Kindness Week Day 5: Be Small Business-Minded

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Support a Small Business.

It’s no secret that “big box” stores have pretty much pushed smaller stores out of business, but that doesn’t mean they all have to end that way. Some prefer the larger stores and chains because of convenience, lower prices, and product availability. However, in my experience, small businesses generally offer a far better consumer experience. They are personable and are able to tailor their offerings to my needs. They offer quality products and services and excellent customer relations. Sometimes, things cost a little more, but that’s made up for in so many other ways.

So–whether it’s a mom and pop store that has managed to survive the Walmart takeover, the local hardware store or farmer’s market, an Etsy shop or the neighborhood artisan, the friend who’s self-published a book or the cousin who recently opened a restaurant, the independent musician selling CDs in a strip mall parking lot or the 13-year-old pushing a lawnmower to fund a trip to Disney World–be kind to a small business.

Not convinced? Check out this 2016 Forbes article featuring 43 Reasons to Support Small and Independent Businesses.

Note about today’s image: The image above was produced from original art by Paul Nzalamba. Working in the medium of batik, Paul creates images drawn from Uganda, his native country. His images reflect the strength, struggle, and beauty of all people. If you’re interested in seeing more of his work and/or purchasing cards, prints, or lithographs, be sure to visit his site : Nzalamba Artworks. It would be so kind of you to do so.

If you’re just joining Kindness Week, please be sure to check out the previous post:

Mpaka wakati ujao…

Quotes Challenge Day 1: Do It Afraid!

As I was fretting over today’s blog post, I received notification from Divya of Merry Motherhood that she nominated me for the Three Quotes in Three Days challenge. Quotes? Of course, I’m in!

The rules are pretty simple:

  1. Thank the person who nominates you
  2. Post one quote per day for 3 consecutive days
  3. Nominate three new bloggers each day

Thanks Divya! [Divya blogs about first-time motherhood among other things. You’ll love her Day 1 quote–straight from Calvin and Hobbes!]

This challenge is especially timely since I’ve been working on projects that involve integrating quotes for the last couple of weeks. Now, I have a reason to share a few of them immediately–instead of some time later.

Today, I’m sharing the photo and quote I shared for the “Fierce Woman” swap I blogged about a week ago.

When I blogged about Sally Ride two years ago, I asked readers for their favorite “fierce woman” quote. My blogging friend Sheila of Sheila’s Corner Studio responded with a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe that I knew I had to work into a photo:

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.  –Georgia O’Keeffe

The quote speaks to Sheila because:

[I] found that when I was in high school, and I have never forgotten it. I found it so hard to believe, and so reassuring. She was such a trailblazer, before her time. Since then, I have read about many extraordinary women who claim to have felt the same way. Yet, they have achieved great success.

I didn’t expect it to take me almost two years to use this quote. Part of the reason is that I didn’t want to use just any photo. I wanted to imitate O’Keeffe’s style with a photo edit. After many tries, I was satisfied. I think.

O’Keeffe Inspired

Here’s a link to some of O’Keeffe’s flowers.  How did I do?

The trick was placement of the quote.

Inspired O’Keeffe Inspired

Unlike O’Keeffe, being “absolutely terrified” has hindered my conquering a few things. I’m not a complete “fraidy-cat” though. What I have done, I’ve pretty much done straight through the terror–which emboldens me to take on bigger, scarier ventures. As cliché as it sounds, “doing it afraid” takes real courage. In fact–as O’Keeffe’s words suggest–facing each day takes courage.

Today’s nominees are:

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for more inspiration!

Gwendolyn Brooks: In Her Honor

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), detail of The Furious Flower Portrait Quilt, 2004. Mixed media collage on canvas. Artist: Malaika Favorite. Card from my collection.

Like the Rita Dove piece I blogged about several months ago, the Gwendolyn Brooks portrait above is part of a 24-poet/panel masterpiece by mixed media artist Malaika Favorite which honors the history of African American poetry. The work was commissioned for Furious Flower, a conference held every decade (since 1994), that celebrates, stimulates, and encourages African American poetry and poetic voices.

