Friday, December 31, 2010

Bye + Hello

Bye 2010

Looking back on the photos saved on my  hard drive I can hardly believe this year has passed by so quickly!

Celebrating and reflecting today with just less then 9 hrs. to go until 2011 arrives here in NY. Some highlights from 2010...

being published twice, kindergarten, declaring, painting, creating, connecting, nyc, playing, new kitty, lots of snow, crochet, flowers, flowers, flowers

Looking forward to what 2011 will hold.

Happy New Years!!

Here is a little video of my kids sliding into the new year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Art by Aimee of Artsyville
I have spent the last 2+ days cleaning up and clearing out my art space (in between taking care of sick kiddies). I have plenty I am going to give away via freecycle, a big bag for the garbage and a few unused but maybe someday things to be stored away.

It feels nice and light. With just two more days left of 2010 it felt like the time. Clearing the old to make way for the new.

Today I purchased a couple of doodlemagnets from Artsyville. They will both be in my creative space as inspirations and affirmations. One of them is above. I saw it the other day via FB and I thought GREAT and APPROPRIATE. I love starting out the year with this positive intention.

Here is another great sentiment to begin the new year with. It is from an Outward Bound ad. As someone who tends to tell myself  "No, I can't...." I love the farewell to can't. Hello, can!

I am still pondering a word for the year. Have you picked one? I have a couple of contenders. I will pick one tomorrow and share. If you have one I would love for you to share yours.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Christmas morning sunrise
Christmas in a list:
cookie baking
a stomach bug
up at 2:30 a.m. 
presents at 4:30 a.m.
worn out family
gorgeous pink and purple sunrise
pure excitement
lots of wonder
games, games and more games
wrapping paper everywhere
where to put it all? the toys that is

Cutie needed a nap from all of the excitement
Our Christmas was truly wonderful. As much as I love it I am happy now that it is all done for another year.
We are clearing away bits of Christmas in between all of the snow, game playing, hot chocolate drinking, book reading and lots of craft activities.

Snow.. the day after Christmas
Now is the time to make a clearing and prepare for the New Year and all that it will hold. I am looking forward to it. How about you?

The Sketchbook Challenge will begin on 1/1 and Big Dreams, Small Wonders will begin on 1/3. Lots of good things happening.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays

Two more days!! Can you believe it?

Now it is about finishing up the wrapping, going to look at the lights tonight, baking cookies for Santa and taking a drive to find some SNOW before the jolly old man arrives!

From our home to yours we send you lots of peace, love and joy. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Challenges + other news

Recently I learned of The Sketchbook Challenge and of course I had to sign up for it. And in case you didn't know I LOVE sketchbooks. New ones, old ones, other peoples. I love everything about them. I have several and for this challenge I have purchased a couple of new ones :) In an effort to improve my skills I have been drawing daily anyway so this just adds to the fun.

Here is the info via the site:

The sketchbook challenge is a new project launching on 1/1/2011. Follow along with us as we fill our sketchbooks based on a monthly theme that will be announced on the first of each month.

Each month we'll announce a new theme on this blog and throughout the month we'll be showing you images from our sketchbooks and talking about the intention and inspiration behind them.  Along the way we'll be sharing tips, techniques and tutorials.  We hope that by giving you a peek inside our sketchbooks and showing you how different they all are that we'll inspire you to start keeping a sketchbook of your own.  And of course if you do, we'll want to see some photos of your book too so we've designed a blog badge for you to put on your own blog to show your participation in the project.  You can
download the badge here.

We encourage you to post photos of your sketchbook pages on your blog and then post a link in the comment section of the Sketchbook Challenge blog so that others can look at your pages too!  We've also set up a
flickr group where you can post photos too.  You'll find the group here.

And that's not all! Thanks to the generosity of some terrific sponsors we'll be doing some givewaways and special shopping offers too!

So pick up your blog badge here, go grab a sketchbook, some pencils, pens, markers or paints and get ready to sketch with us!

Here is the list of the AMAZING artists that will be sketching along:

The second challenge I jumped on I found via Melanie Testa. 30 lines 30 days. She posted it on her blog awhile back and I recently found it. She (and others) have already completed it but I am doing it anyway.

