Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Necklace

I've been back at my art table, creating a few more necklaces. I made this last week using browns, mauves, and beige. It sounds plain, but it really isn't. The center beads are colored fresh-water pearls. I love how they are unevenly shaped and hang vertically. They're real smooth and feel nice on your neck. I think the colors make me think of Fall weather. Here in Florida, we've been having stormy wet days. It's keeping the temperature in the low 80's, and we may have even broken 78. That's cool for us! I guess Fall is coming.

You can see this necklace for sale in my Etsy shop here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quiche Lorraine

I'm a cook, which means, I cook things from scratch. I also cook things from mixes, but I prefer to try new recipes and prepare something interesting. This started when I was young, maybe 11, and I was home in the house for a couple hours before my parents got home from work. My mom prepared a lot of casseroles that I could pop in the oven for her. But as for dessert? She let me make whatever I wanted, and I could experiment as much as I dared while she was still at work. This resulted in lots of jello parfaits and jello poke cakes -- it was the 70's after all, and I tried all the recipes in my mom's Good Housekeeping magazine. But occasionally I'd make dinner too. One of my specialties was quiche lorraine, which is traditionally a swiss and bacon quiche. My family loved that. Now, I've introduced it to my kids, and they love it too.

Here's my recipe for an easy quiche lorraine. This one was especially easy because I didn't make my own pie crust -- I went with the Mrs. Smith's frozen crust. Hey, there's nothing wrong with semi-homemade.

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Cut an entire package of bacon into little pieces. (That will be enough for two pies.) Fry the pieces of bacon until crisp, then drain all the fat and put the bacon on some paper towels to get even more fat.

When the oven is preheated, put the pie crusts on a cookie sheet. I always line my sheets with parchment paper (not to be confused with waxed paper) so if there's any spillage, I don't have to clean a pan. Bake the crusts for about 8 minutes. This partially bakes them so they'll end up a little firmer and won't get a soggy bottom.

After the crusts come out, put them aside, and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Split the cooked bacon between the two crusts.

Cut or shred 12 ounces of swiss cheese, splitting it between the two crusts. I happened to have a package of sliced cheese, so I used that. I think it's easier to get a block and shred it, though.

For two pies, whisk together 6 eggs, 4 yolks, and 1 cup heavy cream. Add some salt, ground white pepper, and ground nutmeg. Pour it into the two crusts. If it doesn't seem to go high enough in the crust, you can add another egg or so. I think the premade crusts differ in size, especially if you get a deep dish or not.

Bake the quiches at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Check them by jiggling the pan and making sure the filling is not jiggling. If it is, leave them in for another 5 or 10 minutes. Then enjoy. This is a great meal with a salad. Of course, you can alter the fillings: try cheddar and broccoli; ham and brie; swiss, spinach, and mushroom. Plus, the cooked quiche freezes very well. I have one wrapped in foil in my freezer ready for a busy day's dinner.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Joyous One Note Musical

Maybe that title is a mouthful, but that's what I thought of when I looked at my latest necklace creation, and that's what I called it when I posted it to my Etsy shop. The beads are a mix from Beverly Gilbert's collections. I added a few silver beads to it so it would really go with the dangle I was making. The vibrant reds, pinks, orange and blue just seemed so joyous to me. I used 18 guage sterling silver wire for the pendant. I cut a length, bent it into shape, then hammered and textured it with a chasing hammer. Finally, I polished it nicely with my Dremel.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Interview with Jenni Adkins Horne: Part 3

Today is the final post of my interview with Jenni. Please visit her blog and her Etsy shop, where she sells her beautiful paintings.

I met you online when we were both taking an e-course taught by Kelly Rae Roberts. What was your motivation for taking that course?
I took her class quite honestly because I am enamored with her success. A part of me thought that the class would by osmosis transfer a teensy part of her success into my life. I am sure it will in due time. I think each step we take to nurture our creative process only helps reveal a true opportunity when we are ready to accept it.

