The Dream Keepers

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I just got back from the Atlanta Gift Show, where I was delighted to see old friends, emerging trends, and some of my licensed products– including my soon-to-be-released 2018 Expressions of Faith Calendar– on display!

I also did a book signing, which was lots of fun.

I remember when I attended my first trade show in the early eighties… I never dreamed that designing products for the the gift, stationery, craft and Christian industries would become my passion as well as my profession. More than three decades– and hundreds (if not thousands) of designs later– I feel blessed that I have been able to do something I love. I am especially grateful for the many talented, creative industry colleagues with whom I have had the privilege of working.

One of these talents is my friend Kathy Fincher, a world renowned children’s painter and illustrator. Kathy and I met at the Licensing Show almost twenty years ago, and have collaborated on several projects since then. In the aftermath of 9/11, Kathy felt a responsibility to offer a message of hope to American families, and chose to illustrate the themes of faith and freedom in her signature painting, ‘The Dream Keepers‘. The 40 x 30 dry pastel and watercolor on museum rag board which resides in the George W. Bush library, features seven children representing the seven continents.   

Kathy, who learned to sculpt when she was working on the “Mama Says” line for Demdaco, had a big dream– bringing the painting to life as a bronze sculpture. She teamed with Martin Dawe, owner of Cherrylion Studio, to create what is now the largest figurative patriotic public work of children in the world.

I was honored when Kathy asked me to design the lettering for the installation, and the Dream Keeper t-shirts. Here is a photo of Kathy and me, in our Dream Keeper t-shirts, taken at the memorial yesterday.

Here’s the Proud to be a Dream Keeper! lettering I designed for the back of the shirt:

I am indeed proud to have been able to help Kathy implement her dream. And seeing the installation in person was incredibly moving. The life-sized figures are are almost as big as I am!

The lettering is sandblasted into the glass, and although you can see it during the day, it is easier to read at night.

Getting to see the monument was the highlight of my recent trip. Photos don’t do it justice, so if you are in or near Duluth, Georgia, I encourage you to visit the memorial.

As we approach the second anniversary of the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play Facebook Group this coming Friday, I am deeply moved and inspired by the great, supportive community which we’ve created. Thank you for sharing my dream of using our creative talents to make a difference in the world. Special thanks to everyone who left a comment on last week’s blog letting me know what type of prizes you’d prefer. Congratulations to Judy Klein, who won some ‘cool tools’ for her participation. Judy, please let me know where to send your prize.

Before closing tonight, I wanted to share the rules of the 2nd Anniversary Contest.

OBJECT: Draw and/or color any type of dwelling. This could be a bird house, tree house, lighthouse, dog house, or even a houseboat, teepee, castle, or igloo. Bonus points if you include where you live someplace in your drawing.

Last week I shared how to draw a house. This week I thought I’d share a step-by-step method for drawing a simple bird house:

And here is a close up of the finished drawing:

Winners will be selected from entries posted in the “Dwellings” album in the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB Group by midnight EDT on Saturday, July 29th. Entries will be judged on originality, and the creative use of patterning, drawing and coloring. Please make sure that your name is on each piece that you enter. It would be helpful to include your e-mail address and/or phone number. You may only enter three pieces. Bonus points will be given if you share the tools and materials you used to create your design.

For those of you who would rather enhance one of my drawings than draw one of your own, you are welcome to use a dwelling design from any of my books. I know that there are some in Birds & Butterflies, Color Peace, Expressions of Faith, Inspirations, and L’Chaim: Judaic Expressions. If you prefer to color than draw, I encourage you to add your own special touches to the design. For those who are new to this, here is a step-out on how to add patterns and interest to a birdhouse:


You are welcome to invite your friends– and your children– to participate! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s art.

Here are the prizes:

  1. A selection of some of my favorite tools from some of my favorite manufacturers: Sakura, Strathmore, and Spellbinders!
  2. Your choice of three of my books (which are currently in print), signed and personalized.
  3. Flat File Raid #1: A selection of painted and/or partially painted Zenspirations designs from the flat file in my office:
  4. Flat File Raid #2: A selection of hand-painted background washes from the flat file in my office:
  5. A selection of greeting cards and other products I’ve designed over the years.
  6. And, last but not least, a one hour personalized tutorial, delivered via screen share (i.e. Skype,, and Go-to-Meeting). I am offering this prize to THREE DIFFERENT WINNERS.

One of the other things I’d like to do in celebration of our Anniversary, is to find out where everyone lives. I’m especially interested in learning how many countries are represented in the group, and if we have members from all 50 states. I’m working on other prizes, one of which will go to someone who leaves a comment on this week’s blog saying where in the world they live.

Happy early anniversary! Be sure to check the group this week for fun ways to celebrate our growing community.

Stay Zenspired,











38 thoughts on “The Dream Keepers”

  1. I live in Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland. I was not able to enter the house competition. I’m totally amazed at how much you can do , and how you find the time to do it.
    Thank you for being you

  2. Wisconsin!!! (But my heart is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) Love all the prize packages!! Blessings to you!

  3. As always a great blog. You’ve inspired me to pull out my collection of Zenspirations books and choose some pictures to create, color, pattern and play! It’s been a while since I’ve done anything. And I have 4 of the 5 books you mentioned.
    It’s always nice to connect with old friends, I’m glad you were able to at the trade show. I LOVE the “I’m a Dream Keeper” saying.
    ((Hugs)) Toni
    Alexandria VA USA
    (3 miles from our Nation’s Capitol)

  4. I live in Jacksonville Arkansas and absolutely admire and LOVE your work❣

  5. Good Morning Joanne. I live in the mountains of Colorado and hope to meet you when you help Sam move to the University of Nirthern Colorado.

