It’s almost September and our teenagers are getting ready to start school this week. It will be a different start than normal for sure, all virtually for now, but I’m hoping I can still talk them into letting me take a first day of school pic!
How have you been feeling? I think most of us would agree it’s been a hard year. I’d really expected something good out of a year with such a fun number sequence…
20-20! But nope. This year has pulled out all the hard stuff and packed it into a teeth grinding, stomach upsetting, headache giving sandwich that has left many of us hurting, exhausted, depressed or at least anxious and unsettled.
I’m feeling it too. And I can tell you that I don’t have any good answers for how to cope with it. One thing I know for sure though, is that I feel happy when I can add some joy to someone else’s day. So often, when we give, we receive even more in return, don’t you agree?
So I’ve been thinking…
What adds joy to my day?
What pulls me out of a funk?
What makes my life happier?
How can I share joy with others?
I decided to put some of these thoughts down on paper and a mini e-book was born! The book I’m sharing with you is not so much about my personal reflections. That would be quite boring I think…. To make it more useful and interesting, I made it into a journal for writing, doodling and reflection on YOUR experiences.
During such a tough year, I wanted to do something positive and uplifting for my community. No, it won’t solve any real problems but I hope it will help you to celebrate the simple joys, not just during this year, but even during a year when the hardest stuff is an overwhelming to-do-list….
You’ll receive this Simple Joys E-Book & Journal immediately after you join my email community (access the sign-up form by clicking on the image below). Besides this e-book, you’ll receive exclusive content and insider news from my art studio.
Hope to see you on the “inside”!
Thank you for following my journey!
P.S. If you like the Simple Joys E-Book & Journal, I'd love to hear from you in the comments! What are your simple joys? What does joyful living look like for you? I look forward to hearing from you!
See that big smile? That's me holding my most recently finished hummingbird painting called "Hummerville" which I painted in an intuitive style with a layered acrylic painting technique. This painting was so fun to create!
I thought you might enjoy seeing all the steps and phases of my acrylic painting process, from the first brushstrokes to the completed painting hanging up on our wall. Creating this finished piece of artwork took many layers in order to create that interesting, yet soft texture.
I didn't set out to create a particular subject but decided to add elements as I went along. I find my paintings are more playful and spontaneous when I paint in this intuitive style and end up being better than if I decide "this is the subject I want to paint."
Ready to see the process?
These were literally the first brushstrokes I painted on the canvas. It can sometimes be intimidating to see a big, blank canvas in front of you. It’s helpful to just pick a color and put it onto the canvas. Starting is half the battle! Once you have some paint on the canvas, it’s easier to apply the next brushstrokes!
Done with the underpainting! I covered the entire canvas with paint creating subtle textures and gradations. I really liked how this underpainting looked. In fact, I liked it so much that I kept it in my art studio at this stage for days just to enjoy it for awhile!
After looking at the painting for an extended period of time (sometimes I work on another painting if I need to and let it simmer for a bit), the next step will come to me. I can’t explain this part but I’ll suddenly “see” a bird or flower or another subject appear and feel moved to help it come to life. Once that happens, the painting part comes pretty easy.
Finally...... finished! While I purposely wanted the hummingbird and main flowers to be a bit hidden in the abstract background that reminds us of a field of wildflowers, the extra details I added since the last phase make these subjects a focal point and provide the exciting “pop” in this painting.
I hope you enjoyed seeing all the steps involved in my layered acrylic painting process of this hummingbird painting on canvas. If you did, I’d really love to hear from you in the comments! Also, if you share via the social media icons, it really helps my little blog post to get found among the gazillions of pages on the internet. Many thanks!
While the original art is not for sale, high quality art prints of this hummingbird painting are available in my online art gallery with Fine Art America in a variety of sizes, along with framing options. Since the original is hanging in our living room, I can tell you from personal experience, this painting adds joy to our home environment every day! I also have a number of original paintings with hummingbirds available through my online shop. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
For a sprinkle of joy in your email inbox (and the occasional discounts!), please join my email community via the form below.
Thank you for following my art journey!
Pffff….. It’s been a whirlwind couple of months. While the world is undergoing some massive changes, so has my small creative business seen an impact.
With so much uncertainty going on, I needed something to keep my mind occupied besides endlessly reading news reports which only increased my anxious feelings… Since I always like to continue learning (and my naturalist field course had been cancelled due to covid-19), I decided to immerse myself in a creative business course that helped me to reflect on what I enjoy most about my art journey and where I’d like to focus moving forward.
