May 31, 2012

Sadee's Watercolor World

Today I'm thrilled to introduce Sadee Schilling whose watercolor paintings are filled with stunning beauty and tender story. We actually met each other while she lived here in the states. But it wasn't until after she moved to Germany that we discovered each other's blogs--talk about serendipity!

1. How did you get started in watercolor painting?
As a kid, I would work for hours in those "paint with water" coloring books--the ones with a kind of dried pigment already on the paper that was activated with water. When I got a little older, my favorite thing was wandering the aisles of the neighborhood craft store with my mom (Hobby Lobby, I still love you!). One day I found a set of watercolor pencils in the clearance section and my mom bought them for me. I think one of the first things I ever painted was a little Victorian teacup full of roses--her Mother's Day gift, I'm almost sure of it!

When I studied art, the curriculum was drawing-heavy and I never technically took a watercolor course. I always played around with pan-watercolors, mostly just for fun. My favorite thing was to draw with crayons and oil pastels and then paint with watercolor over the resist. It wasn't until 2008 when I was pregnant with my first daughter that I began to delve into watercolors more "seriously." Up until that point, I was painting mostly with acrylics and making these really elaborate sculptural flowers and birds from canvas.

When we found out that baby was on the way, I knew that this medium was probably too involved to keep up with, especially because of how quickly acrylic paints dry! So I started creating smaller-scale illustrations with watercolor, colored pencil, pens and ink. I loved that I could stop in the middle of my work and come back later to revive the paints with a little water! And it's funny--what was meant to be a "practical" decision turned out to be crucial in truly finding my creative voice. Fluid, unpredictable watercolor literally became the strongest "craving" of my pregnancy--and the perfect medium to communicate my joyful story of parenthood and later, the ups-and-downs of our international adventure. Watching the colors splash and bleed on the paper often feels like the visual outpouring of my soul!

2. What are your favorite tools of the trade?
A plain, sharp lead pencil; white wax crayons; watercolor paper with a rough, raw surface; sedimentary watercolors (the pigments with particles that settle into the depressions of the paper and create a rich, uneven surface); both watercolor pencils and regular colored pencils; fine-liner Indian Ink pens; acrylic ink with a quill pen. Lately I've started using my watercolors in mixed-media collage, so I'm crazy for collecting beautiful papers, especially vintage ones, richly yellowed and stained. I also love to use coffee stain on paper and a craft knife to etch in scratches and other imperfections--this method creates a vintage-paper-feel.

3. What advice would you give a newbie?
Paint as much as you can! Splash the colors, let them run and mix in ways you didn't expect would work. Don't think of anything as too "precious." Don't be afraid to over-work something, and don't be afraid to under-work something and let it sit for a while and return to it later. The greatest treasures of inspiration I have discovered come in the package of something I thought was ruined! Try out lots of different media until you find the mix that makes you feel like your soul is flowing through your fingers!

4. If you were a famous actor/actress, who would you be?
My brother told me last year that the way I wrote on my blog was kind of like a mix of Rachel Ray and Dr. Phil. Ha! But for personality, I have always loved the quirky cuteness of Meg Ryan's characters--especially in Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail.  If I could also mix in a bit of Julia Roberts' brilliance, beauty and class--the quiet but confident way she commands attention--that would be perfect!

5. And a few either/or questions just for fun:
London or New York? London--I could have an international adventure without the exhaustion of learning a new language!
Grapefruit or Raisins? Raisins! I like them in trail mix, with cashews and other nuts, butnever in bread. Grapefruit is too fussy and sour.
Sandals or Rainboots? Rainboots, although to tell the truth, I don't even own a pair. Now that seems silly, since I live in rainy Hamburg, Germany! 

Thank you so much, Sadee!  I hope you'll check out Sadee's blog; her words are as beautiful as her art. You can find gorgeous watercolor prints in her shop, Picturebook Life.

