Thursday, September 30, 2010

Making my heart sing

The other day I visited Anthropologie and my heart began to sing. One of their themes, Painterly, was what did it. Painterly motifs are popping up all over. These plates.... my favorite! Here are some of their gorgeous product! All images via Anthropologie.

So what do you think? Aren't they GORGEOUS? So tell me what is making your heart sing lately?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Art Biz Mama: Maegan Beishline

An ARTIST, a MOM, a CREATIVE BIZ OWNER. What happens when you combine all three? Welcome to Art Biz Mama.  A series of inspirational interviews about being a mom, an artist and a creative biz owner.  

In an effort to connect, share and get to know some of my favorite artists (and I am sure they are yours too) a bit better and because I am a mama who has creative biz visions myself I have asked for a sneak peek into their very busy lives. To share a bit about just what it means to juggle these roles and how it all really plays out.

I know this is a topic that has been discussed plenty but for me (and you) I need to hear these stories. To know there are others reaching for their dreams and maybe stumbling at times, all the while caring for themselves and their family.

I believe we will glean a bit of insight from these smart and talented women that can inspire us all.

This week we have an interview with photographer Maegan Beishline. She is one busy and talented lady. I very much enjoy her blog, Life Set to Words and her beautiful photographs. Enjoy!!

Could you please share a bit about your business, yourself and your family?

I’m a wife and a momma to three beautiful girls {age six and under}. This is always and will always be my primary job. But I’m also a fine art and portrait photographer and the writer of Life Set to Words. My creative work allows me to flex my non-momma muscles while still being at home and making my family my first priority.

When did you make the decision to start your creative business?
I got into photography a few years ago while I owned and operated a soap making business. I needed good images for my website and Etsy store and, in the process, began loving the art of taking pictures. I found myself wanting more time to focus on my new hobby and not having the time or heart anymore to make and sell soap. So a year and half ago I closed the doors to my soapmaking business to develop my photography skills.
In April, I opened an Etsy shop and began selling my fine art prints. This past summer, I began taking portraits professionally and just last month launched my new photography website!
I have been blogging about my creative journey since 2008…journaling my experiences with making and selling soap, motherhood, my transition into photography, and now my experiences starting yet another new business and all the growing pains that come with it! All the while, my blog has carried an underlying tone valuing the importance of creativity. Last spring, I hosted the Creativity Boot Camp {a two week intensive creativity building e-course} which turned out to be a huge success!  I now host a weekly creative prompt and link up called The Sunday Creative.
So, there’s just no simple answer to that question. I guess I should have asked “what creative business?”

How has having children affected your business and creativity?
Wow, you know…I have never been as creative as I have been since becoming a mother. I actually wrote a guest post for the Wishstudio last April about how each side of me {the creative and the mother} actually contribute so much to each other. So I don’t know that I would be here today, doing what I am doing, if I hadn’t had children. The very ironic part is that, since having children, I have less time for anything creative than I ever did before. But I think that the challenge helps me to stay motivated.

Would you please share what a “typical day” is like for you? Is there school or childcare, etc. while you are working on your biz?
A typical day includes me getting up and ready and getting my eldest off to school. Then I usually spend some time answering emails and checking in on FB & Twitter while my little ones play and watch Sesame Street. Then I’m pretty much just a momma until nap time when I can do some photo editing, write on my blog, or do any other computer related business work. Then I’m momma and wife again until the kids go to bed…when I usually catch up on my blog reading.
I have my camera with me constantly so I’m always taking pictures. I have the majority of my portrait sessions on the weekends when my husband is home and our time is not so sparse. As I mentioned, my family always comes first for me, so I tend to those needs first and fill in with work when I can.

How many hours do you give to your business each week? Are you working during the days/evenings/weekends?
That would be really interesting to know…but I would have to really count hours for a whole week to know the answer. I don’t have set working hours. But I do make sure to take entire days off…no “work” allowed. Also, there are days and times when things need to be done for work so I make sure I really concentrate then. But other than that, I work whenever I get the opportunity and don’t feel like doing anything else. I love my job and therefore it never really feels like “work.”

