Monday, June 30, 2014

Q & A!

Well hello lovelies!  A couple weeks ago I posted a few questions on the Facebook page for you, some of which were wondering if there were any questions you had for me.  You came back with some very interesting questions, so I thought I would take a stab at answering them!

Here we go! 

Michael asks, "How do your goals align with or deter from military life?"  

Fabulous question!  For those of you who don't already know this, I am married to a delicious military man.  This means that we move around the planet every 2-4 years, with little warning or clue as to where we are going.  Fortunately, this lifestyle suits our personalities very well.  We love to travel obviously, so having a new hub to journey from every so often is fabulous.  Business-wise, it is very beneficial in many ways.  The frequent travel is constantly inspiring my work and life.  The constant turnover in the military population as people move here and move away keeps the market fresh and ever changing.  And every time we get moved, I am able to build my network, resources and breadth of opportunities even more.   
Every location has its varying pros and cons of course.  For example, in England, we are out in the middle of nowhere in farmland and forests.  While it doesn't allow me much opportunity for face time with the local population, it is AMAZING for the scenery and frolicking through nature.  So, to directly answer the question, my current goals align wonderfully with military life.  :) 

Andelyn asks, "Would you ever offer classes or lessons on your techniques?" and "What is your favorite form of art that you create?"

I've thought about this many times! I have done private lessons with adults in the past, and it was fabulous and has led to some lifelong friendships.  I have also done private lessons with children, and that doesn't fit very well for me.  I've thought about teaching adult classes on basic techniques, perhaps in one of those BYOB settings, but the stars haven't aligned yet in that department.  Eventually!
As for my favorite form of art to create, I believe it will always be my first love which is acrylic on canvas.  The possibilities are endless with it, and the gratification and calm that comes with the application of endless layers of paint to create something that is new and a piece of myself is unmatched.  :)

Mei Lin says, "I am very interested in learning about how you make your trees and elephants. Also--how you get the colors to be almost "water-color" design."  

This is a hard one!  I suppose they could both be answered with, 'lots and lots of layering!'   I've had many other people make the observation that my acrylics often take on a 'watercolor feel'.  This isn't something I do intentionally, so I'm not quite sure how to answer!  I use a lot of water when I paint, for smoothing, blending, glazing, layering, etc. so perhaps my pigments become so liquefied that they take on that appearance on their own! :) 

Many have asked about the different places that I've traveled and how they have influenced my art.  This could be a whole blog post on its own!  But here is a list off the top of my head, and the first thing that comes to mind that inspired my work while there. If you click on the country, you can also read the post on that location!

Ireland - GREEN, rolling hills, the Cliffs of Moher (nearly all the 2009 posts are about my summer spent in Ireland, so feel free to browse the archives!)

Grand Cayman Islands - the flora. There are some incredible species of flowers and plants on this island, that I had never seen before. Apparently I didn't blog about this trip for some reason...

Netherlands - Amsterdam is the happiest place on earth. The architecture is beautiful and distinct, the tulip fields are epic, and the Keukenhof Gardens will inspire my work for life.

Canary Islands - this trip involved eating Paella and drinking sangria and laying by the pool, so I don't have much from this one lol.

Belgium - classy, elegant, refined and relaxed was Belgium. I think of glass and wrought iron ceilings, lamp posts and cobblestone.

Scotland - Mmmmm Edinburgh.  My absolute favorite skyline thus far.  The spires, the architecture, the castles.  The kindness of the people and the deliciousness of the accent, the haggis, the scotch, the is like a fairyland. Love me some Scotland.

France - the Provencial countryside is unlike any other.  The trees really do look like a Van Gogh painting.

Greece - the white washed buildings and blue domes of Santorini are of course very distinctive. The view over the caldera from above is epic.  The lushness and super smooth stone streets of Corfu are lovely.

Italy - too much to reference here! The sea, the caves, the ruins, the architecture, VENICE, the list goes on.

Croatia - such a peaceful and calmly beautiful place.  The sea blends with the sky. The castles on the cliffs, the islands all up and down the coast. Love.

Norway - the motherland. The Norwegian Fjords are one of the earth's most incredible occurrences.  Words cannot describe the scale and magnitude of these natural formations. Not to mention the landscape beyond the fjords.  The mountains rocket toward the sky, the lush green hills make me want to run and sing and cry, the flora, the harbors, the architecture. It is all amazing.

Denmark - Copenhagen is rad and very chill, and has a lovely botanical garden.  We didn't get to see much there, it was just an overnight!

Germany - Bavariaaaaaaa! The Alps. No explanation necessary.

Spain - Gaudi's work and influence on Barcelona's architecture and public art is very distinctive and beautiful.  Barcelona is huge, there is so much to see and it is beautiful.

Canada - west coast, Vancouver area, so green and beautiful.

