Don’t Be A Grinch – Give Awesome Gifts!

I feel like with the completion of my ongoing Unlimited series in addition to working with art classes 9-5 for my day job, I got a bit burned out from drawing and painting. I have to be creating something at all times though, so I have changed my focus as of late to crafting just in time for holiday gifting. I have tons of fun handmade wonders available in my Ebay Store, like the hand-sewn ornaments below … These make great stocking stuffers because honestly, you can never have too many ornaments.

If ornaments aren’t your thing, everyone needs to keep their hands warm as it gets chillier outside. I love fingerless gloves because regular gloves and mittens make me feel as if my fingers were in 10 tiny straight jackets, and I feel like they make me clumsier than usual and I drop everything. With these, your fingers can experience sweet freedom!

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Maybe one day I will become better friends with sewing machines, but for now I stick to hand sewing or crocheting as those monsters scare the crap out of me!

 

When I say I’m going on a crafts binge, I’m not lying – though I guess I did lie earlier about the total painting hiatus. I can’t entirely abandon painting but I switched from paper to wood to create these artsy, modern, geometric designed wooden bead necklaces. I also painted some new wooden dolls in winter wear to fit the season!

As always, in addition to ebay I have a variety of cool, art-covered products in my Redbubble Shop. I’ve been experimenting a lot the end of this year with watercolor patterns. I know paper calendars are kind of old school, but I love them still just for the pictures! I have a calendar of the 12 pieces included in my Unlimited series new for 2018. These calendars are super high quality on thick, art print quality paper so when you are done with it you can even cut the pieces out and frame them.

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It gets so hard to figure out what friends and family want that they don’t already own year after year … I know I have quite a few things from Redbubble on my wish list ;). Definitely hoping Santa brings me a hoodie with this too cool design on it by katepowellart

Where do you guys like to find unique gifts?

 

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Thanksgiving Weekend

It is frightfully easy, especially when there are so many things going on in our world that are unjust, frustrating, or just plain scary, to only focus on the bad. I am a strong believer in the fact that without recognizing and giving due acknowledgment to that which is not so amazing, real change will never happen. We need to talk about hard things sometimes, and we need to care and allow ourselves to feel pain over events or situations that harm our own well being or the well being of others. However, sometimes the negative can consume us and cause us to forget, ignore, or just plain not notice all the good that still persists in our own life and worldwide. Thanksgiving is always a good time to step away from the frantic, stressful pace of everyday life and constant barrage of bad news to reflect on the moments of joy we’ve experienced throughout the year, because they do exist.

This year, I am beyond grateful for the now 2 full years I have spent as Program Coordinator for The Express Yourself Artshop program at Creative 360 in my hometown of Midland, MI. Artshop is an inclusive arts and wellness program open to students of all abilities, including those with physical, intellectual, or psychological disabilities. I am thankful I have a job that I can look forward to each day, which I know can be as rare as winning the lottery. I above all am thankful for the amazing people I have met, the new friends I have made, and the feelings of love, acceptance, and belonging I experience when I am with them even on the toughest days.

I learn so much that I take home to my own personal art just from experiencing so many different approaches to creating. The photos above are from our recent pre-Thanksgiving bash put on by our Cooking Class. Side note, I even learned that it is possible for me to like green bean casserole. Now that truly speaks to the skill of our Artshop chefs. 

Working with our watercolor class has lit a fire under me to get back into the medium myself in my free time and try some new approaches and styles that are less cautious and constrained.

I love seeing different creators’ takes on inspiration images. An artist’s work shows others how they see the world, which I get to experience firsthand.

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One of my former students’ pieces, obtained in an art trade (that gorgeous red tree lady up there), is the focal point in my newly renovated art studio in the new house. (Another thing to be thankful for this year – saying goodbye to apartment living and having a studio that isn’t my living room! Extensive before-and-afters will follow in a later post – it’s been a real trip.)