You have a beautiful website and blog. Which came first? Did you develop them both on your own?
I spent a trillion hours on a website for my art and products several years back, only to have it poof into thin air last year. My blog, however, has been a wonderful way for me to express myself in the internet world. It has opened doors for my journey that I never would have gained had I not shared my most authentic self. I know that my honesty and consistent postings are what keep people returning. Sharing my thoughts is an integral part of my creative process. Sometimes I cannot wait to share things on the blog with readers; its like they’ve been my friends forever and share in my triumphs and downfalls right along with me. I cherish the feedback and thoughtfulness of strangers. I mean, where else but through the words of my own voice can I share so much joy and such sadness and yet never feel alone?

You seem to have worked hard to cultivate an online presence as an artist: you write blog posts quite often, you sell on Etsy, you’re on Facebook. Is there anything I’ve missed?
I realize now how HUGE having an online presence is. When I first started blogging it was a little journal of my thoughts, ideas and art I was making. When I started to gain a reader following my posts got meatier, more meaningful, and more inspired. Now it is an important part of the day I look forward to. Being online helps to keep me grounded and focused on what lies ahead.

What do you think each of these connections do for your artistic business?
I know for a fact that without my online presence I would have nothing. I have my local shows and galleries yes, but my readers are what keep me motivated to be more, do more. They keep me connected to the outside world as well. Being an artist in an in-home studio -- well let’s just say it’s really easy to let yourself become isolated. I find days go by without my actually speaking to any friends outside of my family. It’s nothing personal, I just get really focused and driven. Being online gives me a connection to an outside world and reminds me to come up for air every once in awhile.

It seems like you are selling your art online, in galleries, and in shows. Which type of venue has been the most successful for you?Oh boy, well I have to say of all the venues I sell I love outdoor shows the most. The energy from the visitors, the other artisans and my own creative mojo is like an amazing high! I absolutely love getting ready for shows, creating timelines, developing products, getting paintings completed, and of course creating the little vignettes in the tent. It makes the work all worth it when the visitors are engaged in my booth and eager to learn my thoughts behind paintings, and of course when they buy! I have a full show schedule this fall so please check my blog under show on the road to see where I’ll be next. In 2011, I'll have a solo Art Exhibit entitled “Coming Home” at The Naked Art Gallery in Birmingham, Alabama, March 4th-April 2nd.

One more thing: check out Somerset's publication: Holidays and Celebrations, due out very soon, featuring Jenni's felted bird sculpture.

Thank you Jenni, for this inspiring interview. If you would like more of Jenni you can visit her here:
Facebook: Jenni Adkins Horne
Twitter: artsyorange

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Interview with Jenni Adkins Horne: Part 2

I’m continuing today with the second part of my interview with artist Jenni Adkins Horne. Jenni lives in Newnan, Georgia, with her family, where she creates beautiful, colorful paintings.

Has your art always been similar to your current style?
I think artists are constantly evolving their style and subjects. When I first started painting, my compositions were very simple, sweet and innocent. There were lots of birds, flowers, and nests. I tended to paint with soft, subtle colors. Now I see the whimsical and playful feelings evoked in those paintings were a part of my insecurities of what I was doing. I was wearing my heart on the canvas for all to see. It was a very vulnerable time. I’ve always thought of myself as confident and courageous, but this was uncharted territory. I could teach kids how to be artists…but I was not an “artist”.

Slowly I’ve discovered my own style, favorite subjects, and favorite colors for a signature look. Although I do flip around with technique, the feelings in my paintings remain the same. There is such a spark of passion as I express myself through the brush and paint. I feel so alive when I work. I can tell from my head to my toes when my creative life is at a lul; it’s such a part of my being now that it has to be nurtured and developed continually. It’s like this magical relationship. The process of evolving and becoming an artist has been an amazing journey. I would not change a thing!

If you were making art solely for yourself, not for sale, what would you make?
Hmmm…well, I think my art is such an extension of me that I would paint just as I do now. As evidenced by the work I cannot let go of that is currently hanging all over my house, I think I like what I’m doing.

