Quiet Christmas

A lake shoreline with autumn trees drawn in pencil with watercolor wash
©2022 Carolyn A Pappas, Last Boat Ride. Pencil and watercolor wash in A4 moleskine.
Last week my surgeon called me and said they reviewed my case at Tumor Board and determined that it was a borderline tumor, not cancerous. This was amazing news to hear, and unexpected, because the report originally said cancer. (Also, weirdly stressful in a way.) However, after doing some more research, I found that borderline tumors can still recur and come back as cancer in the future. With that in mind, I have still decided to pursue a better lifestyle and do everything in my power to stay healthy. I have given up meat and dairy and have been eating as many raw vegetables as possible. I have also purchased an infrared sauna (haven’t tried it yet). I have an appointment with a naturopathic doctor to see what else I can do to get healthier. I have been feeling a lot better after my surgery and I’ve been getting dressed in the morning which makes me feel like a more normal person.

I have been reading a book called Radical Remission, which is all about people who have healed themselves from advanced or incurable cancers without or despite modern medicine. It is encouraging to read positive stories and realize that it is possible to get better after a terrible diagnosis. I’ve also been listening to Chris Wark’s videos and interviews. He is an inspiration.

I’m not supposed to drive yet, so I’ve been staying home most of the time. I haven’t minded it though. I’ve been really enjoying my quiet time during the day. I’ve started a few art projects that I’m excited about. I joined a Facebook group called Creating a Cozy Life – Hygge style. It is full of beautiful photos and ideas and everyone is so kind. I’m thinking of doing some small, crafty sewing projects. I have a number of patterns from Ann Wood that I haven’t tried yet and I want to work on some of them.

I have a follow up appointment with my doctor at the end of the month. She said that until then, all I have to do is have a good Christmas and that is what I am trying to do.

Getting back on track

ball point pen drawing of a stream with trees
©2022 Carolyn A Pappas, Stream Sketch (9/19/2022). Ball point pen in A4 moleskine.

I have wanted to update this site for many months now, but I have had a wake-up call recently and I have decided that if I don’t do it now, then I might now ever do it. I am at home, with six weeks off from work, recovering from a big abdominal surgery last week in which I have learned that I have ovarian cancer. I haven’t even heard the results yet from my doctor, but I read them in the results that popped into my MyChart account. I’m not sure how I should be feeling. I’m trying to be positive right now, but I’m also wondering what went wrong with me to have had this happen.

I haven’t been drawing much at all this past year. I started a new job, moved, got married and was focusing on a lot of other things. I’ve been under a lot of stress generally. In my new place, I even have a room dedicated as a studio, yet I haven’t spent much time in it.

In the next few weeks, I will remedy that, of course. I am busy researching nutritional/natural healing plans and I’m pretty sure I will have chemo in my future, but I know in my gut that I need to start drawing again because it is the greatest stress relief I know. Please follow along as I post updates, photos, and sketchbook pages on this site. I am going to update my own blog with most of this information as I would like to maintain a record of my work that is not connected to a social media site.

I would also appreciate your prayers too – thanks for reading.

Keeping Busy

Below you will see some of the artwork I have made since the first of the year. I also have several pages of abandoned pen and ink drawings that I’m not going to post.

So far this year, I have drawn every single day, but not for enough time each day, I admit. I have also been picking up extra shifts at work, so I’ve been feeling a bit over scheduled lately. I’ve been saving money by making almost no unnecessary purchases and I’ve been feeling very responsible.

Things I’ve been working on:

monarch butterfly painting
©2020 Carolyn A Pappas, Monarch Feeding on Verbena. Ink and watercolor, 7 x 10 inches.

blue butterfly watercolor
©2020 Carolyn A Pappas, Prussian Blue Butterfly. Ink and watercolor, 12 x 16 cm.

orange poppy watercolor
©2020 Carolyn A Pappas, Papaver orientale. Ink and watercolor, 7.25 x 5.25 inches.

nature collage
©2020 Carolyn A Pappas, Nature’s Tidbits. Ink and watercolor collage on blank watercolor greeting card, 7 x 5 inches.

