30 September 2015

MY ARTISTIC VISION Charity [Part Eight]

(If you missed the beginning of this series, check out parts onetwothreefourfivesix, and seven.)

I have been looking forward to writing about this core value for weeks. I am talking about the value of charity. I knew as I explored my core values charity would play a major part in my artistic direction, but Anne Morrow Lindbergh's chapter entitled "The Beach At My Back" in Gift From The Sea captured so much of my heart on this topic. Let me share a bit with you.

Lindbergh talks about our "planetal point of view" these days. While tools like the internet can bring a world of beauty and inspiration and friendship to our fingertips, we are also deluged with the knowledge of a world filled with pain, hunger, illness, and need. As Lindbergh puts it, "The inter-relatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold."

There are so many in need, in pain, in fear. My husband and I often talk about how we want to help everyone and it can paralyze us from helping anyone. Lindbergh offers so guidance on this. She writes, "When we start at the center of ourselves, we discover something worthwhile extending toward the periphery of the circle. We find again some of the joy in the now, some of the peace in the here, some of the love in me and thee which go to make up the kingdom of heaven on earth."

I can start with me. I can start with showing charity to myself and finding the good in my heart. From there I can figure out what is dear to me, for example doing as much as I can to protect our beautiful earth. There are inks and papers and foods and so many other choices that affect our planet. I can show a bit of charity to the world with each simple choice.

One final thing I want to make clear. I am excited to list charity in my core values, not because I am a master at this, but because you can help keep me accountable and heading toward where I want to be. If the foundation of my artistic life is built with a cornerstone of charity, it will always be a part of every piece of art and every decision. This is so very important to me. I am not sure how exactly this will play out, but I am excited about all of the possibilities.

So here is my list of core values.

1 --- Simplicity
2 --- Solitude
3 --- Balance
4 --- Storytelling
5 --- Freedom
6 --- Selectivity
7 --- Charity

These seven values will inform my artistic vision and the direction of my artistic work. Thanks so much for sticking with me on this journey and check back in next week to see where it is all leading next.

25 September 2015

What Are You Creating Today?

 What are you working on today? Right now I am trying to turn some pretty fabrics into pretty projects. I love how these fabrics by Bonnie Christine continue to inspire me. To me that is good fabric design, patterns that make you want to create.
What would you create with these fabrics? Who are some of your favorite fabric designers?

24 September 2015

MY ARTISTIC VISION Selectivity [Part Seven]

"For it is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant - and therefore beautiful." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

If you have ever read her work you know that Anne Morrow Lindbergh has such a way with words. Gift From the Sea slips inside my mind and finds all of the thoughts I haven't yet found the words to give them voice. Her ideas are profound and yet simple, big and yet so intimate. Selectivity is the value that surfaced for me in this chapter, "A Few Shells". (If you missed the beginning of this series, check out parts onetwothreefourfive, and six.)

Lindbergh best summarizes her chapter like this, "For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures - an excess of shells, where one or two would be significant." It is no great secret that I fall on the side of minimalism in most things, however reading this chapter honed for me why I am a minimalist. I like to appreciate the beauty of one thing at a time. Too many of anything is distracting for me. Lindbergh writes, "In fact, the acquisitive instinct is incompatible with true appreciation of beauty." This may not be true for everyone, but it certainly is for me.

The selectivity the author describes of collecting one perfect shell over all of the beautiful shells reminds me I prefer simple, beautiful works of art that draw the eye to the curve of a line, a delicate stroke, a sweet shade. I will work to be selective in my work, editing what is redundant and distracting drawing the eye to simple beauties and the heart to quiet moments.

However, Lindbergh also got me thinking about selectivity in what I will work will accept in my artistic career. She wrote, "...we usually select the known, seldom the strange...and yet it is the unknown with all its disappointments and surprises that is the most enriching." Oh, how I agree with this. I must remember to push myself just a bit further than I am capable of, where I am comfortable and safe. These are the opportunities I crave and value. Yet, I must remember Lindbergh's advice to keep myself afloat in a sea, not of distractions, but too many opportunities. These core values will be my life preserver.