So far none of the Art Biz Mama’s have felt there is a balance between their family life and biz life. How do you feel about the topic of balance?  
I think balance is an elusive concept. I’m not sure it exists. But I do believe in the constant pursuit of balance and the need to evaluate where our time and energies are going. It’s a continual process.

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?
Do it! Don’t wait until that perfect moment…it simply doesn’t exist. And all those things you may be waiting to figure out before you jump in may just need to be worked out as you go. Try things and then, if they don’t work out, try something else. Don’t be afraid!!!

Thanks Maegan!

For more of Maegan please check her out at:

Her site:
Her blog:
Life Set to Words

Her shop:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kindness and a Oven Mitt

I am so excited to talk about this today. It is something small but still SO significant. Kindness.

Just plain old good will to others.

I admit it I am a sensitive person. I don't state it as a character flaw either.  It makes me so sad when I see others being unkind. My little guy has told me of bigger kids being mean to him on the bus. This bothers me.
Of course I am not perfect. I am not always Miss sunshine. I have my cranky days. I am human.

I know there is so much kindness evidenced in this great art/craft blogging community. So many fellow bloggers are generous and uplifting to others. I LOVE it. And I know off line there is kindness.

Still I think we can ALL try and make an effort to be more kind on line and in person. Small things. A smile. Holding the door for someone. Letting that driver into the lane even when you are in a rush. Just being aware.
Perhaps when you hold that door open or pay a compliment, that could change that persons energy for the day and they then in turn are more kind to another. A big chain effect. You feel good for being kind and they feel good because you were kind to them.

Random acts of kindness (love these), intentional acts. They are all good. 

Way, way back around Memorial Day I was with my mom and godmother. My godmother mentioned that her daughter likes to buy herself small things that she can open when the day didn't go so well.

You know the kind of day. The kids were up all night (and so were you), you got into an argument, your computer crashed. Etc. We all have them. 

So I immediately thought that was a wonderful idea but why not do one for another person so that each gift could be uplifting AND a surprise! Who doesn't love surprises!

I was so excited to begin creating a bag full of small tokens to lift someone up when they are feeling down.

So it has taken me all summer but I created two!

I have things in each bag. Small things. Thoughtful things. Books. Candy. Lotions. Gift cards. Soaps.
Things that just may make the day a little brighter.

I am going to include a sentiment in each gift.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
Lao Tzu

Someone is going to get the oven mitt I created. And before you ask, the stitches are supposed to be asymmetrical. This project is in Denyse Schmidt Quilts.

And while I was SO proud that I actually sewed a "something" I can't say I am in love with sewing yet.

Back to kindness. I think it would be so GREAT if everyone received or made for themselves a small bag of goodies to lift you up when you are down.  Don't you think?

I would love to hear your thoughts/ideas on kindness.

There are lots of resources out there for ideas too! I really love this blog! There are tons of kindness freebies. They do the kindness thing so well.

I loved this book:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Creative Space

I ignored the housework and while my daughter slept I gave myself a gift. What  you may ask? Time.
Time to paint. Ahhh... it felt so good. It lasted but a mere 1 and half hours. Do you give yourself time?
Do you make your creativity a priority? I will always. I have to always. I NEED to always.

I would love to see yours. Please add a link if you like.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bye Summer

In just a few short hours here in NY summer will give way to fall. Today I picked some of the still blooming cosmos and zinnias we have.

As much as I enjoy this time of year I will miss the flowers, the warm days (it has been very warm just lately) and the light layers of clothes.

The sky is darkening now by 7 p.m.
Sweaters will be worn more regularly. More baking will be done.
I am ready!

Bye summer! See you next year!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Art Biz Mama: Faith Evans-Sills

An ARTIST, a MOM, a CREATIVE BIZ OWNER. What happens when you combine all three? Welcome to Art Biz Mama.  A series of inspirational interviews about being a mom, an artist and a creative biz owner.  

In an effort to connect, share and get to know some of my favorite artists (and I am sure they are yours too) a bit better and because I am a mama who has creative biz visions myself I have asked for a sneak peek into their very busy lives. To share a bit about just what it means to juggle these roles and how it all really plays out.