Melanie recommends a ruling pen used with black paint to create 30 line drawing in 30 days. I am not using the ruling pen and have just been working with my Pitt pen.

Here are days 1-7. I am working in my moleskin book and I am not spending alot of time on them. I am really enjoying it.

I almost forgot to mention the other news! On my creative dream/life list has been to be published in Artful Blogging. I truly love this magazine. Just beautiful like so many of the other Stampington publications.

And while I wasn't chosen to be featured (I am still shooting for this) my blog banner will be featured in the spring issue of Artful Blogging in the Banners we love section!! I am truly honored and thankful to be included once again in a Stampington publication.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NOT To Do List + news

I wrote this list the other day as the kids and I were playing with colored pencils. My head was busy with all of the things to DO. So I decided to write a NOT TO DO list. I am trying to abide by my list as best as I can. 

It isn't so easy of course. Particularly the staying up too late and feeling overwhelmed. 

How is your week going?

I am happy to share some news with you. Awhile back I commented on the CraftSanity blog and Jennifer followed my comment back to here and she saw my wreaths over there in the side bar. She loved them and asked to include them in the gift guide of her brand spanking new CraftSanity Magazine!! She has a print edition or the pdf edition. I just ordered mine and the preview looks great! I am so honored to be included!

I have one other bit of news but I will fill you in soon. I have to keep to my not to do list and get some sleep.

If you have a handwritten list add yours over on Artsyville. And say Happy Birthday to her. :)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Paper and Pom Poms

Some super simple wrapping I did. My pom poms are a little imperfect but I like them that way.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Doesn't this book sound great? In case you are anything like me and often worry about it all you may be interested in it. I didn't buy it but I did print this out. I just love it.

We have decked the halls and the excitement is building around here. Seeing it all through my kids eyes is the best gift of all.

I hope you are enjoying  your week.


Friday, December 03, 2010

COLOR STORY: Pepper Berry, Silver, Ivory, Teal

 I had all of this around and it all struck me as beautiful. I LOVE this palette for the holidays.
My doily is curling up but apparently I need to steam iron it and it should be fine. I really hope so. Have a great weekend everyone!


P.S. Amy is doing a give away on her blog... hurry on over. 

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What the mail lady brought

 I received my stitched postcard from Quilary in The Great Big Postcard Swap yesterday. Isn't it beautiful?

 It arrived all the way from Australia and she even included these sweet goodies. It was really thoughtful! Thank you Quilary. You can see more of the postcards here.

This arrived right along with my stitched postcard. Somerset Studio's artists' cafe. I had no idea it was coming.

I was very surprised and delighted to see this. My collage that was published in Somerset Studio 2 years ago!! I am still so honored to be a part of this wonderful magazine. Thanks Somerset for including me in artists' cafe. I am still reading through the magazine. There are articles going way back, one from 2003 from L.K. Ludwig. So if you are out and about check out this issue. It is a really great round up.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Art Biz Mama: Cathy Nichols

I am so excited to be back with an new Art Biz Mama interview. This time we have lovely Cathy Nichols.
Cathy's art just makes me happy looking at it. I love her thoughts on motherhood, art and business. I am sure you will agree. Enjoy!

Could  you please share a bit about you, your family and your business?
I am a wife and mother of two young children as well as a stepdaughter. My two little ones are (brace yourself) 2 and 3 years old, while my stepdaughter is 8.  My business started out as selling just my original paintings, but I have branched out into selling all kinds of things based on my designs: prints, giclees, calendars, illustrations, greeting cards and most recently, jewelry.

