Get Out!

Today is a snow day, and we're cooped up inside again. I'm naturally an introvert and an anxious homebody. I went to my daughter's choir concert last night and, honestly, I wanted to pull that grandpa scarfing Doritos and Resses Pieces out of the auditorium by his ear and then just sneak home to the comfort of my fuzzy slippers. I'm not sure how my kid and hubby would have gotten home, but they would have figured it out. This year I've realized that no matter how many t-shirts and coffee mugs are made to celebrate these awkward tendencies, it's not a healthy state of being to get stuck in. 

2018-02-09 11.25.07 1The more time I spend with creative friends and working with people who are not like me, the more I learn about new places, techniques and people, the more interesting my world becomes, the bigger my heart grows, the deeper my art goes.  Sounds a little Dr. Seuss-y, doesn't it? 

A couple of specific ways I'm doing this are:

  1. . . . scheduling meet-ups with my artist friends and acquaintances. We share coffee, chat about our daily practices, check out each other's tools, share challenges and solutions and get inspired! If you're an introvert, I encourage you to power through the temptation to stay in your safe place and get out to that show opening or keep that one-on-one lunch date. It will be worth it. Here's a pic of my sweet friend, Holly, and me with her baby, Penny, after a recent visit. 2018-01-31 11.51.12 1
  2. . . . doing something totally unrelated to art. I started helping teach an English class to Spanish speakers once a week. I have this soft place in my heart for people in our community who are living here in the most extreme "out of their comfort" zone. When I'm sitting in my pastor's office with this precious group of resilient, brilliant adults, I'm experiencing some serious humility and vulnerability on my part, because my Spanish is so poor, and I feel like a fool. Miraculously, it's one of the bright spots in my week. I'm able to teach something I know second-nature, and everything else in my little privileged world is forgotten for 90 minutes. Plus, I'm learning a little Spanish too!
  3.  . . . taking a class. I'm taking an illustration course via MakeArtThatSells.com, and it's been another humbling experience, because there are SO MANY talented, experienced, professional artists in the group. I'm gonna be real- I like to be the best. I'm NOT one of the stellar students in this class. . . but, for some reason, after each assignment, I'm left feeling like I can do amazing things next time! Wooo! Here's a piece I completed for the "all about tea" assignment. 27747625_10211803336978686_2642407957243264371_o
  4. . . . consuming new art forms and random bits of information:
  1. My copy of Lori Hetteen's new collection of "Haiku-ish" poetry just came in the mail yesterday. Get your hands on this, if you want to be astounded and delighted by the power seventeen syllables of the English language can have. You'll also want to start following Lori on Instagram STAT. She's been such an encouragement and inspiration to me, and I know you'll love her. 2018-02-09 11.25.09 1
  2. Sign up for Austin Kleon's newsletter. I read his book, "Show Your Art," several years ago, and it's such a  fun, short, creative, informative read for artists. His weekly newsletter is full of random bits and pieces of culture, from ideas on how to get unblocked to music playlists and links to interesting podcasts, books, and interviews. So. Many. Great ways to get out of your own head and get rounded! This morning we followed his link to a great song by SeƱor Coconut and started off our day with a wacky dance. I think my daughter filmed me, but you won't be seeing THAT!
  3. A friend on Facebook just tipped me off to the new printing of "Werner's Nomenclature of Colours." I ordered it from Amazon immediately. (It just dropped $5 today!). This book was first published in 1814, and includes hundreds of color swatches corresponding to the most obscure things found in the natural world, like the shade of Prussian blue of the "beauty spot on the wing of a mallard duck." I can't wait to dig in to it! Werners-nomenclature-of-colours-2

I'm just loving this winter for all of these reasons. It's such a wonderful time of learning, reflection and growth. I hope you're feeling the same. Let me know how you're taking advantage of nature's sabbatical in the comments. I'd love to connect!


I'm Obsessed with this New Medium!

For a long time I've been aware that watercolor, as a finished work of art, is not as desirable or valuable for collectors or interior designers as oil or acrylic paintings are. Some may argue this statement, but historically, it's been a medium used for sketching ideas for oil paintings, for travel journals, or as a pastime for fancy Edwardian ladies. I'm not really sure how I fell into it. It was probably the convenience and cleanup, since I was only in middle school when I started exploring it. Practice leads to proficiency, and proficiency leads to comfort, and comfort leads to boredom sometimes. Lately, I've hit the boredom stage with my watercolor work. No matter how hard I tried to push those values and liven up my color palette, I still ended up with delicate, muted finished pieces that tend to recede in a room full of artwork. 

