Favorite Things: Earth & Sky Colors

These are my favorite colors: brown, green, blue, white, black, gray.
This year, one of my goals is to make it through The Artist's Way. For a long time now, I've been struggling with my creativity, trying to work my way through creative block and to find my own voice as an artist. As I go through the process, I decided it would be good to sit down and list what I really like - the things that move me personally, and that feel like me. I wrote a list and I'm going to be exploring it here for the next few weeks.

The list, titled "Stuff I like", started when I was looking at my Etsy favorites last week and I realized that almost everything on the first page of my "likes" was either brown, green, or blue - with lots of black, white and gray as well. I thought about it for a bit, thought of my wardrobe, my favorite pottery, looked at the bits of art on my walls and realized "oh yeah, these are my favorite colors."

I set out to create a treasury based purely on my favorite colors, without fretting about whether or not the treasury would be popular or make the front page or anything like that. I love the result. It's kind of this road map of the heart of things that I like.

As a wise acquaintance said, it's not enough to like stuff, you have have to understand why you like it. I love these colors because they are the colors of earth and sky. I love nature and her colors: soft greens like moss and agate, earth browns, water blues, sky blues, especially transition time skies - sunrise and sunset. Clouds. Stones.

They are restful, comfortable colors, and I never feel the need to "live up to them" - they are undemanding colors, not like reds, oranges and yellows. Although those do have their place, which I will explore more next time.

Monday's Inspiration: This

An important question to ask...
I usually reserve "Monday's Inspiration" posts for people, places and art that inspire me and inform my artwork. This week, I'm doing something different because sometimes I serve as my own inspiration.

St. John's Booksellers is one of my clients. More than that, Néna, the owner, is a very good friend. I've designed her window displays and her print material for over a year now and I've gotten to hear a fair amount about the challenges of running a brick and mortar store in today's economy. I have to say, it takes a huge amount of dedication and courage to run a bookstore and go up against the big guys in the business.

One of the thing that's struck me over and over again are Néna's stories about having a customer come in, ask about a book -accessing Néna's many years of experience in the industry and her incredible base of knowledge when it comes to books- and then decide to go buy the book somewhere else. Even telling her that they can get it cheaper on Amazon. It is maddening.

I've wanted for a while now to help her address the issue of people using her store as an Amazon showroom. While I have nothing against Amazon in general, I very much value independently-owned bookstores as vital community resources and neighborhood anchors. And if we don't actively value our neighborhood bookstores, they're going to disappear.

With this window design, from the brown paper to the question and the answer, I think I've pretty much summed up why we should be shopping local and supporting our neighbor's businesses. When I first had the idea, I was worried that it was too confrontational or that Néna wouldn't like it. She liked it and decided that we should run with it. It went up on Saturday night.

The reaction, in just two days, has been phenomenal. It has started many conversations. A picture of the window, posted on Facebook, has been shared over 90 times. It's been described as "scary, provocative, and witty" "right on and badass" "like the Ghost of Christmas Future, pointing at the grave..." and more. Every once in a while, I have a design idea that hits a sweet spot - something that communicates a powerful idea very simply and directly and in a way that can't be ignored. When I do, it serves as a deep well of inspiration for whatever comes next.

This is one of those times.

Monday's Inspiration: Etsy Artists

Blushing: a treasury on Etsy
Recently, I've been working on building up my store on Etsy, and spending time promoting other artists' work as well. There's a community aspect to Etsy that is very appealing. I'm finding that building treasuries (curating lists of various items, usually built around a theme) is very inspiring.

There are so many wonderful creative people out there, doing amazing things. When I build a treasury, I deliberately go looking for amazing handmade items. My most recent treasury, Blushing, was built around a soft warm pink like, well, a blush. Note the awesome flamingo from Cart Before the Horse!

I hear my dream kitchen calling...
It's poor etiquette to include one's own items on a treasury, so none of my pieces are pictured here, but I get so much out of seeing what other people are doing and feeling inspired by it. Take the kitchen treasury, for example. I stayed with a soft, near-neutral color palette, one that my friend Alison has really taught me to appreciate. While I don't really do any of the arts involved in making these items, the overall effect of the restrained, serene palette makes me want to put myself on a color diet for about a week - picking a simple palette and then seeing how many things I can do with it.

As a consequence of being a part of the amazing creative community on Etsy, I find myself learning and growing and stretching, and I value those things more than I can say.