Here's where I stand on my journey so far:
1 --- Simplicity
2 --- Solitude
3 --- Balance
4 --- Storytelling
5 --- Freedom
6 --- Selectivity

23 September 2015

Keep At It

Yesterday I spent the hours while my son was in preschool doing laundry, washing dishes, picking up around the house, sorting clothes, vacuuming and the like. My toddler followed me around like a tiny pup and even managed to help put the cleaning rags away by herself. By the time we had to leave for preschool pick up the house was spotless.

When we got home my toddler decided to boycott lunch and throw pearl couscous all over the dining room floor (and if you've ever tried to pick that stuff up you know it's not fun!). She drowned our end table and peed on the couch. I was less than thrilled.

All that to say, there are days when all of our efforts seem to be in vain. But take a closer look and there is still a story of beauty. I am not much one for chores and housekeeping, yet I enjoyed doing those tasks for my family yesterday. I prayed for them and thought about them all morning. Each book I set on the shelf reminded me of sweet bedtime snuggles. While folding my husband's shirts, I prayed for his day at work. A dirty towel thrown in the wash was evidence of a day spent outside in the wonder of nature with my kids.

Today my sketches aren't coming out right and I can't get Illustrator to behave, and yet I am happy to be creating. My ideas are flowing and the coffee in my mug is hot. I hope you can find the upside in your journey today, friend. Keep at it and amazing things will happen.

Happy Fall!

21 September 2015

INSPIRED BY Skillshare

Working on a new pattern
Recently I mentioned some resources I enjoy for creative learning. Today I want to share with you another resource I am enjoying, Skillshare. This weekend I watched all of Elizabeth Olwen's classes. If you aren't familiar with her work, check out her website. She is a very talented and prolific surface pattern designer. I really admire how consistent her signature look is, yet her new work is always fresh and inspiring. I don't know about you, but I love to see how other people work and these classes were a great behind-the-scenes glimpse into her process and the life of a surface pattern designer.

I can't wait to dive into more classes. I don't typically watch much television, but many evenings my mind is a little too tired to sketch, so I like to watch a class. This way I get to learn and relax at the same time. Win, win!

What about you? What are some of your favorite resources? Do you find watching classes as relaxing as I do?

18 September 2015


EATING  Honeycrisp apples.
DRINKING  Apple cider.
PRACTICING  Daily personal worship.
MASTERING  The art of raking leaves.
LEARNING  Adobe Illustrator.
TRYING  To declutter the house. (Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up reinvigorated me.)
PLAYING  With duplos. My toddler thinks I am a master architect.
FINISHING  My paper piecing tree that I started for. ev. er. ago.
READING Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way by Jennifer Lee.
REMEMBERING  How much I miss my school days.
WEARING  Scarves.
COOKING  For a family of five. Hardly any leftovers these days!
WORKING  When the toddler is asleep, which is almost never.
TRAVELING  By bicycle, foot and scooter on the way to school.
WANTING  A Wacom tablet.

Post inspired by Bleubird.

17 September 2015

Reflections on Preschool Dropoff

My son started preschool two weeks ago. The first day I was the only parent left waiting in the grass because every other child wanted to be walked in by his/her parent, while my son told me to stay by the car. He loves preschool. He waits for half an hour by the door each preschool morning asking me if it is time to go yet.

Before he headed in to school this morning he gave me the biggest hug and kiss a four year old could. His tiny arms and damp lips left little impression on my body, but deep impressions on my heart. We said our goodbyes and waved and grinned at each other his entire walk up the ramp to the door. I can't get his proud, dimpled smile out of my head.

