This year I finished my calendar in very good time and did not have to drag the project out through January! Yay! I made it easier on myself with large photos of Tennessee and photos of our ancestors from the Smokey Mountain area.
I have been doing this calendar for 14 year now (or was this 15 – I can’t remember!) For information on how they are made, you can look at an older post like last years.
This year’s family (13×19 inches) calendar was a study of the past 200 years in my family history. It is more research intensive than it is beautiful. The purpose of this piece is to place a family name to events in history. It is a personalized resource for my 25 home schooled nieces and nephews, as well as be a bouncing off place for the adults to research further. I concentrate heavily on the 1850s-1870s (pre through post Civil War) and the 1920s-40s (end of WWI, Depression, New Deal, up through WWII.)
I started out by creating silhouettes of my parents. Their silhouette goes on the page that corresponds with their family line being discussed. Elements include:
- Family tree
- A map of the state and county of birth when appropriate
- A box outlining historical events during the lives of the subjects
- Research text
- Any related photos to personalize
- 2017 head shots of kids in sepia
My main comment on this whole intense project – never again! But I am glad I did it.
Each page also features a 2017 photo of a niece and nephew in the lower right corner. The final page is an extra page with Jan 2019 to give myself a breather if I don’t get the new calendar done in time (like this year.) The oldest niece is on that page, which is not featured here.
This year the topic was my father’s life in the 1940s and 1950s.
Some favorite months:
As usual, it was quite the production, but the hardest part was pulling the story together from scattered information and secondly, managing so many photos per page. However, the Supervisor was quite pleased.
There are 2 things in life that really assist in my creativity – nature and ambiance. My new home has both! Wonderful ambiance of soft colors and open spaces. I often have soft music playing in the background, and now that it is cooler, a fire going.
The walkout basement is unfinished yet climate controlled and absolutely perfect for an art studio – the studio is in process. Hopefully I will have it fully organized and functioning by Spring.
But the bonus is the big windows looking out into a wild wood area, often giving us close to 50 birds at a time at our winter feeders.
In the summer we fed several hummingbirds and next year plan to keep the finch feeders going in the summer. The cats are in heaven and we have a lot of vantage points set up just for them (this house is very cat-centric.)
The dogs love the fenced in back yard and all the possums, turtles and other strange wild creatures they find that have wandered through or are occasionally still there in the morning. It keeps them on their toes.
We have swarms of the yellow goldfinches and a large amount of the red and brown house finches. We also have red winged blackbirds, chickadees, 4 pairs of cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, mourning doves, downy woodpeckers, at least one red bellied woodpecker, snow birds (juncos), and loads of house sparrows (which are really English finches imported from England). Periodically we see a hawk or a Green Heron sitting in our trees.
And do not forget the feisty squirrels – we have 2 that I suspect are male and female.
I paint ornaments that capture memories. So what sort of ornaments would someone like me collect? Perhaps surprisingly, not always handmade (often coming from Hallmark). If it captures something important in my life, that is what makes it matter.
This year it was capturing my lifelong love of letter writing (as well as my dislike of our dog popping his cold nose on me):
Our whole tree is about memories. The fun is finding the meaningful each year.
When I was going thru college a couple of years ago, this one was perfect for my nostalgic heart – I love the old clock I played with as a child, but this captures my constant chasing the clock.
Retro Pooh is a favorite and this grouping reminds me of all the times I would read to my siblings on cold winter nights, as well as now to my nieces and nephews.
A shout out to my Mom who gave me the CB handle of Foghorn Leghorn.
But of course… (Peanuts is a favorite of mine anyway!)
But with all the fun we have, there is nothing that can touch the old Shiney Brites from my childhood for evoking deep yet soft emotions.
From Grandma’s tree —
So – what sort of tree do you have? Artsy, hodgepodge, memory collecting?
Working away then this appeared between me and the light.
Now this is one big cat. I couldn’t believe he fit.
But then he couldn’t get out because forward was blocked. Yeah, I quit painting in order to help him.
Have you ever run across something from your childhood that strikes a long forgotten emotional cord? That is what happened today when I came across these 2 paintings tucked among my stashed art resources such as frames and canvases.
As I stared at them I felt nostalgia, puzzlement, as well as deep pleasure of a found treasure. At the same time I was thinking, “What in the world did I save paint-by-numbers for?” Then I saw the initials.
No – that is not e.e.cummings, but these are the initials of my beloved uncle who introduced me to his writings!
Then the memories came flooding back of these hanging on my grandmother’s wall all my growing up years, painted by her son when he was still a young sprite battling polio in the 1950s or early 60s.
My uncle was one of the major influences in my very early artistic endeavors. What a precious find.
So what if they are paint-by-number; there is such a funky charm, as well as deep connected-ness to sweet memories and tender relationships held within these youthful, exploratory strokes. What a treasure.
I will hang them in my new art studio.
“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
― E.E. Cummings
5 Things I love:
- Creating books
- Making things people love
- Giving thoughtful gifts that strengthen relationships
- Teaching kids how to have giving hearts
- And especially involving others in the joy of doing something creative (because I believe EVERY person is creative!)
These loves coalesced a month before Mother’s Day this year when I saw this book sitting tucked away in a little store. It was like fireworks went off!
In April of this year my mother had 22 (in June #23 arrived) grandchildren ranging in ages of 17 to a year. 14 of them are under the age of 12, so this was perfect. It even had 22 blank pages!
With a little logistics work, it happened and I got it back in time to present one of my favorite Mother’s Day gifts of all time — from all of them! (This, another book, is now my second favorite – I believe this one tops it.)
Here are some delightful excerpts:
Simeon gave grandma a colorful superhero cape – it was fun to see some of the kids use that same concept on their pages. Kids are so creative!
Lizzy knows Grandma loves her hummingbirds so she drew one and pasted it in. Several of the older kids wrote notes on their pages.
Hummingbird Moth / Bee
Ever since graduating in June, I have been questioning whether to dismantle this blog.
These past months I have continued as a full time Communications Specialist in the consulting project I accepted in February. The project has evolved into a lot of technical IT writing and not so much designing. The break from intense creativity after graduation has been good… but I am ready to begin adding more creative projects back into my schedule.
In the meantime, it is a Canon Rebel camera and the butterfly bush in the back yard that are providing me with the greatest pleasure this summer.
There is a possibility my love of photography may drive a new creative blog. I am knocking around some topic ideas and contemplating next steps, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, visit my new website and enjoy a taste of my current photography via the photos below:
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail