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Around Here Lately

       Things are good here. So, so good. I feel like things are starting to click in a lot of ways and I'm thankful. Funny, we will have lived here 2 years next month. We STILL have things that are in boxes that were shoved in closets or in the garage that I'm rediscovering (or ruthlessly throwing in the trash.) When we moved in, I was about 6 weeks pregnant and bone tired. I was exhausted (like asleep before sundown!) for most of the pregnancy, and then I had a newborn. Things got done s-l-o-w-l-y.

   But recently we've hit a good groove. Robbie is now getting big enough to play as I work and have a dependable nap schedule. We've also been making some exciting new plans with the art space and good friends, and plan on lots of adventures. Thank you to everyone who has been so kind about my painting and so supportive. It means so much to me!

   On the art table right now I'm working on a little commission and also a new Madonna and Child that has taken on sort of a southwest flavor. I'm liking it! I'll have that to show you very soon!~

  Til then, have a great week!~

Tasha Tuesday: Going to Tasha's!

 From all my books and all the photographs I've enjoyed of Tasha Tudor's home and garden, I feel like I know it in many ways. I never really thought I'd get to see it with my own eyes though. 
   However--- I am so excited that this summer, that's going to change!

   At the end of June we are loading up and headed out east to stay with friends--- who also happen to be Tasha Tudor fans! While we are out there, we are going to be part of a tour of Tasha's garden and home given by the Tudor family.
   My friend Patricia and I are going to bring out daughters on the tour, and I can't wait to share this with Audrey. It will definitely be a day to remember!

  Here in Oklahoma, we are entering into the third growing season we've spent in this house. Plants are starting to mature and finally I'm not too pregnant or too wrapped up in a newborn to be able to work in our garden. We've got two little peach trees, one of which actually has some fruit on it (for now...I'm looking at you, squirrels) and we're putting in more herbs and veggies.
   I can't wait to see Tasha's garden and get inspiration for our own space. And her house....I dont know what I'm more excited to see. Her kitchen? Her parlor? Probably her little corner where she painted. I am dying to see that. I am going to try to hold it together and not fan girl all over myself. Try. ;)
  Thanks for coming by to visit me today. I hope you're enjoying the new Tasha Tuesdays! I can't promise to get them done every Tuesday, but I will try to do them more regularly! And I'm sure I'll be very inspired after this summer!

   Talk with you later and---
Happy Tasha Tuesday!~

Around Here Lately

   Spring is here. It's getting so pretty and green outside. My roses are all lush and just about to pop open-- I can't resist roses. The previous owner had planted several in the gardens around the house, one of which is a pretty old fashioned yellow rose. I love taking Robbie on a walk around the yard, looking to see what has budded or bloomed or stirred up from its winter sleep.
   When we're not puttering around the yard, I've always got some sort of project going; I've been reading some great books lately too--- My Life With The Saints by James Martin SJ and Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. While they are very different books, they both about people searching for their own personal faith and finding it in the traditions of Christianity. 
   My Life With The Saints details Martin's journey into the Jesuit Priesthood and how different saints inspire him or help him in his life and faith. It's an awesome book and has really taught me a lot about different saints. It's so good, and uplifting and inspiring.
   Searching For Sunday is about Held Evan's journey from doubt to rediscovery of faith through the sacraments of the traditional church. 

  I've been painting, of course, and making some jewelry for myself. I got some saint medals at a local Catholic book and gift shop and some wood and ceramic beads. The new bracelets I made for myself have Saint Bernadette and Saint Therese on them. Two lovely french ladies :)
   I'm also working on more commission work and some paintings for the shop and new prints down the line. It may be spring, but I'm thinking about Christmas! It always sneaks up on me! Wont be long and I'll be playing the Christmas music and painting snow!

   And although it seems like I'm getting a lot done if I list it out--- I often feel like Im not. It's just the place in life I'm at right now... I can't remember the last time I was able to sit down with a project and finish it. There's always something going on, and of course--- a toddler in the house! I know this wont last forever and am trying to be patient with myself. And maybe in about 3 years, my house will all be clean at one time! But that's how it goes. In the meantime, I'm so glad I get the opportunity to do what I love, even if its in snatches, and be home with my kids.

