Tools & Talismans #2 — Sherry Belul

I approach each painting with several deep breaths and a pause. Each photograph that I’ve received for this series holds some kind of challenge for my budding watercolor skills, and sometimes I know what that challenge is going to be, and sometimes it sneaks up on me, all surprise and “Hey, look at me! Did I fool you, well, did I?’

I thought the hardest part of Sherry’s piece was going to be painting the photo image on her phone screen. I tiptoed around it. I painted all her apps in. I painted that crazy Aladdin's lamp, and I painted the parasol. And I spent far too many moments worrying about that phone screen.

In the end, there were two surprises for me: 1. His face came through so quickly — but you'll have to ask Sherry if it actually looks like him, and 2. The teeny tiny typewriter turned out to be the real challenge to paint. Black on black on black, oh and a hint of charcoal black.

Oh, and the orange highlighter that Sherry talks about? I don’t read the pieces that come with the photos before I paint, and in the photo I have it looks more coral then orange. I paused after reading her words, but decided not to re-paint. This is how I see her piece, these are the colors I see.

All these things help connect me to myself and the world in some important way. The paper parasol and Aladdin lantern remind me to look for and connect to the color, magic, and delight in life. The small candle represents seeking and creating pinpricks of light that transform even the darkest moments. The ring, with its tiny seascape reminds me that with imagination and creativity, I can transport myself. The typewriter is a call to my writer self, which is a through line to my spirit and soul.

I use the digital recorder to create loving messages that remind me of the self I want to be and the world I want to create for myself. It's how I coach and mentor myself. When I read something that resonates with me I use the orange highlighter to remind me of that connection —and because I love ORANGE!

The glasses connect me to the visual world. And the phone connects me to everyone I love. (Those are my son's eyes peeking out!). These tools and talismans bring me home again, in so many ways, over and over throughout the days! 

— As the founder of Simply Celebrate, Sherry helps people appreciate who they are and the people they love through customized tribute books and other one-of-a-kind imaginative and impactful gifts, life coaching, and inspirational books/articles. Say it now. Celebrate now.


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I’m documenting {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me for a year of Tools & Talismans — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

Have a project that you think my illustration style might be a good fit for? Looking for illustrations for your website, book project or have something else in mind? Please let me know, I'd love to talk about your project with you!