When did you make the decision to start your art business? 
This is a great question because there was a distinct moment in my life when I made this decision. It was about 8 years ago. I had been studying to become a teacher and was about to enter an intensive internship program in Los Angeles when I had this epiphany: 'I want to be an artist!!'  Having made this announcement to myself, I did what my entrepreneurial mom always taught me to do -- printed up some business cards. They said: "Cathy Nichols: Artist."  lol.  Then I bought some huge canvases and started painting. After a few months, I was lucky enough to join a fabulous artists' co-op called Ten Women in Venice, CA, and it was there that my business really blossomed. We had tons of foot traffic, and it was an amazing thing to sell my work to the public in such a creative, supportive venue. When I moved to New York in 2007, I reinvented my business as an online presence -- primarily through Etsy - and branched out again in my local community. My art business has been an ongoing process of re-invention for me, but once I made the decision to be "Cathy Nichols: Artist," I have never looked back.
How has having children affected your business and creativity?
Well, they ARE time-consuming, those adorable little bundles of joy. So on the one hand, I have much less time than I did before they were born, but on the other hand, I feel like, through them, I have learned to be much more efficient in my creative process. I've also developed a piece-work kind of working style because my time has become so segmented into shorter creative blocks. I feel a bit like a quilter -- stitching together pieces of creative work over chunks of time into a larger whole.  
Would you please share what a “typical day” is like for you? Is there school or childcare, etc. while you are working?
Typically, I wake up at 6:30 am, take care of the kids until they start preschool at 9:15, then from 9:30-11:30, I have a glorious block of creative time for myself. This is when I actually make new paintings. I will brainstorm for a new painting and design the piece one morning, then I will start painting it the next and finish/scan it for printing that evening or the next day. Of course, longer paintings take more days, but this is how I work.  After the kids get home from school, they get my attention until bedtime at 7 pm. After they go to sleep, I can do more mundane work like processing orders or setting jewelry.  If I want to fit in something else, I need to get up at 5 am (like did today to do this interview!).
How many hours do you give to your business each week? Are you working during the days/evenings/weekends?

I devote about 8-15 hours a week to my business. I rarely work on the weekends, and I never do actual paintings at night because I need to do the encaustic work with lots of ventillation, and it's just too dark to paint in the evenings on my sun porch. Plus it's a tad chilly!
Balance seems to be a myth for many women.  Do you feel you have a healthy balance between your work life and your family life?
Right now I think I do have a healthy balance between work and family, but there is a real deficit on the side of other things... like exercise or just plain fun time for myself. And since I'm always thinking about either my work or my children,  I find that I am a little too forgetful in other areas. Like paperwork. And school functions. And just plain ordinary life maintenance. But I have to remind myself that being a mom is still new to me. I have only had children for 3 years. I'm still a novice. Maybe in time, I will become more organized. Hopefully.  And, of course, I would love to have more creative time for my business. This is something, too, that I hope will come in the future.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us today? Any words of wisdom for other artists/moms out there who wish to create a business out of their art?
I think, of course, the most important advice anyone can give is to believe in your art and keep making it despite the 'odds' against you - whether they be financial struggles, childcare, geography or even technology. It's important to put those logistics to one side of your mind in order to make space for the freedom to create. Yes, as moms we know more than anyone that limitless freedom is a myth, but I think just making a space for this romantic notion allows us, as artists, to create the kind of work that will inspire others (and ultimately sell!).  So it's a little mind trick. And don't underestimate the power of making a new business card that says "ARTIST." :)

Here are the links to Cathy and her art-

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Crochet Christmas

Crochet bracelets
If you are a blogger do you ever wonder if you are ever going to write another blog post? That is how I was beginning to feel. I have been so wrapped up in creating gifts for the holidays and enjoying time with family (plus my three year old has stopped napping) but I wanted to show you some of the things I have been working on (it isn't all of it and it isn't all done). So far my main supply of choice is yarn and thread. It has been simple to do with the kids around and to take in the car while traveling anywhere. The crocheted bracelets were inspired by this pattern from Wren Handmade. Since I am not great at following patterns I made a couple of my own.
Crocheted covered stone
I did this covered stone using Resurrection Ferns pattern. I also made another one up myself. They are fun. My husband looked a little baffled by the fact that I would want to actually cover a stone. :)

Ruffled doily
I tried several doily patterns however my skills are still at a beginner level so I tried my own. It began ruffling and at first I wasn't sure but then I really liked it.

doily necklace

 A small doily attached to chain.

I have also been making hexagons using this super simple pattern from One Loop Short. And I have wanted to make pom-poms for so long and I tried last night using this tutorial from One Loop Short as well. I am going to wrap gifts and attach them. So much fun.

I still have super hero capes to finish and edible gifts to make and my husband has kindly offered to help me! :)

Making all these gifts has pushed me in many ways... to work on a deadline (want to be done this week to enjoy the month of December with the kiddies), to experiment, to play.