  6. I live in Phoenix Arizona . I started tangling with your blog posts. I hadn’t done anything like tangles before. I am not a doodler. I have become a note taker and try to add a bit of doodle to my notes. I love all the inspiration you share so generously with everyone.

  7. Just learning, I love your website and I just ordered two of your books. I can’t wait to get them. I think your stuff is good for the soul.

  8. I enjoyed meeting you at the Durban Funeral Home. Thank you for giving my daughter Mary Jo an artistic outlet. She was bothered that she couldn’t draw and paint like I do and also her brother , I always told her God gaveus each different talents–so when she saw your drawings , she really got into it. Her other wonderful talent is working with disabled seniors at where she works, a nursing home. Thanks again, Joanne.

  9. I live in Ottawa, ON Canada although I am originally from Washington DC. I love your work, especially your dangles and lettering.

  10. Hi Joanne, you inspire me in spirit and art. I live in Mount Dora and hope we meet one day. Your book was a comfort to my young widow friend who said “Every word is true.” Thank you

  11. Hi Joanne!
    Your contribution to the memorial as well as the memorial itself is awesome, amazing and inspiring! Thank you for sharing this great moment with us.
    I’m excited to see all the different homes people share in this contest. So many talented people in this group.
    Right now I’m at work, but on break in sunny and very hot, South Carolina. I never get tired of looking at the beautiful mountains.


  12. Dearest Joanne,
    You are such a gift from God. Your heart of giving and sharing your talents with the world, reveals that you are fulfilling your God given purposes, to bring Him glory and point others to Christ through your passion of creating beautiful art. I’m from a little community in Mississippi, called Energy, just 25 miles south of Meridian. Just family, farms, animals and gardens, Enegy provides a lot of opportunities for one to connect to and use our giftings to create art that reflects God and nature. I’m 56 and just last week retired from teaching public school culinary arts. I am extremely thrilled for this next season of my life to learn from you and dive into creating art that I can also share with others. Thanks again for not keeping your giftings to yourself but helping others all over the world to tap into their individual artistic talents.
    God bless you and love your heart.
    Suzanne Raley
    [email protected]

  13. Hi,
    I live in Santa Cruz, CA.
    Many of us call it paradise. It is not the typical Tahiti kind of paradise. But in this warming world, it is just about perfect.

  14. What an inspiring post Joanne! Thank you for the beautiful photos of your friend’s dream come-to-life! It is so wonderful to see how far your reach has also spread, with your books and other uplifting products. Thank you for all you do.

    I am from Burlington, Ontario (Canada)

  15. Dear Joanne,
    I so loved the blog what an inspiring story. I love to hear the story of artists collaborating . I am excited about the second anniversary of this wonderful group. I hope I get an inspiration and some time to participate in the challenge. I am glad we have another week. Something with dangles for sure. Have a great week . From Chapel Hill, NC

  16. Oh my…I’m about 20minutes north of Duluth, GA. THANK YOU!! for sharing such awesome art work….my next stop, Duluth, GA.

  17. I always look forward to your blog. It’s always upbeat, caring & sharing. I live in The Villages, FL, USA.

  18. `It’s me, Lani! Hilo, Hawaii transplant now in Northglenn, CO. Thank you for inspiring me to create art, and for being such a Daughter-of-God inspiration to our world.

  19. Happy Anniversary!
    Can’t wait to get your new calendar!! <3
    The sculpture looks fabulous. Maybe Chuck and I can stop on our way through GA sometime in the future!
    Live in Oil City, PA, the hub of Oil History.
    Love the prizes you chose too!!
    Thank you, Gail

  20. born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania ((Amish country) and currently living in Frederick, MD. I just may swing by Duluth, GA this summer. Thanks for the tip, Joanne.


  21. I live in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania, in a small city that has a very active artist community, Oil City nestled in the hills between Erie and Pittsburgh.

  22. I am just learning and have one of your books on order. I can’t wait until it arrives. I live in Hobart, Tasmania.

  23. Hi from Minnesota!!!! =)
    I am a newbie to Zenspirations but have stalked your blog, videos and Facebook group for awhile now. Your work is AMAZING!!!!!! Your are a talent, for sure and a gift from God to all of us who marvel at your creations! I live that you are doing what you love AND doing God’s work on top of it! =) Thank you for your inspiration and sharing your journey with us!

  24. I am going to get back to sketching and patterning. Thanks for the challenge and the tutorials I live in the state of Virginia!!

  25. Hugs from Woodsboro MD…. a tiny little town 50 miles from DC and 50 from Baltimore…. 🙂

  26. Hi Joanne,
    Love ALL of your work. It really inspires me!
    I live in Cedar City, UT….

  27. Hi, Joanne,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful installation with all of us. The memorial monument is so beautiful and brought your friend’s painting to life – amazing. Your touch is perfect on this project!
    Blessings from Port Hueneme, CA (locals pronounce it ‘Y-knee-me’ it’s a Chumash Indian word) I recently bought a set of your stamps but was disappointed that they didn’t identify you as the artist. I love that you integrate music themes into your art and keep doing dangles – I love them!

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