Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Reflect | Project

It feels surreal, how quickly the days have dissipated.

2016 was another year filled with immense challenges, but also growth.

The massive amount of growth lead to more reading that I've done in quite some time. A few interesting reads I have stumbled across this past year and found quite inspiring in a variety of ways...each one entered into my life for a different reason yet had some core elements in common that pulled me into new opportunities to expand. I thought I'd share here, in case anyone is going through their own struggles and are interested in some inspiration. Often times we just need a hint of a new idea in order to open our hearts and minds that can transform our situations into opportunities rather than deep, dark holes that eat us alive. To the people/friends who either suggested a book on this list or inspired my research attempts that lead to a book on this list: Even if the reason behind it wasn't pretty, they were all mind blowing, so thank you.

  • A Year to Live - Stephen Levin
  • Move into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality - Anat Baniel
  • Rewired - Erica Spiegelman 
  • Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender - David Hawkins
  • Why You're Stuck - Derek Doepker

While I am thankful for the growth and inner digging life has pulled out of me, it has usually been due to pain. I've discovered new levels of pain I wish I didn't know existed, but also new depths of love. And in almost every situation I am faced with, creativity eventually emerged to make some sort of art from the pieces.

The creative part is bittersweet - while I haven't especially enjoyed the painful parts, it really is amazing what can come from them. I've worn my wire heart pendant a lot throughout the past year, as a reminder that we can always make something beautiful out of the pain, the mess, the brokenness, life's "butt kickings"...  A whole slew of new ideas are overflowing and itching to come to life. This road I've stumbled upon has not been easy, and I don't know where it is going. There have been many low moments, when it feels like giving up makes the most sense because this route just doesn't seem to work. Dreams have collapsed, been rebuilt, collapsed again, redesigned, only to continue to collapse. I've felt like I have followed a similar pattern. While it can feel discouraging, and like there isn't much - if anything - left, each pile of rubble seems to sprout new ideas, new inspiration, new perspectives. As long as I am alive, there is the chance that something new may grow.

I put a lot of effort into other peoples dreams and goals, into other peoples lives, for quite some time, though have struggled to put that much effort and love towards my dreams/myself. Calling myself out on this and taking responsibility to make adjustments has been quite the process.

             "If your compassion does not include yourself it is incomplete." - Jack Kornfield

The past couple years, I have loosely toyed with a new "tradition" for New Year's Day. I decided it was a good day to serve as a starting point for what I'd like to fill the year/life with - to rethink priorities, to really consider what I want to spend my time on. Perhaps this deserves a solid effort this year.

I will have a few "announcements" regarding some of the ideas I'll be launching. Some of them I have mixed feelings on at this point, but why not give it a shot - I can always change my mind later, right? Some of these are along the lines of my New Year's Day "tradition" and some of my past challenges - a continued attempt to prioritize what I feel is important and what I want to fill my life with. I have enjoyed the challenges I've done the past couple years, and have one or five I'd like to try for 2017 - and would love to have you along for the ride.

       "And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, 'This is important! And this   
         is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!'  
        And each day, it's up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, 'No. 
        This is what's important.'" -Iain Thomas

So, with the new lessons I've added to my collection, let's see where this goes, shall we?

Saturday, January 23, 2016


I just wanted to send out a heads up that my blog will be moving- nothing major, but the new location will be: nfgartistblog.blogspot.com  if you would like to continue subscribing/following. All of the posts are already transferred, and are settling in nicely. ;)

Also, I have decided to ditch google+  Facebook, my website and my online shop will still be active.

I've got some ideas brewing...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

December's Art Giveaway 2015 - The Finale

What a crazy year...It flew by at high speed.

This is the very last art giveaway for my year long challenge. Initially, it seemed like this project would be manageable-I mean a month is a decent amount of time, right? Part of the reason I did this was because I had struggled the year prior to keep art/creating as a priority. Life always seemed to get in the way, and granted, there have been some pretty big things that have hijacked my time, but I just couldn't stand the thought of that continuing to prevent me from doing what I love. There had to be a way...

Each month seemed to slip right between my fingers, it didn't matter if I had my idea for the giveaway well ahead of time or not, it always seemed to come down to the wire. There were a few I had planned out, that wouldn't work, and I'd be forced to come up with something at the last minute. Others, I lost my spark of inspiration for the initial idea, or a new spark took over. I think between the creative factors, technology issues, and my personal life, there was something (or often times multiple things) every single month that got in the way, nearly ending the project. It really was a heck of a test.

So... for the grand finale!

DEADLINE: Thursday, January 7th, 12pm (central)

Basically, the prize is YOUR CHOICE... and you get to pick from any of the past 11 months of giveaways!

January: Echo painting
February: Fingerless glove...this time, we have camo cuffs with brown to finish them off-possibly better for men (wrist is a bit big)
March: A print from a collaborative photo by Andrew Kufahl and me...and for this round, we have 2 different options for you! One is a concept photo from an early shoot we had. The second is from a modeling shoot-and one of my favorite modeling shots I've been a part of.
April: Wire heart pendant with yarn (all repurposed materials)
May: A watercolor painting (NOT framed)
June: The 24 HOUR PROJECT ebook that I did with Andrew Kufahl (1 concept photo, every hour, for 24 hours...trailer)
July: A knitted heart pillow...same color scheme as the fingerless gloves that are up for grabs this month...camo and brown mix, with a camo heart. (The camo is actually left over from projects my grandma has created...probably my camo slippers!)
August: Well...this is pretty much April's giveaway, but I had a twist-the winner is suppose to GIVE this one away. So you can do that for December's giveaway too-heck, any item you can choose to give if you'd like. :)
September: A print of YOUR CHOICE of any of my self portraits. I haven't had a chance to order the one for September's winner yet (Sorry Jason!), but my plan was to test out an eco-friendly printer. So as long as everything goes smoothly, I would most likely go through the same company. You can take a peek here or many of them can also be found on my website.
October: A heart ornament/frame, which can hold 2 of your own personal photos which I will print off for you, so the frame can be stitched up and ready to hang when you receive it.
November: A mini photo session for your pet (I am highly allergic to cats unfortunately) 

 To enter, go to my facebook page and comment on the announcement video with which one you would like.

 Thank you so much for your support and participation. This project has been a very good thing during a challenging year and I am so thankful to have had creating be a part of my life EVERY single month again, no matter what. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November's Art Giveaway 2015

I'm a little nervous for this month's giveaway... There are more restrictions than normal, and while I'm really excited about it, I just don't know what the turn out will be. That was something I realized early on that I had to be ok with-if no one enters, if no one is interested. So now I guess I really get to face that fear! And that is a large part about this process, to push myself to just DO the creative things I'd like to do, and to have an outlet for them where someone else will hopefully get something they enjoy out of it.

Recently, I stumbled across some photos of dogs that I have taken over the years. I have loved dogs my whole life, and I really enjoy photographing them. They each have their own personality, and trying to capture that personality is so much fun. Growing up, I took a TON of photos of my dog, and am so glad I did. Photos of moments/those pieces of personality are often all we're able to keep as life flies by.

So... I thought I would offer a mini photo session (30 minutes) for your pet. I am unfortunately highly allergic to cats, so at this time I can not be in a closed area where kitties live, but I am open to other types of pets and of course dogs (or in the off chance your cat is an outdoor cat, I suppose we could try that?). I'd love to know a little bit about the pet prior, their personality, some of the memorable things they do, what you love about them, so we can figure out the best way to capture this. The photos would be candids, no posed, and while you are welcome to interact with your pet, the session is focused on them (not a family session or anything like that).

Now, I've never done this, and animals have a mind of their own, so I can't guarantee a number of final images, but I'd like to get at least 3 awesome ones for you but there may be more if things go smooth. You'll get the digital versions (cd or email), so you can print/frame however you'd like.

I am open to doing the session when it snows, indoors, waiting until the weather is nice, whatever you think will be most fitting.
DEADLINE: Monday Dec 7, 12pm (central)
To enter, as usual, simply comment on the November's Art Giveaway announcement video on facebook (or on this blog post I suppose would work)
Here are a few of my favorite photos I've taken of some wonderful furry friends...
This is Cubby... my dog when I was growing up...
He was as close to perfect as it gets, we were very lucky to
have him in our lives. He was one of my earlier models when
I first started learning photography-this is actually shot with
a film SLR.

Cubby in his final days...he was 17 years old, which is amazing,
but I still didn't want to lose him.