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This year it was time to try something new. I have also been fed up with the cost of framing work on paper, so I was looking for a gateway medium to oil painting that would allow me to get a feel for opaque techniques. Painting with transparent watercolor requires that you allow the white of the paper to remain as your highlights, and you darken areas to create weight and shadow. Once the paint has been applied, you're usually stuck with it, and it's very unforgiving. There is no "pickin' up" what you've "laid down!" With oil pastels, oil paint, and acrylic the process is completely the opposite! You can easily layer on top of mistakes or scratch them away, build values and rich tones more easily, and top it all off with bright highlights to make things pop instead of masking them out with goopy fluid or painting carefully around them.

I asked for a set of new oil pastels for Christmas, and good ol' Mom came through. I've barely dipped a brush since! Besides the vibrant colors and the chunky, interesting strokes they make, I'm loving working on a toned surface. Instead of having to retain the white of the paper, the dark black and brown remain for interesting outlines and instant shadows. There's so much more contrast! I'm really in love, and every one of the pieces I've posted on Instagram has been received very well.

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I'm excited about where this goes, and if you know of a way to seal these babies up and avoid the cost of more glass framing, let me know, because I'm not quite ready to leap into the expense and fumes of oil painting. Keep an eye on my Instagram feed for new work in this bright, bold frontier!


Refresh and Redecorate with Original Art

Another round of flurries is making its way through Northern Indiana this morning, which means more gray skies. Blah. I don't know about you, but winter makes me focus more than ever on making my home cozy and attractive, because, well, 25 degree temps are not my friend, and once they hit, I hunker down deep into my nest for three months. When the Christmas tree comes down and the boughs of holly are pitched, I'm always in the mood to add new touches to my bunker - er, home.

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This winter I'm especially digging tons of pattern and texture - layered geometric rugs, vibrant kilim and velvet pillows, glossy house plants, rustic baskets. 

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You know what pairs great with all of these bohemian and global trends? Original art, of course! Between amassing pillows, hanging shelves and watering plants, I've also been restocking my Etsy shop this month! I've listed some never-before offered artwork and created a couple of new paper products like notecards and mini prints for your decorating and gift-giving pleasure!

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So, kick up you slippered tootsies and shop from the comfort of your couch! 


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Mark your calendars! I'm teaming up, once again, with my pal and event-coordinator extraordinaire, Chelsie Weldy, to produce this fantastic indoor artisan show featuring over 30 talented makers and curators. 

The pop-up market will be hosted at one of the most unique historic venues in the area: Coppes Commons, which was built in 1876 as a planing Mill and later became a Hoosier Cabinet factory. The industrial-chic charm of the spaces we'll be in is soooo dreamy! Pop this address in your GPS: 401 East Market St., Nappanee, IN, 46550, and plan to spend some time at the Commons' collection of specialty shops, restaurants and antique mall before or after you enjoy the market! 

Hours are 5-9 pm Friday and 10-9 on Saturday. For regular updates and more info, mark your interest in our Facebook event page HERE! 


My Next Show and Some Tips for Behaving There

 . . . Ok, so maybe"behaving" is not the most fitting word to use for this post heading, but after you read at least one comment that was made in my booth this summer, you may not disagree with my choice entirely! 

Since my last post, I've done a couple of art fairs that had my hopes high for reaching customers in some new areas. I worked hard on polishing up my display and decided to invest the last of the bills in my brown envelope marked "Art" in some risky ventures.  

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As I look back on my experiences from this summer, it dawned on me that I don't really know anybody personally who is making a living from creating art. When I graduated college, I knew I had to find a "real job," and I don't recall having any hopes for even paying bills with the money my art brought in.  Almost twenty years later, nothing has changed, and I'm still not paying any bills on a regular basis with art funds-- so, why do we do it? Why do we lug all those tables, tents and bins around in borrowed vans and sit in our folding chairs with our bleeding hearts hanging out on the line day after day?

I will tell you why. . . it's because of sweet souls like Katie, who walked in to my booth at Winona Lake and did a Disneyland dance of wonder as she looked at my work. "I just love your aesthetic!" she said, picking up prints one after the other and exclaiming to her boyfriend, "look at this! Oh my gosh, look at THIS! I love it all!" I'll admit, I was pretty flattered that a twenty-something who probably walked down from the college on the hill would enjoy my work so much. Just her delight was enough to make my day, so I was kinda blown away when she came back later and ordered a custom illustration. See, it's not about the cash. It's about people "getting it," about feeling validated and sharing a love for something simple.

