It's a big day here. Sam is 24! Tomorrow he will join a community of friends and former classmates in a talent + fashion show at our high school. Sam's painted cards will be on display as a 'talented entrepreneur'. It's been so much fun watching these kids practice the 'runway'. After lunch out with his girlfriend Brianna we go the final dress rehearsal for the big show. It's going to be an action packed weekend. Lots of favorite memories in the collage below. Can't believe ~ 24!
Thanks to all of you who have shared your enthusiasm for his new enterprise of Painting with Purpose and the launch of his Etsy shop. We sold out and restocked the shop twice, and have been busy painting and folding more. Super fun!
SAM AND I HAVE BEEN BUSY!
We are excited to launch this new venture together, and are making our announcement today,
the beginning of Autism Awareness month.
SPECIAL NEEDS is a phrase that has a double meaning. Yes, Sam has 'special needs' in the way most people think. He has autism. But don't we all have special needs? Rather than shy away from the term we are embracing it to remind us that sometimes you just need a little something special. We hope you like our offerings and will choose to purchase when you want a card to send a personal message.
PAINTING WITH PURPOSE: Our goal is not to make profit but to cover our costs, and more importantly, give us a daily purpose. Our products may not be perfect, but that's the beauty of being handmade with heart. We will be donating a portion of our profit to make a difference in the lives of families who are affected by autism.
CREATING OUR OWN DESTINY: After years of working with agencies trying to find appropriate employment we've decided to create our own destiny with the self-imposed ambition to have a daily purpose. Painting with Purpose has become one of our mantras. Sam loves to sit at the easel and paint piles of paper everyday. Painting, cutting, sorting, counting, labeling, packaging and mailing will be a fun way to insert productive activity into our day.
RIPPLE EFFECT: (And the secret behind our logo) We hope that our choice to open this shop will have a ripple effect and inspire others to do something similar. If you know of a family that is also trying to gain employment for their adult child with special needs maybe you could suggest they find an item that could be handmade and sold too. When there isn't a clear path of what to do after graduation, this could be a worthwhile endeavor. I welcome any questions on how to get launched.
See our brand new shop, HERE.
As I mentioned here on the blog, a little while ago I had an epiphany. It wasn't a lightning bolt idea, it had actually been simmering for some time. After meeting with our sixth job coach in nearly three years, with grand hopes of finding appropriate job placement for Sam, it was becoming clear that we needed to invent our own plan for daily purpose. Sam has great skills and has had some work experience, but the applications and interviews were going nowhere. We couldn't even secure a regular volunteer position.
My first vision was to come up with a project that Sam could manage on his own, giving him a routine and a schedule - something that he loves. I purchased a die-cut machine with the intention that he could make sets of gift tags and sell them on Etsy. I buy tags from there all the time so it made sense. The endeavor would be a chance for him to be productive, and see results. Cut, sort, count, package. We began. Then, to explain better what we were doing this for, I pulled out some painted cards Sam had made back in middle school with his class. His teacher, Mrs. Reiss, had her husband make the boys some tabletop easels, and they painted papers which were made into card sets. The boys sold the cards from a table at school events, and even had a display at the church holiday bazaar. As I was reminding Sam about the handpainted cards he got really excited, and it was a *sign* we needed to drop the die-cut tags and focus on painting. So painting it is - and eventually we may circle back to tags, but we also have a few more project plans that will debut later in the year. Sam has purpose. Mom and Dad are proud. Family is supportive, and cheering, and tolerant of the dining room take-over during the painting sessions (he paints 30-40 sheets at a time!).
A few photos from 2007 when Sam's class was selling cards. Thanks to my friend Maureen Reiss, and the other teachers who got the boys started with the process of painting with purpose. Who knew this would become a daily focus? Awesome.
And a re-cap of our adventure - it's only just begun! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm with us. It's made the process really fun!
Ready to ship! See HERE.
It's Leap Day! An extra day on the calendar. It's like having a snow day, and thankfully there are no flakes forecasted. I'm in the studio today working on a new-to-me format with supplies from my studio stash. My fingers are sore but I'm enjoying a new process. I'm completely making this up as I go. Don't you love stretching yourself with something different? You always bring fresh perspective to your default way of working. I'll show you soon.
Take the opportunity today to leap!
Leap quotes from 2008 HERE.
(security envelope art, colorized in photoshop)
Brrrrrr. It's a cold one here today. Hope you are nice and toasty wherever you are, and wrapped in love.
My grand plan for launching my new stencils in January got side-lined. Some fun assignments came my way so I shelved my own stuff until these new things are done. I'm not sure when I can tell you about all of it with the exception of a new venture that will begin in April. I will have some sneak peeks for you in the coming weeks. Thanks for your interest in the new stencils - I will squeeze in some production when I can and will post here when they are ready. Gotta say, it can be crazy to be so busy, but I'm not complaining!
Merry Christmas from the Wards! The theme this year was Graham's idea. We took the photos downstairs with all our instruments (yes, that's my own bass!) and the lighting was poor so I planned on converting to black and white. However, the colored version ended up being pretty good! So here's to a colorful Christmas! It's likely we will have the windows open this year - and may be out on the deck since it's expected to be in the 70s. What? Can't complain!
I'm going to wait until Friday to post our annual Christmas picture card as they are still arriving in the mail and I don't want to foil the surprise. If you've come by hoping to see my photo review of the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows it will be here eventually. We usually visit NYC over Thanksgiving weekend with my mom but this year my parents are coming for Christmas (today!) so we are saving the event for this weekend. The digital composition below is created with some of my new stencils that will be released in 2016. I like to mess around with them in photoshop to see how useful they might be in real life. I'm excited for these too!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas. I always expect the reader interprets what I'm saying, which is: I don't know the particular holiday you are celebrating this year so please take these words as wishes for a glorious season with loved ones.
I'm excited to announce that I'll be participating as an artist in 5th annual Creative JumpStart (CJS) 2016, hosted by Nathalie Kalbach. If you're not familiar with CJS, it's a one-of-a-kind online event to kick your creativity into high gear in January 2016. Nathalie has extended an invitation to me for several years and I always declined as I'm not a video girl. So how cool is this? I made my first one!!
Learn techniques, discover new materials, and connect with artists and crafters.
Throughout January participants get 25 downloadable videos from 24 featured artists. I'm proud to be one of those artists, called “JumpStarters.” See for yourself:
Head on over to Nathalie's site to sign up and for more details:
You get 25 videos for just $45 (USD) for a limited time if you sign up before December 31, 2015 at 11:59 pm (EST)! After that the fee will be $50.
But wait – it gets better: as my valued reader, you’ll get $5 extra off today. Just use this coupon code during checkout:
*This is a limited offer valid from 10:00 am Dec 4, 2015 to 11:59 pm EST on Dec 11, 2015.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up here nathaliesstudio.com/cjs, and apply the coupon code during check out process.
Chime in below if you have any questions or if you want to share your enthusiasm for jumping along with us.
For those who have served and for those who are serving, thank you.
Last year's display of poppies in England is worth revisiting. The English still honor vets with poppies. I was saying last year that I rarely see them here.
The first photo is from 2012 - we were in the UK just before 11/11 and poppies were everywhere. The next grouping chronicles the amazing ceramic poppies (888,246) that were installed at the Tower of London.
Twenty-five years ago today, on a very frigid Friday evening in St. Paul, Graham and I were married in front of friends and family. While it doesn't seem like yesterday, it certainly doesn't feel like twenty-five years. We have built a happy life together. We have three great kids, we have lived in four cities in four states, have had six addresses, and archived a lot of traveling miles, good memories, and are ready for more . Our first wedding dance was a Bon Jovi song, and our secret private vows included the same lyrics, "I'll be there for you". Serendipity....that track is from the album "New Jersey", where we now live. 25 years ago we never would have believed that NJ would become our home.
Silver anniversary! I married a good one. Graham is my best friend, a wonderful man, partner, and father. I always say I'm a lucky girl, and he continues to make me feel that way. I know he doesn't like to be featured on the blog, but I can't pass up celebrating US today. Love you.
Last week I went home to Minnesota for my Grandmother's funeral. While it was definitely tearful, and she will be dearly missed, it was also, in a way, a celebration of her life and how present she was in all our lives. Born in 1913 as Mary Batchelder, grew up in Granite Falls, MN, attended University of Minnesota, married Fallon Kelly in 1935, had four children - Kitty, John (my dad), Anne, and Molly, who gave her 18 grandchildren, and they gave her more than thirty great grandchildren. In the last few weeks I've been filling a journal with stories of her, from my childhood until now. Lots of beautiful, sweet, funny, and sentimental memories. I smile as I think of them even this very minute. I've flipped through photos, both here and at my parents home, and even more memories flooded in. It's hard to think of her not being at the other end of the phone, or opposite me at the dining table, but it was her time, and we are grateful for a full, happy, healthy life she enjoyed.
After the funeral last Friday we had a family dinner with all the relatives (there were alot!) and there was encouraging chatter about sharing stories. You may not know this about me, but I am a total chicken when it comes to standing up in front of a crowd, even if they are loved ones. Several of my cousins got things started and confidently stood up to share a favorite memory or two. This one spoke, then that one. We laughed, we toasted. Dad spoke. Mom spoke. I squirmed in my seat, wondering which story to share, hoping I could muster the courage to join in, and refrain from crying before I finished. I wasn't sure I could do it. But I didn't want to miss the chance to say she mattered. That evening It became a running joke between cousins, as each took a turn, claiming they were the favorite grandchild. When I did leave the safety of my chair at the corner table, I managed to squeak out a few sentences before my throat clenched and the well of tears was ready to burst. I said that we each knew Grandma's qualities, which were many - including hunter, hostess, golfer, great listener, matriarch....but that she also knew everything about US. She *got* us. Each and every one of us, of every age. She knew what we were each about, what we were into, what was going on in our lives, because she was genuinely interested in even the smallest of details. For years she was sending me newspaper clippings of articles I would enjoy, she was the first person to take me to an art museum (Walker Art Center), she gave me my first book of poetry, ..... later she wanted to know what my latest project was, we'd exchange thoughts about books we'd read, she wanted to know what Graham was cooking, where Peter was working, what Sam was doing, what Fallon was studying. It was the same with all my cousins and their families. It occurred to me, after I sat down, that in addition to making the statement that she *got* us, that it was obvious I left out one important observation. I can't get a re-do, so I will finish my thoughts here. I can see now that the reason we each felt like we were the favorite grandchild, was because that was her gift. That connection of feeling important and special is what she gave us, and hopefully she felt in return. What a great life lesson. To make each person in your life - relative or friend, feel like they are your favorite. Thank you Grandma. I will try to live up to your example for the rest of my days.
Here's a small view into her life....
My last photo with her, August 2014. She lived to 102....we were so lucky!
I've always been enamored of the Three Kings, also called the Three Wise Men or Magi. Maybe it goes back to the illustrated bible that Mom would read to us, or kind role they played in The Little Drummer Boy. Perhaps my fondness grew once I became a Ward, with a new family crest that has three crowns - significant since we have three children. Melchoir, Caspar, and Balthazar, who brought gifts of gold, frankicense and myrrh. They are magestic, and mysterious, and I love to explore the subject visually. I don't have photos of my journal pages right now, but here are some digital compositions.
This marks the end of the holiday season and after today we will start taking down all the decorations and the tree. Furniture can go back to its usual placement. I will miss seeing all our favorite things we carefully unwrap and display, but will take care to safely pack so we can enjoy when the year winds down again. Makes me sad that the neighborhood Christmas lights will start going dim. I love the brightness it brings to the dark nights. Here's to holding the light in our hearts all year. And here's to having candy canes around - a terrific remedy for a nauseous tummy. Stay well.
Gabriela at Stampington invited a number of artists to share their artful resolutions for 2015. See the blog post at Somerset Place to read the thoughts of twenty-four participants HERE.
Here's what I wrote:
I'm not one for making resolutions at the beginning of the year. My philosophy is that I'd much rather reflect on the past year and recognize all I have done. I find that to be empowering and motivating. Each January I have a ritual of making a Ta-Da list. I start with the end of December and work my way back to the first of the year, making notes of everything I that I can remember doing during the year. It is easier to start with the most recent self-imposed assignments. Eventually I recall a full list of achievements, missions, chores, and projects that leaves me feeling really good. Sure, there are always things left on my To-Do list....there is always more to do, and ideas that are still in-process. However, when you move items from your To-Do list to your Ta-Da list you celebrate what you've completed - that's much more affirming than worrying about the tasks ahead, and the pledge to make changes with the turn of the calendar page. Maybe you could start 2015 by patting yourself on the back for all the work you completed in 2014, from art projects to self-improvement, then carry forward the positive energy into the brand new year. Make a Ta-Da list, because it's way more fun than a To-Do list!
If you're interested, you can download and make your own ToDo/TaDa lists.
EDIT: I've had some requests to offer the printable lists as jpgs rather than pdfs. Here you go, click to enlarge.
Earlier this year we road tripped home to Minnesota to visit family. On the return trip we detoured through Indiana to see a MotoGP motorcycle race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Graham's plan for the card this year was the perfect illustration of our adventures in 2014.
Have a blessed Christmas.
See the amazing video of the making of the ceramic poppies for the Tower of London installation. All 888,246 are sold! See HERE. What a glorious recognition of honor.
I've seen more tributes to our serviceman through the NFL than anywhere else. The ceremony prior to last night's game was moving. Sadly, I rarely see poppies being sold here, unlike in England, where they are everywhere. Let's bring back the poppy!
For those who have served and for those who are serving, thank you.
You are cordially invited to participate in a three-day workshop May 1-3, 2015, hosted by Lynne Perrella and Michelle Ward. Take a look at our announcement and if you can't resist the tempation, fire off an email to Lynne (email@example.com) with a request for the dossier of information that covers registration details. $100 deposit reserves you a place. The class fill up fast so act quick if you're interested. Hope you'll consider joing us at this remarkable venue!
Location link: The Interlaken Inn
Information available August 1st, send Lynne an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
REGISTRATION BEGINS SEPTEMBER 1ST.