I would encourage everyone, whether creatives or not (though I’d argue that seriously, every one of us is creative in some way – it’s human nature.), to challenge themselves to spend more time with people who are different from them in some way. Ask them about themselves, get to know them on a personal level, have interesting chats … Though you are not going to get along with everyone, you will never regret opening up your world.

I’d also encourage you to remember that taking a different path than what you expected does not equate to failure. I graduated with a BAA in interior design, and wanted to work anywhere in the world except Midland, the same city I lived in from age 2 on. Unmet expectations for the future are such an intense fear for most people, myself included.  However, sometimes our expectations just aren’t all that great, and aren’t what we need to be happy.

Sometimes, there is something better waiting for us.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Best Christmas Songs Never Played On The Radio

Once Thanksgiving hits, I am all about the Christmas music. The fact that there are multiple radio stations devoted to playing nothing but Christmas music around this time makes my morning commute a whole lot cheerier, which is quite a feat as I am not what you’d call a morning person. However, like radio is apt to do, they tend to cycle the same 20 songs over and over and over again. Now, you can play Sinatra every hour on the hour and won’t hear me complain, but enough Mariah Carey already! All I Want For Christmas Is You wasn’t that great the first time around, let alone by the 100th listen! Here are some of my Christmas favorites that for whatever reason don’t make the radio.

First of all, I want that Jack Skellington pillow in the background of this music video. I liked The Raveonettes quite a lot in high school, and I have to say they have some mighty fine dreamy, atmospheric Christmas tunes.

I think this next one is the most beautiful Christmas song I’ve ever heard in my life. I can never get tired of it. I still have yet to listen to any of Calexico‘s non-holiday music, mainly because all I’ve been listening to is Christmas music … need to get on that!

Classic, what can I say?

Pretty much anything Christmas by The Polyphonic Spree gives me chills. Their videos are such fun too, aren’t they?

I always hated the song Blue Christmas, mainly because I’m never a fan of whiny breakup music at any point in the year but at Christmas, man? Don’t be a downer. Also, Elvis = intense need for earplugs. However, apparently Conor Oberst is magic (like I didn’t already know that), and turned me around on the whole thing.

Another classic … punk rock Christmas forever! Give all the toys to the little rich boys.

Ok, this last one is a little cheesy but I included it because I have fond childhood memories of this song. The 60s/70s were big on family bands, and my mom loved The Partridge Family TV series growing up and had a couple of their cassette tapes. This band was my first introduction to music that wasn’t Disney. Well, them and ABBA. This was definitely a dance around in the basement in my tutu kind of song. My tutu was black with silver stars on it, however, so I was still kind of punk rock ;).

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs or covers?

Material Girl – Artsy Gifts For All

… Just kidding, I actually can’t stand Madonna’s music, but it seemed an apt title to use when talking about all the fun artsy things I have for sale.

This past weekend the program I direct at Creative 360, Express Yourself Artshop, hosted an art and craft fair. A number of our students participated, and a fun time was had by all. I was having so much fun making stuff that as usual I went a bit overboard so I have a lot of surplus stock, which I have posted in my ebay store and will continue to add to.

I have two kinds of plushes, both incorporating unique upholstery fabrics and hand-sewn and hand-painted details along with vintage embellishments.

I also have hand-painted wooden art dolls that range from adorable, girly fashionably dressed characters to holiday themed and even some mermaids thrown in.

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In addition, you will find affordable art prints (including wallet size ACEO prints for $2.99!) and original pieces for sale, as well as a wide range of paper dolls. I’m up to over 10 different designs, and all the clothing is interchangeable which is super fun.

I also have two print-on-demand shops through Redbubble and Zazzle. I own a selection of products myself from both sites, and have been so impressed with the quality for a really affordable price. Both sites offer slightly different products and designs including jewelry pendants, clothing, mugs, tote bags, stickers and cards, notebooks and journals, phone and laptop cases, pillows and other home accessories, and more.

