Hello, I’m McKenzie of Oliver and Abraham’s. My husband and I are part-time sheep farmers. I also draw, so with the slowing-down season this year, I decided to focus my energy on opening an Etsy shop to sell some of my art, and eventually, we’ll be able to offer handspun yarn from our sheep and alpacas.

Over the past couple months I’ve learned a lot about my own creative process, and I thought I’d share a little bit about it here. I would say the most important aspect of having the inspiration to draw lies in my surroundings. The view from my desk is full of sheep. Grazing sheep, sleeping sheep, thirsty sheep, headbutting sheep, humping sheep… From my window, I am always able to get a little dose of reality, no matter how wrapped up in my head I get.

When I start drawing, I rarely have a goal in mind. But when I do, I use pencil to sketch out the symmetry. I prefer diving right in with a .005 Micron pen though. Then I erase my pencil lines and start filling in with watercolor using these tiny brushes. I’ve had the same old watercolor paints for years now, but these seem to be pretty close. I usually mix the colors up on the side. Adding gray to any color gives it a softer look. I also recently discovered the most perfect 5″x7″ watercolor block. The nice thing about it is that there’s no grainy texture. That used to bother me a lot about other watercolor papers. It’s pure white and is glued together on all four sides. One corner is free so you can tear out the image when it’s dry. Because of the tightness of the paper to the pad, there’s no warping.

A lot of people have told me that using watercolors is hard. I guess in the sense that if you have no initial lines to define your image, it would be challenging to create them using only watercolors. But filling in Micron pen lines is relatively simple. It’s time consuming, but if you consider it a form of meditation it becomes addictive.  You learn as you go. I remember the very first watercolor painting I did. I must have been three or four years old. I painted a cottage in the woods on a tiny square of paper. I remember being sofrustrated that the lines in my head were bleeding together on paper, but there must have been something appealing to me about the medium, otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it back up.

Today, I find it fun to experiment with color and texture. I also love to finish a painting with white India ink. It adds a much needed sense of dimension and brightness. You have to practice with it first though! It spreads really easily so you have to control your hand to the max. But don’t be afraid! Sometimes your mistakes can turn into the best part. In the birth announcement you see above, the flowers with the big black centers were a mistake. I opened up a pen and the ink came spurting out. At first, I was devastated (read: threw the pen across the room in a fury) since I’d spent the entire day working on it. I stepped away, came back to it calmly, and at second glance realized the dots had fallen among the leaves in a beautiful way. I think art should be embraced with the Japanese philosophy of “wabi-sabi.” Finding beauty in life’s imperfections…

Emily, thank you so much for having me over to your blog! I can’t wait to see your new restaurant grow! 🙂


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