Sunday, March 1, 2015

Back to work (art work, that is!)

I'm about to life-update y'all, so before I do that, here are few important things:
  •  My Etsy shop will be re-opening later this week. New stuff and pretty spring gifts! If you're looking for wooden eggs, you're in luck.
  • Also, I'm encouraging you to go follow smilingturtlene on Instagram! This is the handle (is that what you say on Instagram?) for Smiling Turtle Art Spot in Omaha, which is one of the shops that carries my work. I'll be instagramming for the artisan collective out there as well as on my own (link to the right) so I'd love to have you follow and see lots of great Omaha artwork, as well as opportunities for classes and the like, if you're local!
Now... on to the post:

Hear ye, hear ye - I'm back to making art in a regular-sort-of-way, at long last. :-) Since welcoming the fantastic Mr. Ren, it has been a daily experiment, figuring out the balance of mom-life, work, art, and time to just relax.  The thing is - the balance I've had to strike is completely about me - not about Ren. I have the world's easiest, happiest, generally most-agreeable baby. He has slept through the night for months now and we've had very little stress with him at all. The challenge for me is parting from him for even a little while when I come home from work in the evening. When we've been apart all day, going up to my studio has just not been a priority (or emotionally possible). That being said, I've missed painting something terrible, so over the last few weeks I've been working to carve out a little more time for it that doesn't interfere with my mom time. I've been evaluating a lot of the ways my days are spent, and that's still a work in progress, but I feel good about the direction I'm heading and the changes down the road. Momhood is a life in constant flux, so I'm embracing it!
Here's my happy owlet:

So, what am I making now? Well, I'm at my best when I'm jumping from project to project. I've been working on a REALLY big, acrylic canvas for our house, which is intimidating and forces me to step back and think about it... a lot. But it's fun and challenging in a good way. And I'm plotting some spring watercolors with birds and flowers. And I'm working on new cards and notebooks to get out into the shops. I have several ideas for my pretty blue typewriter that are going to come to life over the next few weeks.

Pretty significantly, last weekend I CLEANED MY STUDIO. Any of you that make things know that there are times when just walking in the room could result in injury, and I was totally there. Now it's better and I'm feeling so good about the possibilities in here. Happy art on the horizon.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sweetest Sunday


Today the sun was out and the weather was perfect (for me anyway - I know that a lot of people are sad that it has gotten cool, but I'm a fleece/sweater sort of gal). I spent the morning with my fellas on a long walk around Standing Bear Lake in Omaha. The monarchs are on the move and the fall flowers are blooming. I snapped a few shots with my phone, but Brad took several with our camera that I'll share soon. You know how I feel about things with wings... Ren has gotten so big lately and we have fun watching him take in everything around him. This afternoon the two of them have been watching football and playing while I sneak some time in the studio, so I'm happy to stop by and say hello! Hope you're all having a great start to fall, too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hello, Friends.

Well, I’ve been avoiding this place for a while, and it’s time to get back to updating. We’ve had a few life changes, to say the least, so this post will likely be the longest this blog will ever see.

Part of the reason I’ve been gone has been the business of being a new mom, which has been wonderful. For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram or Facebook, we welcomed the new little love of my life, Ren, at the end of May.

My days since then have been filled with learning about him and learning about myself as his mom. We quickly discovered the wonders and challenges of parenting. Our first night home together we learned just how many times he was going to wake up and the tricks of changing little boy diapers, as we panicked and then laughed like idiots when he sprayed our bedspread at 3am. We also saw how perfectly babies behave while their grandparents are here to help, and how instantly they scream and fuss when they’re gone, making you seem like a terrible liar. We’ve watched the magical moments as he sees new things for the first time. Our little Lorax loves the trees, and his dad has taken to going on tree walks around our yard whenever he cries, which instantly soothes him. We laugh when strolling him around our neighborhood because the moment we go underneath tree limbs his eyes widen in awe, and once we pass he goes back to clear boredom. He’s almost 3 months old now (where has it gone??), and full of smiles and coos and attentiveness.  Our voices are familiar, and the feeling when he has a smile just for us is the bee’s knees. He also has a very serious expression he wears when he’s focusing on something new that seems strange for a baby, and is one I can’t get enough of.  

