Saturday, December 18, 2010

Goodbye Lil' Superman

I know I have been absent for a while here. After the craft fair, life just seemed to get crazy for me. The happiest and most life altering event that has happened so far was learning that my husband and I are expecting. Our first child is due on June 24, 2011, and we couldn't be happier. As you can imagine, I've been going through all the things one goes through with pregnancy - fatigue, nausea, weird pregnancy cravings, etc. And as I enter into my second trimester, I can already tell that I am starting to feel like my old self again (with the exception of my growing belly). With this renewed energy I am hoping to get back into my studio to create some new pieces for the New Year.

But even with happiness, sometimes sadness comes, too. Perhaps the most devastating event that has happened was the recent passing of my nephew Brady. After five months of being treated for his congenital heart condition, he passed away on December 10th. As you can imagine, my family is heart broken. But despite our great loss, we gained so much from Brady. I think the pastor at Brady's funeral summed it up best. He said, "I counted the days. Brady was here on this earth for 145 days. And in those 145 days, he accomplished more than most people do in their entire lives. He made us all better people. He brought us together as a community, and he showed us the power of love."

At Brady's funeral, most of the nurses from the PICU unit where Brady received a majority of his care came to pay their condolences and read a poem that they dedicated to Brady. They called him their Little Superman. This may have been because my sister dressed him up as Superman for Halloween, but I think it was mostly because he was a fighter and endured a lot during his short time with us.

After the funeral, the nurses came to my sister's home, bearing red and blue helium balloons (Superman's colors). They planned on releasing the balloons in memory of Brady. As we all stood in the cold, one of the nurses sang a song she often sang to the children in her life - "A Bushel and Peck."

Superman Balloons for Brady

Balloons for Brady

It was sweet. When the song was over, we released our balloons into the night sky. They traveled together in a cluster up to heaven, and up to Brady. It was a beautiful moment.

The Crowd Gathers

Barbara, Lennox, and the Lovely PICU Nurses

The beautiful staff from the PICU unit

A few days after the funeral, I heard the song "One Last Christmas" by Matthew West on the radio. Not only did it bring tears to my eyes, it really struck a chord with me. It reminded me of Brady and how much he has changed our lives. I think my sister-in-law said it best in responding to the song: "That is beautiful. There is such goodness in the world even in the face of tragedy. Proof that every person no matter how small can touch the world in an amazing way. Brady did just that!"

Thank you Brady for blessing us with your love. You'll live forever in our hearts.

A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you.
~Author Unknown

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Paintin' Punkins

Yesterday, I spent the day in Greenville visiting my sister and my sweet baby nephew, Brady.  It's been three months since he was born, and my sister has been right by his side, everyday, as he recuperates in the hospital.  He has had more complications than we expected, but we are all very hopeful that he will be going home soon.

As you can imagine, spending that much time away from home can be difficult, but my sister has shown an amazing amount of strength during this whole experience.  I have witnessed more acts of kindness from the community and support from family and friends, that I know it has made some of the stress and worry of Brady's situation subside for my sister and her family.  She has grown to know nothing else over the course of these few months but to be the best mother she can be for Brady.  And I know that the excellent care and amazing skill of the hospital staff on the PICU floor has truly enabled her to do that as well.

I think it is Barbara's complete devotion to Brady and her determination to be an advocate for his treatment that has made her a favorite among the nursing staff on the PICU floor.  Time and time again I hear the nurses tell my sister that she is a breath of fresh air.  They work in a world where not every parent cares; they witness some horrendous crimes against children that cause them to be patients on the PICU floor.  So to see someone who loves their child as much as Barbara loves Brady, I know it must give them hope.

To help pass her time in the hospital, the Child Life specialist has befriended my sister and has given her great activities to do during her visits with Brady.  One of the most popular activities to date is pumpkin painting.  It started off small with Barbara painting a pumpkin for Brady.  But then she started getting requests from other patients and the nursing staff to paint pumpkins for them as well.  So when I showed up yesterday, Barbara said, "Guess what we're doing today..."  When she told me, I couldn't wait to get started.

Painting Pumpkins

Here are some of the pumpkins that were created:

Zebra Pumpkin

Witch Stockings and the Letter B

Trick or Treat!