Do you still take classes to learn new art techniques?
I wish I could take more classes to learn techniques. I have attended two Art and Soul retreats, one in Portland and one in Las Vegas. The Vegas classes provided loads of inspiration for my own work and my children’s classes.

Are you still teaching art classes?
I am still teaching at my children’s elementary school. I come in every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Parents have to sign up their child for the 4-week sessions and pay a fee. It is the best way to teach children because they ALL want to be there and as a general rule all have some sort of natural talent. Sharing my joy of art with children is an amazing experience. In fact, I can’t really talk about it without getting a little emotional. Teaching helps to keep my walk in this artful journey grounded. I have been so blessed with the gift of relating to children and the ability to teach.

I have a teacher’s heart, always will. I know my work is getting stronger by the day because those little whatareyoudoing monsters are no longer hanging around the studio. The confidence I gain through teaching allows for new opportunities to express myself as well. I plan to take this year and continue all my show obligations up until the summer of 2011. Then during the fall of 2011 through the summer of 2012, I will focus on teaching outside of my community. I am working on developing a workshop series that will be presented to several of the larger adult workshops around the United States, such as Art and Soul. I am tickled about my ideas for the classes and hope that by then my blog and Etsy shop following will be recognizable enough that creative spirits who attend the retreats will be excited to experience a workshop with me!

Where do you make your art? Do you have a dedicated space in your home, or different spaces depending on the art that you are making?
I have a sunroom studio right off my kitchen. It is the most inspiring little space. All the natural light is perfect for someone who enjoys being outside more than inside. Of course as projects get going I tend to take over other areas of our home, like the kitchen table, our bed, the sofa, the driveway. Yeah…..our driveway always has a table set up for those extra messy days.

I hope you're enjoying my interview with Jenni Horne. I'll be posting the last part in a couple of days.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Artist Interview -- Jenni Adkins Horne

Artists make art because they love it, and because they have this powerful need to produce art. But when you’re working away in your studio, it can actually be an isolating experience, if you don’t make the effort to connect with others. I’ve recently connected with many artists, from all over the world, through Kelly Rae Roberts’ online course Flying Lessons. I met a talented artist, Jenni Adkins Horne, through this class. She lives in Georgia where she creates beautiful paintings and lives an artistic life. I recently interviewed her to discover a little more about her life, her inspiration, and where her art is taking her now.

I will be posting this interview in three parts. In the first part, Jenni will tell me when she first started making art and how it has evolved over the years.

Where do you live and how long have you lived there? Is there another place which you consider your hometown?
I live in a thriving community south of Atlanta, Georgia called Newnan. We’ve lived here, in the same house, for 15 years. I was actually raised in Birmingham, Alabama.

Tell me about your family.
We have a house full of two-legged and four- legged kinds of joy! Billy and I have been married since 1996. We have two children: William who is 10 and Mailey who is 8. The four-legged members are 4 cats: AJ, Saily, Ellie and Jackson. Lily is our little love child dog….who can always be found helping me paint. We also have a dwarf hamster named Candy Corn. Needless to say I am never, ever lonely.

Do you work at a job other than making and promoting your art?
If you consider running a household a real job, then yep, I wear many hats. In all seriousness though, I have been working as an artist full-time for 2 years. I spend my days working in the studio while the children are at school. I’ve committed myself to teaching two afternoons a week at their school as well.

How would you describe yourself as an artist and the art that you do?
That is a very difficult question to tag with words. I am definitely a mixed media artist who enjoys everything from painting, sewing, jewelry making and recently embroidery. Overall, my work can be described as playful and whimsical. My most recent work with trucks, campers and bikes I have dubbed the “American Still Life”. There is something nostalgic and mysterious about their compositions, one could even say they appear lonely. Is this mirroring my life as an artist?

I do place a realm of emotions into each composition, sometimes subconsciously so. I am someone who thinks a lot, about life and my place here. I know that there are no happenstances, and that everything and everyone is placed into our lives for a specific reason (just like your meeting me during Flying Lessons…I mean how is it that out of the 500 students we found one another?). But within this life of reason, comes a beautiful journey where doors are presented, with not every experience easily navigated. There have been times in my life where I opened the wrong door, but through the experience I gained wisdom and strength. My art continues to be a journey where I open and close doors. Allowing myself the freedom to truly nurture my creative destiny has been a wonderful experience. It has been one that has led the direction of my paintings, jewelry and sculptures. There is something so pure and raw in my work. My hope is that as a viewer you can sense the honesty and vulnerabilities I am presenting and in the end can take from it a piece of the journey. And maybe, just maybe be inspired to start your own.

What type of art do you spend the most time doing?
Did you have one of those fun plastic viewfinders as a child? My creative process is much like having one of those viewfinders in my head at all times. I click from screen to screen as ideas come into focus. Since I am the one peeking into that creative viewfinder and can control the next frame, it allows me time to focus on one project for as long as I need before moving on to the next.

I see you have a degree in Fine Art. Did you always want to study art in school? What was your favorite class or project you did in art school?
I love the quote, “Sometimes on a way to a dream you get lost and find a better one.”

No, I never wanted to be an artist growing up. I dreamed my entire life of becoming an architect. Yep, just like Mr. Brady on the Brady bunch. I was not accepted into the University of Virginia’s program my first year however, so I attended Randolph Macon Women’s College. My thinking was to get one year under my belt at a prestigious Virginia school so that UVA would want to woo me on over to enter their Historic Preservation Program. They would not say no a second time. However, I took an art class as an elective and about mid-year called home and said, “Um… Mom and Dad, I think I’m going to come home and become an art major.” WHAT? You see, I had absolutely no art from grades k-12. Nope, Notta one. So this was a little out of the blue. Mom took me down to Auburn University upon my return in May. She sat with me in the Dean of Liberal Arts office as I explained what I wanted to do for the next four years at Auburn. He said I was a little behind and had no portfolio for placement. I guess my big blue eyes were just a little too eager with anticipation and creative fire because he said ok. I was the best student…working my creative spirit in all the classes. It took 4 years to graduate, but I did so Magna Cum Laude and Phi Kappa Phi. Since I was the only art major in my group to receive these honors I really don’t mind tooting the horn about it! My concentration was in printmaking, which is quite funny now since I’ve not touched a press in like 16 years! In fact, I never took an acrylic painting class, just two watercolor and one oil painting. I focused in the clay and printmaking studios. And now I am mostly a painter. Who’d a thought!

Tell me about the job that you had with Crayola. You’ve said that was one of the best jobs you’ve ever had.
Oh yes, this was a fabulous job! I had just opened my own art studio, The Bubble Gum Ice Cream Art Studio, when an art educator friend called and said that Crayola was looking for an art educator that could represent them at school districts across the state demonstrating the amazing products they had to offer for the classroom. It would not be a job that a full-time teacher could maintain, but they wanted someone with art teaching experience. I was so excited about this job, let me tell you. My responsibility was to focus on the regular classroom teachers showing them how they could implement all Crayola products like model magic, markers, glue (it’s the best white glue!), scissors, paints, etc into their curriculum. It was a workshop hosted during staff development days. Teachers received SDU credit for coming. I traveled the state for a year with my super fun art supplies in tow and made art with teachers. I hope that I left them a little inspired as well!

Stop by my blog later this week to see parts 2 and 3 of my interview with Jenni Adkins Horne. She'll be talking about her style of art and where she sells her art.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My First Etsy Sale!

I started my adventure trying to sell my jewelry on a website called Etsy on June 28. You can see my site with quite a few pieces of jewelry here. On Etsy, I've set up a virtual store, post photos and descriptions of my jewelry, and hope for a sale. Well, you don't just sit back and hope. You tell people on your blog about your shop. Tell people on Facebook. Make a new post when you've listed more items. I've sold lots of jewelry through art shows, open houses, one-on-one sales, but I really wanted to try to reach people from all over.

