Behind the scenes painting process

So as many people know – especially if you are following along my Facebook timeline and maybe even my twitter feed, I’ve been using my art and design to help raise funds for my missions trip in just a few short weeks.

I found out today that my campaign is trending. (Yay) But trending won’t get me to Haiti 🇭🇹 Donations will. As an incentive to encourage people to give more, if one donates $100 or more I’ll create a custom piece for them.

Today I’ll show you behind the scenes of painting number three. I can’t show you the completed painting of number two because well, it’s been shipped out and the recipient hasn’t gotten it just yet. I don’t want any spoilers and I have no clue if she reads my blog.

Where it Starts

After someone donates I follow up with them to see what they’d like me to create.

Each canvas is 18 by 24 inches long. This canvas is being prepped for a hand lettered quote. I use various brands of paint but DickBlick has really good acrylic paints. The colors are vibrant and they dry with a semi-gloss finish.

Painted canvas

Typically I use larger paint brushes to cover large canvas but since this is a painting with such detail and precision I’ll be using these fine brushes I purchased on Amazon. If I want an easy cleanup, I use this wax like sheets for a pallet. I can’t remember the brand and the cover has been torn off. I also have different containers to put my paints and mix in but since the colors on this next piece will be limited I’ll stick the the above paper like a pallet.

I’ll sketch out ideations for the hand lettering piece and work on the composition for the best way the quote can be read with impact.

(No previews because the canvas is still wet and I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for my donors).

After finding the right layout and sketch I will use tracing paper and carbon paper to get the image to the canvas. Since this canvas is black I’ll be scanning my sketch into the camera and projecting my image onto the canvas.

I can show you a finished piece that has been delivered – she made a video about it on Facebook.

What can I make for you? Remember to donate here:

Never Stop Learning

Following your sense of curiosity will lead to many more discoveries and delights.

The teaching style in the education system deters you from wanting to learn more. With the changes in technology, we now have access to a lot of information.  Continue reading

What’s Your Super Power?

I came across this question through ConvertKit’s Product Creation Mater Class. Last week we started the ideation and process of creating a digital product – and this was among a few questions that were asked – this stood out to me greatly.

What’s Your Super Power? 

Continue reading

Designing Your Life : Life View Reflections

The existential questions in the book, Designing Your life are  a bit difficult. These are common questions we’ve asked at some point and maybe our answers change over the years – here are my answers to the questions posed in the book. I answered what I could and well, I guess I’ll need to have a part 2 to answer the other questions that I didn’t answer.

Why are we here?

To Live, to serve- to glorify God, to know Him, to make Him known – to enjoy him and do so through the human experience. To live life as a reflection of Christ- exuding his characteristics especially among those that do not know him. 

What  is the meaning or purpose of life?

Our sole purpose in life is to glorify God. This comes from a Christian worldview. #notinterestedinarguingwithnonbelievers 

What is the relationship between the individuals and others?

 We are social creatures. We need one another to survive. Here is an article that I looked over briefly and saw some intriguing points that I would have to agree with.

Where do family, country and the rest of the world fit in?

 The country is where I reside. It is my duty to abide by the rules are set in place. However where ever.   

What is good and what is evil?

 What is good? I think of the biblical verse 1 Timothy 4:4 New International Version

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, or Genesis 1:31 New King James Version Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Is there a higher power, God or something transcendent and if so what impact does this have on your life?

 I believe in Jesus Christ as my personal savior. This impacts my life and my very being as everything I do ought to honor Him. The service I provide through work, the way I treat others, the way I speak, carry myself – the way I represent myself ought to be different. I know that I am far from perfect, that I will always strive to do better and through my service other people can be curious and want to know why I live my life the way I do. 

What is the role of joy, sorrow, justice, injustice, love, peace and strife in life?

I’ve experienced joy, sorrow, justice, injustice, love, peace and strife. They come in seasons and through experiences in life. Now their role- they all tend to point back to Christ. No lie though- I had to Google this – the purpose of suffering as a Christian- I came across these resources:  

Chronic suffering

Five truths about suffering
Verses on Joy
As I dig deeper, while this world is broken, pain and sorrow helps us connect and relate to one another especially when experiences are shared. We learn how to counsel one another through grief and strife; we come to a consensus about what is just and fair or what is considered injustice. 