   Well, back to my projects! :D thanks for coming by today!~ Talk with you later,

Mother's Day Sale!

    Just wanted to let you know--- I have a new coupon code ready for any mother's day art you may need this spring! I've got lots of prints for all kinds of mamas. Check my etsy shop and use the code mama15 to get 15% off your entire purchase!

Tasha Tuesday: Japanese Tasha Book

  Hello there my friends, and look what we have here! A new "Tasha Tuesday" to enjoy! Tasha Tudor has been such an inspiration to me ever since I stumbled upon The Private World of Tasha Tudor in a discount bin at Borders. The cover had been ripped, and the book was discounted. I picked it up, and fell in love. Like most great loves in my life it was hard and fast. And she continues to inspire me with her beautiful art, amazing talents and unique vision of following (as Thoreau says) "the direction of her dreams."

   A few weeks ago I discovered that a centennial celebration of Tasha's life (she would have been 100 this coming August) was going on at the Tasha Tudor Mini Museum in Japan and was inspired to look for a book about Tasha in Japanese.
   Because yes! The Japanese love Tasha Tudor. Her old fashioned life, the beauty she created with her home, garden and illustration, her unique vision of a life lived on her own terms--- these values don't just speak to Americans, but to others around the world. 
   The Japanese have such an appreciation for beauty and arm and well lived life, that they are also drawn to Tasha. And since I love the natural Japanese aesthetic and Tasha Tudor, well, the combination was too much to pass up! And so when I saw this book on Amazon, I had to buy it and see for myself how Tasha translates in Japanese. 
   And though I can't read the text, the lovely photos, the simple and beautiful layout and the thoughtfully arranged art and words I am very happy with this new addition to my Tasha library, and thought you might enjoy a little glimpse as well!

   The book was lovingly put together by Hayao Isuhara who, along with Masako Meshino, opened up the Tasha Tudor Mini Museum in Yamanashi, Japan. If you'd like to find out more about the mini museum, you can visit their website, here. The Tasha Tudor and Family Facebook page also shared several photos of the opening of the centennial celebration if you'd like to see the photos and texts in English. The photos in the book are by Richard Brown. There are also some illustrations of Tasha's that I dont recall seeing before.

   Luckily, a friend's uncle has lived in Japan for many years and he was able to translate the cover for our benefit. According to Uncle Jack (thanks, Uncle Jack!!) The cover says:
" Words from Tasha Tudor Special Edition-
Enjoy that you are living yourself. I don't care how old I look to other people. I can live my life in my dignified manner even though I am 90 years old. If I do what I can do now. This is the special book artist Tasha wrote about her own sense of values."

   As for me, I think it's so wonderful that people across the world from each other can come together in shared interests, all combined in the fascinating person that was Tasha Tudor. I'd love to see a future collaboration where Japanese books and English language books can be translated both ways, and perhaps we fans can unite in out interests as well. Because even though the sun goes down here in the US, and the sun is already up on Wednesday in Japan, there are Tasha fans in both places....perhaps sitting down with a cup of hot tea, curling up with a good book, and getting ready to "Take Joy."

Thanks for joining me for Tasha Tuesday, friends!~

Inspiring Places: Holy Family Cathedral; Or, that time St. Terese unlocked a church...

   Since the weather is proving to be nice again, and the trees and flowers are all in bloom, I have been feeling the urge to get out and explore a bit. There are many gorgeous churches in downtown Tulsa, and since I'm only about 20 minutes away from that area, I thought it would make a nice morning trip to go exploring.
   I settled on Holy Family Cathedral at 8th and Boulder as a nice place to visit. I'd seen photos of a friend's wedding there, and others had also raved about how gorgeous it was. My only anxiety was--- these grand old churches are usually locked tight when there isnt a service going on. Sadly, vandalism keeps them from remaining constantly open, but I was hopeful there would be an office open somewhere within the depths of the building and someone would take pity on me and let me get a glimpse. After all, aren't cathedrals sites to see from far and wide?
   So Robbie and I set off, me saying a prayer that we'd be able to get in--- and since I'd just written down a quote that morning from St. Therese of Lisieux (a saint I've been reading about lately), I tagged her onto the prayer as well. Never hurts to have back up, right?

