Spring in our neighborhood
The birds are returning, the tops of the daffodils are peeking through the soil, and yesterday we had snow flurries all day long. That's March in the Midwest. I have yet to see the bunnies that sneak under the fence to nibble on the clover and wild strawberries that grow in our yard, but I look forward to seeing them every year. When we had a dog they were always svelte and lightening-fast. Now they are roly-poly things who dismiss us as a threat. Living near the woods is pretty great, as there's a never-ending parade of wildlife to observe. Apparently our neighborhood has gained a lone turkey, which one of my neighbors has named Lisa. I have yet to see her, but her footprints are all over the creek bed. Last summer we had a pair of red-tailed hawks nesting in the neighborhood. I know that at some point we will move out of this house to give a young family the opportunity to grow here, but moving away from the revolving cast of wildlife characters will be hard. The trash-prowling raccoon we call The Honorable Chonk, the pack of coyotes that run down the sidewalk and howl at the fire engine sirens, the sleepy-eyed opossums, and the wide variety of birds all make our neighborhood feel vibrant and a part of nature.
Here comes August! The past 8 weeks have been a whirlwind of family birthdays, day trips, fostering kittens, and avoiding yard work. Seriously, I have also been avoiding my neighbors because I don't want to talk about all the yard work I'm avoiding.
Has it been hot where you are? Every time I have a few days off work, we are under a heat warning and no amount of neighborly approval is going to have me out there risking heat stroke.
On the art front, I'm messing around with creating more repeat patterns for my Spoonflower shop, prepping for an upcoming class, and generally following my curiosity.
I hit the burnout zone a few weeks back, so I'm trying to build more time into my schedule for rest. Working full time, plus getting together a design portfolio, plus being a mom & wife, plus trying to exercise/eat right/keep in touch with family & friends--it's a lot and I have to be honest that I can't do it all ALL of the time. So this weekend was minimal on the art making, and maximal on the couch time (after doing chores--I know, I know, but bathrooms don't clean themselves!).
I hope that you have built some time into your next few weeks to rest and enjoy life.
That's all for now friends.
Shop update info
Hello all! Here in Chicagoland it looks like we are officially spring-bound and I could not be happier. The birds are back, the grass is green, and the days are noticeably longer. I have been working away in the studio--still producing a new print every week, but also I am taking two online courses right now. One is for watercolor artists (also me), and one is about building a collection and licensing your artwork. Needless to say, I have been doing a lot of homework these past few weeks.
I was thinking about the promised May 1 shop drop and since no one has been clamoring for it, I am skipping that one and will drop a BUNCH of stuff in time for Midsummer.
If you simply cannot wait until then, you can always email me (karapaints at gmail dot com) and we can figure something out. (This offer only applies for April 28-June 20, 2022).
Until next time, friends!
Happy Spring and a moth story.
Just a quick announcement before we dip into story time.
THE PRINT SHOP HAS BEEN UPDATED and March's proceeds will go to the ACLU!
Again, I am open to suggestions for future donations, so feel free to drop your suggestions in the comments box.
I have always been fascinated by nocturnal creatures. When I was in grade school and had to do reports on an animal, 9 times out of 10, that animal was going to be a bat. It's a mammal and it flies. And it eats mosquitos, so that automatically qualifies bats for MVP status in the animal kingdom.
Once I had kids of my own, I was really excited to instill a love of the natural world in them. To that end, we have done all kinds of nature walks and visited all kinds of wild spaces. But what do they talk about the most? Not the time they climbed a mountain in Colorado. Not the time we spent at Lake Michigan. Not all of the nature centers we visited across Cook County. Nope.
It was the time we watched a moth emerge from a cocoon.
I had been doing a little spring clean up of our backyard and discovered 2 large cocoons beneath one of our maple trees. I scooped up some leaf litter, a stick and the cocoon and placed it in a glass jar. It was mid-April, so I knew that the moths inside would be emerging soon.
Sure enough the next week one of the moths wiggled out of the cocoon and climbed up on the stick to dry out it's wings. Once the moth was ready, we took it outside and placed it back on the tree where I had found the cocoon.
A few days later, the second moth emerged and we placed it on the tree as well.
These are Polyphemous Moths and they spend most of their lives in the canopy of trees so it was a real treat to see one up close.
Next week I'm going back to that same maple tree in the hopes of finding a new cocoon.
New Year, New Kara Paints
Since I dipped back into printmaking, I have become a wee bitty obsessed.
At first, I set myself the goal of making one sacred heart a month, until I had 12 and could then make a huge print with all twelve hearts. That's still in the works.
