April 13, 2017

Painting Eggs With Toddlers

I still haven't pulled the trigger on doing the egg dyeing thing with the girls yet. The thought of it just makes me stress out from imagining the mess! haha. So the past couple years I've set out to find a way to decorate eggs the easy way. Last year's project was drawing with chalk all over black chalkboard eggs. This year, the dollar section at Target saved the day with the perfect wooden eggs and metallic watercolor paint in the craft section! 

The girls have been more into painting lately, which is so fun for me not only because they seem to be following in their mama's footsteps, but also because it can entertain them for long stretches of time (win!). I love the excuse of a holiday to come up with a fun craft to do with them, but the funnest part for me is teaching them the real reason why we celebrate the holiday in the first place. I love how their brains are curious about the stories and how they communicate it back in the silliest ways. Their ages might be my favorite so far as they continue to take in and understand more and more. 

So if any of you have some fun ideas I can keep in my back pocket for next year, please let me know! How have you done egg decorating with your toddlers? Do you have any family traditions you do for Easter? Share some with me in the comments below!

Hope your Easter weekend is a sweet one!

April 4, 2017

Dear Daughters

Well its a few days into April, but I took these photos in March, so better late than never, right!?! The last month was a sweet one watching my girls personalities grow and finding out new things about them. Each time I ask to take their pictures they show me a new side and its extremely entertaining to watch. These girls of mine! They sure keep me on my toes. 

("dear daughters"--a portrait series of my daughters once a month for 2017)

Dear Raleigh, 

You are all full of laughter and goofiness more than ever recently. Your imagination is running wild with pretending to play family and talking to your friend "flower" and making up the most clever (and random) song lyrics. You never stop singing. You sing about almost everything and everything and its the best off key, loud, and ear piercing music to my ears. I've watched you bond with each of your sisters in different ways which delights my heart to no end. And even though some days you'll play or laugh with one of them more than the other, your tenderness and love for them is evident with each of them. You are continuing to teach me how to be gentle and patient with you as you are growing and learning the world around you. Our conversations and conflicts show me just how much you actually understand and take in and it gives me perspective to remember how my own actions have an extreme effect. I will never want anything more than your trust and your heart, and even when it breaks me to discipline and give you boundaries sometimes, I want you to always know you have access to me and my love for you will never waver or go away. 

Dear Jocilynn,

The past month I've seen more and more of how your heart is so sensitive and genuine. You are so smart with everything you're learning and comprehending. You have an attention to detail that I've never seen another two year old have more than you. You notice the smallest things, like when my nails are painted or the way my hair is different or the color of someones eyes. They don't go unnoticed by you because you watch people intently and looking back I realize how true this has been since you were a baby. I remember you watching me closely like you were studying my every move and mannerism, trying to learn life through me. I think this is a gift in you that will allow you to enter in with people unlike anyone else. I think you will know how to notice the details of someone's heart and learn how to love them better through it. You are still opinionated and strong willed, which I think can serve as a good thing too, but parenting it can be so hard sometimes. We're learning how to love each other in this and I want to always be able to understand and know your heart even if we can't see eye to eye. You are teaching me how to pay attention and I'm learning so much from you and the world around me because of that. I love you with the deepest love. 

Dear Jaelynn,

This month I've seen you flourish in who you are more than ever. We took a family trip to Park City and something about us being away with all your closest people around you made you come alive. Your little tiny body brings out the biggest smile and laughter I've ever seen. It makes a whole room light up and grin. You have the best sense of humor and you constantly make us laugh...and you definitely know how to. You are so smart with your words and can remember things I never thought was possible. We've battled it out quite a bit, trying to teach you how to be kind and gentle and use a "big girl voice", but this month I've see you maturing more and more in that. You're still learning, but you're starting to catch yourself before you start to whine or complain and it gives me hope and peace knowing some of the redundant things I've been unsure about in parenting is starting to pay off. I've loved watching you run around and be yourself and play with others and make them laugh with you. You teach me how to laugh at myself and how to always bring others into the joy of the moment with me. My love for you never stops growing!

Dear Sage, 

You've been more clingy and feisty lately and I'm still figuring out why that is. Maybe its because you just love to be around people constantly and almost can't stand it when you're alone. You seem to never want to be missing out on the fun of whatever your sisters are up to. You're just about the same size as all of them so this has given you some confidence to stick up for yourself a bit, which can be pretty entertaining to watch sometimes. You still give the best and biggest hugs and cuddling with you is the sweetest feeling. You teach me how to keep smiling and that being with people is always the best medicine. I love you with an extreme and affectionate love!

I love you more than life itself. 

March 21, 2017

A Gift To Give

About a month ago I went through a season of feeling incredible doubt in what I do as an artist. This wave hits me ever so often and I don't know how to shake it sometimes. The feeling can be overwhelming and discouraging--feelings of self doubt, if what I do is significant, if I myself am "worthy" enough to be a so called artist. I wrestled through these feelings with my husband, with friends, and God as I tried to dig deep and find where they were coming from. I didn't want to continue to sit in this feeling until it just "went away", but instead take it head on and understand what it might have to offer me in growth and maturing. So I sat down and wrote about it all--how old I was when I started feeling this way, the certain events that happen when the doubt comes in, and the lies I begin to tell myself soon after. 