May 30, 2012


I watched a movie over the weekend called 50-50. It's about a young man who finds out he has cancer and his journey of accepting what his fate may be. The entire movie he refuses to let his estranged and overbearing mother help him. But there's a scene where he's getting ready to go into surgery which he may not survive and he cries out one word, "Mom." She rushes to him with a tight embrace. She tells him it will be fine. He finds courage in her words and is able to face the operating room.

The scene latched onto me; it was beautiful. Something inside said, I know this.

Part of what I know is my own struggle against being an overbearing mom. But I think it hit me mostly because of my sweet friend. It took me back to a moment in the hospital room when she told me they'd found cancer in her lungs. She was supposed to be in the clear having stopped treatment only three weeks before. I wanted to be like that mom and tell her everything would be fine, but I didn't have the courage. So I just stood beside the bed holding onto her and we wept.

The first anniversary of her death is coming soon. It was probably dumb watching that movie. Or maybe I knew I needed it. I cried myself to sleep.

I suppose grief is a surprise roller coaster running whenever it wants to. And in a way, I'm glad it's there to stop me in the middle of living to make me take a breath. The sorrow it brings helps me remember not take things for granted or assume people I love will always be here.

May 29, 2012

Summer Manifesto

Seeing Ali Edwards' Summer Manifesto prompted me to create my own. It was fun putting to paper what had been dreamily swimming around my mind.

What are your plans for the coming season?

May 28, 2012

Mirror Mirror, Dollar Theater!

Photo: People
What I'm Loving Today:

  • Elana Johnson's book Possession. Yes, I'm behind the times a bit, but I thoroughly enjoyed this story! (Finished it in a day if that tells you anything).
  • A huge, beautiful fern that my hubby brought home. I hung it on the porch next to my artificial one. Haha. It's so lush and fluffy, fingers are crossed that I won't kill it!
  • My eldest daughter's huge stack of library books. Now that summer is here, she's reading, crafting, cooking and baking! I'm LOVING it!!
  • Hubby being off for a long weekend.
  • That Mirror, Mirror just went to our dollar theater! Hoping to see it sometime today.
  • Thinking up summer plans!
  • Knowing I don't have to take anybody anywhere on Tuesday! :D

May 24, 2012

Lucy the Valiant

My friend and I share a love of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. She named her baby girl Lucy, after one of the main characters. Naturally, I wanted to do a painting for her with elements of the story. And since Aslan (the lion) is such a central piece of the plot, I wanted to incorporate him. I don't usually draw animals so I wasn't sure how I'd do this at first. I knew it wouldn't be realistic but I didn't want it looking cartoon-ish either. So I ended up sketching his face on tissue paper and letting the pattern be his mane.
The break-through of spring is a big theme in the first book.
One of the best quotes from the entire series--my friend's favorite (this is not the entire quote, only an excerpt).
I'm working on more story-art. Combining them has such a powerful connection for me.
{This print now available in my shop}

Wishing you a fantastic weekend full of beauty and tender moments!

Rachel Awes: The Colorful Doodler

I'm so excited to have Rachel Awes here today! She graciously agreed to answer some questions:

1. I love your whimsical works; how did you find your art style?
i began creating art because i was moved by hearing the moments of beautiful insights from my clients in my psychology practice. i would write down something lovely they said + later try to draw it. initially, i could go through a whole notepad of scribbling to search for some authentic lines that expressed what their sentiment felt like to me. somehow, over time, these scribbled lines began to have some kind of consistency to them. my breath came through the page.

2. What are your favorite tools?
my favorite tools are my heart + ears + arms to hug + the beauty i see in people + the colors of orange + green + yellow + softblue + red. i also love markers + acrylics.

3. What advice would you give a new artist starting out?
have fun. play. follow the colors + forms that bring you joy. follow them all the way home.

4. If you were a famous actor/actress, who would you be?
pippi longstocking.

5. And a few either/or questions just for fun:
Chicago or Hong Kong? chicago.
Cream cheese or Sour cream? cream cheese.
Roses or Tulips? tulips. + for extra credit, always with love. xo, rachel

Thanks so much, Rachel! Pippy Longstocking's a favorite of mine too!