It's about how Tina in Valparaiso told me that her budget for art is small, but how important it is for her to support artists. She looked closely at each piece, asked questions, told her own stories about the subject matter and then decided on an unframed piece in her price range, just so she could go home with something from my collection.  When no wifi could be found to process her credit card, she came back hours later with the last check in her checkbook to follow through on her purchase. 

These ladies were star customers, but there were many who didn't make a purchase and were still encouraging to me. Here's how you can drop a coin in the makers' hats without spending a dime.

  1. Smile as you walk by -- better  yet -- walk IN with your smile
  2. Look the artist in the eye and give them a compliment of any kind. Try anything short and sweet like "your work is nice," or "I like your style."
  3. If it's in your budget, buy at least "just a card." There's actually a national campaign for this act of kindness. Check it out HERE.
  4. Put your name on a mailing list, if you can't afford to spend
  5. Follow the artist on social media while you're in the booth (you might get a discount)
  6. Be honest -- it's OK to say you can't afford to spend, but do it in a kind way

After hours and hours of people watching this summer, I have some behaviors for you to avoid in response to the DO's in the list above:

  1. Be aware that your face might resemble that of an 80-year-old man driving through a Walmart* parking lot on Christmas Eve. Relax and realize that even if you're out of your element, that confused, squinty expression on your face is throwing us some serious shade. 
  2. Don't completely ignore us as you walk through our booths like you do the Walmart* greeter on your way to finish up your Christmas shopping.
  3. Don't ask "Did you make all this?!" Of course I did!!  I mean, seriously, what did I just do, go cram my cart full of prints at Walmart* and prop them up on a table to re-sell here?!  A better response is "Are you the artist?"
  4. Don't give your kids lollipops and let them touch all of my stuff like the playground balls in the aisle at Walmart*. Instead, ask them questions about what they're seeing and hold their hands. 
  5. Don't let your kids steal all of my business cards.
  6. If it's not in your budget, don't insult the artist. ANECDOTAL INTERJECTION: So when I left to grab a bite to eat at one of my shows last month, my daughter told me that a woman actually came in, looked at my biggest painting in the booth, which, mind you, took me about five hours to paint and was professionally framed and said, "This is beautiful, but I don't know if it's worth THAT MUCH." I swear, the Good Lord pulled me away from that booth as she approached, because I don't know what I would have done if she'd said that to my face! 

*insert your favorite discount store

There you have it!  Now you're prepared to get out there and pour some sunshine on the artists, makers and designers who bring so much diversity to our world. Practice what you've learned at Art Beat in downtown South Bend this Saturday!!  Woo hoo!!  All the details at www.downtownsouthbend.com/art-beat

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I'll be in Scene A with a smile on my face and a metaphorical hat on the ground.

Love,

Jess


Just popping in today to let you know I've made a last- minute decision to join in the handmade and vintage fun at next week's Madison Road Artisan Market! 

Shop from 10 am - 4 pm ($6)

Early bird shopping begins at 9 ($10)

Get tickets in the link above, or pay at the gate after 10 am. 

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This will be a rare chance for you to purchase my remaining craft items like my monogram necklaces, magnets and bags. I'll also feature some lovely antiques from our booth at Coppes Commons. 

As always, you'll enjoy the work of dozens of other makers, fantastic vintage goods, delicious foods, and demos on the lawn of a gorgeous private historic South Bend Farm. Don't miss it! 


Spring Grand Opening in the Etsy Shop

It's the first day of spring, and I've been doing some early spring cleaning in the Etsy shop the past couple of weeks.  With the help of my friends, Annie (photography) and Jill (personal assistant, career coach, informal agent, cheerleader extraordinaire), I reopened today with a new collection of hanging prints, framed originals and some old favorites like my upcycled erasers and illustrated recipes for instant download.

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Internet service out here in the boonies flows about as fast as cold sorghum syrup, so you'll have to hop over to the shop to see more! 

I gotta say, I'm loving this day. Besides opening the shop, I also organized all of the Goodwill and resale donations, cleaned the stovetop, vacuumed the house, and folded a couple baskets of laundry, so I'm feeling pretty awesome. Now there's a storm brewing in the west, and I'm still in my fuzzy PJ's -- it's an introvert's dream. Life is good!

I'll be listing more items in the shop in the coming weeks, so keep an eye on my Instagram account for updates.  Happy Spring!

