THIS. I was silenced yesterday when I saw this on Instagram. THIS beautiful photo.
A spontaneous + unexpected studio reno required my space to be taken apart yesterday and packed away. I moved piles and piles of scripted pages - thousands of sheets. Paint. Brushes + brushes + brushes. Many, many projects - complete and incomplete. As I looked over all of the piles of things I had stressed and obsessed over. I thought, seriously, what is the point of all this?
Then, as my refuge was haphazardly dismantled. I felt overwhelming anxiety. I was a trapped animal with nowhere to go. And I know how ridiculous that sounds.
The night before, I had listened to recordings of Robin Williams standup and his laughter was in my head. Because he is so funny and obviously, he has been in everyone's thoughts. And because I always felt I saw sadness behind his twinkly eyes. His movies were so funny, but had such powerful sadness. And he was so good at them that clearly he was so full of both. Mrs. Doubtfire used to make me laugh + break me, too. Because in real life the funniest people I know - are a little bit sad and broken underneath.
But maybe I only wanted to see that because I feel a little bit broken sometimes, too.
I would have been totally alright if Facebook hadn't suggested AT THAT MOMENT I should read an article about how historically painters specifically have the highest rates of anxiety + depression. Which angered me. And mostly shamed me because here I was on the verge of tears with paintbrushes in my hand...
It made me think of 2012 when my body fell apart and the pain was suffocating me. I felt like I was drowning. I wanted to drown. Which made me feel so confused and ashamed. Because who WANTS to drown? I did. And I know the darkness I felt was probably only sliver of what others feel and ohmygoodness MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT. And fragile.
Then the above image showed up.
Wow. That beautiful warrier of a woman put those words I scripted on the back of her neck after SPINAL SURGERY because she needed strength. Not because she knows me (she doesn't). Not because we are friends (we are not). Not because she follows me (she didn't). Not for any reason other than she received the tattoos as a gift and they meant something to her.
THAT. That's the point.
My heart quieted right down to a peaceful, grateful whisper. That's the point of all this. I was humbled. Honoured. I don't have the words for the feelings. We need each other. Everyone.
We do these things because we need these things. THIS.
(Photo used with gratitude + permission.)
If you're in Winnipeg sometime between now and the end of OCTOBER 2014 - you should stop in to 419 Graham Avenue. That's the Womens Health Clinic. They asked me if I'd be interested in creating something for their windows that focussed on the theme BODY POSITIVE. They gave me a list of words and the green light to do anything I wanted. They also suggested using a mirror so people could take a selfie. The window setup is perfect for transporting you INSIDE a lightbox type environment and I decided to make it AMAZING. I scripted on the glass (which had its own set of challenges). Script is forward and backward and through multiple layers. When you get in position to take the selfie - you ARE INSIDE THE ART. It's all around you. Behind you, in front of you, over you and almost THROUGH you. I want you to step inside and see how beautiful you are. (Take a selfie, share what you love about your body and share it with the hashtag #HEARTeveryBODY)
The result? I spent about 4 solid days scripting things blindly and in mirror image. WHICH WAS SO MUCH WORK FOR MY BRAIN - I feel like I unlocked a superpower. ;) But seriously, I spent roughly 60 hours thinking about bodies. Mine, my kids, my friends. I thought about the drawer of bathing suits I own but WOULD NEVER WEAR. I thought about c sections and saggy skin. STRETCH MARKS. I thought about the different thoughts I have had about my own body over the years. My small breasts that seemed like a curse when I was young, but a blessing now that I am not so young. I thought about the time when I was a strong fitness instructor. I thought about when I broke my back and didn't know. I thought about pain. I thought about shame. I thought about all the times I didn't go to the beach just because I didn't want to put on a bathing suit. I thought about how three c-sections felt to recover from. I thought about the scars. I thought about my hands. I thought about my hair and how much I struggle with it. I thought about my skin that I never care for. I thought about how SO MUCH of my life has been fighting the body I have instead of loving on what I've got.
STRETCH MARKS ARE PART OF OUR STORIES.
I thought about my kids bodies and how they are so adorable and perfectly them. The "imperfections" are my favourite parts of them. Their fingers. The crooked smiles and the little dimples on either side of the base of their spines. The fact that they are all so different. I love them so much - those girls. And I thought about how broken my heart would be if they hated something about their own bodies.
And then I painted and I painted. I didn't overthink the strokes. I let it pour out. I played. I remembered how incredibly much I love painting. I made ART out of nothing. I made feelings out of nothing. I left it all out there on those windows. It's not perfect, but it's really interesting. I'd love it if you went to take a look and posted a photo and shared a few thoughts about your body feelings.
