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Tasha Tuesday

Winter is here now. It's cold out, sometimes wet and gray for just days upon end, days meant for cuddling up with a nice fire, some yarn, and a furry pup. Last week an old friend bartered with me for some fire wood and I've become a little addicted to the toasty flames, the lovely light and the ambiance of doing, well, anything by firelight.

My little one wasn't feeling good over the holiday break, and so as a treat I let her pick a yarn at the store and have set out to make her a matching hat and scarf set, and one for my husband as well. So for the last few days I've sat for hours by the fire watching random things (like this series that I finished in about 2 days!) and knitting up a storm.

Thanks to those quiet evenings I only need to put some finishing touches on the hats and knit one more scarf. Pretty good, I'd say!

And although these little moments aren't directly related to Tasha, I think she'd approve of the time spent and the effort made for home made gifts. I know there's no way I'll be able to accomplish 100% homemade for Christmas (I've got two craft shows in the middle of all this too!) but I'm trying. And there's something very satisfying of coming away from a couple of hours on the couch nestled in with a little girl and her dog and a nice roaring fire with something accomplished.

Happy Tasha Tuesday~

How To: Vintage Photo Christmas Wreath

Hello there friends and a happy 1st Sunday of Advent to you! Around here we are tentatively beginning this long season of celebration and traditions, something I've been looking forward to since the last Christmas season.

This year I decided I needed to make a nice Christmas wreath for the mantle, although most of ones I see in the store are not really my style. I like old things, and rustic things, and so I knew I needed to put my own spin on a traditional Christmas wreath if it was going to be what I wanted. So earlier in the week we set out for some supplies and this is what was created:

I'm pretty pleased with what the end result was--- rustic grape vine and red checked ribbon offset with Christmasy greenery and some of my favorite vintage photos. It wasn't that hard to make so I thought I'd share the process with you. Are you ready?.....Here goes:

Everything I used for the wreath is shown here on the kitchen table. A plain grape vine wreath that you can get at any craft store (this came from Michaels) as well as a premade floral piece that will be my Christmas greenery. I bought some ribbon to fancy it up and brought out some of my old photos, a glue gun (and glue) floral wire, wire cutters and scissors.

First I attached the floral piece to the wreath (you could use separate floral picks if you prefer, but I liked that this bunch of fruit and leaves and berries was all in one piece) I bent the arrangement to match the curve of the wreath and then attached it with some floral wire.

Then came the arrangement and placement of the photos. I hate the idea of damaging vintage photos, so used my glue sparingly and made sure no glue would touch the front of the photos. All of these photos came from the antique mall, so I'm not using family heirlooms here. I like the idea of these once forgotten and homeless photos now getting a chance at the lime-light for our holiday festivities. I hope that they'd all be pleased!

Then I made my bow from the ribbon. I made my bow by creating a center loop, then making more and more loops around it. I held them in place with my hand and put a dab of glue and the florist wire to hold the bow in place. Then I fastened it into the middle of the floral arrangement.

After situating my bow, I cut the ribbon free and then wound the ribbon loosely around the rest of the wreath, attaching it with a little glue.

And then, voila! A new wreath was born! And up on the mantle it went. I think it's easily one of my most favorite wreaths I've ever made and I think that since its holiday look is subtle, I could probably leave it up until Valentine's Day.

Hope you enjoyed the little craft lesson!~

A turkey tale & lovely sale!~

Hello and good morning! A happy merry Thanksgiving to you!~ It's a quiet morning here with no big rush to prepare. My grandpa is our Thanksgiving Day chef, and all I'm accountable for is the apple sauce cake (wanna see it? I blogged it at the What Would Ma Ingalls Do? Blog!)

I'm looking forward to a day spent with lots of great food and laughter and lounging and lots of turkey. I don't feel a bit bad about the turkey part because they're rather mean birds. I had a run-in with one last year--- a big plumed and pompous one just like the one on the card! Evidently he didn't like me out walking on a cold afternoon in a red sweatshirt (red is their fighting color, evidently) and he stalked me down the road and then started flapping and lunging at me. It was probably the most ridiculous run-in with a critter that I've ever had! Imagine, walking down a street lined with normal homes in a normal neighborhood with a turkey following and heckling you and flapping up at you with its talons out. Do these sorts of things only happen in Oklahoma?

Eventually one of the neighbor men drove by in his truck and saw my assault and yelled for me to 'jump in!' and he toted me around to the nearest bend in the road so that the angry turkey couldn't see me any more. I actually had bruises from that mean old thing. I swore next time I walked out that way I'd bring a bag of stuffing to threaten it with.