Filled to the brim with love, I watched other mamas hug their little ones tight and wish them well in the few hours we are separated. Each child is loved. Each child is missed. Every now and then I have a moment when I feel the deep connection to all other people on Earth and I had one of those moments this morning. We are all just a bunch of preschoolers being hugged by our mamas. The only difference is we grew up.

So I want you to know this: I love you, fellow preschooler. No matter what you chose to be when you grew up, I love you. Here's a hug for you from a mama, even if not from your mama.

15 September 2015


In case you missed parts onetwothreefour, and five, I am exploring my personal artistic vision and core values as I read through Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From The Sea. This week while reading the "Argonata" chapter, I fell hard for this quote, "We are adventuring in the chartless seas of imagination."

This quote beautifully describes my next core value, freedom. While I crave schedules, structure and predictability in my days, I am facinated by the idea of artistic freedom. I may love a daily planner as much as the next girl, however having a bit of structure to my days gives my brain the freedom to travel uninhibited in my times of artistic exploration.

This chapter is one of my favorites in the book, so I highly recommend it, but here is a taste for those of you who haven't read it, "Woman must come of age by herself... to learn how to stand alone. She must learn not to depend on another, nor to feel she must prove her strength by competing with another." She continues, "Both extremes throw her off balance; neither is the center, the true center of being a whole woman. She must find her true center alone. She must become whole." Lindbergh describes how a woman must find herself in order to completely share with another, to "see the other whole and against a wide sky!" This freedom to be myself is what I crave most, because when I am myself I can do the most good for others.

In one of my favorite passages, Lindbergh describes a day she spends with her sister on the little island on which she wrote the book. The freedom and purity of the day is a treasure to read and savor. It is a glimpse of heaven. As their peaceful day winds down, the author and her sister watch the stars and Anne writes, "one thirsts for the magnitude and universality of a night full of stars, pouring into one like a fresh tide." Ah, the freedom to pause. This freedom take a moment to enjoy nature is a type of freedom I often neglect. Such beauty is always around me and yet I often let my daily schedule blind me to all else.

But perhaps the most important freedom I wish to pursue is the freedom in cycles. Lindbergh talks about intermittency and how, "We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return."

I see this most clearly in my creativity. I fear that I will one day reach the end of my artistic fount, only to be left with unattainable dreams and dusty hopes. I must remember to work in the present, whatever stage of the creative flow I am in. After all, "So beautiful is the still hour of the sea's withdrawal, as beautiful as the sea's return when the encroaching waves pound up the beach..." With this in mind I will embrace the days when I do not want to create or the baby is sick or I am too tired to think. These days will fill my cup with joy, simplicity and balance.

So, here's my list so far.
1 --- Simplicity
2 --- Solitude
3 --- Balance
4 --- Storytelling
5 --- Freedom

14 September 2015


This week's Spoonflower contest theme is lizards. I sketched and sketched and all of my ideas were... well, terrible. So I gave up. I decided to concentrate on other designs. Finally, this floral wreath idea that has been knocking around in my brain collided with the lizard theme and here we are. Visit Spoonflower's contest page to vote!

11 September 2015

INSPIRED BY Creative Learning

Some days I sit down to create and feel like I am overflowing with ideas. I just can't get them onto paper fast enough. But, some days I sit down to create and feel like my creative well is empty. On days like this I need a little artistic boost and I've found the best thing for me to do is to learn. Here are a few of my favorite sources of creative learning, as I like to think of it.

1 --- Creative Live - You can watch classes for free any time on this site in their 'On Air' section on  various channels. This is a great tool to get me out of an artistic funk, because I am always inspired. If you love what you see you can purchase classes as well. (This is where I watched Bonnie Christine's Design Surface Patterns from Scratch and got hooked!)

2 --- MOYO - Described as "the world's only online magazine dedicated to surface pattern design," this free magazine is filled with articles, interviews, and information for surface pattern designers, especially beginners like me.

3 --- Spoonflower - I share a lot about my experiences on Spoonflower. Between the blog and the community of designers and buyers on the site, I have learned so much. Just a little time can yield great results!

