Posts in inspiration
More Thoughts on Blogs and Blogging

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts (in comments and email) after my questions about blogs in last week’s post. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking after reading what you wrote; your words brought about a few epiphanies for me.

A pitcher of roses brightens any day, but especially one in February

Why would I write something on my blog that I wouldn’t read myself? I love reading blogs that share glimpses into other people’s worlds. I love seeing other people’s creative spaces, learning about their creative practices and their creative processes.

As I mentioned last week I got out my “real” camera and in doing so was inspired to look around my world through its lens, something I hadn’t done for much too long.

I truly believe that our world is magical, even the most ordinary bits of it, but I know how easy it is to fall into the habit of rushing through our days without noticing that magic.

Instructions for living a life.

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

—Mary Oliver

So here I am, trying again to reclaim my purpose for my blog, my energy for it. Without worrying about what the “experts” say. Without getting hung up on doing it “right”. Without agonizing over numbers.

Anne Butera in Her Studio

I’ll be paying attention and being astonished and telling you about it. I’ll be painting and crafting and sharing my enthusiasm for the magic of creativity. I’ll be sharing my ups and my downs, my struggles and my successes. And through it all I’ll be encouraging you to embrace your own creativity and to discover daily joys. The most important goal for my blog is connection.

Yes, a lot of lovely blogs no longer exist, but as Simone said there are “loads more to be discovered”. What a beautiful thought. Are you with me?

Some of you mentioned a couple favorite blogs in the comments last week. I’d love to know what others are your favorites. Please let me know which blogs you like to read and I’ll add links to them to my list below. Let’s celebrate writing blogs and celebrate reading them, too. I dream of a blogging renaissance!

The Lies We Tell Ourself and How to Break Free From Self-Imposed Limitations

Are there things you wish you could do, but “know” you can’t because you don’t have the talent?

Around ten or twelve years ago, before I got the rose tattoo on my ankle I studied images of roses and planned out a design. I even made a sketch and brought it and lots of photographs with me to my appointment. I clearly remember telling the tattoo artist “I want something like this sketch, but I can’t draw”.

A Sketch I Did for the Tattoo I Got On My Ankle Back Before I Believed I Could Be an Artist

For some reason I believed I couldn’t draw. Many other times I remember telling people, “I’m not an artist”. Worse, I said it to myself.

It would be a few more years before I started to question my belief. Maybe I began to realize drawing and art-making is something I could learn, not an innate ability. Or maybe it was just that my desire to make art outweighed my belief I couldn’t do it. My first paintings weren’t so great, but with determination and practice I got better.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” —Vincent Van Gogh

I think we probably all place limitations on ourselves based on lies. Maybe someone said something to us in the past and we’ve since adopted their beliefs as our own. Maybe personal experiences “taught” us lessons that simply are not true. Or maybe “expert” advice tells us that what we’re dreaming isn’t possible.

For a very long time I’ve wanted to try embroidery, to create my own designs and bring them to life. Again and again I would tell people (and myself) I’m not good at embroidery. I’m not good at hand sewing. I’ll just stick my fingers with the needle and bleed all over the fabric if I try to sew by hand. I imagined I could create designs but would need to find someone else to embroider them.

But recently I began to imagine I could try again to learn. Over the years I’d broken free from some of the other limitations I’d put on myself, why not this one too?

I have lots of fabric and I have lots of thread stored away in the closet in my studio. Last week I pulled out some of both and sat down to begin learning. With the help of Rebecca Ringquist’s class on Creativebug I tried my hand at some stitches. It was fun.

A Sampler of Embroidery Stitches I Created Recently

Now I’m completely hooked and my brain is exploding with possibilities.

Those stories I told myself about not being able to embroider weren’t true just as the stories I’d told myself about drawing and painting weren’t true.

My word for this year is GROW. I’ve been keeping it at the forefront of my thoughts. I’m trying new things. I’m experimenting. I’m setting aside my self-imposed limitations and it feels good.

Maybe nothing will come of my experiments. Maybe nothing will come of my dabbling with embroidery, but the act of breaking free from limitations, of overcoming fears, of questioning my beliefs… that is true growth.

So tell me, what is it that you would like to try and what’s been holding you back from trying it?




Plan Your Year and Move from Dreaming to Doing

Somehow January has come and now is almost gone. Are you feeling on top of your goals or is overwhelm starting to settle in?

