Friday, April 29, 2011

The Cave

I can't get this song out of my head, and that's a-okay.

Mumford & Sons "The Cave"

Oh, Mumford & Sons. Four young men from West London in their early twenties, with fire in their bellies and romance in their hearts (or so their biography says.)  Featuring lyrics drawn from Shakespeare and Steinbeck, banjos, manly harmonies, and lead singer Marcus Mumford's raw and stirring voice, what's not to love?

Go buy their album, Sigh No More, if you don't already have it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Art of Michelle

I'm so excited to share with you today gathered heart's first ever artist interview. Illinois-based artist and illustrator Michelle McFadden is "very much influenced by this beautiful world" we live in, something I think is definitely apparent in her work.

Michelle and I actually went to college together, and even though we shared a concentration and were only a year apart, we never had any classes together. Regardless, her work has been so inspiring to me, and I've loved following her blog and seeing her skills as an artist develop since college. Her work is absolutely beautiful, featuring pink-cheeked girls, curious creatures and so many wonderful little details... take a peek!

One of my favorite pieces -- A Walk in the Woods, Mixed Media, 4x4"

In one sentence, describe your artistic style: 
My "style" evolves as I evolve, hopefully always toward peacefulness, simplicity, innocence, and charm.

Where do you find inspiration?
So very much from nature... and also from stories (fairy tales especially) and young, imaginative girls with messed up hair and no concept of reality who remind me of myself when I was their age. 

Spring Song, Mixed media, 8x9.5"

If you could spend a day in the studio of any artist, who would it be?
John Waterhouse (dead) and Cori Dantini (very much alive). I couldn't decide between them.

Apart from making art, what else do you enjoy doing?
I have a particular fondness for my life and absolutely love to be outside on a beautiful spring day. I'm obsessed with listening to birds and wish I knew all of their names. I also really enjoy kissing my future husband and hanging out with my three lovely sisters... not to mention my trips up north to visit one of the coolest gals on the planet.

Michelle working in her studio space

Time management can be a tricky thing for creatives -- how do you keep yourself organized and on-task?Oooh this one is a tricky one for me. I never quite feel organized enough, but hopefully once I have a house of my own I can answer this question better! Right now I just have to keep cleaning my studio in order to feel organized, and applying for art shows I know I'm not ready for definitely helps me stay on task. But overall I feel mostly overwhelmed on a daily basis. I am at a funny spot in my life and that kind of throws off my schedule and studio time. But I try to make it a habit to be in the studio every day (even if all I do is read).

How do you fight creative blocks?
Reading the Bible, writing, and running.

Bluebird, 5x5" limited edition print 

What is the best advice you've ever received, and what advice would you offer to other artists?
The best advice I have ever received comes straight from the Bible. There is an unbelievable amount of wisdom and knowledge and stories in that book, and it comes freely to all of us if only we'd just read it! So... read it! That would be my advice to others.

What are your three favorite tools for making art?
A sharp 4H pencil, my favorite colors in brand new tubes of watercolor, and hot press watercolor paper.

Do you have a piece that you are most proud of? Why?
Well, I suppose I am proud of the piece "Protector of the Forest" because I felt like I was able to capture a part of my imagination on canvas... but that was in college... shouldn't I have a new one by now?

Protector of the Forest triptych, acrylic on canvas, 24x38"
Note: click the link to view the details. I've seen this piece in person and it is breathtaking!

Was the transition from college student to professional artist a difficult one?
Um yes. I'm still working this one out... let's just say I feel undereducated on a regular basis and am having to spend a lot of time researching (and making a lot of mistakes) about the business side of being an artist. How does one go about selling ones work? What do taxes look like fore the self-employed? How should I communicate with art directors and publishers in order to stand above the crowd? These are all questions I am still answering...

As the Wind Moves, Mixed Media 22x28"

Any upcoming projects or shows in the future we can look forward to?
I hope! I've been applying to about a dozen shows all over the state and am just crossing my fingers that someone accidentally slips my application onto the "accepted" pile. Plus, I am planning a show here in Lincoln in June (it's kind of a secret at this point) and am working on curriculum for an art camp I'll be hosting late this summer.
Nature is obviously a huge theme in Michelle's work, something that heavily influences me as well. I love what she said about the young, imaginative girls in her illustrations reminding her of herself as a child. Much of my childhood was spent outdoors with flowers and bugs, so it's no surprise how much her work resonates within me. I love artists who choose to share the beauty of life and child-like curiosity of mankind instead of the dark underside of humanity.

I hope you've enjoyed this post! To see more on Michelle, check out her website, blog, and Etsy shop. Her blog is wonderful and chock full of work in progress updates and inspirational bits. And a huge thanks to Michelle for sharing!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Birthday John James Audubon!