Even though this journey with Brady has been a difficult one, I am so very thankful for the little moments and the happy celebrations that have made this journey for my sister and her family one of hope and love.  Thank you to all who have kept my sister and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

Feeling Batty

"When witches go riding,
and black cats are seen,
the moon laughs and whispers,
‘tis near Halloween."
- Author Unknown

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Perfect Day

On October 2nd, Inochi Designs made it's debut to the public at the Sertoma Arts Fair in Raleigh.  Back in July, I attended an awesome workshop about taking charge of your own happiness, setting goals, and working toward achieving those goals.  One of the goals that I set for myself was to participate in an arts fair.  Luckily for me, I got that opportunity, and I seized it.  Since July, I've been using every spare moment to prepare for the fair.  I planned, I researched, and I created but not without obstacles.  Some of the people I love dearly in my life are facing some serious health challenges which have left me feeling helpless.  I felt guilty doing anything that wasn't related to making their situation less crumby.  But my husband had a heart-to-heart with me to let me know that it was okay and that life must go on even when terrible things are happening.  To give up or to stop living takes away from the good that can come from chasing your dreams.  So, I tried to find that balance of being supportive to these loved ones and preparing for the art fair.

I took two days off from work to finish any last minute details for the event.  (I think I went to bed at 1 a.m. both nights -- unheard of in my universe.)  My friends were also supportive and offered help where they could by doing things like helping me package products to turning PDFs to jpegs to providing me with a solution to be able to run credit card purchases.  My husband, Jason, and my good friend, Shannon, also put in their time to help me organize my booth set up.  Without everyone's help, I would not have been able to pull it all off.

When the morning of October 2nd came around, I was SO EXCITED and NERVOUS.  Here I was, putting myself out there for the world to see.  But by doing so, I learned that there IS a niche of people out there who actually enjoy my art.  I received so many compliments that day, both for my booth set up and for my art work, and I had so many of my friends and coworkers show up to support me that it really made me feel like a true artist.  I felt validated in pursuing this dream.  When it was all over, I had a renewed sense of motivation.  There is so much more I want to do with this dream of mine.  So much more...  and I can't wait to share it all with you.

It was truly a perfect day.

**Congratualtions to Kannikka who is now the proud owner of an Inochi Designs original painting, a set of  handmade decorative tile art, and a hand crafted felt flower pin!  She won the raffle contest that I held for Little Pink Houses of Hope as a salute to Breast Cancer Awareness Month.**

"If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up." 
- J.M. Power

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sertoma Arts Fair

Over the past month or so, I've been using my spare time creating and crafting like crazy.  It's felt great to have a goal that pushes me to share my art in a way that I've never done before.  In July, I decided to take the leap and send in my application to participate in my first arts fair.  Taking that leap has been scary, but I've enjoyed the growth it has given me professionally and creatively.  This is me getting my feet wet and, hopefully, opening the door to other creative endeavors.

As part of the process for participating in the arts fair, the Sertoma Arts Center asked that participating artists and crafters send in pictures of their work to possibly include on their promotional materials.  I sent in my submissions and thought, "Wouldn't it be great to be selected?"  I waited anxiously for the center to contact me when the materials would be ready for distribution.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from the arts center that announced that postcards and posters for the event were ready to be picked up.  When I went to the arts center to pick up the materials, I began scanning the design.  Fall Arts Fair... Wait... Is that?.... YES!  My painting made it into the design!  I wanted to jump up and down.  I squealed inside.  I sent a picture text to my friends and family.  I just couldn't believe it.

Fall Arts Fair 2010

Sure.  The whole painting is not included.  It's a little "Where's Waldo?", but, hey, it counts, right?  I'm over the moon about it.  Seeing my painting there, peeking out from behind the text of the event, well, it just made me more determined to create and prepare my booth.

I hope you come out and visit.  The event looks like it's going to be a blast.  Bring the kiddies.  There's lots for them to do.  Bring your significant other.  Shop for Christmas presents.  Stop by and say hello.  I'll be the girl in the outside booth with a smile plastered across my face.

Fall Arts Fair 2010 (poster)
"Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect 
pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter." 
- Carol Bishop Hipps

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art reopened its doors in April after completing some major renovations.  I have not had the opportunity to go there since the renovation, and the last time that I went to the museum was with my now husband on our first official date.  My friend, Diane, mentioned last week that she was going to go to the museum on Saturday, so I happily volunteered my time to go with her (a.k.a. I kind of invited myself to go).

North Carolina Museum of Art

We met at the NCMA and decided to start things off with a delicious brunch at the Iris Cafe, located just inside the newly constructed buildings of the museum.  The cafe is very spacious and very white - white tables, white walls, white chairs.  Spurts of color were added by way of table mats and Gerbia daisies on every table.  A large installation balanced the openness of the white room by covering the main wall with bare branches and vines from ceiling to floor.  The swirling arrangement of the piece made it flow like water on the wall.

If there is one thing I love more than art, it is good food.  For brunch, I ordered a mimosa and the Carolina crab cake Benedict, served on a spinach waffle, drizzled in a golden curry Hollandaise sauce, and served with brunch potatoes.  It was to die for.