And with Thanksgiving (we had some snow!) having come and gone I wanted to say Thank You to all who have come by here either once or often. I appreciate YOU! This creative community has enriched my life in ways I can't even tell you!!


P.S. I decided to treat myself to an early birthday gift and sign up for Big Dreams, Small Wonders with Louise Gale! It starts in January. If you sign up for her newsletter you can get a reduced price for the class.... but you have to sign up by Monday for the reduced price!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Morning... pages, coffee and crochet

this a.m.- pages, coffee and crochet... what you don't see is the storm (aka two little ones) that blew through as  I was doing this. :)

still working away on gifts, mixed in of course with all the daily to do's. wondering will I get it done.
started feeling a bit grinch as I got a bit stressed about the approaching holiday and all that is expected along with them. got over it. don't want to feel THAT.

was reminded of this via emily

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence."
  Max Ehrmann,Desiderata.

hope your weekend went well.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Midst of making

So this is the s-l-o-w progress I am making on the handmade gifts. And no, I am not making ALL gifts, just almost all. :) I have completed 2 things but I can't show here...yet. The wads of newspaper are the beginning attempts at paper mache ornaments. I read the article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors by Denise Litchfield about paper mache inspired by artist Julie Arkell. I learned of Julie's work years ago and I think it is great. When I ran across the lovely work of Denise I thought I would love to make some things with paper mache.  I found this great site with LOTS of info. She gives step by step directions to make a paper mache clay. It looks wonderful, I may have to try to use this too.

In the midst of making I ran across another wonderfully inspiring artist in Somerset Studio. Jesse Reno.
Have you heard of him? His work is intuitive, wild and raw. I also listened to two interviews he did with Rice Freeman-Zachery and Lesley Riley on Art and Soul Radio. He has some interesting things to say about art and creativity-why he works on lots of paintings at once,  what to do if you think you have no room to create,  and how he got started. PLUS he is SO passionate and excited about his art and life it is a bit contagious.

I hope your week has been wonderful so far. I am off to go create.
 P.S. I just found this really wonderful holiday mag by Amy Powers. Lots of great holiday crafting ideas. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A List

I thought I would write a list today. I hope you don't mind.

* Halloween was great. See a pic of my kiddies in their costumes here.
* I know it is only November 3 but I am REALLY getting excited about the holidays.
* I am making almost all Christmas gifts this year and they are all in various states. Super hero capes, crocheted scarves (I am really getting addicted), pincushions, embroidery AND I am trying to complete them all by 12/1. Hmmm....
* So due to the above lofty goal I may be a bit sparse with posting here.
* I am awaiting some new Art Biz Mama answers. I can't wait!
* My wreaths are going to be published in a new gift guide!!
* I thoroughly cleaned the kitchen yesterday and it made the day so much lighter. It is amazing what a super clean room can do.
* If you have a link to handmade gift ideas please share.
* I really wish I could participate in Louise's holiday creative color challenge ornament swap but I think I already have a full plate. If you want to participate head here.

I hope you are all having a wonderful week. I am off to do the blog hop.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Creative Space

 Working on tiny canvases. Notice the half a tube of red paint my daughter squeezed out. :) When I asked her why she did that she said to be an artist mommy. Of course. :)

 Exploring this wonderful site. Have you tried it yet?

Making masks for the Halloween party at school tomorrow along with 20 cupcakes. :)

If you want to share your space and see other fun spaces, go here

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I am happy to share my finished painting with you! I kept thinking I need to add MORE but I decided to not add too much because what I love is the simplicity and looseness of this piece. I have some tiny 5"x7" supports to paint on. I don't know about me and tiny pieces but I have a variety-clayboard, wood, and canvas.

I hope you are having a great weekend!

P.S. Click on the link in the sidebar to join a stitched postcard swap! I think it will be fun.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Guest Post: April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle

Photo by Teri H. Hoover
Today I am happy to share a guest post by April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle. My first ever guest post!
I hope you enjoy April's thoughtful post.

The Importance of Following Your Creative Whispers

Everyone experiences creative whispers. It might be that prickly feeling that rises up your arms each time you think about learning how to paint or that curious sensation you get when you consider writing fiction.

