Archive | Darling Original Artwork

7 Ways to Celebrate a Platonic Valentines Day

Platonic Valentines Day

I’d love to share some easy last minute ideas on how to celebrate a Platonic Valentines Day!

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. I’m as shocked as anyone to realize this, especially since I haven’t had a serious romantic relationship in years. But February 14th isn’t just a day for traditional lovers. It is also the day I came out of the closet as queer. It is the day I chose to stand up and show the world who I am. It is a day about self acceptance.

It is a day on which I commemorate loving myself.

After my divorce I started a tradition. Each year for Valentines day, I ask a single friend of mine to be my Platonic Valentine. Every time I do, it creates so much joy and surprise that I can’t help but wonder why more people don’t do this. (more…)

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Fight Food Deserts with Community Gardening

“Gardening is fun!” When I talked with David Thompson, founder of Food is Free Washington, that’s why he said he started doing it. It was so much fun, in fact, that he grew too much produce in his 2,000 sf garden to use it all himself, so he started giving it away. He went on, “The thing that became more fun than growing my own food was sharing it. It’s the joy of giving stuff away.” That is the heart of the Food is Free movement: building community by sharing food independence.

Read more about the real life gardener who inspired Chapter 3 of Calico Jill and the Search for Cheese!


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Calico Jill Discovers a Community Garden

Community Garden Art

Calico Jill and the Search for Cheese – Chapter 3

If you’ve been following along with Calico Jill’s adventures, you will know that she spent many months at sea before making port in a city, in search of cheese. She searched. And she searched. And at this juncture of her adventure, she happens upon Dana the chipmunk, a little gardener who has produced so much food on his little plot of land that he wants to share it with others. (more…)

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7 Ways To Support Local Small Businesses

You don’t appreciate something until you’ve lost it. That’s what people say, anyways. I remember taking Phoebe to downtown Tacoma for her fourth birthday almost a decade ago. We went to the Hello Cupcake shop; she got a ballerina topper, then we sat on bright pastel furniture and watched through the big glass window as people walked by on Pacific Avenue.

A few months ago, Hello Cupcake permanently closed their doors. They aren’t the only business to do so. The Harmon Bar and Grill is gone, as is the University Bookstore, and those are just a handful of examples from the two block strip of the Tacoma downtown. Times are hard.

Now is when it really makes a difference where we invest our money. Spending with intention and thoughtfulness is what turns us from consumers into a community. So here are some thoughts on how you can show your appreciation for small businesses and mom-and-pop shops while they are still here: (more…)

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Chapter 2 of Calico Jill and the Search For Cheese is HERE!

Meet Rita Racoon

In Chapter 2, Calico Jill meets a new character, Rita Racoon! Rita owns a local shop where she recycles and reuses things other people would have thrown away. She has a bit of a cantankerous attitude, but she is fond of peppy little Calico Jill nonetheless, and helps her on her treasure hunt.

Here are a few more Facts About Rita Racoon: (more…)

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Introducing: Calico Jill and the Search For Cheese

I have a new project to share with you: Calico Jill and the Search For Cheese! It is a story that I am writing and illustrating, filled with original characters and inspired by the Puget Sound region. It tells the adventures of a little mouse pirate who explores an urban downtown in search of golden treasure, and that “treasure” is cheese! It is a storybook about coming together in community and building a life together, a folk tale in a contemporary setting. I invite you to follow along Calico Jill’s travels with me! (more…)

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The Historical Homo: Vintage Queer Photography

Every year I paint a new series of Affectionate Animal couples for Valentimes Day, and every year I base this series off vintage photos of homosexual and lesbian same-sex couples. It’s important to remember that “being gay” isn’t a fad or a phase… queer folk are a part of history. If my art can celebrate LGBT history in some small way, if my art can help LGBT+ people see that they have a lasting and meaningful place in this world, then I will have accomplished everything I hoped for. (more…)

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The Invisible Self

A few months ago, I invited people to tell me about their invisible selves, and I said I would paint them.

The concept of an “invisible self” comes from The OA by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij. It is not the self that we present to the world, but our inner self, our true being, the core of who we are underneath all our masks and barriers and defenses. It’s the “you” that stays with you when you close your eyes, the part of you that aches and dreams, the part of you that no one can ever take away from you. (more…)

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10 New Affectionate Animal Couples

Every February I add a new batch of portraits to my collection of Affectionate Animal couples. When I started this project, I felt there wasn’t enough representation of LGBT+ couples. I hoped my art would illustrate the whimsical and timeless aspects of queer connections. I pour so much of myself into these critters, and it warms my heart to see how many people from all walks of life see themselves or their loved ones in these portraits, as well. Love connects and unifies us. (more…)

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