The message I personally take away from those hours in a glass box scripting things backwards? FORGIVE YOU. BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF. I am grateful for this body and all my imperfections.
I went home and put on one of the many bathing suits I had hoped to wear when I was in better shape.
Hi. I'm in the middle of moving prints over to a new location. WHY? Because I woke up the other day and remembered that I'm DRIVING THIS SHIP. And by that I mean, I'm in charge of what my life looks like. (As are you in charge of yours!) And by that I also mean that when my TO-DO list keeps me stuck to my chair NOT MAKING NEW ART - then I'm doing it wrong. ;)
The mysterious "changes" I seem to keep referring to are happening right now. My favourite* prints are being moved to a Crated gallery. Over at Crated, they do an amazing job of printing and shipping things, offering different sizes and papers, making sure things are radical. My ARTshop will be my ORIGINAL ARTshop - meaning that's where you can find originals. I'm better at making originals than doing anything else - so I'll be working on that. The truth? It's scary to change things. I can't please everyone and I don't know how the transition will go. But, I'm optimistic and SUPER excited to have more oxygen for painting.
What YOU WILL LIKE:
CRATED: You can order prints in ANY size! On paper or on canvas. Framed or unframed. Etc, etc, etc. It means more options for you and better prices on most everything. Oh, and MORE RELIABLE SHIPPING, too. How cool is that?
ORIGINAL ARTshop: MORE ART! More originals, new work, art for sale. Original art is awesome. Prints are rad, too - but my fingers are itching to make stuff. This is where you will be able to find those pieces.
What WILL BE DIFFERENT:
CRATED: There won't be as many prints. Currently, there are over 150 different prints for sale in my current ARTshop - in different colours and sizes. That's bananas. That's too many to keep track of. I'll be culling and archiving over a hundred of those prints.
ORIGINAL ARTshop: There will no longer be prints - just delicious original art in a variety of sizes. Canvas paintings, original script work on watercolour papers. New cool things and more room to grow.
SUPER big, warm thanks for being so cool while I attempt to jiggle things around. We can't keep up anymore and that's a nice problem to have, but also a call to action to figure out a better way. I'm hoping this it. I'm SUPER excited about the new sizes! (The WELCOME Bus Roll is now available as big as 72 inches tall!)
Here's to striving for balance, creating art and DRIVING YOUR OWN SHIP. ;)
I am an artist. But lately, I have not been making very much art. I have been sitting at my computer sending files and prints and tending to social media and the business sides of things. It's making me feel lost.
I was made to MAKE art.
It's time for changes. The changes ARE GOOD. They're about ME letting go and finding a better alignment in my life (and Dan's!). They're about YOU having more options and better art products. They are about focusing on who I am and what I do best.
CHANGE no.01: My ARTshop will be changing drastically. By AUG1 there will no longer be prints available here. It will just be a cozy home for originals. And man, there will be a LOT of new originals. (SOME prints will be discontinued forever. Some will not. See Change no.02 for details.)
CHANGE no.02: I will have a dedicated PRINT SHOP where you can order whatever the heck you want in whatever the heck sizes you want. Framed. Unframed. On CANVAS. On paper. Whatever. Things will be professionally printed OFF SITE and shipped more quickly and life will be happier for EVERYONE (especially Dan!). Watch for that announcement and address as I get closer to launching! (This was a hard decision. Dan and I have been printing and shipping things from here for 8 years. That's a long time and a lot of hours. We can't keep up anymore and it's time to turn it over to people who DO IT WELL.)
Change is good.
If you get a chance - COME HAVE COFFEE! Seriously, pour some jo and put on Elise's podcast (episode 15). This is the one where she invites me to talk a bit about art, but mostly we just catch up on life and it's fun. I talk about polar bears, tiny art, selling originals and balancing things. The internet is full of good people. xo
If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you have probably heard me babble on and on about the YOU ARE AWESOME posters. They are customizable posters like the one in the photo above and I LOVE THEM very much. I believe in them. I started making them (years ago) for my kids... because I also love my kids very much and wanted them to have a solid piece of art that looked them square in the face everday and shouted a powerful and positive affirmation at them: PILOT, YOU ARE AWESOME. PENN, YOU ARE AWESOME. POET, YOU ARE AWESOME. You are loved. And you are brilliant. You are WORTHY of your biggest and grandest dreams. YOU MATTER.
