Reader Appreciation Week

For me, spring is a time of renewal and gratitude. I am so looking forward to all the colors of spring flowers and green vegetation. As I write this article, today is the first day of spring and it got me thinking about my gratitude for you readers. Thank you for reading my Studio Notes😁 I am blown away by the thoughtful comments and emails that I receive from you readers. It really is why I keep writing. Every writer needs those readers to make it all worth while.

Spring has got me thinking about renewal and fresh ideas. I am curious about what my readers are thinking? What motivates you to read my Studio Notes? What value do you take away after you read it? What topics are you interested in learning more about? After writing over 100 weekly Studio Notes, I would like to focus on what really resonates with my readers.

Readers have shared productivity app tips, businesses to follow, their connection to nature, being vulnerable and talking about struggles to keep creating on a regular basis and more. This desire to share makes me feel very humbled and grateful for the trust you have given me.

In a reflective mood, I wondered what can I do to show my appreciation. My answer was offering to share what I have learned over these 20 years of creating.

So this week is a CALL FOR QUESTIONS!

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Sandhill Cranes Landing

The Winter Artist in Residence idea came to fruition because of my friend Julia. She works at a Montessori school as the Outdoor Classroom Instructor. I wrote about this in January. Click HERE to read more. As part of the Winter Artist in Residence, I taught workshops for kids which I wrote about HERE. As a thank you to my friend for helping me run these workshops, I offered to create an EcoMemory for her as a form of bartering services, my creating art for her and she helping me run a classroom of active young children. There is no way I could have done these workshops without her.

Back in January, we sat down to talk about her special place in nature. She knew what this was about so she had spent some time thinking about her special place. It’s interesting to note other people I have interviewed so far for their custom EcoMemory thought about nostalgic times from their childhood. My friend decided she wanted to do something more in the present moment that would remind her of her sense of contentment in nature. She wanted to be reminded of the beauty and joy of just being in nature especially during her regular runs in a local nature preserve. The advantages of this is I know exactly where this nature preserve is located. So I went and scouted out the location and took actual photos of the landscape. This helped with my design work.

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View from the Boat on a Lake

For the past few weeks, I have been writing in my Studio Notes about what I’ve learned while developing this EcoMemory process and how I am improving the process with each new client. The next EcoMemory I created is for my friend Pam from Seattle. She has been involved with my EcoMemory idea from the very beginning. As I described this idea to her, how I wanted to make my art more personal and meaningful to my future clients by helping them reconnect to their special place in nature, she immediately told me she had a budget and she wanted me to make two for her. Double the fun! Of course, I was ecstatic. We settled on a time and we had a Skype conversation so we could feel like we were talking to each other in the same room, at least as much as you can, using a laptop screen. 

Pam described being in a rowboat on a calm lake in northern Minnesota early in the morning as a young child. She looked over the edge of the boat and saw these beautiful colorful sunfish swimming in the water. Now Pam is an artist herself and loves color as it is a way for her to express her ideas through her art.

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View from Seaside Heights Boardwalk

After I created my first EcoMemory piece for my geology professor Dr. Palmquist, "Partridge Point in Lake Superior” (Read about it HERE), I wondered what would be my next step. I thought, who really gets my abstract landscape art. I immediately thought of Jackie Skarritt. Click HERE to see her Instagram Page. We have been Instagram friends for a few years and she always would comment so insightfully on both design issues and color palette. She would highlight the complicated designs or the teeniest little piece of fabric that I had inserted and thought no one would notice. But Jackie noticed, and would comment about it on Instagram. She would look at my Clouds series and say she looked up at the sky and it was exactly like what she saw in a recent daily square from that Clouds series. I knew that we saw the world in similar ways. So next step, I direct messaged her in Instagram and asked if I could call her about a project I had in mind.

She could not have been more gracious. We talked for an hour and found out we have many things in common. 

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An Island in Lake Superior

In the Fall of 2017,  I had this idea to create art inspired by special places in nature. In my mind, this sounded like a great idea to help people reconnect to how they feel in nature. The art would tap into people's memories of time spent in nature. But I was not sure how to actually do it. Whatever it was going to actually be, I decided to call the process an EcoMemory Experience.