And so, yes, I will delight in my turkey dinner today :D

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving Day, or just a very merry Thursday to my international readers :) To get in a festive mood I decided to make a sale section in my shop! Come by and take a look! There are several originals that need new homes!~
Thanks so much!~
Til next time...

PS: Last night I gave the blog a new wintertime make-over! What do you think?

~Art Shows~

For the last couple of months or so I've been working hard and making some new pieces-- several quite large-- for this gallery event at Deep Fork Grill in Oklahoma City. It's such a beautiful restaurant with great atmosphere and I feel really lucky that they wanted me to be a part of their space :)

Friday I drove down and hung the paintings-- so they're there on display and looking for new homes (including the girl on the flyer above!) Tomorrow evening they're even hosting a reception for me and the art and I will be there on hand trying not to be bashful!

This is my first gallery event in Oklahoma City! So if you're in the area, come say hi! Then I'll be back in OKC in a couple of weeks to sell all my artsy stuff at Deluxe--- which if you've never gone, is SUCH a fun show! And the week after that I'm taking part in a new Tulsa show (it debuted in spring 2010) called Alliday at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. And then, the weekend after that, its Christmas! Wow! This is a crazy busy season! But I feel so fortunate to get to be part of all these great shows and events. Oklahoma really knows how to go crafty and I'm really proud of that.

So, if you're in the area, hope you'll come see the paintings *live and in person* and come say hello!~

Off to finish some packaging and then resting up for the big day tomorrow :)

Haunting Girls

I thought I'd show you all a bit of my November mantle before the ol' Christmas rehaul happens later this week. This time is a bit of a transition between Halloween and Christmas which are so vibrantly festive. I like to have a bit of a calmness between them.

I love to rescue old photos, especially old photos of children, and most particularly little girls. The photo in the big gold and black frame we call the spooky girls, because they really are. But I love them! They were definitely the apple of someone's eye to be photographed and frames so ornately.

The little photo of the pretty little one with the ribbons in her hair I rescued just last week. How could you leave a baby like that alone in a sea of knick knacks? She had to come home with me. I just love that little face.

And speaking of haunting girls....I painted up a Catherine from Wuthering Heights this afternoon! You can see more of her in my etsy shop. What do you think? Does she need a Heathcliff?

Such a busy week coming up. Hope to get a lot done, whether its art, decorating, or eating ;)
Til next time,

Down Town Angels

Last week I heard about an exciting thing going on in downtown Tulsa--- in the business district they were setting up 'pop up shops' for Christmas shopping in the ground floors some of the gorgeous old buildings that otherwise sit empty all year round. I was doubly excited to hear that the local show Indie Emporium was sponsoring one of these shops and I was asked to add some art to the displays!

The old down town of Tulsa, Oklahoma is a beautiful place. We've got architecture that people come from all over to gawk at-- art deco buildings made with the best that money could buy when oil tycoons called this place home in the boom days of the twenties and beyond. There are huge stone churches that are so gorgeous and works of art in themselves, and the city is clean and cared for but as shopping centers located themselves farther and farther from the heart of old Tulsa, the crowds down town dwindled until they were almost nonexistant. These days, most of the people you see downtown are there because they work there, but that's starting to slowly change.

Some really neat shops and restaurants are slowly but surely seeping back into these beautiful spaces, and so the idea that crowds of merry Christmas shoppers might once again mill through the street like they did decades ago is thrilling. My grandparents would tell stories about getting dressed in their finest-- with hats and gloves and pearls--- to go strolling down the sidewalks of down town Tulsa, where the windows would be piled high with beautiful items that would be taken home as treasures.

The two paintings above-- "Evergreen Angel" and "Angel of Winter Peace" will be perched in the Indie Emporium pop up shop in the Thompson building. The Philcade building will also be hosting some little local shops, and both buildings can be found along Boston Ave between 5th and 6th streets. It's a beautiful area, and there are some yummy eateries right in the middle of it all-- including Elote which serves amazing organic Mexican food and Mod's Coffee and Crepes.

The stores tentatively open on Monday with a grand opening on the 30th. I plan to get some pics when its all put together and post them here, to get you in the shopping spirit!

