Archives For colored pencil

I read every day…a lot. I get up early and read books that shape me. In the afternoon I read books that are a little lighter, but from which I can still learn. At night I read old mysteries by Valentine Williams and E. Philips Oppenheim, passed down from my grandfather. I keep a journal by my books and I record notable quotes and thoughts, which end up being like a map of learning.

At the beginning of this year, I looked through my notebooks from 2017 and created a summary of what I read and learned. Below are some rough notes about important things I took away from each book. Excuse the format, my running thoughts, and know that you will probably uncover different things than what touched me. I realize after reviewing my year that if we want to be better, to shape our world, indeed to save our world from where we stand, it takes work like everything else. Reading and processing is how I “practice” being a better, more peaceful, present and loving person. Some days it is exhausting. But when you look back over a year, how encouraging it is to see a path that you stumbled upon.

Since the year began, I’ve also been *trying* (key word) to draw or paint something each day, usually inspired but what I’ve read or learned. So here is a summary of art and reading. I hope some of these books will inspire you and shape you as they have done for me.

“Caminante, no hay camino, se hace al andar. 

Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk” -Antonio Machado

(or read?)

Dorothy Day: Selected Writings – inspired to take action and lead, little by little, taking small steps knowing they can be greater than you think, living simply and being open and hospitable

Documentary “Minimalism” and articles by the Minimalists: create more, consume less; I could write so much more. Just go watch it.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance…you have to get close,” lose fear and “beat the drum for justice,” be a “stone catcher” when people throw them at others

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – embrace mystery, follow dreams, don’t fear, walk forward; the soul of the world is love, immerse your “soul into the universal current of life,” “I must not be afraid to change my life”

Mary Oliver, several different poetry collections – “I don’t want to be demure or respectable. I was that way, asleep, for years…” I could just list all her poems…they are amazing

Thoreau, Civil Disobedience – did he write that yesterday? It mirrored our current cultural and political climate so closely. “Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine” of injustice

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass – find beauty everywhere

We Make the Road by Walking , Brian McLaren- don’t uphold the status quo; rethink everything; be “creative nonconformists,” a “community where anyone who wants to be a part of us will be welcome”

The Rebirthing of God, John Philip Newell – heartbeat of God is in all things; “dream the way forward”

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, Rambunctious Garden by Emma Harris, Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy, and Planting: A New Perspective by Piet Oudolf – books about nature that changed the way I look at the world and our role in it; “Let nature be your teacher”

Emotional Agility by Susan David- Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility

Illuminate by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez – be a torchbearer, leading the way forward, dreamers, pioneers, leades

Awareness by Anthony de Mello – Wake up! Unlearn, listen, see, put on a new mind. I love this book. He doesn’t mess around. I read it 2 times this year. Then I read The Way to Love and Song of the Bird

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – history of Sapiens and human culture; ” the pursuit of an easier life led to much hardship.” You can clearly see the path that has led us to today. A very interesting book.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – “charm…your act is easy,” be good, not perfect; break addiction to achievement, image management

The Sabbath, by Abraham Joshua Heschel- rest and reclaim your dignity, the soul and body to be wise

The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz – find beauty in our imperfection, trust your feelings, don’t fear; cultivate emotional intelligence. Great leaps in understanding myself through reading this book

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown – be brave; don’t “sort” people, very relevant to our current climate (I could write a lot more…)

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – shame/vulnerability; “share is the fear of being vulnerable,” foster creativity and self-compassion

The Remarkable Ordinary by Frederick Buechner – art says stop and see; go out into the world, not hiding, even if you’re scared

Rising Strong by Brene Brown – 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – culture of scarcity, “never enough”; shame/vulnerability, build “shame resistance” and self-compassion; a really great book – every one should read this! Changed the way I see myself, the way I parent and interact with everyone.

The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey – set intention, follow your bliss, so many good, good things in this book

The short notes above, summaries from the short notes in my notebooks, are barely shadows of the treasures found in each of these books. Several of these books are or have been in our Little Free Library, and I’m always happy to lend one if you want to read!

