At the risk of sending people running for the hills by talking about Mom again…I’m talking about Mom again. 🙂 I mean, how many people can say they celebrated their 60th birthday with their mama after not having done so in over 45 years!? (Not because we didn’t want to, but spring has never been a time we’ve gathered. It’s always Thanksviging to Christmas.)

First, in non-vintage, Mom had sent my birthday package weeks ago. She’s on top of it! I set it on the counter, and when packing for the emergency trip, I entirely spaced it, even though I had some consciousness that my birthday was going to fall in the middle of the trip. On the day, I had dinner with my sisters at a nice Italian restaurant, then we traipsed to the hospital for cake with Mom; though we couldn’t figure out if candles would be okay since Mom had an oxygen tank and we weren’t sure if we’d blow anything up! So we pretended.

Mom did tell me what was IN the package she had sent, and how she’d looked for a  yellow one, even orange, but the best she could do was maroon. And, well, that will show less dirt so I’m great with it! I might add my yellow flower pin to it.

But the best part of my 60th? That was looking over at Mom, in her hospital bed with a huge grin on her face, singing to me. She was hurting, she had tubes all over the place, uncomfortably in a hospital bed – but celebrating with me for the first time since I was a kid. That’ll stay with me for all the rest of my birthdays.


Tutorial: Vintage art supplies from Mom (and cards from YOU!)

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Pencil Sharpening

While this video was about sharpening pastel pencils, the same applies to colored pencils. There are lots of ways to sharpen, lots of ways to break the pencil pigment, and it’s all a matter of the time and effort you want to put into it.

I have a variety of sharpeners, and this isn’t even all – but here’s how I use most of my sharpeners:

General’s All-Art Sharpener – I picked it up recently, and it works pretty great aside from pencils with thick barrels.

Quietsharp Pencil Sharpener– Electric, so it’s good for a quick sharpening.

Afmat Long Point Pencil Sharpener  – a good long point is my preference since it lasts longer – not possible for pastels, they’re too soft.

Dahle Sharpener  – Standard 2-hole options (longer and shorter points). Blades on any brands of these will wear out so get new ones often.

Dahle Chubby Pencil Sharpener  – Anything called chubby so boldly gets my vote. Only one sized hole though.

Xacto Sur Grip Utility Knife  – for old-school sharpening! Get a new blade, you won’t regret the sharpness.

Pastel vs Colored pencils

Soft pastel moves more easily than colored pencil – so be prepared for that. Not great for cards (though a shaker card with no shaker bits can really protect the pastel) and if using in a sketchbook I lightly tack a sheet of glassine on top to keep pastel from moving around. Framed pastel pieces should have the mat lifted above the surface of the paper using shims – that way if any pigment lets go and drops, it falls behind the mat and won’t dirty it.

Colored pencils are harder, and will stay in place better, though can also move. Thus why I love using it in powdered form where it behaves more like pastel. Lighter pressure keeps the pigment floating on the top of the paper, so it can move, but harder pressure or wet blending techniques make the pigment stick to the paper and not move around.

Both can be “fixed” (sprayed) but few fixes that I like are immovable. Those kind can change the color of your art, they might yellow, or become weirdly shiny. I use Delacroix Fixatif by Sennelier.

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Mom’s advice

When talking with Mom for the last two weeks, I asked her so many questions! Knowing this would likely be the last time I could sit and just talk with her, I soaked up all I could from her. A recent newsletter contained a number of my learnings, and hopefully in coming months I’ll share more of her ideas as I create art using them. 

The biggest takeaway that has me stumped is what she thought I do best: I wanted to know if it was watercolor, marker, pencil, etc. But what she wanted to know I would pursue: portraits. And secondly animals. “Not so much landscapes. You do people so well.” Now frankly, she doesn’t see all of what I do; she no longer watches YT or visits my blog. She only sees when I post art on my personal Facebook page, and since I don’t go post things there very often, it’s most of the time when I do a portrait of someone who died! What I plan to do more of is to post more of my regular art on my personal page, not just the biz page……so that my friends and family see more of the breadth of my work. Plus….I’ll try more portraits, because Mom said, and I listen to Mom. But she also said animals, and I’m hanging onto that tidbit. (And will continue my randomness too!)

BTW this little tangerine was begun before I left for the trip is still not finished, but hopefully will be soon. 

Thank you all

I am deeply grateful for all the lovely comments and emails during this last couple weeks! So many of you have told me your own stories of loss of parents, some who were present for it, others who regretted not being able to be. It means so much to hear from you and know I’m not alone; it’s simply my turn.

Mom is still in hospice as I’m typing this, and we don’t know if it’ll be days or weeks. She still wants to get herself down to bingo, and to art group, and join her bff for scrabble or the whole gang for bridge. I worry over so much activity that could include falls – and yet I celebrate her passion to keep up with the things she loves! I can only hope to be as energetic as she’s been in her elder years.


  1. Ina Nelson

    Thinking of you often on your journey with your Mom. It sounds like you both have a love of art. Sending hugs.

  2. Jan Castle

    So pleased you had such a Long visit with your MOM and able to celebrate your birthday with her….looking forward to see your people and animal art! Blessings for you and your Mom.
    Paper Hugs,

  3. Marilyn Shannon

    Sandy, would love to see some pastel pencil videos.


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