We get a glimpse of love and learn that it is without restrictions – that it is given freely inspire of, despite any situation. 

In our moments of peace we are able to appreciate all as is in its very moment and stillness or among friends and family. 

Writing to document

To challenge myself a bit more I’d like to be intentional about what I am writing about. After-all I’d like to document my journey from here to there – from here to IDEO. Often I’m just not sure what to share. I guess I’ll start with what I am doing right now.

I guess as of right now I am taking a good chunk of courses online via Skillshare. (This link is nothing special – I’ll get a month off if you sign up). The reason I am taking so many Skillshare classes is – I’m not sure what I’d like to be creating. As a multi-passionate person its been really hard to focus on just one thing. I know that I need to push my efforts in a specific direction and get the traction going so that I can move onto other things. I’d like to have my own design studio and co-working space, to travel more and to make things that matter – things that have an impact on peoples lives. This is what attracted m to industrial design and product design.

Right now – my job is to mount paper to board. I design the displays that you run your carts into at Walmart. (Sorry). They’re meant to help stimulate purchases, and move product quicker than on the shelf. How did I end up here? Great question lets take a trip down memory lane.

I went to school for biology at Montclair state university. Prior to that I went to a magnet High school in Newark – Arts High – and studied fine art, photography, ceramics and air brush. I knew I wanted to continue in the arts but growing up I was always told I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to make money. I wanted to be an art teacher. When I was home or had friends over I would have them sit in a semi circle and teach. I’d give math tests (but I don’t really like that subject), or assignments for drawing.

When I started college my major was biology. And after my first course – where the professor was obsessed about birds – I decided to change my major. It went from Bio, to physical fitness, to product design. I landed on product design because they didn’t have architecture or interior design.

Once I started the design classes I fell in love all over again. It was a space to use my hands and the tools I enjoy so much – color pencils, markers, hand saws, and drills! (what a jump right!)

My professor on the other hand wasn’t the greatest. He didn’t know how to communicate with his students to help them improve their design and engineering skills. The only advice he would ever give is – you suck. That is not good critique for a designer to improve on what they’ve worked so  hard on. If a design sucks – you should at least be able to tell me why and what to improve to make it better.

No lie this dude killed my confidence.

And it carried along with me to Rochester – where I ended up graduating college. The confidence killer when it came to my design made me question everything. When it came to fine art I was fine – I could draw my ass off. But when it came to making and redesigning products – I kept wondering if I was good enough.

On top of all of that I had to work multiple jobs to have food to eat and have my basic needs covered. This experience made me grow up real quick. I often have late nights in the studio – pulling all nighters over the phone with a cousin back home. And rising in the wee early morning – having to be at my first job at 4:45am.

I was diligent.


But my design work suffered  in turn.

My design projects were made to always please the professors. They didn’t really care if our ideas were good – they wanted projects to be explored based on what they were interested in seeing being developed. In hind site – I would fight for my design decisions. I believe that is something that was lacking in my design school experience.

Interview after interview – I couldn’t land anything. So I took a 6 month internship with the Disney College program. Funny enough – I applied at the end of my freshman year in college and my mom wouldn’t let me go! Senior year we met again and I was to go into the design and merchandising field!

Florida was extensively hot, somehow I ended up really sick even before starting my job. Being sick ruined my starting experience and I didn’t get to work with the actual designers of Disney. I was part of the stage crew – the people that are oh so nice to you when you go to visit. I learned a lot about Disney’s history and how they maintain their brand. (Quite amazing if you ask me).

After three months of working for the mouse I had to go home for a wedding. I was struggling financially – the internship didn’t pay much and well – the loan companies wouldn’t give me a break. I made the decision to go back home after three months.

After going home I went and worked in retail. It was the one thing I had the most experience in. Out of all the places I worked while in retail – Crate and Barrel was the best. I got to look at amazing housewares, and sell them to customers. I got to learn about where they were from and the artist that made them. Best of all when a customer came in upset, they were bound to leave happy because we would always exchange merchandise if broken or defective.

I applied to be on their design team but they were moving away from doing in house designs – the designers would have to follow a floor plan. I was only seasonal there and moved into another retail position afterwards. I stayed in the next retail position for a year!  You wouldn’t guess where either!

Opinions Are Like Belly Buttons…

“Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has it but they don’t really matter.”

I got that from a YouTube-er that I admire.

