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Autumn Etsy Open House

   Hi friends!~
     In celebration of the new business name/revamp, I'm going to host a little autumn open house in my etsy shop on September 2! What that means is--- I will be uploading lots of new items, including originals (like shown in the banner!)
   You can shop from the comfort of your home starting that morning. I am excited to offer some new items for you, and have been very busy painting! So be sure to stop by the shop that first Friday of September!~ :D

The Next Folk Art Chapter

   Sometimes you feel yourself going through growing pains in aspects of your life, and these few months I've felt these things when it comes to my art. Folky, chippy, Americana growing pains. I've felt the need for fresh eyes, fresh brushes, a fresh take on my business. You may have noticed this in various corners of the internet---- there are changes afoot! Largest of all, a change in name.

  Welcome to:

Sleightholm Folk Art

  For almost 9 years I've done business under the moniker of Audrey Eclectic-- named after the baby I had left journalism to be at home with. I was so happy to be home with her, but also needed something to do with my hands, having spent most of my life in school or work. And so it was only natural that I took up with my childhood love, painting. And I named it all after my sweet girl.

  And years passed. And the baby is now a grown up girl. The style and focus of Audrey Eclectic changed and grew with me. And Im still growing, but I think its time Audrey had her own name, to do with what she will. And I will proudly take up my own name--- hard as it is to spell and pronounce (SLYT-holm, y'all!)

  Even with this change, I will still offer all my regular prints I offered as Audrey Eclectic, although I'll use a new URL for this site and my etsy. Its my hope to smoothly transition with all my social media contacts together, so it will be minimal trouble for you. 

  As for me, I feel a lot of growing and experimenting coming, of indulging myself in the ability to play and learn--- to pursue inspiration and teachers and artistic experience that will enrich my art and the things I am able to offer to you. I've found that its hard for me to tie myself down to one thing--- I want to try, learn, explore. All within the spectrum of folk art, but there's so much I want to learn about--- yarn making, weaving, quilting, fraktur art,tavern signs, true americana artwork, landscapes and portraits,....earthy american history and faith as it was depicted through art made my common people. Those are the things that capture my imagination--- and those are the things I want to bring to you as well.

  Yesterday I was lucky enough to indulge in a solo trip---- all by myself, guys!!!-- to see the American Made folk art exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR. I went especially to see the art from The American Folk Art Museum in NYC-- needing inspiration and also needing something to do just for myself.

   Seeing all this beautiful handmade art just made me so happy. I had tears in my eyes, my heart was just full. It was room after room of all the things that I adore. And not fancy formal portraits--- although those are lovely. These pieces were portraits by itinerant painters, quilts, home decorations, love notes! They were simple, homespun masterpieces made by regular people with no formal training. People I can very much relate to.

  Going through the exhibit though, I knew that my inclinations were right. This is what makes me inspired and want to paint. This is what I want to share with people--- our history, our unique art, a connection of past and future. I love things like icons and retablos, folk portraits and landscapes, things with humble origins that still capture life beautifully.

  That is my aim. And also to delve into some of these 'lost arts' before they are so completely lost. I want that connection with my ancestors. The art and sensibilities of bygone eras have always drawn me in. And it would be my pleasure to create a few beautiful things for you all, if you would be so kind as to come along on my art adventure....

   Your prairie folk artist,

*Artwork in this post is from the American Made exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum. The exhibit runs through September 19!

Big Summer Sale!

   It's time once again for the Big Summer Sale in my etsy shop! I need to get ready to fill the shop for fall and winter, and need to move some older, but still popular, stock! I've got prints AND Originals marked down. Shop the sale section HERE. Thanks so much!~ H

Summer Harvest

   Several months ago I wrote a post about our Easter Egg Tree we made using branches from our little peach tree in the yard. Well, those blooming branches that stayed on the tree made quite a yield this year--- and we've got pounds of beautiful blushy fruit to show for it!

   It's been a scorching last few weeks. Topped with violent storms and tons of rain, but evidently it was a mix that was right for ripening peaches. The kids and I went out with baskets to collect what had survived rain, hail, rain, wind and heat and I was amazed at how much fruit we actually got!

  Now we think of very important things like "how should we eat all these peaches?"

  Pie, crumbles, cobbler, ice cream, whipped cream, fresh off the branch.....the possibilities are endless.

