Cover Reveal/THE BRANCH THAT I AM

It’s really happening! I am so excited to announce the final cover design for my upcoming chapbook.

Cover art by Mary Grace van der Kroef.
Original watercolor design on watercolor paper.

The Editing process has stretched me. There were tears, and procrastination and frustration. But I am so thankful for the process. I have learned so much from working with an editor, and I am proud of what we have accomplished for my first release.

I don’t have a set release date yet as final formatting needs to take place, but look for it before a pre-sale date announced in the next few weeks, with a release date in early November. (That is the goal.)

Copyright ©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef
All rights reserved
Paperback cover design, and back matter

You can expect this collection of 25 poems to be available in paperback and ebook versions.

Thank you for dropping in to celebrate with me!

Mary Grace van der Kroef


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My Search for Words

Is there a word that holds deep meaning for you?

I must confess, I have been struggling. The state of the world and the fear I feel flowing in the wind are oppressing my spirit. I keep looking for words of hope to meditate on, just single words I let my mind mull over.

Joy

Goodness

Hope

These poems were all born from that endeavor, but I find myself running low on ideas. If you have a word that sparks hope, or peace within you, would you share it with us in the comments?

I will do my best to write a short poem or reflection on each word you share with me.

Or maybe you have a word that weighs on your mind. Maybe it’s not oppressive, but you feel it’s important. Share it please.

I have been working on a small side project called Words of Weight. Once I have penned enough poems to fill a small chapbook, I plan to share it with you all for free. Your words are paramount to my finishing.

Mary Grace van der Kroef


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The Worth of Early Works

We store away our children’s scrap paper drawings as if they were masterpieces. Maybe not all of them, but the few that hold sentimental meaning. But with our own art, whether written word, the stroke of a paintbrush, or a photograph of a first cake decorating session, we push them to the back cupboard, or even throw them away.

Making room for a new and better isn’t wrong, but maybe we should hang on to one or two of those learning pieces. Treasuring them like we do the scribbles and hand paintings of childhood.

Why?

Undoubtedly your first works hold mistakes, just as mine do. So why keep any of them? Why show any of them to anyone?

They are beautiful examples of growth.

How often do you get discouraged in your creative life, and need a reminder of just how far you have come? How many times do you need help to keep your feet on the ground? Or encouragement to not give up? Keeping, and even displaying the art made while in the first stages of learning can be these powerful reminders.

Above is a picture of my first 4 foot by 2 foot painting. I wanted to stretch myself and see how different it was to paint a larger piece. The water was FAR from what I was going for…

So when I finished, what did I do with it? I hung it in on my kitchen wall, and every time I looked up at it, I thought about what I would do differently next time. (Now it’s hanging in my sister’s cabin because she is crazy and loves it.) I learned so much from just looking at it every day for over a year.

Everyone was once a beginner. No one has yet ‘arrived’ at perfection. So cherish those sloppy first strokes and overused words. Let them shine a light on your future creative path.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef


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One Year Old!

Today is the day! Mary Grace Writing is officially ONE YEAR OLD!

I am a muddle of disbelief, pride, exhaustion, and determination.

Like for an infant just learning how to walk, and it’s pretty exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. Slowly and surly I am learning how to navigate the literary world. I never expect to be the next ‘great up-and-coming thing’, and that is okay. But I am proving to myself I can do this thing called writing and publishing.

Consistency had been key for me. Three posts a week except for a health brake, has really added up.

The Body Mind and Soul and Empty Footsteps have been my most read posts. over the last 12 months.

He Keeps Me and Empty Footsteps has been my two most listened to recordings.

I think my favorite part of blogging is seeing how far of a reach my writing has had. People from over 70 different countries have found my words through various methods. Watching for new flags to pop up on my views chart is so much fun. I have no way of knowing how any of my work has been received by the many cultures these flags represent, but I hope I brought some positivity in their worlds.

Thank you to all of you, my followers. Year one has just been baby steps, and I have a long way to go before reaching my goals, but I see that as a good thing.

Year Two, what’s next?

Hopefully, a book cover reveal and a chapbook launch happening sooner than later, adding to my publication’s portfolio, and getting to work on my long thought through full-length fiction projects. I have a lot of words to move. I have an amazing God to help me move them.

Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Morning Beach/Art Highlight

Have you ever walked a beach in the early morning, and seen the pink in a sunrise shimmering off the water? Its quiet moments like that I live for.

When I can’t find them in my own life, I like to paint them into being. Morning Beach is an example of such a moment. I was looking for quiet in the middle of a house gone mad, and here I found it.

Morning Beach is also another example of my early works. It is one of the first pieces of other artists in my social group. It was such a boost to hear their encouraging words. As I was and still am growing into my art.