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It gets so tedious to shop anywhere the later into Fall it gets with the holidays coming up. With stores filled with grouchy, hurried people running into each other like bumper cars, I am a huge fan of online shopping. Plus, giving something people have never before in their journeys through big box stores will make you the coolest of gift givers for sure :).

I love supporting others’ art as well. Are there any shops on etsy, ebay, or print-on-demand websites that are your go-to for gifts?

 

 

Happy 4th!

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To all of my American readers out there, happy 4th of July! The above is the most patriotic image in my art archives that I could find. But really, the colors are spot-on and what says summer fun like a shark costume?

After basically sleeping all day yesterday after partying like a rockstar at a 4th of July pool party on Saturday, staying up until 4 am when I usually turn into a pumpkin before midnight, today I plan to make the most of the last day of my glorious week off. At 28 years old, I spent my first night ever sleeping in a tent, so that’s something, right?

I was lucky enough a couple of days ago to chance across this retro 4th of July picture I had scanned onto my laptop at some point, circa 1997. Is it any wonder my favorite American Girl doll growing up was Molly? Besides her stories being set in the WWII era which I find to be a fascinating time, we were pretty much twins. My dad is cropped out of the picture not because I don’t love him, but because something else I really love just as much is being alive :P. Still, you can get the idea that we all wore coordinating apparel for the occasion.

I hope everyone else out there enjoys their 4th! And seriously, you should spend nearly the entire day outdoors, but in the occasion that you spend a couple of moments peeking around online at some point, there are awesome sales going on for the holiday on redbubble and zazzle!

Have a fantastic day, filled with adventures :).

Merry Christmas (Art) Baby

It’s hard to believe this week is Christmas already. Seasonal art typically gets lumped into the same category where we heap images of puppies in baskets and kittens playing in flower gardens, pigs in dresses going shopping and maybe even some dogs playing poker: all that silly, cutesy, uncreative nonsense. However, just like it seems every musical artist has recorded a Christmas song or two at one time or another, most artists have tried their hand at a design that some may call “seasonal”. Christmas art doesn’t have to be all Thomas Kinkade snow villages and fuzzy animals wearing santa hats.

Camille Rose Garcia

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Camille Rose Garcia’s work often deals with the dilemma of capitalism and its relationship to greed. “The Saddest Place On Earth” describes the story behind her pieces that feature the nefarious “Peppermint Man”. Apparently, he solves the overpopulation problem by luring all the “bad” little children  into his pastry factory, where he then feeds them poison candy and re-purposes their bodies by baking them into treats he serves at his chain of all-you-can-eat Peppermint Town Buffets. Lovely. I know quite a few people who aren’t much of Christmas fans due to its emphasis on over-consumption. However, I’d say any celebration is what you make it to be. If you don’t like all of our culture’s current traditions, then toss them out and make new ones of your own. Rather than becoming horrified by overeating and Black Friday shopping and tossing out the whole Christmas thing entirely, decide to make your celebration about experience, giving, and reconnecting. If you don’t like the way something is done, do it differently. Too often we don’t realize, it’s really all up to us.

Catalina Estrada

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I became hooked on Catalina Estrada’s work after purchasing a box of Christmas cards with the blue angel artwork shown above from an art museum gift shop in Chicago. Her use of color and pattern is pretty spot-on.

Leonid Afromov

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This year in Michigan, we have been enjoying anywhere from 40-60 degree days leading up to Christmas. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, this is freaking unheard of. This painting almost, almost, makes me miss the usual piles of snow. If you look up more of his work, they all exhibit his characteristic use of rainbow, prismatic color to depict strong light. I actually recognized many of his other paintings, I just had never known the artist behind them. His work is pretty much everywhere, and for good reason.