Now I need to put the finishing touches on the paintings that will go to hang at Deep Fork tomorrow in OKC. This is the busiest week I've had in a long time, but oh so satisfying!~
Hope all is well with you & yours,

Bronte Bliss

I hadn't planned on going to the antique mall yesterday. I had a lot to do and a busy week ahead of me. But I found myself in a *mood* and thought that maybe sifting through some old junk would cheer me up. It usually does. And boy did it yesterday!~

Although I expected the shop to be picked nearly clean on a Monday, I found this treasure within moments of walking in the door. A beautiful, nearly perfect condition edition of the 1943 Jane Eyre illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg. I don't remember where, but I'd seen this cover before and it was haunting and so beautiful. Even though I hadn't really planned to spend money, I snatched this up without hesitation.

With the book was also a Wuthering Heights edition which was obviously its mate with the same binding and illustrations by the same artist. I didn't realize until I went to pay that the price on the Jane Eyre wasn't just for that book--- it was also for Wuthering Heights, and they came with their own little case and a paper pamphlet that had come with the books from a 'book of the month club' in 1943. The books even have a lovely bookplate in the front with the original owner's name. These volumes were obviously treasured. They were less than $20.

When I found out I got all this for such a nice little price, I nearly shrieked and jumped up and down and cried. Almost. I do have some control ;)

I wanted to share with you just a few of the amazing illustrations in this book. They are like little beautiful dark masterpieces. I heart them something fierce. See for yourself:

Aren't these just gorgeous? I can't help but see a little of myself in them. I hope that I might achieve just a fraction of the 'dark and strange and beautiful' that Eichenberg manages to capture with his wood engravings. They are just...Magic. I'll show you the ones in Wuthering Heights at a later time. They are just as gorgeous.

Now I can't help but think I need to make my own Jane illustrations.....

Tasha Tuesday

Tasha Tudor, photo by Richard Brown
This Tuesday I thought it would be fun to do a little Tasha Tudor Fashion Feature. Because autumn and winter are both perfect times to bring out your inner Tasha with perhaps a more modern twist. While vintage clothes are nice, it's hard to find items that fit, are affordable and can stand daily use. Therefore I like to use more modern pieces, because it's not as hard as one might think to bring a little old fashioned homesteading granny to life in a 21st century wardrobe.

Tasha was big on natural fibers, knitwear, layers (and more layers) and homespun accessories. Oh, and critters too, so you can never go wrong with a bunny or a goat or some such other adorable animal to accent your inner old timeyness. Go on...you know you want to ;)

* Fingerless Gloves from Klose Knit
*Capelet an amazing thrifting find
* White blouse from Eddie Bauer
* Linen skirt from Eddie Bauer
* Lace up leather boots from Naturalizer
* Bunny born and bred on the prairie :)

To see more Tasha fashion inspiration, take a look at my Homespun and Prairie style file on pinterest! It cant help but inspire :)

Candle Light Prayers

This is a little painting that I just put the finishing touches on yesterday. I've called it "Candle Light Prayers." I think it's one of my most special Christmas paintings yet, because there are so many little things going on, so much pattern and color but also meaning and significance.

One thing I love about making pictures is creating stories. And I think this piece is rich in story. When I made it, I had in mind a mother and a daughter celebrating a quiet Christmas Eve in a little rustic cabin. They light a special candle holder that is only brought out for special occasions that casts a comforting yellow gold over beloved family icons. From these little flames they also light their own candles and with each created flame they say a little prayer.

Perhaps they are deep in the forests of Russia, or perhaps they are pioneers in a new land recreating rituals from home on a special night. The meaning and the occasion, really, is up to your imagination. And I like that.

I hope this reminds you of your own special and quiet rituals and brings to mind a more simply celebrated holiday.

Christmas Goodies in my Shop

Hello! It's rather late here this evening (well, it's past 8:30. I guess that's late for a tired mama!) but I wanted to let you guys know that my Audrect Eclectic Etsy Shop is now filled to the brim with brand new Christmas items!

Just this afternoon I added packs of my new Christmas card and some of my latest Christmas prints, including St. Lucia! I'm so happy to be able to share these all with you! Maybe you'll find something that you or someone special to you needs for this holiday season :)

Looking forward to a nice afternoon of painting tomorrow....I need to put the finishing touches on a painting that I'm really loving. I've tried some new things and really like how it turned out. You'll have to come back to see it :)

Good night and sweet dreams!~

Hello There!~

Hello there my friends! Well, it's been a couple of days since I posted because, well, my computer died! The hard drive completely crashed, and while that didn't keep me from painting it kept me from being able to do much here. So sorry!

In that time though I finished this Santa Claus painting and started a few more--- gave a rabbit hutch a make over and also got the Christmas postcards in and some Christmas prints! I will be adding all of these items to my etsy shop very soon as well as packaging the cards that those of you who did preordered have already purchased (thank you!)

