Facebook Icon for AbbyDora Design






I Love My Hat

by abby on January 23, 2015 | Comment

picture book designed by Abby Dening
{Newly published picture book from Amazon}

I’m thrilled to be able to share with you a new picture book that I designed. It’s called I LOVE MY HAT. It’s a happy sing song story about animals sharing their favorite articles of clothing. Paige Keiser’s energetic watercolor and ink illustrations compliment the lyrical text, too. Pick it up and I know you’ll be singing along with them!

This is my favorite spread:
picture book by Douglas Florian

Oh AND Happy National Pie Day! Yep, it’s an official holiday. D and I are celebrating with friends by eating 2 kinds of pie tonight! D has a soft spot for pie. And my new motto is, “There is no stress in the presence of pie”. hehe Feel free to use it too.

What’s your favorite kind of pie?

Big Magic

by abby on January 20, 2015 | Comment

big magic book
{image from Penguin Books}

I had one of those moments last week, when you read, watch, or hear something that resonates within your core and slightly changes your perspective and you know that you won’t ever be the same again. For me moment happened when I watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED TALK called: Your Elusive Genius.

Gilbert is the author of the international best-seller: Eat, Pray Love (remember THAT one?). She gave this talk in 2009 and has been extraordinarily popular (talking millions of views), but I only discovered last Wednesday! Artists and anyone who has felt a moment of sheer genius or struggled with creativity should listen to the talk.

Gilbert explains that society or at least artists themselves should have a shift in thinking that instead of a person “being” a genius they should believe they “have” a genius. It’s easier if Gilbert explains her view of creative genius herself. Here is an expert from an Etsy interview on the topic:

“I’ve always embraced magical thinking when it comes to creativity. I see inspiration as a mysterious external force that comes to us from unknown realms, in order to collaborate with our imaginations. This is how humans saw the artistic process for thousands of years, and it still works for me! I certainly like this fanciful approach to creativity better than the modern notion of the tormented artist, suffering alone in anguish and martyrdom.”

Wow, right. Watch her talk, seriously. I’d prefer to stop the roller coaster of emotions as a working creative, so I took hold of this idea of separating of the moments of amazing creativity from the day to day routine of practicing art. I like the idea that I have a bit more control and that with genuine effort in my projects, inspiration and brilliance will find me. It’s kind of a lovely idea to not beat up yourself if something isn’t quite working on a project. There’s nothing wrong with you. Your genius was on break or just didn’t show up that day, but she’ll be back. It’s not the end of the world. And it’s also a lovely thought to be humble when you to experience a moment of pure creative bliss. I know it sounds a little silly, but we all need a little help in this world! As Winnie-the-Pooh says, “It’s much friendlier with two”.

Expanding off of this TED TALK and a few other talks, Gilbert has written a book on the subject of creativity. The book has an awesome title. It’s called: BIG MAGIC. The cover was revealed last week.

new book by Elizabeth Gilbert

The book will be released on September 22nd of this year. You can pre-order copies now, too through Penguin Books. I will be reading it and hope you will join me. I’ll leave you with one more quote from Gilbert explaining the title:

“People don’t make art because they’ve got all kinds of spare time for it; they make art because they need to make art. They make art because it brings their souls to life in a way that nothing else can match. That’s what I call Big Magic, and it’s well worth the trouble.”


Winter Sale

by abby on January 16, 2015 | Comment

AbbyDora Design's Etsy shop sale

Yeah baby, it’s Sale time! This should help shake away the winter woes. At the AbbyDora Design Etsy Shoppe all order of $5 or more will be 20% OFF! This is HUGE! All you have to do is use the coupon code WINTER20 when checking out.

sale on watercolor prints

It’s a fast and furious sale. All our children’s watercolor prints are on sale. Maybe this time you’ll even add a custom matte to your print!?

children's watercolor for nursery
{Won’t you add a watercolor print to your child’s wall?}

Or perhaps you would like to see our Valentines?

handmade valentines by abby dening
{Pay it forward with our handmade Valentines.}

Oh and if you live locally in or around Rochester, we can skip the shipping fees and schedule a pick up. To do this, simply contact me here, or through an Etsy Convo, or by the “Ask a question button” on each product to request an order placement without the shipping.

There’s so much to see, so take a moment and SHOP NOW!

