LOSING EVERYTHING

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That’s a dramatic title for a blog post. I apologize….but not really. If you’ve ever felt like you lost everything you know there’s nothing dramatic about it. Drama is fabricated, loss is real. And sometimes those around you don’t see or understand your loss so you find yourself hiding your feelings or worse, justifying why it’s significant. That’s not worth the effort and it’s not going to change your sense of loss. It’s your’s to own not anyone else’s to understand.

A few months ago I went into my basement late at night looking for a box of books to decorate a shelf with (after a glass or two of Pinto Grigio, I’ve been known to redecorate) and when I opened the door it smelled how I imagine a rainforest would smell. I took several steps down the stairs into the pitch black laced with humidity, feeling for the light switch on my right. As the lights came on I became aware of the loud hissing sound and my eyes turned up to it’s source I realized a pipe in the corner of the basement had burst into two, spraying water across the entire width of basement soaking everything underneath. There was water at least 3 or 4 inches deep everywhere. I francticly ran up the 4 flights of stairs to get The Big Guy up so he could fix it, because honestly what was I going to do about it?

 When the water finally stopped spraying we looked around and started to access, if I’m being honest…what the hell had happened. There was an empty plastic storage bin in the middle of the room and it was filled to the top with water….water had to be spraying for DAYS, more than a week probably. Clearly we never go in the basement. Snowboard boots were filled with water, cardboard boxes were soaked through, some things were already turning moldy…and then it happened. I had stayed calm until this point because no reaction I have to it would change anything but that went out the window when my eyes fixed on what was in the corner under the pipe, what had gotten the most water damage. And it made me so angry and sad all at the same time. It was every painting, print, photograph and collage I had created from the time I was a teenager through college and several years later. My entire early history as an artist was soaked in water, covered in mildew and paint and ink were running down them like a nightmare. EVERY PIECE OF ART. If your an artist, you can understand the magnitude of this…if you’re not but you’re a parent imagine losing every photo of your children’s childhood.

 To some this may not seem like a big deal…it’s just paper, it’s just canvases and your house is still standing, your kids are ok, your husband is healthy. But to me it’s a lot more than physical object. It is or rather it was my history. Each piece was deeply treasured by me but not because they were all fabulous but because they each held a story. Some were stories of struggles with a medium or a concept. Some were  memories of late nights working with my friends to get them done by class. Some were reminders of words of wisdom from professors. They are also memories of where I came from….each one marks a place in my own personal history as an artist and to lose them felt like losing my history. I will never remember each one and what it meant to me without them physically being present and that made me feel like the memories would be lost forever.

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But they all were destroyed and needed to be thrown out, so while I was at work the next day my husband did it so I didn’t have to. I came home and ignored the dumpster in the driveway. Frankly I ignored the loss for a long time which is probably something most people do when facing a large loss. Recently I went down to the basement again looking for a wreath for the front door and noticed the empty corner where all of my work used to live. And I cried. A lot. And hard. I acted like I wasn’t, I cried while I looked over the wreaths deciding which one to grab but I wasn’t thinking about the stupid wreaths. I was missing something.

I felt really sad every time I thought about it that week, like there was a hole in my chest. I knew I couldn’t bring them back so I had accepted it and ignored it but it still burned whenever I thought about it.

I let myself grieve and then I let myself consider the other side of loss. And for me the other side meant I was no longer tied to those stories, I could start over. Any ideas I’ve had about who I am as an artist no longer had a piece to support that as evidence. I could be anything…I could start anywhere. I could reinvent myself and that, my friends, is where I found the power of the situation. I’ve started to really believe in the power of my own thoughts over the past few years…if you think it’s the worst thing in the world, it will be, if you think this could be a new beginning, it will be. So in this frame of mind I realized that losing everything is a gift…it’s the power to rebuild something bigger, better and more you than you have ever had before.

So I denied the loss, and when I couldn’t hid from it anymore I grieved it and then I was ready pick up the pieces and reassemble in whatever way I want. I’m reassembling myself in a way that begins with positivity, creativity and no rules. When it comes to my work, I do what I want when I want…I try new things, I try things I’ve done before that didn’t work and I abandoned, I rework things I’ve done forever. And the space to feel free in my work is a breath of fresh air and let’s me know the possibilities are endless.

5 ULTIMATE STEPS FOR STYLING YOUR FAMILY PHOTOSHOOT

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So it’s Fall, the temperature doesn’t agree with me but the leaves on the ground are a sure sign and that means you’ve got to get your ducks in a row for your holiday card photo shoot.

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I love getting creating a concept and getting all the looks together for the whole family... after all it is the one day of the year everyone has to listen to me and wear exactly what I say! Over the past few years I’ve been asked to by a lot of local client's to help style their family and choose the perfect location BUT unless you want to hand over everyone’s sizes and your AMEX that’s pretty difficult. So this year I’m going to walk you through my top 5 tips to styling your family photo shoot. This will help you easily create a seamless coordinated look. I follow a simple formula that anyone can replicate so get ready here we go!

