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Good Things Collection: Brit Edition

    The world has gone mad-- yet again. I am feeling like one weary mama. But I have been busy painting it out, and I am eager to share that with you; My Madonna of Hope, that you may have seen on FB or Instagram. I am in the process of doing some prints of her, and will have those ASAP. But first....I feel the need....

  I am struggling with keeping my heart open (or heartbeat from rattling in my ears screaming 'what is wrong with us?!??!') and so I am trying my best to keep balance with uplifting media as I try to digest current events. And no one does that better than the Brits. I've decided after getting frequent questions about what Im reading and watching lately, that I will share here with you all from time to time the things I'm enjoying--- my Good Things Collection. Because  if we can soothe ourselves, we can take on the world with dignity, respect and empathy. If we are just a twitching ball of outraged nerves, we just continue the terrible cycle of blame and suspicion.


   There are some GREAT magazines out there with British charm--- The new issue of Victoria Magazine is all about Britain (with photo spreads of amazing landscape and spectacular desserts that will have you scheming up your own celebration for the Queen's Sapphire Jubilee. There's even a story about the 200 year anniversary of Jane Austen's death and a tour of her home at Chawton.
   There is also a special "English Cottage" edition put out by Victoria this summer that has been a fun, dreamy read with lots of beautiful homes full of charm.
   And I can never resist picking up British Country Living (as in our American magazine, but 5,000 times better and more interesting...not just a bunch of rich people from New York buying up all the farm houses in Vermont and then painting everything white!) They always have amazing interviews with artists and crafters, are more connected to the land (and you know, living in the country!) and really great quality articles. The photo below is a large spread about a woman who is living off the land in a gorgeous rural landscape and harvests her own dye material, which she uses to dye her own yarn that she spins, knits and weaves with (sorry, that was the sound of my heart exploding in joy)

   And if I find myself with the rare blessing of having the tv all to myself and I want to curl up with some knitting and quality television-- I set my sights across the pond! I just subscribed to Britbox, which is television streaming offered through a joint effort of the BBC and iTV(they are the ones who showed Downton Abbey) and I am just dipping my toe into their catalog, but am really excited. They even have British Soap Operas :O

   My favorite show to stream is the mystery series featuring my favorite priest, Father Brown. He lives in a picturesque village in 1950s Britain and is loosely based on a character created by GK Chesterton. Even though murder is usually the order of the day, things always get tied up and resolved within the half hour ;) these days, I'll take that kind of resolution where ever I can get it! The cast is fantastic and the stories always interesting. You are never quite sure 'who dunnit.'

   I also love the show (now on netflix) called "Escape to the Country" which is essentially a 'looking for a house to buy show' but really well done (oh Brits, you are so good at this stuff!) A variety of hosts take a family through a particular area of the UK to look for that perfect country home; often hundreds of years old, perhaps thatched, but always amazing and chock full of history. You learn a little bit about all the various areas of the country, their unique specialties and bits about their culture. You dont even care that more often than not, you have no idea if the family even bought a house in the area (usually they give a tepid, "oh yes....we might ring to have a second look at the place!") but you DONT EVEN CARE. Lol, if you're like me, you're just happy to have been along to peek into inglenooks and ancient halls without having to pay an admission fee!

 However, my current British obsession is this A-MAZING book by Ruth Hogan called "The Keeper of Lost Things."
   I picked it up at the library because I remembered seeing the cover in my friend Patricia's library stack (thanks, friend!) and was immediately captivated.
   It is, granted, a little hard to explain. So I will put the Amazon description here:

A charming, clever, and quietly moving debut novel of of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.
Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.
Bone china cup and saucer—Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.
Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancĂ©e, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidently left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.
Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.
Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.

As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?
   I am about halfway through, but it is SO good. Something else that appeals to me, but isnt mentioned here, is the little clues and hidden religious meanings Hogan tucks into her prose. The character Anthony lives in a home called Padua (like, you know, St. Anthony of Padua!) and the character Therese has given him her confirmation medal--- St. Therese of Lisieux...and is very fond of roses. Little things like these, which arent overt, but makes someone like me go "Ohhhh, I get it!!!" are lots of fun.
   I can wait to see how it all ends, and I'm praaaaying its good. We need some happy endings and hope in this world right now. 
   I thought I'd pass this on to you though, because you might like it as well, and its fairly new!~

And so.....
This is my Good Things Collection. Do you have any suggestions for ME? Great books you've read, magazines that delight, television or movies that have captured your imagination? I'd love to hear about them! Lets share all the GOOD THINGS!~

Until next time,

Home From New England

    Sigh. Ah. HOME!~
        Lets imagine the scene above is my bedroom, lovely hats and dresses all just unpacked from our stay in New England. It was another glorious trip, my cup of inspiration filled right to the tippy-top rim. All happiness. Very tired (it takes two days straight to drive there and back....) Mountain of laundry and baggage unpacked, school supplies scrambled together, house cleaned up with renewed energy....it is almost time to paint!

    I think if my heart was cracked open, you'd find a great deal of New England there. I dont know what it is about that place of the world, but it is where I am so happy and at home. It was an amazing couple of weeks that we were able to stay with our wonderful friends---- without whom, we honestly wouldnt be able to get out there and bask in all the pastoral-old-timiness. I practically gorged myself on historical home museums. So much so that Audrey, at the end, wearily said "please, no more museums!" ;)
   But by then we had seen and done so much;; visited the homes of Louisa May Alcott, John Adams (all 3!!!), Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rebecca Nurse, Paul Revere.... and so many other beautiful historic homes and landscapes.
    One day as we were driving down the Mass Pike, we ambled down to Cape Cod, in search of a genuine lobster roll (we dont have those in Oklahoma, haha) and ended up at the most perfect little beach near the Cape Cod Canal. Audrey swam like a mermaid in the ocean (the OCEAN!!) and Robbie and I collected beautiful shells and rocks and made a sandcastle. We filled up memory banks, and had such a great evening.

   We wandered graveyards and gazed at harbors and sea horizons, we entered doorways once entered by some of our country's most beloved historical figures, and we spent lazy mornings at a friend's kitchen table....just talking and laughing and looking through books.

   And then, at the end of it, we were ready to be home.

    Those days spent 'out east' were just what I needed. I am now so excited to get back to painting. And this year will have some changes that Im anxious to explore. This school year, Audrey goes back to traditional school. It was a change I wasnt expecting, but was what she decided she wanted and after lots of talking---- and a blessing of a school transfer approval--- we are back in the brick-and-mortar school game. And I am....excited! I'll have my littlest still at home, and I am looking forward to having a quiet and creative school year with just we two. And he's big enough now that he can come out to the studio with me while I work. Who knows what painterly things we'll get up to. I cant wait!

   And so....stay tuned, and keep in touch! This fall will make TEN YEARS for me in having a folk art business. I think that calls for celebration, dont you? First things first though--- time to paint!~

Thanks for your visit, and come back soon!~

Giveaway Winner

Good morning, everyone! Thank yo SO MUCH to all who commented and shared about my giveaway of my June Madonna print!

The winner has been selected and it is LYNN! Lynn, please send me your mailing address and I'll send you your print! :D

If you didnt win this time--- dont worry! I have copies available to purchase now in my etsy shop! 
Thanks everyone!~ h

June Madonna-- Prints & Giveaway

  As part of a monthly series, I've challenged myself to paint a Madonna for each month. This little painting is my "June Madonna" and I was very pleased with how she came out--- standing in a field of lupine with a bright, brilliant summer sky behind her. I chose to make this Madonna fair with freckles and red hair--- I like to create my Marys in a variety of looks.

  The original of this painting has been sold, but I DO have prints in my etsy shop! It is available as an 8x10" print.

   I've also decided its high time for a giveaway, and I am offering a FREE print to anyone who comments on this post. The  giveaway will be open through Tuesday, JULY 18. All you have to do is leave a comment! And if you share this post on social media (facebook, instagram, twitter, etc) come back and let me know in a separate comment and increase your chances to win!

Also--- please note--- I'm going to close my shop for a bit beginning THURSDAY July 20 for summer vacation. I will reopen it in early August! So if you've had your eye on a particular piece in the shop--- it might be the time to snatch it up! :D

  Thanks so much and I hope you're having a wonderful summer!!

