Thursday, November 5, 2009

Creativity...It's Really Ok

Getting back on track after several days away on a little 'mini Halloween vacation' with some friends (I'll try to post pics later today) and this morning, I accidentally came across this amazing and moving video that simply blew me away! I will admit that my emotions poured. The amazing writer Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the #1 NY Times Best Selling Memoir EAT, PRAY, LOVE speaks at the 2009 TED conference in this video. I remember seeing her on Oprah several years ago when the book originally came out and she inspired me tremendously then! I never ended up reading the book...but am now committing to reading it!! Sit back and enjoy...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sammy and Marshmallow

Now that I'm living in the world of healthy again.....well, almost healthy, I guess it's time to get back to blogging and creating. Let me just say, I do not like being sick! And I have to be really sick to even consider being noted as sick in the first place....and believe me....I was!! About a week ago, I seemed to have developed a nice case of strep throat that was enhanced with fever, body aches, cough and congestion (that started to get pretty serious) and an overall weakness that left me....well....pathetic. Not fun! But I seemed to have recovered, for the most part, and am back in the saddle again! Woo Hoo! Prior to getting sick though, I had actually started a small painting that I wanted to do about/for my daughter, Hannah. Perhaps even a 'series' of sorts....we'll see. Anyway, Hannah is such a beautiful young girl and has a gentle, loving spirit and especially has an enormous love for nature and animals. Well, a little over a year ago, she was given 2 gerbils for her birthday that she lovingly named Sammy and Marshmallow. Her first real pets. And......we also have a beautiful white cat named Zeus............

Well, without going into detail, let's just say Zeus and Marshmallow had a run-in of sorts. It wasn't pretty! And then, as gerbils do, Sammy died several months later as well. Hannah still talks about them fondly, so I wanted to include them in my little painting. She is actually writing a book called The Adventures of Sammy and Marshmallow in which she is quite the talented writer, especially for a 10 year old. I told her I could illustrate it for her. How unique would that be! This little painting is 8x10, done in acrylics and was so much fun to do. Not my usual type of work but enjoyed it just the same. I may play with this idea a little more and see what I can come up with. You just never know.......

During my recent episode of being sick, we were blessed here in Florida with our first few days of cold weather (actually got into the 50's). I didn't get to enjoy it much, sadly, due to being totally incapacitated....but the kids couldn't wait to spend their time outside and soak it all in!


I had the windows open (love that!) and for the first time, probably, ever....they were quiet outside. Hmmmmm......had to get up and take a look. They had taken several blankets out of the van that we use for picnics, laid them out in the front yard, loaded up a handful of toys and books and just hung out together. Quietly, none-the-less. It was soooo very sweet. I didn't want it to end. They really didn't want to come back inside.

It's amazing really, how a gorgeous day of cool weather brings out such beauty!!! What a blessing!
....God, who gives us richly ALL things to enjoy.
1Timothy 6:17

Monday, October 12, 2009

Welcome Autumn

Even though our days here are still reaching above the 90's, with humidity giving us some 100's, there are very few things around that give the necessary clues that October is here and Autumn is upon us. You won't find leaves in multitudes of colors on branches and on the ground, you won't see anyone in sweaters or jackets or find piles of firewood waiting its turn in the fireplaces. No, you won't find these things....but you will find pumpkins!

Our church, Grace United Methodist Church, sells pumpkins every year and after service this Sunday, the kids and I spent some time in the pumpkin patch. The pumpkins are so beautiful this year. Such a huge collection in every shape and size. Hannah and Nathaniel were so excited as they ran up and down the aisles trying to find that perfect pumpkin.

