A Patchwork Fall

A Patchwork Fall
"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." ~Paul Cezanne~

December 15, 2015

Snow Days

Big winter storm hit us on Monday this week. 25 inches of snow in 24 hours in my area of northern Utah - I believe it set a record. So...basically, all of winter came in a day! I have removed snow from my driveway 5 times in two days (plus my neighbor's driveway once). Thank goodness for my snow blower!

Merry Christmas season!

October 2, 2015

A Place of Sanctuary: If I tidy up my home life, it will benefit my professional life.

The following is a blog post I recently published on my LinkedIn site - with a few minor changes and updates.

I have been moving through life in the past few years in a constant state of stress. I’m sure many of you relate. Not that there aren’t moments of joy, but the demands of my professional career and my personal roles as mother and wife are often hard to balance, let alone try to find a few minutes of serenity and quiet for myself. My brain is constantly buzzing with “to-do” lists: things I need to take care of when I get to the office, things I need to remember to do on my way home from work, things I need to do when I get home from work…and how to cram it all in two the 2-3 hours I have in the evening for preparing dinner for my family, packing school lunches for the next morning, getting my children into PJs with teeth brushed, and (most importantly) story time and snuggles for bedtime. And, let’s be honest, even though I have a huge laundry list of items (and actual laundry!) to take care of after the kids are tucked in to bed, the reality is that I fall asleep in the reclining chair in my kid’s bedroom about 90% of the time at that point when I sit down to snuggle with my 5-year-old before tucking him in. My level of productivity for that day has ceased while I then have dreams (or sometimes nightmares) about the things I need to get done the next day.

We all need a place of “sanctuary.” Whether we work in the home or out of it, our home should be a place that we can feel safe, calm, and serene. It should be a place we look forward to spending time in, and where we can shut our brains off for a little while to recharge. But, as I have wandered the rooms of my home in the past while, I realize it is not. 

The moment I walk in the door from my very full days at work, I am bombarded by a disheartening array of clutter: dirty socks on the floor (in the kitchen!), dirty dishes in the sink, toys on the floor, the fireplace, the dressers, the bathroom… There is “visual noise” everywhere I look. And, instead of feeling happy and peaceful when I arrive home, I feel oppressed and inferior. As if, somehow, I should be able to manage my life well enough that my house will always be sparkly clean, my office will always be tidy, my professional and personal projects will always be organized and completed ahead of time, and my kids will always behave... Somehow I should be the perfect Pinterest Mom, the always attentive and never stressed Wife, and the completely ironed and put together Professional and Professional Artist.

Ha! We all know THAT’s not going to happen.

But, I have found a glimmer of hope. I have a plan. Not to become the “perfect everything,” but to improve my sense of balance and peace (both at home and at work), and to increase my productivity (both at home and at work).
I recently finished reading a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo (#konmari).

This book was very timely for my life right now, and it resonated with me very deeply. While I was listening to the audio book and then re-reading sections of the printed book, the thought came to me:

“If I tidy my home…if I create a Sanctuary for myself and my family – where we can come home from work and school each day and feel peaceful and enjoyment, then my brain and my soul will be refreshed each day. I will sleep more restfully. I will wake up refreshed instead of bombarded by those same elements of ‘visual noise’ that I came home to the night before. I will leave my house each morning feeling less tense and more peaceful. If I wake each day with joy because I have surrounded myself only with the things that bring me joy – and decluttered my space by removing all those items that do not – then I will arrive at work cheerfully and peacefully. I will be more productive! Not just at work, but in all areas of my life. I will be less stressed! Not just at work, but in all areas of my life. I will feel joy every day.”