NEW Greeting Card Sets!

   Hello there, and thanks for stopping in! I appreciate you coming by, especially since summer can get so busy and hectic.
   I've been busy too, painting, tentatively starting to plan our school agenda for next fall, anticipating our coming travels and also--- fluffing up my etsy shop a bit with new items!

   Aside from original saint mini-paintings that I added a few days ago, I've got new notecard sets! These are all sets that you can use throughout the year for any occasion--- including my pieces "Eliza's Knitting", "Anne and Diana", Stella Maris" and "Summer Cottage Garden.
   The sets are all listed now in my etsy shop! There are 4 cards in each set with matching envelopes. They each measure 4x6"--- so are also great for framing! And they are also printed right here in town so 100% made in the USA! Each set is $12.

  Here they are:

Summer Has Come

 Beautiful garden and house at Old Sturbrdige Village in Mass.

    Well, summer is most definitely here! It has me dreaming of New England and salt box houses, airy light rooms, and beautiful bunting. Out here on the prairie it is hot, but there are adventures back east to look forward to.
   I am finishing up the last painting for my colonial crafters series, and then--- believe it or not--- I'll start autumn and halloween work! Working on autumn and Christmas work help me beat the heat though, and I'll be listening to Christmas music in no time! Gotta stay ahead of the seasons...
 A light and airy interior at Old Sturbridge Village

Patriotic scene just outside Old Sturbridge Village

     Aside from painting autumn and Christmas, I'm making plans to teach a few classes out in the studio for autumn and Christmas art. It gets so hot here in the summer and the studio doesnt have central air, so I think it will take the summer off.
   But I want to do some really fun things out there starting this fall-- especially because this coming October will mark 10 years that I've been making and selling folk art! I was surprised to realize it--- a whole decade of folk art!
   There's been lots of changes and many adventures in those ten years. So there will be some celebrating in order come October!

   I've also added a link for information about wholesale purchasing of my art. If you own a shop and have a sales tax ID, you can order art wholesale from me (prints and cards!) Please email me if you're interested in selling Sleightholm Folk Art in your shop!
  Right now I am selling in shops in Oklahoma and Arkansas. I'd love to branch out!

   Well, signing off for now--- thanks so much for stopping by!
Stay cool and inspired!~

***** Photos taken by me, 4th of July Weekend 2015 at Old Sturbridge Village***

Stella Maris, Star of the Sea

   Stella Maris, Star of the Sea is one of my favorite names for the Virgin Mary. It is so evocative, with so much meaning. "Stella Maris" is Latin, meaning "star of the sea" and this moniker has been applied to Mary since medieval times, referencing Mary as the guiding force to Christ.
   Because of its allusion to the sea, however, it has become a favorite name for Mary for seafarers, and the name of many coastal churches, schools and sanctuaries.  Over the centuries now, Stella Maris has become known as the guardian and protector of the oceans and seafarers, prayed to for intercession for safe passage and success in nautical endeavors.

   I decided recently that I'd like to create my own rendition of Stella Maris, and of course you know mine would have a folk art twist. Living in Oklahoma, I am overwhelmingly landlocked. My experience with the sea is extremely limited, but its always held romance and mystery to me. Especially when I learned a while back that my ancestors were the founders of Nantucket--- and I am a direct descendant of Peter Folger (who also happened to be Benjamin Franklin's grandfather!). These settlers of Nantucket were hearty Quakers, pacifists on land but masters of the sea and fierce whale hunters.
   With this New England vision of the sea in my mind, I created my Stella Maris, guiding a ship into port in a storm, and also letting a whale swim to safety from the viciousness of men.

    I am happy to share with you now this piece as a print (the original has been sold) I currently have Stella Maris, Star of the Sea as an 8x10" print and also 11x14" (the 11x14" print is shown below with the title on the print. The 8x10" is just the print with no text)
   This piece as an absolute joy to paint and went fast--- a big blessing when you're a painting mama who is usually creating in snatched fragments of time. I hope you like her, and if you're interested in a print, you can find it now in my etsy shop!
Thanks for your visit today, and hope you have a wonderful week!
Stella Maris, Star of the Sea--- Pray for Us!
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