Illustrations by Nancy C. Sampson

Posts from the ‘family’ category


A gorgeous sunset from my trip with Kelly to the Chesapeake Bay area in the Fall.

The sun is setting on another year and I have been thinking about goals, both old and new. It’s important for me to remember to celebrate accomplishments first, before moving too far into the goal-setting stage. I found myself ignoring that last week, my thoughts focusing only on what I’d like to achieve in 2015. Taking a moment to compose this post is bringing me back to more positive reflection.

For 2014 I am proud to have welcomed a new rescue cat into my home, The Amazing Mongo! He has a very loving and entertaining personality. I am also glad to have deepened some new friendships and renewed some older ones. I brought my artwork to three craft shows and heard great responses from new fans. I conceived of, produced, packaged, and began selling a set of temporary tattoos in my Etsy shop: “Foodietoos.” My parents and I went on trip to visit beautiful Tuscany and Rome (the latter has a very different beauty compared to the Italian countryside) in the spring, and then visited my brother in Colorado for a week in the summer. (Greg and I spotted a bull moose in the forest one morning!) Friends and cousins came to visit me throughout the year and we enjoyed what the city has to offer. I have been keeping sharp at my freelance day job in magazine production and helped the publication complete some important articles. I’m so thankful to be part of the process each month. I made sure my friends kept laughing. I discovered a new genre that I’d like to explore with my drawings … which leads me to 2015.


Mom, Dad, and I at lunch in Sienna, Italy in April.

Goals and resolutions are definitely important but I never can actually accomplish everything I set intentions for at the beginning of each year, unless they are very low goals! (Eat fruit. Don’t wait 4 weeks to do laundry.) I have learned to not let myself become discouraged if the way things turn out isn’t quite the way I expected or would have liked them to be. It is too easy for me to get into a negative mind space and start thinking about what I “didn’t work hard enough” at, or “didn’t do enough” of, which tends to dissuade me from moving forward.

Looking back at what I did in 2014 reminds me that I am living a full life and I have to allow myself to be fluid within it … if I only stuck to my goals I might have missed out on some surprises and detours that enriched my year.

In light of that, I’m not going to post any of my specific goals here (Are you surprised? I am, too.) but I will share my general mantra for the New Year: Keep exploring, stay positive, reach out and up. (I stole that last one from yoga class!)

What about you, do you prefer very specific goals or more general ones? Why?

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Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the guest room that I slept in at my parents’ house had several artworks that I created while I was growing up. Our family has moved many times over the years and it is interesting how looking at these images stirs up memories from the times that I was working on them. It’s good to know that my skills have improved since, but I feel confident enough to share these, and a little bit about them….

I don’t think you can consider any teenage artist’s portfolio complete unless they include at least one pointilized piece. This portrait of Billy Joel, whose music I was obsessed with, was a very long-term project for my junior year of high school in West Milford, New Jersey. I remember carrying this (18″ x 24″?) rolled sheet of Bristol board along with my Rapidograph pens in various sizes around for weeks… months… so that I could work on it in any spare time that I had. My fellow students were doing the same. What I want to ask our art teacher, Cormac, is Why did it have to be so hugeif we were creating it out of several million tiny dots of ink?! I am glad I chose a subject that I was already obsessed  with, otherwise I’m not sure I would have hadthe motivation to complete it.
By earning a D in Trigonometry in the first half of my senior year I convincedeveryone that I didn’t deserve to be in math class any more. For the remaining semesters of that year I used a class period to work on two acrylic paintings of a goldfish, basedon a magazine photo for reference. This one is the smaller of the two, the other is much larger and displays the entire fish floating in emerald green water. There was anart class going on in  the room where I was painting and I became known around school as “The Girl Who Is Painting a Giant Goldfish!”
We’re jumping further back in time with this one, I believe it is my first acrylic painting from when I was about 7 years old! My parents signed me up for an art workshop at some kind of community culture center in Corning, New York, close to the town where we lived; Painted Post. I definitely remember painting this and a little bit about how the teacher inspired this work. She had a large vase of dried flowers in the center of the table, and all of the flowers were brown or other dull colors. The class was instructed to use our imaginations as far as the color and make them look better than they did in real life.
  I like seeing this illustration next to the image above because the colors are so similar! I was inspired to create these colorful lizards after a trip to the Metropolitan Museum in  New York during my junior year of college at Syracuse University. I remember being amazed by the inside of a canoe from New Guinea that was decorated with patterned lizards at the museum and it led me to create this.
I hope you enjoyed this little artistic trip down memory lane with me. Maybe when you are visiting relatives or friends during the holidays you’ll notice art or artifacts of your own that will bring up memories, too.