Just this past week I went back to work, which was hard, hard, hard, even though I really enjoy my job and my coworkers.  Now I’m learning to soak up every cuddle and moment when I’m home.  We’re lucky in that Brad’s schedule allows one of us to be home with him more than many people can.  I’m ridiculously emotional still, and even though he hasn’t had to go to daycare too much yet, and even though they’re incredibly sweet there and give him lots of attention, I’ve cried after dropping him off every single time so far. We’ll get there. So. To sum things up: being a mom is making me emotional, but happy and in love, and it’s suiting me just fine. Ren is more than I could have ever known he’d be.

Sadly, the other reason I’ve been avoiding writing here has been heartbreak. This spring we found out that Scout had a progressed lung cancer, and ultimately we had to let her go. We tried to treat it for a little while, but it was just too developed for that to help, and instead we chose to spoil her for the last month and then let her rest. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever really get over this loss. She wasn’t very old – just nine – and it caught us by surprise, with her decline happening really quickly.

It’s still very fresh and sneaking up on me several times each day, when I turn to say something to her or feel her absence in the things I do. I can’t say how many times I swear I see her out of the corner of my eye, and it’s a pile of laundry or a shadow.  We were so thrilled to have her as a Nana for Ren, and it breaks my heart to think of him missing out on her sweet, silly ways.  I know she would have been a little bear, hovering over him and worrying about his every move, and then enjoying playing with him when he was big enough. 
 The thing about Scout is that she was truly a perfect dog. Not perfect in the sense that she never did anything wrong (though she was darn close), but perfect in that she was exactly what Brad and I needed in our lives. She started off as an engagement puppy, so she really was there from the minute we officially became a family. We rarely did anything without her. She picked out our first Christmas tree, crawling underneath it to eat the snow.  She went on all of our vacations, hiking, camping, and fishing until she curled up muddy and exhausted on a sleeping bag to snore and run in her puppy dreams. She helped us explore our new surroundings each time we moved, encouraging us to find new parks and hiking trails, and enabling me to feel safe whenever Brad was at work because I had a 100 lb companion. She was a rockstar with the neighbor kids wherever we moved, standing patiently to be petted by little people exactly her height and listening to them remark on her soft fur and Shaggy Dog resemblance.  She started off sleeping in our bed each night, covering my feet until she decided she was too hot, and then moving to the tile in the bathroom. In the winter she’d spoon with whoever was available – either us or our visiting family members – and make room for herself by squeezing between the sleeper and the wall and pushing with her legs until she was stretched out comfortably.  For all of her great size – and she was the tallest Old English Sheepdog and heaviest female that we’ve ever known – she was an absolute baby in many ways. She loved stuffed animal babies, and brought them to you to play with the minute you sat on the couch. She had a special love for puppet animals, and transformed into a wild woman whenever Brad put one on his hand, jumping to crazy heights. Fireworks, popcorn on the stove, and packing bubbles were reason for an exit to the bathroom or basement. A few years ago when we brought Lucy Cat into our fold, she quickly acquiesced to the little paws that swatted her nose if she got too close. She never did give up trying to herd the cat, but if ever Lucy found her too irritating, she’d let her know and Scout would move along. Scout was spoiled with people food, and rarely would we order anything out without consideration for the furrball at home. We learned quickly that the Wisconsin Dairy Queen had a “dog special,” which involved a sundae with a milkbone on top instead of chocolate. On road trips back and forth from Illinois, she’d get a cheeseburger, which she’d inhale in seconds flat, leaving the two pickles on the backseat.  Scout’s favorite thing in this world was a trip to the beach. For a sheepdog especially, she loved the water, plowing in immediately and gulping like a pelican. When we lived in Wisconsin, Lake Michigan was her playground. After that, we made sure to find camping trips with water and space to run.     


