everyday things

beauty reserves

forsythia, drawing, penelope dullaghan In our house we talk a lot about stopping and taking a deep breath in whenever we experience a good moment or come across unexpected beauty. Literally dwelling on that positive thought for just a bit longer than we normally would. We also talk about letting the negative moments slide by without holding onto them longer than we need to.

My 8 year old has been struggling with some negative thinking lately and talking about this seems to be helpful for her. For me too. It reminds me to build up beauty reserves in my mind so those paths are the ones I travel more naturally in my thinking. Drawing is a good way to do this. I noticed my forsythia in bloom this morning- bright yellow as the sun. Spending 5 minutes studying it with drawing before I start work made me appreciate it all the more.

I hope you all have a happy Friday and notice moments of beauty in your day too.

Squam Art Workshops - interview

bee buzzing animation - illustration - penelope dullaghan Just popping in to tell you that an interview I did recently with Elizabeth from Squam Art Workshops is now live on their website. The podcast is called "Morning on the Dock" and it's just a breezy chat about how I started off working in advertising, my leap to freelance illustration and a bit of my philosophy and thoughts about it all. Oh, and Elizabeth learns how to pronounce my last name once and for all. (hee!) I hope you'll enjoy!

Find it here.

river walk

I was feeling really blue yesterday... just down and depleted. So this morning I took a long, meandering walk by the river. It's been a few days without my daily walks due to my current heavy workload, and I've missed them. It really is medicine. Walking slowly. Listening to the birds sing - blissful in their world. Hearing the water move over rocks unseen. Welcoming the warm sun on my face. Feeling the cold around my fingers. Climbing over fallen trees. Stopping and breathing as deeply as I could. Collecting tiny amazing things.

I am well again.

Printable Postcards - make your voice heard!

love postcards, penelope dullaghan, free printable - write your senators, write washington In this crazy and hateful time, it's so important to make our voices heard. Write your Senators. Write Washington. Tell them what you believe in, and tell them to support THE PEOPLE, not their private interests.

This is the first action of the Women's March. For help in finding addresses to send to, click here and look for Step 3. For inspiration on what to write about, and to have a script to help you know what to say exactly, click here.

I've designed postcards for you to print out and use to make it easier! Print on cardstock for the best result - it will hold up in the mail. Cut them out with scissors and write your message and the address on the back. Put a stamp on it, pop it in the mail and make your views known! You can do this every day... it only takes a few minutes.

Download the PDF here.

Together we are stronger!

Brightly - Kids Book Club

Brightly, Penguin Random House, kids book club illustration by penelope dullaghan Hi guys! I need to focus on something positive this morning so I don't fall into deep, deep gloom. Maybe you feel the same? With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a site I'm doing artwork for that is all about good cheer. Brightly is a new resource to help moms and dads grow lifelong readers.

This site is really wonderful - I'm on it all the time for inspiration! They give book recommendations for readers of all levels, offer suggestions on various topics (everything from celebrating diversity to going to the dentist for the first time, etc), and also have fun printable activities to help engage kids in reading.

Here's the first piece I did for them in full - to help promote their book club for kids.

I'm super honored to be working with them! And hope you'll check them out for yourself.


Seedling Yoga

Logo design - seedling yoga - illustrated by penelope dullaghan Logos are sometimes the trickiest bit of business... so much relying on it, what with everything the client wants to convey distilled down into a tiny mark. A simple image that will hold up their brand into the future and be their visual cornerstone henceforth. (No pressure!) But I love a good challenge, so when Seedling Yoga asked me to dream up their logo based on their vision of bringing heart-centered yoga to kids in their community, my answer was a resounding yes. This is the final mark, and I'm happy to say that my client loved it with the entirety of her big heart!

The BFG - audio book

theBFG, illustration by penelope dullaghan

Over winter break, Colin, Veda and I were on the road a bunch visiting family and friends. Before we left I borrowed the audio book of the BFG, narrated by David Walliams, from the library. And OH MY... it's truly a masterpiece. I really cannot say enough about the amazing voicework by Walliams. I had to pause the recording several times to marvel at it! And, of course, Roald Dahl's story can't be beat. I highly recommend checking it out if you have kiddos - and even if you don't... it's a treat. Here's the amazon link, and I know it's on Audible, but also check your local library.

