Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 1

As fast as the summer came, it has left us with the beginning of another school year. Day 1. Here we are!

And I don't think I've ever met the beginning of the school year with such enthusiasm as I have today.

Because they are ready . . . for their next chapter.

And I am ready . . . for my next chapter, too.

Whatever that may be.

Walking to the bus today, Ella stopped and picked up this little piece of crumbled up 'something or another'. She said, "Mom . . . look, it's a heart. You keep it with you all day, so you know that my heart is with you."

Oh, how I love that kid. Both of them, actually, which I realize is a super good thing to say . . . since I am their Mom. But I do. I never in a million years knew being their Mom would feel as good as it does. On good days, or even bad. It is the best feeling in the world.

But even with all that love, comes a strong desire to take a break from time to time. And that is what school does for me - it allows me a few hours each and every day, to break. To breathe. To create :). To work towards my goals. To focus on something else.


I'm still in my art zone . . . and I'm welcoming the next few weeks of creating. The fall and winter craft fairs will be here before you know it, and I am ready to stock up my art for all of them. So right now, I'm just looking towards that . . . creating creating creating.

I don't think it gets any better than that, do you?

Oh, and writing.

I'm feeling a little more of a writing bug hitting me these days. I hope I can get myself in some sort of a routine to write more often. I've missed it so much. Let's hope for the best, shall we?

So, I'm off right now . . . to start Day 1.

And just in case I need a little love during my day, I'll look at the little heart Ella gave me this morning. Because our hearts will always be close, even when far apart.

Peace, my friends.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Happy Observations

I like to start my mornings sitting right here at my kitchen table, with a fresh, hot cup of coffee, and our backyard.

      My red cardinal whirlie-gig that the girls bought for me.

                  Our little blow up pool.

                           The garden, and our sunflowers.


This is my happy place. . . when the house is quiet, and the sunshine is just waking up the world outside.

These are also the colors that make me happy.

Lately, I can't get enough of them . . . I realized today, these are the colors of our backyard.

Most mornings, I sit and watch my neighbor as he makes his way to his garden (which is right on the other side of the fence from ours.) He is a meticulous gardener, with his organization and well maintained garden so unlike our chaotic mess of a place. But it works for us, and his works for him.

He is elderly, my neighbor. These days he makes his way to his corner with a cane in hand. But still takes his time picking his green beans and sugar snap peas and all the rest. He gathers his zucchini flowers so delicately, I wonder what he does with them. I'll have to ask him one day.

These quiet mornings remind me of the blessings I have in this life. Life is moving so fast, I just love when I can stop and be still and take it all in. It's been a wonderful summer . . .  and I feel so grateful for each day of it. Not quite ready for it to stop.

But school will be starting for the girls next week. The mornings are going to be a little busier until we get into our routine.

Katie will start 6th grade, and Ella starts 2nd. I can't wait to see what new adventure the new school year brings to them. I can't imagine . . .


Until then, I have about 4 more mornings of this . . .

Excuse me, while I take it all in some more.

Wishing you peace, my friends . . . and a few more moments of quiet in your day.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Answer is BOTH.

Years and years ago (waaaaay back in 2011, if you can believe it), I attended an awesomely inspiring and soul filling weekend in Minnesota called "The Creative Connection Event". It was the most thrilling experience - "a national conference and market celebrating creative women and entrepreneurs", and it changed my life.


It was there, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I met my very first blog friend, Kiki. Oh, how I adore her!! (And miss her terribly! Haven't seen her since that weekend - my dear friend, we MUST get ourselves in the same state again!)

It was also there where I got to meet mixed media artist Kelly Rae Roberts, who was my first introduction into the world of mixed media art and this whole movement of creative women. I also took a class with THE Brave Girls Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins. At the time, I had no idea how amazing these ladies were - but I quickly learned. 

