Introducing Jalex Studios

It has bee a while since I’ve blogged and it’s been a while since I introduced any artists.  Golly…with my temporary blogging break due to our move (which HAPPENS TODAY!!!), I may have lost all of my readers.  Let’s hope not!  I found some awesome contemporary art pieces for the home on Etsy and I’d like to share my discovery of a WONDERFUL new etsy artist and his DELIGHTFULLY REFRESHING work with you.  It is a long introduction, but I hope you enjoy reading it.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  :)  He’s truthful, real, comical, and quite enjoyably genuine.  Introducing…Jalex Studios.

The artist’s name is Jeff Alexander.  He is a 36yr old resident of Houston, TX, who is originally from a small town outside of Rochester, NY called Scottsville.  Jeff is an electrical engineer by day, and currently by night,an aspiring entrepreneur, trying to share with the world his designs and ideas.  He is married (let’s congratulate him on just reaching 10 years of marriage!), and he and his wife also have a very active 5-year old boy.   They have no pets (although, he says he keeps teasing his wife about the day their son asked for a dog)….so perhaps, no pets “yet”.  :)  

To characterize his artistic style, Jeff says it is modern design.  I would agree and say it’s the new wave of modern design because his creations are modern with an up-cycled twist.  In his own words on his style, Jeff says, “I like to create things that have clean lines that convey a simplicity. I also like juxtaposition. What I mean by this is I like to use material that vastly different from one another (i.e metal and wood) to create some texture to my designs. I am also interested in using recycled material unique ways.”  So, what are Jeff’s favorite materials to use?  Wood, recycled material, found objects.

We know that every artist has inspiration, so where does Jeff get his?  “…from everyday life.”  On thought of this topic, he adds… “It’s kind of funny — I would always ask my wife, why does she buy so many shoes?  I would always say to her, “You don’t have an outfit to match those shoes so why buy them!!” My wife would respond – “Honey, if you buy the shoes, the outfit will come”. Needless to say, she was right (did I just admit she was right? Hmm… must be getting late).  So you may ask, what does this statement have to do with my inspiration. Everything, because many of my inspirations come about in this manner. Whenever, I find an object that intrigues me and I’m hesitant to use it, I go back to what my wife said but change it to “if you use it, the design will come”.  So, many of my inspirations come from ordinary objects that I feel have a unique quality that can be fused together to create designs that are intriguing and thought provoking and hope that someone might say “Wow, I never thought of using that object that way”.  I’d say that Jeff’s wife is a genius…on shoes and on artistic development.  :)  And I agree that, if you can find ONE element of what you want to do and you branch off of it for inspiration, it will all come together in the end.

So, what about this town that Jeff lives in?  I often wonder about artists and the places they live, and whether or not I ask, I’m curious to see how different areas impact artists differently.  I’m a firm believer that the energy you surround yourself with has a large impact on the many facets of your life.  As mentioned previously, Jeff lives in Houston, TX – the fourth largest city in the U.S.  According to Jeff, “Houston is a great place to live (if you can stand the summer heat!!)” — He also adds, “I love it here. Houston has a small town feel to me, but yet is a large city…with great style when it comes to modern design and living.”  I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there (myself included), who when they think of any Texas city, they can’t help but think western, but Jeff reminds us not to focus on the common correlation…”Houston is an undiscovered gem when it comes to modern design/lifestyle. Most people associate modern design/living with New York, or California, but Houston has great modern design/lifestyle that makes me proud to call it home.”  Judging on Jeff’s designs, I’d have to agree with him.  Even if he was the only modern design in Texas…I’d say his art is quite an undiscovered gem of modern design!