I designed the posters just before Penn was born - more than 5 years ago. (In fact, here's the story.) I thought it would be a project that I'd do for a few weeks and that would be it. I didn't think ahead. I didn't have a strategy. I definitely didn't have a goal. I didn't have a long-term systems-management plan. I didn't know what I was getting into. I didn't really think about it. I didn't suspect that, just like me, other people wanted to give their kids/friends/parents/cousins/spouses/lovers/neighbours a powerful, positive affirmation, too.
But man, they did.
So I made posters. Heavy on passion and maybe light on systems, in the past 5 years, I have designed ridiculous amounts of YOU ARE AWESOME posters and Dan has shipped every one of them. We have struggled with CanadaPost. And time management. And file management. And sometimes communication management. Comes with the territory, I guess.
Life would get overwhelming and I'd stop offering the posters because I couldn't keep up. But, sure enough - my inbox would fill up for posters requests - and I would bring them back. Because people wanted to tell other people that they were awesome. THAT'S SOMETHING THE WORLD NEEDS MORE OF. And I want to be a part of it.
I'd take as many orders as I could, but it would get overwhelming again. I have three small kids and a busy studio and a full gamut of volunteer activities. Penn just recently started sleeping through the night (wow, night terrors are the WORST.) Life was full. Oh, and then there was that time that I wasn't offering the posters and Brené Brown posted about them... WOW. Life was exciting and suddenly I was offering the posters again! (Brené, I love you so much.)
TRUTH: I feel a tremendous amount of pride when I make someone a poster that they love. I love design. I love working in Adobe Illustrator. I love colours. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE seeing people's names and hearing their stories. I simply love the posters.
TRUTH: I don't love shipping. Or printing. Or feeling like I've let people down when I make mistakes. Or losing control. Or spending hours and hours and hours at the computer. I don't love CanadaPost or getting the emails that say "YOU WRECKED CHRISTMAS because our posters didn't show up in time." I really had gotten emails like that and I take them very personally. I don't like failing.
I needed to change things. In a big hurry because it wasn't working and I was most-defintely failing: my health, my family and my self.
I decided to ask my friend Heidi to partner with me. I was nervous. She's amazing. She love all the things I do not love. She's so smart. I love + respect her. She likes lists and plans and thinking ahead. And SEO. She owns a very successful company that is ridiculously good at making things ridiculously good. (You've probably seen them in Martha Stewart and Starbucks and places like that.) I figured Heidi probably wouldn't be interested in my sily posters and then I would retire them for good. I owed my family that. I owed my schedule. I owed my friends and most importantly my health + my girls.
Heidi WAS IN! She was excited! Seems she believes in the posters, too.
TRUTH: asking for help is hard. Humbling. I hadn't asked for help because I didn't want to disappoint any one. NAKED TRUTH: I'm still worried about disappointing people.
TRUTH: I can't do it all. The entire You Are Awesome poster adventure has taught me a great deal about a great deal... It's been tough + easy. I'm SO HAPPY the posters are still in the world and I am still a part of them.
What does this mean? It means the posters will be available ALL THE TIME - not just here and there! New designs. A RADICALLY-cool new charity partnership in the works. It means easier ordering FOR YOU. Faster proofs. OMG, it means BETTER SHIPPING. It means CHRISTMAS WILL NEVER BE RUINED AGAIN. :)
So please, please come check out the new shop! We're still tinkering a bit but I'd love to see you over at YOUareAWESOMEco.com. The classic posters are even more beautiful. There are also some beautiful new posters. I am very much still a big part of things.
Because I believe in the posters.
I wanted to THANK YOU from the bottom of my being. You're a part of this story and YOU are awesome.
This is me standing inside a waterfall taking selfies with my phone. Two days ago. In Iceland. I booked a spontaneous trip with a girlfriend months ago. Iceland was always somewhere I wanted to go. I realized that have a serious thing for the North and for adventure. An hour before standing behind this waterfall I was hiking on a glacier.
I'm home now though - with a big, overflowing grateful heart.
Iceland, you are amazing.
Girltrip, you are energizing, uplifting and necessary.
Life, keep on being awesome. ;)
I am excited about a new collection of prints (going live late next week!). To celebrate EARTH DAY and our extraordinary planet and creatures - I've created a couple of prints and will be making a donation from the sale of each print to the Sierra Club of Canada FOUNDATION for the month of April. I'll loading the shop over the next few days so peek in to watch things morph and change before the release on APRIL 10.
Collaborations are a driving force in my studio. I believe: good things happen when we work together.