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Words to live by…

I am just wrapping up a project I did with a good friend of mine whom I met when we were grad students in the Higher Education Administration program at NYU.  Our program was heavily focused on students of color and students of minority status (i.e. disabilities, sexual orientation, religion or other identity).  Liza was a year ahead of me (our program was small and focused heavily on the 2nd years mentoring the 1st years) and when I graduated, I ended up taking over her place as Area Coordinator of theme housing at Wesleyan University as she was leaving the position for a teaching position at another school.  Diversity is near and dear to our hearts and she is now the Director of Intercultural Affairs at Stonehill College.  Liza was also the source of inspiration for creating Brave Girl and you can read her courageous story here from a post I wrote a couple years back (she is also the person that first put me in contact with FORCE – facing our risk of cancer empowered, the non-profit organization with whom I have a dedicated partnership with).

So Liza recently contacted me for a little project; she was looking for bookmarks to give out to her students along the themes of diversity and together we collaborated on the following pieces:

Practice Inclusion everyday

Our differences make us stronger

Good words to live by and practice daily.

If you haven’t done so, please check out Liza’a amazing story!  (I’m sure you’ve all heard about Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a prophylactic surgery with her BRCA+ status; well Liza made the same difficult decision a few years back and FORCE is THE organization to help women become knowledgeable about their BRCA status and empowers women to make informed decisions and educate the larger community on this issue.  REALLY wish that all the media coverage about Angelina Jolie’s latest news would have included some props for FORCE!  They are a fantastic organization and deserve much more awareness.  You can check them out at http://facingourrisk.org

Thanks for allowing me to share with you all; if you are interested in prints or merchandise of the above images, they are available in my shop now.

Goings on…

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It’s been a month since my last post and figured it time to update folks on what’s been going on!

First, we saw our first signs of green here!

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I celebrated my 38th birthday over sushi, cupcakes and a wonderful evening at the cafe/bookstore with my lovely husband…

birthday dinner

The next day we went down to Denver to go to the zoo where we almost melted with the 90 degree weather (it was still snowing up at our house the week before, so we were NOT used to the heat!)

And then we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary at the end of the month where we were greeted with more snow on a quick weekend trip to Breckenridge (this snow-loving bird was frankly OVER it!)

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Since Breckenridge is only a little over an hour away, we typically go for day trips, but decided to go for a couple days so we could spend some time enjoying the restaurants and still bring our pups with us.

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Bum news is that I threw my back out on the first morning there trying to wrangle an escapee pug back into our hotel room and well…our trip kind of went bust.  However, sitting was comfortable so we did driving tours of the area since I couldn’t walk much (or even stand upright!) and were able to see more of the mountain area surrounding the quaint main street of this ski town.

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Our anniversary dinner was replaced by room service where I could be in the comfort of PJs and our hotel room and the next day we left early and took the scenic drive back home, taking Loveland Pass and passing a still-operating ski resort (yes, this was June 1st!).

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Aside from that, we’ve been focused on house projects again, including having 21 tons of rock delivered to our house; after a year of flip-flopping on whether or not to list our house for sale, we finally decided to give it a go and can no longer use our “mountain landscaping” excuse if we are to create curb appeal!

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Unfortunately, I’ve been on hold with these projects all week while I wait for my back to heal (I can stand now thanks to a little help from the chiropractor!).

I haven’t painted in weeks and this is what my art table looks like since I last created…crowded!  I have TONS of ideas and themes I want to explore, I just have been so busy with my supplies shop during the day (it’s gone seriously gang-buster lately and while I’m grateful to have steady business/income, it’s definitely cramped my creative time) and then house projects in the evening, well…it just has to be put on hold for a little bit longer.

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Though I haven’t created anything new in a while, I do have some material that I created a little while ago that I haven’t shared, so here’s a peek into some of this new material using real vintage ephemera (not photocopies).

Silhouettes

Shore beckons

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Can you tell I’m getting a bit homesick for the ocean?

We also had some bad news with one of our pups, Peanut, who had surgery this week to remove a suspicious mass on her leg.  It’s being sent to a lab to determine if it’s malignant or benign so we’re hoping for the best.  If you’ve been a follower of this blog, you know that we had to put our oldest pup down in January, so we’re really hoping and praying that all is well with our sweet girl.  Appreciate you sending out good vibes for her as well!

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Thanks all…hope you’re having a good start to the month!

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Don’t forget to make time for some fun!

 

snowy spring

Yep.  Stillll snowing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of snow and cold.  But it’s May and I’m frankly sick of it.  I crave the birds singing, bright green aspen trees, enjoying coffee on my front deck with the rising sun and having picnics on the back deck under the umbrella.  And I’m green with envy seeing everyone’s green environments…plush grass, tulip-strewn flower beds and flowering trees.

We still have gray twigs, yellow grass and it’s been this funky rain/snow mix all week.