So, what about his beginnings?  How did Jeff come to start making his modern art/craft(s)?  What is his story ?  I think you’ll enjoy reading what he says about how it all came to fruition.  “I think initially I started my craft the first year my son was born (2003). The prior Christmas, my wife and I made a resolution for the next Christmas, to not go out and buy gifts, but rather make something. We felt that it was too easy to just buy something. To make something by hand — now that would make for a memorable Christmas that would never be forgotten. Well, needless to say August rolled around and my wife comes to me and says — So how’s my Christmas present coming? I, with a look of horror andfright claim amnesia (don’t worry, if your husband hasn’t given you this look by now, in time he will!!).  So, I hastily began to design a modern armoire for my wife. Well, I held up my end of the bargain and come Christmas day, my wife got her handmade modern armoire. I think at that point, the seed was planted. When we moved into our new house, we were pretty much broke. We had this beautiful brand new house, but no money to furnish it with the style that we loved. So through necessity, came creativity. One of my first endeavors was to try and furnish our guest bedroom. Many of the items in that room I hand made (bed, side table, shelves…). After finishing that room, someone told me that I should post my work on HGTV’s rate my space page (http://ratemyspace.hgtv.com/SNC/GroupSearch.aspx?pguid=6db6be3f-1720-4ba3-a081-999042c09b6b&username=jba4718).  After posting my work, I was so overwhelmed by the positive responses back from people, that I began to realize that people had an appreciation for my ideas and designs. So, I got enough courage (as well as finally getting off my butt) and decided that I would no longer sit back and wonder what if, and change that to “And If” !! — Pretty cool story, ay?  To me, Jeff’s story is a testament to the serendipitous moments that probably happen to us all.  I like to think of it as God and the Universe urging us toward our destiny and life calling.  Lucky for Jeff, he had his ears open!  :) 

So, we know Jeff is a busy guy.  He’s got a full-time job, andhe’s a husband, and he’s a dad, AND he’s a budding artist on Etsy.  It’s different for all Etsy artists, but how does Jeff balance his Etsy shop with everything else?  “Well, I am a fairly new to Etsy (I opened my shop in May, 2008). As far as balance is concerned, ever since I discovered Etsy, I have
been so focused on getting my portfolio out to the world in my Etsy shop.  The weird thing is, I feel rather balanced.  I know this sounds odd, but the moment I discovered Etsy, something clicked. This was the missing piece of the puzzle for me. I work in a technical field that is very demanding, but at times lacks any real creativity. I have always had a creative side to myself, but never knew of a venue to show it off in. When I discovered Etsy, I knew that this was the place that I needed to be. I am so passionate about the opportunity to show off my portfolio, that it has crept into my day job (Oops, guess I shouldn’t have said that, but it is true).  I would love to ultimately be able to sustain my lifestyle with my shop on Etsy, but for right now I am content with the adventure of getting my name out there.”

True to form, Etsy artists love handmade.  For everyone, it is different, so I like to know what element(s) of handmade really attract people to love it so much.  I asked Jeff about this and he said,

1. “I love that fact that it comes from the heart and mind. What I mean by this is that
in your heart is where your passion lies, and in your mind is where your creativity comes from. When you combine these two (heart + mind) you get handmade from the heart.”
2. “I love the fact that there is a face to the product. You get a sense of what that person has created and why they created it.”
3. “The uniqueness of the experience.”

Of course, after knowing those things, I’m curious to know about Jeff’s own favorite piece from his shop.  After cornering him on the topic (he really likes them all because each one has a piece of him), he finalized that he likes the Doors Collection of Wall Art (Introspective, Juxtaposition).

Now, with all of that, how does Jeff promote his work?  As an artist, it is great to know because it could open your eyes to a new avenue you had not thought of.  As a reader/supporter, it’s interesting to know how much additional work goes into getting a successful business off the ground.  Exposure is everything, and with today’s day and age, technology and the internet is key.  Jeff maintains a Website, blog, Etsy shop, and myspace.  His shop was also featured on Fresh Shops (http://www.etsy.com/storque/section/spotlight/article/fresh-shops-jalexstudios/1847/) on May 22nd (“I found this out a week later. Guess that explains why my views on some of my items shot up so fast”).
He’s also on Flickr and on Squidoo: www.squidoo.com/jalexstudios

You know?  I’m writing about all of this business and well, after getting to know all of that, I wonder what Jeff does for fun when he isn’t busy with all else… Jeff’s response was…”What do I do for fun? Hmm, that’s a good question. I love to spendtime with my family. I also findmyself spending a lot of time at Hardware Stores (I’m doing the Home Improvement growl as I type this :) ). I also love going to Modern Home Furnishing Stores to see all the great designs (this gives me lots of inspiration). Most times you can find me in my garage/studio, tinkering with new ideas/concepts that I have in my head.”