Gift Cards

Mary Liz Ingram —  December 1, 2015 — Leave a comment

Sometimes it’s so hard to choose a piece of art for a friend! Or you want to commission a portrait for a family member, but you’re not sure which photo they would like. If you’re stuck, I have an option for you:

Gift Cards for artwork!

Gift cards can be purchased in any amount and are redeemable for commissioned or available pastel paintings of chosen value. From pastel portraits, to ink doodles, to watercolors…so many options available for your friend or family member to choose from!

Gift Card

Gift cards will be written for the amount paid & purchase intention noted (ex: 5×7 framed pastel; 8×10 unframed portrait, etc.). Gift cards will be signed by the artist for authenticity. Those receiving gift cards may upgrade to higher-priced artwork by paying the balance. 

The Garden

Mary Liz Ingram —  October 23, 2014 — 5 Comments

For months, I’ve been consumed with my latest project:

My fabulous front yard garden.

I’ve researched, I’ve measured, I’ve sketched and planned. I’ve shoveled dirt, I’ve carried rocks, I’ve moved buckets and buckets of soil. I’ve planted, I’ve watered, I’ve problem solved, I’ve watched food grow, I’ve eaten produce from my front yard.

With my trusty helpers, including the 2 year old, we have made my dream a reality and I have to admit I am super proud – giddy even. If you follow my blog, you may remember my post from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, when I was first inspired to plant the garden. Well, I’m happy to say I DID IT. I did it!!! And if you follow me on Facebook, you’ve been barraged with garden doodles.

In planting, I tried to be responsible – environmentally, economically and practically. After a persistent search, I found an amazing deal on recycled fire bricks ($25 a ton!) to edge my garden. I ordered a huge dump truck load of soil at the best price. I compost and I now own a $40 rain barrel. I ordered non GMO seeds ($.99 sample packs!) from and they grew. I shop at my local Homewood Garden Shop and have healthy blueberry bushes and lovely plants.

I worked my butt off building and planting this garden.

Beginning at the end of August, in the Alabama heat, I made it happen with my ever-present garden buddy. My kids, especially my son, now understand exactly where food comes from and how to grow it and care for it. My son waters it, pulls grass out of it, harvests the radishes, and takes a walk through it every time I open the door.

My garden is planted to grow community.

I didn’t know how that would work, but the first day I was out there I had real conversations with a dozen people, neighbors and passers-by. I share food with my neighbors and have met all sorts of new people. My kids tell anyone who asks about the plants growing, and I find that food is an easy thing to discuss, a common denominator.

My favorite story happened a few weeks ago. As we walked home from school, I began talking to an older lady about rosemary, as our kids were smelling it by someone’s mailbox. I just made a quick comment, not aiming at anything, not trying too hard. A few words later, we were talking about my garden. She was interested and missed her garden, as she said, “in my country, we have sun everyday and I grow many plants.” As we parted ways, I told her to stop by anytime and see the garden and take some herbs.

A week later, she stopped me at the corner with her two grandsons and asked if they could walk down to see the garden. On our short stroll, I find out they are from Haiti, and that her entire family was there during the earthquake except for her. She had arrived in the US four days before the quake for a wedding, and was plagued with anxiety over the separation at such a time. I now know her name, I know a portion of her amazing story, and the kids all ran together along the stepping stones of my garden.

Growing something, overcoming obstacles (like cats, cabbage worms, flooding rains, aphids…), being faithfully attentive and persistent…you learn things from gardening. About life, about children, about the world. I feel at peace and connected to nature when I’m checking the leaves and hearing the spray of water hitting the thick pile of green collards. It is a small miracle to see a snow pea sprout and grow out of the dirt, mere days after planting. There are more benefits to this garden than I can name.

My Garden Doodles thus far:



Grain of Sand

Mary Liz Ingram —  September 16, 2014 — 1 Comment

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

-William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

Magical evening, original photography


If you follow my blog, you may have noticed it’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve taken a few steps back to regroup, to build my garden, to reflect, absorb and let peace grow and guide. This time of retreat ended with a magical week with my family at Grayton Beach. I took this picture on the evening we arrived, and was blown away by the beauty of our world.

