Monday, August 22, 2011

remembering Tara Kelly Kidd

It is with sadness in my heart as I write about this difficult news.  The world said goodbye to one of it's most courageous and inspiring people on Friday.  My friend, Tara Kelly Kidd, lost her battle with cancer.  Only 30 years old, Tara inspired countless people with her cheery smile, never give up attitude, strength and courage (and about 100 other amazing qualities that Tara lived every day).  I feel blessed to have known her and her sisters and hope that all who knew Tara can somehow find peace. 

Not one second of one day should be taken for granted.  May you rest in peace Tara.  I consider myself one of the lucky ones for having known you.

Prayers and condolences can be offered at Tara Kelly Kidd's facebook page.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

a tale of two reactions...

There is no greater satisfaction in my line of work than the reaction of the child that a painting was created  for.  To see the look of pure excitement and joy in their eyes is like bearing witness to a dream coming true.  The best sound in the world is the sound of a child describing something that was made just for them.  Even when babies are too young to speak what they are feeling, the words are written in their faces and sounded out in the squeals, oohs and aahs. 

I am blessed to be able to watch my children's reactions to their room decor every single day. I have watched (in my spy camera video monitor) as my sleepless daughter stands up in her bed to tell her owls about her day. She has sharpened her counting skills with the colorful leaves on her tree, recounted her trip to Disney as she points to the castle and jumps up to "catch" the bugs flying over her wall.

My latest addition for her has been to take her favorite characters from Toy Story and paint them in her play area.  I debated about doing this for so many reasons before taking the plunge.  What if she loses interest in them?  What if next week she has new favorites?  What about the fact that these guys are taking up a section of the wall that might just look prettier with something girly that flows with the room?  The list goes on...

Truth be told, my Oakley sleeps with Buzz and Woody, quotes them both with a sudden "there's a snake in my boots" or "to infinity and beyond!" and gets up to dance 100% of the time she hears the Toy Story movie music playing.  It all started back when our daughter was just a tiny little lady. Toy Story 3 had been fairly recently released and there was Toy Story merchandise everywhere. Before long I noticed Oakley getting more and more excited as she saw all the characters cleverly displayed in stores...and all over everything! Her excited squeals turned to "da da, Da Da, DA DA" with each da getting louder than the previous. I soon came to realize that she was pointing at Woody while she squealed with delight. Then...a mommy "ah, ha" moment...she thought Woody was daddy! Truthfully, they do bear a slight resemblance (sorry, honey, but I said slight!). So, on a daddy/daughter day, my husband popped in an old VHS tape that had been given to us. (that's right, we have a VCR!)    The rest is daughter is hooked to her "daddy movie" and truly loves these characters.  I was compelled to paint them for her.   Besides,what is the worst things that could happen?  If she grows out of her walls, I get to paint something new.  Everyone wins.  So I went for it.  I was instantly rewarded for this decision.  As I was just getting started Oakley was jumping up and down, clapping her hands and screaming "I am so excited, I am sooooooo excited!"  And this was her reaction to a simple pencil sketch.  Here is the final result...

or the "semi-final" result.  I thought it was sweet how Oakley would try to "ride with Woody"
before the painting was even finished...

...and coloring by her "friends"

and now the final result, she hopped out of bed this morning grabbing her Buzz and Woody
 and showed them to the painting saying "look, you match!"

Now, a onto my son for just a brief moment.  We wasted no time in changing his gender neutral nursery to a wildlife theme.  My husband is an avid hunter and outdoorsman and we thought it would be fun to add our favorite wild animals to our new son's room.  It was interesting to make this decision for such a tiny baby whose personality was such a mystery.  At just a year old, his likes and dislikes have only begun to emerge.  The truth was I had taken time away from tiny by design when our son was born.  Since we didn't know the gender of the baby, we decided to make changes to the room after the birth.  I missed painting during this time but wasn't ready for the pressure of customer orders and deadlines.  His walls screamed to me to paint on them (I have a difficult time handling empty walls).   Due to the unpredictable nature of a newborn leading to unpredictable sleep patterns, I decided to have each animal in his room be a stand alone character.  This allowed me a chance to paint in small increments without having to blend a whole scene.  I was able to take foliage from his bedding to put around the deer and moose to tie everything in together.  So, enough about the thought process, and onto the amazing reactions we are beginning to see.
First, a few pictures of the animals...
"moose on the loose"

"oh, deer"

"life is a bear"
Truman (my son) first started to respond to wall paintings with the Toy Story mural in his sister's room.  I would  paint while he took his first nap and every day we would get him up and show him the changes.  He regularly crawls up to these characters, often climbing on top of Oakley's little coloring table, touching them and babbling to them.  Shortly thereafter, he really took notice of the moose, bear and deer painted in his room.  Now, before each nap and bed, he has to go around and touch each one.  Even sweeter, he puts his forehead on each animal as if giving them a hug.  We can also ask him "where is your moose, bear or deer" and he will point excitedly to the correct animal. 

I know I cut him off a little bit but I was holding him and trying to take the picture...
and I just have to share his sweet smile!