   How about you? Are you harvesting anything good in the garden these days?~

Original Painting: General George Washington

 Here it is Monday, and here's hoping its a better week than last week. I couldnt seem to have a good day last week--- and it was all topped off with a massive storm on Thursday that did terrible damage around my town and had the power off until the weekend.
  But never fear! "Here Comes The General!" :D (warning:language)

   My lastest painting, inspired by Americana Folk Art and the iconic figure of George Washington is finished and freshly listed in my etsy shop:

   I've been reading a lot of colonial inspired books lately, such as the biographies by Ron Chernow. He wrote the book "Hamilton" which inspired the hit Broadway Musical (the soundtrack is one Im currently obsessed with!) and also a biography of George Washington. I guess it's only fitting that Im steeped in Founding Fathers in July. Staying inside with a big book is my favorite way to beat the heat ;)

   I hope that if I'm ever back in Virginia I'll be able to stop and see Mount Vernon. That area of the country is so pretty and so steeped in history. One evening we were able to walk to the banks of the Potomac and there were sailboats on the water. Amazing to think these were scenes that George would have seen as well. Ah, but I am overly sentimental like that ;)

  And so....here's to a much better week! Hope we ALL have a good one. And if you're taken with the gentleman general from Virginia.....he's currently in my etsy shop. Perhaps he belongs with you?
   Til next time,

Handmade Hearts: Lavender Sachets For Your Linens

   It is a truth universally acknowledged that a lady 3/4 of the way through a massive illustration project has to take a moment to put down the paintbrush and do something completely different. And so--- these little sachet sets were born!

   Recently I've been reading some good books that have me thinking about how I do things around the house. Most important of these books is "A Guide To Green Housekeeping" which I absolutely LOVE. What it basically is, is a beautiful book about the old fashioned way of doing things around the house. So much of it is crazily easy--- most of it involves baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. Stuff you feel totally safe having around the house and it really works amazingly well.
   But before I digress too much, there was a section in the book about taking care of your linens and taking the time to really care for them and make sure they're kept lovely and fresh. This has inspired me (and Audrey too) to set out my favorite old fashioned nightgown so that its hanging nicely waiting for meat the end of the day, and kept sweet smelling by a stuffed heart sachet made of scrap fabric and dried lavender.

   I even made some smaller sachets to stick in the dresser and my linen closet so that my best little things are kept a little bit nicer, a little bit more well cared for. It even inspired me to do a massive clean out of my closet and my dresser, getting rid of all those "well maybe one day I'll fit in it again..." pieces or things that are fine, but I always pass over for something else. I felt a real need to pare down, to keep only the things I really wanted and liked, and to be intentional about my care of them. And so, the sachets were born...

   And enter yet another book that I just finished that gave me inspiration for the theme of these hearts--- Jane Austen heroines!
   I just finished reading "Longbourn" by Jo Baker about the life of the servants in Elizabeth Bennet's home, Longbourn, and it was so good. It really got into the nitty gritty of the grueling day-to-day of a servant's life. How when they went to bed, who they were able to associate with, where they lived, who they could love--- it was all dependent on the whims of their employers and was really poignant and humbling.
  It also made me think of the housework that was going on in those great Austen houses like Longborn or Hartfield in "Emma", and all the linens and lace and dresses and I was inspired to create two different sets of sachets inspired by "Pride and Prejudice" and "Emma." 

Set one is called "The Hartfield Collection" and is inspired by "Emma":

   What fun to imagine what lovely dresses could have been used to create these sachets, can you imagine the exquisit 'rag bag' of the Woodhouse manor? Let's see....lets imagine the floral is from the dress Emma wore to the Weston's wedding and the stripe? Perhaps from the apron she'd wear to paint the garden with Harriet while Mr. Elton looked on?

   The Hartfield Collection comes with a large (6" in length) heart with an antiqued cotton tie at the top so that you can hang it on a hanger, a door knob, a mirror, etc. and two smaller (4" in length) sachets that are good for tucking into a stack of linens, in a drawer, or under your pillow for sweet dreams!

Set Two is called The Longbourn Collection inspired by Pride and Prejudice

  Oh! All those girls in that house! Can't you just hear the piano music and the laughing and squabbling, all with a screech of "Mr. Bennet!" coming out over the top? I totally can :D imagining the linen closet at Longbourn was so fun because I imagine there must be so many dresses in the mending pile, hems to let out for younger sisters, or frocks that have gone through two or three girls and now must retire to patchwork. And so with the idea of patchwork in mind, I made this fun collection of three sachets inspired by Lizzie Bennet's girlhood home. I imagine they're made from scraps of all those outgrown and worn out dresses--- perhaps the dress Jane got caught out in the rain? Or the dress that Lizzie wore, tromping through the mud, to go see her sick sister at Netherfield Park? Perhaps all that mud couldn't be got out of the hem, so into the rag bag it went.

   Much like the Hartfield Collection, the large hanging heart here is 6" in length with a tie and the little ones are 4" in length meant for tucking.