Oh J. J. Audubon, you French-American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and painter, you.

Just a quick shout out on your B-day to say you were awesome and I totally dig your work. Especially thisthis, and this. I need to buy a print or two from you asap.

And thank you Google doodle, for continuing to be both educational and inspirational. This is my second favorite so far, right next to the interactive illustration from Jules Vern's birthday.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Creative Itch

As an artist, I've noticed in the past couple of years that every spring I get an unexplainable, irresistible feeling... like my senses are begging me to stretch my artistic bones after a long winter's nap. A creative itch, if you will. Something about the new life popping up everywhere after the dead of winter stirs my creative spirit. I'm so inspired by nature anyway... I really shouldn't be surprised.

A little reminder from Please Be Still

Being graphic designer, I'm lucky that I have a consistent, "creative" job. However, working for a commercial book publisher limits my creativity in some aspects. I get to design the occasional book cover... but since I'm so low on the totem pole, much of my time is spent on marketing mailers, poster and book reprint changes. It can be draining at times, too, which leaves me little inspiration or motivation for my own projects.

A Holiday at the Sea, 2010, pencil and ink on wood

This self-portrait is one of the most recent large-scale pieces I've made... and it's over a year old! It's part of a series I did for a solo art show before I graduated college. I'd love to show you the others but I don't have quality photos of them (I'm working on it though.)

My dear friend Keitha is getting married next year, and she has commissioned me to do a piece of her & her fiance in a similar style. I've been brainstorming and sketching like mad... I'll try to document my process along the way. I'm so excited to get to work on some real art again!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

DIY Confetti Eggs

I'm sure this has been around the blogs quite a bit since being posted this past Monday on Oh Happy Day, but I couldn't help but repost this wonderful DIY Party Confetti Egg Game by Rebecca Wright (the owner of the amazing Etsy shop, Animal Head Vintage!)

I love everything about these two photos. And I'm jealous of that sunshine.

Basically, you fill drained & dyed eggs with bird-friendly Fruity Pebbles, and one special egg is stuffed with golden glitter. Hide them around your yard, find and smash the eggs over friends' heads, and the glitterified person wins a special prize. Click here for the full instructions.

Who could resist these bright, cheery eggs?! It be a fun Easter egg-hunt alternative, but I think it could also be an awesome birthday party activity. Or an any-day activity. Cause who doesn't love smashing things over their friends' heads?

All images by Robyn Kessler for Oh Happy Day

Monday, April 18, 2011

wish list: take me to the beach!

I awoke this morning to snow. SNOW. In mid-April! Big, wet, fat flakes that stick to everything and ruin your hair and your Monday morning. Although it has now warmed to a balmy 42 degrees, I'm still a touch upset about it. So, I'm focusing my thoughts on the beach and dreaming of sunshine and the sea (or in my case, Lake Michigan)...

1. I haven't had a one piece suit in a while, but this Paisley Twist-front Tank from JCrew is so pretty.  2. Cute, cheap sunglasses from good old Forever 21.  3. I've been using Aveeno's Continuous Protection sunblock for years and have yet to be sunburned (or slimy.)  4. Hey there compass necklace from UO. I need you.  5. I love the work of illustrator Catherine Campbell, and her tote is perfect for hauling around sandy towels and magazines.  6. Write the sea a love note with Miniature Rhino's Message in a Bottle kit.  7. Unlike my standard Old Navy flip flops, these Kimchi t-strap sandals wouldn't fall off in the sand.  8. This lightweight sweater from Anthropologie is a cute alternative to a towel or sarong coverup. And who can resist mustard yellow?! 

Sadly, it will be a few more months before the lake warms up enough to swim, so a trip to St. Joe will have to wait. But a girl can dream... and perhaps by then these items will be on sale.

Friday, April 15, 2011

right this second...

I'm loving:
   --these tiny white flowers that have peeked out of the dirt at work
   --Us & Them's bold & bright designs
   --the soft colors of this cute vintage apron

I want:
   --a massive iced caramel latte
   --this porcelain branch for my coffee table
   --a pair of these jeans. I almost bought them Tuesday, but the sale price didn't apply to the color I wanted. Hopefully I'll find a similar pair after tonight's outlet mall trip.

I'm feeling:
   --the need to create... I'm hoping for some project time this weekend.
   --so, so happy it's Friday

"right this second" post inspired by alyson at unruly things

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Baby Girl Stanton

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.... I was working on one Monday afternoon while waiting in Bronson Hospital, but it was interrupted by the birth of a beautiful baby girl.

