Little Spring Blooms

I just love springtime.  Over the 15 years we've lived in our home I've planted many, many flowering plants in our yard.  I learned quickly that our soil LOVES plants and actually accelerates their growth patterns.  I'd like to think it's the love planted right in with the bulbs, and there may be a little truth to this statement, but mostly it's just amazing soil.  Anyhoo....this time of year little blooms start appearing all over the yard that have been sleeping quietly throughout the winter.  One of my favorites is the candy tuff.  At least I think that's it's name.  It comes back every year with little white cotton candy like blooms.  It's low to the ground with deep green fern-like foliage.  It makes me happy seeing it everyday from now until winter calls it back to the ground.  These blooms play a huge role in my art.  They do.  The innocence of their existence inspires many a "Spring Bloom" painting in the studio.  Just like this one below:
And now they inspire some new jewelry.  I, like many of you out there, are smitten with these tiny flower cabochons.  I can not quit buying them on etsy.  I have hundreds(seriously). But figuring out what to do with them, now that was the trick.  Until I made the birdcage and mattie bird necklace for my Solo Show Opening outfits the flowers were all nestled in a divided plastic container.  I guess a bit like flowers in winter waiting to bloom.  And then it just sorta hit me.....why can't I do this with these?
Well, spring has sprung in the studio FULL force.  I am a bit overwhelmed with myself to be honest, the ideas are spilling out so fast I can't slow down.  What is going on right now in this little sunroom studio is quite special.  And I can not wait to share it with you all once they are finished.  I'm growing guys!!!! 


Mark of Life

I just wanted to pop in and show another painting from the week....

This is my new bird, she kind of made her way into all my paintings this week.  I found her in a file of bird inspirations(yes I have files of inspirations labeled according to subject, birds being the largest file!).  I just love her position, the way she's looking back on her nest. Don't we as parents always find ourselves doing that?  Standing back, watching and studying our children?  Sometimes I can't help but stare and marvel at what God has blessed Billy and I with to raise.  It's just about wordless the love I feel towards my two.   And that love, well it came spewing out tri-fold this afternoon.

Today was the district 4-H BB tournament at the county fairgrounds.  Rain had been threatening to fall all day, and yet it held off until the very end.  Of course.  It came down like freakin cats and dogs.  We were all hanging out in the beautiful barn type structure avoiding the severe rain when several Dad's began receiving calls from panicked Moms that tornado's were headed our way.  Ok.  It was raining really hard, but tornadoes?.....and then came the hail (a sure sign of coming tornadoes)........and then came the 4-H director who quietly asked our coach to direct all of us into the main building for safety.  You are talking about 150 parents and kids evacuating one building and going into another in the middle of a serious storm.    William was like, "Mom it's not a REAL tornado is it?"  "Well son, I don't think we'd be evacuating if it wasn't."  Mailey then got hysterical.  Crying and crying.  I'm holding her on my hip, William is attached to me as close as he can while Billy ran to find our jackets.  Finally we all gather in the hallway of the main building on the fairgrounds property and wait.  Mailey is still crying..... She's panicked that the roof is going to fly off (which given the structure we were in is not far fetched.) and that Lily is home alone.  William is saying it's not really happening Mom.  Billy is on his phone trying to get a signal like all the other Dad's.  And then it was over.  Just like that.  The tornado did come.....quite close too.  I am not sure the damage to the area but pray that families were safe. 

During what seemed like hours in the building with all the other shooters and parents I felt an unbelievable surge of love for my family.  Like serious joy and gratitude that they are in my life.  Of course while standing huddled together the crazy thoughts came in my head.  You know, the flashes of what will I do if ...... happens?  And just like the Mamma bird in my painting, I looked back at my family and remembered the words, "what a wonderful mark of life".  Their mark may be faint right now, they are so young, but their mark on my heart runs so deep it hurts sometimes. 
Which leads me to the jewelry I modeled after some favorite nest paintings.  A gentle spirit.  Yep.  That's me.  All fragile and tender and sometimes too cautious with my heart.  Today my spirit was tested and I think it passed.  I think we all tasted the fear, and overcame it with the love we feel for one another. 
I am home now, cooking a yummy dinner and keeping a close eye on them all.  Watching from afar as they continue to make their mark.