I know this is a topic that has been discussed plenty but for me (and you) I need to hear these stories. To know there are others reaching for their dreams and maybe stumbling at times, all the while caring for themselves and their family.

I believe we will glean a bit of insight from these smart and talented women that can inspire us all.

Hello! I am very happy to be back with a new Art Biz Mama interview! This time we have a really lovely lady and artist, Faith Evans-Sills.This is a really great interview with beautiful and thoughtful answers. Thanks so much Faith!

Could you please share a bit about you and your business?

Hi! I’m so excited to be a part of your great interview series, I have loved reading about how other artist mama’s make it all happen! My name is Faith, I am an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York with my husband and two young children who are almost 6 and 3.5. I sell prints and cards of my paintings, and small originals, online in my shop Leaves and Feathers, I have a blog of the same name where I talk about my life and what inspires me. I also sell my prints at a couple of shops in Brooklyn and show my original paintings here in Brooklyn at Swallow Gallery.

So let me start by asking when did you make the decision to start your creative business?

My art has always been the driving force behind most of the big decisions that I have made in my life. I was an Art major in under-grad at Skidmore College, then moved to New York City back in the late 90’s to try to figure out the art world here. After having many art related jobs, showing my work here and there and meeting lots of wild interesting people, I ended up getting my MFA at Parsons where I met my husband who is also an artist. I went on making and showing my art right up until I had our first child in 2004. With an infant I was not able to go to the warehouse studio that my husband and I shared, I also no longer had the luxury of time to work like I had before children. I knew that I had to keep making my art but I also made the commitment to being home with my children while they were young, I realized that the way I had made my art before was going to have to change. So, I moved my studio into our home and went about re-inventing the way that I made and thought about my art. Working on my art in my home studio served the main purpose of having a place in which I could create, but I started to feel like I was alone in a solitary vacuum of my own head and studio. I also really came up against the stereotype that many people seem to have about women being an artist (or any other job) OR a mother, but not both. When I would tell people that I was an artist and a stay at home mother people always seemed to think that I couldn’t really be doing both seriously. The fact that my husband still worked in our old warehouse studio space just seemed to give him more credibility as an artist. I kept bumping up against the walls that people place around being a “homemaker” and feeling surprised and hurt that people didn’t take me as seriously as an artist now that my realm was in my home.
Then, a couple of years ago I started looking at art blogs online, I think that the first one that I found was SouleMama after reading her book The Creative Family, which really spoke to me as a creative mother. From there I began to read many other artist blogs and I realized that there was a whole community of artists sharing right there on the internet! Reading what inspires other artists and how they also made their art between nap times and play times and refused to accept that being an artist and parent were mutually exclusive roles, really helped me to feel connected to a professional community in a way that I had not felt for years! I was especially inspired by the way artists were marketing their own work on Etsy, and other online marketing sites. This blew my mind right open as I realized that this was something that I could integrate well with my working at home and parenting. I opened my Etsy shop shortly after that, and started my blog both with the same name Leaves and Feathers. The whole thing evolved, and is still evolving, very organically and I did what felt “right” with each step.

How has having children affected your business and creativity?

In every way possible! I don’t think that I would have gotten so involved with this amazing, vibrant online world right now if it had not been for the evolution of my working style since having my children. Marketing and selling my work online became part of the natural evolution of artistic motherhood for me. I feel very strongly that I want my children to see their mother doing work that she loves, I think that there is no better way to prepare them for eventually following their own passions. For me, having my studio in our home, and integrating as best I can my art practice with our family life serves this purpose.  Being a mother also greatly inspires my own creativity, I am always looking for inspiration in our everyday lives. Shortly after I began blogging I started carrying my small camera with us everywhere and just this practice kept me always open and aware of inspiration. The flood of moments of beauty that I experience with my children is amazing! As much as I can I try to take the world in through their eyes, and celebrate the small things that I know are important to them. They are only very young for such a short time and the commitment that I have made to dedicated motherhood has been so full of life lessons and changes for me. The internet direction alone is a direction that I never would have foreseen before motherhood. I can say that I know more about who I am as a creative person, and my goals are clearer, than at any other time in my life.