Nathaniel didn't want the biggest pumpkin though....he wanted the smallest! He kept holding it up to his cheek repeating "oh, you are soooo cute"! It was so very sweet. The colors everywhere were very inspirational, too. So many beautiful oranges, yellows, reds, greens and browns. It's often hard to get into the seasonal inspirational mood since we basically have just one season here....hot! I so look forward to heading a bit north and experiencing the changing of the seasons. It won't be long! Well, much to do, so until next time....Blessings to you!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Teacher, Teacher

Just call me teacher! I am so excited about a new venture that has entered my world recently. I was on my way into one of my addiction stores for some supplies, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store (yes, they carry a lot of art supplies too), I happened to notice a little sign stating they were needing an artist to teach painting and drawing classes. Hmmmm....this sounded like a possibility. I have often been told I should teach art classes (and have at many a casual settings) and although I am still learning more and more every day, I am sure I would have something to offer. So I met with Ann, the delightful education director and after some discussion and examples of my work...I was in! I'll be working as an independent and although there is a schedule in place already, no one has signed up for the painting classes yet due to their lack of teacher. But that should change soon! There will be your basic painting and One-Stroke painting classes and then I will also offer, what they call, trend classes. Sort of a specialized class. This will be one of the trend classes I'll be offering...

It uses a combination of media, embossing powders and watercolors, which are both great fun to use. The image can be created freehand, from a template or even rubber stamps into many things such as this Christmas card, or framed artwork, ornaments, and decorations. The possibilities are endless.

The embossing actually creates a masking, of sorts, which makes the watercolor process extremely simple! This is a project for even the beginner, believe it or not.

And the final piece has a beautiful, sort of, batik or silk painting look. The embossed areas create a dimension and shine when the light passes it. It's really very beautiful.

When I brought it to the store and Ann was mounting it for display, several bystanders were giving quite a few oohs and aahs and when they found out even a beginner could do this, they became interested in the class!!! Can I get a Woo-Hoo?! Off to a good start! Well, it's time to get back to work. I'm in the process of finishing several pieces for other classes right now, so once done, I'll post those too. So until next time.... Blessings to you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Art On Vintage Bible Pages

Yes, believe it or not....I'm back, all in the same night! WooHoo! Don't expect this to happen again for sure. Many who know me, know I love books, old books especially. There is something very exciting and mysterious to me about a book. The paper, the binding, the story that lay between the pages. Older books are often so beautiful in its text styles and covers, which is what inspired me recently to use pages from vintage books for my art.

I was originally inspired by a vintage bible I have that is falling apart, with torn pages, etc. It wasn't able to serve its original purpose, but hopefully I could help the pages stay alive (my apologies for the not-so-great photos.) Several of these were 'test pages' of sorts because I wasn't really sure how different medium would take to the pages, especially with the fragile nature of the paper.
I was surprised though. Even watercolors worked well. I also used acrylics, ink and colored pencils. Then I thought perhaps I could create a further message within the text of that page so there were random words within the page or art that I left open, so together it created a message. I'm going to have to scan these and get better images so I can use for prints.
I'm going to continue to work on this concept and see what transpires and I'll post more when done. I really think it's unique and could be quite beautiful.
There is even more to post, but I am just going to have to wait until later. I still have much to finish so I need to get busy with that too. Until we meet again, Blessings to you.

Painting And Drawing And Creating.....Oh My!

Painting and drawing and creating....oh my! Painting and drawing and creating.....oh my! We're off to see the wi.....oops, sorry about that. Got a little crazy, there. Well, let's just say, it's been busy around here lately! Many new ventures are in the works (more info later) and there have been a lot of creating going on. I am in my 'happy place' for sure!

This is a great little project that I just finished 'just for me'! You see....I have an artist pen (and pencil) problem....urhhh....addiction! And I know it will get even bigger as time goes on. It's a sickness! I have been looking for some time now, for a sort of 'holder' of sorts to store them all in. Something that will hold them flat (or preferable at a slight angle), has dividers for the many types of pens/markers and a convenient size to sit on my drawing table. Not to be found! Well, I've been left no choice...I guess it's time to make it myself! I had bought these great little wooden boxes a while back, that I had planned on using with images of my work. But when I looked closer, I realized they were perfect for my little project! I can still get more, so my other idea can still happen.

After sanding them, gluing them all together (with a small lift to give it a slight angle), and spraying them with a sealant, it was time to turn it into 'something special'. Once I started, I couldn't stop. I had so much fun with this.

It was done with a black sharpie and contains some special words.......

Inspire...... Art......

DZine......

