Happy Holidays Friends, if you have attempted to contact me in the last week or so I apologize. I have been hermiting while working my tail off trying to prepare for this craft bazaar. I am selling hand painted or hand created greeting cards. I have made 104 of them. Let’s let that sink in for a minute…. 104!
This is the first time in my life I have put my art up for sale for the general public and it is stressing me out.
Please just stop by the Stratton Community Center this Thursday from 2-8 and buy some greeting cards from me. You didn’t even know you needed them, but you do, you so do.
You guys, I have been feeling pretty blah lately. It is a combination of all of the hatred being spewed about this election and the change of seasons that is making me weary. I am not ready for the cold, making the world less accessible.
My mantra lately is “Just show up.” When I am finding it too exhausting to put things out, as in creating, I put things in, as in learning.
All of the money I have made on selling my art and writing, I have put back into taking classes to sharpen my skills. I love learning, I love learning about things I love. I have taken a couple writing classes and below are pictures from a glass blowing class I took a while back.
I have been finding a lot of encouragement in a few books that I have really fallen in love with as of late: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Which has lead me to my new obsession; Magic Lessons Podcast. If you consider yourself to be a creator or if you want to be, go listen to this FREE podcast. It is no secret that Elizabeth Gilbert and I are soul mates (she just doesn’t know it yet) so I may be slightly biased, but give it a go and let me know what you think.
To be honest, I have been dreaming big these days and it is scary because I know that there are people out there that think I am garbage and they really don’t want to see me succeed. It’s also scary because there are people out there that believe in me that really do want me to succeed.
Sending my love!
My friend Christy is our school nurse and she popped in on the day I was working on my commission piece. She mentioned that her birthday was coming up and that she would love some art from me. I was really excited about having something else to work on since I had so much fun doing the painting. I contacted her husband and asked him to send me a picture that Christy might like made into art.
He sent me a beautiful picture of the Maroon Bells that Christy had taken in college. I gave it my best effort but I failed. I was trying to practice with water color and I just didn’t have the patience.
So I stalked Christy on Facebook and found a beautiful picture of her adorable kiddos from their Christmas program last year.
Meanwhile, I got these new Tombow duel tipped markers in flesh tones that I had been dying to try out. So I set on my way to try a portrait. Big deal ladies and gentlemen.
The thing about watercolor is that it is SOOOO unforgiving. So if I mess up I have to start over and I really really hate starting over.
I misjudged the color of the darker skin tone marker and it resulted in her kids looking like they were poster children for the dust bowl.
So, take two: I tried again and as I got closer and closer to being done, I got more and more hesitant to work on it because I didn’t want to mess anything up.
I finally got enough guts to complete it, I put it in a frame from amazon and gave it to her for her birthday.
Blessings for this project: Christy has cute kids, tombow makes amazing markers, and encouragement from Christy to make something for her.
Boundaries: Portraits are HARD, if one little thing is off it just doesn’t look right, overcoming my fear of watercolor.
I think it turned out pretty cute!
In other news: I am considering doing more commission pieces for Christmas so let me know if you are interested.
I have been hanging on to this one for a while but I think it is time to put it out there…
I’ll make a meal and say lot’s of prayers for you. I will think of you constantly in the coming days but what I really want you to know is;
You are a shining example of strength. I marvel at you. I worry that my words will not bring comfort and could have the opposite effect but I want to share my heart rather than remain silent. I won’t try and interpret God’s plans or encourage you to look to ‘next time’.
Tonight you join the most undesired club imaginable. Your baby will not be a part of this world and I am sure that it seems that they are taking your whole life with them. No mother should have to endure what you have just been through or what you will undoubtedly encounter in the coming months and years.
I do not know the depth of your grief and I cannot imagine how dark it must seem. I have not walked in your shoes and my mind has limits to even beginning to comprehend how shattered you certainly are. My heart breaks for you. Although I cannot say, “I know exactly how you feel.” I know the intensity of a mother’s love, and I know that there is no greater bond. Through this love, I stand with you. Let me try to extend your baby’s legacy by vowing to you that I will not take the birth of my children for granted. I will hug them a bit longer and let them snuggle long past their bedtime. I vow to continue the love you have to give in the only way I can.