Rachel Awes is a psychologist, art playgroundist, writer, wife, mom, + friend, who loves listening to the beauty in people. Join Rachel: on her blog, her beautiful shop, pinterest, facebook and twitter.

May 23, 2012

Wanna Trade Strengths?

I want someone else's strengths; mine are lame.  I took a strengths test this week (here) and these were the results:
1.  Appreciation of beauty and excellence
2.  Curiosity and interest in the world
3.  Spirituality, sense of purpose, faith
4.  Love of learning
5.  Gratitude

See what I mean? Lame. Because, what can I do with these?  I guess I see where a Love of Learning and a Spirituality/Sense of Purpose could be helpful. But appreciating beauty? Doesn't everyone? I mean this isn't exactly stand-out material.

I got my results and wished I'd been strong in Bravery/Valor or Industry/Diligence/Perseverance--now those are strengths. They seem gallant-- mine seem unnecessary.

Although, the funny thing is that if someone else came to me with this list, I'd be able to see how it plays out in their life and why it's important. But being me, I struggle to see the significance of them in my life. Not that I'm ungrateful (see strength #5).

Then it hit me, my strengths can all be used here on the blog. *cue the Twilight Zone music*  *doo-doo-doo-doo* No wonder I love blogging! *cheesy smile*

My strengths do have a purpose, they do, they do!

What are your strengths? Do you like them or would you wanna trade? Forget I said mine were lame, they'll look great on you!

Also, the winner of a free calligram print by Joni James is: Camille Yanair! Congratulations!
{Sorry I didn't have this on the post earlier. Obviously organization isn't one of my strengths}

May 22, 2012

Home Office Dreams

I've been dreaming about a cozy studio re-do. Here are some of my favorite picks so far:
I'm drawn to all shades of blue. I also love the bright pops of orange, red, pink and yellow. My studio is mostly desks, table and chairs right now. I'd love to have a cozy area to snuggle in and read or have my family hanging out near me.

My studio has a large picture window, and across from it is an opening into the living room. Bookcases line the only full wall in the studio and a wide doorway is across from that. This makes for fantastic lighting but less wall space. Trying to keep the open feel and not blocking the walkway is making my dream space a bit of a challenge. But I've got graph paper working for me and attempting to find a good layout.

Do you have a space of your own or dreams of one? What would you like to fill it with?

May 21, 2012

I Love Flying Kids

What I'm loving lately:

  • My kids "flying" to find the eclipse.
  • Having a day full of nothing so I can catch up.
  • A new refill for my loose-leaf calendar. I'm trying to get organized, yet again.
  • Figuring out my decor style with Rachel Denbow's Style Your Space course.
  • Being asked to paint one of my art girls on a GUITAR!! Oh my gosh...the plans. I've been sketching and scheming. It's sitting by my art table just waiting for me. :D
  • The quiet Saturday morning date with my son. No one else was awake, so we took off. It was such fun one-on-one time.
  • Reading beautiful art books and feeling extra-inspired.
  • Having my husband back after his trip to Cambodia.
What are you loving lately?

May 18, 2012

No More Teasing

I promised I'd show you the painting after it was gifted, so here it is. ;) This was for my Dad's big birthday. He'd teased me about giving everyone else a painting but him. I didn't think he'd really like one of my girl paintings so I decided to paint with words. This was so much fun, especially since it was a labor of love.

And not to leave Mom out, I gave her this for Mother's day...
A shrinky-dink pendant of her grandkids. She was very grateful and didn't find it cheesy . :D

May 17, 2012

Interview with Calligram Artist, Joni James

I'm so excited to introduce you to calligram artist, Joni James. Joni and I have been blog buddies for awhile and I've always been fascinated by her artwork. She weaves words and shapes together effortlessly.