A few hours later, a friend randomly forwarded me this article by the incredibly articulate Ann Voskamp. What struck me in reading this was the truth of all humans being made in the image of God--something I've always believed in my head, but never really grasped in my heart. Anne writes in her post:
All humans are equal — because all are equally made by God.

I read further along as this truth stuck with me. The article was written in light of MLK day and our equality as humans and it was striking me in a real personal way as I was wrestling with the doubts of my talent, and who I am. And then I read this:
The whole concept of the Imago Dei…the ‘Image of God’ is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected…This gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity.
I realized then and there the doubts I felt were deeply connected to comparison. Without even realizing it, I wasn't just comparing my work to someone else's, but I compared my worth and value to the worth and value of someone else. Gosh did that feel hard! 

Because, if the truth is that we are all made equally, then we are all on the same level ground so then there's really no comparison at all. If the truth is that we are made in God's image, then we each have a unique, God-given worth that is incomparable to someone else. And those words above- uniqueness, worth, and dignity- hit my like a ton of bricks (in a really good way, of course). I began to see that when I live out of this truth, that I'm already unique and worthy and gifted, then I have something to offer the world that only I can give

The next day, I decided to listen to the new Avett brothers album that I hadn't heard yet. Some of my most inspiring and thought provoking moments come through listening to music that I love. The thoughts and revelations I had gone through the day before weren't really on the forefront of my mind as I began to work. I sat there painting and listening to the new tunes without paying attention to any of the lyrics. The album's title song "True Sadness" started playing. The words in it weren't particularly sticking out to me until I suddenly heard this: 
"Just know the kingdom of God is within you, even though the battle is bound to continue."
Right then I knew God had given me that little moment to remember the truth of all he was teaching me from the previous day. The kingdom of God is within me because I am made in the image of God. And because I am made in the image of God I have been given uniqueness and talent and belonging and worth. It was a gift that was given to me- a gracious gift, not something I earned. Everything I had written down and read through in that article and listened to in those lyrics started to come together in a pretty beautiful way to me. It was these little snippets that were speaking to my heart in telling me who I am. I was seeing more clearly that since this is a gift given to me, the only way I will ever find true freedom from the lies and doubt is by living out that I get to give this away as a gift to others. 

And at the core, that is the only way I want to live my life, do my business, and create art--out of giving it away as a gift rather than striving to "be better than" or try harder to be something I already am-- unique, and gifted, and worthy. 

The battle will certainly continue. I know there will be times I will be struck with fear or doubt again, but moving forward I now have this to hold onto: the kingdom of God is within me--its in all of us really. And to me, there's nothing more beautiful, life giving, and inspiring than that.

February 21, 2017

Dear Daughters

I started these "dear daughters" posts a while back and decided to start them up again this year. As crazy and busy as life can get, my goal more than ever is to focus my days and time intentionally. I know every parent says it, but I'm reminded each day of how fast these little ones are growing up. Each new word, or sentence, or skill makes my mama heart burst, never wanting to miss a thing! With the time flying by so fast, I knew that grabbing a couple extra minutes just to take an intentional snap of them each month was a tangible way to "hold onto" these fleeting moments. 

So I grabbed the camera and told the girls I wanted to take a couple of pictures. Almost immediately they ran to their rooms to grab all the blankets and stuffed animals their little arms could hold just to be a part of the photo op! I didn't refuse and went with it. Something I'm trying to do with these portraits is to let go of the urge to make every photo "pretty" or picture perfect looking. I want it to be as real and authentic as it is in real life, so if a pile of un-color-coordinated toys is what the moment brings, then so be it. 

Dear Raleigh, 

Your sparkling blue eyes still stun me. I always dreamt of a blue eyed child and since the moment you were born you've captured my heart with them. I look at you each morning wondering how on earth it is possible for you to look more grown up over night! I am learning so much from you right now. Learning how to be humble. Learning how to be kind. Learning how to treat others with love. You teach me these things because this is who you are.  We've had our challenges together more recently as you're growing more independent. It puts me in a place of humility when I see how my flaws are effecting you. I want so badly for you to grow up with the "perfect" life because of how much I love you, but at the same time I know that having the perfect/easy life doesn't come with the depth or maturity I hope for you to embrace. You have an intentional spirit, one that would rather be with people than be alone--I hope that never changes, but only makes you more loveable and safe for others to be around as you grow. Our one on one conversations lately have me feeling so in awe of the little girl you are. You take care of me and watch out for your sisters and are the sweetest soul to be with. I hope you know how cherished you are, how much this mama loves you with every part of my being. You are my deepest joy!