Montana - the homeland! Glacier National Park, the Rockies, that is what I grew up in. I'm spoiled and my standards of natural surroundings are very high as a result :)

Washington - living in Seattle was amazing.  I LOVE that city.  The Olympics, the Cascades, the Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, all within a short drive.  If it didn't cost a billion dollars to live up there, I would love to again :)

Arizona - Phoenix was a dirty hell hole, but head up north to Sedona and serenity will return.  The red rocks, the rivers, the luscious sunrises and sunsets, and the art community is very strong there.

Phew! That was an interesting recap!  Thank you for that question, it was really cool to run through what I have taken from each place inspirationally :)

And finally, I am frequently asked about my silk painting technique and process.  I would have a hard time conveying that in just words, so I'm working on putting together a photo or video tutorial on this very topic in the near future!  I would love input on this from you! What would you like to see specifically? What would you like to know?

I love to hear from you! I love answering your questions and hearing what you think!  Is there anything you would like to ask me?  Fire away!

With gratitude,

Emily :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Giant Birthday Sale!

So I wrote this post two years ago today on my 28th birthday.  I just read it again, and it is still my favorite, and it still very much communicates how I feel about life.

Building up to the big 3-0, I've been thinking about the various changes I've noticed coming with this milestone.  Here are few that have stood out.

I can't party for shit anymore. Two glasses of wine and I'm all too aware of the need to remove myself from public before I do or say anything embarrassing.  Anything over three and hubby has to assist me to bed.

More than one grey hair has magically appeared overnight in the last couple of years.  When I am running around kicking ass at 80+, I will revel in my glowing flowing gleaming silver hair.  But for now, those bitches are getting the tweeze.

I can't eat whatever the hell I want anymore and not notice the physical effects.  Those days of nailing a half gallon of ice cream in one night are over. My mother warned me. Not that I could do that today if I tried.

Aside from that, life keeps getting nothing but better.  I think the thing I have noticed the most with the increase in age is the incredible amount of fucks I don't give. The things that were worrisome before, the things that waste so much thought, those people who are most definitely not concerned with you... they kind of just slip away without being noticed any longer.

I'm definitely looking forward to this birthday.

In fact, I'm so freaking pumped about making it 30 years, I'm am having the BIGGEST freaking SALE I've ever HAD in the shop!  From June 19th through June 22nd, EVERYTHING will be 30% OFF!  And no coupon code necessary, everything will already be marked down for your shopping pleasure!

Spread the word, and I will see you there!

Enjoy discount codes, first looks at new designs, specials and other fabulousness!
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The French Riviera to the Dalmatian Coast: A Journey of Indulgence

Danielle arrived with only two days to experience England before we departed for France, so I did what any good friend would do and took her to Harry Potter Studios and filled her belly with the most delicious British treat ever, scones and clotted cream. 

We flew to Marseilles to catch a train to Avignon on a Sunday morning.  Upon arrival in Marseilles, we were very glad that we made the decision to go straight to Avignon.  Not a pretty place to be, Marseilles.  I don't recommend it!

The bridge in Avignon
In Avignon, our ridiculously wonderful and kind hosts (AirBnB) retrieved us from the train station and brought us to our most fabulous apartment - fully equipped with a Nespresso machine! - and familiarized us with the neighborhood.  The city of Avignon is still surrounded by castle walls, keeping it very quiet and small inside.  It is lovely and easy to navigate, and in the market and shopping areas, the calming scent of lavender floods the senses.  It is lavender season of course, and makers all over the city are crafting soaps, oils, pouches and countless other delicious topical treats for your enjoyment.  

Our apartment in Avignon

Calla Lilies in Avignon
On our second day we headed down to the Camargue, a National Park and Wildlife Reserve filled with flamingos, bulls and the notorious white horses, as well as a plethora of other avian beauties.  It was incredibly quiet and peaceful, and we were grateful that we beat mosquito season. If we had had more time in the area, we would have enjoyed the Toro, the local dish of bull.  But we didn't realize that we wouldn't be able to get it once we got back to Avignon. The epitome of local food!

The town outside the Camargue

Spices at the Camargue market
The next day was our wine and olive oil tour, which was super interesting.  Olive oil is made in a very similar way to wine, just with olives instead of grapes.  Different ages and types of olives generate different flavors of olive oil, and it was rad to hear about them in tandem with tasting the oils they produce.  I brought home a bottle of my favorite, as well as some amazingly rich olive lotion that makes my skin very happy.

The Olive Oil Mill

Learning stuff

After the olive mill we headed to a Provencial winery - the very same winery in this Van Gogh painting, I later realized! We made a large purchase of a large bottle of one of the most delicious wines I've ever tasted. It was really interesting to see the species of trees in the area and how recognizable in the works of Van Gogh they are.  His work makes sense on another level after seeing the distinctive landscape of this area. So beautiful is the South of France!

The Winery

The trees that Van Gogh loved so
Our next stop was Nice, where we were looking forward to a day of pure relaxation laying on the beach. Our train ride there had a couple hiccups and was filled with a thousand sweaty bodies headed to Cannes for the Film Festival, so we were very glad to get off and get settled in our lovely little apartment 2 minutes from the beach.  The next day we awoke early, had some tasty brekkie and espresso and skipped our happy asses to the beach.  