We were visiting our college alma mater, Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin in November of 2017 as we brought our youngest child on a college visit to check it out and I knew we were visiting with my favorite professor for coffee. This coincidence got me thinking. When I was a student, my professor Dr. Palmquist and I did field work for this project on a small rock island right off the shore in Lake Superior near Marquette, Michigan. I never forgot the beauty of the lake and those gorgeous dark rocks with pink mineral veins (in geology called dikes). So, a week before our trip,  I just started pulling fabric and cutting it up and sewing it back together again. I made my first EcoMemory artwork for my favorite Geology Professor based on my Senior Honors Geology Project. I captured the feeling in this piece entitled "Partridge Point in Lake Superior."  I presented the artwork to Dr. Palmquist  and this is what he had to say about it.

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What I Learned about Imagination from my Students

Phase One of my Winter Artist in Residence at a local  Montessori school finished last week. This phase consisted of workshops for two different age groups: primary children (ages 3-6 years old) with their parents and the elementary school kids (6-9 years old) by themselves. I created this workshop specific for this school and age groups. The workshop is called Connect to Nature through Art where we discuss thinking about your favorite place in nature, remembering how it makes us feel and then using our imagination to create art showing this special place.  I taught them how to tear construction paper into small pieces and glue the pieces onto a larger sheet of thick watercolor paper as their canvas.

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My State of the Union 2018

In previous editions of my Studio Notes, I’ve talked about having a period of self reflection to think about what went well last year and what not so well. Then I use that information to decide what I want to focus on for 2018. Remember,  this is very personal and obviously specific to me. I thought about not even including this in my blog. But I realized when you read about other people doing this kind of pondering exercise, it makes you, the reader, reflect on what you would choose as what went well and what did not go well and hopefully, what are your goals for this upcoming year. So, I include my State of the Union as an example for you to think about the possibilities.

 I was inspired by Paul Jarvis's State of the Union in his weekly newsletter to write my own.  I’ve written about Paul Jarvis before and have followed his work for years.  His honesty and humor gave me a good example to follow. I find this high level bird's eye view of the past year very helpful because sometimes you get so caught up in the every day routine, you don’t take the time to step back and see what has happened in the past year for good or bad.

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Winter Artist in Residence

Recently, I started thinking about where do people who love nature hang out. Thinking about this idea sparked another idea about being an Artist in Residence at a nature center. I could make art at that location and be surrounded by people who appreciate nature and actively seek to spend more time in nature. I thought about people I knew who could help me think more about this idea. I have a friend who I went to summer camp with as a child in Maine who lives in my local area. She works as the Outdoor Classroom Director for the local Montessori school. (How cool is that title!) So Montessori schools place a lot of emphasis on nature and being outdoors year round.  This particular facility is fortunate enough to have a wetlands, prairie and woods on their property for their students.

My friend and I met a few times to talk about the possibilities and now I am the Winter Artist in Residence at the school for the next month. T


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New Year New Theme

This new year of 2018 has brought some changes to my art practice. I am trading in the daily squares from the Every Day Project for weekly EcoMemory larger pieces. This shift in my thinking started last fall when I decided most of my Every Day Project series are based on nature like the Forest and Clouds series. I realized when I thought about how I felt in nature and the emotions from those places in nature and then translated that into my art, the effect was a lot more powerful. This is the beauty of Instagram when you get instant feedback on your artwork. This idea of the emotional power behind the art coupled with my desire to make my art personal for clients and really serve my clients would lead me to a new idea, EcoMemory commissions. 

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Coral Reefs Update

I completed sewing the 25 daily squares of the Coral Reef series on Sunday. The final piece is in My Shop. 

Here is how I describe it. Imagine the feeling of swimming underwater and seeing the coral reef healthy, colorful and full of life. This is the feeling I evoke with the Coral Reef series. This series is inspired by the documentary Chasing Coral. The documentary is available on Netflix and is a wonderful movie to watch with family over the holidays. If you are curious about how I make each piece, I sew all the daily squares in consecutive order from Day 1 to 25 into one big square and then wrap that around a 24 in.² stretched canvas frame. The impact of the blues for the water in the top row and the natural colors for the sand on the bottom row are a little subtle because of the edges being wrapped around the stretch canvas frame. But there are enough little hints of the water blue and sand color that I’m still pleased with the outcome. The Coral Reef series is now for sale my website. Click HERE to see he finished piece in my shop. 

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