(Illustration by me, just because I was so inspired by it!)

A Letter to My Son About the 'Dark Ages - for Parents Magazine

parents magazine - illustration by penelope dullaghan This is my illustration that accompanies an essay entitled: "A Letter to My Son About the 'Dark Ages'” in this month’s issue of Parents Magazine.

Here’s a snippet: "I came of age in an era when my mother would allow me to walk to school on my own, and I know you are thinking, “What? All by yourself with no supervision?” but yes. That’s how it was. I would trek for half a mile across the vast supercontinent of Pangaea, where we lived, hoping I wouldn’t be attacked by any sabertoothed cats or stumble into a pond of quicksand, which television assured me was a very real danger.”

The whole essay is a stitch, and you can read it here.

Thanks to AD Maria Stegner for the assignment!

part 2 - 2017

2017 gum illustration animation by penelope dullaghan

Life in 2016 felt particularly fragile and unpredictable and frightening. Some people I hold dear struggled greatly, as did so many humans I don’t know personally. But I have hope for the new year. Mostly it’s hope that we have the ability to act with intention and compassion. That we can pause and choose kindness and gratitude over being right or being in control. Hope that we can write our own stories.

Thank you for being with me here in 2016, and for your continued support in 2017! Sending each of you wishes for a beautiful new year.


PinCause - a pin celebrating love for the women's march

PinCause - illustration love - penelope dullaghan Friends, I am SO excited to tell you about my collaboration with PinCause! In support of the Women's March on Washington coming up on January 21st, we created a special pin to publicly stand for Women's Rights in a positive way. The image is the ASL symbol for love painted in lots of colors, representing unity, compassion, and hope that can bring together women, and ALL people, all over the country.

The pins are $5 each, and with every purchase $1 goes to Planned Parenthood and $1 to the ACLU. After you get one, take a selfie and use tag #PincauseLOVE to join us!


Please share to help spread the word!

PinCause - illustration love - penelope dullaghan

PinCause - illustration love - penelope dullaghan

Squam Art Workshops - Fall 2017

squam art workshop - pattern play linocut, penelope dullaghan I am so very pleased to announce that I will be teaching at Squam Art Workshops in September of 2017. I'll be teaching a printmaking class created to introduce you to hand-made surface design. We’ll be exploring the process of making our own linoleum block prints. I hope some of you will be able to join me in beautiful New Hampshire!

Learn more about the class here: http://www.squamartworkshops.com/session/f2017pp/


block printed gift tags - printable download for you!

My favorite way to wrap presents is with handmade wrapping paper. I love the look of handmade, simple gifts. The easiest (and most inexpensive) way I've found to make my own paper is to go to Lowes or any hardware store and buy a large roll of brown or green kraft paper, and then use a white colored pencil or china marker to draw on it - snowflakes, wavy lines or anything really. You can also use a pencil eraser dipped in white ink to make little polka dots (see photo below). Then I tie up the packages with striped bakers string or a thick colorful yarn.

For gift tags this year, I used linocut stamps I made, dipped in silky black ink. I love how simple and graphic they came out. And I thought you might like them too. So I'm offering them as a free download for you to print. They look best on card stock - bright white or any color that matches your wrapping.

I hope you'll like them!

xo, penelope

gift tags - free printable from illustrator Penelope Dullaghan

gift tags - free printable from illustrator Penelope Dullaghan

Click on the tags image below to open it in a new window and save it (or drag and drop) to your desktop:

block print gift tags - free printable from illustrator Penelope Dullaghan


Young Activists – portrait of Malala Yousafzai

a children's book project on young education activists from around the world, portraits, illustration by penelope dullaghan Last portrait of the young activist illustration series - Malala Yousafzai. She’s probably the most well-known of the activists I drew. Malala is recognized mainly for women and children’s rights advocacy for education in her native Pakistan, where the local Taliban had banned girls from attending school.

Despite violence, terrorism and threats, Malala was outspoken about education rights for girls: "How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?"