 

Lastly, Jeff would like to share some encouraging thoughts with my readers, “Over the last year before I opened up my shop, I was in an artistic slump, self-doubt, etc.. (if you will). What I mean by this is that, I felt something was missing in my life, there was a hole somewhere, but I didn’t know where. One day scanning through the channels on cable, I ran across the movie RENT, and was mesmerized by the message of this movie. So I submit to you what I would like for your readers to take away, whether they are fellow Etsians, or contemplating becoming future Etsians — “Forget regrets, or life is yours to miss. No other road, no other way. No daybut today”. I think this says it all, have no regets, do it your way, and sieze the day!!”

Thank you, Jeff!  I’m certain your words of encouragement will speak to at least one reader other than myself and I would venture to bet that they’ll reach far more than that!  Jeff’s story is an encouraging one, an inspirational one, and hopefully to anyone reading my introduction, an enjoyable one!

Visit Jeff’s Etsy store now! He’s offering 10% off to any one who mentions nicoleleeartistry in their message to seller when they purchase an item from jalex studios etsy store.

Date Nights with RedBox

So, Anthony and I love renting movies and one day, the Lord above sent us a gift in a big, redbox.  :)

 If you aren’t familiar with redbox, it’s a DVD vending machine and they are popping up everywhere.  Locally, we have them at McDonalds, but I know in Pennsylvania, they have them in grocery stores too.  Anthony and I love redbox!  If you don’t rent movies all the time, they are super!  Even if you rent movies on a semi-frequent basis, they are a great alternative to having an account with Blockbuster on line or NetFlix. 

You can go online to review movies and reserve them online, or you can drive right up to the box and rent on the spot.

The rental process is easy.  redbox has a super easy, user-friendly, touch screen

You select whether you are renting or returning  
and it walks you right through the process until you swipe your debit/credit card to pay.  Oh!  And it’s only $1.00 to rent any DVD!  Rentals are good for 24 hours and if you decide to keep them, it’s only $1.00 a day for each day you keep it.  Returns are simple.  You take your DVD back to ANY redbox location and slip the slick DVD case with clear instructions, right in the slot provided.   

     redbox will even send you email confirmations of rentals and returns, just so you feel extra secure.
The best part is that, when you set up an account with redbox, you can rent movies for FREE quite frequently, with the codes they give you in your email or even as a text message to your phone!  Interested?  Go here.  It’s a super deal and if you like watching movies and haven’t tried it out – hop to your local redbox and get started or you can click here to visit their site!

We rented Juno  the other night and LOVED IT!  It is a comedy/drama/romance movie that really hits so many good spots, it’s hard not to like.  It’s about a girl and how she deals with the life event of an unplanned pregnancy.  It won an oscar for best writing and it truly is EXCELLENTLY written, funny and just plain wonderful!  I highly recommend it if you have not yet seen!  View the trailer here.  If you are already a Juno fan, Etsy seller, scissorkix, has these great Juno themed, pinback buttons!
  Click here to view the listing.  They’re only $4.00 for all three!

 

Now, for our Creative Journey : Before this task, I ask – are you still doing your mental dumping?  If not, make time to start it.  They will help to reduce your stress levels, and will improve your clarity and creativity!  Does anyone have a poem or quote to share?  If you’re following along, please let me know!  :)

Creative Journey Task (Day 5):  Take a walk for inspiration today.  Take in all that you can of the details that surround you.  Open up ALL of your senses.  LOOK, SMELL, TOUCH, LISTEN, BREATH.  Let those things inspire you.  Think of something to create that will reflect your walk and make it.  It could be as simple or as ornate as you like.  (I’m off to take my walk now.  I’ll share my creation tomorrow.)

When Business is Slow…

I’ve been in the Etsy forums and have read some comments and seen some bad attitudes about slowing sales.  The warm weather pulls people away from their computers and out to enjoy the sun.  It’s just a fact of life.  Complaining about it doesn’t help bring anyone business.  So, what can a crafter do to fight the change in the market?  If you’re feeling a slump in sales, whether due to the economy or the warm weather, or perhaps it’s just a slump…here’s a list with a some things I suggest you try, and please feel free to post additional ideas!

1. Sell at Craft Shows
     If people are out and about, where are they going to do their shopping for the items you sell?  Generally, farmer’s markets, boutiques and gift shops – places where they can walk around in the warm air!  Here’s a good link if you’re just getting started with your crafting business and craft shows.

2. Add Products and Services
     Try to add new things that compliment what you already have.  Offer more of what your target customers might be looking for.  What don’t you have, that you COULD offer, that would make people leave your shop and look elsewhere?  Make it and list. 