I’m wondering how long I can go at this pace. My pen and ink class is two months away, on April 22, and I still have a lot to do for that. I can’t wait to get started on a few more projects afterwards. Once summer comes, I won’t be at work so much, so I’ll have more time to myself and some bigger paintings.

2019 in Review and Next Year’s Goals

art productivity tracker
2019 Art Productivity Tracker. I colored a square on the grid for each day that I drew or painted.

Welcome to my annual yearly review and goals post. I didn’t have any goals in 2019 except to be more regular with doing art every day and to send my newsletter out monthly. I included a picture of my art tracker for the year so you can see that I got much more serious around June. I made art every day in October and I was so proud of myself for this achievement. I plan on trying to continue this momentum for 2020. I did send my newsletter out monthly except for in the summer. I want to get more regular with this and to also plan it out better to relieve some stress.

For 2020, I want to be more intentional with my art activities. Instead of spending weeks working in my sketchbook, I would like to work on some finished artwork to frame and sell. I also want to spend more time doing projects of my own instead of just looking at what everyone else is doing online.

I got an iPad Pro and an Apple pencil this year and I want to learn how to use the Procreate app. This app is very powerful and there are so many features. There is always a learning curve with any new medium, but I’m excited about some projects that I can make with this app.

Pen and ink will be a huge focus of my artwork, especially in the first half of the year, because I will be teaching a pen and ink nature sketching workshop in my community. I’m excited about this opportunity.

Thank you for following my work. I appreciate everyone who follows me regularly and everyone who just stops to look. Below, I’ve posted some work from the year that I haven’t shared here before. Best wishes for a productive, creative and healthy 2020 and beyond.

pen and ink tree detail
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Detail (10/8/2019). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
small nature objects sketch
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Fallen Objects: September 2019. Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
pen and ink watercolor tree
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Moss Covered Tree (9/24/19). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

Dried to a Crisp

Three studies of fall leaves and various updates

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading from the US. I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have a regular routine and my life has quieted down so much compared to year’s past. I’m pleased with myself that I’ve been working on art (nearly) daily since the end of September. I think one of the reasons is that my work schedule gives me mornings off and I feel more motivated to get some artwork done before I go in to work.

Still, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with several projects. I tend to do this every year before Christmas, and I’ve vowed to myself several times (unsuccessfully) that I would not repeat the mistake. I’m looking forward to wrapping up all my handmade gifts and then moving onto some pursuits that are just for me. Andy J Pizza has a new Skillshare class on this topic that really has me inspired.

I recently finished a sketchbook and started a new one, the Etchr A5 hotpress 100% cotton watercolor sketchbook (see bottom left image below). I love that this sketchbook takes watercolor so much better than the moleskine books. However, I have some projects in mind that aren’t in a sketchbook and instead involve working on frame-able artwork. Stay tuned for some work outside of the sketchbook in the coming months.

maple leaf pen and ink stippling
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Maple Leaf Flatlay. Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

oak leaf watercolor
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Oak Leaf (10/30/2019). Watercolor in Etchr A5 hotpress watercolor sketchbook.

magnolia leaf drawing
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Dried Magnolia Leaf. Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

End of Summer (drawings of tree trunks and roots)

I’ve been working on pen and ink all summer, but now I’m feeling like a change. The start of the school year always feels like a natural starting point and actually feels like a better time for new ventures than the beginning of the calendar year for me.

©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree trunk with roots (7/16/2019). Ink in large moleskine.

School starts tomorrow so I think it might be the perfect time to shift to a new way of working for awhile. I miss painting in watercolor and making more colorful art. So stay tuned for some more work in a colorful vein in my next update.

©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree trunk with roots (August 2019). Ink in large moleskine.

A fountain pen I really enjoy, and some drawings I made with it

Since April, I’ve been using the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen with Platinum Carbon black ink. I originally heard about this pen through an art facebook group that I’m a part of. I used the ink cartridge that came with the pen and I’m on my second cartridge. I haven’t yet tried the converter. The ink cartridges and converters come with a small ball bearing inside to agitate the ink and prevent clumping, which is quite unique.

pen and ink landscape pond
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Hopedale Pond (June 2019). Platinum Carbon ink in large moleskine.