4 --- Pinterest - If I have a specific idea in mind, but need a little twinge of inspiration I will use Pinterest to get me started on the perfect color palette, shape, or theme. The list maker in me loves being able to organize all of my digital inspiration. (Just remember, Pinterest is not a source, and it is important to play it safe and be the creator of all of your own inspiration.)

5 --- While She Naps - A newer find for me, I have learned a lot about the creative industry through Abby Glassenberg's posts. I can't wait to dive in deeper.

10 September 2015

SPOONFLOWER CONTEST Top Ten Winner! [Be Kind, Please Rewind]

My 'Be Kind, Please Rewind' fabric printed by Spoonflower via Spoonflower
My 'Be Kind, Please Rewind' pattern for Spoonflower's 90s theme contest placed in the Top Ten! If you would like to purchase the fat quarter bundle which includes all of the Top Ten Designs at a discounted price, you can do so on the Spoonflower website. If you are looking to purchase my design it can be found in my shop.

READ MORE BOOKS Kid's Picture Books [Part Three]

Today I am sharing a few of my favorite children's pictures books. As a mama of three little ones, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading books, so I am always on the hunt for fun ones to read! Here are a few of the favorites in rotation at our house.

1 --- Press Here by Herve Tullet - It's not often that you find a children's book that is genuinely interactive. This beautiful book keeps even the littlest ones engaged with the fun commands and bright colors.

2 --- If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover - This was one of the most read books in my house growing up and it still makes me smile. Stover did such a great job of illustrating a familiar saying in a silly way children can easily grasp.

3 --- The Hunt for Snufflegrunt's Treasure by Stewart Cowley and Colin Petty -  My favorite children's book. Hands down. This book is so dear to me, my father hunted down a copy to give to my husband and I on the eve of our wedding with a personal note about our journey. Though it is out of print, I highly recommend snatching up any copy you can find. Choose your own adventure stories are always fun!

4 --- Just A Quilt? by Dalen Keys - My father's first children's book. It was inevitable that my dad would come up with a story about quilts considering how much time he's spent schlepping around quilt stores waiting for my mother. This story is about a little boy (my brother) and all of the inventive ways he uses his quilts. The illustrations alone are a joy!

5 --- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle - Any book with holes in the pages is going to be a big hit in my house. With an easy, fun cadence and beautiful illustrations, it is no wonder this book is a classic.

6 --- Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina - I enjoy reading this quirky story aloud and my children love hearing it. With detailed illustrations and monkeys, you just can't go wrong.

7 --- Where's Waldo? by Martin Handford - I have probably spend hours of my life looking for Waldo. Thanks a lot, Martin Handford. No, really. Thank you. My son has inherited the obsession.

8 --- I'm So Mad by Robie Harris and Nicole Hollander - Okay, so I found this book second hand and casually tossed it into my basket. I cannot explain it, but every single one of my children has loved this book from age 1-3. (My one year old currently opens the book and says, "Mad, mad, mad!")

9 --- Hattie The Bad by Jane Devlin - A new favorite in our house because you get to yell the word... Well, you'll just have to read it to find out. We love Hattie.

10 --- Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss - My poor mother tied her tongue in knots reading this favorite book of mine to me as a child and I've had my come-up-ins since my children love it as well.

Psst - If you are looking for some recommendations for books that are a little more challenging than picture books, here and here are some novels I recommend.

09 September 2015

MY ARTISTIC VISION Storytelling [Part Five]

Storyteller. This is a label I do not hear bestowed on many a person these days. In the digital age, a storyteller seems a bit old fashioned, outdated, and quaint. We have many methods of preserving stories today that could not be imagined in the beginning of time; books, blogs, diaries, videos, Instagram, Facebook, the list is nearly endless. Despite all of these, nothing replaces the tales parents tell their children at bedtime, a lasting ritual to connect, soothe, and guide.