We played and read, built sand castles and dug holes, swam and walked and enjoyed every second, living in the moment.

I doodled every day and recorded my thoughts in words and art:

“A week at the beach, life relaxed.

Cotton candy clouds on early mornings, we beat the sun.

Thunderstorms in surround sound, we watch from the porch, candles flicker as clouds flash.

Feet in the blinding sand, we become one with the sun, warmly wrapping us and renewing our souls.

Splashed by aqua waves, we wade deeper into the mystery of the sea, finding new things and taking in life.

Rejuvenation. Perspective. Enjoyment. Refreshing retreat as the world swirls vividly around us.”


Party time in Edinburgh“Friday night we walked to dinner. Up the stairs we entered a vaulted room – like a church – lit dimly with candles and pink and purple lights in the high, arched ceiling. We had champagne or whisky, then beer and food. Afterwards they cleared the floor and music began on the colorfully lit stage, fast Scottish music complete with an accordion. We danced and laughed and had so much fun. We danced in a circle and I shed my introverted nerves, threw my head back in laughter and danced with all sorts of people as we traded partners going round and round…my husband, our friends, Scottish girls I didn’t know, Scottish boys I didn’t know, and an old man who kept saying “oh! oh!” like he thought he was going to fall over! I haven’t felt like that in, well, ever…”

In Costume, ink doodles

In Costume, ink doodles

This glowing, swirling plunge into Edinburgh led to a carefree journey full of child-like exploration.

We got up early and poked around gardens and churchyards. I scampered up and down the skinny Closes (alleys) between stores. We sat on stone walls listening to bagpipers and we took a late night tour of the spooky underground homes and rooms of the buried Mary King’s Close.

We stuck our heads in the huge cannon Mons Meg on top of Edinburgh Castle, feebly attempted to use some new Scottish phrases with our poor accents, made new friends and shed the skins of our “grown up” responsibilities, at least for a little while.

My Stephen took the opportunities to get in costume, dressing like John Knox in the oldest house in Edinburgh and posing for pictures, and later having a fake sword fight in chain mail with an actor playing Robert the Bruce. He lost this “wee skirmish,” and we couldn’t stop laughing.

I left Edinburgh with full memories of light-hearted fun and games, with lessons and practice in letting go and living life in joy and laughter.

Edinburgh, colored pencil & ink doodle

Edinburgh, colored pencil & ink doodle

St. Andrews Cathedral, Scotland: marker, colored pencil & ink doodle

St. Andrews Cathedral, Scotland: marker, colored pencil & ink doodle

June 20, 2014

“Germany was beautiful, but Scotland feels free.

Germany had some heaviness and sadness about it – regret, remembrance of hardship, mixed with a new tolerance and beauty and peace. It was picturesque – like a movie set.

Scotland feels like sun and air and sea. It makes you want to hold your arms out and drink in the sun and the swirling air. To touch the stones and lay in the grass. To laugh and play.

The rough clan and religious history of the feisty Scots is fascinating…tunneling under castles to hurry sieges, deceptions and dungeons, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, thistles and sheep, stone and sea.”

At this point in my journey, I lose track of the time and day. My journal becomes a mass of elation as we explore Scotland. I feel like I’ve found the mothership. Every day was filled with golden sun and soft green grass, flowers and breezes and sparkling sea, medieval watchtowers perched high on the craigs. Based in Edinburgh, we traveled out to St. Andrews our first morning in Scotland, the air crisp but not cold, perfect and refreshing.

“We went to St. Andrew’s Cathedral and St. Andrew’s Castle. I was blown away by the beauty of the place. The sun on my face, sea breeze bringing the seagulls’ calls through the air, my feet on the thick green grass scattered with tiny daisies, surrounded by the ruins with so many stories to tell. We climbed up narrow, twisting stone stairs to the the top of the tower at the broken cathedral. We crouched and scurried deep into the mine and counter-mine of the castle’s harsh Protestant-Catholic wars. I was giddy crawling through while water dripped on my face and I carefully placed my feet.”