It's just good to be back! Thanks very much to my computer savvy husband. I dont know what I would have done without him. He completely reinstalled a new hard drive and all the programs I need to be up and running.

Alright, well, back to work! Hope you are well!

Tasha Tuesday

It's early on a Tuesday morning and its wet and dreary. The sky is dark, everything is dark and damp, but the autumn foliage looks bright and brilliant against all this autumn wet. Things have been restless around here lately--- not feeling good, and now we've had three nights of strange rumbling earthquakes, and to top it off last night we had tornado warnings and an earthquake. Oklahoma is getting more than its fair share of strangeness right now!

In light of all this, I felt it was more than appropriate to put a larger amount of whipped cream in my coffee this morning :) I'm sure Tasha would have recommended it ;) In the dim light, I've been thumbing through my copy of "Forever Christmas" featuring the beautiful Christmas celebrations at Corgi Cottage to get inspired for a handmade Christmas.

Tasha Tudor always said she began her Christmas prep and gift making in June. Well, perhaps some day I'll be that on top of things, but for now November is my best start :) I've decided that I am going to try my very best to make all the gifts we give this year. Not only is it more economical, but hopefully more special to the receiver! I've already concocted lots of plans, and am scheming up a little something for a little girl that I can work on while she's at school. Parenthood is a wonderful chance to rediscover the magic of Christmas, and with four children of her own, I'm sure my favorite artist Tasha Tudor spent a great deal of time thinking of ways to make the holiday special for her young ones. Because the act of planning and making and revealing a wonderful holiday to a child is perhaps even more fun than Christmas as a child.

Do you make any handmade items for Christmas? Or have you ever received anything handmade that was so very special to you? Do tell.....


*Book images are "Forever Christmas" By Harry Davis, photographed by Jay Paul

New Painting: The Revenant

Recently I had the chance to work on a very fun project for a very talented Oklahoma author. It involved a book about old timey girls, a spooky mammoth school, ghosts, and the Cherokee Nation. What could be better, right?
Just before Halloween I worked on a portrait of the main character of the novel "The Revenant" on the request of the author, Sonia Gensler. I was lucky enough to get to read the book before I started on the piece and it is so good. The story begins when the rash and adventurous Willie runs away from boarding school in Tennessee when her mother calls her home to help take care of her growing brood before she can graduate.
Determined that she wont forgo her education and independence to stay at home slaving for her mother's children with her new step father, Willie instead steals her flighty room mate's teaching license and letter accepting her to teach at a Cherokee girls' seminary in Tahlequah, Indian Territory and promptly hops a train for a grand adventure.
This adventurous premise would be enough to catch one's attention, but what Willie finds in Tahlequah once she arrives brings the story to new heights. Her vision of a rustic native school are dashed once she sees the towering castle of a seminary where Cherokee young women are given an elite education under the steely eye of the headmistress and staff of teachers.
Willie must now assume the role of poised English teacher to students who are the same age as she, and navigate the complicated world of educating girls in a culture and class very different from her own. I love how Sonia explores the social and personal impact of education on these girls who are in a unique situation of either being immensely wealthy and privilaged, or struggling to reconcile their new education and experience with families that are still very grounded in their traditional ways. This is not your stereotypical book about 'Indian Girls' and as an Oklahoman I can really appreciated that.
But...of course....that isn't even all!

In addition to her new role as teacher under a name that isn't even her own, Willie soon learns that some dreadful events have occurred at the school prior to her arrival, which ended in a student's death. Soon some strange and paranormal events start happening, both to the students who have the weight of secret guilt on their conscience, and to Willie who happens to be housed in the deceased girl's room.
I'll stop here so I don't give anything away, but I'll just say that the events that unfold are deliciously spooky, wonderfully detailed, and of course there's a little romance in there as well :) there are so many levels of tension in the novel--- will the students and faculty learn her secret and that she's not who she says she is? What happened to the young woman who perished so tragically, and is she haunting and tormenting her former friends? The ending will shock and surprise you, but until you get there you will love following this spooky adventure on each and every page.

Having enjoyed the book so much, it was my pleasure to get a chance to paint my vision of Willie for her creator, and try my hand at the looming seminary that is still located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma--- capital of the Cherokee Nation. Some day I need to hop in the car and go down there and see the place myself! On her blog, Sonia recently posted about her visit to the old seminary building for a ghost tour. How fun is that!?

If you'd like to delve into this book yourself, it is available at Amazon.com or local book stores. You can find out more about Sonia Gensler on her website and read her fun blog HERE.

