Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Year in Review

Hello 2016! I'm excited to start this new year, but I also wanted to take the time to reflect on everything that's happened in 2015.

As Gretchen Rubin writes in The Happiness Project: "The days are long, but the years are short." Sometimes the days seem short too! It's hard to remember individual days, but they all add up to new experiences. For me, the biggest moments of 2015 were: moving in to a new apartment and having my own studio space, finishing my 30th songbird painting for Beautiful Songbirds, completing an entire year of freelancing and at the same time accepting a full time job at Sellers Publishing, and most of all, when my boyfriend proposed on June 13th!

In 2015 I got to travel to great places, see beautiful things and spend time with many of my favorite people. I learned more about Maine and explored more parts of it, I traveled to Wyoming and camped in Yellowstone, I visited New York City and went to the Top of the Rock (one more NYC bucket list item crossed off!), and I took in the sites and sounds of Washington, D.C.

For work, I designed books for The Telling Room, a fantastic non-profit writing program here in Maine, continued doing design work for Macmillan Children's books, worked with some local Portland businesses, created free monthly desktop calendar downloads, art directed for Lee & Low Books, painted many, many songbirds and designed the layouts for Beautiful Songbirds (coming out in March 2016!), and last, but not least, accepted a job as a graphic artist in the card department for RSVP at Sellers Publishing, where I am developing and designing greeting cards. 

The world is a wondrous, beautiful place, despite the harsh realities of it. I can't wait to experience what 2016 brings—I know it's going to be filled with even more adventure, love and joy than 2015 had. I will end with a quote I read recently that sums up what I strive for each and every day:

Seek out what magnifies your spirit.   –Brain Pickings

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December 2015: Desktop Wallpaper Download

Fa la la la la! It's the most wonderful time of the year, and the last month of the year. I can't believe how quickly the year has gone by. It seems just a few months ago I moved to Maine. I love December for all it's holiday cheer, snowflakes (hopefully), giving spirit, pine trees and bright lights. I hope this holiday season brings you much joy, good cheer, health and happiness.

Download the desktop and laptop version HERE.
Download the smartphone version HERE.

These are for personal use only. All illustrations © Ashley P. Halsey 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

November 2015: Desktop Wallpaper Download

Here we are in November already! Sadly, the Long Dark Time is officially upon us with changing of the clocks. Shorter days are here to stay for awhile, but as winter approaches I am still admiring the last of the leaves changing from orange to dusty reds and golden browns. As usual, I love watching the seasons change. And as a side note, some of my favorite people have November birthdays—hurray! I hope you enjoy this month's calendar!

Download the desktop and laptop version HERE.
Download the smartphone version HERE.
A variation of this month's calendar is also available as a print in my Etsy shop.

These are for personal use only. All illustrations © Ashley P. Halsey 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 2015: Desktop Wallpaper Download

Pumpkins and apples and gourds, oh my! October is here and it's decorative gourd season! September raced by and here we find ourselves experiencing all the wonderful things the new season has for us—changing leaves, crisp air, apple picking, pumpkin carving, and of course my personal favorite, candy corn. Don't think I wasn't tempted to make a calendar just filled with candy corn! Enjoy this month's calendar by downloading it below:

Download the desktop and laptop version HERE.
Download the smartphone version HERE.

These are for personal use only. All illustrations © Ashley P. Halsey 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September 2015: Desktop Wallpaper Download

 Ah, the dog days of summer are upon us! Most people consider the last day of August the end of summer, but I still maintain that summer happily rolls in to September. The days may be slightly shorter and the nights a bit cooler, but there is still fruit to be picked and gorgeous, warm days to celebrate. I hope you make the most of these final summer days! Enjoy this September calendar:

Download the desktop and laptop version HERE.
Download the smartphone version HERE.

These are for personal use only. All illustrations © Ashley P. Halsey 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Upon Completion of Thirty Songbird Paintings

Yesterday I delivered the last set of 10 final songbird paintings to the publisher of my forthcoming book: Beautiful Songbirds. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the completion of my largest project to date. After 8 months and about 175 hours of work, it feels like I have crossed a monumental finish line.

Some of the many, many sketches used for creating the final paintings
I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to create such a body of work and I can't wait to be able to share the final product with everyone! First, I worked with my editor to choose the 30 birds I would paint, then it was on to photo research, sketches and painting. I love the variety of color and settings these birds represent. It was a challenge to keep each composition lively and unique, while still maintaining a cohesive look throughout all of them.
      I created the paintings in sets of ten, which was good for keeping things manageable, but also a challenge mentally, because each time I completed a set of ten, I would then have to turn around and start all over again on the next set. This isn't to say that it wasn't still an incredibly fun project! I will never tire of the amazing feeling of touching a paint-filled brush to wet paper and watching the color flow magically into place, slowly creating a beautiful scene.

Some of the in progress shots of the bird paintings

These paintings will be paired with inspirational bird quotes and interesting facts about each one. I am designing the book as well, which is an added bonus! I love being able to pair my paintings with typography in a pleasing way - it may be my favorite part about the intersection of illustration and design. The above photos are from instagram. Follow me @zephyr2403 to see more updates and stay tuned for future posts about my book, coming Spring 2016!

A video posted by Ashley P. Halsey (@zephyr2403) on

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Telling Room: Young Emerging Authors Fellowship

This summer I was lucky enough to be involved in The Telling Room's Young Emerging Authors Fellowship as a designer! The Telling Room is a fantastic nonprofit writing center here in Portland that works with kids ages 6 - 18. The Young Emerging Author's Fellowship (YEA) offers a select number of applicants the chance to plan, write, edit, design, and publish their own books in one year.

Because, Why Not Write? cover design and art in progress.

It was exciting to work with the young authors and to explore the many possibilities for the design of their books. Because, Why Not Write? is a non-fiction book written by Cameron Jury. There is a great article in a local publication here, that gives more details about the program and her process. The Presumpscot Baptism of a Jewish Girl is a poetry book by Lizzy Lemieux. I especially love the antique cover art she chose from the New York Public Library's digital image collection. It is such a fantastic resource!

The final products! All four YEA books are in the wagon.

I look forward to working with more young authors in the future! Being at the Telling Room has been a great experience both socially and creatively.