Don’t get me wrong. By creating “sanctuary” at home I don’t have the misconception that there will never be toys or dirty socks on the floor when I arrive home. There will always be toilets to scrub and laundry to do. However, I do believe that, by decluttering our lives, it will be much easier for my family to take 5-10 minutes each night to “tidy” up each of our personal spaces…and then the peacefulness will quickly return. (Hint: I’ve already started trying this “tidy” approach with my 5-year-old when I get home from work. He is eager to pick up his dirty clothes and put them in the hamper, then put his stuffed animals on the bed. It is quick and easy, and he has made mommy happy in the process. It only takes him 2-3 minutes to do this! Soon, we will have a home for everything he has, and it will be easy for him to keep everything in its place - or put it there quickly.)

When we have created our Sanctuary at home, we can more fully enjoy ourselves as a family and find the respite we each need each day. We can each have a little personal time free of the stress of being bombarded by visual noise. We can recharge for the next day.

As I embark upon this journey, I expect there will be some revelations along the way. My husband and I started tidying with 9+ hours of sorting through our clothing (I did mine first, then he did his). We each handled every piece of clothing we own, discarding the things that do not “spark joy,” and then lovingly putting away those items that we have each chosen to keep. It may take us a month, 3 months, 6 months, 8 months to tidy our home…but we have committed to a new lifestyle. It starts now.

In the process of decluttering my personal life, I believe I will also declutter my professional life – learning to focus on the things that are most important first, and becoming exponentially more productive while finding joy in my work.

Image Sources: All images were found in public domain. Copyright belongs to respective photographers or designers.

UPDATE:  I wrote this original blog post at the very end of August. As of this past weekend, I have finished sorting through all of my books. (My husband did his two weekends ago...but mine was a much more massive project!). 6 boxes of books donated to the Jr. High school, 4 boxes donated to an Eagle Scout project, and I am now in possession of a tidy bookshelf ONLY the books that spark joy for me, or that I intend to read in the next year. Of course, I still LOVE books and will still buy them. But, after I read each new future book, unless I truly intend to read the book again multiple times, it will be sent on to find a new home to bring joy to someone else. :)

This weekend...we begin the sort & tidy for my kids' books...

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog. Have a great weekend!

September 18, 2015

FRIDAY FEATURE: Featured Artist ~ Colleen Reynolds

Step on board the U.S.S. Watercolor with Colleen Reynolds!

Funny and direct, I have worked with Colleen Reynolds on the Board of the Utah Watercolor Society for the past year and a half. She was actually the person responsible for recruiting me to take over as the UWS Newsletter Editor. Colleen is the current UWS President, and we are in for a fun-filled year! 

Big Ship and a Little Tug  ©Colleen Reynolds

Colleen served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years and 6 months. She enlisted as a communicator, then called "Radioman," and achieved the rank of Radioman Chief Petty Officer (RMC or E-7). She was then selected for a commissioning program and earned Cryptologic Officer, achieving the rank of Lieutenant before retiring in 2000.

She served in San Diego, CA; Oslo, Norway (with NATO)l; Edzell, Scotland; Washington D.C.; Moscow, ID; and Chesapeake and Norfolk, VA. While in Norfolk, she had opportunity to serve onboard the U.S.S. George Washington, the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt; the U.S.S. Blue Ridge and a British Frigate, the H.M.S. Brave.

Butterfly Bushes  ©Colleen Reynolds
Now, Colleen spends her time working as an artist (with a focus on watercolor) in her studio at 21st Studios in Salt Lake City. She teaches classes and workshops in watercolor, Brusho® crystal colours pouring techniques, and is a distributor of Daniel Smith Watercolors.

Colleen was gracious enough to answer my blog feature questions. 

Q: What are your favorite materials and tools...the ones you just can't live without?

A: My studio! I have the best space imaginable for creating art and teaching classes. It is spacious with north natural light, located in the heart of Sugar House. I feel like I'm surrounded by the heart of the art community in Utah. Besides my studio, my favorite tools are my Lowe-Cornell #14 round brush, my little palette knife for applying masking fluid and mark making, and my Daniel Smith paint and Brusho® pigment. 

Flirting in the Light  ©Colleen Reynolds

Q: Who are your artistic influences and why?