3. Raise the Customer Service Bar
You may already provide good customer service, but can you do better?  Can you offer a little more?  For example, can you ship items out faster?  Follow up with customers to say, “Thank you” if you aren’t already.  Remember that PEOPLE TALK, and if you provide EXCELLENT products AND superior service, the word-of-mouth that it generates can be invaluable!

4. Keep a POSITIVE attitude! 
     I don’t care how slow things get – always, ALWAYS keep a positive attitude and don’t tell people if you’re stressed and things are going bad because you hope that they’ll take pity.  People want to be on the WINNING team…not the losing one.  You need to assure them, that YOU are the winner!  Things always get better, so keep your chin up if things get slow and, as my mother always says, “just keep plugging away at it.”  :)

5. Expand
Take your skills everywhere you can!  Can you teach a class?  Can you volunteer to show some skills at a local high school or community group or church?  Even if you’re not getting paid, you’re gaining exposure, which every business needs! 

6. Time for a Tune-Up!
So, business is slow?  See it as an opportunity to focus on the things you normally do not make time for when you’re busy!  Reevaluate your goals, reorganize, update mailing lists, evaluate your advertising – is there anything new you can do?  Are there ways you can cut costs?  

7. Take a break!
We all need a break.  If you’re like me, you’re hard on yourself and don’t make a lot of time for enjoyable activities because you HAVE to focus on growing your business.  However, we all need to take time to “re-charge our batteries.” There are many ways to RELAX!  Take a hot bath, visit Starbucks, make time for a good book, take a walk, listen to the birds, lay out in the sun, go on a vacation, spend time alone or with friends and family.  Do something for YOU!  You work hard, so work just as hard to reward yourself with some well-deserved time off.  You’ll be surprised what it can do for your energy and creativity! 

8. Create and send out surveys.
This is a good time to see what your customers and/or potential customers are thinking.  Ask them what they’d like to see from you.  Maybe offer a freebie or some other incentive for completing and returning the survey.  (For online purposes, I have used Survey Monkey and really like their service.  http://surveymonkey.com)

9. Take Care of Household Duties.
When you work from home, or have a home-based business, sometimes it helps to just take care of chores around the house.  Maybe you want to do some serious deep-cleaning on the kitchen or bathrooms, maybe you want to GO GREEN, or perhaps you want to clean out the shed or overhaul the garage.  Whatever it is, it can clear clutter both physically and mentally, and allow you to come back renewed.

10. If none of those things struck you, perhaps one of these will…
Learn Something, Get a Jump on Taxes, Send gratitude notes to past customers with a freebie or coupon, doodle, brainstorm, create a blog, create a website, write a letter to friends/family you’ve been meaning to keep in touch with, call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.  Don’t sing the blues…be proactive and USE the time that you’re given – it IS a blessing in diguise.  :)   

 

A Favorite Quote

I wished upon a star – TTV Fine Art Photographic Print
by Etsy Artist, barbaragordon

I have many favorite poems and quotes.  Reading them often inspires me and renews my spirit.  Here’s one that I like…

As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that
wasn’t supposed to ever let you down probably will. You
will have your heart broken probably more than once and
it’s harder every time. You’ll break hearts too, so remember

how it felt when yours was broken. You’ll fight with your
best friend. You’ll blame a new love for things an old one
did. You’ll cry because time is passing too fast, and you’ll
eventually lose someone you love. So take too many
pictures, laugh too much, and love like you’ve never been
hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a
minute of happiness you’ll never get back. Don’t be afraid
that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

Now, for our Creative Journey Task (Day 4):  If you are joining us on the creative journey, I hope you are keeping up with your mental dumps and that you’re seeing benefit in it!  Have you shared that practice with someone else?  Remember, when we teach, we learn better!  Also, how about that eulogy?  Can anyone share if they’ve been participating or trying any of these tasks?  Even if you are not following and doing every task, it’s nice to see the thoughts and experiences others have with them.  Please share!  Today, it’s all about quotes and how WORDS impact us. 

DAY 4 TASK:  Get a post-it note or a piece of paper and find a quote that inspires you.  Write the new quote down on that piece of paper and post it in a place that you will frequently see throughout your day.  Let it influence you. 

