, I get how blogging is supposed to be guilt-free, and you only have a certain amount of time during the week to read blogs,  so I will understand if I don't see you around here much anymore.

And if I still read your blog, please don't feel obligated to read The Sketchy Reader.  That will make me feel even worse....

But if you need something good to read, I can help.  If you don't, but you have a friend who loves reading, please send her my way.


Well, there you have it!  The five reasons I reimagined my blog.  I would really appreciate your feedback.  Please email me or leave a comment below.  

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill



15 comments:

  1. I'm proud of you for identifying what makes you happy and sticking with it!! I will still read and share your posts. :)

    I am also in your shoes and understand the current struggle.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You certainly need to do what makes you happy...I'll still be hanging around!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brave choice! But you've put great thought into it. Good luck! I also love the whole Little House series.

    ReplyDelete
  4. RJ, I thought I knew which way your blog was headed, books and/or art. I'm happy it's both! As I've already said, you know how much I admire your new blog look and content. I think it's a wonderful way for a new empty nester to spend time, doing what you love. We've chatted a little about the girls and I know how much you worked to change the system and I'm sure you did! The girls are so successful because of all you've done. I remember when you were moving Shanley Belle in for her first semester here, how times flies. I will be following right along as usual, looking forward to your book reviews and your lovely art journaling. I was happy to hear you will be adding magazines and decor reviews and information. Well done my sweet friend!

    ReplyDelete
  5. PS, I love the Little House series. I have the complete set and enjoy pulling them out and reading over and over and I have several books on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love your creativity! I'm excited to see what you write and create. <3

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love books, I love to read, I am not creative except in my dreams

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am so very proud of you my friend.
    I am excited to see where this will take you.
    I will be reading and following along. It has been a joy to get to know you and your family.
    Best Wishes,
    Carla

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is so great. You are going to enjoy and embrace what will makes you happy. Blogs can be like full time jobs so you might as well make it fun and enjoyable to you. I know you will enjoy sharing reviews of books with other fellow avid readers. I am so excited for you. Good luck with this journey.
    xoxo
    Kris

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well, I'm not going anywhere. In fact, I'm getting a little tired of blogs that seem to just do decorating all the time. I like them, I get good ideas and I read them because I enjoy the people behind them but usually I end up feeling pretty shabby and not up to par! So, I love seeing the parties and seasonal but sometimes enough is enough (she said, as she is getting ready to decorate for fall soon.)

    But I love books. And I love art even more. And to combine them is wonderful. I've been a fan of Janice M. for a long while and Paris Letters (and Carol Gillot's Paris Sketches and Paris Maps) and like you, I always sort of wanted to do the same concept but "my own" and never seem to be able to cram it in between books and boards and docs and all. But you are DOING IT! Three cheers -- I really admire and appreciate that. And of course, I'm eager to hear more about the books you are enjoying and things you are discovering.

    Blog life is interesting. They are organic in how they evolve with us as we evolve and I'm thrilled you are grabbing the things that matter most and running with those flags! You won't be losing me as a reader. I can't wait. (Oh, and PS -- I appreciate hearing your backstory and good for you on your advocacy and dedication to making the world better for not only your daughters but others. One of my dear friends was in a similar situation as you with her son and did the same. The power of using challenges to affect change and personal development is significant and you are quite amazing!)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am new to your blog and I have loved what I have seen so far. I am sure I will love joining in on your new adventure also! Sounds great!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am thrilled that you are following your heart and focusing on yourself and what you truly love...I knew you home schooled your girls, but I didn't know how many challenges you all faced as they were growing up. You are an incredible and dedicated mom, and you have filled your girls with passion for art, books, learning and life. You are so smart to seize the empty nester opportunity to focus on yourself and joy, rather than twiddling your thumbs worrying and missing your children. Your blog is always full of inspiration and I can't wait to get my first snail mail letter from you!
    Jenna

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am so intrigued! And a bit envious. I have never just KNOWN what I wanted to do. Still.
    I read every bit of this post with awe. I hope one day we can meet up.
    :) gwingal

    ReplyDelete
  14. Any change can be difficult my friend.But, it's important to share what you love and I know we will all enjoy it and support you xoxo.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I admire you JIll. You are very talented and it is great that you realize you want to focus on what you enjoy. Your dedication to your girls with all the challenges have paid off. They are successful and where they are because of you.
    My husband and I are attending a dinner in Huntsville, Wednesday, where Amor Towles will be the speaker as a fund raiser for the library. We are excited to hear him speak. Our daughter lives there.

    ReplyDelete

Because you leave comments, you are awesomesauce!