Scotland, marker & ink doodle

Scotland, marker & ink doodle

We spent another day visiting the Famous Grouse Scotch distillery, tasting and laughing and enjoying our time together. Driving back to Edinburgh, watching the green hills roll past, seeing the sheep that I’ve drawn for so long, the black-faced, white, shining, familiar Scottish sheep, the mossy stone walls, the blue skies and rich fields stretching on and on in this glorious country…my heart was full. Passing the William Wallace Memorial and Stirling Castle, I wrote:

“This land inspires me; it makes me want to change. The feeling of freedom, of space and simplicity. I’m overwhelmed and moved by this place. We work hard everyday. Up and work, sleep and start over. Clean up, eat up…so much life to live. We toil and waste and spin our wheels and webs. I want to be better.”

“The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.” -Frances E. Willard

Traveling Doodle SuppliesI’ve never been to Germany before. It is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and clean places I’ve ever been. We drove around the country on a big pink tour bus. All of my drawings from the trip were drawn on buses, trains or planes, making for some bumpy doodling. I decided any stray marks or wiggly lines just add character.

For my travel doodles, I carried a sturdy new notebook that would fit in my small bag, a set of 4 Staedtler ink pens, a small set of Faber-Castell PITT artist pens (brush markers), and a small box of Prismacolor Art Stix (woodless colored pencils). Everyday I watched for things to catch my eye, I tried to discover the essence of each place, recording my findings on my blank white pages.

Here are my first impressions of this beautiful country:

June 17, 2014

“In Mainz we walked up quiet streets, passing stacks of bikes, elderly couples holding hands or walking dogs, families with little kids trotting down the cobbled streets. The streets were canopied in beautiful trees with large leaves and smooth bark. Decorative white buildings with red roofs surround our walk. We passed an outdoor market filled with flowers and caught the smell of fresh fish.

At Wartburg Castle, we wound our way up the steep hill past mossy rocks and cheerful daisies to the white-washed walls crossed with thick wooden beams, ancient archways, white doves, cool breezes, and a high view of the German landscape. Sunlight danced on the rolling green fields, the many clusters of villages with their white walls and rust-colored roofs, the dark trees lining and dotting the land, and the huge wind turbines towering over the little towns with their giant, spinning arms.”

"Germany", marker & ink doodle

“Germany”, marker & ink doodle

On Christmas morning, the family is gathered round the tree, sharing thoughtful gifts and making memories. We’re all there, my mom and dad, my three kids and husband, my sister, brother-in-law, my little niece and nephew. We’ve spent time and effort choosing meaningful gifts to share and enjoy.

Some of us may or may not be wearing some wonderfully horrible pajama shirts from the 80s, recently recovered from the attic. Some of us may or may not be wearing spectacularly tacky (and award-winning, I might add) Christmas sweaters. Some of us may or may not have received man-sized superman jammies, and home-made ties.

Let me pause a moment.

Yes, we are very silly. We had a jolly good time. Merry Christmas!

This year we introduced “Granny gifts.” You see, my Granny – whom I reference quiet often as passing down art and so much goodness into my life – she gave some terrible gifts. I mean it. One year, “the year of the beret,” she gave almost every girl a red fleece beret. It was a little weird (somehow I was overlooked..whew!). In her memory, we decided we would sneak in a Granny gift here and there, and you never know when it’s coming.

Switch back to the serious, sugary Christmas experience:

My sister is opening a small watercolor of her son on his tricycle. “Awwwww…” Then she opens a watercolor of her beloved Golden Retriever. “Ohhhh…Eloise!!!” Then a sketch of her baby girl. “Ooooohh, so cute!!!”

Then BAM. The Granny gift. A large, obviously framed, picture-sized gift awaits unwrapping. I can hardly contain myself. Snickering and rocking back and forth in my Christmas sweater, I watch her warily tear the paper.

What’s new pussycat?

It’s an ink and colored pencil portrait of my sister and Tom Jones – that’s right – riding a unicorn with a backdrop of rainbows. Boom.

Full Color

Full Color

I’m sure you have your share of inside jokes, and I’m sure my Facebook have been unable to avoid my sister and my “obsession” with harassing each other with Tom Jones. It all goes back to her move to Savannah, when she met her neighbor, the non-singer Tom Jones.