I send you my heart and all of my love.
The loss of your tiny soul is not fair. It is not fair that random teenagers who have no business getting pregnant, procreate accidentally, while many of those so suited to love a baby are denied the privilege. It is not fair that one parent receives their miracle and you bury yours. Life’s cruelty is no better illustrated than in this inequity. It is not fair that my entrance into motherhood was unremarkable.
I don’t know what words I can offer when I feel that the very existence of my babies is rubbing salt in your wound. I am sorry for thinking that I have anything at all to do with your grief. What I want you to know is that your child will not be forgotten. In its short life, it has transformed you and in its absence, undoubtedly destroyed you. You are not alone in this journey rebuilding yourself and your dreams. You share the heart of every mother.
With All of My Heart,
I am a baby product junkie. It is kind of a time-sucker hobby of mine. When deciding on purchasing a product I do exhaustive research. I read every single review, take measurements, hem-haw, and finally make a declaration of my decision to my husband. Inevitably he will say, “well have you thought about…”
Which is answered with just a look that means: I have thought about whatever you are suggesting and this is my final decision.
Then, I usually sit on it for a few more days and then my husband ends up hitting the ‘buy now’ button while I get second thoughts.
We are needing to get a convertible car seat for Lady and the timing worked out perfectly because last week I was invited to go to an event where I got to meet the President of Britex and to learn about their Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat.
At the Britax event, I saw the features of their car seat in person. Below are my favorite 5 things about this seat;
- SUUUUUPER easy to install. I have a confession to make; I have NEVER installed one of our other car seats. Matt always does it because I have a very low frustration threshold with things that require a multi-step process. Guess what? I can install this one all by myself! Feminists rejoice!
2. Crotch Latch
One of the many things that are annoying about car seats IMHO, is how the crotch clip always gets lost under my babies bums. I am always floundering around searching for the stupid thing while also finding pieces of snacks and lost toys. Well my friends, no more searching under bums, this seat props that piece up. It is the little things, people! So far, when I put Little Miss in it she hasn’t sat on it one time!
3. Easy to Adjust
Like I mentioned before, I don’t move car seats. Matt had to work late on Friday and was gone before the kids and I got up on Saturday to work again. My cousin Kassidee was going with me to Denver, which meant I needed to move my two-year-old’s car seat. Boo. I briefly considered having Matt come home from work when I thought of Plan B: I adjust the new Britax seat for Sir to ride in and use Lady’s old one for her! It took me exactly 9 seconds to adjust the carseat from fitting Lady to fitting Sir.
4. Loosening of the straps is always a struggle when one or both of the littles are displeased about going somewhere, and of course, every car seat has a different method of doing this. On this car seat the button you push automatically loosens the straps just a smidge which is enough to get an arm through. Seriously, this is a bigger deal than I thought.
5. The SAFETY Features, because that is the point after all.
-Anti-Rebound Bar-“Manages rebound or reactive motion in the opposite direction of impact during a collision.”
-Click Tight Feature- Like I mentioned before about how easy it is to install. “It uses the vehicle’s seat belt that’s safe, secure and easy every time.”
-SafeCell Impact Protection- Among other things, this steel frame absorbs energy.
Full Disclosure: I received a free car seat in exchange for my honest feedback and blog post.
I was honored to do a commission piece for my dear friend, Sara. She wanted a birthday present for her dad. I said sure, thinking it would be a little pastel that would take me a couple of hours.
She sent me this beautiful picture she had taken of her dad a few years ago;
After some consideration she decided she wanted something bigger… as in 39×39! We also decided that it would be best to use paint instead, mainly because they wouldn’t have to get it framed. I hadn’t painted anything in three years…
I debated recommending Tosha Wise to do it instead. Sara also made an oath of honesty about the finished product. If it wasn’t what she wanted, she didn’t have to keep it.
I spent a lot of time texting Sara making sure I understood what color pallet she wanted. I tend to use pretty bold colors and I know that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so I wanted to be REALLY sure she would be happy with what I thought felt right.
