Friday, July 26, 2019
By April Graves
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If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to for the past 9 months...other than creating portraits for the most amazing clients in the it is!  This past September, my dear friends Nancy and Adrian Smith asked me to co-chair my first ever gala at their property in Lake Forest. The gala was for Citadel Theatre, a local non-profit that is committed to bringing performing arts to Lake County and to insuring that children in underserved communities have the opportunity to learn the art of theatre. 


Our goal of having 400 guests was surpassed and reached a record turn out for Citadel of 450!  It was a beautiful affair pulled together by the most amazingly talented and creative group of people!  


Thanks to the incredible generosity of our guests and donors, we made $215,000 for Citadel Theatre!


And here is the best part...the Smiths have opened up 10 sessions there on their property for me to invite my best clients to take part in!  This is a VERY exclusive opportunity and one that has never been offered before. In fact other than the Smith family themselves and my daughter Alyssa, I don’t believe anyone else has had their portraits made here!


To find out how you can reserve one of these spectacular sessions and support Citadel Theatre, please contact us at the studio 224-655-7801.


It was such a blessing to be part of this committee and to help our wonderful host and hostess put on the inaugural event at their Lake Forest property.  I am incredibly grateful to my family and my team here at Light Drawn Studios for their support and to The Smith Family for their unwavering faith in my vision.


I hope to see you in Lake Forest!





Friday, June 28, 2019
By April Graves
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You can’t mention the 4th of July without me thinking of family time, lakelife, and a few of my favorite recipes!  You see, holidays always conjure up some sort of emotion that ties me right back to my family and the traditions we hold.  Since I was a small child, I can remember the days on Lake Geneva floating in an endless sea of waves and giggles...excitedly anticipating the July 4th fireworks being set off over the lake at Fontana Beach and watching from our pier in the Abbey Harbor.  

I am eternally thankful that I am able to share some of those same traditions with my own children and our friends on our boat in the harbor and now at our cottage.  There are always family favorite dishes that go with each holiday...for July 4th it’s Mama’s Ice Cream Pie! Anyone who really knows me well, knows I am not one for cooking or doing anything by the these are some rare gems that have been taken from others and adapted by yours truly...typically I cook from the heart with nothing more than my taste buds and my passion for good food to guide me.


I hope you enjoy!



- April 



1 Nabisco Graham Cracker Crust

6 Oz Lemonade or Limeade (I like pink lemonade...shocking...I know)

8 Oz Coolwhip

1 Pint Haagen Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream

Lemon or Lime Zest


1. Soften frozen ingredients.  

2. Combine together...don’t over stir.  

3. Pour into pie crust and freeze.

4. Decorate with fresh raspberries and curls of lemon peel prior to serving 


Wednesday, June 12, 2019
By April Graves
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I can’t believe my sweet girl has finished high school and in 2 short months will be on her way to college at Loyola University Chicago!  I swear I just turned around for a minute and she grew up! I look at the images I have been able to make of her throughout her life and I am eternally grateful for the gifts of those pieces and the momentary glances that I have backward in time.

I will treasure her images always and only wish that some of my most creative pieces had come earlier in life...I will never have those images of Alyssa and William believing in Santa or her resting upon a pile of mattresses that nearly reach the ceiling.   Nor will the magic of a unicorn princess be mine... I am so grateful however that she is still willing to don a crown of flowers and giggle with me until our sides hurt.

My sweet girl I will miss seeing your face in person every day...but I will cherish our time and the portraits I have to keep you close by.


- April

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
By April Graves
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As I sit here writing this post, the whirring and scraping of my son and my neighbors clearing driveways to get the morning commute is underway.  I am fighting the temptation to make myself a hot cocoa...after all, I am trying to only eat what nourishes me...but then my mind is like…(in a rather haunting intonation) ” cocoa will nourish your spirit...and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”  NOPE not going to do it...just like I’m not going to let my son stay home from school despite the begging!


Admittedly, I love the snow.  I love the way it falls so gently but has such a huge impact.  I love the way it blankets the earth in pure crystalline white.  I love the way it perches upon the branches of the bare trees and the way the footprints of mother nature’s furry friends trail thru it as if to say they love a good snow day too!


I love the portraits I made 3 years ago of my children in the snow.  They hang above the fluted, silver washed desk in my office at the studio.  They make me smile every time I look at them and the fond memories from that session flood my mind.  I remember that snow seemingly coming from nowhere in the middle of around the house the night before searching for just the right outfits for them to wear.  My husband Peter watched the session take place in our car so the kids could pop in and out to warm up.


I marvel that in 3 short years my son William went from being so much smaller than his sister to being 5’10”.  I cannot believe that Alyssa is graduating from high school this May! My babies have grow up so fast.


The session was short...30 minutes at most...but the portraits and memories from that day are ones I will treasure for a lifetime.  


My hope for you is that someday I can create the same types of portraits for you and your loves to hold in your hearts and to hang upon your walls for a lifetime of forevers.  






Wednesday, January 09, 2019
By April Graves
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For years I have promised myself and my team that I would do a weekly blog...I even have added a blog page to my site...that I never has existed on my site for years with few words gracing its page...well...that is about to change.


You see, I actually LOVE to write.  In fact, I love words...I love words so much that each year I write a story...YES...a story about what my life will look like for the coming year.  Who’s life I will be able to make an impact upon with my work, which charities we will work with, what new and exciting experiences I will have with my family...what dreams will become realities.  


Each year I pick a word to live by...yep...I’m one of those cheesy people who picks a word...not by the letter of my name...not because a friend on social media writes a post, but because each year there seems to be a word that when all is still and my last Holiday orders have been delivered...our New Year has been that calm when I am donning sweats (this year’s are velour), my mind and body relax and a word comes to me.


This year my word came to me after a total pig out...I found myself enjoying my peace and quiet...a rare moment when I had a couple of hours all to myself.  So what did I do? I grabbed my laptop..started my first online class of the year and promptly popped a chocolate lava cake into the microwave. I then proceeded to smother it in whipped cream and devoured the whole thing...with my favorite spoon (it has a squared off tip with dainty flowers engraved in its bowl and it makes everything prettier when you eat with it).  


The thing is, I didn’t feel like I had treated myself..I felt disgusting when I was I had dropped a chocolate brick into my body.  


After my tummy settled, I decided I would draw a bath for myself...a luxury I don’t often make time for.  I lit candles, used a fizzy pink bath bomb and grabbed an inspirational book. I created a beautiful melody on my Relax Melodies app (this app offers a myriad of sounds and you simply combine them to create your own tune)...a symphony of birds chirping...Eternity (whatever that evokes) and Immersed (kind of a gentle water sound).  All I could think was how this whole experience nourished my soul...and the 2019 word was born...NOURISH!


I decided that before I eat anything I will determine if it will NOURISH my body.  I will make more time for church to NOURISH my soul. I will make time to take care of myself - manis and pedis, massages, more baths... to NOURISH my spirit.  I will create more artwork to NOURISH my creative side. I will take more long walks and practice yoga to NOURISH my well being. I will read more to NOURISH my intellect.  


I hope that my new blog nourishes you and perhaps inspires you to find your word...your thing...your mojo for the year.