Brooks (1917-2000) was a prolific writer with one novel and more than 20 volumes of poetry to her credit. She was the first Black woman to serve as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, now called U.S. Poet Laureate (1985-1986), and the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize. Her book Annie Allen won for the best volume of verse published in 1950.

Sometime between the ages of 13 and 14, I fell in love with the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Nikki Giovanni, and Gwendolyn Brooks. I gained access to these poets (and many others) through the book collections of my older brothers and sisters.

Gwendolyn Brooks was my favorite. I still know by heart “To Be in Love,” the first poem I read by her:

To be in love
is to touch with a lighter hand.

In yourself you stretch, you are well.

You look at things
through his eyes.
A cardinal is red.
A sky is blue.
Suddenly you know he knows too.
He is not there but
you know you are tasting together
the winter, or light spring weather.

His hand to take your hand is overmuch.
Too much to bear.

You cannot look in his eyes
because your pulse must not say
what must not be said.

When he
shuts a door—

Is not there—
Your arms are water.

And you are free
with a ghastly freedom.

You are the beautiful half
of a golden hurt.

You remember and covet his mouth,
to touch, to whisper on.

Oh when to declare
is certain Death!

Oh when to apprize,
is to mesmerize,

To see fall down, the Column of Gold,
into the commonest ash.

I was “mesmerized” by the way she crafted language. I recall being moved by particular phrases–

you are the beautiful half/of a golden hurt

free/with a ghastly freedom

the Column of Gold/into the commonest ash.

And I was intrigued by how she used opposites and negatives to convey the beauty and pain of love and evoke a powerful sense of loss.

My own (early) poetry was very much influenced by Brooks.

Brooks would have been 101 on June 7, so in her honor, I invite you to read about her contributions to American literature as well as some of her poetry. To get started, see the links below:

Re-liberating the Re-liberated Art

Well, I promised I’d be back with a post on the bonus Liberate Your Art package I received.

At the end of the LYA blog hop, Kat held a giveaway for participants in the hop. As noted on her blog, by random drawing, she gave away:

  • One 6×9″ fine art print of this year’s final celebration image, “Art brings Light to the World”
  • One copy of the second edition of her book, Art with an iPhone: A Photographer’s Guide to Creating Altered Realities, which was published at the end of 2017.
  • Eight packets of postcards from other participants. These were extra postcards participants sent to give to Kat’s helpers on “swap day.” There was a lot of love and appreciation left over.

Guess what! I won a set of postcards!

I know you want to see the “bonus” postcards. Right?  Be sure to read to the end because my blessing could become your blessing.

There was an eclectic set of seven postcards in the envelope–one a duplicate of a side swap, one similar to a side swap, and the rest new to my eyes. Here they are:

Natasha P’s “Peony Party” was featured in yesterday’s blog post.

“Peony Party” by Natasha P.

So was one of Janice’s angels–though this one is different.

“Winging It” by Janice D

Check out my previous post to find out more about these artists and their work.

The first “new to me” piece was made by Jennifer Calvin.

“What Is It?” by Jennifer C

Have you figured out what this is? It’s handmade paper! Jennifer makes paper. How cool is that? You can find all sorts of paper and other artsy stuff she makes at Wild Oaks Studio.

The next one was made by Karen J. It’s a mixed media project that won first place at the Ohio Montgomery County Fair.

“Variety” by Karen J.

What is the art made of? According to Karen:

the underlying paint is acrylic. Attached are various round items including: giant checkers, backgammon blots, tiny spools, buttons, tiddlywinks, jewelry pieces, slices of a huge woody vine from my backyard, faucet handle.

The next postcard came from L. Hudson, I assume.

Art by L. Hudson?

I have no information on the art or the artist, but the person included an email address and a printed message on the back:

Now go make something happen with your art!

Carolann  shared a multi-view card featuring scenes from Western Ireland.

“The Best of Ireland” by Carolann M

Carolann dedicated this year’s card to:

the beauty of Western Ireland and the open hearts of its people. It is truly the land of a thousand welcomes [and] to the Moores of County Mayo Ireland [family].

I like that phrase, “a  thousand welcomes.” She added a blessing, of course:

May your heart and your art be filled with Irish blessings.

Last, but not least, a lush autumn scene shot by Nick H.