1. I love how your art is full of words; it's such a perfect combination. How did you get started doing art this way?
I got started in the art of lettering way back in 1991. It was my escape from the noisy house full of kids. It required concentration and gave me a good outlet to savor all those quotes and poems I loved. It took about 20 years from there to discover the art of calligrams, which are the pictures made up of words. I must have picked up the idea from a class sometime along the way. They were first originated my Picasso's good friend in the late 1800's. His name was Guillaume Apollinaire. Unfortunately he died at the age of only 38 from the pandemic flu. I never seem to get tired of finding new images to bring to life with words.

2. What are your favorite tools?
Right now I'm loving the LED light pad I bought from my local art supply store. I can actually see the image I'm trying to re-create so much easier then using vellum.
3. What advice would you give a new artist?
I would have to say that it takes a long time to develop a niche, but every single step to get to that point is so very important and necessary. But, it all depends on what the individual artist really wants. Is creation an outlet for relaxation? Is it created so that you can move away from your daytime job? Would you like to see your art branch out and hit the commercial market? Any reason for creating is the right reason. Just letting it develop into what makes you happy is the most important thing.

4. If you were a famous actor/actress, who would you be?
Barbara Streisand or Diane Keaton. If I was a man I'd want to be Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He's so excellent! haha!
5. And a few either/or questions just for fun:
Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal? Grand Canyon! I'm dying to see it up close, not just from an airplane. It's Grand!
High heels or flats? I'm definitely a flats girl and always have been. I'm way too tall. In fact, that was my nickname in high school. Too Tall Joni!

Joni has graciously offered to give away one of her prints (winner's choice)! To enter the giveaway, simply check out her shop CalligramORama then leave the name of your favorite print in the comments below. The giveaway is open until midnight (Central time) on Tuesday, May 22. I'll post the winner here on Wednesday, May 23. You may also visit Joni on her blog.

Joni James 

May 16, 2012

Weekend at the Lake

My Dad had a marker birthday this year and instead of a big party, he wanted a weekend with all his kids and grandkids. So Mom rented a lake house and we spent the weekend playing games, reminiscing and pontoon-ing around the lake. The kids, along with my sister and Dad, were the only ones brave enough to enter the water--it was COLD! We had the best time hanging out and just soaking each other up! *happy sigh* It ended a too quickly.

May 15, 2012

Finding the Best Way to Respond to Comments

Comments are wonderful. Obviously I love getting them; I mean, let's be honest, who doesn't love conversation sprouting from the seed of your post?  But I've struggled with finding a good system for responding to them.  I feel that if someone is commenting on what I wrote, I want to share in the conversation with them. In the beginning of my blog, I replied to comments as a comment (this was before the "reply" option) .

Then I found out I could reply through email! That was wonderful because then the comment section wasn't cluttered with my replies. I loved being able to respond to people in a more personal way. However, the glitch was that anyone who didn't have an email listed in their profile, didn't get my reply. It took me awhile to figure that one out. I'm slow. So I chose to try something different because I wanted to be able to respond to everyone.

So I started hopping to each commenter's blog to leave them a comment and to respond to their comment. I loved doing this because I could see what everyone was up to, but sometimes it took more time than I had that day and I didn't get to everyone.

I most recently chose to set up the reply option in my comment section. It seems like a good solution because I can converse with people on my blog and they can see everyone's responses on that one post. I'm able to reply to the comment whether or not I have time to browse blogs. It frees me up to read at leisure and not feel as though I'm ignoring someone's comment.

Can you tell I tend to over-think things? ;)

I would love to know how you handle comments on your blog. How do you prefer other people to respond to your comments? Each of us will choose something different; there's no right way. I'm just sorting through my thoughts on the subject and would love to know yours!

And before I forget, the winner of the Beginner's Henna Kit (chosen by Random Generator) is---Jen! Congratulations! Email me your information so we can send out your kit.

May 14, 2012

Much Love Monday: Mom

Since we celebrated Mother's Day yesterday I thought it'd be fun to share a few things I love about my Mom:
*  She makes everyone feel loved.
*  Her adoration of books (which I inherited).
*  She's quick to use her most powerful weapon--that smile.
*  Her nurturing, caring spirit.
*  She is stunningly organized (which I did not inherit).
*  Her bravery in handling difficult situations.