About Those Threads

Like I said, the threads I am using lately are really coming together nicely.  In fact my art is beginning to replicate itself in all forms.  Take for instance this lovely texture painting of a bird cage.  It was inspired by the image below:

Of this birdcage.  Yep.  I am freaking out a bit over the new metalsmithing techniques added to my bag of tricks.  Wait til you see how I translate the flower texture paintings into jewelry!!
About the words in the painting.....keep your heart open.  Man I've been doing that lately. Like WIDE open.  And geessssh if amazing things aren't happening.  I know it's because I am begining to let go of fears and those whatthehellareyoudoing monsters from my creative brain.  I know my Solo Show has had a major influence on this shift in my attitude.  Of course it has given me a ginormous boost in confidence which is translating into energy towards working in the studio that is just flat out inspiring!!  So hold onto your laptops peeps.  This blog is going into overdrive the next few days as I share the journey!


New Threads

In early January I wrote a blog post about finding a common thread.  In the post I wrote that finding your thread is important to creating a body of work and giving yourself an identity in the art world. Here's the thing though, I fight that thread. Yep. I have a beautifully woven "mattie blue" and orange sweater hanging in the studio.  And darn if I don't I feel the need to add something crazy like purple to it every once in awhile.  We all fight the urge to create the trend, to create the what's hot now.  But truly, if you continue down an authentic path with your art, you will find yourself growing.   Now I'm not going to get past my stellar 5'4", but I can certainly grow in my artistic strengths and trust the journey more.  

The past two weeks I have been literally growing by leaps and bounds.  I'm finding my favorite threads again.  And trying not to use any purple!  One of my favorite techniques in painting is to add a texture layer base to wood, carve into the layer, add rich opaque paint layers then an oil pastel rubbing.  I know, sounds interesting right?  Here is what the texture layers look like while drying: 

When I do this technique the ideas flow so fast from the sketchbook to the wood.  Literally I was able to draw out 8 compositions in 2 hours.  Now painting the compositions, well that takes a little longer.  I'll show you the next step Thursday after the paint layers have dried.  For now though, I've got to get some rest and start fresh in the morning!!


Energy in The Studio

I am loving the jewelry making energy right now.  The juices are in overdrive with texture, color and combining elements together!  Love it.  So here are some of the end results.  All of which I really wanted to keep in my own jewelry box.  :)

These last two have my original paintings reduced and printed onto porcelain tiles as the focal point.  I love infusing my jewelry pieces with little paintings.  I think it's a technique that sets my pieces apart from the rest.  And I am pretty sure one of a kind. 
These can be found in my booth at The Vintage-Flea in downtown Newnan.


I Puffy Heart This

When I get excited about something....like really excited, I say to my blog friends to express this joy that I "puffy heart" it.  Yep.  I don't puffy heart something unless, well it truly deserves such a title.  It's my 10 so to say.  Last week I was doing just as I promised and was visiting all your sweet blogs.  Yep....if you've left a comment in the past month I've been visiting your blogs.  And honestly I've enjoyed every minute getting to know who is reading and commenting here in Mattie's Social Circle.  It's amazing how much we have in common even across the ocean!  Wow!
So while visiting this one blog I found these PUFFY HEARTS!!!!  EKKKKKKK!!  Of course I hit her etsy page immediately and poured over them to find the perfect one for me.  A few moments later Tammy sent me the sweetest darn email....made me cry.....so here's the thing.

 As blog writers we have no idea what words we say will strike chord with who.  I just write what I feel, straight from the heart. Sometimes it's silly stuff, sometimes what I am making, and sometimes how I am feeling.  All those words though at some point are bound to connect us.  Me and you.  And I like that.  I like that my words make you happy, inspire you, encourage and challenge you.  I puffy heart that part of my job as an artist.  Yep.  And I really like the words on this puffy heart:

"she believed she could so she did"............wonderful words to live by.


