Books I'm reading now
I love to read and now that the days are getting shorter I tend to read more. I like to curl up on the sofa in the evening with my fuzzy blanket and my 5 year old son curled underneath my arm. I don't have a specific genre I stick to, I'm all across the board. Do you have a favorite genre?
There are three books I just started reading — The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp, Contagious, Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger, and Numbers, Learning Contentment in a Culture of More by Melissa Spoelstra.
If you've read anything by Voskamp you know she has the most elegant way with words in her writing. I recently finished One Thousand Gifts and was so moved by her intimacy with God. So, I'm looking forward to reading The Broken Way.
Contagious is a few years old but in my day job working as an Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at a private liberal arts college I'm curious as to why certain things catch on especially in a social media. I was told Berger offers a great insight into the realities that people don't listen to advertising as they once did but to their peers.
Yesterday at church I began leading our church's women's group in a morning bible study using Numbers: Learning Contentment in a Culture of More. Shouldn't we all be learning this? I haven't read or used any of Spoelstra's books/studies yet so I'm hopeful she'll be an author to continue reading.
As I finish each of these books I hope to offer a quick book review. Let me know in the comments below what books you're reading. I'd like to take your suggestions and post for others to see.
Grace and Peace,
Fall Came Early
Over the past couple of weeks the temperature has dropped here in the mountains of western North Carolina. We've seen it as low as 43 degrees one morning. With the cooler temps I couldn't wait to start adding Pumpkin Spice creamer to my coffee in the mornings, decorating my home with fall decorations and painting all things fall(ish). I did stop for a bit to add mats to a cow print that I had printed from an original acrylic painting I painted back in 2015. Want one of these without the mat? Click here to purchase.
What are some of your favorite things to do when the cooler weather is here? Obviously, one of my favorite things is to paint, draw or design fall-themed pieces of art. But, I really enjoy taking in the festivals and such around western NC.
Yesterday, my son and I tagged along with my husband as he attended the NC Farm Bureau meeting in Fletcher, NC. It happened to be at the WNC Agriculture Center where the NC Mountain State Fair is held. Yesterday was opening day so after the meeting the three of us headed out to explore the Fair. It was fantastic! And stays true to the heritage of all things NC.
Images below are copyright of the NC Mountain State Fair.
If you haven't made the trip to the NC Mountain State Fair I highly recommend you go. The Fair runs through Sept. 17. You won't be disappointed!
It's Fall Y'All!
September is one of my favorite months. It's the end of Summer and beginning of Fall but it also happens to be my birthday month. This September will be especially memorable — I'm turning 40!!! I can't wait to celebrate by sharing all the new things happening in my studio.
Throughout the month of September I'll be introducing a new Fall line, a farm line and a faith line. Plus, I'll be sharing some of my favorite Fall recipes and DIY projects. Oh, a few FREE printables will be available too. Here's one now — Bless This Home. Prints best as a 5x7 piece. Crop marks included on PDF for trimming. Frame and display anywhere in your home.
If you haven't joined my mailing be sure to do so. I like to send out freebies, coupons and so much more.
Grace and Peace,
It's been awhile...
I took a hiatus from blogging to get better at it. Sounds crazy, right? But, that's what I did.
At the beginning of 2017 I sat down and came up with a small business plan and I intentionally left out blogging. There were a few reasons why but the main two were 1) I wasn't sure how to blog well and 2) what would I blog about. So, for the last few months I've been researching and getting mentored. I've put pen to paper well, it's been more like pen to paper and computer to come up with a list of blogging ideas and setting up a blogging schedule. I needed to know when and what I would be blogging on.
I'm a creative so it's hard for me to schedule creative things. But, that's what I've needed to do. I want to be able to share my art, art ideas, DIY projects, farm, food, freebies and so much more. I know blogging will help me do that. Plus, blogging makes me step out of my comfort zone too. Eek! I hope you'll join me on this journey that will begin in September. Until then check out a few photos of what my life has looked like over the past few months.
January 2017 has been a growing month for me as I've taken time off from the Studio to strategize and plan (and pray—lots of praying). It's been a process I'm really enjoying. I feel like I have a better vision for my studio.
In this process I have developed a mission statement for Whispering Oaks Studio--Growing creativity through art and fellowship. Seems like a small enough task, right? But, a mission statement can be the "North Star" of a business. I now know that through my studio I want to help people grow in their creativity through their art while fellowshipping with others.
And now having a mission statement has made the process of developing a business plan so much easier. Here are five steps I took in developing the mission statement for my studio:
Grace and Peace,
The Art of A Good Plan
Planning or having a plan hasn't always been my greatest quality. I like flexibility. But, what I've recently been uncovering is that a plan does not mean there can not be flexibility. A plan can be just that—a plan. But, a well-thought-out plan can be artfully wonderful.
In my previous blog post I touched a little on what I've been doing here in the studio—nothing. :-) Hahaha...it's true. I've laid aside the paint and brushes, pen and ink, and the paper and canvases have been neatly put away. And I've been planning (and dreaming BIG).
I've reached a point with my studio that now requires a plan or more like a business plan. I've been blessed with wonderful supportive customers and clients and I want to continue servicing them in the best possible way. I want my customers to have the best art experience possible and I want my design and marketing clients to be serviced in the best way. A good business plan and a beautifully scheduled calendar will help me achieve the customer satisfaction I desire.