TIP 1: GET INSPIRED

So this is easy, start with one piece of inspiration and build from there! You can choose an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry or any accessory that you love and that can literally dictate the entire direction of the styling. I grabbed Avy's dress for last year's shoot after I saw it on an end of summer sale rack and thought she would love the colors in it, and bonus the dark background and bright colors are great compliment to her fair skin. So every decision I made about what to wear or where to take the photos was made because of this dress from the bright colors in The Dude's outfit, to the dark blues and denim my husband and I are wearing....even the sunny summery natural location.

The formality of this piece can determine what's appropriate for the location too! So picture this...you like a plaid shirt your husband has, that's a great pattern to work from and you can take your photos in a barn or field. If you like a black and white dress your daughter has maybe the boys in black and white suits in a formal location like your living room or even studio shots. Maybe your little guy has a gorgeous Irish sweater so you can take your photos surrounded by snow or in the fall leaves. Let the inspiration piece do as much work for you as possible!

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TIP 2: ACCENT IT

Note as we continue through the tips that each tip leads you to a different family member. I began with Avy's dress and now this tip determines a key piece for The Dude. If you chose one item for each step for a different family member it will help fill in the blanks more effectively.

So most people would choose the easy way out after looking at the dress and pick some blue pants for The Dude. But we don't want matchy matchy....matching is a bad word in this case. Instead choose one of the accent colors or less dominant colors in the inspiration piece. I searched for a pair of bright red or even bright yellow pants to pull from the floral pattern and was ecstatic when I found these intense red pants! Boom! Done.

TIP 3: MIX IT UP

Next it's The Big Guy's turn.

Mixing patterns and textures is the key to looking put together but effortless. Change up the pattern and the use of colors in another article of clothing. So my husband has thousands of button down shirts, I knew I could find something to compliment The Dude's red pants and Avy's dress in less than 60 seconds and this shirt fit the bill. It's a gingham so it's not as organic as the pattern on the dress and the pattern itself is much smaller than the floral. That's a technique interior designers and stylists and fashion designers use all the time. Go simple and mix a stripe with polka dots or go crazy and mix leopard with stripes, or even camouflage with polka dots. As long someone else is wearing a common color from the pattern and you alter the size of the prints you will all looking amazingly stylish! And it looks more carefree...matching sweaters and pants isn't how you would normally dress so why would you for a photo shoot?

As long someone else is wearing a common color from the pattern and you alter the size of the prints you will all looking amazingly stylish!


Want a monochromatic shoot? Easy enough...mix your textures instead of patterns to create interest. If everyone is wearing white feel free to mix a white lace dress on you with a white satin dress on your daughter and a white tulle skirt on your other daughter. Mixing textures is easy and doesn't have to be reserved for monochromatic shoots either!


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TIP 4: GO NEUTRAL

Now for me...use your neutrals and staples in your wardrobe...you don't need to buy everything and it doesn't all have to be colors or textures you find in the inspiration piece! I decided on my favorite dark blue jeans and my standard chambray shirt, both neutrals. Yes, blues are neutral when they are denim or chambray! Neutral doesn't translate to just beige, black and white. Army green or even leopard print can be a neutral because you can literally wear them with any color...that's what defines a neutral.

So now that everyone has something, fill in the blanks...The Big Guy got to wear his jeans and a white t-shirt and a gray sweater on The Dude round out my neutrals.

TIP 5: BE EXTRA

The devil is in the details….in design and in your wardrobe so don't forget to accessorize! All well dressed women know how to do this, it's the icing on the cake and it's the difference between wow and everything else. I love giving Avy a huge statement necklace from my collection but you can add scarves, gloves (and not for the warmth but for the stye) sun glasses, fabulous shoes and any piece of jewelry you want. So the boys wore some brown leather high top sneakers from their closets, Avy got a pair of booties in a matching brown and I pulled out my favorite Shop Bop boots.

And now here me on this...hair and makeup should be extra too. Seriously. It's the last thing that will take your look and make it sing. I went with a red lip to tie some color into my look and Avy got a relaxed wavy look with some loose braids to frame her face...looks natural and not over done but is definitely done. Don't go with your everyday hair but rather elevate it to make it special.

*Disclaimer, my girl Meredith from Meredith Mascola Photography is a wizard with the camera and makes my vision come to life every year….she never bats an eyelash when I tell her my crazy concept and she’s right on board. So all photos in this post are her amazing work and she deserves all the credit to making us look our best every year!

Comment below if you have questions or let me know how your styling went this season!

THE MOST POPULAR PRINT IN THE ART SHOP!