What are you loving today?

May 10, 2012

Playing with Words

I can't show a complete reveal yet (gifts in the making), but this is what I've been working on this week. Sorry about the poor lighting; I forgot to take a picture before the sun went down.

Hope you all have an amazing weekend! If you haven't signed up to win the Beginner's Henna Kit giveaway, go here.

Inspiring Interview & Beginner Henna Kit Giveaway!

Zena and Marley from Henna King agreed to answer a few questions and also offered to give away a free Beginner Henna Kit! {see details below}

1. How did you get started in Henna tattoos?
Twelve years ago, two couples got together and said "Hey. lets start a internet company and then we can move anywhere we want!" So the four of us started Henna King because two of us, Zena and Marley, were doing Henna Tattoos in Northern California at the time. The two girls run the business end of taking orders, filling orders, phones, emails, as well as packaging and making products like our lip stain. The guys do advertising, the web, importing and shipping. Works very well for us all.
2. What are your favorite tools?
Our favorite tools for henna would be pre-made cones. Easy, simple and efective. No messy mixing!

3. What advice would you give a newbie?
Advice for a newbie would be to go stand over a henna artist at work and watch them! Or, go get a henna tattoo and ask a lot of questions.  

4. If you were a famous actor/actress, who would you be?
We all like George Clooney we think he is a great humanitarian. 

5. And to close, a few either/or questions just for fun:
Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal?  Taj Mahal of course! Wev'e all been to India. 
Grapes or coconuts?  Coconuts, we all like Pina Coladas! 
Red or Purple? Henna Red!

Thanks so much! To enter the giveaway, tell us your favorite item from Henna King in the comments below. The giveaway ends May 14th at midnight. I'll post the winner on Tuesday, May 15th!

May 9, 2012

Mother's Day Gift Card Free Printable

In honor of Mother's Day, I created a free printable gift card--a gift from me to you. Simply right-click on the photo below, save and print.

Get 10% off every purchase in my shop through Mother's Day with the coupon code: MOTHER.

Hats and Such

Sweater and earrings: Gifts
Shirt: Thrift
Hat and jeans: Target (clearance)
Shoes: Plato's Closet

Haven't done an outfit post in a few weeks. I don't claim to be a fashion blogger, but posting what I wear applies the pressure I need to stay out of sloppy options. I didn't get a chance to wear this hat as much as I wanted during the winter season, so I've worn it few times this spring. These shoes are extra comfy and I think the gold detail provides a fun contrast. 

Don't let the watering can fool you, I have a black thumb. Trying to be optimistic though, I'm planting some herbs. The plant that's stayed with me the longest is the artificial fern hanging on my front porch. Ha. A mama bird nests there now with her babies. I love watching them while I paint.

May 8, 2012

All These Things You've Been to Me

Photo by my Mom
Twirler, tooth-puller, swing pusher, skate partner, poolside catcher, protector, hide-n-seek finder, joke-ster, comforter, ice cream maker, game-board player, video taker, first date, driving teacher, furniture mover, college pay-er, bride walker, baby holder, toddler chaser, entertainer, advice giver, cheerleader, dream-believer.
All these things you've been to me and more.
Happy Birthday, Dad!
I love you.

May 7, 2012

Much Love Monday: Vlogs

Jewelry box I painted in the third grade.
What I'm loving today:
*  Getting closer to an update on my shop.
*  Having a productive, quiet morning.
*  Watching vlogs (and considering making one).
*  Contemplating taking this ecourse to help me with my house.
*  Anticipating much-needed time with my extended family this coming weekend!

What are you loving today?

May 3, 2012

Finally Finished!

I'm happy to be finished with this painting. I still want to tinker with her wings a bit; but I'm making myself step away for now.

And I've been working on some new things for my shop. I'll give you a little hint...

Have a wonderful weekend and remember to savor each moment!