And so I have! Congratulations to me -- I sold my first piece of jewelry from my Etsy shop! Thank you to Laura from New York. We "met" each other because we're both artists who took Kelly Rae Roberts' Flying Lessons e-course. In that class, we learned how to increase our online presence, promote ourselves and our art on our blogs, Facebook, and other social networking sites. We learned tips for getting our items on Etsy noticed. And that's how she found me -- through a Facebook post I made about new jewelry in my shop.

Thank you, Laura, for checking out my jewelry and taking a chance on me. I hope you enjoy it and wear it in good health. Here's what she bought. I call it "Follow Your Own Path."

I hope you like it -- but all my jewelry is one-of-a-kind, so you won't see another one in my shop. You can look at my other jewelry for sale at my Etsy shop here. Here are a few other necklaces for sale.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Warm and Fruity Granola

In my post about our visit to Asheville, I told you about our stay at the Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast. Every morning we came down to a gourmet meal of eggs, fruit, bacon or sausage. There was always some kind of warm dish with fruit. One of my favorites was a warm granola. It was soft and steamy, not crunchy like regular granola, but it had the crunch of nuts in it. I decided to recreate it, and it was so good I've made it twice. I had no recipe, so I improvised. I started with a box of granola cereal as the base, so I was not making this completely from scratch. I love when you can make something "semi-homemade" and it turns out delicious. Here's my take on a yummy warm and fruity granola.

Start out by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Decide how much you're going to make, how many people you're cooking for, and pick a baking dish that's suitable. I used a 1-quart glass pyrex dish with a lid, to make a breakfast for my husband and me, and perhaps leftovers the next day. Fill it about halfway with a granola cereal. I used the oat and cinnamon version, without extra nuts and fruit, because I wanted to add those myself.

I wanted the crunch of nuts, so I added pecans and sliced almonds. I chopped the pecan halves coarsely.

To give your nuts even more crunch, you can toast them in the oven. I spread them out on a cookie sheet and baked them for 10 minutes. Make sure you watch them so they don't get too brown. You can even stir them around after five minutes.

Rinse strawberries and blueberries, then cut the stems off the strawberries and slice them smaller. You can use any fruit that's in season: peaches, blackberries, plums, pears.

I'm all about using as little dishes as possible, so I add everything right into the baking dish and mix it together there. Drizzle some honey over it to taste. I also added some fruit juice and water, maybe 1/4 or 1/2 cup, so that it would steam nicely in the oven. You want the granola to soften up.

Give it a good stir, put the lid on it, and bake. I think I baked it for 15 minutes, stirring it once and replacing the lid.

And here you have it. Warm, yummy, and it smells so good. This is it for a breakfast. You want it for dessert? Then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Friday, August 6, 2010

July Travel Log -- Asheville, Part 2

I spent the greater part of two days walking around Asheville, looking in galleries, checking out restaurant menus, poking around down every street. I'm going to give you a list of links to some of my favorite places for your next visit to Asheville.

Galleries and Shops

New Morning Gallery is in Biltmore Village, just a little way from downtown. Tons of pottery, paintings, furniture, and home decor are displayed in this large, multi-room gallery.

American Folk Art Gallery is a wonderful gallery with local artists, mostly in a folk, or outsider, style.

Woolworth Walk is an old Woolworth's store that is now an artists' co-op. Two floors in a huge building give you enough art that will keep you busy at least an hour. This is a great example of the wonderful art made by local artists.

K2 Home is located in an old pharmacy building. It's filled with home decor and paintings that can brighten up anyone's home.

Malaprop's Bookstore is a large, independent bookstore that you can get lost in -- lost in their many great books. We spent a few hours in there. Popular books are nestled against unusual books you may not have seen before. You can also check out their used bookstore, Downtown Books and News, a couple blocks away.


Tingles Cafe just opened in June. They make great fried chicken with yummy southern sides, like mac and cheese and sweet potato casserole.

Woolworth Walk can also be listed under restaurants, because the old soda fountain is still there. We ate at the counter and had grilled cheese, milkshakes, and floats.