What's On The Table

I seem to be spreading out a bit in the studio today.  Yep.  I started one jewelry project on my regular table last week and didn't want to clean it up because I'll be going back to it asap.  So instead I set up another table in the middle of the room.  And spread out!  You see, before Christmas I ordered TONS of findings for a new look.  I made one set of new jewelry items for my booth at The Vintage-Flea about a month ago.  And this week I decided it was time to finish the other pieces.  Finally.  I suppose I'm in a "checking things off the list" mood.  Most of the jewelry has beautiful dingy brass finish.  With lots surprise elements (like those clay birds...they were ornaments I found after Christmas!).  I really love the way all the pieces are coming together!

The pieces above are my original paintings reduced and printed onto porcelain tiles.  Beads were then hand wired for chain along with regular chain.  Oh, and they are displayed on my fabulous new mannequin half body forms that were decoupaged Monday!

If you are interested in any of these, come on down to The Vintage-Flea's Spring Open house this weekend!!


The To Do List....(from years ago)

So you know you have them, to do lists from years ago.  In my cleaning like a mad woman to get this house ready to sell I found a few of those projects packed away in the garage.  Which was fun!  So today I finished up a project from literally 3 years ago!  Yep.  I made the pillows in the brown chair below as a little sewing project for the new art studio.  By the way, see how much the studio has changed in 3 years!!  WOW! 

Today I stitched away on 6 pillows.  Now I have to tell the truth.  I did not make the white forms for these pillows today.  3 years ago I bought the outside and insides to make more of the bird pillows above.  And never got around to doing them.  Today however, I got the itch to sew and add the fun part, the NEST.  Oh my, I am in love with the way the nest turned out.  Funny thing is the other 5 pillows have the crewel work pieces I finished up this past summer.  I had one pillow form left and thought, maybe I could make a nest with the scraps from the other 5.  And well, it's a puffy heart thing.
  And the only one so far...........
So tell me, what's in your garage waiting to be finished by your creative heart?


Being A BB Coach

Morning guys!  Ok, so not the typical post for me, but like I always say, I want you to know me......not just the artist me.  Because in the end, the real life stuff is what inspires the art.  So yesterday was my Birthday.  (Yipee!!)  A person only gets so many birthdays that fall on a Saturday.  Right?  Instead of spending the day pampering myself, or better yet, spending money at Scott's Flea market, I spent the day with this amazing little 11 year old boy:

Our county has a very active 4-H Program.  You may have heard of it and think it's ALL about livestock.  Not true.   The 4-H extension in our county runs a wonderful school program for 5th grade during school hours.  That's part of the project achievement program.  There is an entire other tier to 4-H though called "Special Interest Groups".  That's when the horse and pony club, the chicken club, the goat club, cattle club, etc....come into play.  Those groups are all run by volunteers.  Yep.  Parents.  In the fall William brought home a flyer for the 4-H BB Team tryouts.  Cool right?  We went to the information night and found out that Coweta has a HUGE sport shooting program and that kids have earned FULL college scholarships to places as far as West Point for their shooting.  WOW.  I know. So here's what we had to do to get on the team:
1-  6 week gun safety course
2-  6 weeks of practice target shooting with the Daisy BB gun 
3-  at the end of that we had to both take a written NRA gun safety test and William had to shoot the Daisy BB target board
4-  the scores were added for the 4 positions shooting (prone, standing, sitting and kneeling) and the test.  The top 15 kids in the group made the team.  I think 30 tried out? 
5-got the call we made the team and team practices started at Christmas  

Yesterday was our first match.  In shooting you have a shooter and a coach.  And the coach  for BB is a parent.  And since Billy's life during legislative session is a bit overwhelming I chose to be the parent.  I LOVE IT!  Basically I cock and load the gun, sight the gun and try to keep my comments to a minimum when he shoots outside the black.  I wanted to take pics during shooting but since no one else was didn't.  I'll have Mailey take some during practice this week so you can see how it all works.  Really cool.  The day started at 7am....with the written test at 8:30 (Yes, gun safety is important!), and shooting starting at 9:30.  With 150 shooters it took all day.  So during down time we literally all hung out in lawn chairs enjoying the beautiful day.  Somehow the time seemed to fly.  Our next match is the end of March.  Now that he's gotten a taste, he has a goal:  shoot a 350 to earn the award vest.  Since he shot a 329 we are not too far off.  I am such a proud BB MOM!!