Brunch at Cafe Iris

After stuffing ourselves with brunch, we began to find our way through the maze of exhibits.  Diane had a degree in art history and served as my own personal museum guide.  We slowly explored each painting, each sculpture, each piece at the museum and enjoyed all of the rich history and expression we found around us.

Cinderella had glass slippers.  I have a glass dress.  Top that, Cinderella!

Light FixturePortraitSculptureB-ball Anyone?

I particularly enjoyed the Rodin exhibit.  It extended out into the courtyard just outside of the museum.  Outside, we found Rodin's sculptures bordering a rectangular pond stocked with lily pads.  We were lucky to have a warm, sunny day to enjoy the area.

Victory is Mine!Don't Lose Your HeadWater LilyWater Lily 2

I think those Rodin statues are checking her out.

I don't know about Diane, but I left the museum feeling inspired, dreaming about the next painting I would create and wondering where it would end up.  In someone's home?  On the wall of an office?  Displayed in a museum like this?  No matter its destination, a painting is an artifact of an artist's soul, and yet, it has a life and a history of its own separate from the artist.  Knowing this, and being able to see works of art collected in one space like this, gives me a special kind of energy.  On the one hand, I imagine the artist creating, pondering his empty canvas or staring at his slab of marble.  And with a special force guiding him, he creates a piece that merits preservation beyond his own life.  On the other hand, I imagine the life of the work as it leaves its master's hands and becomes the prize and inspiration for those who possess it.  Knowing that there is a story behind every work of art, inspires me to discover what is the magic about the work I am drawn to.  This exercise energizes me and lulls me into a deep appreciation for the arts.  For me, the arts are magical.  And a little magic every now and then never hurt anybody.

"A sincere artist is not one who makes a faithful attempt to put on to canvas what is in front of him, 
but one who tries to create something which is, in itself, a living thing.
- William Dobell

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Little Pink Houses of Hope Needs You!

Today, someone special in my life needs your help.  My sister-in-law, Jeanine, wants to take what she has learned on her journey through breast cancer to help other families affected by the disease.  As a breast cancer survivor, she has found a new purpose in life.  That purpose is Little Pink Houses of Hope.

Here's where you can help.  Take a minute or two out of your day every day in September, go to this link, and vote.  Don't have a computer nearby but have a cell phone handy?  You can text 102293 to PEPSI (73774) to vote as well.  Help spread the Little Pink Fever!! We need your help to win. Post it on your Facebook, send the link and text code to your email contacts, shout it from the street corner!

Doesn't it feel GREAT to be a part of something so wonderful and powerful?

Dare to Be Great

"The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it."
-C.C. Scott

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Experimenting with Image Transfer

It's been busy here on the home front as I continue to prepare for October's Arts and Crafts Fair in Raleigh.  In an attempt to create some new pieces for the fair, I spent one weekend experimenting with image transfer.  I've always wondered how it was done, particularly when creating a mixed media collage.  I found the following video on Vimeo and was determined to learn how to do it myself:

Mixed Media / Image Transfer from Jarrod Renaud on Vimeo.

So with supplies in hand, I began to experiment.

Fun with Image Transfers

I began with taping down a piece of water color paper and saturating it with water.  I also trimmed some images that I wanted to transfer to my paper.

Tape Down Paper

Saturate Your Paper

Choose Your Images

Next, I began applying color to the saturated paper.

Add Color

Once the color and paper were dry, I began to spread a thick coat of gel medium evenly on my images.  Once the images were coated, I plopped them face down on my paper.  To ensure even adherence to the paper, I used a brayer to flatten the images.

Apply Gel Medium and Flatten

I allowed the images to dry completely.  Once the images were dry, I used a spray bottle of water to saturate the images.  Using my fingers and a sponge, I rubbed off the paper backing of the images.  As I rubbed the paper away, I could start to see mirror images of my... well... images.  This is what I ended up with:

Rub Off the Paper


The first few image transfers I created, I went back over with pen and ink to create details and faces.  Although I like the final pieces, I felt that the pen and ink work took away from the original images.

Thems Fightin' WordsJust Chillin'Coupledom

On my second round of image transfers, I tried something different.  Instead of coloring the paper first, I transferred the images first and did the water color last.  As you can see, the gel medium blocked the water color from saturating the paper.

My Hero!Missing CowboyAccessory DivaMy Other Car is in the Shop

Although I enjoyed experimenting with image transfers, I still think I need quite a bit of practice, both in patience and in technique.

