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Art With Heart, Charity Print Week 1

    As I sit here typing this afternoon at my dining room table--- in a house warm with central heat, electricity and heck! even wifi! I know I am tremendously blessed. We are fed, clothed, loved, safe. And I've been so fortunate too that so many of you have decided to buy from my little etsy shop for Christmas gifts for your friends and family! And since you and I are both pretty blessed and I have art and you need gifts....I thought: hey! Let's put a little love and kindness out into the world!

   And so, this Advent, I'm doing a little "Art with Heart" special in my etsy shop. Each Sunday of Advent, I will choose a worthy charity that I would like to support, and a print that I think corresponds to the charity in some way--- and offer a portion of the sales of that print to the charity.

   So--- it's really easy! If you like the print and would like to support the charity, simply buy the print in the shop! I will take $10 of the $18 purchase price and donate it to the charity at the end of the week. I will let you know at the end of the week how much we've raised, and show you in some way (whether a screen shot of my donation receipt, or whatever proof of donation I get from the charity) that the donation has been made.

   That way we both get to do some good, and Advent is the PERFECT time to do this!

   This week's charity print is:

and the Charity is:

    This is a favorite charity of mine, especially since I can earmark funds to go directly to Orthodox Christian refugees escaping the crisis of the Middle East. The original of this print was also auctioned off for IOCC last year, and so I feel like THIS print--- showing a young Iraqi Christian girl praying before an icon belongs to the plight of these people. God have mercy on them. And let every bit we can give go to help them.

FREE Printable: St. Nicholas Day!

   Hello and happy first Sunday of Advent! We've got our candles and wreath all ready on the table and we are ready to dine by candle light--- one little candle's worth of candlelight--- this evening! I going to TRY to make myself savor every special bit of this holiday season, but I can't help but look forward a tiny to bit to one of my very favorite days--- St. Nicholas Day!

   The feast day of Dear St. Nick is December 6, and a Sunday! We will be attending our church's St. Nicholas Festival and I'll be taking some of my art up to the little bazaar they have there too. I've also got a special treat for you--- this FREE St. Nicholas coloring page, which you can download and print HERE.

  I cant wait to see what pretty scenes everyone comes up with! And YES, adults are allowed to color too! I mean....I color pretty much every day, don't I? :D

  Thanks to everyone who has shopped the etsy store with the HOLLYJOLLY coupon code this weekend! And dont forget--- you have through today to take advantage of the sale! 20% off EVERYTHING! :D

   Happy Advent!~!

SALE This Weekend!~

   Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!~ And now....it's time to start thinking about CHRISTMAS!

   To help you get in the holly jolly holiday spirit, I'm having a sale in my shop, this weekend only!~ Use the coupon Code HOLLYJOLLY and get 20% off EVERYTHING!~

  I've also got big plans for Advent, with a charity print selected each week:

Stay tuned for more information!~!
have a wonderful weekend!~

Walnut & Indigo

     The colors of late November are lovely; deep and muted, the autumn blazes have faded and now things are mellowing with warmth as the north wind picks up and the trees become bare once more. That deep, moody brown becomes the central color of this part of the autumn--- before the evergreens and reds of Christmas take over.
    Lately Natasha has been simmering some black walnut hulls in our studio--- and that very scary looking bubbling brew has turned some of her beautiful yarn and fabrics this gorgeous nut-brown hue, which seems the perfect color for November.
   We also got into the indigo we've been hording for months and months now....stirring it up in the backyard and then dipping almost everything we could get our hands on this gorgeous deep blue!

  I've been putting back different skeins of yarn from Shepherd's Cross that I could dye, and I also dyed some cotton muslin with the plan to make Robbie a baby quilt for his birthday. My vision is to make a simple star quilt with the indigo blue and the muslin. I'm so excited to get started on it!

   The kitties have been out on the rock patio too, playing in the fading garden and sunning themselves on the warmed rocks. The only kitten we have left in need of a home is Cinder, the black kitten. She is so sweet--- and her soft jet fur is like velvet. And her eyes--- all the kitties have inherited their mama's autumn gold eyes. They are the sweetest!

  And so--- as the last of the dyed fibers dry on the line today, I'm thinking about Christmas gifts and quilt making. I also need to get going on ornaments, but probably wont take on any big painting projects until Christmas is over. I want to spend December enjoying the season and making things for my family and friends.