The other day I realized that although I had ideas for what I wanted to do in the coming year I hadn’t sat down to plan anything. I knew I wanted this year to be a little freer than in the past. I knew I wanted to have time and space to learn new things and to develop and grow as an artist without the constraints of rigid goals and to-dos. But I soon realized that if I didn’t have a framework for my learning I would drift aimlessly. Without some goals and to-dos I might not accomplish anything at all.

Sound familiar?

My Snow Covered January Garden

It’s all too easy to jump into a new year filled with excitement and intentions and forget how much work (and planning) it will take to realize our goals. Partway through January we might begin to feel discouraged when we see we haven’t accomplished much (yet).

Quin on My Lap While I'm Working on the Computer

In her weekly email last Sunday, my friend Ruby shared her feelings of overwhelm and urged her readers to take “deep breaths and carve time for pure enjoyment”.

What does it mean to “carve time”? I see it simply as a matter of planning.

I’ve been watching online classes while eating lunch this month. I noticed Bonnie Christine has a new class on Skillshare and the other day I watched it with my soup. Your Roadmap to Surface Design: A Step by Step Framework to Crafting Your Career might sound super specific to pattern design, but I think many of the ideas that Bonnie shares in the class are useful for anyone with creative business dreams. To me her words were a good reminder of the importance of planning and focus.

I know how important planning is. In the past I’ve been very specific when setting goals and scheduling my year. And I know that without focus it’s all too easy to fritter away our time with unimportant tasks.

And so, armed with a renewed sense of purpose and excitement I sat down this week to plan out my year.

At My Painting Table Planning for the Year

It feels good to be clear about what I want to accomplish and how I’m going to do it.

What about you?

If you’re feeling a bit of overwhelm or a lack of direction, take some deep breaths and then spend some time planning out your year. Go slowly, give yourself space and enjoy the process.

Even if you don’t have dreams of a creative business, you can benefit from a little planning and scheduling. Want to sew more of your clothes? Want to begin a yoga practice? Want to grow a successful garden? Want to travel to Florence? Want to learn how to dance? None of these things will happen unless you plan for them, unless you schedule them, unless you carve time for them.

A New Watercolor Pattern of Tomatoes by Anne Butera of My Giant Strawberry

Get your ideas down on paper. Write lists. Scribble deadlines on your calendar. Having things written down always helps me.

In case you need a little direction with your planning, I’ve created a couple worksheets I’d like to share. This general goal planning sheet and year at a glance planning sheet are a good place to start. I originally created them a few years ago (and shared them on my blog back then, too).

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What are you dreaming about for 2019? What would you like to accomplish? What would you like to learn? Need a cheerleader? I know all about Big Dreams and slowly bringing them to reality.

Welcoming 2019 and Choosing a Word for the Year

Happy New Year!

I love this time of year. The feeling of being a bit out of time. The chance it gives for reflection and planning. It’s hopeful. Energizing. Anything feels possible at this time of year.

Welcoming January and Turning the Page to the first of the Year in This 2019 Watercolor Calendar by Anne Butera

The new year has the beauty of freshly fallen snow, a new notebook, untouched art supples.

Possibility,

Do you feel it, too?

I’ve been making all sorts of lists these past couple weeks. Not really resolutions, and not quite goals. They’re intentions, but also ideas. Things I’d like to try. There are some specific projects and things that are already on my schedule, too.

I find it helpful to be organized. To get things on my calendar. To make lists. But I’m also trying to be a bit more free this year. To be flexible. To go with the flow without getting flustered.

This is the seventh year I’ve chosen a Word of the Year.* I’d been jotting down ideas starting sometime over the summer, but the word I ended up choosing didn’t come to me until a few weeks ago.

GROW.

GROW: My Word of the Year for 2019

I want a word that isn’t focused on accomplishment. Sometimes growth happens underground, unseen as a plant develops its roots. If that’s what my year looks like, I’m OK with it.

I want a word that’s more about learning and experiences. One that’s open to possibilities and the unexpected. I want a word that speaks to improving myself, even if it is slow or messy or not entirely visible..

I hope to GROW my art. GROW my business. GROW my garden. GROW as a person.

It’s a beautiful, hopeful word. And if feels right.

Have you chosen a word for the year? I’d love to hear about it.

If you’re having trouble choosing one, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Start with your goals and work from there.

  • Don't have specific goals? Think about what you want or need in the coming year. This can be concrete or more abstract.