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On the bright side, my ginormous easel arrived (in the photo, it’s standing a little over 6′ tall and can accommodate canvases up to 8 feet!!).  Totally will come in handy as I’m moving to bigger canvases and trying to paint a 36 x 48 while laying flat on a table just doesn’t work so well.  The 3×4 piece in there now is one I’m making for our home.  Typically I create sporadically and with no vision, but this one I have a specific theme/message/vision and can’t wait to finish it.

Guess I’ll use the cold weather as an excuse to get more pieces done and to cuddle under the covers and get all cozy like this little girl…

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So go ahead and tell me how green it is by you and I’ll be here crying into my mittens.  ;)

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Since having taken that 2 month break from social media I was able to spend a lot of time creating and expanding.

I reopened my Green Earth Images shop on Etsy with a different feel this time; it features my mixed media photography, digital postcard collages and vintage-inspired images as that is more of where my heart is these days instead of just nature photography.

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I also opened my 6th, yes, 6th shop on Etsy (and hopefully my final one!).  It’s called Green Earth Destash and is pretty much my bargain center – where I sell supplies I no longer need or want and overstock/clearance items from my other 5 shops.  I have way too much inventory from things I wanted to try out that either didn’t work out, that no longer hold my interest or no longer fit with the themes of my current shops, so this is a way for me to get rid of things on the cheap (and people love bargains!).

I’ve also been creating like a fiend (more so in the last couple of weeks) and my style is changing.  Though I’ll always be fond of whimsical artwork, I can feel my style maturing a bit.  I haven’t created a girl in months (and to be honest, not sure how many I have left in me) and while I still like to create the occasional heart, cupcake or coffee, I have found myself drawn to more abstract work.

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I’ve actually been taken to just “making my typical backgrounds” – that is layers of collage and paint and leaving it at that (of course making that my focal point means a lot more time and effort focused on those backgrounds).  But I’m incorporating even more vintage ephemera than before, including real pieces of vintage postcards, photos and receipts (something I’ve only done with copies before) and now it lends to a more authentic, vintage-esque look.

Vintage diptych

And I’m going BIG…size, that is.  Previously, my largest piece was a 16×20 but now I’m working on sizes like 24×36, 30×40 and even a 36×48 piece for our home.  I enjoy this new phase so much that I am having a hard time falling asleep at night because as soon as I close my eyes, I see different colors, formats and collages on canvas.  I can’t stop thinking about creating, so it’s an exciting time and I’m riding the wave while it’s here as I know I tend to have either insane amounts of inspiration or long creative blocks.

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 And because I’m going big, I had to order an easel, something I’ve been working all these years without; it’s on its way and I’m seriously excited!

Here are some of the different pieces I’ve completed recently:

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Inspirational abstracts

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Whimsical coffees and cocoas

Vintage inspired butterfly art

Vintage inspired butterfly art

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More vintage inspired flowers

In addition to going big, I also went super small and cranked out about 50 new mini canvases, like these which include a mix of my newer abstracts along with my older whimsical style:

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Yeah, about 100 new pieces in all (so many more I didn’t share!); as you can imagine, it will take me some time to get them all in my shop, so if you see something you like or want to learn more about a piece, give me a shout!

While I was gone I was also asked to write my story of art licensing and how it just didn’t work for me.  Since nearly a year has passed since that disappointing experience left me in such a funk for so long, I finally felt ready to open up and share why art licensing (and my agent) just weren’t a good fit for me.  You can read the blog post here at the well known art licensing blog, The Moon From My Attic.  Once it was published, I had a major moment of anxiety, thoughts that perhaps I shouldn’t have been so candid and that maybe it would seal my fate as an artist.  But the response was huge on the blog, on the blog’s facebook and I also received a ton of emails from artists thanking me for my honesty (since so many artists are afraid to tell the truth about their experiences out of fear of lost opportunities; I, on the other hand said “hell with it!”)

And wouldn’t you know with all that buzz, I got several inquiries from people wanting me to reconsider, including a consultant, an agent and a greeting card manufacturer.  I politely thanked but turned down the consultant and manufacturer but only after the agent insisted I give her a chance to explain her story and process.  Long story short, even though I was flattered and confused for the moment (was it my experience with my agent or was it truly art licensing that wasn’t a good fit?), my reasons for not wanting to license my art were validated all over again.  It wasn’t just about the agent, it was about the entire art licensing process and now I feel like I can truly put the whole art licensing thing behind me.  As I said in that blog post, it can be a great opportunity for some artists, but not the right move for everyone, and that. is. okay.

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Walking away from another art licensing opportunity felt like being offered a promotion and saying, “nah, I’m good.”  It takes courage not to let your ego get in the way of well thought out decisions.  And now with a bit more wisdom and experience on my side, I consider every move, decision or opportunity by the way in which it affects my quality of life.  I’ve stopped chasing the dream to make it big, to make a lot of money or to become well-known because as an old boss used to say, “you are what you are at the cost of what you are not.”  Typically my life lessons have been after I’ve gone with my ego, took that promotion or opportunity (and money), then was miserable after seeing all that I had to give up (my personal priorities).  It felt really empowering this time to say no from the get go and know I was making the right decision for me.