Anyhoo....so how did you guys spend your Saturday?


It's Really Happening

The day has come and this has been gently placed in our Georgia red clay soil:

Billy and I fell in love with this neighborhood 16 years ago.  Newly engaged and looking for an Atlanta suburb to live we found this little slice of heaven.  It was a sparkly new neighborhood.  Carefully we walked all the lots, chose the perfect pie shaped piece of property and quickly decided on the Portand B floor plan with added sunroom (my art studio now).  I think it took about 4 months to build the house we've now raised 2 children, 4 cats, one silly dog, 2 dwarf hamsters, one lizard and one turtle in.  It has been a dreamy little cottage.   Many laughs, many tears, many nights walking the halls with gasy babies and tender ears, many sleepovers, many dreams discussed and built in these walls.  I get a tiny bit emotion about leaving.  The house is tiny.  It is.  But it doesn't really bother me as much as it seems to others.  We use every square inch and then some.  I personally think a giant house with "pretty rooms" is a total waste of money. 

For 15 years now I've passed a house just like the one below.  Dreamed of what it looks like inside.  What it would be like to move.  And then it happened.  It's a wonderful story really.  And if we sell our house and get to move, I'll share the whole story.  For now I can't quit staring out the window at the sign in my yard.  My tummy is swirling with anticipation.  Fear I suppose too.  That we won't get to move.  Billy and I have already decided that should it not work, we are staying put and buying a lake house instead a few years down the road.  So I suppose either way it's all good.


The Statement Necklaces

Since childhood I've ALWAYS loved jewelry.  Not the fancy diamondy stuff either.  Costume pieces that make a statement.  I remember rummaging my Grandmother Sissy's jewelry box and being so mesmerized by the combination of colors and beads.  They had the coolest jewelry back then.  If you were to watch my outfits for one week you'd literally see 7 different jewelry looks.  My clothes, well recently in cleaning them out realized that I am a solid person....literally I wear jeans and some solid top daily.  I've decided this is because wearing patterns would certainly clash with the statement jewelry.  Yep.   

So, onto the jewelry making.  I guess my obsession with jewelry has crossed into making my own pieces to wear.  I love trying new techniques.....love.  For sometime I've wanted to continue the thread of my paintings into more wearable pieces.  I have a printing technique that can literally take my paintings and transfer the images onto tiny porcelain pieces.  Unfortunately the company has decided to discontinue most of the blanks I use, and I am down to the last handful of the pendants.  sigh.  Like I said though, I'm always on the hunt for a new idea to get the creative juices into overdrive.  So I pulled out Stephanie Lee's book one more time.  My past attempts at her techniques have failed.  This time I bought all the right materials and tools and with more than enough determination finished a few pieces.  And yes, I'm a widdle excited about the potential here!!!

This past weekend was my show in Birmingham.  With two opening receptions there had to be two statement necklaces.  Oh yes there did.  All the components of the pendants were hand cut and soldered together.  Even the little birdie I cut from a piece of sheet metal!  And yes, I hand wired the beads together.  I've got a nice little system for putting the bead chain together.  I love the way the metal and the beads compliment each other.
Last but not least, the pieces were texture hammered and stamped with sentiments. 
I've also made the main portions for a flower and a nest pendant.  Just like my paintings.  I hope to have some uploaded soon into Etsy.  I'll be sure to keep you posted!!  Hope you've had a creative week!


Coming Home.....The Show

Hey GUYS!!!!  I'm BACK.  I had to take a day to absorb all that happened this weekend.  Because it...was...amazing!!  Seriously.  We drove in from Atlanta Friday afternoon and got to the gallery around 4pm.  It was ALL ready, all set, and all so beautiful together!!  I know, I painted them so I am a little biased.  But to walk in and see the work I'd poured my heart and soul into for 6 weeks weeks straight finally on the walls and not the piled up in the garage,well it was a teary moment.  Actually I had many teary moments.  Let's see one was when I realized I'd received flowers from 4 different people (awwww), once when I walked in on Saturday and found Atlanta peeps standing in the gallery to surprise me (soooo cool) and last, that first glimpse into the room.  At that moment was an overwhelming sense of proudness.  A feeling that tingled all over my body that finally, I'd made it.  I've made history with my sweet paintings of birds, trucks and bikes.  Wow.