  I see lots of knitting and sewing in my near future--- as Tasha and I settle in at the Prairie House with all our newly dyed things. And hopefully....my hands wont be blue any more by Christmas, haha!~

Thanksgiving Blessings,

New Painting: Forest Lucia

     For several weeks I had this little painting tucked up on my painting table--- "Forest Lucia", bringing wheat to the winter birds from her cozy little red "stuga" on a Christmas morning. It's become a bit of a tradition for me to create a St. Lucia scene each Christmas, and I'm very pleased with the Lucia of this year!~

   I added many of my personal loves in this piece--- the fair isle style mittens, the cardinals, the little house tucked into the snow. This Lucia doesnt have candles in her wreath because, I guess I'm just a mom first before an artist--- I kept thinking "what a fire hazard to go out in the forest with your head on fire!" So, she's candleless ;)

   I just posted some fresh made prints of this piece in my etsy shop, and I'm really happy with how crisp and lovely they turned out. If you have a soft spot in your heart for Swedish Christmas, you may just love them too!

  And so....I feel like as we round the corner towards Advent that the holiday season is well and truly upon us. It's exciting but also a bit overwhelming--- everything seems to want to happen at once. I have to fight to keep on top of things, and sometimes I fail. Sometimes I have to say 'no' to things I want to do, or feel like I should do, just because....well, there just arent enough hours in the day.

  I've been trying to keep on top of my art endeavors, but then life throws curve balls--- like Robbie burning his poor little hands yesterday and a rushed trip to the emergency room. He is fine--- poor buddy-- and the whole ordeal served to remind me what really matters this holiday season. No one is going to care how clean the windows are or if I've cleaned the sink. It's these little ones I need to put at the center of these days.

  Anyhow--- wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving to my American friends, and many blessings as we head towards Advent!~

New Printable! 24 Day Advent Calendar

   It's so hard to believe that Advent is just around the corner! Perhaps because we still have flowers blooming here in Oklahoma, we havent even had a proper frost. Didnt I just buy pumpkins? But here it is, Advent on our doorstep!

  I created this fun little calander to use for the month of December. I added drawings of fun winter things like birds and ornaments and trees, and drawings to mark special days such as St. Nicholas Day, Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucia Day and Christmas Eve.

   You're welcome to download this FREE PDF to use at home, church, school or Sunday school. Its for free personal use. I'd love to see it when you're done too! You can tag #colorAE on instagram if you'd like to share!

   Enjoy and I hope you have a Blessed Advent!~

Behind The Paintings: Candle Light Prayers

      This week I'm starting a new feature here on the blog--- "Behind The Paintings"-- where I'll talk about what inspired some of my favorite paintings in the past and sort of 'what was going on' when I was creating them! I hope you'll join me for these little peeks back at past paintings! Should be fun! :D

    One of my favorite paintings I've created is this one called "Candlelight Prayers." It shows a mother and daughter in a little cabin on a snowy winter's night, lighting candles in front of an icon.

   What is so special to me about this painting is, it was my first 'religious family scene' painting. I was just starting to dip my toe in the water of that sort of art. This is the first icon I ever painted as well, and I loved creating this little scene that held so much emotion and back story, something that really came from my heart.
   I painted this in 2011, and we had just started our family faith journey. 2011 is the year we were baptized (it was a bit of a whirlwind love affair for us, we first attended on St. Nicholas Day and were baptized at Easter Vigil and confirmed in May.) 

  But at this point I was still pretty self conscious about putting anything too religious in my art. However, I wanted to create something that felt warm and lovely and peaceful--- which was how I was now viewing faith, and I wanted to share it in my art.

   People always ask "is this a picture of you?" and really its not, although I'm a mom with brown hair and have a blond daughter ;) Sometimes things just work out that way! Like how my bearded guys tend to resemble my husband--- I guess he's just the beardy guy I know best ;)

    Another thing that I love about this painting is the folksy motifs, like on the girl's bonnet and the dresser. I also painted a little icon on the dresser (technically--- my first Jesus??)

   I didn't really have a nationality in mind for them, I just wanted them to be folksy and old timey and drew from Scandinavian and Russian motifs.