 

 

 


A New Online Shopping Option

Hi friends! It's been a while. If you're on my mailing list or following me on Instagram, you've been staying up to date with the latest developments in my studio (links to both in the sidebar). If not, I'm stopping in today to let you know about a new way to shop for my designs.

Hop on over to RedBubble.com to purchase my work on all kinds of great products like canvas prints, framed prints, notecards, pillows, mugs and more!  

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For artists, this format is known as "passive income." It's a way for me to make the most of some of my followers' favorite designs by simply uploading them to the site and making them available for everyone! Red Bubble promotes, manufactures and ships these products, and I just sit back and watch you smile! 

Currently, you won't find any prints in my portfolio if the original is still available. If the original is still in stock, you'll find the image on other items like phone cases, stationery and mugs. Hope that makes sense.

For a quick link to my RedBubble shop any time, just click on the "red bubble" in the sidebar.

You may have noticed that I'm doing some rearranging here. As my product line changes, I'm tweaking my branding to follow suit. I'm hoping to publish a new gallery page soon that will feature my latest work and give you deets on availability. This will be quicker to update than my Etsy shop, which is also long overdue for a remodel. Gah! So much to do! Hope to see you back here soon! <3 Jess


It's a Wonderful Market

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Friday and Saturday, December 9 & 10

Friday 5 - 9 pm  |  Saturday 10 am - 4 pm

Coppes Commons |  401 E. Market St., Nappanee, IN

Since my career switch [off] last spring, life has spun me around in a whirlwind of continued changes.  After quitting my job of 17 years as a Communications Specialist for a Library in May, I took on a few hours working at the antique mall inside the Coppes Commons shopping complex, where I have a booth. While there, I met a lovely co-worker named Chelsie with the most energetic go-getter attitude and a passion for event planning.  In June, she and I made plans to host a holiday handmade/vintage market together in the event spaces of the building. In July, I "inherited" leadership of a non-profit, for which I'd been serving as VP.  In September, the Media & Marketing Specialist at Coppes Commons decided to leave, and I was offered the part time job. I started the new position this week on the heels of an intense and harrowing three-month stint coordinating a big festival in my hometown with a bare bones crew of volunteers from the aforementioned non profit. Needless to say, my plans to make more art were not in the cards. Two weeks ago I took a trip to Aruba, and came back refreshed and ready to promote the holiday market, so here we go!!! . . . . Let's usher out this insane year with a bang!

Mark your calendars for It's a Wonderful Market on December 9 & 10! Chelsie and I have gathered a group of our favorite makers and curators to help you complete your Christmas shopping with thoughtfulness and products made with love. Shop from dozens of booths featuring paintings, fiber art, jewelry, home decor, baby items, all-natural soaps, unique antiques and much more. We are planning crafts for kids, darling photo ops and several giveaways. You'll want to come both days to make sure you take advantage of the amazing Open House events at Coppes Commons on Friday, which include a live nativity walk, tons of free refreshments, live music, and drawings for big bucks in Coppes Commons gift certificates.  Come back on Saturday to see even more vendors! Admission and parking are free, and you can stay up to date on all of the details on our Facebook Page

 


I Am an Artists

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This is me. I am an artist. Today it is more than a proclamation, because, today I punched the clock for the last time at a job I've held for over 17 years. Within a span of 24 hours two weeks ago, all of the arrows that had been inching toward this direction on my life's compass spun around and locked into place.

For so long my job title and professional identity was a "communications specialist," a one-woman public relations band for a public library. While I still identify with this title out here on my own, fresh off the payroll, I've realized that the next time I'm asked what I do, I will need to stand firmly on two feet and reply "I am an artist."  No mumbling, no rambling explanation of all the "crafty" stuff I like to "dabble" in, no looking back. It's time to live in and work out my calling, painting what inspires me and creating products that bring ideas to life for others.

Earlier this year a verse came to me that really helped motivate me. It comes from Zechariah:

"Do not despise these small beginnings,

for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin."

I feel like ever since January, I have been taking small steps to make more art, to just get pen to paper and brushes in the water.  All those steps, and others in totally unrelated areas of my life, have been paving the way to this point, and although I wouldn't have dreamed I would be sitting here writing this post even three weeks ago, He has a way of making everything so clear, so urgent.

A new verse, which I recently used in a project for a friend, has become so profound and inspiring to me:

"Behold, I am doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."  Isaiah 43:19 

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I have so many more small beginnings to work on as I turn this new page today. Thank you, in advance, for your encouragement along the way and for valuing the particular beauty that the Lord has entrusted me to share.