     So we arrived, parked, and slowly made out way to the Cathedral. I can be a little Type A and nervous about these sort of situations--- I'm one of those people who need to look at a map before I go somewhere new and feel anxious if I haven't seen a place with my own eyes (but once I've seen it, I can find my way there pretty easily.)
   The cathedral was huge and beautiful, but odds were--- very locked up. I made my way to the corner to cross the street, feeling a little dread that whether we'd driven all the way out here not to get in, when a bus pulled up at the corner. Off the bus filed dozens of private school students and a handful of parents. They all wore various shades of light and navy blue--- ironically the same color of clothing I was wearing.
   Taking advantage of this fantastic coincidence, I joined in with the group as they filed into the cathedral-- some of the boys even held the door open for me. Talk about a warm welcome!

    Walking through the old wooden doors, I was at once met with the scent of incense mingled with Easter lilies that still adorned the altar. The school children headed up to the choir loft with their tour guide and I held back, Robbie asleep in his carrier, just taking in the sights. 
   Holy Family is a gorgeous cathedral--- richly decorated in the heavenly and intense shades of red, blue and gold. The cathedral has a fascinating history, as well as the school attached to it. The school was first founded in 1899 as a school for Native American girls, but is now a private school for both boys and girls. The stained glass windows within the Cathedral are copie of windows created in Munich, Germany by the Royal Bavarian Art Institute and installed in 1913 and 1914. The original windows were later destroyed during WWII, but the copies are still beautiful and vibrant here in Oklahoma.

    I was able to spend some nice quiet time in the cathedral while Robbie slept, and workers silently replenished candles and cleaned pews. I crept around snapping photos here in there and just soaking up the beautiful atmosphere. As I circled around back towards the door, I noticed these beautiful large paintings on the side--- one of St. Anthony, and another of St. Therese of Lisieux-- The Little Flower. There she was, smiling right down at me! I wouldn't have been a bit surprised if she held the keys to the cathedral in her pocket. At that moment, I felt like this had indeed been a very special morning.

   Hoping you have a special moment like this as well, as you start this new week.
Thanks for coming by to visit me!~

        Hi there, and hope you're having a beautiful Saturday! I started the day off curled up on the porch with a hot cup of coffee watching the baby as a nice spring rain come through. Those type of slow mornings are sheer perfection to me!
    Today though, as I type this from the dining room watching the rain continue to come down, I am sharing with you one of my latest commissions! This is a portrait of Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra, the last royal couple of Imperial Russia. This painting was patterned off an old postcard illustration of the Romanovs, and I am pleased with how it came out! I think I might even make up some prints if anyone is interested.
 I've been infatuated with the Romanovs for a long time. I first read "The Romanovs: The Final Chapter" when I was 15 and was obsessed. It's sort of insane to think that was nearing on 20 years ago. WUT. Surely I'm not old enough to have been a teenager 20 years ago!?!
   Something about the story, the opulence, the close family, the bittersweet turn of events and the tragic ending captured my imagination. At the time I read it, remains of two of the children (Alexei plus a sister thought to be Anastasia) were not found in the grave, and so speculation continued to intensify that at least one of the children may have escaped. Alas, that was not to be.
   However, a few years ago, the entire Romanov family was declared saints in the Orthodox Christian Church. Also, Alexandra's sister, who had also married into Russian royalty, is also a saint. You can read more about her here, she's called "Elizabeth the New Martyr."

   This painting, obviously, focuses more on happier times when Nicholas and Alexandra were on their thrones (not to say that he didn't make some big mistakes as tsar. But he was, essentially, a kind man who was a good father and a devoted to his faith. He was (as many were,) -- a victim of his times and not equipped to handle the changes happening. But I digress---)
   There is just something so romantic about old russia (well, as long as you weren't a peasant!) the incredible arts, the majesty, the ancient and beautiful faith, the churches, they mystery of such a large and majestic landscape....it has captured my heart and imagination for many years.

     This painting is now in it's new home, living with another lover of the story of the Romanovs. Funny how they touch so many people. Their memory is indeed eternal!