“Autumn Glory” by Nick H

Nick writes–

This card is from a scene from the area where I am lucky to live in Yorkshire.  I enjoy traveling and making new friends around the world but I especially love to come home to this beautiful part of England.

Yorkshire is indeed beautiful. And if you know how much I ❤ autumn, then you know that you might see this photo again in a few months.

Now that this art has been liberated by the artists, again by Kat, and liberated again by me, I want to liberate the art even more! The postcards need writing and postal marks, evidence that they’ve traveled. Don’t you think? Sooooo, I’m sending these out into the world AGAIN.

Two are already claimed–I promised a friend the peonies and I’m keeping autumn (sorry, not sorry). 😉

That means the other five are up for grabs! If you want one, let me know in the comments. I’ll write a note and send one on its way to you. First come, first served. No strings attached.

Happy Day!

Liberate Your Art: Side-swapping Shindig

It’s always a bit of a challenge when Liberate Your Art ends, but side swaps help participants extend the camaraderie a little longer. I was so insanely busy when the postcards for side swaps started coming in that I just placed them in an envelope to enjoy after grades, reports, and meetings.

That time has come!

I received 13 cards via the extra swaps, plus a bonus package I’ll share tomorrow. Would you like to review them with me? Here goes…

Sherry H. of Amook Island Creations sent a reproduction of a mixed media piece accented with a Matisse quote:

“Always Flowers,” by Sherry H.

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.  –Henri Matisse

She encourages us to “look to nature for inspiration.”

From Terry O, an “in-progress” project:

“Slow Stitch” by Terry O.

This is a “slow-stitch” project. All of it is done by hand. Terry “attached a worn, paper thin vintage handkerchief to a sturdier fabric–a pink linen tablecloth, thereby creating a new piece.” Isn’t it pretty? I’m impressed that it was stitched by hand.

My penfriend Lisa C sent a “city shot” as she describes it.

“City Shot” by Lisa C

I almost didn’t notice the buildings because I was “lost in the clouds.” Interestingly, the postcard Lisa sent last year also featured clouds.  She shot this from the parking lot of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

You can find more of Lisa’s work on her blog and her website, Chasing the Sun.

Christine B, my faithful friend, sent two. Here’s the first one, a macro shot of a dragonfly.

“Dragonfly” by Christine B.

My hubby added this one to his collection. [He says, “Thanks, Christine!”]

Kathy and I agreed to swap before I received her card as part of the main swap, so I was surprised (and elated) when she sent another mixed media piece.

“Heart in Hand” by Kathy Mc

Like the first one (see LYA 2018 post), this one also started as a magazine page. She altered the page with oil, pastels, acrylics, citra solv, and monoprint. You can find more of Kathy’s work via Sol Sister Studio, her Facebook page.

As expected, Janice D sent a gorgeous mixed media piece–an angel, this time.

“Winging It,” by Janice D.

Her note, appropriate:

We’re all winging it. That’s what angels do.

You might want to go and take a look at last year’s Dreamer again and her LYA blog post to see more of her angels.

From my blogging friend Louise of Drops of Everything:

“Dancing Clothes” by Louise M

Until I read Louise’s caption (“Dancing Clothes”), I was prepared to entitle this one “Linen and Things.” 😉 She added a quote to the back:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  –Mother Teresa

I remember hanging up clothes to dry outdoors during the summer when I was younger. I was not yet into “seeing” or photography, so it didn’t strike me as “artistic,” but I had lots of fun running and playing through the drying clothes. Louise’s image makes me wish I could recapture those moments from my childhood.

Check out Louise’s blog for more of her photography and art.

My neighbor, PJ, moved away, but she remembered to reach out for a side swap (She used to live in Tennessee, not too far from me, but moved to Kentucky earlier this year).  She sent mountains:

“Flyover to Oaxaca” by Patsy J (PJ)

The painting is part of a triptych PJ created during a Paint Fearless Mexico retreat last November in Oaxaca. She was inspired by the mountains she flew over to get there.  I’m loving the color combination and would love to see the other parts.

My blog friend, Sheila D, sent a lovely bouquet of flowers.