I've really enjoyed the proces of developing a business plan and filling my calendar—and you know what? There is flexibility in all of this for me, the creative flexible loving person that I am. I think it has even given me more flexibility.
At the beginning of February I'll be releasing lots of newness and I can't wait. Until then enjoy this FREE January calendar. I hope you have so much fun planning and filling it up.
Grace and Peace,
Over the past month I have taken a mini "sabbatical" from the studio. A leave that was necessary to pray, think, brainstorm and learn. A break that just needed to happen.
I recently read an amazing article over on startupcamp.com that discusses this very thing of "How to Differentiate Passion from Calling". Something I've been struggling with for months. Anyone else trying to figure this out? If so, I'd love to hear your comments below.
I'm challenged with trying to figure out if the studio is simply a passion or is it my calling. Is it time to walk away from a full-time professional position to give my studio the time and attention it needs? So, during the time I took off these are the questions I've asked myself.
These questions gave me the initiative to do a few things or take action. I began writing a business plan, a mission statement and reviewed past financial records so that within a couple weeks I'll know whether my studio is a viable business. A viable business that will give me the freedom to work around my family's schedule, spend less time away from home, but give my family more time for weekend getaways and vacations.
If you have a success story to share about discerning passion from calling I'd love to hear. Or if you're stuck in the same boat as I am I'd love to hear from.
Grace and Peace,
Christmas Gifting—Handmade or Not
Giving gifts at Christmas can be enjoyable or stressful for some. I actually like gifting but I prefer to buy local or from small online businesses and making gifts. Many people aren't fond of receiving handmade gifts but I LOVE them. I find it to be more sentimental and meaningful. Now, don't get me wrong I'll joyfully take a store bought gift..uh hmmm...Michaels, Kirklands, Magnolia, Painted Fox...the list could go on. But, I truly adore handmade items.
In doing a little online research for inexpensive handmade gifts I ran across a blog post from The 36th Avenue for 25 Handmade Gifts Under $5. My heart leaped for pure joy! Some of these I want to try with my kids as I know they'll love them just as much as I do. I mean just check these bird nest necklaces out.
And this Snow Globe Necklace.
I could go on and on with the many different ideas from this post but you really need to check these out for yourself.
I'm also a sucker for my beautiful state's craftsmen, bloggers and entrepreneurs. The North Carolina Blogger Network recently released its 2016 NC Holiday Gift Guide. I'm sure you'll find many lovely items from some of NC's finest small businesses.
And I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't put a shameless self-promotion in here to purchase original artwork from me. Check out my Etsy shop for original artwork.
So, handmade gifts? Yes or no? Comment below.
Watercolor Techniques Basics 101
Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums to paint with. It's very fluid but requires a lot of patience because the detail you can get with watercolor is amazing and you're working from light to dark so you have to think in those terms. For those new to watercolor I like to introduce them first to various techniques before diving right into painting. These techniques are good building blocks to working with watercolor.
Some of the techniques I like to cover may seem rudimentary at first but make a huge difference. For example, working with various brush sizes. Basic enough, right? Well, being able to work with various brush sizes makes a BIG difference in watercolors. So, I ask the students to pick up a pack of various sized watercolor brushes and do an exercise with lines and fills and the amount of water picked up with the paint.
Other techniques I like to introduce students to are finding a light source, textures, using sponges, lifting color, using salt, layering, watercolor washes, scumbling and more. If you're interested in learning more about watercolor techniques sign up for my 4-week online class here. Watercolor is a very rewarding medium to work with and basic techniques are key to creating a great piece of art.
Peace and Grace,
Workshops, Classes and Parties, Oh My
I've said this before and I'm saying it again—I love all things art and design. One of my favorite things to do is share that love through workshops, classes, parties and more. I've had such an extraordinary year doing just that. And the people—wow, they're just the icing on the cake.
Workshops are designed to teach new skills and techniques or refine the skills and techniques that some already have. I'm experimenting with online workshops and studio workshops this Fall by offering two watercolor technique workshops.
One will be a four-week long online class via a private Facebook group. This is new for me and I can't wait to see how it goes. If you're interested in this online workshop register here. I'll be uploading instructions, cheat sheets, weekly homework, and finally we'll be completing a watercolor piece. This online workshop begins Nov. 1.
The second watercolor workshop will be held in my studio for several hours. This workshop will encompass basic techniques then working on a still-life painting.
Paint classes are a fun way to paint with a group. Most of my paint classes have a theme or specific event. The subject of the paintings are based on the group who are attending and open to all skill levels. I offer both children and adult classes. Classes usually last between an hour and a half to 3 hours; it generally depends on the age group. Click here for a list of upcoming classes.
Holidays, birthdays, gatherings, church groups, businesses and more enjoy paint parties. It's a great way to celebrate and have fun for your special event. All attendees paint the same thing and usually there is a theme chosen ahead of time. To book a paint party simply contact me.
I'd love to hear from you. Comment below with any suggestions or ideas for classes, workshops or even blog posts.
Peace and Grace,
Kelly L. Crawford
Artist, graphic designer, marketer, farmer's wife, mother of 3