I love surrounding myself with quotes!  I enjoy the daily practice of finding good quotes and posting them to set the tone for, “my daily thought.”  My quotes often reflect circumstances or challenges that I’m facing and help me to maintain optimism and fortitude throughout my day.  It’s so refreshing!  When I used to work in an office, I made a binder of all of my quotes and displayed a quote each day, for all to see.  It was a great way to create a nice environment and a wonderful way to set a positive tone.  Please share quotes that YOU love!  I’d love to read them!  Thanks!  In the meantime…don’t forget to savor every moment of your day, and appreciate the small things.  They areoften quite impressive, beautiful and mesmerizing!

Creative Journey (Day 3)

Since I invited others to join me on a creative journey, some people who have visited have mentioned a book called, “The Artist’s Way”by Julia Cameron.  If you have not read the book and you enjoy seeking inspiration, INDEED – I definitley recommend it!  It is a 12-week program for people to connect with their creativity.  It requires discipline and a commitment, but it is worth it if you’re ready to truly make some personal discoveries!  The mental-dumping idea is also practiced in “The Artist’s Way,” but in that program, they are called, “morning pages.”

Through the years, I have read a number of books, attended workshops, retreats, events, was an art major, an art therapy major, graduated with my degree in psychology,  and worked at a number and variety of jobs, including nearly 10 years in the field of human services and one fantastic summer college program at Walt Disney World.  Ultimately, I’m picking and choosing from things I’ve either participated in or used in my line of work and I’m sharing them with you.  They are only a small number of the many things that I have found useful.  On that note, today I am drawing from a book by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, that I’m sure many of you are familiar…It’s called, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  The book, as a whole, is another great read, but today’s excerpt is based on, “starting with the end in mind.”

So, for Day Three on The Chatterbox Blog’s Creative Journey…
I am going to ask you to think about something morbid.  Please don’t resist because you don’t like thinking about death.  If you can go to an alternative location it would be great.  You don’t have to, but if you can, I suggest that you go to a church, a graveyard, or a place that you can go to quietly meditate.  It seems that, when done in one of those locations, that the activity is really powerful. 

Once you find your place, I want you to get in the frame of mind of attending a funeral.  Imagine getting dressed, driving to the church and you slowly coming to the realization that you are not only attending a funeral…you are attending your OWN funeral.  Now, think of four people: one from your family, one from your church or community, one from work, and one friend.  What would you like them to say about your character, your contributions and achievements?  This activity may be really difficult for some people, some might resist doing it, others still might laugh about it and question the purpose.  Whatever your response, I encourage you to give it thought and to really consider what you would want said. 

When you finish, you might find that you have discovered your key fundamental values, your definition of success, and it will help you to start over with a clearer understanding of your destination…it will allow you to “start with the end in mind.” 

So being that you are not dead, think about what you are doing with your life NOW.  Do you take responsibility for your behavior or do you find yourself complaining and blaming others?  How are you dealing with the difficult circumstances in your life?  How are you enjoying life’s pleasures?  Are you someone who works hard or would prefer to hardly work?  Are you appreciating those people around you?  How do you respond to others?  Where are you focusing your energies?  Are you living in a way that would result in those four people you chose, to say the things you’d like them to say?  If not, perhaps you should invest more time into the things you hope to be better at.  Only you and your values, choices, words and behavior will determine what people will say about you.  YOU make choices about what you will and will not contribute.  YOU CREATE the image at the end of your life…so start creating!

A SANDWICH OF INSPIRATIONAL PROPORTIONS!!!

I know I’ve said it before, but when I think of people and companies, who inspire me, I think of people who think OUTSIDE THE BOX.  Today, I thought I’d share a sandwich with you.  “What?  A SANDWICH?” You say.  Yes.  A sandwich.  But, not just ANY sandwich.  This sandwich is one of inspirational proportions!  A little while back, I mentioned my longing for home sweet home, and a fellow blogger reminded me of one of the many things back home, that all Pittsburghers likely reserve a special place for (many, right next to their beer)… in their stomachs, that is.

PRIMANTI BROTHERS  PRIMANTI BROTHERS
    

As you can see, these sandwiches have a colossal size and a reputation to match.  They give the phrase, “The Works” a whole new meaning!  Slaw, French Fries, Tomatoes, and whatever meat, cheese and sauce you like, all slapped on sourdough bread.  It may look gross, and may seem like it’s a bit TOO MUCH.  Well, it is kind of gross, but it tastes GREAT, and it may be a bit too much, but you can always share with a friend or save some for later. 