Meet Baby Girl Stanton (her parents still haven't decided on a name just yet) Adalynn Eislee Marie Stanton. 19 inches long, 5.132 pounds. She was a breech baby so they had to do a c-section at the last minute, but she is healthy and keeping her parents awake through the night.

I've never actually been around a newborn -- she's so sweet and tiny! She has her mama's lips and nose and her daddy's eyes and brow bone. I haven't seen her fingers or toes yet because of her sleeper, but her little ears are adorable. Oh, babies. She really is so beautiful and I'm so excited to be a part of this little girl's life!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Oh, Ikea...

I love Ikea, I really do. I know I've already made that apparent, but I thought I'd remind you all again. The two hour trip last Friday was well worth it... I picked up almost everything on my Wish List and then some. We decided to wait on buying a desk because everything we looked had the "I put this together from a flat-packed box" appearance that I typically try to avoid. And the blue enamel pitcher I wanted was so tiny -- 6 inches will not suffice for pouring lemonade come June. 

I'm not positive... but I think this face means Ulia likes the new love seat.

We successfully assembled the love seat on Friday night, and began working on the bed frame Monday evening. Old bed frame disassembled, entire room dusted and vacuumed, new frame pieced together: check. Three main support-screws later, Chris noticed something wrong with the fourth and final one. It was completely misshapen (almost stripped) and impossible to screw into the frame. I called Ikea, who told us we could drive two hours to "swing by" and pick up a new screw or wait 7 business days for them to ship it to our house (apparently they're shipping it alllllll the way from Sweden.)  

At first I was pretty upset to think I'd be crashing on our couch for over a week... but we totally made it work. I present to you our awesome living-room-couch-bedroom-mattress: 

Please ignore the mess and instead focus on how awesome it is that our mattress fits perfectly between our sectional and love seat. It reminds me of being a kid and creating sofa-forts out of blankets and couch cushions. We're on day 5 and I honestly haven't slept this soundly in a while. The mattress seems softer, the pillows are fluffier, and our comforter couldn't be any cozier. Not to mention it makes a great spot for watching two disks of True Blood in one setting.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stop, Tulip Time.

Images 1, 2, 3, 4 all via Pitch Design Union

Spring where are you? It's a drizzly gray morning here in Michigan, and even though the Sunday forecast promises a high of 78, it brings rain and thunder with it. So I'll turn my attention to these inspiring Holland beauties I saw yesterday on the Pitch Design Union blog. I'm not particularly drawn to a lot of high-saturated colors, but these giant quilt-like fields of tulips are breathtaking. Could you imagine standing in those vibrant fields, breathing in the warm floral air? Marking "Visit Holland in the Spring" down on my things-to-do-before-I-die list.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Buttercup the Giant Spring Bunny

Although the hubs and I don't plan on having kids anytime soon, I've got babies on the brain. My sister-in-law, Natalie, is about to burst. She's due next week but the doctors are saying she'll most likely have her little baby girl this Thursday (!!!).

I can hardly believe I'll be an aunt in a few days... I'm so excited for all things teeny and pink, as well as adorable toys like this sweet little bunny I spotted at Skeepy King's shop earlier today:

Sooooo cute! It would be perfect for a springtime baby. And now to think of a way I could somehow justify buying Liam the Sleepy Fox for myself.... 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wish List: Ikea

Happy Friday! Christopher and I are both cutting out of work a little early today to journey to the mecca of clean-line design and Swedish meatballs: Ikea!! We plan on spending a bit of our tax return on some much needed items for our newlywed nest (and hopefully a few just-for-fun things, too!)

Clockwise from left: 1. We never have enough seating at our house, so we're picking up a Karlstad Loveseat that matches our sectional couch.  2. I'm obsessed with eyelet detailing, like in this Skurar plant pot.  3. Helllllo blue enamel Sockerart pitcher. I must have you.  4. I'm still trying to convince Chris that I need a new desk, and this build-your-own Vika option would be practical and perfect. 5. We already have one of these Stockholm Blad cushions, but I'd like to pick up two more. I love that linear floral pattern.  6. Right after our honeymoon we picked up two Hemnes dressers, but they didn't have the coordinating bed in stock. We're hoping they will this time.  7. Even if I don't get my desk, Chris has already promised we can pick up a new chair, which beats pulling one from our dining room table any day. 

Are you a fan of Ikea? I know some people hate it because their pieces are so obviously Ikea-ish, but I think Ikea is great. The company does a wonderful job at providing people with simple, modern designs at incredible prices. And why wouldn't you love that? Mhmm.

And of course, you can't go to Ikea without thinking of this adorable scene:

That's because it is delicious!  Oh I love that movie. And Zooey Deschanel.

Happy weekend!