The Middle.

She opened her eyes to darkness.

For one heart-stopping moment, she forgot. She was drifting, a disembodied essence of what she used to be. What did she used to be? Was she ever anything other than what she was now? What was she now? She was nothing. There was nothing. Only darkness.

Remember, Leya, a voice in her head urge. Grandfather’s voice.

Like a rush of blood to the head, it came back to her. Grandfather. Remember what Grandfather told you, Leya. Her mind struggled against her, fighting to drift into the darkness, but she repeated the words her grandfather had told her every night since she first volunteered to go into the Middle.

It will be like drowning. You’ll want to let go, to sink into the darkness. You’ll want to forget. Remember to swim. Remember to stand. Remember to think, to feel. Remember.

She thought of her body. The weight of it, the pull of gravity as she moved. She thought of the solidity of the flesh that contained her muscles, her bones, her heart, her mind. She was made of mass, she was more than the darkness. Like a limb waking from a numb sleep, her body began to tingle in that painful way that shoots through the body with the slightest movement. She focused on the pricking of those needles and willed feeling into every inch of her body. Her face, her arms, her legs, her fingers, her toes. She couldn’t see in the darkness, but she envisioned her body as she had seen it in the mirror every morning. Long honey-blonde braid. Bronze eyes. Scar from her right temple to the corner of her mouth.

She’d been instructed by her grandfather to study her reflection every morning, to commit every detail to memory. She wore the same outfit: a plain grey tunic tucked into brown breeches and her brother’s leather boots from when he was young. A hunting knife hung at one hip and a satchel of medicine and food at her other. They didn’t know what she would find in the Middle, or what condition her brother would be in. Jerin. I have to find Jerin.

With a jolt, Leya felt the gravity return to her body. She blinked and the darkness seemed to shift from an all-consuming black to the deep greys of a moonless night. She managed to sit up and raised her hand before her face. She stared hard at the space where she knew her hand to be and imagined that she could begin to see a pale shape. The adrenaline coursing through her body was causing her to shake. She took a few deep breaths, but was afraid to close her eyes again, should she lose what little adjustment her vision had made.

“Swim, Leya. Stand.” Her voice sounded strained and distant to her, like when her ears filled with pressure when hunting high in the mountains. Still trembling, she shifted to get her feet under her, disoriented at the lack of sound as her boots should have scraped across the ground. There was no sound in the Middle, except that of her own ragged breathing.

She strained her eyes, peering into the unending darkness, willing there to be more. “I am Leya,” she reminded herself. “I am here to find my brother.”

And I am dead. The thought disoriented her and she could instantly feel her body begin to break-apart and drift. The darkness swept in like a predator, pressing at her from all sides as it tried to steal her from herself. She clenched her fists and willed herself whole again, clinging to her sense of self and physicality. You are dead, but only temporarily.

Your body is with your grandfather, she reminded herself. He is watching over you. He coaxed you into this temporary state. He will bring you back. But first, you have to find Jerin. You have to bring him back with you.

Feeling a surge of strength and confidence, fueled by the urge to get the hell out of the Middle and back to the land of the living, she lifted her head high.

“I am coming to save you, Jerin.” She took a step forward into the darkness.

© sarah kennedy 2016

 

Jack the Ripper – Illustration

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A paper illustration of Jack the Ripper I did in college. I used layers of cut paper to create the image, each sheet a different color. This is the only illustration I’ve done in this style, but it won me 2nd place from the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators in a student show!

I’d like to do some more in this style. Even though it was a lot of work and cutting out tiny pieces of paper, the end result is worth it.

© sarah kennedy 2016

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Kennedy Wedding Invitation

In an attempt to actually finally start being more active in sharing my art and design work, I thought I’d share some work.. and since it’s Valentine’s Day, why not share wedding invitations I designed.. for my own wedding?!

These were printed on kraft paper with two color letterpress (black and white). Our theme was rustic Irish and our colors were dark grey and dusty blue. The little paper confetti hearts (stamped from old French books.. ooh la la!) and dried lavender were actually a part of our wedding decor as well, I just happened to have some left over to decorate these photos with.

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All Hallow’s Read

It’s sort of a point of pride of mine that Neil Gaiman – only MY FAVORITE AUTHOR OF ALL TIME –  and I have communicated via the internet on multiple occasions. He has answered and posted two of my questions/comments on Tumblr. He retweeted a piece of my art once (and simply said “Wow”). He also once reblogged, via Tumblr, ANOTHER piece of art I did, and requested, “Can we make this a thing next year?”