Earlier today another person I follow online – and whom I still admire – shared their experience in the design and technology space. At this point I may have given this thing way too much energy and should probably let it rest – but I can’t. I decided to share my experience within the design industry and I’d like to believe mine matters – especially when you are addressing women in design and technology – that are black, which you can’t seem to find.

This was my response, and for some reason it was canned/blocked/deleted something – but ok.

I’d like to share my experience. For some reason my comment wasn’t loading publicly from my other channel so I decided to repost. Again this is my experience I’ve since read a few other comments and I see that we can’t force things. If it’s not a diverse community or people aren’t in the network then yes there will be a gap – here’s what I wrote before.

Hi Charli, This might be opening a can of worms….. but as always I love your transparency and I’d like to share my experience. I saw when you asked about women in tech on twitter. Now that I think about it I do know women of color in tech – just not in the specific area of tech and design. As you know I am a designer (packaging and product design for anyone else reading), and I think I can share some of my experience being in the design industry. I went back and listened to your video to address the points you’ve made.

0:15 seconds you speak about being lucky about not being discriminated against through out your career – my first encounter with discrimination in design was on campus in class. The instructor (a white male) decided to change dates for a final and my flight was already scheduled to return home from school. I’m a black woman and you know what he said? “see me after class in the parking lot” as though to want to fight me. Originally I thought the professor was joking….. it wasn’t until someone else got offended and pulled me aside that I was swayed to think differently. Discrimination happens not only because of gender but because of color, ethnicity, HAIR – this is the world we live in, some people have yet to experience it but it does happen, some people are blind to it and some people just aren’t aware of it. In my first design job I was working as a production artist creating artwork for packaging products. One day I wore my hair in an afro, the next day I was let go. When I called to find out why I wasn’t given a realistic reason.

0:35 – I agree there is a gender gap. My background – industrial design – I haven’t seen many women in the field, let alone black women. During my studies there were three black men in the college of design. THREE!!!! One my graduating year and two black men two years ahead of me. I went back one year to visit and there was only one black person in the class. Just so you know, I went to a technology based college – if they wanted to open the doors for an opportunity of diversity for design and technology they surely have the platform to do so. While I was in university I was lucky if there was another woman in the class, let alone a black one. There was a total of three of us – but one person transferred out after one year. Additionally, the costs of university are ridiculous, in my experience I had to work multiple campus jobs to afford the tools I needed to get through the years for projects – there were resources I didn’t have access to of knowledge of because of my “lack of privilege”. This Lack of privilege comes more from systemic oppression considering finances, tools and resources – let alone the knowledge these things even exist. In order to see the different faces in technology and design people need to go into the black communities and teach there. Point blank period. I became aware of the choices in design due to after school programs in high school that no longer exist due to “budget cuts”. These are things that are readily available to schools in non-urban/black communities. I’ve faced subtle discrimination time and time again from my hair, how I speak – its not expected for a black woman to speak proper English if your from Newark – and the smart (but really disrespectful) comments that come from male coworkers. I’ve faced people not knowing how to even teach what they know and continue to face learning curves. I have to find ways and opportunities to reach out and ask for help. I believe if people are willing to learn there needs to be opportunities for that even in the work place. Confidence also plays a huge factor. I’ll admit I still struggle with that. When I started at the company I am in now I was one of seven designers. Two of us are black, I am the only black woman in the office. Black designers both male and female form their own communities to connect. Just search black designers in tech.

At the end of the day you can’t knock people for their experiences, we need to learn to

  1. agree to disagree.
  2. really listen to what people are saying and not take offense. Sometimes people just want to express their experiences or be heard. Nothing more and nothing less.

I believe in transparency – but when it comes to the world wide web there’s no real such thing. We project the person we’d like to be seen as. So block/hide/remove my comment when the first sentence is you’re looking to see other peoples experiences – yet when its not as you hoped to be all rainbows and butterflies – this is the issue that I have. Yes there are very few women in technology and design, but there are even less that are black and women. I don’t believe my comment was trolling, or offensive. I’ve learned to teach from the scar and not from the wound.

Ultimately, I now understand why its important to share your experiences because people that look like you, that have been through similar situations – they need to see you in spaces they’d like to be in.

If you are looking for black women in tech check this out. And if you are looking for black women in design – hi my name is Keshna, let’s chat.