  • Keep it simple and don't overthink it.

  • Write in your journal and/or pay attention to your thoughts (especially when you're doing other things like driving, taking a walk or a shower). What do you keep returning to in your mind?

  • Scan through a dictionary or thesaurus and see what jumps out at you.

  • Make a list of all possible words, looking for synonyms and then check the definitions -- sometimes there are secondary meanings of words that will help you decide.

  • Take your time; after you jot down your list set it aside. When you return to it later see what resonates.

  • Look back at your past year: what have you learned about yourself? What do you want to invite more of into your life? What do you want reduce or eliminate from your life?

Other things to consider:

  • Is one word enough? A collection of words, a phrase or a quote might suit you better.

  • Or maybe choosing a word isn't right for you.

  • Choose a word that speaks to YOU. Don't worry about anyone else's choices.

  • Aim high, but choose something doable to keep from being frustrated or disappointed.

  • Think about parts of speech. If you're looking for an invigorating, active year a verb might be best. If you're looking for a year that is nurturing, healing or inward focused, a noun or adjective might be best.

  • Listen to your heart and be honest with yourself.

  • Take it seriously, but also have fun.

Give yourself some time and space. Give your dreams some time and space. Embracing possibility doesn’t mean you need to put pressure on yourself.

Here’s to a wonderful year for us both!

*In case you’re interested, these are my past Words of the Year. The date takes you to my blog post at the beginning of the year and the word takes you to my post at the end of the year:

Learning to Slow Down

Lately I feel as if I’m always in a hurry. As if the days are hurtling by and I can barely keep up. I’ve been feeling like this for a while and I don’t like it. One of the reasons we moved out of the city was to live a slower life, but here I am rushing, again.

Watercolor Violet Painting by Anne Butera

If I think about it, I’ve been feeling this way for a while. My word of the year for 2018 is PRESENT, chosen to help me create a sense of calm and slowness in my life. When I wrote about it in January I said:

I want a word that will help me grow and find wisdom, whether I accomplish my goals or not. In Present I see mindfulness. I see slowness. With Present as my word I hope to be more aware and relaxed. I hope to listen more closely to my intuition.

I’m not sure I’ve been entirely successful at this, but I have been working on it. Just being aware helps.

I noticed a basil seedling sprouting from the cracks in the patio

I noticed a basil seedling sprouting from the cracks in the patio

And I do try to be aware. When I feel myself rushing, flying through a task to get it done as fast as possible, I stop for a moment and tell myself to slow down. It’s helping.

While I was thinking about all of this, I immediately blamed our society, the internet, smartphones and social media for shrinking attention spans. I did a bit of research so I could trot out some statistics for you. What I found was interesting. Those claims of our shortening attention spans (shorter even than that of goldfish) don’t have science to back them up. And goldfish’s tiny attention spans and no memory? Ends up that’s not true, either.*

Even if I can’t blame the the internet for a quickening pace, limiting my (unproductive) time spent on the computer and with my phone is something I’m working on. After all, there are other, more satisfying things I’d rather be doing.

squash and sage from the garden for a version of  this recipe

squash and sage from the garden for a version of this recipe

So what else can help?

Is it even possible to slow down? Maybe not. But it doesn’t hurt to try.

I’ve put together a list of some things that help me stay present. I hope they’ll help you, too.

  • Pay attention to where I am and what I’m doing. This might seem obvious, but so often I find myself rushing through my tasks on auto-pilot. I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I want to live.

  • Breathe. I stop when I realize I’m rushing and spend a few moments breathing deeply to help ground myself.

  • Pay attention to my senses. Being aware of what I taste, smell, feel, hear and see immediately brings me back to the present.

  • Go for a walk. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, getting outside can be healing. I often return inspired. Yesterday I spotted a bald eagle swooping over town and discovered some violets blooming in the corner of my yard. These gifts are always there for us if we’re open to them.

  • Make sure I’m getting enough rest.

  • Give myself extra time for scheduled tasks and include transitions between one thing and another so I’m not rushing. I’ll be honest and tell you I’m not always good at this!

  • Pay attention to my natural ebbs and flows of energy.

  • Make time for healthy cooking. Matthias and I have gotten into the habit of leisurely cooking big meals on the weekends that will help get us through the week. We don’t usually get home till after 8 most evenings and it makes all the difference to have healthy food ready when we get home. Plus, spending the time together cooking is fun.

  • Be stingy with my time.

  • Make something! Crafting and making art forces me to slow down. Painting, sewing, crochet have all been wonderful teachers in patience.

a shawl I recently crocheted using the  Secret Paths Shawl pattern by Mijo Crochet

a shawl I recently crocheted using the Secret Paths Shawl pattern by Mijo Crochet

What about you? What helps you slow things down and remain present while still allowing you to accomplish everything that you want/need to?




*Read this article and this one for more.

Allowing The Change (And New Calendars)

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately. In part with the changing of the seasons as I wrote last week, but also because change seems to be all around.

Giant Sunflower Seed Heads from My Garden

Isn’t it always?

The other day on her blog Flora Bowley shared her only painting “rule” and it’s simply “Allow the change”. Such a good rule not only for art-making, but for life in general. Change is always happening and it’s better to step back and let it come than to constantly fight it.

Marigolds and Purple Basil Hanging on in My Autumn Garden

I do feel a coming change in my art (and my business), or maybe just the need for change. In truth, I’m already constantly changing and making changes. Sometimes the changes are tiny, things that only I would notice. There are changes on my website and this blog. There are ebbs and flows in my creativity and in my focus. Some changes are seasonal — and it finally makes sense to me that as a botanical artist it should be this way — and some are not. Learning new skills helps to shape some changes. And others come as a sort of trial and error as I navigate my way through art and business.

Sometimes changes come easily and sometimes I really stress over them.

Zinnias in My Autumn Garden

This is the 6th year I’ve designed a calendar with my art but it’s the first time I’m having someone else print it. I really dragged my feet about this decision and kept putting off making it. I probably should have done it last year, but I was so reluctant to give up control of the process and the moniker of “handmade” (even though I was using a computer and machine to make them!). Printing and trimming them myself was so labor and time intensive. The paper and ink were expensive, too, and at times the paper I was using was hard to find. Financially it didn’t make sense for me to print them myself. And then last year I had printer problems which made things even worse. Wasted time. Wasted materials. I know it was the universe telling me it’s time to move on. Even so, when I started working on my new calendars this summer, I put off looking into printing options.

Now that they’re printed I look back and wonder why it took me so long to take action on a change I knew was necessary.

Recently Amy Butler announced that she is leaving the quilting industry and her new collection out this month will be her last. When I first started making quilts and learning about fabrics (and their designers), I became smitten with Amy’s designs and her “midwest modern” aesthetic. Getting glimpses into her studio in books and magazines (and online) was both magical and inspiring to me. Although I was a bit shocked by her announcement, seeing an icon in a creative field change direction like this is also inspiring to me.

Dahlias Still Looking Glorious in My Autumn Garden

Change is an inevitable part of life. There’s no way around it. Even when we drag our feet about decisions for change, we know it will eventually happen. I’m going to work on being more open to change. To let go of preconceptions. To allow the change.

I know it won’t always be easy, but I’m working on it.

an encouraging note I wrote in my sketchbook

an encouraging note I wrote in my sketchbook

Are you with me?

Honoring Seasons, Transitions and Change

Last week the weather shifted dramatically from summer to full-on autumn. Suddenly the days were cold. Dark. Wet. I layered on sweaters and hats and scarves. We turned on the furnace and brewed pot after pot of hot tea.

I felt lethargic, melancholy. It was hard to get out of bed in the morning. I made soup and baked bread. I wrote Joy Lists. But nothing seemed to help. I was uninspired and discouraged in my art, too. All I wanted to do was snuggle beneath my quilts and crocheted blankets to wait for the sun to come out again.

My Black and White Rescue Cats in Their Usual Place in the Chair in My Studio

I scolded myself for feeling that way. You are safe. You are healthy. It’s just the changing of the seasons. There’s no reason to feel so dejected.

But then I started to think a bit more about what a change like this means. In my garden the first hard frost will kill some of my plants. Others will lose their leaves and wait, suspended, till light and warmth return. The insects and animals that don’t tough it out through winter either leave or hibernate or die.

This change of season is a profound change.

Flowers Cut from My Autumn Garden in the Cold Rain

As an artist almost all of my inspiration comes directly from my garden. Very soon all of my outdoor plants and flowers will be crumpled to nothing. Of course I’ll feel a loss when the gardening season slips away.

So what’s the answer?

First, I’m giving myself permission for my feelings. No more chiding myself for mourning the summer.

And I’m sending out extra thanks for each small grace that lingers. The herbs in the glass on the windowsill. The freshly picked vegetables on my plate. The flowers on the table.

Dahlias from My Garden and Mini Pumpkins from My Mom's Garden on my Dining Room Table

My journal is always a place of solace. Whether I’m feeling good or bad or uncertain, putting pen to paper always helps. Sometimes the words flow for page after page. Sometimes I only manage a few sentences. The ritual of sitting down with myself and my journal is one of the best forms of self-care I know.

I’m also trying to slow down and pay attention to the beauties of autumn. The changing colors. The acorns on the sidewalk. The mushrooms appearing overnight.

The other day Rachel Wolf posted a beautiful piece on her blog about the healing we find when we venture away from the warmth of the fire and out into the medicine of nature. Although I live in town, I find healing walking beneath the trees even when there’s concrete under my feet. I can bring home pockets filled with acorns and interesting leaves. I might notice a bluejay hunting for seeds in a nodding sunflower head or happen upon a charm* of goldfinches trilling as they swoop away from someone’s spent coneflower patch. Snuggling beneath quilts has its place, but I need to make sure I venture outside, too.

Change is one thing we can always count on. The seasons change predictably. Other changes and transitions take us by surprise. Change can come as a welcome friend. Or arrive as an irritation. Sometimes change can be devastating.

No matter the type of change, we need to give ourselves room for it. Even if our busy lives don’t always seem to allow it. I’ve been feeling a change coming in my art. I don’t yet know what that change will look like, but I’m being patient as I figure it out. Like with all changes I need to remember to honor the process, the uncertainty, the discomfort.

I don’t know what you’re going through at this moment, if you’re in a moment of change or transition. I’m wishing you gentleness and grace. Give yourself time and space. Be patient and honor the season you’re in.



*aren’t collective nouns fun? A group of goldfinches is called a charm and also a drum, a troubling or a chirm. There are many resources on the internet and in print to help you find these magical words. I usually just google it and see what comes up.

Why trying new things and even making mistakes is good for your creativity

When you're learning how to do something or if you're building up a business, it's important to focus your energy in one direction.

When I first started teaching myself to paint I didn't do that. I sewed. I crocheted. I was selling handmade purses and jewelry on Etsy. I was trying all sorts of things and learning and experimenting. Eventually I came to realize what I wanted to do more than any of those other things was paint.

At first I didn't want to "give up" everything else. Even with the advice I kept running across, I was hesitant to focus on just one thing. But over time I saw how valuable such focus could be. Focus allows you the most growth. It gives you purpose, direction. It makes everything clearer.

And so I painted, letting go of my other projects, narrowing my attention to art. It made a huge difference to my development as an artist and it brought some wonderful opportunities.

I'm a naturally creative and curious person, constantly overflowing with ideas. I have so many projects I want to tackle and things I want to try, but I also know I can't do everything.

Despite what it might look like sometimes on social media, no one can do everything. We must choose how we spend our time and that means something always gets left out.

While pondering this I went back to my old blog and found these words in a post written about three and a half years ago

"I've come to realize it's not abandoning dreams that's happening when we let go of ideas and desires which aren't right for us, it's refining an understanding of who we truly are."

Isn't that a powerful thought? It's beautiful to imagine this clarified understanding. To me it sounds filled with self-love.

On Instagram I'd seen a few people mention Lilla Rogers' new class on Creativebug. It's called Treasure Hunt Your Artistic Style. When I first heard about the class I discounted its usefulness. I know what my artistic style is; I don't need to hunt for it. But I was curious and yesterday I watched part of it. 

It's so interesting to look at what I like and dislike. To nestle in to what I love and think about why I love it, about how what I love and who I am influences my style.

Flying Pigs on a Shelf in My Studio Bring Me Joy Each Day

But what does any of this have to do with trying new things and making mistakes?

Both trying new things and making mistakes help us refine our understanding of who we are. More than that, trying new things keeps us curious. It keeps us moving forward. Almost two years ago I went through a long creative slump. Since then I've thought a lot about creativity, inspiration and creative energy.

Creativity is not a static thing, but sometimes we can get stuck in a rut. Although focus is a wonderful thing, it can sometimes lead us into the rut. Being ok with the idea of creative ebbs and flows helps a lot, but so does being open to new things. Experimenting. Changing gears. Having fun.*

Reminders in My Studio

The "It's supposed to be fun" note came from Ria Sharon, a gift in one of her newsletters. It's a great reminder not to take things to seriously, a reminder I often need.

Although it takes time and energy to try something new, we need to remember to hold onto the fun.

I recently started crocheting again in the evenings. Instead of hemming and hawing I simply chose a pattern (the hardest part for me) and got to work.

A Top I Crocheted Using One Dog Woof's Wildflowers Tunic Pattern

It was a simple pattern, but in picking up crochet I challenged myself to try something different and to learn something new. The pattern taught me a new technique which started with quite a bit of mistake-making, but ended up empowering me with a new skill.

Last weekend I pulled out my fabric stash, unearthed my sewing machine and sewed a top. Trying a new sewing pattern, looking at fabrics and matching them up, thinking about future projects... all of those things stretch my creativity. They help me problem solve. They open me up to new ideas and possibilities. This carries over into my art, too.

A Top I Sewed with the New Look 6284 Sewing Pattern

The tomato and eggplant pieces I painted last week were a change of gears for me. A slight shift of subject matter, yes, but also a change of format -- square -- and a change of paper type -- cold pressed after painting mainly on hot. Doing something different doesn't have to be BIG, but it can open up big possibilities.

Trying something new can help you face your fears, too. I never draw or paint people, in part because I find it a bit scary. But I think in order to continue to grow as an artist I need to stretch myself and face those fears. I've been dipping my toes into those waters with Charlotte Hamilton's 31 Days of Faces Creativebug class (talk about making mistakes!).

A 2 Minute Marker Sketch Portrait Created with Charlotte Hamilton's Creativebug Class

It feels good. All these creative experiments. All this play. 

Trying new things gives you a different perspective. It makes you ask the question "what if?". Like the question I asked last week: What if I roast eggplant with taco seasonings and use it instead of meat in my tacos? I did that this week, too.

My focus has not changed. Watercolor is still my passion.

A Watercolor Painting of Dahlias in Progress in My Studio

I might be sewing and crocheting in my free time. I might be drawing wonky-looking people in my sketchbook. I might be experimenting in the kitchen and even making soap, but I'll still be painting every day. I think my paintings will be enhanced by all my other creative play.

So what about you? Have you tried anything new lately? Or maybe come back to something you love but haven't done in a while? The changing of the seasons and beginning of the school year is a perfect time to embrace "back to school" thinking. I'd love to hear about it!

 

 

*Working through my own creative slump and pondering it afterwards helped me to create a Skillshare class designed to help you break out of a creative slump

Summer Love Songs and Savoring Each Day

It's the last day of August. I can't quite believe it. Throughout the month I've been noticing the beginnings of fall. It seems early this year.

Summer's my season and although autumn can be beautiful its arrival always makes me a bit melancholy.

I will miss:

Some of the last roses blooming in my garden
  • cut flowers from the garden
  • tomatoes and peppers and herbs (and all the other edibles)
  • endless salads (kale, kale and more kale)
  • being barefoot (or if shoes are necessary, sandals)
  • leaving the house without a jacket
  • spending whole days outside
  • having the windows and doors open (and cats stretched out in windowsills)
  • bees and butterflies and hummingbirds
  • the songs of crickets and cicadas
  • late sunsets
  • the color green (and all the other colors)

I could keep going, but you get the picture.

A little toad is a welcome garden visitor

This week in our area there's been terrible flooding. We weren't hit badly as we live in town at a high point (and my parents, out in the country, are on a ridge), but it's heartbreaking to see devastating flooding happening more and more frequently so close to where we live. It puts my troubles in perspective. Reminds me, again, to savor each day.

So instead of lamenting the loss of all I love about the summer, I've been making a point to savor the days.

Each day.

I try to stop what I'm doing periodically and pay attention to everything around me, to be fully present. Stand in the garden and feel the grass between my toes, to note the perfect beauty of the moment and send off a thank you to the universe.

Three years ago on my old blog I wrote about painting a "love song to summer".

It's one of my favorite paintings, the biggest I've ever done. Truly a love song to my favorite season. 

Some years I paint a lot during the summer. Some years I don't. Creativity ebbs and flows. Energy ebbs and flows. In the summer it's always a challenge to stay inside when my garden is calling me to BE OUTSIDE. It's a bit ironic because summer holds the most inspiration for my art.

In a way you could say that a majority of my paintings are love songs to summer. This one, finished the other day, certainly is.

As are the vegetable (or fruit, depending on your perspective) paintings I've been inspired to paint this week:

What better way to celebrate the joys of summer than to paint them?

Although, I think eating them is a prefect celebration, too. In the summer with abundant garden produce it's easy to quickly pull together delicious meals. 

Many days I make the easiest tomato salads. Large chunks of tomato dressed with shavings of onion, shreds of basil, splashes of balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt and pepper. Nothing tastes more summery.

And eggplant, chopped (with the skin still on), mixed with splashes of olive oil and a shake of some salt and pepper roasted in a 400 degree for about 40ish minutes is a versatile addition to pasta or salads or rice. It pairs as easily with Italian flavors as it does with Asian ones and I'm thinking about trying it in some tacos, too.

I'd love to know how YOU have been celebrating the season these days.

Will you join me in renewing a commitment to savor the moment, in focusing on gratitude as we shift from August to September and begin the transition from one season to the next?

For me, I think it might be a good time to bring out my Joy Lists* again.

I hope your lists are long.

 
Where are They Now? Catching Up with Some of the Artists I Interviewed

You may have noticed that I'm posting on a Tuesday instead of my usual Friday. I'm working on sharing some shorter posts between my regular posts. I'm not sure how often I'll do this, but it's fun to experiment and try some new things in this new space.

And speaking of trying new things, I've been contemplating starting up another interview series. What do you think? Do you enjoy reading interviews with creative women who are living their dreams? Are there specific kinds of questions you wish I would ask? Let me know what you think.

In the meantime, I thought I'd catch you up on what a few of the women I interviewed on my old blog have been up to lately (and if you weren't around for the original interviews, you can go take a look at those, too). The bravery and success of others helps us all to find a bit more courage in ourselves. I've said this before and I'll say it again, we're all in this together. Let's learn from one another and cheer each other on.

Sarah Venema's was the first real interview I did on my blog. Sarah is a Colorado-based professional photographer whose work is stunning and whose positive outlook is so inspiring to me. Her photographs capture "sun-drenched, love-filled laughing moments".  (My not-so-secret dream is for Sarah to be my photographer, taking photos of me in my studio and garden for my website).

Sarah Venema Selfie Project

Recently Angie Noll interviewed her on The Not Starving Artist Podcast and it was a lovely, inspiring conversation. Angie has interviewed many inspiring women and I hope you'll find some time to listen to her interviews. Learning about others' successes and definitions of success, especially those that might go against the norm, is encouraging when we're trying to forge our own paths.

In February of 2016 I interviewed Jayme Marie Henderson who writes the blog Holly and Flora. At that time Jayme lived south of downtown Denver and worked as a sommelier in a landmark Denver restaurant. On her blog Jayme shares her cocktail inventions, often focused on local, in-season ingredients. Her photography is gorgeous and I always enjoy seeing snippets of her garden and hearing her honest thoughts about her life which are often sprinkled throughout her posts.

Jayme Marie Henderson -- Holly and Flora and The Storm Cellar Vineyard and Winery

Not long after our interview Jayme leapt for a big dream and today she and her fiancé are co-owners of The Storm Cellar Vineyard and Winery on the western slope of Colorado. They've transitioned to living on the property and farming the grapes full-time with a goal of offering their first wines for sale next summer. It has been a monumental amount of work and I am so excited for her! You can watch the trailer they created for this project here and follow along with the vineyard on Instagram here.

One more for today... In March of 2017 I interviewed Jill and Kayla Haupt, the mother-daughter team behind Under a Tin Roof. I "met" Jill and Kayla in the issue of Artful Blogger Magazine where I was also featured. Kayla's article really resonated with me and I was curious to get to know more about her.

Jill and Kayla Haupt Under a Tin Roof

This past year these women have skyrocketed their dream of a handmade, country life even further when their family purchased a farm and added a CSA to their offerings. It's been beautiful to watch their progress (follow along on Instagram and their blog).

What about you? What successes have you been celebrating lately? Let's celebrate together!

Or maybe you're still dreaming. What have you been dreaming about? I know it's scary to leap for your dreams. It's hard to risk failure. And when you look at the successes of others it can be intimidating as well as inspiring. The truth is that no one's success comes easily. Every one of these women has been faced with failure. But they kept going. I hope you'll take a little step today in the direction of your dream. I promise you, it will be worth it.

 

 

*photos in this post © the artists

 

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