New Artwork to Brighten Your Day

by abby on January 13, 2015 | Comment

AbbyDora Design watercolor of smiling sun
{Can you feel the warmth?!}

It snowed all day yesterday. It seems I only can see white and black out of my studio window. I have to say, I’m getting rather good at seeing the many shades of gray of the sky. You know what I did to cope? I created colorful sunshine art!

AbbyDora Design watercolor of yawning sun, smiling sun, sleeping sun
{My new personified sun artwork}

Ahhh, doesn’t just looking at them make you feel warmer? The left depicts a yawning morning sun. The middle shows a smiling strong midday sun, and the right shows a sleepy setting sun. I really loved playing around with the facial expressions. I drew my options on tracing paper and brainstormed what I wanted each sun to express.

nursery room sunshine artwork
{The morning sun}

The final art as a digital watercolor print is now available in MY SHOP! The sun artwork comes centered on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of digital watercolor paper. It looks and feels like a watercolor painting.

Oh AND a little heads up:
This Friday I’m have planning on shaking up more of the winter monotony with a JANUARY SALE! All the details to come on Friday’s blog. If you want to preview the art options click here.

How are you coping with the winter weather?

Golden Legacy is Filled With Color

by abby on January 9, 2015 | Comment

children's illustration art show at Memorial art gallery
{I’m all smiles at the Golden Legacy children’s illustration show!}

It’s a rare occurrence here in Rochester when an museum art show relates so directly to what I do and love. The opportunity wasn’t wasted! D and I ended the holiday season by seeing the exhibition: GOLDEN LEGACY, 65 years of Golden Books at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. It’s a show celebrating the artists who illustrated the hugely popular Little Golden Books series, created by Random House in the 1940’s. By mass producing these smaller picture books, Random House made buying children’s books more affordable and gave greater access to good quality stories and illustrations.

illustration from Little Boy with BIg Horn, 1950
{It was thrilling to see the actual pieces of artwork from the books}

D and I went to see the show on a Saturday afternoon and it was refreshing to see the museum humming with activity. Old and young were enjoying the picture book framed artwork! There were many moments of “OH, I remember this!” from myself and others around me. The museum had even set of reading nooks in several spots through the gallery where they placed a cozy love seat and a bookshelf with donated Little Golden Books. This show received over 600 donated books!

Sadly, photos were not allowed inside the exhibition. But let me tell you that the colors of the artwork were very vibrant and made me giddy! It was very interesting to notice that most of the illustrators used gouache and watercolor for their art (just like me).

Although I can’t show you photographs of the hanging art I can show you samples of work from a few of my favorite artists we saw by sharing pages from this book:

Everything I Need to Know I learned from a LIttle Golden BOok

D and I saw illustrations from Tibor Gergely and Mary Blair,

Mary Blair I can Fly
{Tibor Gergely left and Mary Blair right}

JP Miller and Aurelius Battaglia,

{JP Miller left and Battaglia right}

and finally we saw a illustrations by Richard Scarry’s from Chicken Little !

RichardScary { a spread from CHICKEN LITTLE illustrated by Richard Scarry, 1960}

I’m not sure if this show is traveling around (I hope it is), so keep your eyes out for it in your neck of the woods. It’s worth seeing!

Do you have a memory about or favorite Little Golden Book?

Changing Your World

by abby on January 6, 2015 | Comment

I hope you make mistakes
{Mistakes can help you learn. They aren’t all negative.}

Happy 2015 everyone! I hope your new year is off to a great start. I’m beginning my new year with a cleaned and organized studio and I’ve even updated my blog email too (did you notice?). All the newness feels good and I’m liking the fresh start.

To help you find a little more motivation for January, I’m sharing a fantastic quote that a friend shared with me yesterday. It’s from author, Neil Gaiman. His words ring true for me!

Making mistakes is alright and might even be necessary. This idea was a little mind blowing. I really don’t like making mistakes. In fact I’d say I hate to make mistakes (little or big). But the truth is that without taking some risks and stepping out of my comfort zone, life would be pretty boring and I wouldn’t grow and that’s not what I want either. I’m going to embrace a little risk taking this year.

Many people take on words for the year to help guide and focus their energies. My word of the year is COURAGE .I have a lot of BIG goals for 2015 and a lot of new steps to make. I might be making some mistakes along the way and that’s quite alright because I’ll also be LEARNING, GROWING, and CHANGING MY WORLD! (I just need to keep repeating this sentence!) I hope you will pass this quote on to other folks and spread the inspiration.

If you were to choose a word for your year what would it be? (Click on the comment button below and let me know!)