Artist Unknown

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If anyone recognizes whom the artist of this piece may be, please fill me in. I am absolutely scandalized at drawing a blank after all my years and years of art history instruction. This image caught my eye on pinterest but when I followed the link, it led me to a website boasting “Buy hand painted images from photos”, advertising even replicas of “Starry Night” and “The Mona Lisa”, among others. That’s not sketchy at all …  But, back to the lovely, totally legit painting at hand. Normally another painting of a pasty, blonde Mary and Jesus would elicit from me a lengthened sigh. Still, something about this piece caught my eye. Because of the mix of traditional garb, updated to be far more ornamental than it would have been during the actual time period of the Christmas Story; with the even further out of time decorative banisters and modern era floral wallpaper behind, the piece has a shifting, timeless kind of feel as it embodies many periods. The timelessness makes this a far more relatable piece to me. Adding to this is her facial expression. Her eyes are downcast, and she doesn’t seem unhappy, but doesn’t seem altogether cheerful and light either. Her mind still seems slightly burdened though overall she is at peace, and this makes far more sense given the situation in the story than the usual oversimplified portrayal of, “Immaculate conception? Cool, you know that sounds totally fine to me, let’s get to it!” Acceptance of any trial, or “new adventure” if you will, doesn’t mean you will never wonder or doubt. For if that were the case, I would fear the absence of a brain.

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On a less serious note, once again, artist unknown. These fun little pastel-colored nativity characters that look like cheap knockoffs of “Precious Moments” must have been really popular around the early 90s, because I had jigsaw puzzles of them, coloring books, even window clings my mom would always decorate the kids’ bathroom mirror with around Christmas time. I found this picture on accident and had to include it, though it is definitely of the cutesy, sappy variety I described at the beginning that I promised I was not going to show. I cannot be the only one who remembers these.

Mark Ryden

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A new take on a favorite Christmas tale from a pop-surrealism master – the Grinch, painted in eerie photo-realism. The sickly pepto-bismol color present throughout only adds to the arresting nature of this picture. You can almost feel the poor Grinch’s distaste for this entire Christmas-y situation.

Express Yourself Artshop also kicked off the holidays with the last week of classes, topped off with a holiday bash the Monday after the semester’s end. This was my first Christmas as program coordinator for Artshop (an arts and wellness program for adult students of varying abilities, including those with physical and mental challenges), and I feel more proud than ever to be a part of everything as I saw firsthand the joy bubbling over from this wonderful, inspiring, close-knit community of fantastic people.

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Louie with his very Suessical stocking

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Beautiful finished projects on display at the end-of-the-year Ceramics Class Party

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Friends and food, pretty much all that is required for a killer bash.

Happy holidays to all, and to all a good night.

Let The Holidays Begin

First week of the new job, mission accomplished – complete with a snazzy new bio. Check out that classy head shot. Actually, I realized upon scouring my computer for an acceptable image that finding a professional picture of myself is super hard.

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See exhibits A and B below for further proof.

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I’m one of those recluses who does all my Christmas shopping online. My heart cannot even take the trials of navigating a parking lot (and subsequently narrowly avoiding my poor little car being squished by lunatics five times over) this time of year. I seriously needed to go grocery shopping today, realized it was the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and decided “Nah, tomato soup out of the can with a salad of slimy, past-expiration-date lettuce sounds fine enough to me.” Plus, I have friends and family with distinctive tastes and it’s often hard to find unique gifts that they’d actually like or don’t already own in stores.

If you are like me and prefer to sit in your pajamas drinking hot tea while scouring the web for unique gifts, you should check out my redbubble shop. I have a ton of fun and whimsical seasonal designs posted, and also a variety of awesome designs for year-round. I also have my first calendar ready for print. Having a calendar hung up on my bulletin board is literally the only way I know what day it is. Plus, when the year is over you can get crafty and turn the pictures into awesome art.

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New items for the holidays have also arrived at the Moongirl Designs Zazzle Shop. In my opinion, you can never have enough ornaments. When I am done decorating my tree, there is pretty much no green left to be seen. I have fun illustrated Christmas character ornaments on zazzle : Santa, angels, elves, all the nostalgic classics illustrated with a new twist.

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I wish all of you in the states a wonderful Thanksgiving this upcoming weekend, and for those going out on Black Friday … Godspeed to you – try not to get trampled.