Originaly painted on canvase papper in acrylic paint.

Prints and other products are available at my Redbubble Shop.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Prairie Sunset/Art Highlight

I have never been afraid to show my artwork in all its imperfections. Prairie Sunset is another of my early works inspired by a photograph taken by my friend Jason Shepard. I love being able to look back and see the growth that has happened in my work. I am not ashamed of where I have come from. We are all beginners once.

The absence of fear in showing what I can do in the place and time I currently stand has given people the chance to share in the joy of my art. I love to share it. I love to show you what can be done if just start, try, and keep going.

Originally painted on canvas paper in acrylic paint.

Prairie Sunset prints and other products are available at my Redbubble Shop.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Butterfly/Art Highlight

Today I would like to highlight another work.

I painted this butterfly as a practice piece for a larger painting, for my Mother. One of her favorite things is butterflies. It was a huge test of my abilities as my first painting at home, and not in an art class with an instructor. The original is quite small, and was how I learned my natural ability to paint bugs. I find joy in the tinny details.

I chose to make this early work available at my Redbubble Art Shop for sentimental reasons. My family enjoys access to artwork that is meant for them, and being able to choose what products to have it printed on.

Butterfly, originally painted on canvas paper, with acrylic paints.

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Grandpa’s Bee/Art Highlight

Today I would like to share with you all an early painting of mine.

Grandpa’s Bee was painted in memory of my grandfather, John Miller. He was a carpenter, farmer, and beekeeper.

I decided to upload this little guy at the request of some of my family members. I love how I am able to share him with all of them, though my art shop.

Flowers continue to be something I struggle with in my paintings, as as this is an earlier piece, it’s not my best. But that is okay. I am not about perfection, especially when there is meaning behind a work of art.

Grandpa’s Bee, the original, was painted on canvas paper, in acrylic paint.

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Black Capped Chickadee/Art Highlight

Black Capped Chickadee by: Mary Grace van der Kroef.
Original painting is acrylic on 12in stretched round canvas.

This week I have a new design available at my Redbubble Shop! I am really proud of this one. I had been eyeing up some round canvas paintings an acquaintance of mine was creating, and decided to ask for some at Christmas this last year. My husband obliged me, and this is the first put to good use.

I have proven to myself that birds are something I am gifted in painting, but flowers are different. I usually struggle with getting the depth I desire, or the delicate details my mind is picturing. This is an example of one of my best attempts. I am proud of it, so am excited to make it available for other people to enjoy.

Black Capped Chickadee is available on over 70 different products though the Redbubble Shop.

Cherishing People While Creating

It’s thrilling, letting yourself get swept away in the moment of creation… Then someone interrupts you. A child tugs on your sleeve, or the phone rings. A spouse calls from down the hall, “Are you done yet?”

Do you shake off that tug on your arm, mute the phone, and ignore the calling? Can you? Should you?

Creativity is precious, we should cultivate and protect it. Having a space for this is ideal, having a time when distractions and interruptions are at a minimum is important. But there are people in our lives that can’t, and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s a balancing act.

The people in our lives are important. They support our creativity in ways we often take for granted. We shouldn’t ignore them. Not only shouldn’t we ignore them, but they are a pivotal part of our creation process.

In many cases they are directly, or indirectly, our inspiration. We get many of our ideas from watching them, talking with them, living with them, and all the ups and downs that go with that.

As a mother and wife, I sacrifice my creative life to care for and nurture my family. I have obligations, expectations and jobs I can NOT ignore. Families need attention, children need nurturing. But is it ever okay to say, “No, not right now, I need this time?”

Yes. Sometimes it’s healthy, and even important, to set boundaries around our creative endeavors. They are a part of us. When humans walk in their creative abilities, positivity flows out into the world. Finding the right place and time for that pulling away is the hard part, and the key to a thriving creative life amid people.

When I first became a mother, my kids became my entire world. But I let go of something that I never should have lost. My creativity. I stopped drawing, except doodles for the kids to color. I stopped learning and pushing myself artistically. I even stop writing, only picking it up once or twice a year when a fleeting spark touched my life. Because I let this part of me go, my soul suffered.

I didn’t know how to balance my creativity around the people important to me. But now that I have found my creative spark again, it’s a learning process. Like learning to juggle. But it’s one of the most important lessons of my life.

Do not lessen your light in this world by letting God given trats or abilities die. Instead, seek to learn how to incorporate new people, places, and responsibilities into your creativity.

Who are the people in your daily life that inspire you? Who are the ones that test you? Who adds flavor to your hours?

Cherish them, friends, family, and prickly people alike. I look forward to seeing them represented in your creative works.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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