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Archive for July 2016

Crooked Letter + Tough Questions

I’m thinking (and being wordy) about art and business and what’s mine and what’s yours today…

Being creative means juggling all kinds of influences and inspirations. Coming up with “original” ideas is actually kind of rare. The concept has been much discussed recently in light of political flaps surrounding the lifting other people’s words or ideas. I see posts from illustrators and artists I admire all the time bemoaning the lifting of their work to be produced without their permission or compensation. In the age of the internet and wifi and Google, the concept of “ownership” has certainly been watered down, or at least misunderstood.

As an artist, I think it’s important to balance the influence of others with a staunch respect for another person’s ownership of their own efforts. I’m thinking about it today because I came across at the Mississippi “Crooked Letter” design below in an Etsy shop called Hypsy Gypsy Boutique based in Purvis, MS — listed on July 8, 2016. The design bears some resemblance to my own block print design. It’s not the same, of course. It’s not an exact copy of mine. It’s just similar. I think what caught my eye is the apostrophe. The infamous apostrophe up there between the eM and the eye! I notice it because I’ve gotten a fair measure of lively discussion (some might say flack) about that apostrophe in my work and my choice in this piece to leave out one set of crooked letters to spell M’issippi rather than the “correct” way.

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Is it just a happy coincidence of two southern artists with the same cultural references? Is the design influenced by mine? Is it a knock-off? Is it a copyright violation? Does my design (and hers) somehow belong to the digital ether once I send it off for viewing on some platform via wifi? Tough questions.

The design of concern is a digital download sold for $2 with a few restrictions prohibiting use on mass produced products. Ok. It will never become the hand crafted pieces I make from the sheet of linoleum I carved and now print by hand on the work table in my office. So, maybe the answers don’t necessarily matter in the big picture.

Maybe. Or, maybe in a world of 128 characters, share buttons, and a meme a minute, the questions deserve a little more attention.

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This week I’ve been trying to convince Baby Girl that following through with something she started would be a brave thing. That’s true. Most of the time. And, it’s a valuable lesson to learn for hearts of any age. But, she taught me something else this morning. She taught me that sometimes, when you know yourself and what makes you happy and excited, the brave thing is to say “This isn’t me.” It’s not a good fit. It’s not my place. It’s not what I want. It’s not what makes my heart sing. And, that’s ok. Because being truly brave is having the courage to  stay loyal to who you know you are.

That girl.

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More peace. More justice. More listening. More sorrow where we’ve been silent. More seeing, more protecting, more defending. More breaking walls. More building bridges. More repairing breaches. More standing in gaps. More reaching across. More pulling up. And stepping down. More laying aside. More embracing. More understanding. More giving. More human-being. More peace. More peace.

We better get busy. I better get busy. To my generation: WE BETTER GET BUSY. Friends, neighbors, church: We better get busy. We better get busy identifying with that 99.6% of our DNA God duplicated in every one of us. We better get busy righting these wrongs, putting salve on these scars, loving all these shades of the same color. We better get busy making peace.

Because I want Baby Girl’s generation to live long enough to be peacemakers. I want her to know how to make peace because she’s seen it in OUR TIME. I don’t want her to inherit a scourge that we should have healed today. We better get busy.

make . DIY Watercolor Paint

Baby Girl loves the YouTube Kids iPad app! She just loves it. I like it because I don’t have to worry about questionable content, and it gives her the opportunity to wander through some of the things that interest her. These days, she’s excited about cooking and party planning projects, how-to’s for dollhouses and doll furniture, and crafts, crafts, crafts! She’s a crafty girl! It’s not unusual for me to walk into her room or our play room/Kid Cave and find some idea she’s seen on YouTube starting to take shape with her own spin applied to it. Earlier this week, I came home from running a few errands to find this scene on the coffee table…

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She explained to me that we were making paint – a video she had seen on YouTube Kids. Since I’m a painter, that’s all it took to get me interested! The idea is really kind of cool, using old Crayola markers to make watercolor paint. Baby Girl went through her markers and found all the ones that had lost too much ink to really be fun for marker art. It turns out, when you place those markers in water, the remaining pigment seeps out to create varying shades of “paint” that still has some artistic life in it. I thought it was a great way to repurpose what might have otherwise been thrown out, and Baby Girl and I spent a little time experimenting with the paints.

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Different colors created paint with various amounts of vibrance. Baby Girl used 2 or 3 tablespoons of water for each color, and I imagine the intensity of some colors would be greater with less water. The paints made for very nice watercolor washes with light color building up slowly with more layers. We thought the fluorescent yellow marker created the most fun effects. It was a great opportunity for us to experiment with color, and I showed Baby Girl how to sprinkle salt on wet painted areas to see some of its marbling effect. For our experiments, we used my practice paper, which is thick, but not standard watercolor paper. It gave us a lot  more curling and puddling at the edges than traditional watercolor paper would. I had planned to try to create some backgrounds that I could use with lettering, and I ended up just having fun with how water and color work together. Here are some of our experiment results!

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sojourn . Summer Days at the Farm

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[so many greens]

My oldest has been talking about memories a lot lately – not necessarily specific ones, but more the concept of having them. And how they’re associated with places. Busy Bee, as we call our family farm land, is one of those places that has instilled memories for me, and it’s always been my goal for my children to have them there as well. We’ve set aside weeks to spend at the farmhouse each year to help build those memories, and it was neat for me to realize again this summer that the memories are taking hold.

We usually take a week of farm fun around Memorial Day to kick off our summer vacation. This year, as we were driving on the gravel road leading to our property, Travis noticed the typical cows in the fields. They are almost always black ones like the ones my dad used to keep. Now my uncle keeps a similar breed on our property. I think what caught Travis’ attention was the unusual red cow in the field. After pointing it out, he commented that it wasn’t like the ones on “our farm.” And then, “See Mommy, we have memories here.” It was a small and unselfconscious declaration taking ownership of one of our places and experiences. And it brought a smile to my face. What joy to have my children enjoy some of the same experiences and build some of the same memories I had as a child!

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[fairy stages?]

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[growing wild all over, but not quite ripe]

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[trumpet vine, somehow this has made it to my yard over the last year]

We spent the week enjoying more of our favorite farm adventures… walking the gravel roads, throwing rocks in the creek, noticing a thousand greens, digging through fallen trees, exploring the woods, finding old animal bones, the tree bench, gathering sticks for a bonfire, s’mores, driving to the “back back” and checking out fences, rocking on the deck, picnics by the barn, discovering blackberries, cooling off with a dvd marathon, sleeping late, and lots of conversations. I try to document our journey with photos and sometimes paintings. This trip, I painted most days on the deck each day, and the kids joined me a couple of times. Maybe that will become another tradition.

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[found cow bones now repurposed to dig in a tree stump]

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[does anyone else see a fish?]

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[my grandmother’s fig tree still producing]

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[old milk barn window with vines]

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[Elisha’s tiger]

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[Maggie’s sun]

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farmpainting6 [Memorial Day 2016]

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Happy July! [printable calendar]

I can’t believe July is already here! It seems like the summer is speeding by, but we are putting a lot of energy into enjoying every day! I hope you’re marking your summer days with a wonderful mix of laziness and fun activities. My babies are returning from camp today, and we’re heading into a long 4th of July weekend. This month for us will include science camp, a trip to the beach, and probably a little preparation for the start of school in early August – but we don’t want to think about that right now. Today, let’s just enjoy the carefree days of summer for another month!

I’ve put together a July printable calendar that includes some cut-away artwork celebrating the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” You can download the art at the links below. Enjoy your July!

PRINTABLE CALENDAR

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