The piece that he reblogged happened to be a gift bag themed to the holiday of his invention, All Hallow’s Read. Being that it is Halloween tomorrow and I have been ashamedly absent from my blog, I thought I’d dust off that piece and share it here. I wish I had thought to fulfill Mr. Gaiman’s wish and make this a thing this year, but alas, I did not. There’s always next year. Sorry, Neil. I’m a cliché of a procrastinating, scatter-brained artist.

Enjoy these poorly shot photographs from years ago and take away from them the sentiment of the holiday, which is to gift your favorite spooky book to someone on Halloween.

 

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I Made It! Market – 2015

Well, I officially survived my first time selling at an arts festival!

I nearly chickened out. I arrived on Friday to set up and felt immediately overwhelmed by all of the elaborate booths that the surrounding shops were set up. I had one small desk-sized table, a square shelf, and a little side table to hold a chalkboard sign of my shop name and some business cards. I felt severely unprepared and unprofessional, and I almost packed up and went home.

BUT. I am glad I didn’t. I only survived Friday by the good grace of my friends and my husband, who kept me company for the 5 hours I had to be open. I made no sales, although I had some good conversations with customers and some interest in custom orders. I accepted that this would probably be the norm for the weekend, and after I slept on it, I decided I would be okay with that.

Then, Saturday went infinitely better! I made a decent amount of sales early in the day, much to my surprise, and a LOT of interest in custom orders. The rest of the day sort of dropped off (12-10 is such a long time to sit in a booth on a hot summer day…), but I was happy with the results of the day. Sunday went just as well, and I ended up making back what I paid to be there, PLUS some. So in the end it was worth it, if not for the exposure and experience alone.

I definitely learned a few things:

1. My procrastination is a serious, serious issue. I am lucky that I had no sales Friday and slow sales Saturday, or I would not have had any product to show for the weekend. I really need to best this horrible habit.

2. One day festival would be better. Three days is just such a long time if you don’t have a ton of variety in product to set up for people to browse.

3. Closer to Christmas would be better. I had a handful of people pick up my items and comment that they needed to keep it in mind for Christmas.

4. Don’t drink so much wine when sitting at your booth. Both days.

5. Don’t drink so much beer after you have left your booth. Both nights. Go home, drink tea and call it an early night. Otherwise, you will hate your life.

6. Definitely, definitely have friends committed to sit with you all weekend. I would have been peeing in a bucket in the back of my tent, if not for them.

The verdict?

I would do it again, in the future. But this time, I will not procrastinate.

……………………….

Maybe.

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figuresSome of my figures.

I’m not dead!

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I have been a very busy lady lately, but I am here to say… I’m not dead!

I have been slaving away trying to get stuff ready for the art market I will be selling my Etsy wares at this weekend! I rebranded my shop (and this blog), ordered new business cards, and have been working on new product.. here’s a sneak peak at some Harry Potter themed buttons!

Once I get through this weekend, I will be putting a bunch of new product up for sale on my Etsy, so keep posted.

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Good news!

I received an e-mail yesterday confirming that I was accepted as a vendor at one of the largest Summer art markets that takes place here in Pittsburgh!

I am very excited to have a booth, which means I have a lot of work ahead of me for the next few months making up large quantities of product and also adding more to my shop in order to have enough product available for the entire weekend!

Keep posted for pictures of new items to come! I can’t wait.

I got married last Saturday, May 2nd.

I didn’t think, after 7 years of dating and 6 1/2 years of living together, that much would change. But I was so unbelievably happy to finally be marrying him that I haven’t stopped smiling since. I have a light, content feeling in my heart (complete with little butterflies in the stomach) and I feel like a silly little girl who just started dating this cute boy. There’s undeniably a new level of closeness, now that we’re married. I haven’t quite adjusted to friends and family teasingly calling me, “Mrs.” but there’s that warm feeling when he slips his newly adorned hand into mine and says, “I want to take a walk with my wife.”

The wedding was absolutely perfect. The day before, not so much (I would never recommend moving the day before your wedding), but the day of was beautiful and nothing else mattered. I cried a lot, I smiled more. I was reminded why I chose this person to be my partner for the rest of my life. There was dancing with groups of friends and family and there were intimate moments with individuals who have been by my side for most of, if not my whole, life. We wrote our own vows and they couldn’t have been more perfect in expressing the mutual respect and adoration we have for each other. We’ve been through a lot together and taking this step felt like a reward for staying so devoted to each other through it all. It truly was a celebration.

My dad probably managed to make me cry the most, when during our father/daughter dance to a song he wrote for me, he said that the most he could ever hope for for any of his children is that they find what Sean and I have in each other.

It reminded me that, as I said in my vows, I know that what we have is not guaranteed. So I am eternally grateful that in a world of 7 billion people, we found each other.

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Photo by: Kyna Damewood and Mindi Harkless