On the afternoon of October 9th 2012, Malala boarded her school bus. A Taliban gunman also boarded the bus, shouting "Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all”. Upon seeing her, he pointed a pistol at her and fired three shots. One bullet hit the left side of Malala’s forehead, travelled under her skin through the length of her face, and went into her shoulder.

The assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Malala.

In 2014, Malala was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. At the tender age of 17, Malala became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

Malala continues her work today calling on world leaders to invest in "books, not bullets".

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Thank you for reading this series. I hope the stories of these young activists have inspired you, perhaps got you thinking, and maybe even encouraged you to be an activist in your own small community. Please feel free to share. Thanks again, friends!

Young Activists – portrait of Iqbal Masih

a children's book project on young education activists from around the world, portraits, illustration by penelope dullaghan For day 3 of these young activists illustrations, meet Iqbal Masih. He was a small Pakistani boy, who, at age 4, was sold into bondage by his family. Iqbal's family had borrowed 600 rupees (less than $6.00) from a local employer who owned a carpet weaving factory. In return, their son was required to work as a carpet weaver until the debt was paid off. Every day, Iqbal would rise before dawn and go to the factory, where he and the other children were tightly bound with chains to prevent escape. He would work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with only a 30-minute break, paid 3 cents a day toward the loan.

At the age of 10, Iqbal escaped his slavery, but was soon caught by police brought back to the factory, who said they would tie him upside down if he tried to escape again. But Iqbal escaped a second time and he attended the Bonded Labour Liberation Front School for former child slaves and quickly completed a four-year education in only two years.

Iqbal helped over 3,000 Pakistani children that were in bonded labor to escape to freedom. He made speeches about child labour throughout the world, encouraging others to join the fight to eradicate child slavery.

Iqbal was fatally shot in Pakistan in April of 1995. He was 12 years old at the time. It’s unknown if he was murdered murdered because of his influence over bonded labor. His funeral was attended by approximately 800 mourners. “The Little Hero: One Boy's Fight for Freedom” tells the story of his legacy.

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Thank you for reading these rather long post and for your encouragement in sharing these young activist’s stories. The final portrait and post in this series will be coming tomorrow.

Young Activists – portrait of William Kamkwamba

a children's book project on young education activists from around the world, portraits, illustration by penelope dullaghan Thank you for all the kind comments on yesterday’s young activist portrait! For Day 2, this portrait is of William Kamkwamba. William was born in a family of relative poverty and relied primarily on farming to survive. A crippling famine forced William to drop out of school, and he was not able to return to school because his family was unable to afford the tuition fee. In a desperate attempt to retain his education, William began to frequently visit the school library. It was there that he discovered the book “Using Energy” in which he found rough plans on how to create a makeshift wind turbine.

When he was just 14, he built an electricity-producing windmill from spare parts and scrap, modifying them to fit his needs. The windmill he built powers four lights and two radios in his family home.

His dream was to build a larger windmill to help with irrigation for his entire village, and to go back to school. And in 2014, Kamkwamba received his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire where he was a student and elected to the Sphinx Senior Honor Society. He is now working with WiderNet to develop appropriate technology curriculum that will allow people to bridge the gap between "knowing" and "doing".

Find out more about William at: williamkamkwamba.com

Young Activists - portrait of Mazoun Almellehan

a children's book project on young education activists from around the world, portraits, illustration by penelope dullaghan In the next 3 days I’d like to show you some illustrations I did this past year for a children's book project about inspiring young activists from around the world. Sadly, the project was unfinished, but it was to feature the stories of the activists along with their portraits and a spot illustration. I'm bummed the project didn't come to fruition, but I think the work is worth sharing. I hope you’ll be inspired by it!

This first portrait is of Mazoun Almellehan. She is a Syrian refugee who worked hard to make sure girls in Jordan's refugee camps got an education. For two years she went going door to door in the camps, waging a one-girl campaign to convince parents to keep their daughters in school instead of pressuring them into wedlock.

"Education is very important because it's the shield we can use to protect ourselves in life. It's our method to solve our problems," she says. "If we don't have education, we can't defend ourselves."

More to come tomorrow…