Dream......

and Create!! I really like the way it turned out and it was a blast to do. Not only that, but I get to keep it. Love that! I really think I'm going to use this concept on some further pieces too. We'll just have to see. I still have to get the photos together of some of the other pieces I have been working on, but here is a new pendant necklace I just finished. Well, almost finished.

I still have to add a layer of resin, but for the most part, it's finished. I've worn it a few times for feedback and I received many, many comments...all positive. It doesn't really show it in the photo, but the color comes from underneath and the black lays on top, so it has a very unique dimensional look. It measures about 3.75 inches across. It's a real fun piece to wear. Looks like I'll be making quite a few more. Gotta go for now. Until next time....Blessings!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Well, I'm back. Got a bit off course for a while when my little Nathaniel came down with pneumonia. There were concerns of more serious issues as well, so he was my #1 focus for a while. He's better now, but they're going to watch him closely over the next several months. Then school restarted, Hannah in the 5th grade and Nathaniel in pre-K. It was a wonder there was time to create at all, but there was. There are so many projects that I have needed to post and I'm going to try to play a little 'catch-up'. Not sure if I'll get them all posted today, but I will certainly try! Not off to a good start though, I spent most of today just trying to get everything off my camera and sorted through. Boy, do I need a new camera. My computer wasn't playing nice today either. Egad! Okay, here we go....let's see...well for starters, some time ago, me and my daughters' group leader at church were talking and somehow, after all this time, we realized she and I had never formally introduced ourselves to each other. We had talked many times though. Well, much to our amazement....we both have the same name (first AND last!). I almost fell over! And here's the clincher....she's attending college to be an artist!! God works in mysterious ways!Well, she contacted me later for a project she was working on with her class at FGCU. They were collecting artwork to donate to a thrift store in Naples that benefits a shelter for abused women and children. The objective was to raise awareness about abused women and children, provide funds to support an organization that helps these women and children and to demonstrate a way in which the art community can contribute to a cause. What a great project. I did a quick watercolor and printed it with the scripture Matthew 6:25-32 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life....". Somehow, I thought this was a message for this organization. Having been in an abusive relationship, God's promise that He was there and would take care of me and my children gave me the courage needed to make some very difficult choices during that time. Some alarming statistics from just this shelter last year....the two thrift stores have accounted for over 30% of the revenue for the shelter, the shelter answered 4,652 crisis hotline calls, developed 6,459 safety plans with adult and child victims of domestic violence, educated 8,689 individuals through one or more of the educational programs and provided more than 14,000 days of shelter. And this is just one shelter in one city. Most think it's easy to 'just leave' or call for help, but I can tell you, it's at times impossible. So these numbers only represent those that took a leap of faith and called out for help. There are many that never do! I'm so glad I got to participate in this great project and donate something.This is another graphic watercolor that I finished at that time, too. It measures 6"x6". Below is a sneak peak into a big project I'm finishing now. More to come on this later.....

I still have a lot of pics to take so I can post some of the other finished pieces. Let's hope my camera cooperates! If all goes well, I just may get it all posted tonight.....okay, well, it sounds good in theory! 'Till we meet again.....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gallery Time

The day has come....I have some work in a gallery now!
A long time waiting. Very exciting and I look forward to others in the near future, too! The new gallery in Cape Coral has this piece and will have a few pendants too, if I can finish them in the next day or so, before the grand opening this Saturday. The water lily is a 18 x 14 acrylic painting and I'm really pleased at the finished piece. I've received so much positive feedback so far, so my anxiety is finally subsiding. As soon as the pendants are finished, I'll post those too. Well, it's time to paint....