Focus has been a bit of a challenge for me as I like to get involved in so many creative activities (apparently there's a term for that: multi-passionate!) but since the beginning of the year, I’ve been loving the therapeutic feel of paint on canvas and I realized this is a direction I’d like to continue to explore.
This realization led to a bunch of research on the best place to offer my joyful paintings. I decided on opening an online art gallery through Fine Art America (also called Pixels). The reason I chose to open a gallery with this company is because they’re known to provide customers with an infinite variety of art print sizes, substrates, framing options, and even other fun goods. They have an excellent customer service guarantee which is really important to me.
Another big change has been designing a new logo. I’ve used the name Presents of Love for many years but have decided to use my personal name going forward. I hope to explain this decision in more depth in another blog post.
One thing kind of led to another…. with a new logo and the exciting start of an online art gallery, my website needed some serious updating! I hope you noticed I gave it a serious face lift! I’m super happy with how much better it reflects me as an artist. I’m sure I’ll keep tinkering with it because these things are always a work in progress but I like the joyful feel and organized structure of my website much better now.
My art has always helped me through challenging times. Art has been my way to both find and share joy. I’m so very grateful with all of you for watching me grow, learn and standing by my side with a word of encouragement and support. Thank you!
Has art been meaningful in your life? In what way? Also, would love to hear what you think of the new website! Share in the comments!
I finished my sketchbook project!! You may remember me telling you in my January blog post that my friend gave me a special sketchbook destined for the Brooklyn Art Library. Well, it’s taken me a few months but I finished it! I feel really good about filling this sketchbook with illustrations all about simple joys!
Before I send it off, I wanted to share it with you through a short, little video. I took this video myself in my art studio in Portland, Oregon so it’s nothing fancy (anyone else have mommy maker hands with crazy dry skin from frequent washing during this pandemic?!) but I’m a big believer in celebrating even the smallest accomplishments. ;0)
I’m keeping this month’s blog post short but I hope you’ve all been okay during these difficult times. My hope is that you not only stay healthy but also find some joy in your daily lives while sheltering in place and that my “simple joys” illustrations bring a smile to your face.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments which one of the illustrations is your favorite. Which one speaks the most to you? Thank you for taking a peek and visiting me in this space!
Do you remember last week? I know. What seemed still okay last week seems unthinkable this week. The Coronavirus certainly has impacted our lives quickly! As of today, our Oregon schools are closed until April 1st and honestly, it seems there’s a good chance that period might be extended.
While we’re all adjusting to this new normal and learning what we can do to slow down this virus from spreading, I know many of you are starting to work from home. That’s not always easy to do, especially if we have little ones home from school! Our kids are teenagers now but I remember the wiggly days so well! I’ve been thinking of what I can do to help support families with kids through this uncertain time.
After thinking for a bit, I had an idea! I created the "anti-boredom calendar" for kids a few years ago but decided to give it a thorough make-over in light of social distancing! I believe all the kids activities suggested in this printable follow the current health recommendations but please tell me if I need to correct something.
I’m hoping this small contribution may help your family create some happy memories during this uncertain time. I hope these activities may inspire your family to find some joy playing together and being creative. If you click on the image below, you’ll be able to download this printable for free.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments on how the coronavirus has impacted your family and daily life. How are you and your loved ones doing? What activities has your family been enjoying?
Thank you for reading my blog and following my art journey!
Time is a funny thing. It can move so slowly when you’re waiting in line or stuck in traffic. On the other hand, it can go so very fast when you’re doing an activity you enjoy. It can also very easily “slip away” as we keep ourselves busy with stuff we don’t even really have an interest in.
Or am I the only one who gets easily distracted “researching” something on the internet that doesn’t matter in the long run?
I’m personally not much of a tv watcher but I know if the tv were in our living room (it’s not for good reason!) and turned on, it’s very easy to get sucked into a program. At the end of the night I'd wonder why I sat there so long watching it….
Last month, we talked about making small shifts for more joy. To continue looking for ways to add more joy in our lives, let’s do this super quick and easy exercise:
- Can I do the planning to make it more likely to happen?
- What’s holding me back from doing the activity I enjoy?
For example, you want to do more painting but really need some more paint. Maybe you use an hour of time to run to the art supply store and pick up some supplies that make it possible for you to actually start painting soon.
Or, you’d love to bike to work or to run your errands instead of always using the car. Can you get your bike tires pumped up, check the weather forecast and get the appropriate gear out now so taking that bike ride will actually happen?
You can do a lot in 60 minutes!
Now if you really enjoy scrolling through your social media feed or watching a good movie with the family, please take that time to decompress and relax! But next time you’re not fully enjoying it and you're just killing time, try taking out your list.
Even if you don’t have an hour, what can you do in the 10 minutes while you’re waiting at the dentist’s office? Can you reach out to that friend you haven’t seen in a long time and plan to grab a coffee next week? Of course, you don’t have to feel you need to jam-pack your schedule all the time and be productive at all cost. Sometimes, there’s a lot of joy in just sitting and looking at a bird in the tree just outside your window.
But I guess that’s the point. IF that gives you joy, be mindful of that wonderful moment, notice it and find more of those moments in between all the obligations and busy tasks on your schedule.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What are some activities that you enjoy? What is holding you back from doing this activity? Thank you for reading my blog!
How did you feel about starting a new year? A new decade? I love new beginnings as it’s a great time to reflect on where we're at and if there are any small shifts we want to make to find more joy in our lives.
Last year had a lot of happy memories but I lost my dad towards the end of the year which was incredibly difficult. I also had a fair share of health issues which made it painful to move and function in a regular way. As a result, I couldn’t spend as much time creating new artwork and had to close my etsy shop for a long period of time while I cared for myself and my family. Coping with these challenging circumstances, I did realize how thankful I am that my work is so flexible.
Almost a month into the new year, let’s take a moment to see how we’re doing on our intentions for this year.
Starting the year, I was very much looking forward to creating more art as creative time definitely adds joy to my life. I’m happy to say I’m still brimming with ideas! I’ve also been enjoying reading an art book I received for Christmas from my mom. I’ve loved drawing all my life so I stocked up on a pile of sketchbooks and have spent the first few weeks of January drawing, doodling, sketching and painting. It’s been so fun!
To top it off, my friend gave me a sketchbook to participate in “The Sketchbook Project.” After I fill this sketchbook, I’ll mail it to the Brooklyn Art Library to become part of a global collection of more than 45,000 sketchbooks from 130 countries.
I recently asked my peeps on my instagram page to cast a vote on the theme. “Simple Joys” came out as the clear winner! I’ve designed the cover of the sketchbook with this theme and I’m starting to fill up the blank pages inside. If you’d like to follow along, I plan on posting my progress on my instagram page.
A big goal I have this year is to become a full fledged, certified Oregon Master Naturalist. I’m thrilled I completed the first step in the process by passing the online portion of the course (with a 100% score… eeek!!). The next step is to complete the “field study” ecoregion course which will take place this spring. It’s a competitive program to get in to so I’m not guaranteed a spot but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m hoping to know more next month.
So I have two questions for you:
Please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you about your thoughts!
If your year didn’t start out the way you’d hoped or expected, don’t worry!
It’s not too late to start learning that new skill or practicing that activity that makes you happy! Life has unexpected turns and twists which means that we usually don’t have as much control over our days as we’d like but small shifts can have a big ripple effect! Maybe painting a whole day or even a whole hour is just not going to happen right now but how about a fun, little doodle to make you smile?
Joyful living is a dynamic process that asks us to reflect on what gives us joy and make small shifts to do more of those things.
P.S. I have lots and lots of handmade goodies on sale right now to help make your Valentine’s Day, anniversary or friend’s birthday extra special! Please check out what’s on sale in my etsy shop. Thank you!
Opportunity to go to college in the United States after working my buns off at a highly academic high school in my home country of the Netherlands? Of course I said yes! I was 18 years old and ready for adventure! Never mind, I’d never been to the U.S. (even on vacation). While I was never a fan of standing on tall ladders, I was not afraid to jump on that plane, make new friends in a foreign country and work hard on earning my college degree.
Fast forward many years and I’m now a mom, married with two teenage kids, settled into adult life in the Pacific Northwest. However, as some of you might have read on my instagram, I recently traveled back to the Netherlands to care for my dad during his last days of life and help my mom with all the arrangements after his passing.
It was an emotionally intense time as you can imagine. At the same time, even with all the sadness, I appreciated the opportunity to spend more time with my extended family and family friends, speaking my first language Dutch and enjoying some typical Dutch treats.
Saying goodbye to my mom after everything we went through and now being half a world apart as she tries to navigate this huge transition in her life, has been very hard. I’m incredibly proud of her as she has been very strong and positive but of course, the distance is too great for me to just plop down on her couch to have a cup of coffee and talk, whenever either one of us feels like that. Reflecting on this time, I’ve become achingly aware that my heart truly is in two places.
Should I have said no to that opportunity when I was so young to avoid this heartache now? Of course not. Besides the fact that I didn’t have that foresight at the time, I would not have wanted to miss the part of my life’s journey that includes meeting my husband and kids whom I all love so very much.