But then I thought: what if I make one print a week? For a whole year?
I'm 8 weeks in and still into it.
But that creates a new problem, which is: I have stacks and stacks of prints.
My answer to that was not to chuck them in the recycling bin, but to offer them for sale. Hence the "Shop" tab up there on the header.
The plan this year is to do 8 shop updates, correlating with the 8 Sabbats, with the exception of Yule. The last drop of the year will happen near Thanksgiving.
The dates for the updates will be on/around:
February 2nd (it's live--go look!)
I'm also picking a new organization each month, and 25% of sales from each month will go to that organization.
For the month of February, I'll be sending funds to the Chicago Freedom School. The Chicago Freedom school provides training to young people to help them make change in their communities.
You get some artwork, we get to help folks putting good out into the world, I'm no longer drowning in piles of paper. Everybody wins!
If you have suggestions for other organizations doing work to make the world a better place, please let me know!
That's all for now friends.
Don't forget to daydream...
Do you make time to daydream? Do you catch yourself daydreaming in the middle of the work day? I love to daydream--I find it restful and inspiring. Quite a few daydreams have led me to some of my most favorite art pieces.
Especially in the dark winter months, daydreaming gets me through the doldrums. (Which is completely different than seasonal depression--but that's a chat for later). I find myself naturally slowing down in the winter months, and doing anything other than living under a pile of blankets seems like a herculean task. But daydreaming is always there, and eventually daydreaming leads to sketching, which leads to actual art making.
I have been toying with the idea of making landscape prints, and the above sketches are just me thinking out loud. I may circle back and make a print, or it may just be a thought exercise.
That's all for today, friends.
I'm equal parts list-maker and daydreamer. Sometimes I have great ideas on paper that just don't work out in the real world. For example, this weekend I had been scheduled to teach a printmaking class and nobody signed up. I'm not upset about it--sometimes you try something and it doesn't work out. Now I have a few extra hours to myself on Saturday--which I will probably spend making new print blocks.
This past week, I read about a printmaker that created a 6-foot long print block and my brain cannot get enough of that idea. I'm not ready for a 6-foot block (my studio table is only 4-foot long), but making bigger prints is definitely on the horizon for me.
I've also got some new art supplies on the way and I am excited to try them out.
I just updated this here website and will be debuting a sales page on Saturday 11/20/21.
I'm going to explore all of the features and see what else I can do with this platform. Maybe a newsletter? Maybe embedded videos? The world is my mollusk!
That's all for now, friends.
Healers and Saints
My brain is a weird place. Maybe everybody's brain is a weird place? All of our thoughts are a collection of our lived experiences, so it's entirely possible that I am not alone in my wonderings. I was raised Catholic, and if you know anything at all about Catholicism you know about the Saints. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Saints and they are everywhere. And Saints have an incredibly important role to fill in the lives of many people worldwide.
While I am no longer a practicing Catholic, the lives and deaths of Saints are still buried deep in my brain.
One of the requirements for becoming a Saint is performing or witnessing a miracle (this is important!), and lately I have been reading about forest ecosystems. I'm currently in the middle of Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard (Knopf, 2021). Did you know about the role of fungi in the health of forests? Did you know that if you remove the fungi from the soil, the forest will die? Talk about mind-blowing.
I started to think about the inter-connectedness of the world, and the amazing role that fungi play. That got all swirled around with the idea of miracles and life and death after life. And the artwork that arose from that was a series of Sainted Mushrooms.
And while I know that the Church would never, I am not the Church--so I am free to see the miracle of cooperation in creation.
I am going to be putting a limited run up for sale mid-November on this here website. Follow me on Instagram for the release announcement.
That's all for today, friends.
And now for something completely different
Peptober Day 12: Highlights
Highlights! I don't know if these were my best performing pieces, but they were the pieces that made me feel I had mastered what I set out to do.
I don't know if you have ever painted lava or an ocean wave, but it takes a bit of wrangling to have it come out looking right. And the series of reinterpreted card suits was an excellent challenge that allowed me to slip a bit of mysticism into something ordinary.
Lastly: REPEAT PATTERNS that I have then printed on fabric via Spoonflower. I mean, COME ON. My heart goes pitter-pat every time I hold those fabrics in my hand. And Baba Yaga is both terrible and wonderful, so it feels fitting that her house on chicken legs round out this trio.
It's fun to look back on what I have been making. It feels a lot like looking at old family photos: a bit of nostalgia and a bit joy all rolled into one.
That's all for today, friends.
Visual artist & librarian.