Elvis Is In The Building





So many projects lately. A lot to tell, but my computer is acting strange today....so I'm not sure how much I'll get posted and it's quite late....urrhhhh....I mean early. Let's start with Elvis. Well, Grandma loves Elvis! And I mean really loves Elvis! She's mentioned more than once how she would love to turn her spare bedroom into her Elvis Room. She lives in the same house since her kids were small and I don't think it's been painted since then either! There were posters and AC/DC stickers and writing on the walls and I was certain to have my hands full, but it was time for The Elvis Room. I've redesigned many rooms for people throughout the years and was looking forward to this one. I really wanted to keep the cost down so I had to get creative! Painting the room was the worst of it! The primer first was absolutely necessary with the very unusual deep blue that filled every inch! I found Behr primer in the clearance section at Home Depot for $5 which was a great start. Had them tint it, which helped the final coat of regular paint! Of course painting the 6 foot Elvis silhouette was the fun part. It's the first thing you see when you enter the room. Found a great oak lamp from Target at the Thrift Store for $3 and the lamp shade for 5o cents. Painted the lamp black, recovered the shade, and even decoupaged Elvis on the pull-chain. Too cute! WalMart had some red plastic bowls in the shape of stars from the 4th of July on sale for $1 each and knew I could create something unique with them. Found a beautiful solid wood double dresser at the Salvation Army Thrift Store...well it wasn't so beautiful at first, but I could see it's beauty underneath. Talked them down from $85 to $40, what a deal! Found a great solid red comforter on sale at WalMart (thank goodness for the back-to-school sale) and then off to the sewing machine. Found some beautiful upholstery fabrics for about $1 a yard at JoAnn Fabrics including pleather! (pretend leather) A few extras and we were set. Once Grandma got used to the idea and accepted the chaos.....the work began. Took almost 3 full days with some help from my 15 year old neice Kayla. She was such a big help and she really enjoyed it, too. It would have taken much longer without her, for certain! Here are some before and after photos of the room and dresser. I was exhausted, but it was worth it. I will sew some more pillows to take on future visits, but for now, it does the trick! Grandma loved it, although she couldn't make out the 6 foot Elvis face on the wall yet....she thinks she sees it, but isn't quite sure yet. Oh well......I'm sure she'll 'see' it soon enough!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Don't Forget The Logo



I was talking to my friend this evening and she brought up that one of my pieces could be used for someones logo. Well, it got me thinking about the many logos I've done in the past, including a few recently that I had never posted. I tend to separate graphic work and illustrative/painting work and forget to include the graphic work here on the blog. Eventually, I'll get it all on the website as my full portfolio, but hey, I can note it here, too! The Ashlee Nicole Photography logo, I just completed recently and she loved it. She accepted the very first proof....I love it when that happens! Wing City Grille was the same way, as well as a few others. It's a great feeling when a client gives you basic input on what they're looking for, and after listening closely, you create something that they love the moment they see it. It doesn't always happen that way, but it's great when it does! It's time to get back to some painting....till next time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bee Happy!


Finished the bee pendant, no catastrophe with the resin and the client really liked the final piece....all is good! I will admit though, I held my breathe with the resin.....probably lifted the cup that I use to protect it while it cures, at least 25 times. Whew! Bee Happy! :) I am also pretty happy with the packaging card that I created to use for the pendants. I have some other pendants under way, as well as some other paintings, too. Slowly but surely, my inventory is growing. I have waited for so long to be in a place where I could paint and create, every day, all day and it's glorious! Thank you Jesus!!! I prayed for God's will in my life for a while now and then all heck broke loose! Be careful what you pray for!!! It can often be scary at first because your life as you know it can be radically changed. Can't wait to see what happens next! School will be ending pretty soon and the kids will have a few activities here and there for summer vacation, but otherwise, they will be here with me while I work....Egad! There will certainly be a lot to juggle. No problem, I am woman...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sea Of Fun


Busy, Busy, Busy! Love it when I'm busy. So much has been accomplished since last post. The biggest thing, I think, is that I just bought an unbelievable new printer to print my work with. I have been doing a lot of research trying to find the right professional printer that, first, I could afford and, second, was still going to give me the quality needed for the necessary archival needs. I certainly am not going to have happy customers if my prints start fading over time! Well, I found the printer and it is remarkable! The HP Photosmart Pro B8850, large format photo printer. It uses the Vivera HP pigment inks that are engineered to resist fading for over 100 years! It uses 8 ink cartridges and produces AMAZING colors. I am so pleased with it. Can't wait to get everything scanned, printed and ready to go. Yippee! Working on a lot of artwork too. Some good, some not so good. Had someone that wanted a pendant for his wife for Mothers Day, finished it on Friday, Saturday put the resin on, checked on it later that day and it looked like goop! Not sure what happened but it totally ruined the entire piece. Sunday was Mothers Day and I couldn't fix the piece in time. Will be re-painting the piece and try to get it to him ASAP and I am so glad he understood. Sometimes, these things happen, but hate it when it does! I also finished this colorful watercolor that I had started and I have to say, watercolors are soooo great to work with. I just love them. You don't have to have a lot of 'set-up' which is so great when life is busy. This one was so much fun to do and the kids really wanted to watch the progress, which was nice. Have a few more that I should be finishing soon and will post when done. Well, onto more painting....till next time....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Every Day Is Earth Day!