   In other news-- I signed on for the Amazon affiliate program that gives blogs a small percentage from sales of items that are linked from a blog. That means, for instance, if you wanted to buy the Romanov book shown above and followed the link through my site, I'd get a small return from Amazon. This should work for any book/movie/etc I link from my blog to amazon. At any rate, I thought maybe it would get some a little paint and brush money, lol! So if you ever do that, thanks so much! :D

   Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and Blessed Holy Saturday to our Orthodox friends!~

Exciting News!

        So I've got some exciting news! For the past few weeks I've been working on a special project for Georgia based rug manufacturer American Dakota. They've asked me to create some painting designs that can be turned into rugs! I can't wait to see how they turn out in fiber form! 
    And best of all, they are manufactured right here in the US and are a family run business. I think that's the perfect scenario for turning something I make into a good that you can in turn use in your home!
   As of right now, my designs will probably be featured in their spring 2016 collection. They will be sold through various retailers around the country, and you can bet I will share who those companies are when we know who has decided to carry the designs. I think I'll be able to sell some of the myself too, we will just have to see how things are looking in 2016!

Rug and pillow design by American Dakota

   On top of that, I am still plugging away on my commissions list and also contemplating Christmas 2015! The folk art just doesn't stop around here, and you know that's how I like it! ;)

   Hope you're having a great week! Talk soon,

Holy Week and Easter Blessings!

And here we are, on the other side of Holy Week and Easter! There are few times in the year that are as rich and awash in symbolism and thought. Advent and Christmas are probably the only other times that compare.
   This year we decided to really delve into the tradition of Holy Week and attended each Service-- Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Day. Robbie and I and our good friend (his God Mother) even did a 'watch' on Good Friday Morning, where you sit with the Host until it is used again for the Good Friday service, symbolic of waiting in the garden with Christ as we wished the disciples to do just before his arrest.
   There is also some really gorgeous and moving artwork that depicts Holy Week, and I tend to be drawn to the old OLD stuff. Peeling frescos and ancient paintings. These are the things that I am drawn to.
   I also got the chance to use my photography skills during Holy Week and Easter, a touch back to my newspaper days. However, no one calls me up and yells at me about the photos, as they used to do at the newspaper. Hurray! ;)
  I love doing it though, I love the challenge of trying to silently capture the emotion and the drama of the services that are taking place. Extra bonus challenge? Doing it with a baby strapped to my body in a Tula, haha! I'm extra proud of the photos I got at the Easter Vigil, which is done in darkness and candle light. That really put my camera to the test, but I got some great photos.

   For the Triduum, I put away my painting so I could focus on the activities of the day, but now I am refreshed and ready to get back to work! Lots of things in the works, and more to share! Can't wait to show you!~


An Easter Gift For You: Free Desktop Wallpaper

    Just in time for Easter and the arrival of spring, I thought I'd make a little gift for you! The image above was created to be a desktop wallpaper for your computer, if you'd like to use it. All you need to do is click on the image to enlarge it, then right click and 'save as' to your own computer. From there you should be able to make it into a desktop image on your computer.

   Here in Oklahoma it is a beautiful spring day. Things are greening up, the trees are budding out and the tulips and daffodils are bobbing in the wind. It's Holy Week this week and we are just about to start the procession of Holy Days with Maundy Thursday (today!) Good Friday, Easter Vigil on Saturday evening and then, of course, Easter Day. 

  These days are beautiful because the services--- the prayers and traditions, are so old. As old as Christianity itself. The History Nerd in me loves that. And I love that feeling of connection to centuries upon centuries of others taking part in these same traditions, praying the same prayers, observing the same meaningful days.

   I will also take a little pause in my painting to observe these days and enjoy time with my little family. Robbie is now big enough (and mobile enough!) to hunt Easter eggs! Oh, and thinking of Easter makes me think of Easter dresses and the fact that I need to buy some hose.....oh, and it will be time to break out the ol' sponge rollers for Audrey ;) she's gonna LOVE that, haha!

  Well, back to work for me. Preparing for these days of...preparation! Wishing you a blessed Holy Week!~