This piece, a giclée print, was featured in UPPERCASE Magazine. She’s a celebrity! Sheila is seriously productive. You can find more of her work on her blog, at Society 6 or on Instagram.

In keeping with the floral theme, Natasha P. sent a peony party:

“Peony Party” by Natasha P.

This appears to be a mixed media piece. Natasha added a quote on back:

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.  –Mary Lou Cook

After visiting Natasha’s blog, I realize that I’d received one of her postcards–a peacock–the first year I participated in LYA. In fact, she was featured in my first “real” blog post. How nice to reconnect! Natasha has a thriving henna business in San Diego.

Peonies seem to be the thing this year. I’m seeing photos and art of peonies everywhere I turn. I even “discovered” some peonies I shot some time ago. I’m not sure they’re worth sharing though. Maybe, I’ll play around with them…

Val vdP of Mellowood Studio sent a beautiful winter-themed watercolor:

“Shadows in the Snow” by Val vdP

Isn’t it just perfect? Val works with various forms–watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, monochromatic, oil. She even does lessons and paint parties. Find lots more of Val’s work on her website: Mellowood Art Gallery. Check out her blog too!

While we’re on the subject of watercolors, Christine sent a pair of sandpipers:

“Sandpipers” by Christine B

Confession–I had to “google” sandpipers to make sure I had the right bird. This watercolor is spot on! 5 green stars, Christine!  I think we should talk Christine into starting a WordPress blog, so she can share her art and photography with a wider audience.

And lastly a “butterfly on deck” from Teresa H.

“Butterfly on Deck” by Teresa H.

I coveted this postcard when Christine posted it in the LYA 2018 group on Facebook. Fortunately, Teresa had one left and she kindly sent it to me! The quote is perfect.

But on paper things can live forever. On paper a butterfly never dies. –Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

Teresa wrote that the butterfly is “about the size of your palm and glides slowly and majestically from blossom to blossom, so it’s easy to get good photos.”

Though it was my first time swapping with Terry, Natasha, Val, and Teresa, I’ve “side-swapped” with the other artists before, and some have become blog friends and regular penfriends whom I’ve come to cherish over the years. I’m looking forward to building more friendships as we move along this artists’ road.

Tune in tomorrow to see the contents of my surprise LYA package!

Children’s Art: Fun with Picasso

By Adriana

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. –Pablo Picasso

In honor of the last day of school–and because I’m taking a 10-minute break from life–I’m spending a moment or two savoring more art from the art fair my son’s school held in April. Instead of brilliant sunflowers, today we experience masterful art in the style of Pablo Picasso’s Cubism Period. [Click an image for a closer look].

The art was completed by Mrs. Johnson’s fourth grade class. My son was in her class a couple of years ago, so I know she uses art to introduce students to artists and art forms. In fact, I have lots of photographs of the art her students created over the last few years. Maybe, I’ll find time to share more this summer. [Fingers crossed].

To find out about Picasso and his Cubism period follow the links below:

Are you inspired to make art? Check out 25 Picasso Inspired Art Projects. Ignore the “for kids” part.  Adults can do Picasso too! 😉  And if you do have kids, add these projects to your summer fun!

Sunflowers and Tears

“Those who sow in tears…”

You’ve probably figured out by now that I am incredibly blessed to have a number of friends who are artists. They do amazing work and generously spread their light. My friend Lindy, whom I met via swap-bot, sent me the “scripture” sunflower painting above a few years ago.

I was going through a period of deep sadness, but “life” needed me, so I had to continue functioning in the midst of my pain. At times, the only thing that kept me going was the assurance of others that “this, too, shall pass.”

This is what I appreciate most about Lindy’s gift. She could have sent just the sunflower, and for me that would have been enough. But, knowing what I needed, she added the scripture.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.  Psalm 126:5.

The painting reminded me then (and continues to remind me) that there will not always be pain, that if I push through it–if I sow through it–songs of joy will indeed rise in my spirit again.

And the sunflower, you know, is my constant reminder to “face the Sun.”

Lindy is a gifted and prolific artist who offers paint lessons and paint parties from her home studio. You can see more of her work in her Etsy Store, Nana Who Paints. Check her out! I’m sure  you’ll find something you like. 🙂