What a beautiful day it is here in Florida. Would be a shame for anyone to have to spend it indoors! Today being Earth Day brings to mind further what a shame it would be if our children could not enjoy nature and our world as we know it now. It's ever changing, and not for the good! The kids and I have been working hard as a family on little things that can help our world for some time now. Everything from recycling, using re-usable bags for shopping, turning off and unplugging appliances when not in use, exchanging the old light bulbs with the new energy efficient ones (can be costly so we do a couple at a time instead of all at once), and many other things, as we can. We spend a lot of our playtime/weekends outside enjoying nature and they are so in love with the trees, the waters, the bugs, the animals, all that is outside, just as I do! What a blessing. The old Native American proverb is so true..."We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we BORROW it from our children". I used this quote in one of my ACEO cards and would like to use it again. I'm not sure if I like how it turned out, so I will probably do another and focus on the lettering a bit more. Happy Earth Day everyone, and remember....EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Break and ACEO Addictions










I feel like it's been an eternity again since my last post...although I think about posting constantly! Welcome to the life of an independent/freelance artist-mom of 2 young children-Type A personality, woman! Whew! I have had so many projects going on, not to mention we just finished with our little Spring Break staycation of fun in the sun. The kids and I spent time at the beach a lot, doing some hiking, picnics, and just enjoying life together. Hannah was off from school for over a week so I put the computer away and the kids and I had our little vacation here....I mean, hey, we live in Florida....who needs to fly away somewhere when we live in vacation capital. Spent some time with friends, spent Easter with family, it was great!

I may have put the computer away, but I couldn't put the drawing and painting away! I wanted to do some smaller pieces that were not so cumbersome, so I could take them with me while watching the kids play, or during quiet times, and still be marketable. I have always loved working in pen and ink and started some ACEO (Art Cards, Editions and Originals) Trading Cards. These cards have one main rule - they are 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches - the size of a trading card. They were originally made to be traded. And while artists were happy trading them, the public showed interest and had no way to get them. So a group of artists finally made their cards available for sale and it's become quite the explosion. I just love them and so enjoy creating them. Affordable for anyone, regardless of whether it's an original or numbered edition. Here are a few I've done and I'll post more once I get them photographed. (I have quite a few, some are inked and just need the final painting). I also started a series of crosses and have received a lot of interest in them, so I think I'll create a few more and offer them as sets as well as individual pieces. I think they would look very interesting in a long frame as a complete set. I like these as black and whites, but also want to paint them (ahhh, the dilemma), so I have to work out the details of that. Not sure how many will be printed in the editions yet, we'll see. Well, it's late, much to do tomorrow. And will try very hard to post more often! I should be ashamed....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hangin' In There......



It seems like it's been forever since my last posting. Better late than not at all, I guess. I really started to get rather busy and as luck would have it, I came down sick and everything came to halt. I don't think I have been that sick since I was pregnant with Nathaniel. I won't go into the gory details, but nothing got done anywhere for almost 2 weeks. Feeling much better now...thank the Lord! Just finished this pendant and it feels good to get a paintbrush in my hands again. I still need to finish the water lily (that's next) and I hope to finish it in the next day or so. I will be donating it to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida 2009 Wishmaker's Ball that is coming up in a couple weeks, so I really do have to finish it! It will be used as one of the auction pieces for that night. (I should have time to get the glicees done, too.) I am also donating all of the graphic design work of the printed pieces for the event (invitations, posters, program, etc). It is a great cause and am glad I can help out in some way. Well, I have some new ideas for my pendants and am sketching them out now....but first thing's first....onto the lily.....
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