Hope you like the painting! And thanks so much to Sonia for the adventure of creating Willie!~

St. Lucia painting

Good morning to you my friends on this gray and dreary day! For my British Readers, today is Guy Fawkes Day! For those of us here on the prairie, it is evidently earthquake day! Last night a little after 2 a.m. I was literally shaken awake by my first experience of an earthquake. It was so surreal! I actually got out of bed to see if perhaps a plane had crashed in the field behind our house because frankly, that seemed more plausible. What a strange, strange night!

However, I have something more festive than earthquakes in mind for this post: the celebration of St. Lucia! I told you in my last post how I'm on a bit of a Swedish Christmas kick (when I get enamored with something, I tend to fall hard!) and I decided it was high time to paint my own St. Lucia!

St.Lucia Day is celebrated on Dec.13, when the oldest daughter in the family dons a white robe and red sash, a wreath of candles on her head and leads a procession of children to wake the parents carrying a tray of traditional St. Lucia buns. I first learned of this tradition as a child when I read about it in the American Girls books about my doll, Kirsten. Its such a charming tradition (and one I can appreciate more as a parent, ha!) and I think this year I'd like to try my hand at some St. Lucia buns.

I hope you enjoy the painting, I'm pleased with how she came out. I think this will be on the list of new prints to have made up! She's perfect for the holiday season.

Do any of you, my readers, celebrate St.Lucia Day? Or is there a special holiday tradition that you celebrate in your home, or one you'd like to start? I'd love to hear about it! Perhaps you'll inspire a painting.....

God Jul! (Merry Christmas!)

Winter Reds

As of November1, I am throwing myself whole- heartedly into Christmas. I can't say I'm sorry to have seen the hottest summer of my life be over with, and I'm all ready to get all cozy and cuddled up and work on winter art.
I've started to realize that my tastes in color and pattern, especially for the Christmas season, were hugely impacted by a doll. Yes, a doll :) When I was in the second grade, my heart nearly exploded with joy when I received a Kirsten doll from American Girls dolls. She was so beautiful and so old timey and she came with old timey clothes and books and accessories. Basically, all the stuff that I still love. My doll was Swedish and so I think I filed away that traditional rustic look with red and white away in my little brain as 'the most beautiful Christmas stuff ever."

I love:
RED. Anytime, anywhere.
Good sweet coffee
Braids, braids and more braids!
Pretty old timey and comfy clothes
Red plaids and checks
Red knitted things

I still have my Kirsten doll. She spends her days at the top of a closet most days, but my little one is always eager to get her hands on her. She loves all the little clothes and accessories too. She hated to put her down before school, so I've left the doll out for her when she gets home. She knows she has to be gentle, because Kirsten is old now.

But her influence is not! I'm scheming up ways to bring more Swedish Christmas inspiration into my own decor, although some of it is already there subliminally. I really want a straw goat! I love the straw ornaments. And the candles. And I cant wait for the greenery and fresh garlands to be out. I'm thinking I need to make some St. Lucia buns. Wondering if Audrey would wear the St. Lucia crown.....

You can bet that this infatuation will spill over into my art. It already has! Just wait til you see what's on the art table.....

Til next time,

Artful Blogging

Not long ago I got a very nice email in my inbox. The ladies over at Artful Blogging wanted to include my blog banner in their 'banners we love" section of the magazine! I was so thrilled and excited, because Artful Blogging is such a beautiful and high quality publication. So when I received my copy of the magazine in the mail, I was so excited to find my banner there among the pages!

Blogging is such a curious thing--- its gotten to the point now where I cant imagine how my art would be without it--- without the comradery, friendship, feedback, inspiration and insight that it affords me, painting away by myself in a little house out in Oklahoma. The magazine too is full of amazing eye candy and inspiration, and I hope you get a chance to flip through this issue!

And now, back to painting; always the order of the day! I've almost completed the works I'm doing for a gallery exhibit at Deep Fork in OKC in a couple of months and then it will be on to December shows!

Hope you are well and warm on this chilly day,

Tasha Tuesday

Yesterday we visited a pumpkin patch where the pumpkins were, to us, incidental. We wanted to get our hands on some adorable goats and sheep!

I cant help but think of Tasha Tudor when I see funny little goats and creatures such as these. They have such personality! And their eyes! I just want to cuddle and kiss them. Yes, goats. I think my little one feels the same.

Are you an animal lover? What little creature tugs at your heart every time you see it? I think anything furry and the least bit cuddly looking gets me every time ;)

Happy Tasha Tuesday!~