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The most popular new print in The Art Shop is this bad ass. He was created as a gift for my husband for Christmas, we love skulls of all kinds, and he kept saying "You have to add this The Art Shop" "Why isn't this in the shop?" so I finally bit the bullet and I couldn't be happier that I did. The response has been an awesome and I've already sold out of it TWICE! But not to worry this watercolor art print has been restocked and is ready for you! Available in three sizes: 5x7, 8x10 and 11x14 printed on the best white cotton paper. Happy shopping party animals.

BRAND NEW FLORAL WATERCOLOR IN THE ART SHOP!

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Check out this brand new watercolor print that just was added to The Art Shop! This Spring Floral is available in three sizes: 5x7, 8x10 and 11x14 printed on luxurious cotton paper and delivered right to your door. I created this just for fun but the response on Instagram and Facebook were overwhelming so I had to add it to the shop and it's already flying out of the studio.

5 THINGS MAKING MY SUMMER A LITTLE SWEETER

Summer is the best time of year...all of you fall pumpkin spice army soldiers are missing something. What's better than the beach, vacations, late nights, fireworks, eating outside, flowers, green grass...I could go on for ever. These are 5 of the things currently making my summer even sweeter. If you happen to make the foccacia. let me know what you think, it's DELICIOUS. And if you are really feeling like living your best life make the Sinsear cocktail to enjoy with it, cheers!

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1. Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum | Citrus, floral and amber undertones are almost all Summer but with a touch of Fall.

2. Nine West Ankle Strap Flats | I have them in buff and black...perfect for when you want a flat but still have the cool factor of a sandal. These are from a past season but they have a similar pair out now.

3. The Sinsear | A cocktail from Domino magazine's Fall 2017 issue. Apple cider and ginger will remind of the fall but it's still refreshing in the heat.

THE SINSEAR
{makes 2 cocktails}

1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp simple syrup
2 sprigs fresh rosemary for garnish

Combine all ingredients except the rosemary in a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice and garnish with rosemary sprigs.

4. Plum Focaccia from Martha Stewart Living October 2017 issue. Um yum, that's all I have to say.

5. And a Diptyque Mimosa candle...because this one screams summer and it's literally the chance you are going to have to burn this one until it the end of next spring.

WELCOME BACK!

Welcome back and I guess welcome to the brand new website! I want to address the elephant in the room right away so we can put it behind us...you want to know what happened to the invitations, right? You're thinking...you're the girl talks too a lot, says whatever she's thinking, likes a good cocktail, and does the invitations...well where are the invitations?

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Well, I'm going to be blunt, they're gone. I've designed invitations for more years than I care to count right now and I've loved it. I've always felt honored to be a small part of a bride and groom's special day and I've taken a lot of pride in being able to bring to life their vision and personalities in my own unique way. I have grown from designing and printing in my little home office for friends and family to working with huge vendors, specialty printers, being featured on the most popular wedding websites, having a design knocked off by Martha Stewart Weddings (yes that happened) and shipping invitations around the world and it's been a truly incredible journey and learning process. I really have loved it but I hesitate to say I've loved every minute of it. This is going to be real talk for a minute because I think we lack enough of it when you run a business. As the years moved on I didn't love working until 2 in the morning to meet a deadline. I didn't love last minute invitation orders, I didn't love talking about cost with clients, I didn't love how much time it took me away from my family. So on December 31, I just stopped. Just like that. I had no idea what the next few months would look like but I had a confidence that I would figure out what I needed and where I was going, I just needed some time to breathe.

The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.
— Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

So I breathed...a lot. And it was awesome. I went away with my husband, snowboarding and to the beach and felt no worries about what I needed to do when I came back. We went out to dinner whenever we wanted. I spent more relaxed quality time with my kids and didn't worry about work I should be doing instead. I was able to make plans with friends and not check what I have on my calendar for work first. I got more sleep than I have had in years. I read books, a lot of them and I can't tell you the last time I read a book for fun. I watched movies I'd been wanting to see and I binged TV shows that were on my to do list. I enjoyed this time off in ways that are immeasurable. But all the while the wheels were turning about where to go next.

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Now, while I was breathing I was working a little...on custom portraits. Something that I'm not even sure when or how it rolled into my offerings but it did. And while reflecting on the future it dawned on me that when I work on them I feel the same sense of excitement as I did when I first started working on invitations. That feeling was long gone when creating invitations, it wasn't new and thrilling, it was a job. But creating illustrations, that was getting my blood moving. I can't wait to get in my studio and work on them...not because I had to but because I wanted to.

Never lose the childlike wonder. Show gratitude... Don’t complain; just work harder... Never give up.
— Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

So I'm back to where everything started for me and that's with my paintings. Since I was 8 years old all I've ever wanted to be an artist and make a living doing it. I recently re-read Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture" and  he talks about how he lived out his childhood dreams and listened to anyone who wanted to live their own. Well, I'm taking a bit of inspiration from him as I step forward into making that dream a reality. So thank you for being on this journey with me and I can't wait to serve you with custom illustrations, fun prints and things coming down the road that I haven't even envisioned yet.