  

They are open 24 hours, so you can stop in after the clubs shut down (even the after hours ones!), or you can stop in and eat breakfast with the early rising blue-collar workers that fuel the city!  Either way, it’s one heck of an eating experience!  If you ever make it to Pittsburgh, this is ONE thing you HAVE to try…just ask anyone on the street for the name of one place you should eat before you leave.  And, trust me when I say, this will be at the top of the list!

Now, you could go to their more recent, Harmar location, but I wouldn’t recommend it, if you want to get the TRUE, Primanti Brothers Experience.  You need to go “DAHN TAHN” (Which is Pittsburgh-ese for “downtown.”  And not just “dahntahn”…you have to make sure you go to the Strip District.  Now, don’t get all worried – I’m not talking about the “adult” district…The Strip District is just a shopping district, where you and truly and authentically experience the Burgh…right by the docks.  :)

So remember, yes, it’s going to be smothered in coleslaw, french fries, grease, meat and whatever else you choose, slapped on sourdough bread, but it’s going to leave you more than satisfied – so satisfied you might just think you DID visit the “adult” district.  Heh heh.  And that, my readers…is inspiration!  If you make something crafty, does it DO IT FOR THE CROWD, enough to make them rave about it like I just did about a Primanti’s sandwich?  If not, maybe it’s time to reevaluate and ask yourself what you can do.  Trust me…I’m right there thinking with you!  :)  (Right after I suck the saliva down from thinking about a Delicious, Hot, Pastrami from Primanti’s!).

 

Now, for those of you who have decided to JOIN ME ON THE JOURNEY with our tasks to provide inspiration.  Here’s what we are doing between today and tomorrow…

(Day 2) – Tell a friend about your practice of using the mental dumping exercise.  Become the teacher and explain the purpose behind it.  Encourage someone else to join in on it!  Whether or not they do, you will benefit from sharing.  When you become the teacher, you take increased ownership and personal responsibility for your new task…which will hopefully become a good habit!  YOU ALSO LEARN BETTER WHEN YOU TEACH.  :)

Seeking Inspiration? Join me on a creative journey! (DAY 1)

Journey

I find that many people are looking for ways to get inspired and are curious about how other people find inspiration.  To this point, I am going to start posting a new series that I will title, “JOIN ME FOR A CREATIVE JOURNEY!  Tasks to help you get inspired!”  I hope you join me and hope you share your experiences as we journey along.  I anticipate it to be quite fun!

Day One:  As we start our creative journey, it is important to begin with a clear mental state.  So, for our first task, I am assigning this…Upon waking up each day, set aside 30 minutes to sit without distractions, with a writing utensil and a piece of paper.  During those 30 minutes, write whatever comes to mind.  Don’t worry about punctuation, or composition.  Don’t worry if it’s disconnected, silly, emotional, senseless, or even if you are drawing blanks and you write, “blah, blah, blah.”  JUST WRITE.  And, write continuously, EVERY thought that comes into your head, as it comes, until those 30 minutes are up.  It will be very important to prioritize this task, as you will find that not doing it will produce a whole different affect.  So, what do I mean?  Well, I’ll help you get your juices flowing.  I’m going to free write and share an example:

 “…so, I’m writing, and I’m not sure what I’m going to accomplish, but I’m writing.  My fingers don’t want to type.  I need to clean up the pencil container on my desk.  I love that dog Anthony gave me…it’s so cute.  He is so thoughtful.  paper.  ugh.  have to find craft shows for the summer.  maybe some local churches – got to look in the local Penny Saver that comes in the mail.  I am looking forward to going home for a visit.  Can’t wait for the retreat either.  Should be fun.  my coffee is getting cold.  I need to pressure wash the porch today and have to get some calls made too.  work stares me in the face.  A woman’s work is never done.  ha ha.  I love taking pictures.  I need a new phone.  My phone is a dinosaur.  At least it functions though….” 

So, you get the point…JUST WRITE.  FREE FLOW WITH IT.  Clear your mind.  Years ago, I started this practice when I began a creative journey for inspiration, and it totally works!  I’ve since gotten out of the practice, but I’m going to start again.  Join me!  Do it daily, and if you are really diligent, do it twice daily – once in the morning and once before bed.  Don’t think of it like a journal, per say, because it’s more like a dumping ground.  Clear your head of all stress, thoughts, anxiety, worry and preoccupation.

