Finding Home

As a young professional artist, I spent a lot of time and paint recreating travel photos I'd taken or borrowed from family and friends: the missions of San Antonio, a Puerto Rican garden, an English lake. They were all well and good, but they weren't my voice. In our early twenties, I don't think there are many of us who even have a story yet! It's an advantage we do have in our middle and late years, so that's what I'm embracing lately.


An artist friend of mine recently helped me to "see" a thread running through my work.  A light went on in my head when I realized that it's the concept of "home." Since that conversation, I've begun seeing this entire "period" of work as one that explores what it means to be sheltered by a place, to be part of a community and to be shaped by everyday objects that we normally overlook. For me, this means creating work that reflects my Midwestern-ness, my love for the cocoon that is my tiny house, the anxiety and reward that comes from living beside other broken people, and the wonder that I find in my big backyard. 

Jason Bouwman, author of the book, "Just Thinking,"recently had an Instagram post that stopped me in my scroll. It was the word "belongings" with the letter "s" crossed out. Wow! What if we began eliminating belongings and started focusing on creating more belonging? Are we brave enough? What would we miss? What makes us feel a sense of belonging? How do I balance my tendency to collect pretty things (and sell pretty things) with my longing to live more simply? So many questions! I hope you'll follow along with me as I explore these musings through my work in the coming months. 

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Above is the painting I'm currently working on. I'm thinking about calling it "Narcissus with Supplies." My instagram description for it went like this: 

"Sometimes we worry waaaay too much about our image. Maybe we do it consciously by meticulously crafting a persona for ourselves, maybe subconsciously after many years of trying to protect ourselves. Either way, I'm convinced that we need to dig deep, find our true selves and risk looking or sounding like a fool once we're comfortable in our own skin. Even if we feel humiliated at the end of the day, God can use that to help us extend Grace to other broken brothers and sisters."

I'll be sure to post the finished product on my Instagram feed pretty soon. Stay tuned!

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You'll have the opportunity to see and purchase many of them at an upcoming event in Elkhart, IN, this May. The next ArtWalk will be held downtown from 5 - 8 pm.  I'll be in the Edward Jones building on the corner of Main & High Streets. The theme is "Flower Power", so I'll be in seventh heaven! Hope to see you there!


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!