This Is How I Roll
"Why not go out on a limb?  Isn't that where the fruit is?"
- Frank Scully

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Art Exchange

As I go through the process of emerging as a bonafide artist, I sometimes have doubts about myself.  Although I enjoy creating art, I wonder if what I create is enough.  I'll be the first to admit that what I create doesn't push the boundaries of art by being risque or by making some kind of political or religious statement... at least, not at this point in my journey.  I simply create to make something beautiful, pretty, and even cute.  Typically, I like to create something girlie, colorful, and cheery as these are my subjects of choice.

Knowing this, my friend, Carlleena, who is also an artist going through her own creative journey, asked if I would paint something for her.  I agreed as long as she would paint something for me as well -- we would have an art exchange of sorts.  To give me some direction on what I would paint for her, I only asked that Carlleena give me two of her favorite colors and a verb she liked.  She gave me turquoise, red, and inspire.

With just those three words, I began to paint.  As I painted, I began to remember the good ol' days we had in high school.  (It's been a very long time since I've seen Carlleena and a visit is long overdue, I know.)  I knew I wanted to incorporate her sense of strength, adventure, and playfulness -- all traits that inspire those who know her.  In the end, I ended up with this interpretation, using fluid acrylic paints, scrapbook paper, ink, and gloss gel medium.

Art Exchange 2

Art Exchange 3

I enjoyed the process so much, that I requested my fans on Facebook to give me two colors and a word they like.  I received a lot of good suggestions so far... Now to find the time to execute them and, hopefully, have something to show soon.

Art Exchange
"As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life." 
- John Lubbock

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

In July, I decided to take my first professional leap into presenting myself as an artist to the public.  Prior to making this decision, I recently completed two online courses.  The first was The Joy Equation where I worked through my own quarter life crisis and actively defined for myself what my authentic joy looked like.  I did this with the guidance of one lovely Molly Hoyne.  The second was Flying Lessons where I had access to a special blog created by Kelly Rae Roberts that revealed all the things I ever wanted to know about being a self-starter artist.  Both women gave me the motivation I needed to believe, "I can do this!"

Works in Progress

After completing the courses, I received an email from the Raleigh Parks and Recreation saying that they were offering an early bird registration special for local artists and crafters to be vendors in their fall arts and crafts fair.  I took it as a sign from the universe that it was either now or never and sent in my application.  (Specific details about the event to come later.)

Works in Progress 4

Since then, I've been using my time after work to research, prepare, and create items for my first arts and crafts fair.  There's a lot to do, but I have been enjoying  spending my evenings and weekends working on things for the fair.  It's made me realize the energy and commitment that is needed to do this thing I love.  I've been using some great online resources and have also been reading The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin.  As the days pass and the fair gets closer, my excitement and nervousness grows.  That first weekend in October is going to be surreal.  I hope Jason has a nice glass of Zinfandel waiting for me when I get home that evening.  Now back to work...

Works in Progress 3
"There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way."
- Christopher Morley

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Get Your Motor Runnin': Shannon Takes on Sturgis

My friend, Shannon, is taking advantage of her youth and traveling across the country as we speak to Sturgis, South Dakota.  Why?  To take part in the 70th anniversary Sturgis Rally of course.  She will be spending a full week there, witnessing all of the fun and craziness that is rumored to come with biker rallies.  Cue theme music, please...

Now, when you meet Shannon for the first time, you would never guess that she was a biker chick... And,  well, she wasn't when I met her.  But she has found a man that has really made her very happy, and he happens to enjoy riding a motorcycle.  In fact, he belongs to a biker club known as JABG. Jim (the lucky man's name) has been able to share his love of the open road with Shannon, and she seems to really love it.

When she told everyone that she would be going to Sturgis for the biker rally, Shannon's mom, Cree, asked if I would help her with a surprise for Shannon.  She wanted to give her something special for her trip.  We put our heads together and came up with some design ideas for fashionable biker chick wear using thin strap tank tops.

The first tank top stencil design I drafted featured her destination, Sturgis.  Our goal was to make her the envy of all the biker chicks there.

Sturgis Tanktop Design - Stencil

The second tank top stencil that was drafted was designed to make her an official member of the JABG.

JABG Biker Chick - Stencil

The final tank top stencil drafted featured Shannon's childhood nickname (which I like to use even now).  I figured it's better for a biker to have a nickname, no?

Shanpie - Stencil

When Cree and I presented the tank tops to Shannon, she was so surprised and happy.  (Yay!)  I'm glad she'll be sporting my unique biker chick fashions at the rally.  A girl has to look good while kicking @ss and taking names, right? 

If you'd like to follow Shannon on her adventure, take a sneak peak of her travel blog here.  I'm sure there are going to be some interesting tales for her to share.  I hope she has a fantastic trip and comes home safely... maybe even with a tattoo or two.  (Just kidding, Cree.)

All 3 Sturgis Themed Tanktop Designs
"We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment." 
- Hilaire Belloc


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