  
     

In today’s society, it’s easy to become distracted with all that is going on around us.  It’s not easy to get centered, to clear our minds, or to be available.  When we “dump” all the “clutter,” it opens our minds up for a more productive day and invites creativity.  Try it and see what happens.  I’ll bet you’ll start seeing a difference after the first day.  Go wherever you want to, to do your mental dump.  When I started this practice, I was a teacher and I would write in the morning, while early students would eat breakfast.  On weekends, I liked to go outside and be alone with the chirping birds.  It’s whatever works for you and it can be different every day. 

Please let me know if you plan to join in on this journey, and if you do, let me know when you have started to practice your “mental dumping” and, please share your experiences!  I’m going to be posting new weekly tasks for you all to try, that will hopefully help you to jump start your creative juices!  Looking forward to a great group project and creative journey!  Hope it helps!  Have a wonderful day!  :)

Happiness Grows At Our Front Door!

I am loving the warmer weather, and nothing makes me happier or more inspired than warm weather with sunshine and the flowers that come along with it…especially fragrant flowers!  Anthony and I have not even lived in our tiny house a year, so it’s exciting for me to see what pops up in our yard!  I was told that the previous owners did a nice job planting flowers, so I can’t wait to see what we discover as it gets warmer! 

     So far, we only have one tiny flower that has arrived, but it IS beautiful!  Our neighbor, Irene, has some lovely jonquils and daffodils that have blossomed, and it just makes me happy, happy, happy to see their beauty!  Yesterday I took some pictures of the beautiful new arrivals and put together a collage of their grandeur.

 

paintings . chicks . birds . duchesses . general merriment

paintings . chicks . birds . duchesses . general merriment 

I\'ll fly away and live with the Ewoks!
i’ll fly away and live with the Ewoks – small mixed media painting on board
(I LOVE THE EWOKS, SO HAD TO START WITH THIS!)

Not so long ago, on March 30th, my “Color Me Happy Necklace” was very kindly featured on pollywogpouch’s blog.  Not only as a thank you, but to also showcase her beautiful whimsical work, (WHICH I LOVE!) I have decided to also feature her on The Chatterbox.  I don’t always like to do long introductions, but sometimes I feel it’s fitting.  In this case, I’d definitely say a longer feature is great because I think the artist is interesting and her art and life will capture you!  pollywogpouch put it perfectly when she said that she “loves how anxious Etsians are to help each other out.  We’re not just sellers, we’re also buyers, helpful critics, promoters, and mentors.”  I have encountered the same and share her feelings.  

The words you first read on this post, “paintings . chicks . birds . duchesses . general merriment,” are pollywogpouch’s tag line, and appropriately so!  pollywogpouch’s art and Etsy shop are full of beautiful colors and images, excite the imagination and abound in cheer and humor!  

does this cat make me look fat- portrait of a pregnant odalisque

So, who is she?  What is she about?  Where is she from?  Why do you care to know?
Well, after I have gotten to know about her, trust me when I say,
“I have found a new kindred Etsy spirit, and when I’m finished, you will LOVE her and her artwork too!”

  

Her name is Delilah Dawson.  She is a working artist living in Woodstock, Georgia, which is one town over from her home town, near lots of family.  She has a BA in Studio Art from UGA and has enjoyed working at local art centers with one foot in administration and one in education.  She is currently living the “high life” at home with her almost 20 month-old daughter and on any given night of the week, Delilah is hanging out with 4 generations of women on her mom’s porch, laughing.  If that doesn’t paint a picture of pleasure and strong family bonds, I don’t know what does!  :)

Her friends would tell you that she makes eerily accurate animal noises to amuse children (and herself), all of her clothes have paint spots on them, and she’ll tell anybody anything, but only if they ask.  She’s irreverent and curious, likes to laugh and has an affinity for shiny things and apples.  She also hates tuna.   

  I’ll fly away and marry Freddy Prinze Jr. – small mixed media on board

I asked her about her balancing act of operating Etsyshop with everything else she does and Delilah responded, “Currently, not well! My husband tells me I stay up way too late playing on Etsy…”  Don’t we all, girl!  Don’t we all!  Ha ha!  And of course, as all you moms out there can relate to, while she was answering me, her daughter was hollering for her in the background, so it attests that mother crafters on Etsy must be excellent at multi-tasking, which it seems Delilah does!