Your whisper might be telling you to purchase that camera and take photographs as a hobby. It doesn't have to be a life or career changing urge.

The whispers pop up regularly, urging us to pursue our dreams. But, many times we don't listen.

Why? Because everyone also has an inner critic. The voice in your head that says, "You couldn't possibly paint anything anyone would want to look at, much less buy. Who do you think you are?"

Learning to follow your whispers is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

My Journey

The first time I heard about the idea of "creative whispers" was in Kelly Rae Robert's book, Taking Flight, but as soon as I read about the idea I completely understood what she meant.

I've always had the creative bug. I used sit and draw for hours as a child, I learned to sew and make my own clothes in college, and I moved on to making jewelry and scrapbooking during my time in graduate school. I never thought I could make a living from my creative passions, so I went to what I thought was the next best thing.

I got a master's degree in social work, and I practiced individual and family therapy with at-risk adolescents. I loved it. Unfortunately, I could never figure out how to turn off my "social work self" when I was away from the job. Those teens were always on my mind, and it took a large toll on me physically and emotionally.

My husband and I decided we wanted to move back to Virginia to be with friends and family, so I had to leave my job as a therapist in Brooklyn. That's when I took some time to decide what I wanted to do next. Over the next few months, I started listening to my creative whispers more and more. But, I also had that inner critic telling me that it wouldn't be possible to make money selling art and jewelry--that I needed to find another safe job with benefits.

I took a lot of long walks where I just listened to my body. It was telling me that it was now or never. I needed to pursue my creative passions.

Thankfully, I followed my whispers, even though I was terrified.

How To Follow Your Own Whispers

Start listening. The first step in following your own creative whispers is to be open to the idea.

When you walk past the books on mixed media in your local bookstore and your heart beats a little faster, it's a whisper. Pick one up, find a project that speaks to you, and have some fun.

The second step entails pushing past your inner critic. Whenever you start something new, your inner critic will try to pop up and try to ruin it. He'll laugh at your first attempt to knit a scarf. He'll mock your idea for your novel. You have to be brave enough to tell your inner critic to butt out.

Follow your gut feeling. When you're creating, your body will lead the way if you allow it. When you think about working at the day job you despise for the rest of your life, you might feel nauseous, sad, or angry. But, your gut might also tell you that you can't quit your day job until you pay off your debts and save some money. That's when you take baby steps.

Here's the thing about creative dreams: you'll usually be worse off if you never try. Ask yourself these two questions:

1. What's the worse that could happen if I follow this creative whisper?

2. What's the worse that could happen if I never follow this creative whisper?

Usually, the answer to the second question is much worse than the answer to the first, and really--that's your answer.

April Bowles-Olin works with creative women to lead more fulfilling lives while they make money doing it. She also attempts to add a little prettiness to the world with her art and jewelry. You can learn more about her at Blacksburg Belle and connect with her on Twitter @blacksburgbelle.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thank you

 fragile heart
I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to you lovely blog readers! You have touched and warmed my heart with your kind and wise words.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Since my last post on beginnings I have been up against my own worst enemy, my inner critic.

It affected:

* My ART with things like you aren't as good as so and so. Others must have more support, more money, a bigger house, an actual studio. Who do you think you are painting? You should be cooking and cleaning. You are a stay at home mom after all. People won't like it. Why bother?

*This BLOG. I started feeling like I have nothing to say. Nothing to share. I really felt stopping.

*My DREAMS. It is too hard. Again, who do I think I am? I will never be able to do it all. I should really just pack it all away. I can't.... I can't .... I can't. Blah, Blah, Blah.

Ugghh... I knew exactly what it was. But it still  gets  me  every  time. 

These are all valid beliefs if you are living from a place of fear. It is what we tell ourselves when we are afraid. It seems easier to talk the talk and never do then to do and fail. BUT IT ISN'T. I think it is harder to suppress what is in your heart then to fully express what you know in your heart.

Marianne Williamson does a great job with this...

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I carry this in my wallet and it always strikes a chord.

I am working my way out... yes, you always come out of it.  I will keep creating, keep sharing, keep going.

Coming up soon... a new Art Biz Mama interview, a guest post and a very talented artist I discovered recently. And don't you just love these colors of fall? The eye candy outside is just fantastic!