The biggest challenge with this piece was time. It took me about 9 hours and with paint, I couldn’t work on it in spare 20 minute chunks. Matt was really supportive and took the kids for large chunks of time so I could disappear into art land.
I really love the finished product and because I love it so much, I was nervous to give Sara the finished product. She is a happy customer which makes me a happy artist.
She said that her dad loved it and and recognized the horse.
Barriors of this Project: Time, confidence, supplies
Blessings: Sara’s belief in me, Matt’s support of this project, and that there was a deadline
Someone please tell me your kid went through a similar phase.
The first time Sir had a tantrum I felt like I was watching the exorcist. I was simultaneously frightened and highly amused. The amusement in these situations has certainly faded and the fear has too…. Well mostly.
Recently Sir has started using the word “kill”. I am choosing to believe the reason for this is because of all of the “ant adventures” we go on (go ahead and pin this genius parenting idea) we find various ant hills around our house and follow one lucky ant around for a bit until Sir decides it is time to squish it. During the time that I have been watching this ant, I have grown sentimentally attached to its little life and as crunchy as it sounds, I don’t like killing anything just for sport. So I shout at him, “don’t kill the ants!”
Neighbors peek out of their windows at my vocal defense of these Arthropods.
Like I said, I am choosing to believe that Sir thinks that kill means crush.
So at a recent family function with many aunts, uncles, and cousins, Sir jumps in a circle around Lady as she is sitting sweetly chewing on Tupperware. He then announces “I’m going to KILL sister!” He adds to this proclamation, a gluteal “roar” showing his teeth and squatting.
And just in case not every single person in the house didn’t hear him, he repeats himself a good four times with a variety of inflections and volumes.
People actually stopped what they were doing, raised their eyebrows and looked at me. Please tell me, what the hell is an appropriate response to this?
Let’s try a few possible responses shall we?
“No, Sir we only use the word kill when we are talking about NOT killing something?”
“That’s not nice!”
“Tell everyone that you are kidding… Now….please.”
I mumbled some combination of each of these, knowing that everyone kept this little memory nugget packed away for when they ponder later what kind of job I am doing as a mother.
Then yesterday we were walking into the public restroom at the pool, where you know voices echo like a juicy rumor.
As we enter the bathroom stall Sir pleads “mommy, please don’t KILL me!”
What is the proper response?
Laughing at how ridiculous it sounds?
“I would never kill you!”
“I didn’t say I would kill you…. Silly.”
I chose number 4; silence hoping no one heard. So Sir filled the silence with another “Mom, I said, DON’T kill me.”
This somehow implied that whatever we were doing in the bathroom stall was being interpreted by my toddler as death.
Lord help me.
I have a knack for meeting someone and making a decision that we will be great friends. This has proved to be a skill and I have only been seriously wrong one time. I don’t make an announcement of our future BFF status but I make a declaration in my brain. Being a full fledged adult has not lent itself to many opportunities of meeting new friends which makes me really excited about interviewing moms who are living creative lives. I picked one of these friends when I met Tosha Wise this week.
She is a mom of two, wife of a corn farmer, master gardener, keeper of chickens and a serious artist. You guys, her work is AMAZING.
Both of her adorable boys will be in school full time this fall and she is going to be able to devote more of herself to her art and her business, so stay tuned because she is one you are going to want to watch…
Her view on the Eastern Plains is refreshing and I loved hearing her talk about art, saying “As an artist my favorite piece is always my most recent, it defines me.”
Bri: Tell me about your favorite medium.
Tosha: Charcoal and White Pastel. It is expressive, dramatic, and I find the application relaxing.
B: I love that you call it dramatic, that is a good way to think of it. What is your favorite muse?
T: The clouds, my eyes are always on the clouds. I have yet to figure out how to draw them, but they inspire me to one day get it right. Living on the Eastern Plains of Colorado that is where much of the beauty resides. We are big sky people.
B: How do you find the time to create while being a mom?
T: I go to battle. There are a few methods that I have applied.
- I turn on the TV, aka the babysitter, when the creative mood strikes.
- I have the art on the dining room table and am able to carve out 20 mins here or there.