As I try to grapple with the realities and long-term consequences of a choice I made so very long ago, I want to share I’m very thankful for:
Have you ever felt that your heart was in two places? Do you live at a long distance from your parents and extended family? Have you ever made a choice while young that was most definitely a good one, but still had long-term consequences for your current life?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Thank you for reading my story and sharing yours!
P.S. Thank you also for sticking with me as I had to close my etsy shop for a whole month! I've already been receiving orders since I opened up again and will be shipping orders through the holiday season.
As I’m sitting here with the most beautiful fall sunset outside my window, I wanted to share with you a bit about a new art medium I’ve been exploring: alcohol inks. Last year, my friend allowed me to use some of her alcohol inks and it was so much fun! We completely lost track of time as we were pouring inks onto paper, letting the colors drip and swirl, and watching it do its magic!
I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. My art style used to be very photo-realistic. Eventually, I didn’t like working in this style as much anymore as it felt I wasn’t putting much of myself into my art and that taking a beautiful photograph was much quicker!
I started working on simplifying my illustrations over time, which to be honest, was also a result of being a new mom and having very little time for creative work.
Working with alcohol inks has added yet another dimension to my creative explorations. Its fluid nature is impossible to control so it’s a perfect medium if you want to loosen up your art.
These art prints are inspired by the beautiful nature here in the Pacific Northwest. Moving here from Holland, I was struck by the vast, open spaces in this area, the mountains, rivers so clear you could see right through to the rocks, as well as the many, many trees! If you’ve been following me on instagram where I post many of my nature photographs, you know I try to get outdoors with my family and enjoy nature as much as I can.
Working in alcohol inks will not be a year-around medium for me as I prefer to work with these materials outdoors. The fumes kind of get to me so since I live in the Pacific Northwest, this art medium will be one for summer only!
This summer, I created three alcohol ink paintings of which I made reproductions which are available in my etsy shop. If you like any of these art prints, please click on the image and you'll be able to check availability on that particular print. If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com. As always, thank you so much for your support of my art!
Do these art prints remind you of a favorite place you’ve visited in nature? What is your favorite nature area near where you live?
Would love to hear from you in the comments! Thanks!
I don’t know when it started - my love for nature. Was it when I was little, holding my grandpa’s hand as we walked through the park together, and he told me all about the trees around us? He knew so much about nature, my grandpa. He worked for the Nature & Wildlife Department in Holland so this was kind of his thing.
This love for nature apparently also rubbed off on my dad. When he was a little boy (and super agile!), he’d help his dad with field work. One of my memories growing up is of my dad excitedly spotting a bird of prey while driving and my mom cautioning him to just keep his eyes on the road….
I’m also a bit of a nerd in that I’ve always loved school and learning. Well, this past weekend, I got the chance to sit in a college classroom again. You should’ve seen my smile! I told my husband I was so happy and excited to be there that morning. He responded with “you didn’t have to tell me that!” Okay, besides my smile, I guess I was a bit bouncy in my seat too…
My fascination with nature became stronger after experiencing lots of pain and healing from a spinal surgery. It wasn’t that I didn’t like nature before but having to seriously slow down, I just noticed more. As part of my physical therapy rehab, I needed to walk every day. Being outside didn’t just make my body feel better, but my mind as well.
Anyways, my husband and I took a Naturalist class to learn more about the beautiful nature around us. We signed up for the class because when I’m on a hike, I notice all these beautiful wildflowers or critters or mushrooms and then I want to know what I’m looking at! My husband loves nature too so we thought it’d be even better taking the class together. The class was super helpful in learning about different resources and we got to spend time in nature practicing our identification skills as well.
What I wanted to share with you most of all, was that one central idea of the class was that everyone can be a citizen naturalist! Yes, you too! You might ask what the heck even is that?
Click to tweet:
It basically means someone who loves nature and wants to help make a positive impact on the environment. Depending on your interests, you can choose to help in different ways. You can help scientists with reporting data about wildlife or plants in your area. You can volunteer with a local organization to help clean up an area by removing invasive plants or litter. You can share your love for nature with the community.
This work is increasingly important as people spend more and more time indoors and we’re more removed from nature than ever before.
What are you passionate about? Is it wildflowers? Do you think frogs are cute? Are you fascinated by mushrooms like me? I want to encourage you to continue to explore these areas you feel curious about, learn more and maybe even get involved in what gives you joy while at the same time helping your community.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on the concept of “citizen naturalists” and what area you feel most passionate about. Also, if you enjoyed this blog post, please consider sharing it via social media. I appreciate it!
Have a wonderful weekend! I hope you get to spend some of it outside!