A: Hmm, this changes a lot? I would say my earliest influences were my mother and father. Mother taught drawing lessons in our home when I was in pre-school and during my early grade school years. And my father entertained us with cartooning. I remember a drawing book, "How to draw cartoon animals" occupied my brothers and me for days and days, years and years. Since leaving the artistic nest of home, I would say taking an Art History class while in Washington D.C. had me visiting some of the best original art in the world, in the Smithsonian museum system. It gave me the itch to learn to paint myself. I was entranced when viewing Monet's paintings for the first time, and the watercolors of John Singer Sargent. I loved the figurative paintings of Thomas Eakins. I haunted the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in D.C., which featured ballet dancer bronzes by Degas, screen prints by Andy Warhol and much, much more. I started out as an oil painter and took some classes in Salt Lake before going back to school at the University of Utah to study painting and drawing. Certainly my professors there are some of my biggest influences; Diana Gardiner, Tom Hoffman, and John Erickson are my friends today. I've recently moved to painting almost exclusively in watercolor, so I have come to admire several watercolor artists around the world, many who I've had the honor of meeting and learning from; Jean Haines and Joanne Boon Thomas out of England, Bev Jozwiak out of Washington state, Gerard Hendriks from Holland, Thomas Schaller from California, Chinese artist, Lian Quan Zhen. I've come to enjoy Barbara Nechis, John Salminen and Stephen Quiller after taking their workshops, sponsored by the Utah Watercolor Society.

Chinese Lanterns  ©colleen Reynolds

Q: What is/are your favorite subject matter and why?

A: Figurative work. Portraits. Animals. Plant closeups. I have always been drawn to the figure, mostly human, but animal figurative work as well - especially felines. I pride myself on my proficiency with it. I think figurative work is a test of the best. But I also love the nuance of light casting on many a subject, a portrait, a flower, or a kitty laying in the sun.

They Lit Up the Room  ©Colleen Reynolds

Q: What advice would you give to emerging artists?

A: Draw. Observe. Tell stories with pencil and paint. Do it a lot, every day if you can, even if you don't feel like it. Network with other artists. Learn and observe others' work. Don't think every painting attempt is precious. Give yourself the opportunity to learn. Create rather than copy.

Gossip Girls  ©Colleen Reynolds

Q: What are your favorite quotes?

A: "The bigger the brush, the bigger the rush"  - John Erickson. "Don't be afraid of the dark!" - Richard Stephens. "Let's Paint!" Sandra Stroschein. "All art has a story to tell." - Thomas Schaller. "Put miles on the brush." (can't remember where I heard it first).

Jonesy  ©Colleen Reynolds

Q: What would you most like to be remembered for in life?

A: As a kind, exuberant, giving contributor and teacher - to art and to my community in general. As someone who lived a meaningful and happy life.

You can find Colleen's paintings on her website, and you can follow her blog as well. 

Colleen is represented by The Framing Establishment in Murray, UT; The Art Bank in Ely, NV; Taylor Jensen Fine Art in Palmerston, New Zealand; and her own gallery showroom at 21st Studios in Salt Lake City, UT.

Iris Rain  ©Colleen Reynolds

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog!

I hope you enjoyed this Featured Artist post. Please leave a comment with your thoughts and feedback. I would love to hear from you!

September 8, 2015

A Fall of UWS Shows!

I have been working to set up a new studio space in my home for the past couple of months, and also to clean up our house a bit - so I am not constantly bombarded by the mess factor, feeling guilt that I should be cleaning or doing laundry or dishes rather than painting.

In fact, we are in the process of using the KonMari method of tidying our entire home! The end goal is to allow myself to get into a higher level of art production and to create a "sanctuary" at home. I am hoping for a place that feels relaxing when I walk through the door, so that I can unwind and let my brain rest and rejuvenate - thus allowing me to focus better on all things I would like to accomplish. (That is what I hope to do by tidying our living space...create some peace for all of us! Getting the hubby and boys on board hasn't been too difficult, but we still have many things to do in order to achieve that sanctuary!) 