Would you please share what a “typical day” is like for you? Is there school or childcare, etc. while you are working on your biz?

Even though I have become good at combining my work and family life with my studio in our home, I definitely need quiet time alone in which to get all of my focused work done. I actually thrive on time by myself in my studio. Once I have that time to myself and focus my thoughts, then I am able to continue working on a project during other times…sometimes even at the kitchen table with all of our beautiful family chaos going on around me!
As far as having that alone time I have to be very organized. Right now we are just starting our first year where our oldest is in “full time school” outside the home, he just started Kindergarten, so that is a big change! Now, five days a week he is at school from 9am to 3pm and our youngest is just beginning a Waldorf playgroup so she will be out of the house for 4 hours a day three days a week. This is totally new for us and will give me much more time to devote to my art and business. I am looking forward to seeing what this new time allows me to do!
A typical day now includes all of us getting up early to get the kids out the door to their programs. One thing that we love about Brooklyn is that we can walk to school, starting my day with a walk fully wakes me up. On a day where both kids are off to their programs I am home from dropping them off at about 9:20am, then I take a shower and evaluate what I need to focus on that day. I am very much a morning person so this is the time in which I fill orders for my shop, go to the post office (also just a short walk away), and get my best painting done. I have the good fortune to have a husband who has flexible working hours as a freelance artist, so when he is not working on a full time job, the two of us try to work out a balance of childcare. This means that we split picking the kids up from school, so every other day one of us gets a longer working day in the studio until about 4pm. On the days that I pick up the kids I only work until about 12:30pm, then I go to get them and spend the afternoon at the playground with friends and then come home and make dinner. Family dinner is a very important part of the rhythm of our days. On Mondays and Fridays my youngest is at home full time, this is a very special time for us and we spend all day doing fun projects or outings together.
I also want to share that when my children were small I had a wonderful babysitter who would come over to our home for 4 hours a day two days a week. This was my time to go into my home studio. For me this was the best of both worlds as I was still there in the house so that if I needed to nurse them or help out in any way I was available but still separate. This worked very well for me and it was the only way that I was able to make much of my art when my children were small.

How many hours do you give to your business each week? Are you working during the days/evenings/weekends?

This varies week to week and season to season.
For example, over the summer I had my children with me full time, all day everyday, so I gave up all expectations of being in the studio and just let everyday unfold in an easy relaxed way. I did manage to fit in some good studio time when my husband’s schedule allowed him to take the kids, but for me letting go of any expectations about having that time was the key in my just being able to relax into a schedule with the kids.
Last year was my first holiday season as an Etsy seller and I was totally taken by surprise by how much a huge selling season it is, so this year I am already beginning to prepare for the holiday season and am starting to dedicate more time this fall to the studio for this. I am also preparing for my next solo show in November at Swallow Gallery here in Brooklyn. Right now I am spending about 15 to 18 hours a week in the studio total, this includes the time during the days when the children are at school. I am usually too tired in the evenings to be very productive but I spend that time answering emails, creating blog posts, visiting my favorite blogs and social networking on Facebook
I also know my limitations right now. As I grow my business I have plans for working on licensing my art, growing my blog and website, but I know that these are things that I do not have time and space for in my schedule right now. I am happy with the work that I am creating and with the energy and nurturing response that I have received from this wonderful online community, and I am enjoying things as they evolve. I have to say no to things sometimes and be OK with that, and know that as long as I am giving as much as I can to my family and art right now, that is enough.

I know this is a subject that is always being addressed but I need to bring up balance. Do you feel you have a healthy balance between your work life and your family?

Balance is one of those ideas that I really struggled with until I read this inspiring article by the amazing Danielle LaPorte, I felt like she finally gave me permission to voice what I felt in my heart which was that sustained balance is impossible and was something that I was beating myself up with. There is always that wobble of energy and focus going to the place that needs it the most at any given time. Sometimes this doesn’t feel like balance at all. If I am not able to pick my kids up from their playgroups for days because I have to get work done in the studio, or if I am staying up too late and feeling tired during the days, this feels very unbalanced to me, but, just noticing my own patterns has made me good at self-regulating. When I start to feel like the drain of energy is too much in one direction then I make an effort to change course. This requires a lot of energy and a lot of honesty with my husband as he is often the one to point out to me when things are getting out of whack. Truthfully, one of the first things to go off balance for me is the house cleaning, when things get beyond the point of organized chaos then it is time to pull back!