Upon hearing the name, I belt out in “She’s a Lady” and “What’s New Pussycat,” to her confusion and horror. She had never. heard. of. Tom. Jones. Flabbergasted, we first call mother and let her sing a few tunes, proving I am not the only weirdo around.

Then we proceed to google Tom Jones.


The wealth of questionable pictures readily available on the web sparked a flood of fun. We text and post and share awkward Tom Jones photos with our own captions like there’s no tomorrow. You should try it, it’s fun. And if you’re looking for a treat for the eyes and the ears, just take a peek at this video (give it a minute, you won’t be sorry):

Anyway, back to my story. I mean, how could I not create and give her such a treasure?! Oh, Tommy, what fun and joy you bring to our little lives.

The Sketch


A Few Doodles…

Mary Liz Ingram —  January 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

After a few weeks of intense commission completion, making sure the fur moved correctly and the eyes sparkled appropriately, I was ready for a few doodles.

The first doodle to share with you is a 5×7 watercolor of Jerusalem, a gift from my family to some friends who travelled with my husband to Israel last Spring:

Jerusalem, 5x7 watercolor commission

Jerusalem, 5×7 watercolor commission

My sister was the Christmas recipient of several watercolor and ink doodles to adorn her new built-in bookshelves. When I say “doodle,” I mean I didn’t take time to sketch first, or stick strictly to detail. I give myself more freedom and relaxation as I doodle away with a brush or pen!

Oh, but there is one more special treasure coming…stay tuned for the grand finale of doodles…

Age of the Dinosaurs

Mary Liz Ingram —  September 8, 2013 — 1 Comment

Long ago, in some of my earliest yesterdays, I took a trip. Amidst mouse-eared balloons, sky-painting lasers & flying elephants, we approached the dinosaurs.

My father ushers me into place with the rest of my family. We begin our journey to the Mesozoic Era…the age of the dinosaurs.

Entering in darkness, unsure of what lay ahead, we creep tentatively under huge palm leaves. Something red is glowing up ahead, huge moving shadows warn me of coming doom. Dinosaurs.

These things are huge. They are moving. They are not stationary models, replica skeletons. In my 6 year old mind, with widened terrified eyes, if I’d know the words, I would have been saying “holy s$*#!!” If I wasn’t held in by a lap bar and my dad, I would have been in full on flight mode, running hysterically through the dark in a desperate search for 1987. Horror. Terror. I thought these guys were extinct?! But there I am, trapped in dinosaur land, eyes squeezed shut in hopes I’d survive this slow moving train of death.

All the while, as heart palpitations and sweat consume me, hysteria setting in, my poor Dad is trying in his logical, parental way to force me to look at these monstrous, man-eating beasts, promising they’re not alive.

Um, did you SEE them? They’re chewing on leaves and roaring for pete’s sake!? Not real?! You are kidding me!

Somehow these people don’t understand the situation. We are all going to die. Eaten by dinosaurs at Disney World. Perhaps crushed by a giant foot, chomped by a tyrannosaurus….who knows what horrific end awaits?

Well, so maybe I was mistaken. We made it out alive. Shaken and scarred for life, yes, but alive.

Traveling from the Jurassic period (or Triassic, Cretaceous…who knows?!) to present day, one week removed, you arrive at my 32nd birthday. One night over dinner, the kids asked me if I’d ever seen dinosaur bones. Well, yes, I answered, they are in museums. After a quick google, I announce that there’s a stegosaurus skeleton at a natural history museum an hour away.

So we take a trip. To see dinosaurs. On my birthday.

Call it motherly love, parental sacrifice. I STILL do. not. like. dinosaurs.

But we came, we saw, we photographed, we cheesed, we went. There were more dinos than I expected. Gross.

But the kids were AMAZED. I guess it was cool.

But they give me the creeps. Thanks Dad. 😉

Dinosaur & Hubby, ink & colored pencil

Dinosaur & Hubby, ink & colored pencil

The one and only drawing of a dinosaur I will EVER do…

A few photographs from our adventures at the Anniston Museum of Natural History: