Monday, March 21, 2011

my favorite painting

2 years ago, while surfing etsy I came across something that made my heart skip a beat. It was a print of a sweet little watercolor painting. But not just any painting, you see. It was the spitting image of my son!

Was it mere coincidence that we had just returned from a family trip up to Lake Michigan, where my little guy had frolicked in the sand among seagulls and surf? I like to think it wasn't :)

The artist who unknowingly captured my son's first real beach experience is Mary Ellen Golden. You can find more of her amazing watercolor paintings here. She is so talented and I love the way her paintings capture such intimate scenes in nature. Her prices are very reasonable, and she prints on actual watercolor paper so even though it's a print - it mimics the real thing quite well, imo. Here are a few of my favorites:
'beach visitor'
'cedar island horses'

'tracks in the sand'
'bald head lighthouse'
'arlie oak'

Can you tell it's hard for me to pick a favorite? Her work is so gorgeous, I could sit and stare at it all day! And sometimes I do, actually. As I hung my sweet little painting in a spot I visit quite often - our master bathroom :)
I just stuck it in a $1 garage sale frame and it's definitely not perfect, but it makes me smile every time I see it.

Do you have a favorite piece of art in your house? Please share! I love to find new artists and meaningful decor for my home.

Friday, March 18, 2011

awesome architects - part 1

Since we're building a house next spring, I've spent an embarrassing amount of time looking at architect sites, blogs, magazines, and books. I've looked at over 1000 house plans and that's not a typo or exaggeration! I was/am a little obsessed with designing our next home. My hubby can definitely attest to that :) 

But during my exhaustive 4-year search, I've stumbled upon some very talented architects. So I thought I'd do a little series of posts on some of my favorites. Keep in mind that these are all shingle/new england style homes - which happen to be my favorite and the look I'm going for in our next place. If you hate this look, you might not want to stick around. But if you love the look of gorgeous shingle-clad homes nestled amidst rolling sand dunes or lush green lawns with breath-taking views out every window, then be sure to stop by every week as I highlight my favorite architects. 

First up is Granoff Architects. Let's just sit back and drool, shall we?

wow, wasn't that fun? If I had to pick a favorite (and it's very hard to choose!) I think I like the first one best - the Rock Maple home. It looks kinda like a modern day hansel & gretel house to me. Love the steep pitched gables, all the windows, & the awesome pool in the back. And I can definitely see my little ones playing some type of scary troll bridge game under the porte cochere thing-a-ma-jig.

which one is your favorite?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I love photoshop actions!

Ever since I coerced my poor hubby into buying photoshop for me last year, I have been in photo bliss. I had previously dabbled in it eons ago at my old job, but never fully understood it.

shoot, you could play with it for years and still never understand everything. It's that type of program.

But when I stumbled upon The Pioneer Woman's free action sets, I was hooked! These little beauties let even a total photoshop doofus (like myself) make the worst photo look awesome. 

case in point:
 this is a pic of my little man sooc (straight out of camera - I just learned that photo jargon not too long ago myself). And no, he's not hitting puberty 10 years too soon. The 'stache' is the leftover remnants of his wacky attire for Wacky Wednesday at our church :) I'll have to post more pics soon. It was pretty hysterical. I sported a 'stache too, but don't get your hopes up. I won't be posting pics of my own pubescent self anytime soon!

I digress...

 So here is the photo after I tweaked it in photoshop. I used PW's sharpening actions and mcp actions touch of light to lighten up the dark shadows. Then I followed it up with The Coffee Shop Blog's rounded corner action (which also defines & sharpens and resizes for the web!)

So if you have photoshop (or the cheaper version PS Elements), definitely check out these ladies' sites! They are so talented and generous enough to give away these awesome actions for free!

Happy photoshopping! 

edited to add: well shoot - looks like the rounded corner one didn't take for some reason and I'm too tired to try it again. So looks like I need to keep playing with it. I told you, you can never know all there is to know about photoshop! 

permission to resurface

In my former life (as in pre-babies) I was a copywriter and wannabe designer for an in-house marketing team. The "real" graphic designer and I loved to play around with new fonts, tweak photos, scour magazines for ideas, and just have general creative fun. While getting paid for it!

I miss those days.

Don't get me wrong, like other sahm's I love love love my babies, hubby, and home life. I am totally blessed to have the luxury to stay home and see these precious little personalities develop.

But I do miss my creativity. To the core of my being, I miss being creative. To have some quiet time just to myself to let those juices flow. sigh Being creative, whether it's writing, designing, doing diy projects, painting, sewing, etc... is so much a part of me. It's who I am, it's in my soul, it's the talent that God chose to give me.

But I have pushed it aside these past 7 years.

Slowly I am trying to resurface. Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder 'who the heck is that person?' and 'where did that vibrant, young, 20-something disappear to?' Well, that is how I've been feeling for several years. Sometimes I don't even recognize myself. This mommy martyr syndrome has its claws in me and sometimes doesn't want to let go.

but I am peeling away the layers, slowly but surely. I am realizing that in order to be the best mommy possible, I need to be the best me possible. and that includes a healthy does of creativity every day.

So that's my goal for this year. I'm giving myself permission to resurface. To take off the mommy martyr mask and start living again. Do I feel guilty doing the things I love to do, while my kids watch a movie or play in their rooms?


but I'm trying to get over it. This blog will help I think. Here I have a place to spill my guts. no matter how irrational or unproductive they are.

Emily's blog over at Chatting at the Sky speaks to my heart. God is a creator. (well - duh!) I think I should have thought of that long before now. But He is. God is creative too!

If you pick up the Bible and start on page one, the first thing we see God do is to create. It was priority number one. It was not an afterthought. He had a purpose and a vision, and he made it come to be. If you tend to see creating art as a luxury, or if you feel guilty about your creative self, I want to urge you to reconsider. You were made in the image of Someone who places a high priority on creativity. To deny that part of yourself is insulting.

Which means, He totally gets it! He's on my side and He knows my heart inside and out. I shouldn't be feeling guilty. I should be rejoicing at this precious gift He has given me!

Thank you Lord for giving me Emily's encouraging words today. And thank you for the gift of creativity you have given me. Help me to use it to glorify you and bless others - not hide it in my closet behind the ill fitting pants and the sometimes-used dumbbells. amen.