I always wonder, and I know other people also do, about an artist’s story or background on how they and their art came to be.  For Delilah, she has always been an artist, but for the longest time she felt like art had to be very serious and… well… mature.  According to her, she is “not a serious and mature person.”  Can I get an AMEN to that?!  Who wants to be serious and mature all the time anyway?  I know I don’t!  There’s no fun and no room for blazing creativity when you’re serious and mature all the time!  On Etsy, Delilah learned that lots of people were doing the odd and whimsical things she always loved doing, so she knew she would fit in.  I respect when anyone is free enough to let loose and be true to themselves, because I think when you do that, BEAUTIFUL THINGS HAPPEN!  I believe Delilah’s art is a testament to that!!!

As you’ll see when browsing her shop, Delilah works on canvas and paper, but when asked about her favorite materials, she said, “I love the feel of a wood board– under newspaper, pencil, or paint. I like to see a little bit of grain peeking through and know that the item under all my work is *real*, not (entirely) manufactured.”  Delilah gets her inspiration from Etsy, from birds, from daydreams, and from things she has liked drawing since she was a child.  THAT, my dear readers, IS PART OF EXACTLY WHY I LOVE HAND MADE!  Delilah said that she likes when things have a story.  She said, “I love to know that things were really thought about, that someone really cared. I love to see brush strokes or stray pencil markings. I get sick of everything feeling so “same”.  I couldn’t agree more and I believe there is a true and meaningful story behind every creation!  Generally, there’s a reason for why pieces of art turn out the way they do!  Knowing those details are “goose-bump” moments for me and I don’t know about you, but those things are the things that incline me to become attached enough to BUY!!!

 

We all love to talk about our favorite things.  They bring us joy and inner happiness.  When you CREATE something and it’s your favorite, they take on a whole new level of meaning…they contribute to the artist’s self-esteem, self-worth, self-fulfillment, pride, inspiration, and create a mark on the measuring stick of quality and personal achievement.  When I asked Delilah about her personal favorite from her shop, she said, “I just love chicks with birds.  I love simple portraits with unusual details and silly descriptions.”  I must say, her silly descriptions are a big part of why I look forward to returning to her shop regularly – it is not only candy for the eye, but it’s candy and humor for the mind, and I love it!  After all…laughter is the best medicine!

ACEO – ATC – they said she had nice hooters – original watercolor portrait of Athena

If you want to know more about Delilah, or would like to take a deeper peek into her life, she blogs about etsy at http://www.pollywogpouch.blogspot.com, and blogs about herself and her life as a mom at http://www.delilahpaints.blogspot.com.  Both are enjoyable reads and I think you’ll enjoy visiting!  In her Etsy Store, you will find that she has some realistic paintings for sale, but she doesn’t think they’re as good.  How about you be the judge and share your opinions on her work by leaving a comment on my blog!  Oh!  Did I also mention that her husband is an MMA fighter?  Of course, I immediately connected, being that my husband, Anthony, is obsessed with MMA and has his own company (Bully Ink) where he sells Mixed Martial Arts apparel and equipment!  I wish they lived closer!  I would totally arrange a get-together!  :)

=)  BONUS FOR MY READERS  =)
DELILAH’S OFFERING FREE SHIPPING IN HER ETSY STORE, pollywogpouch!!!
IF YOU MENTION, “NICOLE LEE ARTISTRY’S BLOG” IN THE MESSAGE TO SELLER.
I hope the wind changes and they stick like that, Lydia thought - acrylic painting on 6x6 board
I hope the wind changes and they stick like that, Lydia thought – acrylic painting on 6×6 board

Sundays are for REST AND RELAXATION. :)

Being that I like to look at Sunday’s as a day for rest, enjoyment and relaxation, I thought my theme for today would be exactly that.  Some of you may know that Anthony and I will be moving next year.  My parents have gifted us with some property and we have begun to plan for our future home.  We have selected a site, have started to draw up the floor plans, and it’s just so exciting…it’s truly coming along!  I can’t wait to move back home!  I miss my Pennsylvania roots and tremendously miss being near my family!  I’ve been day dreaming lately, and today, I put together a collage of some pictures from my design folder (inspiration for our future home) that remind me of rest and relaxation.  If you look closely, I’ve also included two pictures of our charming piece of rural property!  :)  It’s just lovely!

 Rest and Relaxation