50 for 50: A Friend for Every Season

If you have checked this blog recently, there hasn’t been much activity. I have been busy getting new art on the walls in our recently opened second space. We have been selling really well in Atlanta and are excited to see all the art that people are buying and enjoying.

My last post was about my 50 for 50 project; formy I s50th birthday I sent an original piece of my work to the fifty people who have had an influence on who I have become. Out of the fifty people I sent work to, about 35 have contacted me back to reconnect or thank me for having them on my list. Many doors that had been closed for years and sometimes decades have opened again. It has been great catching up with old friends, reconnecting with childhood buddies, and being reminded that I have a varied assortment of people who care for me.

Tonight I had a chick date – dinner and a movie – with a friend I had not seen in fifteen years. She is the woman who originally set me and my husband up on a blind date back in the late 1990s. Needless to say I owe her a deep debt of gratitude. It was not only fabulous reconnecting with her, it was great to hear about her adventures over the years. They have adopted three older children who are now young adults, and she is owner/Sales VP of a successful chemical company. Many stories were told and we laughed at ourselves now, and the stupid things we did in our youth. We commiserated on our careers and aging (menopause and hot flashes!) and life in general, and exchanged great ideas about where we want to be in ten years.

Time does strange things to us humans. It turns our hair different colors and then all our hair may fall out. Time puts indentations on our faces and pounds on our fannies. It brings us opportunities to win and lose – and learn wisdom from both. Time allows us to let out the ideas of who we are and what we want to do with our time and money, and it mellows us into citizens of the world and our own backyards. Time brings us experiences and adventure to cement what we belive into life choices, and how we plan to live with all those choices. And it brings us traveling companions – some for a season and some for life – some for a specific need or topic, and some to help us grow our souls. I am blessed to claim that I have friends for all the seasons and reasons for life, and look forward to many more opportunities to share with my friends along this journey called life.

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50 for 50: A Birthday Gift for Me and You

I turned 50 last month. I know most people celebrate “the big one” with black balloons or some trip with girl friends, or some bucket list activity – not me. I wanted to celebrate the people who had invested in me in the past 50 years…so I invented the 50 for 50 project. My goal was to show thanks to 50 people who had made a difference in my life and whose generous gifts of love and faith have formed me into the woman I am today.

So, what did I do? I created 50 original works of art and sent them out across the globe as a thank you gift. Who made the list, here are a few examples:

           …the guy who bought me my first drafting table as a Christmas present – the baby sitters who were there for my first big dance in junior high (and told me I looked great and ANY boy would be lucky to dance with me) – the friends in high school who were in an early morning bible study with me – the sorority sister who was the only other one who didn’t drink beer – the college roommate who was my first college friend – the artist who gave me my first sketch book to “keep and preserve” my great ideas – by best friend when I moved to Atlanta over twenty years ago – the friend who introduced me to my husband…

You get the idea! What a fun time I have had deciding on the piece I wanted to create and narrowing my list down to only fifty people. The final work of art turned out to be a version of my work, in a variety of colors to suit each person’s personality and favorite color. Once I decided what I wanted to write, I went into production mode.

IMG_2238My process is the create the mats first. So I spent many hours creating 50 mats, all different combinations of IMG_2239paper scraps from all my previous projects. I even took blanks mats and boxes of paper scraps with me on a couple of business trips to get all fifty done, try explaining THAT to the person on duty at the airport scanning machine!

I then moved on to the actual thought(s) I wanted included in the center of each mat. I toyed around with several ideas, until I landed on the size and layout I wanted.


As you can see from this shot, I wrote it 50 times (actually 54) to create the center for each piece. I made a couple extra in case I messed up. I used a brush pen I bought in Tokyo on my last trip there, which provided a smooth look and a font that could be duplicated easily. Knowing I had to do 50, I went for ease of lettering over detail. I let these dry for a couple of days just to be safe.

Once the center was done, I moved to the edges. I utilized a blank sample of the finished mats to makes sure my text for each piece fit properly.

I then worked the two bible verses I wanted to include around the four inside edges. I started at the bottom of the piece, so at least the beginning would be easy to find. I utilized a blank mat to write the each line to make sure each would fit into a completed mat. My method is to work the text around each piece, one at a time. After about the third one I had a rhythm going.

IMG_2246 IMG_2247 IMG_2248 IMG_2249

These four shots show each section of the inside text as I wrote it. Notice that I flip the mat for each side to ease writing and fit the text for each line on each mat. Once the inside text was done on all 50 pieces, I set them aside to dry. This also allowed me to ponder how I wanted to finish each piece. Here is the finished inside piece. IMG_2250

Next, match each piece between a completed mat. IMG_2251I cut down each original to fit into each individual mat, then attached the mat, the artwork, and a piece of adhesive foam core together via our book press. This is a bit nerve-racking because if anything goes wrong, I have to create another mat and original writing. I have learned to be patient and just look at each one as an individual work, not part of an assembly line – even though after the tenth one I was tired of cutting a pressing.