  I had such a fun time making these and letting my imagination run wild! I'd love for you to have some to enjoy as much as I enjoy mine! I've listed both of these sets of sachets in my esty shop. Go have a look and see if there's one that you might need! :D

  Thanks so much for your visit today--

Virginia Is For (Colonial) Lovers

  At the beginning of June I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Alexandria, VA. to attend a conference at Virginia Theological Seminary. It was a fantastic experience, and I learned so much--- but I was also really excited to be staying in a city so rich in history--- so after the conference was done for the day, my friend and I drove down the road to Old Town to take in the sights--- and also went on a night tour of the monument of Washington D.C., which was literally just down the road!

  Ah but let me back up; like any good history lover, I hit the library before I even left the state for some reading to get me good and inspired. And as luck would have it, I happened upon the book "The Mistress of Tall Acre" by my lovely friend Laura Frantz, who I've been reading for years since I found her first book "The Frontiersman's Daughter."
   I always enjoy Laura's book because she is a passionate history lover, and has a great way with weaving historic detail into her wonderful stories. She also has the amazing talent of exploring her characters' faiths in ways that dont feel heavy handed or preachy. In short, she's an amazing talent.
   But this book I had yet to pick up, and so I was glad to see it and thrilled to see that it takes place in post-Revolutionary War Virginia!
  The story follows the character of Sophie Menzies, the impoverished daughter of a Tory who has fled to Scotland, leaving her to manage an estate that's in shambles in a community that hates her because of her father's political leanings.
   The story opens with the recent arrival home of a neighbor and decorated war hero General Seamus Ogilvy and his young daughter. Sophie's deep friendship with little Lily Cate Ogilvy (isn't that the sweetest name) soon entangles her with the plantation across the field from her--- Tall Acre--- and its widower owner. So much happens--- all against the background of a newly forming nation--- it was such an enjoyable read. And thrilling too because some of the travels of the characters go right through Alexandria and the surrounding area, it was the best book to pick up before my travels.

   And what travels they were! We were lucky to be there in summer when there was still hours of daylight to explore the town after our conference was done for the day. The seminary (which was beautiful and special in its own right!) was just a few miles away from old town, so we were able to travel down and see some beautiful historic sites and pretty shops.
  First on my list of places to visit was Christ Church, George Washington's home church-- and also the home church of Robert E. Lee, who was a local boy.
  Christ Church is still an active parish and is also Episcopalian, so it was wonderful to feel so at home there.
  The church is open during the day and there is usually someone on hand to give you a tour, or you're welcome to just walk in, take a seat, and say a prayer.
   I love too that it is still very much "Early American" in it's feel. Its so easy to imagine the Washington coming in to worship, and amazing to think of how many generations of people and how much history has happened within its walls and in the streets outside of it.

   There are several wonderful historical sites--- like the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothocary Shop and the Carlyle House-- to visit in Old Town, but perhaps my very favorite was The Gadsby Tavern. The first time we walked by it was during the very last glimmer of dusk, and the whole place was lit up with candle light and you could see the waitstaff in the windows in their colonial period dress. It was simply magical! We were also lucky to be walking by on a Tuesday evening, when their gift shop was open later than usual, and I was able to get some treats for the kids.
  We went back later in the trip when it was still light outside and enjoyed some fabulous food and got a peek at the rooms in the museum--- including the ballroom upstairs where George Washington celebrated his birthday with a 'birthnight ball' and Thomas Jefferson held his inauguration banquet!
  Dining in the tavern was also so special--- complete with pewter plates and drinks in glass goblets. If you indulge in one treat in Alexandria--- a meal at Gadsby's is what I suggest!

   And ofcourse, being right outside of our nation's capitol, we had to go take a peek! We went with a new friend we met at our conference who came in from South Carolina and went to William and Mary College in  Williamsburg, Va.--- so you know she soon found out about my undying love for Colonial Willamsburg ;)
   We ladies boarded one of those two tiered buses and toured around the monuments Washington D.C.--- and had a grand old time even if the "90 minute tour" stretched into more of a "three hour tour." I think we saw every angle of the Washington Monument possible ;)
  My favorite view, though, was The White House all lit up at night, with the big statue of Teddy Roosevelt on a horse in the foreground.

    But before we knew it, it was time to come back home--- and now I'm back in Oklahoma, working on book projects and thinking about Christmas art! I really fell in love with Virginia though, and hope to go back one day!

  How about you? Have you traveled to Virginia? What is your favorite place to visit? If I'm able to return one day to Alexandria, I'd love to visit Mount Vernon. We just didnt have the time to do it on this trip, but I'm happy to have another place to explore if I'm able to return!~
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