The gallery is in an old house Vero has renovated. My work filled the walls of the front left room.  The opening was 5-9PM Friday night at 1-6PM on Saturday.  So many friends and family members came  despite the horrible weather!  In fact, many of my friends from childhood have never seen my work in person.  Seeing as how I was the singing dancing chick in High School, the paintings are a new thing for them.  I liked seeing their expressions and hearing their comments.  Warmed my heart so!  Even parents of high school friends came to support me, and BUY!    Many of my parents friends came to support the show, and BUY as well!  We like that word, Vero and I.  :)

Flowers from BFF Aimee. 

Saturday I demonstrated my texture technique.  Those around were very intrigued, with many questions.  I actually got a little nervous....and I don't ever get nervous even when singing in front of hundreds!  The painting turned out adorable....look for it later in the week.  Hint:  there will be a give away!!!

I literally have 100's of pictures from the weekend.  Many with family and friends that attended.  I'll attempt to get those onto Facebook later this week.  Right now though, my Dad is here at the house and we are finishing up tons of projects around the house to get it on the market by the end of the week.  So I guess I should head on now.  Paint is calling me...and trim. 



This is absolutely the best word to describe today.  Seriously.  JOY.  No one can take it away, nope.  Because it's already been imprinted onto the day.  Today we leave for Alabama.  To the show.  THE show.  The one I've anticipated for months.  The one that I prepared for once and didn't get to have.  The one that snuck up on me and made me paint for dear life non stop.  The one that has tested friendships.  The one that has revealed true friendships.  The one that I can say is my "First Solo Show".  The only time ever that I can say that.  And it gives me so much JOY to share it with the gallery that believed in me first.  That gave me the first, "OK, we'll try your work out and see how it goes".  It's funny how life takes you down different paths.  I wouldn't trade any of it.  Nope. 

Yep.  Today is a joyous day.  Thanks for hanging in there with me the past 10 days.  Man they flew by, right?  So wish me luck....and lots of sales!  Here I go..................


Tandum Bike Fun

I've never ridden on a tandem bike.  But think I might.  Especially one that is pulling hearts as big as the ones I've attached!!


Following Your Heart

These words just spilled onto the canvas the day I painted this.  And how true are they.  We so often lead with our brain.....going through the motions of what it tells us we should do.  I have so many crazy emotions swimming in my head right now.  From the show opening, teaching, deadlines for shows applications, trying to get our house ready to sell, etc.  I am IN OVERDRIVE.  Seriously.  It's at times like this where I tend to back away from everyone and get in the mode.  The "I don't need anyone" mode.  Nope.  Not me.  But in actuality, I do.  I need to be nurtured right now.  I need to be called and checked in on.  I need "happies" on my front door wishing me good luck!  I need the help packing.  I need to know you are there behind me when I am at my craziest.   So I THANK YOU all for the calls, the good lucks, the well wishes, the offers to help.  You have no idea how much it makes my heart want to explode with gratitude.  I am getting better at accepting these tokens.   At this moment I am the luckiest gal in the world.  Because ALL of my little wishes are coming true in one big happy filled March.  Yep.  Giant puffy heart moments.  xo  Jenni


This Is Where Their Story Began

Another old church from the back roads of Alabama.  I love the way this church sits upon four brick piled corners.  And although Billy and were married in a church significantly larger than this, behind the doors the story begins the same.  Two people in love and a preacher surrounded family and friends who love them.  The happy couple leaves the church with a pocket full of dreams and the anticipation of years to come.  Billy and I, as we've been packing our house to sell, have actually begun to talk about "when we retire".  15 years ago we started our story in a church, then filled the pages of many chapters in our little house.  I absolutely can not wait to start the final chapters in the new home.  Seriously.  Can not wait.
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