Additionally, in the last few weeks, the new school year started for both of my sons, and the craziness and commotion of getting out of summer routine and into school routine (stricter bedtimes, homework, reading minutes, flash cards, making sure uniforms are clean, packing lunches, etc...), and working with my youngest son in his difficult adjustment to Kindergarten has been, in a word, exhausting!

But, I feel like our fall family routine is finally starting to take shape and I am hopeful that my youngest son will start making some friends at school and be able to work through some of the challenges we are having. That's life for a busy mom! (Right? Please tell me there are some more of you out there!)

In the midst of all this craziness, I am happy to have my painting, "Mountain Fall," hanging at Red Butte Garden with the Utah Watercolor Society's 2 Star/Signature Member Show through mid-October. It is a show full of many beautiful paintings (not to mention beautiful gardens outside). If you are in the Salt Lake area, I highly suggest you stop by to see the show...and the gardens! (Note: the UWS show is free admission. If you would like to tour the gardens, you will have to see the front desk for admission.)

Jennifer Love Artwork_Mountain Fall
Mountain Fall ©Jennifer Love

This past weekend, I also received the exciting news that my painting "A Patchwork Fall" was accepted to the Utah Watercolor Society's Fall Member Exhibition (juried by award-winning artist Thomas Schaller). I am honored to have my painting be selected as one of 71 paintings to hang in the show (out of 142 submitted). This show will hang at the Visual Arts Institute in Salt Lake City from October 5th - November 6th.

Jennifer Love Artwork_A Patchwork Fall
A Patchwork Fall  ©Jennifer Love

My Fall is off to an encouraging artistic start! I hope yours is as well.

As always, thanks for taking time to stop by my blog! 

August 2, 2015

Art Festival Day

Spent the day at the Park City Kimball Arts Festival today with the hubby. Beautiful day, lots of wonderful art to view and treasures to be found!

Art booths up and down Main Street

Art booths up and down Main Street

Guilloume - beautiful sculpture work

July 10, 2015

FRIDAY FEATURE: Featured Artist - Brienne Brown

Step out "en plein air" with Brienne Brown!

"I truly believe that we are all capable of great things through positive thinking, hard and consistent work, and creative time management." ~Brienne Brown

"Sweet" is the first word that comes to my mind (and I would venture to guess many others') when I think of Brienne Brown. Always cheerful and determined no matter what life brings her, Brienne's smile shines on all who come near and she makes their world a brighter and better place!

Lunch with Brienne and many other talented Utah Watercolor Society artists!
Brienne is in the middle. That is me to the right (in the pink shirt).

I first met Brienne a few years ago when we were both artists at Local Colors of Utah art gallery. Her sunny smile and cheerful manner makes you immediately want to know her and be her friend. She is a watercolor painter and also has two sons that are the same ages as my two sons, so I felt a certain kinship with her from the beginning. And, though we are not "close" friends, I am happy to be among her larger circle of artist friends, even after she moved away from Utah and settled with her family in Pennsylvania. I had a great time meeting up with Brienne and some other talented watercolorists for lunch this past Spring when she visited Utah. I love reading Brienne's blog posts about her art adventures and life, following her amazing accomplishments as she continues to win awards for her beautiful watercolors, and I watch in awe (and, admittedly, a little envy) as she continues to demonstrate incredible skills with her loose plein air painting style.

Men at Work ©Brienne Brown

True to her gracious nature, Brienne was kind enough to answer my blog feature questions. So, here you have it, in her own words...

Q: What are your favorite materials and tools...the ones you just can't live without?

A: My 2 favorite brushes…  My mop brush, I use an Escoda Aquario (Squirrel) Mop #14 and #18, and a #16 Escoda Perla Toray White Synthetic Short Handle.  I have to have a mop brush. I have used many different brands that work well, but the Escoda brushes are just favorite brushes lately.  The mop brushes are important too because they help me with my first wash, an essential step.  Also, I can't live without “Lavender” by Holbein!  It makes beautiful grays.