The kids respond to so many things in their rooms (and throughout the house).  Obviously, in this post I focused on the art.  There are hundreds of details in each of their rooms that have impact on their interests and personalities.  My daughter has a canopy hanging above her bed.  This inexpensive addition from Target provides her a magical place where she loves to lay her head every night.  She has a bright pink valance hanging over her window with sparkly sequins.  She regularly wants to be picked up so she can touch this whimsical piece.  My little guy has a true intrigue with the little bears that hang from his ceiling fan pulls.  He wants to see them, point at them and giggles quickly turn into belly laughs.  That is until we try to lift him to touch them and he desperately clings to us like a baby monkey ...we laugh so hard at his confused reaction.  These are all such testaments to how my kids are responding to the environment we are creating. 

the little bear that causes such strong, if not mixed, emotions in our little guy

I am interested in how children respond to things that we put in their spaces.  Please share with me some of the favorites of your kids or kids you know!

Is there a special piece of decor that has sparked a child's interest in your life?  Has your child's reactions to things in their rooms surprised you?  I would love to hear your stories!

Oh, and by the way, we have since upgraded to DVDs.  But we still do have the VCR...I guess some things are just hard to part with!

Monday, August 1, 2011

weekly(ish) wonder

It's been a little over two weeks since I wrote my first weekly wonder.  I wonder what is taking so long for the next one?  Sure there are reasons.  I always have the "my computer broke" excuse.  Then there's the "dog ate my artwork" or maybe I should just blame it on the kids...they can't read so they will never know.  The reality, is that all of these things were a factor (except the dog, he does no wrong). 

The biggest truth in all of this is that I really love the weekly wonder.  It's forcing me to just paint.  Not always focus on a project or a have a specific kid in mind, but just paint what is interesting in general.  I have been wanting to build up a gallery for quite some time.  My goal for 2012 is hit an art show circuit and talk to as many parents, people and artists as I can.  I need a gallery for the art shows and have been struggling with how choose between the thousands of ideas that pass through me every day.  Plus, let's just face it, there are so many things fighting to be "the most important thing to do" so I usually put my own ideas off to do special things for the kids, finish jobs for customers, clean the house, do yard work, clean the get the idea.

The weekly(ish) wonder gives me just the push I need.  I thrive with a goal and a deadline.  Finally, I am painting my gallery with a purpose, the ideas are flowing and I am feeling inspired by the whole thing.  I am also learning to paint more efficiently and to use time that I didn't even know I had to get it done.  That being said, I will never complete a painting just to complete a painting and I will always let a project grow to it's potential.  The first two weekly wonder inspirations are growing into multiple painting collections.  Sometimes, these weekly wonders will take longer to a week to complete.  My goal, however, is to still get them out on a weekly basis.  I am trying not to let the fact that I slipped already set the tone for how this is going to go.  We'll just have to see.

Today, I am happy to present the first.  Since it's been a little while, here is where we left off...

From the July 14th post:  "Out of the blue my daughter yells, 'oh, my gosh!!! momma, a ladybug and it's on the grass!'  Picture this in the voice of a sportscaster announcing the winner of the Stanley Cup or World Series...perhaps a little higher in pitch and certainly more sweet...but with this level of excitement. Over a ladybug."

The result of that one moment:

...and this lonely painting needed some company soooo...

...and isn't everything better in threes? (well, almost everything!)
I am happy to report that my little lady was just as happy with the final paintings as she was with the original ladybug sighting. 

my girl
Since we are on the subject of Oakley, I thought I would share a momma moment that did my heart some good.  She has really been asking a lot of questions about what Daddy and I do with our time.  She knows Daddy goes to work every day so Mommy can stay home with her and her brother.  She also know that Momma will go downstairs to paint and lately I have told her a few times that "Mommy paints for her business".  The other day she was coloring (and she is really, really good by the way...I will share a brag picture in a minute.  Anyway, back to the story...she was coloring and I asked "what are you doing?"  She replied, "I am working on my business!"  Talk about making my heart go pitter patter!

ok, so I know as a parent it's natural to see genius in our kids...but keep in mind she is only two, she's close to being in the lines and she will color for hours (bonus for a certain momma!)

Okay, now I will get back on track and share a moment that has happened often and I'm sure the wonder of this has not passed and will be recurring for years to come.  Especially given the fact that we live in a farming community...

We were all sitting on the "hill" in the backyard...the hill is more like a gentle slope, but in little kid world, it is a hill.  Oakley was getting ready to roll (down the hill), when all became silent.  That's when I realized that all was not silent, it was actually filled with the sound of a very loud engine.  Both kids instantly stopped what they were doing and turned their excited little faces toward the road.  Truman's tiny voice was all "ooooooohs" and Oakley screamed "Tractor!"  Let me go back to the fact that we live in a farming community (in fact our backyard butts up to a farm field).  We see a dozen tractors on the road a day...and every single one gets the same reaction out of both kids.  The days they come to work in the fields around our house are like vacation in the eyes of Oakley and Truman (and maybe even more to me!)  They are occupied the entire day with simply watching the tractors and marveling on how they work.  My nephew, Owen, shared the same obsession with tractors when he was little (he is now the ripe old age of five and seems to have moved on to hockey a bit).  In my world, it is an obvious choice.  When a kid finds wonder every single time they see is a true wonder!  I will try to capture some of these wonders in a series of paintings that I have lined up for the next weekly(ish) wonder

So, until then, have a wonderful week!

This weekly wonder and all future weekly wonders are available for purchase at
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