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?

The thing that I always tell other moms is that, “you can do it!”, whatever “it” is for you. After having my own children I have done labor support doula work and through that I strongly have come to believe that we all need a cheerleader, someone who truly sees the work that we are doing and tells us that “yes, it is good work, and yes, that is just what you need to be doing right now!”.
Often, other moms will say to me, “How do you do it all?” and I try to be really honest about my journey. I especially let new moms know that I took time off after having my babies, when I had my first child I took 6 months off from doing my work as I slowly moved my studio into our home, and then I had a show scheduled so I had to start getting back into the studio. After I had my second child I took a full year and a half off from painting as I adjusted to the wildness of having two children! That was just what had to happen during that season in my life and there was never a moment where I doubted that I would get back into the studio and make my paintings again. Making my art is part of a life long journey for me, and integrating that part into the other aspects of my life takes effort and commitment everyday. I truly believe that we make time and space for what we really want to do, and it is OK to be honest with our selves about what those things are. Don’t put too much pressure on your self and remember, the best things come with the sweet rewards of time!

Here is all of the contact info for Faith plus the links to things that she mentions in the interview.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Custom Wreaths

The holidays are really just right around the corner.  I have decided to take custom wreath orders for the holidays. All wreaths are original creations. I use assorted papers that I paint or leave as is to cut and sculpt each flower. What is great about these wreaths is that you can leave them up all year if you wish. You can hang them on your wall or your door. I currently have the blue/yellow/white on my door.

The wreaths are approximately 14" in diameter. This size sell for $50.  If you are looking for specific size or color I will be happy to work with you. Here is a link to two large custom wreaths I created last year for a company holiday party.

If you are interested in ordering one please contact me at


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ARTIST: Maira Kalman

From the 2005 edition of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style

I was reading the new issue of O (October issue), which is great by the way and on page 62, under Live Your Best Life is an article about Maira Kalman.  I don't know if I have been living under a rock or what but I can't remember having come across her work before. I know I must have. Regardless.  I was instantly taken by her work.

And if you have been following along here, well you know that when I get excited about an artist I love to share.

She works in gouache. She writes. Paints New Yorker covers. She illustrates books. According to O, there is a retrospective of her art in San Francisco until the end of October. Then it si coming to LA and then to NY. I LOVE her color sense and her sense of whimsy and style.

To find out more:
Her site:
Her talk on TED:
An interview on Barnes and Noble:

P.S. If you have the time. DO LISTEN to these. So many good points she made.  Keep working, don't think while creating.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


A few snaps from the past week (that went fast).

*Went to an antique flea market and found a yo-yo quilt which was so cute, had to try to make a yo yo. they are so fun and super easy. I see more of these in my future.
*Antique doily and embroidered runners purchased at the flea market. Such pretty work.
*My little guy had his first day of school and it went well (except he already lost his lunch box). A bit hard on me and his sis but we are adjusting.
*Fall is really fast approaching. Sad to see summer go and a bit excited too!
*Some scrappy cards made after reading Denyse Schmidts book
*I also made the oven mitt in the book however I can't seem to find the photo that I took.
I will have to show  you another time. I was really proud of myself. It is the first "thing" I have ever made!
I will let you know what I am doing with it and the scrappy cards in another post. It makes me happy to think about it!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Creative Color Challenge: Violet Purple

I can't even believe that the date of this post is September 2!! Wow! Really where did the summer go? Am I the only one that feels this way? We our doing the countdown to the first day of school which is on Wednesday. I am going to miss my little guy being with me all day but I am so excited for him. He is going to do great!

This is my submission for the final week of Louise Gale's Creative Color Challenge. The color is violet purple. I gessoed my paper and then used colored pencils and did some paper cutting. I only participated in week 1,2 and 5. It was really fun and of course CHALLENGING. Check out all the other submissions in the flickr pool.