The chapter entitled "Oyster Bed" of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From The Sea that I read this week, Lindbergh talks of the ebb and flow of life, the different roles of function and beauty, the importance of shedding our shells and periods of growth. All of these things make up the great story, the web of our days.

Lindbergh writes, "The web is fashioned of love... It is made of loyalties, and interdependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments. It is a web of communication, a common language, and the acceptance of lack of language, too." This is how she describes marriage, but I think it is also an apt description of the story of life.

My father is a master storyteller. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of the nights when he would tell us the next part of the story he had running in his head*. The characters, the lessons, the plot twists were captivating to my growing mind. His stories taught me to look for the beautiful, odd, and unexpected moments in life.

My mother is also a master storyteller. Fabric is her tool of choice. She makes beautiful quilts that tell the story of our family life. Her art provides our home with beauty and warmth. Her hands have articulated the stories that shield us in our sleep.

I also want to be a storyteller. Each motif that finds its way from my mind to a piece of paper, a piece of fabric or a piece of pattern is part of the story of my life. There are times when it is easy to create something pretty or trendy or sweet, but I want my work to be a reflection of me and the story I am telling with my life.

Storyteller. Let this timeless word describe me and my work. Let me tell a story worth hearing.

1 --- Simplicity
2 --- Solitude
3 --- Balance
4 --- Storytelling

*If you would like to read my favorite childhood story go to Dalen Keys' (my dad) website to check out his book, The Sacred Mountain.

If you missed the beginning of this series, get caught up by reading parts one, two, three, and four.

08 September 2015

INSPIRED BY Winterthur

One of our last summer adventures was a visit to Winterthur. My eldest served as our tour guide since she had visited last school year with her class. This was my first visit and I had no idea what to expect. Walking in the gorgeous, expansive gardens was like stepping into the setting of a novel. Deeply inspired, I felt like there were characters and stories hovering just at the edges of my vision and my imagination.
I would have liked to lay down in the shade of one of the towering trees and listen to the wind tell me the tales of all that the old trees have witnessed.
However, I had three little ones to keep me on the move, so we visited the Enchanted Woods before our house tour.
Though my kids' little legs protested at all of the walking we did that day, not a whine was heard in the Enchanted Woods. They loved exploring and touching the magical little spots in this nook of the garden.
It is amazing to hear the story of the du Pont's and how their lives shaped the area. I cannot imagine the Delaware Valley without their influence, both the good and the not so good.
I like to think that these gardens represent the good to which the family, and we the visitors, aspire.
We are not perfect, but we can all try to add a little more beauty to the world. We can all use the gifts God gave us to bless others and cultivate a deeper relationship with the nature all around us, the creation calling His name.
After our walk in the gardens, we toured the house. Du Pont created a museum, almost by accident, through his passion for collecting.
Did you know when hosting a dinner du Pont started not with the guest list or menu, but the floral arrangement? 
I can understand this desire to focus on the details that mean a lot to you. I can also understand this impracticality and it made me feel comforted to know I am not the only one who often does things slightly out the normal order.

I live in a small house (compared the the du Pont mansion) on a small plot of land, so my spirit and my eyes enjoyed the freedom to roam the expanse of the Winterthur hills.
But, I think we can all put as much time, effort and pride into our own home. A detail added in love can make a difference in the environment of home and family.
I hope I can steal a morning or two away from the family this fall to take myself on an artist date to nourish my creativity. My inner storyteller can't wait to return to this beautiful space.

07 September 2015


I took a little break from pattern making to soak up the last of the summer season with the family. I've never realized just how solar powered I am until this year. Time in the sun has both re-energized and mellowed me. There is something about spending hours outside enjoying the nature all around that reminds me of what is important. To ease back into fall and designing I made a simple little pattern called Be Kind, Please Rewind for Spoonflower's 90s theme contest.

Be sure to visit Spoonflower's weekly contest page to vote!