An interesting hack I found online is when Cathy Johnson used a hacksaw to remove the pointy tapered end of the pen so it would accept the cap. I personally don’t mind if I can’t cap the end of the pen, but I think this is a very creative solution.

All summer, I’ve been making pen and ink drawings of various places that I’ve visited for day trips and small getaways. It’s been the longest time that I’ve worked in one medium without deviating and so far I haven’t lost interest. This is the closest thing I’ve done to a series in fact. Some of these drawings are duds, of course, but I will have to collect my favorite ones and find an interesting way to display/publish them.

I made these drawings from photos I took at the Hopedale Fairy Walk in the Hopedale Parklands. Here is an interesting story I found about the history of the pond and how women gained the right to go swimming in it in the early 1900’s. I always like to find out little tidbits about the history of the places I visit.

pen and ink landscape pond trees
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Hopedale Pond in Portrait Orientation (June 2019). Platinum Carbon ink in large moleskine.

pen and ink landscape lake pond tree
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Hopedale Pond with Overhanging Tree (June 2019). Platinum Carbon ink in large moleskine.

Back to Art in the New Year

John Hanson Project album art
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Wilderness River. Pen and ink with watercolor, 8 x 8 inches. Album art for John Hanson Project.

I had so many plans for my art in 2018 but things did not work as planned. I sorely underestimated the mental and physical energy that working full time as a new nurse would require. I was working more hours than a normal 40 hour workweek with odd shifts and a very irregular sleep schedule. For the last three months of the year, I didn’t pick up a pencil or a paint brush even one time and I felt so out of sorts. I’ve since taken some steps to remedy that situation and I’m looking forward to having more time for artwork in the coming months.

I have no formal goals for this year, but I just want to have fun and concentrate on making art daily or as close to daily as possible. I also want to focus on sending out my newsletter every month–I neglected to send that out for the last few months of the year and I regretted it. My January edition will be going out within the next few days (click here to sign up).

I’m looking forward to what 2019 will hold for me and I hope that everyone reading this has a prosperous and fulfilling year ahead.


Above is an illustration I completed for the cover art for the self-released album by John Hanson Project. I’ve known John for several years and he is an extremely dedicated musician who has been working tirelessly for years to realize his musical dreams. I highly recommend that you check out his new album Go On.

Preparing for Inktober: thoughts on some pen and ink instructional books

I’m getting back into the swing of art after taking a much needed break.

I’ve recently started reviving from a serious artistic funk in which I haven’t had the inclination or desire to engage in any sort of art at all. I didn’t even want to look at other people’s art, check Instagram, look for “inspiration” online, or anything similar.

I’ve never really experienced anything like this in the past. I wasn’t feeling depressed or anything of the sort, but I do think that I shifted focus to other areas of my life that were more immediately pressing (finances, etc.). I considered pushing on and continuing to work despite feeling very averse to the idea. The advice of many established artists is to “show up and do the work” and so forth. Instead, I truly felt like I just needed to rest my brain and to do nothing.

Now that things have quieted down a bit, I am focusing more on my art again. This time though, I am interested in expanding beyond floral art (not eliminating it entirely, of course). Throughout school and in the months following, I was drawn to florals because they made me happy and it was a subject matter that felt comfortable and easy to me. Now, I’m wanting to branch out and tackle some other subjects (other aspects of botany, rocks, and landscapes). I’m also working on some sewing projects and I’m imagining how I can incorporate sewing and embroidery into my art.

Cathy Johnson recently discussed her recent “dry spell.” I always like to read about how other artists deal with their creative ebbs and flows and it also makes me feel a little less uncomfortable with the whole process.

The following images are some of the pieces I painted in the last several months. Stay tuned for some new work in my next update.

tulip sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Discarded Tulips Sketch (5/13/2018). Pen and ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pansy watercolor
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Pansy. Watercolor and rubberstamping, 5 x 5 inches.

pen and ink watercolor flower sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Greenery (5/21/2018). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pen and ink succulents
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, US Botanic Garden (Feb 2018). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.