Chocolate Fetish isn't really a restaurant, but if there's a chocolate store in town, I'm stopping. They have a variety of homemade chocolates and truffles. Take a break while you're walking downtown and try one of their goodies.

With any luck, I'll visit Asheville next year too. It's definitely one of my new favorite places. Do you have any favorite haunts in Asheville that I can add to my list?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

July Travel Log -- Asheville, Part 1

Asheville, North Carolina: a walkable downtown, loads of galleries, new restaurants opening every day, free nighttime entertainment. We loved it! We found a great bed and breakfast just one mile from downtown. You can check out the Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast here. We stayed in a two-bedroom suite, including a table, chairs, and a few cushy arm chairs. We had a mini fridge and microwave and free wi-fi. Plenty of room for a family of four. The beautifully decorated common areas offered relaxing areas to sit and talk about our days.

The breakfasts were amazing! Each day we had a warm egg dish, some kind of meat, and a warm fruit dish. The only hard part about breakfast in a B&B is that you have to wake up your teenager to come down to breakfast. I think he decided it was worth it, but one day he did go back upstairs to bed.

Another benefit of B&Bs is the recommendation of things to do that you get from the owners. They recommended a hike up Mt. Pisgah, which was long, but doable for a family.

The view from the top was spectacular.

I'll tell you about the galleries and restaurants we visited tomorrow. By the way, I recently posted photos of some great graffiti art I've seen recently. All of those paintings are found in Asheville. I took them in a matter of hours walking around downtown.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

July Travel Log -- Savannah

Our family spent nearly three weeks driving through the southeast U.S. We hit seven states: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. We had a few destinations in mind, but also stopped at some bonus places. Savannah, Georgia was one of those. Our goal was Asheville, North Carolina, but we didn't want to do the 12-hour drive in one day. We looked on a map, and decided Savannah would be a great place to stop.

We had never been to Savannah before. I knew it had a downtown area, and I knew it was very old. I knew it dripped with southern-ness. Savannah's downtown has buildings that are over 150 years old. The downtown has a series of "squares," which are parks, every couple of blocks. They are filled with old, live oaks, statues and monuments.

Have you seen the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?" Not only was this movie all about Savannah and its people, but it was filmed there as well. I highly recommend it, not only for the scenery, but to find out just how strange the folk of Savannah are. The central story in the movie is the murder case against Jim Williams, who lived in the Mercer House. Here's a drive-by photo of the house.

At night we did a ghost tour of the downtown area. Do you want a ghost tour in which you ride around in a converted hearse? Savannah has that. Do you want one where the tourguide howls at you? Savannah has that too. Luckily, ours was hosted by a man who's been giving tours for 20 years, and has lived much of what he's describing. He even rented an apartment from Jim Williams at one point, and could give insight into the goings-on at the Mercer House. (I thought it was interesting that now the home is called the Mercer-Williams house.) Did you know that every owner of the house has been charged with murder, and then later acquitted? I don't remember if that's in the movie or not. Anyway, our ghost tour was great. We walked around, looking at houses, from 9:30 -11:30 at night. Our tour guide, Shannon Scott, didn't stop talking once. He even told us about one of his apartments that was haunted by a ghost, which entered through a portal in the fireplace. You can see the shadow of the ghost in this photo.

Our time in Savannah was too short, especially since it rained most of one day. We did manage to find a good little restaurant, The Gryphon Tea Room. The soup and quiche were delicious, and so was the chocolate layer cake we split for dessert. We hunkered down in there a bit during the storm, and the staff was obliging to our over-long stay. Across the street is the Savannah College of Art and Design store. Shop here to support the local students; you'll see paintings, dolls, pottery, and fiber arts. Around the corner from that is a great local bookstore, but I don't remember the name of it. We're always pleased to find and support independent bookstores.

Here's one last shot from our walk around town. I highly recommend Savannah, and you can find an inexpensive hotel right downtown.

Do you have any ghostly Savannah memories? Or a good story about their famous Southern hospitality?