   Looking back now, I think this painting was probably a turning point in my art into what it is now. Before this time frame, I was doing more whimsical, collage based art. Then collage art became really popular and I decided what I really wanted to do was more illustrative. Instead of little whimsical portraits, I started creating more detailed scenes, and started making the art contain more of a story. And to me, Candlelight Prayers is still one of my favorites--- when I started finding a way of painting what was more 'me' and something I felt really proud of.

   The connection it has made with others around the country--- and the world--- has been so inspiring too! I love that it has meaning to people across denominational lines. That it sparks fond memories and has meaning for others as well.

  This piece is still going strong in my etsy shop, and is available as an 8x10 print or Christmas postcards. Perhaps there is a little meaning in it for you as well?


A New Chapter...

     Today is kind of a big deal. Robbie has started preschool at our church and today was his first day. Putting on his little back pack (filled not with books but with some extra diapers and a change of clothes) and handing him his little lunch pail, he suddenly looked like a kid. My baby is no baby....he is growing up!

   Although it was sad to turn around and walk out the door without him (although he's with lots of great people, friends are there, heck--- our PRIEST is there!) I know this is going to be an exciting new chapter for me and my art.

   I'll be honest, it took a good long time to relax this morning. Probably a couple of hours. When you're on toddler patrol, you are vigilant; those mama bat ears are always on ("did I just hear something that sounded like a toilet lid being lifted?!?!") and you are always poised to snatch away the toy before its hurled at the window or something is snatched off the table.

  Even when I painted at nap times, my ears were on, listening for a cry, and so to find myself suddenly....able to do what I need to do and concentrate fully? It is....miraculous

  Because, I'll be honest, I am a person who needs quiet and still. Things that are not readily available to a mother of small children! To paint well and with feeling I need to curl up into myself and get in that special place where my mind can roam and my hands can work. Painting, for me, is meditative--- even prayerful. I have fidgeted around since I was a child, yet painting has always been able to make me still and relax.

  And as my family can well attest to-- I need that time. For my well-being and everyone elses! My hope is that I can use this time not to just to get things done, but to recharge so I can connect with everyone in a much happier and less harried state of being. 

   I admit though, I'm looking forward to picking up my little buy and snuzzling that soft baby neck and giving him a big ol' kiss. I hope he's making friends, playing trucks (kid loves him some trucks!) and being too busy to miss mama too much.

  This evening after we get big sis from school, we are going to go on a little field trip that will be pretty interesting--- we will be attending the Mass for the relics of St. Maria Goretti at Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa (You can read about that time I snuck into the cathedral HERE, lol....)

  I had originally planned to go alone and meet up with a friend, but things seem to be working out otherwise, so I'll have the kids in tow. I'm hoping its a special evening, at least for Audrey who will be old enough to remember it, and a wonderful experience for us to share.  Sometimes I feel like I stumble over trying to explain faith in words, and that "doing and showing" is a better option for me to give to my kids.

   That's sort of what the painting above is about....It's called "A Kiss For St. George" and is all about the incorporating of faith into the every day family routine....of showing and nurturing, of bringing faith into life and thought in children's every life and not just at church. This is something I'm trying to work on myself. Learning a lot as I go, but also getting to know (and see in action!) some really amazing people.

   I just recently had this painting made into prints and you can purchase it now in my etsy shop. I'm rather proud of my little St. George slaying the dragon! I think that's probably the first dragon I've ever painted....lol....I also scattered toys and shoes around on the floor because, well, that's what you're living when you've got kids. I suppose the meaning behind this piece is that sacred times can happen in the middle of mess, routine, and in any ordinary space. You just have to look for it.

   And so.....this evening we will close our adventures of the day with a visit with a saint. How special is that? And if the toddler minds and is well behaved, well, I will truly believe in miracles! ;)

  Til next time,

Christmas Postcards are IN!

   Hi friends!~
   So happy to share with you that my Christmas postcards are IN and they are now available in my etsy shop! I've got nine designs that are lovely for the holidays--- and if you'd like envelopes, there is a listing just for envelopes so you can get just as many as you'll need!

   Hopefully you see a set (or two or three or four!) that speak to you and that you'd like to share with family and friends. I always appreciate so much when you choose my little business to send your Christmas greetings!~
   Tis (almost!) the season!~