- Burn the midnight oil. This one takes a toll on my mental and physical stamina. Sometimes working ten to midnight is the only way to have uninterrupted time.
B: I am sure so many moms can relate to you saying it is a battle. What else gets in the way of you creating art?
T: Life. Cooking, cleaning, raising small children, grocery shopping, school activities, social life, HBO mini series, etc… Balance is hard to achieve. I find when the creative juices are flowing and every mark I make is working my family life falls apart. The house (which I swear is a living growing beast) is quite the sight and tempers flare.
B: What is your dream?
T: To sustain this business on print work and find the elusive balance between art and life.
B: Tell me about doing commission pieces. What do you love/hate about them? How did you choose to price them?
T: My goal from the beginning was for this business to be able to sustain itself without eating into “grocery” money. This is where commissions come into play. My ultimate goal is to sell prints of my art. However, it takes funds to make the prints and package them.
I love how commissions push my abilities. Just recently I made my first colored portrait. Usually, I just stick with charcoal for portraits but the client wanted the piece to be in color. I was terrified and put the piece off as long as possible. Then one day I made a study and something clicked. In that one day I expanded my portfolio to skin tones.
What I hate is the risk. These pieces are time intensive. I cannot stress the words “time intensive” enough. If I mess up I have to start all over again. That’s a terrifying prospect and can put up a mental block.
Self doubt always plays a part in this line of work. Whenever part of the art making process is not working, I question my abilities and I begin to compare myself to others. This isn’t necessarily a commission problem but can also apply to my personal artwork.
I also find that my style tightens up with commission work and I take less risks. The product is still quality but I am on edge as I make marks.
Pricing is a common query among the art world. How do you price? Do you price by square inches or time? I had to keep in mind that I am new and have no household name. Also I wanted to keep pricing affordable yet honor the special nature of the product. It’s a one of a kind. I have no idea if I succeeded in creating a sustainable price. I do hope someday I can increase my price because of demand.
B: What makes you feel alive?
T: My garden. A colorful place of peace.
B: What challenges/blessings do you face that are specific to being an artist in rural Colorado?
T: Let’s start with the blessings. I find this country has a subtle beauty that never ceases to inspire. Snowy hay bales, a cattle herd dotting hills, corn harvest, the land in general, etc… The list goes on and on.
Another positive is the people. Since I have started offering commissions a handful of locals and a business have given me a chance. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for the opportunity.
The cons: There is no vibrant art market and the long long drive to have art shown. This business is in it’s infancy, and I have had some success but I am on a learning curve. Each step is new and the growth is slow, but one day I hope to look back and smile. I choose to keep it positive.
B: Who is your favorite artist?
T: Andrew Wyeth by far is my favorite. He is a master of mood, narrative, composition, color, and technique. Sometimes when I view his body of work I get anxiety. He has so much and I feel the need to start creating constantly.
Thank you Tosha, I can’t wait to have cocktails with you soon!
In an effort to fully embrace my new Mission Statement, I took on my first large creative project. My cousin Tyler’s 30th birthday was coming up and although we don’t have the same taste in art, I decided to do my best to make him something that he can hang on his wall… even if he chooses a wall in his closet.
I started by asking Tyler for some images that he would want made into art. Since he is moving from his beloved Glenwood Springs this fall, he chose a variety of pictures and I ran them through the photo filter Prisma. This filter makes me feel a bit like I am cheating but it is a really helpful tool in helping me choose colors which I find very intimidating, especially when starting a project.
His Lordship and I had decided to take the littles to our dear babysitter so we could both have some “me” time. I got them dressed and fed and he dropped them off. It really makes a difference in my headspace when I get to leave the house without hearing myself say 101 times; “Get your shoes on or your sister and I are leaving you here!”
8:00- With my cold coffee in hand I head to school.
8:40-All of my supplies are organized and I have my image printed.
9:00-Preliminary pencil sketch done.
9:00- Debate doing writing instead…
9:01-Put color on the paper and hate it. The paper is too fibrous so the soft pastels don’t cover it well.
9:02-Wish that I hadn’t committed to this.
9:03- Decide to try oil pastels instead… Go with it.