Last fall we went on what would be our final camping trip together – a trip that really shows just how quickly her sickness came on. In September, this beautiful dog who couldn’t walk more than a few blocks this spring hiked for 11 miles in the South Dakota hills, plowing ahead on trails, swimming in streams, and wrapping up the days with the deep sleep that only comes with real contentment. This is how we will remember her.  A little muddy, tongue lolling and fur flying, as she happily explored the world. 

I’m going to miss this girl, this Stubborn Dog, until the end of my days.  Brad and I are the luckiest to have shared our lives with her. 


So. That’s where I’ve been. Off being a lot happy, a lot sad, and just generally focused on those that I love. As we head into Fall, I’m learning how to find balance in my new life, and how to fit in the creative times that I need.  I’m working on things that are soft and simple right now, focusing on watercolors that I can bring out of the studio and work on near my little man as he sleeps. My work time is less frequent, but more focused and intentional, so I hope that will show in the things I create. 

Thank you for the support you continue to give and I hope to share more frequently here going forward. Please follow me in other ways to see more regular mini-captures of the things I’m working on. Instagram and Facebook are easy for those quick little hellos.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ready and Waiting

Hello! Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day! I just wanted to pop in and say hello. If you've been over there, you may have noticed that I put my Etsy shop in Vacation Mode, in preparation for the arrival of Baby D. We're playing the waiting game now, so I don't plan to be back here for a little while. When I do, hopefully I'll be introducing you to our little peep. We are done for now with the nursery too, but my parents are bringing some furniture out with them when they arrive, so I'll do pics after it's all in place and share them with you then.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Spring!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

April Update

Good morning! Hope you've all been having a lovely start to Spring. This weekend has been very busy around here as we try to wrap up painting and finishing in the nursery. Today it's raining outside, but here is the view from my studio window! I know the screen is in the way, but isn't that tree beautiful?? I'm so happy we have some flowering trees in our new yard. I didn't know what all of the trees and shrubs were, so it has been a wonderful surprise to see what blooms.

Lately we have been trying to hit up a few estate sales on Friday mornings when I'm off, mostly looking for furniture (unsuccessfully), but finding other cool things on occasion. This week we found this textile art, which I'm going to re-tack and clean up. I love the colors and shapes, and I think with the frame fixed and painted white, it'll look fresh and new. I also picked up this tape dispenser, which is SUPER heavy, and for anyone who wraps things, you know this is a fine quality for a dispenser. I'm thinking about whether or not I want to paint something on the side... we'll see!

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram ---> links to the right, you know that I posted my very first brooches in my etsy shop. I am SO very happy and excited about these, and I made several to keep for myself.

One of my little bits of crazy, well known to family and friends, is that I'm extremely weird about wearing jewelry and have some unexplainable psychological aversions to certain things. I never wear necklaces and I only occassionally wear bracelets, but they can't involve chain or other things that aren't sort of solid in nature. For whatever reason, these types of materials freak me out when they touch my skin, and I feel sort of itchy and hivey. This makes me a watch/brooch person.

I am keenly aware that this makes no sense, and it's sort of bothersome because I know several wonderfully talented jewelers that do beautiful work, and they probably wonder why I'm so thrilled if they have pins or solid bracelets! Regardless, I decided to make some little wooden brooches and couldn't be more happy with how they've turned out. As a painter, it's fun to have something wearable that I've made.

Each one is unique and I've painted in acrylic and ink, and then sealed them with a varnish to protect and give them a finished shine. They'll make wonderful gifts or personal pieces. Here's the link to see the new ones in my shop. I plan to make them more often, so you'll see different ones down the road. 

For the next week or so, I'm going to be focused on finishing up some art and craft pieces for the nursery. One of my plans is to make some black and white paintings for the wall, since this is supposed to be the most mentally stimulating for babies. Whether that works or not, I love the clean colors and geometric shapes, so it should be fun to work on.  I'll let you see more when I'm all done.