Dear Jocilynn, 

This picture is the epitome of everything you're about right now-- dresses, blankets, your bunny, and PINK! That look on your face shows the sassy yet sweet I'm seeing in you more and more. No one has made me laugh and driven me crazy in the same moment as well as you do. Yet you're sweetness is still so true about you. You are spunky and loud and hilarious. You have a passion for everything you own. You're becoming more and more articulate and its so funny watching you try to explain yourself in your best two year old manner. I love our moments together, when you snuggle up next to be as I tuck you in bed and ask me to sing you a song-- I could be the worst singer in the world and your face would still light up with a smile every time. I love who you are becoming. You are my sweetest delight!

Dear Jaelynn, 

That look sums up your personality to a tee! The perfect combination of humor and stubbornness. I'm not quite sure what it is just yet, but our bond feels like its growing more recently. All you want to do right now is cuddle and be with me. I catch you watching me quietly as though you're figuring out life through me. In an instant you can make me laugh like no other and that laugh of yours is the most contagious thing on the planet! Watching you grow up is a delight. You are the first person to be concerned when someone else is sad or crying. You get excited about the littlest things and they bring you the most joy--like finding the moon in the sky each night or listening to the trash truck come down the street. Your joy is embedded into your personality and it teaches me to pay attention to the little treasures this life has to hold. I could watch you for hours. You light up a room whenever you're in it. You are someone I always want to be around. 

Dear Sagey girl, 

This has become your permanent nickname now and that smile of yours wears the name proud! If I counted how many times in a day you smiled I wouldn't be able to keep track. You are a beauty with a love for people unlike any other. All of a sudden you're walking 100 percent now, keeping up with your sisters as best you can. You never want to be away from them. Watching you look up to them and play with them is a sweet gift to me. You're communicating with your hands and noises now and its still so fun to watch you learn something new--even after we've done this four times now! I can already tell you are a strong willed one, but there's also something so gentle about your personality that makes you so easy to love! I love holding you and "talking" to you and learning you. You are my precious gift!


February 15, 2017

Logo for Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market

This project was an exciting one for me! Last fall I was asked by the team at Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market to create their new logo for them as they were starting to rebrand their business. I was so honored and excited that they would choose me of all people! It was so fun to work with them and come up with something they loved and were excited about just as much as I was. Something fresh and light, simple, with my own hand lettering and watercolor style is what we were going for. 

My process began with the sketchbook, as always, drawing out anything that came to mind and trying all kinds of different styles and lettering. Once we narrowed it down to a few they loved, I kept tweaking and working on those, pulled out the watercolors and worked on it some more.The final logo is what you see below and I love how it turned out. Not only is the logo spread across their new website and fliers and clothing and all kinds of stuff, but I also got to paint it on a giant mural you can see as the entrance piece to all of their markets. 

It's a pretty cool thing seeing my work all over a brand that is so well known and loved. And its even more fun to me that I get to be a part of the JITT "family" too. If you haven't checked out their markets yet, I highly recommend it. They bring in the best of the best with thousands of things to choose from that is sure to make you want to come back for more. I'm heading to LA next weekend to be a part of their first market at the Fairplex, so all you California friends please come say hi! 

Here is a little map I created for them too to let you know where and when all their markets will be this year! Hope to see you at one of them. 

February 10, 2017

Ephesians One Mural

I had so much fun creating this mural for our church a couple weeks back. This verse is at the center of everything that will be talked about in the next series we're going through and is being encouraged to memorize throughout the next couple months. When I was approached about the project, originally the idea was to have something painted directly onto the wall, but after I started sketching it out and knowing the amount of time it would take I wanted to make something that could be reused instead of getting painted over. So I came up with the idea of mounting something on the wall that could be hung in other places throughout the church once the series was over. Once I had the measurements figured out and the pieces were built, I realized I did some math wrong and didn't factor in what the size of the whole piece would be once they were all put next to each other. After trying not to freak out too long, I thought to overlap them and have the two smaller pieces pop off the wall--which in the end turned out even better as it saved space and created a dimensional look that would make the over all piece a lot more intriguing.

I spent the course of three full days working on this thing not including the sketching and digital processing time. (Shout out to my amazing husband who took on parenting duties--needless to say he's the BEST!) It was a hefty deal, making it the largest lettering project I've worked on to date! Sixteen feet high by 16 feet wide (each piece measured 8x8, 8x6, and 6x6). I started out sketching it onto graph paper and used my pen to make it look exactly how I saw it in my head. I then scanned it onto the computer to make final tweaks to the size and proportion it would be on each board. From there, I projected the digital file onto the board from my computer and made it fill the whole board. Then I got to sketching again, tracing out the digital picture in chalk on the the piece and eventually painting over the chalk to created the final look. Its a time consuming process, but I really do love every minute of it!

I loved getting to read through each paragraph as I sketched and created what I wanted the final to be, pulling out words that I wanted to have a focus on and creating lettering that would appeal to the overall feel of the piece. I felt like I put a lot of my own heart and self in this as I thought about the verse in my own life over and over. 

As any artist knows, we are our own worst critics, so I've tried not to be over perfectionist about it, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out! And even happier knowing its being hung in a sacred, safe place that is becoming a blessing to so many.