9:16- Wonder what I was thinking, I am rubbish, this is going to be trash. Who am I fooling thinking I am an artist?
9:18-Decide to just finish it.
9:24-Get into a groove.
10:30- Finish product surprisingly early, decide to try another image.
11:58 Clean up, go pick up my kids for sitters.
All in all it was a pretty successful creativity session. I really thrived with having a deadline of leaving to see Tyler and knowing that it was a gift. Otherwise I am 83% sure I wouldn’t have finished it.
Barriers: Motivation, confidence, organization and time
Blessings: Babysitter, space to work in (my classroom), technology, and a deadline.
Here is Tyler with the finished Products: He said that he is absolutely going to hang them up, no word yet on which wall…
Last month I went to the cultural event of the season on the Eastern Plains; a book signing. There, I got to meet a newly published author and mom. As I waited in line to meet her, my own mom stood next to me and in typical Lynn fashion, was in a hurry to get home. I wanted to wait to talk to her so our conversation wouldn’t be overheard but my mom took me by the arm and introduced me to her like this;
“Hi, I’m Lynn, this is my daughter Bri. She is starting to write some and she was just in…. What was it called Bri? Oh right, Listen to Your Mother, up in Boulder, it is sort of like the Vagina Monologues, you know, but it was her own writing. Have you heard of Listen to Your Mother?”
It was a similar feeling as being introduced to a new class as a seventh grader only with the word ‘vagina’ casually thrown in.
Luckily, Jessie is as kind and warm as I could have possibly hoped and she agreed to answer some questions for me. A year ago she took a chance by taking a writing class through a woman that she met at her daughter’s career day at school. The result was her book Forever Built of Days being published last month and it has been met with rave reviews. Although she now lives in Oregon, Jessie grew up 30 miles down the road from where I did. Her family still lives in the town where I taught the first three years of my career. We are kindred spirits in this land of creativity. Like the rest of us she has those moments of “One minute I thought it was really good and the next minute I almost threw the whole thing in the garbage!” I am so glad she stuck with it!
Bri: Poetry isn’t the type of book I often pick up, what do you want to say to readers to encourage them to give it a shot?
Jessie: Several readers have picked up my book and opened to read a random poem or two, but I want to encourage people to read Forever Built of Days from beginning to end because it does have a very determined narrative plot which they will miss by random reading. I think the storyline helps people overcome the inaccessibility of poetry.
B: To me, this is a love story, between you and your Creator, would you agree with this?
J: Yes! You heard me! I think so many people struggle with their love story with God because we think our own anxious brokenness or the world’s suffering somehow trumps or extinguishes our love affair, but God invites us to lay all that at His feet and watch the Finch He sent to reign on the Daisy and says, “Do you see that magnificent bird and that extraordinary flower? Well, I love you so much more than that.” To love God, we have to believe more about the grace of His finch than the death of a father.
B: Your poetry is autobiographical. How did you set boundaries about what you would/would not write about?
J: When I was writing, I didn’t set any boundaries at all. The best writing advice I operated on was to write what is absolutely true and honest for you, and then what you say will resonate with your audience because they recognize the authenticity even if they don’t relate on an experiential level.
B: You can certainly feel your honesty. Did you have any hesitation about certain poems being out in the world?
J: The poems dealing with my anxiety in the “Time to Break Down” chapter required the most courage for me to expose to an audience, but I kept convincing myself those were what someone most needed to hear.
B: When you are speaking about anxiety and depression a line from your poem “Twitchy” that really resonated with me was;
I’ve felt hints of more–
More meaning, more fulfillment,
But it’s a shadowy
Do you feel like you are standing more consistently in the ‘more’ you speak of?
J: “More consistently” is a great way to put it. I’ve done so much work to achieve such a minor increase of faith and wholeness, and I find myself afraid of “less” all the time. I don’t feel restless anymore, like I did when I wrote the poem, though, and I think that’s because I had to lay everything down and stop achieving.
B: You are the mom of three, how did you find the time to work on your book?