Now that each mat had its own original in the middle, I had the finishing details to complete. I love calligraphy and I love color. I find that I like more color on my work than just lettering supplies, so I often color in the negative space to add more spice.

IMG_2254In the example here, you can see the array of markers and pens I use to add spice. I spread across my work space all the pens I think I might use, then pull the colors for each individual mat and fill in the negative space of vowels and consonants.

IMG_2255Notice in the shot to the left that the small text on the inside edge is only black and white. The shot on the right shows this same piece once I finish embellishing.  In this example I pulled two or three difference shades of pink, orange and yellow to pull the may colors from the mat papers into the words. And yes, I did this fifty times, each work is original and unique. I also add a touch of highlighting to each center text to add shadow and depth to each final product.

IMG_2265Once they were all done, I took a picture of them sitting on my large work table. It was a pretty amazing sight.

I taped a copy of my business card and a brief description of the project on the back of each one, as some of the people receiving them may not have seen me of heard from me in decades.

TIMG_2264he final stage was to pick which piece went to which person, and to pack them up and mail them out. I had about 70% of the addresses for the people I had on my list, but that meant 30% had to be found. This is when I was thankful for social media. After a solid couple hours on my laptop, I was able to find every person and a physical mailing address for each one…how cool and creepy is that!?!

This has been a  real labor of love and a real journey down memory lane. My life really did flash before my eyes, and I have been VERY blessed. I sent one to people I can remember from the time I was ten or eleven, to those precious people I still interact with today. I had four famous people on my list (who shall remain nameless), people who were my college professors, and people who taught me valuable lessons in life and business. I think the words “thank you” are often lost in the shuffle of our busy lives, and the people who have invested in us all too often never understand how they impacted our lives. So for those of you who read this who actually received a piece of this project, all I can say is thank you for investing in me along these fifty years. Happy birthday to me and you!

Let’s hope I have the energy for another one of these, maybe 100 for 100 in five more decades. Whew, maybe I should start that project now!

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The Flood of 2014: Opportunity Rears Its Head

As many of you know, we had water permeate the first and second levels of our home – which includes our gallery, studio and workshop spaces. I never knew water could cause such disaster…well, I knew it could BUT never experienced it in my home to this extent. It all got repaired and we had our anniversary celebration – four years of business. We had a fantastic weekend, great sales, and wonderful clients wished us well.

And then the water struck again. One week after we were back in business, more water dripped out of the ceiling in the gallery. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I had choice words that flew through my brain, and then edited those choice words before they came out of my mouth. UGH! Major ugh! The plumber came and found the leak and fixed it, and now we have three new holes in the ceiling that need to be repaired. Have you heard the saying “come hell or high water” – well we’ve had the high water, lived through the hell…so good things must be coming our way….and they are.

I know God has a great sense of humor and a heavenly sense of timing. With all these months of mess, frustration, demolition dry wall dust, broken toilets on the porch, and empty walls, a new opportunity has come our way. On June 1st, we are expanding. You read correctly, in three days we are expanding. We will be opening a space at Westside Market in Atlanta. Here is a link to that webpage:


We are going to feature furniture and art with a target audience of designers and decorators. We move everything in this weekend, woo hoo!!! Who knew that one of the outcomes of the flood of 2014 was expansion…especially when all I wanted to do was cry and eat ice cream! But God had better ideas, bigger ideas, new ideas for our future…He poured hope into our heads and kept our dreams alive. In the midst of mess opportunity reared its head.

My encouraging words to us all (even as I stare at those three huge holes in my gallery ceiling) is to never lose hope. Somewhere in the midst of your darkest hours there is the tiniest glimmer of an idea, a thought, a hopeful song you might barely understand…that is hope. One of my favorite songs has the following words..

There can be miracles when you believe, though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill – who knows what miracles you can achieve – when you believe somehow you will – you will when you believe

Don’t give up even in your darkest hour. Sometimes the best plan is to sit still, crawl into the fetal position and wait out the storm. That tiny spark of an idea or thought or crazy notion sitting in the dustiest corner of your mind may just be the thing that changes your world. Though hope is frail, it is hard to kill – or in our case drowned.

Success happens when opportunity and preparedness meet. In our case preparedness “flooded” into our world through gallons and gallons of water. It’s a long story of how we found our expanded space, so stay tuned for that post…and keep feeding that crazy idea until it has strength to stand on its own. You’re not crazy, you have hope, and opportunity rears its head at the strangest of times!

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