I took a big leap and jumped at the chance to stand before some industry experts during the "Pitch Slam" portion of the conference. I had three minutes (or some un-Godly short amount of time like that) to pitch my gift company design ideas to the likes of Chris Plantan, Beth Lorentz, Ingrid Liss, and Margo Tantau. I had no idea what I was doing . . . but I learned a long time ago that very often you just have to DO IT, even if you don't know exactly what it is that you are doing.

So, I did it.

My pitch . . . was a whole line of creative goodies featuring my little illustrated "Annalee" character. Annalee, as I explained in my three minute pitch, was an authentic woman trying to juggle home, career, friendships, family obligations, and her own dreams, as she searches for balance, peace and happiness. I shared my dream for a whole line of greeting cards, note cards, journals, mugs, calendars, ornaments, etc., and how I could see Annalee becoming a modern day, less cynical, Maxine. I could see it as clear as day . . . 

I made canvases for each of the panelists, and had a lovely display board with note card examples on it. 

And I gave one kick-a** presentation. Really, I did. 

The panelists were awesome. They were engrossed. They were entertained. They were invested. They were excited. But, none of them saw Annalee as a fit for any of their businesses. 

I know the moment it happened, too. The exact moment. And in the past few months, I've thought about this moment so often - I can't even tell you how many times. Beth Lorentz, from Midwest CBK asked a question. She said, "What do you think Annalee is really about, Leanne? The art, or the words?"

I paused - for what was probably only a few seconds, but what seems like an eternity in my memory. I remember standing there, and looking to the left to my table full of Annalee work staring back at me. Countless hours I took to draw each illustration, hours of writing, lots of sweat and tears and late, late nights. I looked at these illustrations and in my heart, I felt as if it wasn't really the art that I wanted to be doing. No, it wasn't the art. It was more about the words - which I loved just as much, mind you - words that I thought very carefully about, and still clearly continue to think about. But at this time, the art was . . . so-so. 

So, I gave an honest answer and said, "I guess . . . it's more about the words." 

And there, my friends, is how you don't get a chance to design for a gift company. 

Oh, I love Annalee . . . don't get me wrong. And I seriously wouldn't change a single thing about my path in my art. Every once in a while I still like to create a few illustrations starring our beloved Annalee, and her thoughts and ideas are as clear as ever. But me . . . my art . . . is so much more than Annalee. And that is what I think the most valuable part of the whole experience was. 

I didn't sell myself short. I continued to search and learn and grow, to find my voice as an artist. 

THAT is thrilling to me. 

Oh, the panelists gave me such wonderful feedback that afternoon in 2011, tips that still ring in my ear to this day. And when I think back to that time - I am so proud of myself for standing up in front of them and telling my story . . . my story of then.

My story of now, my story and my answer, is so very different. 

And THAT is pretty awesome.  

Today, I am SO PROUD of the work I am doing. Creating art that truly comes from my soul, with words that match. THAT is my voice as an artist. 

I feel moved by what I am putting into the canvas. And that is a blessing like I can't even explain.

I am not tied to the keyboard and illustration programs as I was with Annalee. Now I cut and glue and paint, and let the canvas take me away, not knowing where we'll end up. And it makes me happy. 

It's not all paint, though. I've found myself moved to create simpler work, too. With a sketchbook, pencil and markers. 

I can't tell you how good it feels - to be doing the art that I love, the art that moves me, the art that comes from my soul. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

And it seems as good of time as any, to "DO IT" . . . to try once again and push myself. To put myself out there. To dream. So I have entered the Lilla Rogers Studio "Global Talent Search" contest. It begins August 5th, and while I'm slightly nervous . . . I am SO excited! (You can click the link to learn all about the contest - it is pretty awesome.) 

So, here I go. 

I wish I could sit with Beth Lorentz, and tell her how grateful I am for her question at The Creative Connection event. I wish I could have her ask me, once more, what I felt my art was really about . . . because this time, I know for sure. The answer is BOTH . . . my art is about the words AND the art. 

And I wouldn't have it any other way. 

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