J: I found time to write by neglecting my family and other responsibilities. I did most of my writing while my kids were in school or in four hour chunks of time on Saturdays at my local library. My sister, for whom I work, had to be spectacularly longsuffering with me. I think my family was so patient because they could see how important writing was to my healing process.
Looking back, my “process” looks more like a collision course to completion. I did a lot of my writing in a weekly writing class and then as the Spirit hit me. I began carrying a notebook with me everywhere, and wrote several poems in the parking lot of the grocery store or while on a walk.
B: At the book signing, it was obvious that your family is so proud of you and are very supportive. You had flown a few days before to surprise your mom not only with a visit but with your published book she didn’t even know you were writing. Did she have the reaction you were hoping for? What were her highlights?
J: Initially, I think I kept the book a surprise as a coward’s way out, in case I chickened out or gave up. When I decided to go for it, I kept contemplating it as a Mother’s Day gift to her and decided to keep it a surprise. My mom has always been one of my most ardent, if prejudiced, supporters, and I wanted to honor her with the first fruits of both of our labors. I loved her reaction, although handing someone a book is necessarily anticlimactic because they can’t read it while you stand there and watch them! I was very nervous for her to read most of the book because my pain also represents hers. Her favorite poems are “Waiting in a Deep Pit…” and “Suppose I Made God My Idol.” I think my mom and I might need to revisit some of the themes and emotions touched on in the book after we’ve both had time to contemplate them.
B: What resources were the most help for you in completing your book?
J: Elizabeth Sims’ You’ve Got a Book in You first told me I could actually write a book and then held my hand while I did it.
B: What is your workspace like?
J: Ha! My work space/office doubles as my laundry room, so my desk is only achieved by stepping over piles of dirty clothes and wiping accumulating lint off the monitor. However, this flawed space can be a precious, quiet space for which I’m thankful! I did most of my initial writing by hand in notebooks, and often went outside or to the aforementioned library, my favorite word watering hole.
B: Who is your favorite poet? What are you reading right now?
J: My favorite poet right now is Mary Oliver. I read her poetry collection Thirst many times while I was writing and her wonderful Poetry Handbook also gave me lots of workable hints. Right now I’m reading Middlemarch by George Eliot and Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans.
B: You now live in Oregon but you grew up 30 miles from where I did, in the town where I taught for the first three years of my teaching career. Share with me specific challenges you see in being creative in a rural setting.
J: Creative challenges I see in the rural setting are finding your niche and the resources to explore it and then knowing whether you’re “good enough” to stand up in a larger, more diverse circle. The answer is always, “Yes!” The intrinsic isolation and loneliness of the plains produces by necessity some of the most stunning creativity.
B: I love your perspective on this.
How did you decide to self-publish rather than go through the submission process?
J: I didn’t have the time or the patience to wait to be discovered or the confidence to withstand multiple rejections. I did research on self-publishing and decided it was a very convincing option to accomplish my goal of publishing my book.
B: What’s next for you?
J: I’m doing what I can now to market my book, but I love the writing process much more. I have a children’s book I’m working on and a family memoir I have rolling around in my head.
B: Oooo! I can’t wait to read it. There are so many things that I love about your writing. Your voice is so eloquent but not fluffy. This is a delicate balance.
My favorite line of how you describe God is by saying on page 85;
A mirror reflecting light into my dark place.
I don’t have a question about that. I just like it.
The poem I keep going back to is “Picture of Me” It is a poem about how God sees you.
Can you tell me where you were when you wrote it and how it came to you?
J: I was on a walk just before my son’s thirteenth birthday. Then – you know how your mind cartwheels – I started thinking about my own upcoming 40th birthday. I was trying to reconcile how beautiful I think my children are with my genetic contribution. I started cataloguing my flaws, but then I felt convinced that God probably doesn’t see me only as flawed and how I’m probably most beautiful when someone can see in me what God means to me. The poem spun out from there, and I had to hurry home to write it down because I’d forgotten my handy notebook on my walk!
B: Finally, what makes you feel alive?
I feel most alive when I read the Bible and discover something new I’d never seen there before or when I’m laughing with my family and friends.
Thank you Jessie for your time, I have immensely enjoyed getting to know you.