Thing is, my currency is different now.  It’s quality time with loved ones, it’s life experiences as well as the simple moments in life, it’s flexibility in my schedule and life, it’s fulfilled relationships, it’s time outside in nature, it’s time for creating.  Simply put, it is quality of life.  Not money.  Not notoriety.  Not climbing a social ladder.  I’m returning back to my voluntary simplicity roots and life has expanded ten-fold.

It’s all about priorities and knowing which are yours (nothing wrong in being highly successful or rich if that it your top priority in life).  But when faced with an “opportunity” remember that with every pro is a con.  If that con means sacrificing your personal priorities in lieu of a bigger paycheck or a better title, take a moment to reconsider.  Choosing heart over ego wins every time.

daydream abstract

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Means “still snowing” (even I am getting spring fever at this point!!)

Change of Heart

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So a curious thing happened.  I wrote my last blog post a couple months ago, stating that I was done with blogging and signing off.  Moreover, instead of leaving my blog up for others to refer back to, I was going to take it off-line completely by setting it to private.  At the time, I was feeling burned out, overexposed and raw from a particular experience that led to a strong desire for anonymity and quietude.  I also felt a need to calm down my growing insecurity (it comes in waves) and I wanted to swear off all social media.  So I unplugged.

No blogging of my own.

No visiting other’s blogs.

No Twitter.

No Pinterest.

No Facebook (I deactivated both my personal and fan page).

I only spent time online to run my shops on Etsy and found that I had a good 2-3 extra hours a day freed up.  Yes, that’s a lot of extra time (but I’m willing to bet that if most of you pulled the plug on all social media, you’d be amazed at how much more time you’d have in a day!).

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I called, emailed or sent cards to family and friends close to me (I found that most of my FB “friends” didn’t even notice I was gone, so why was I spending so much time focused on them before?).  I spent time soaking the beautiful Colorado sun (it may still be really cold but it’s sunny nearly every day here and the couch that basks in the late afternoon sun cures any winter blues).  I worked out for the first time in a looooong time (ow, sore!).  I watched a lot of movies with David.  I no longer spent the evenings with laptop in hand zoning out until bed wondering where all the time went.   I spent more time loving on my husband and pups.  I spent time creating from the heart and referred back to journals instead of looking online for inspiration.  I spent time quieting my anxious soul and stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing and what everyone thought of me as a person and artist.

No more obnoxious status updates.

No more drama.

No more comparing to other’s success.

No more head games or emotional tug-a-war.

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And you know what?  A beautiful thing happened…

I found peace.

I found happiness.

I found my center.

And the craziest, most unexpected thing of all?  I feel less lonely and isolated.  I no longer feel like the person on the outside looking in.  I’m not hearing about all the get-together’s I’m missing out on, all the social activities people are engaging in, all the personal connections that I don’t have in my life.  And in this regard, ignorance has been bliss.  My self-esteem has been restored and I just don’t feel bad about myself anymore (that folks, was worth it alone to leap off the social media cliff!).  I did what I set out to do for my New Year’s resolution (decluttering all areas of my life) and can’t remember the last time I felt so joyful.  I’ve decluttered my physical environment, decluttered my business and decluttered my personal life (which is why I’m still not on Facebook!).

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But after my 2 month “sabbatical”, I’m finding a whisper tugging at my heart and that is blogging.  I miss writing and I miss sharing with you all.  I swore I wouldn’t allow myself to share my life in such a personal way again on a blog, which is a wide-open public forum.  But the reality is, I strive to have a candid, honest view on life.  One that is positive and upbeat but isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, one that shares highs and lows but always gets back up and chugging along.  A glass half-full approach, but also one that is realistic.  And sure, the candor (and being honest about disappointments in life) opens up my vulnerabilities to the world, but isn’t that also how we grow?

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And so I will approach social media again (or at the very least, blogging) with baby steps.  Although I jumped all out in a flash, I’m not about to jump back in the same fashion.  I want to share and reconnect, but at a pace that is comfortable and doesn’t take away all the time (and perspective) that I’ve gained over the past few months.  If you’ve ever blogged regularly, you know it’s a big commitment, so I’m trying to listen to my heart more and do what feels right (which may mean a pace that is more like every other week rather than every other day).

Care to continue the journey with me?

Hi All,

Just wanted to let you know that I am going to be moving this blog to “private” in a week.  As you have probably noticed, I’ve gone from blogging nearly daily to a couple times a month.  My heart is not in it anymore and I feel that I need to go back to a more private life.  I’ve been breaking away from social media lately and I’m amazed at how much more time there is in a day and how much happier I am without it (so if you feel like you might be spending too much time on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or other’s blogs, I encourage you to go on a social media diet for a week or month or longer!).

I appreciate the readership and support over the years, but now it’s time to move on.  I’ve decided to move to private instead of “deleting” altogether so that I have the option to revive it one day down the road and so that I can refer back to my online journal.  And I’ve decided not to keep old posts up because as mentioned before, I need to go back to living a more private life after sharing so much over the years.

Thanks for sharing the journey; but now it’s time for me to travel solo.

“Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.” – Ray Bradbury