Monterey Fishery ©Brienne Brown

Brienne's plein air setup

Q: Who are your artistic influences and why?

A: I have many artistic influences.  I love looking at and stud
ying art of other artists.  One of my favorite historical influences has to be Andrew Wyeth for his strong design and use of contrast.  Also, I love studying the paintings of JohnSinger Sargent because he was a master of composition and brush strokes in watercolor.  Finally, I love studying the paintings of Edward Hopper because his paintings tell marvelous stories and I really connect with his paintings. 

As for modern influences, I have many that have impacted how I paint whether through direct instruction or just appreciation for their art.  Some of these artists include:  Roland Lee, Alvaro Castagnet, ChristopherSchink, Joseph Zbukvic, Kristi Grussendorf, William “Skip” Lawrence, and RobertWade.  This is not at all a complete list, but these artists I feel have greatly impacted my approach to watercolor. 

Color of Spring ©Brienne Brown

Q: What is/are your favorite subject matter and why?

A: I am not sure I have a favorite subject matter.  When I look for a good subject, I am looking for interesting shadows and shapes.  However, I would say that I gravitate to landscapes and cityscapes.  I also enjoy adding figures to my paintings and trying to capture their gesture.  I enjoy painting people, but I don’t do a lot of still life.  Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I like to paint outside!

On the Foothills  ©Brienne Brown

Q: What advice would you give to emerging artists?

A: Paint, Paint, and Paint!  I can’t say it enough.  I got great advice from a professional artist I admired, Rob Adamson, when I first thought of trying to sell my work.  He told me, “Paint, and the rest will take care of itself”.  

I didn’t really believe him at the time, but he is right.  It is great to learn from other artists and I still try to take at least one workshop a year because it helps to get new ideas and get new perspectives.  However, there comes a time that an artist needs to work more on his/her own artwork.  You need to get miles on a brush and incorporate what you have learned.  One more class will not give you the experience you need.  Make a goal for yourself to paint so many times a week or completing a number of paintings in a period of time.  Also, get some good critique from an artist whose opinion you value and be sure to have an open mind.   I am still doing this.

Brienne's plein air setup

Plant Sale  ©Brienne Brown

Q: What are your favorite quotes?

A: I have many favorite quotes.  One of my favorites is from Alvaro Castagnet, “Even if you don’t know what you are doing, pretend that you do!”  I say this often to myself as I paint.  This is because I strive for bold, confident strokes in my paintings and this helps me to put away my fears.  Put the stroke down boldly and leave it alone!  I am always saying to myself, “I meant to do that.”   That way even if I made a so called “mistake,” it was just meant to be.

Under the Ginko Tree  ©Brienne Brown

Q: What would you most like to be remembered for in life?

A: This is the hardest question.  I think I would like to be remembered for my art and teaching art to others.  I want to help inspire people to reach high for what they want and for reaching their fullest capabilities.  I truly believe that we are all capable of great things through positive thinking, hard and consistent work, and creative time management.  I want to be remembered for inspiring and teaching others to realize this!

Brienne's plein air setup

American Heritage  ©Brienne Brown

Brienne was featured in the Jan 2015 The Palette Magazine in an article by Skip Lawrence: "Editing. What you leave out is as important as what you put in."

She was featured in the  Informed Collector newsletter in October 2014, and her painting "Discussing Grandpa's House" was recently chosen to be included in North LightBooks’ latest watercolor competition Splash 17: Inspiring Subjects!

Discussing Grandpa's House  ©Brienne Brown

Brienne continues to win awards, have articles featuring her, have works published, and sell paintings every month! 

She will be teaching Plein Air Impressions in Watercolor Workshops October 7-10, 2015 in Moab, UT. You can click here for more information.

You can find Brienne's paintings at her website Brienne M. Brown and at the Green Drake Gallery in Millheim, PA. Follow her blog posts about life and art by clicking the Traveling Colors BLOG link from her website. 

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog!

I hope you enjoyed this Featured Artist post. Please leave a comment with your thoughts and feedback. I would love to hear from you!