I also ate escargot and steak tartare for the first time, and it was delicious!

If you happen to find yourself on the French Riviera, pay the 15 euro for a private beach. It is worth it, I promise you.  Squishy lounge chairs, giant umbrellas, wooden walkways, immaculate bathrooms, and chairside food/drink service while you read your book allllll dayyyyyyy. Bliss. Bliss indeed.

We definitely wished we had another day to repeat that behavior in Nice, but the next day we were headed to Venice to meet our hubbies before embarking on the cruise on Sunday.  

Venice. What. A. City.  I expected it to be cool, but sweet jesus that is the most beautiful city I have ever laid eyes upon in all my traveldom.  I don't even know where to begin.  Once the guys arrived and we got them settled in the apartment we headed out to start shoveling Italian food in our mouths.  After dinner, some espresso and some gelato, we started moseying across canals and bridges toward St. Mark's Square.  The streets of Venice are very confusing, and very easy to get lost in and end up at dead ends at canals.  Fortunately, every window along the way is filled with beautiful art, supple leather, mounds of gelato, flowing dresses and countless other niceties.  

The skyline that I have been painting for so long, I finally saw in person!

When we finally reached the Square, I was mindblown.  There were mini symphonies every 50 yards, beautiful lights along every ledge, and because it was night time the amount of people in the square was much lower than in the daytime.  The pictures don't do it justice.  

After a couple days of gorging in Venice, we made the epic trek to the port to hop on our cruise ship.  The trek was much longer and sweatier than we were expecting, so by the time we got on board we pretty much ran to the buffet and the bar.  It was much welcomed.  

Our first stop on the itinerary was Bari, Italy.  Bari itself isn't anything to see, but we had booked an excursion to the caves outside the city so we headed out there right after we docked.  The caves were pretty epic and will provide some rad material for some paintings I have brewing! 

Second stop was Katakalon, Greece.  A very small port with one main street of shopping, and buses to Olympia.  We didn't feel like making the journey to Olympia, so we hopped on this beer bike instead.  And then we had an epic meal of giant calamari and souvlaki. It was a good day.

Third was Santorini! This was the stop I had planned this whole trip for, the place I had been dreaming of seeing since I was a lil' tyke.  Oia was the place to see, and I didn't realize that the island was essentially one big cliff and all the towns were built on top of it, making everything pretty hard to find and access. Two boat rides, a bus ride and a seasick husband later, we finally got to the top, to Oia.  I now understand why it is so expensive to fly into Santorini!  Oia is incredibly beautiful, and very distinctive in that beauty.  It is one of the few places that really does look like all those incredible photographs you see when you google.  I took this shot while eating a delicious hunk of feta wrapped in phyllo dough and fried with honey and sesame. It was amazing. The view and the feta.

What I was not expecting were the hundreds of donkeys.  Used to pack tourists up and down the cliffs and the 600 stone steps from Fira to the old port, it made for quite a journey down the mountain.

The next day was Piraeus, which is local to Athens.  I stayed in bed, while Danielle and the hubbies trekked on.  I got up and had a nice quiet lunch and then proceeded to the pool to read and wait for my loves to return.

Then we were on to Corfu, a super green island of Greece, where we were committed to finding a beautiful beach, which had eluded us at every stop thus far.  We had come to the right place, and finally enjoyed a few hours in the sand and swimming in the sea.  We headed back toward the center to find a tasty gyro, and found that Corfu kicks a whole lot of ass.  Lovely open town center, very well preserved ruins and fortresses, chill atmosphere, beaches around the whole island... Corfu is a place I would not mind returning to for a longer stay. For some reason all my Corfu pictures wouldn't load.  I will add them later if I can :)

Our last stop before returning to Venice was also one that I was highly anticipating - Dubrovnik, Croatia.  Sailing along the coast and through the islands was epic in beauty.  When we ported, we were shuttled to the center, right outside of the castle walls.  

One of the greatest things about traveling is the constant surprises along the way.  I always have a picture in my mind of what a place will be like, and it is almost never accurate.  Dubrovnik was most definitely one of those places.  The town is inside the castle walls, preserved amazingly to this day.  We wandered through the city and eventually saw a sign that said "Cold beer and the best view in the city >>", so of course we followed it.  They weren't lying. The view was epic.  The beer was cold, but we all about shat ourselves when she told us how much they were.  That beer with a view was expensive. But totally worth it.  

There were also little kittens roaming around that I seriously wanted to put in my purse and take home.

Looking out over those cliffs, the water was so still it blended perfectly with the sky.  It was mystical, surreal, so peaceful and serene.  And the bar was playing some lovely blues music, the first good tunes we had heard in quite awhile.  After we finished our million dollar beers, we continued to explore the city.  Awesomeness.  We even got to nerd out Game of Thrones style just a tad!

By the last day we're all ready to get off of the ship with the thousands of people cramming into the restaurants, elevators and pools.  We got off the ship and had one final incredible meal together in Venice before we parted ways and I cried my way over the last canal and boarded the bus to the airport.  

An epic trip indeed.  I could not be more grateful.