Max was in need of a home, so a friend and I did a mini
session with him and his personality just beamed!
Unfortunately Max passed away earlier this year,
before he could find that forever home. I am so thankful we were
able to have some really good moments, and to have some photos
that captured what a great dog he was...
This little guy was growing quickly and his owner mentioned
she's barely taken any photos of him.  This stage of cuteness just
 had to be documented! So I took a few photos for her, and
grabbed a few of her other dogs as well.

This pretty girl resides with  the little guy above...

This is Sunny, my parents' dog. She has such a sense of humor,
is incredibly curious, and prefers the attention be directed
towards her. ;)

Right at home...
This guy... he sure was a good dog. He passed away earlier
this year. He's actually Sunny's daddy.

When he played, he played. And when he was done, he was DONE. ;)

This guy's family went through some really difficult times.. he did
his best to comfort and love them. Then he ran into his own struggles...

He got cancer a couple times in his leg, and eventually
needed it amputated. That wasn't going to stop him from
living a happy, active life.

He adapted quickly and was going up/down steps and running around,
faster than I knew was possible for a creature to recover after
such challenges... I ran across him at the perfect time him my life.
I needed that kind of inspiration!

They all have their own stories, and have inspired me in some way... And the thing I find most inspiring is just how full of love they all are.  
So, there is it. The second to last giveaway. Good luck! :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

October Art Givaway 2015

My Grandpa passed away last October... I ended up creating some remembrance ornaments for some family members for Christmas- but they don't have to be just Christmas ornaments, these have been out year round.

So I thought this would be a good one for this month... And would like to try to get these out to you before the holiday season.

There will be two drawings... one for only people who have not won. The second, anyone and everyone is eligible. And if the winners would like, I will make a second ornament for them, to give to someone else. Two winners, winning two ornaments each.

This does not have to be a remembrance ornament, you can put whatever photo you want in there (as long as you have permission to use it), whether it is for a significant other, or a friend, a pet, etc.  There are two sides, so you are welcome to put two different photos in if you'd like, or use the other side as a place to write a not or include whatever else you see fit. I think it would be easiest if the winners email/facebook message me the photos they would like, I will print it, and then stitch up the ornament. Note: the frame is not your standard shape, so not all photos will work well (if it is a picture of a person/animal, make sure there is enough space around the face so it doesn't get cropped off.. I can see if I can send you a digital sample prior to printing).

The deadline is THIS Friday, November 6, at noon (central). 

Here is the announcement video:

If you're interested, here is some backstory about the heart shape that has been popping up in my work...that shape has grown in meaning over the past few years. It used to just be a heart, symbolizing lovey dovey stuff-not really my thing. But a few years ago, I started seeing hearts all over the place--in weird unexpected places. Often times, it usually happens when I'm going through difficult stuff. It always reminds me to breathe, and to come from a place of love, to reconnect with myself and find that peace within...to open my mind, be more understanding, and to treat others kindly...There are a couple "tricks" though-I can't go looking for them. If I try too hard, they're never there. It always happens when I'm not looking, not expecting. Also, there are times when I think my mind just THINKS it sees this shape, so I ignore it, and then, as if the universe has a sense of humor, I'll see an obvious one or a TON of them all at once--and that's how I started down the path for this frame idea....

I was in a thrift store, difficult stuff was happening in life, and I stumbled across a huge bag filled with wooden heart shapes (someone must have cut them out). I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to purchase these. ;) Plus I've done projects in the past with repurposed/secondhand wood, I knew I'd be able to use them. For the remembrance ornament (and for the ones I'm giving away), a friend helped me cut out the middle, we drilled holes, and then I used some of the secondhand yarn I've been knitting with to stitch up the frame.

Here are a few random heart shapes I've come across unexpectedly out and about.

A public bathroom wall
Passing by some flipflops in a store

Water dripped onto my purse...

Stairwell of a parking ramp...

When laying out in the sun, frustrated that the sun went away...I looked up and smiled.
 There are so many more, some have been just so odd and they are always random, but some more than others. But it never hurts to receive those reminders...

To enter the contest, check out my facebook page and comment on the announcement video that you'd like to enter. Thanks :)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

September Art Giveaway 2015

For September's Art Giveaway, I am going back to where my artistic journey really started taking off...when I finally got to start creating original work, purely out of passion/inspiration...when I wanted, how I wanted, why I wanted...Self portraits.

I had always hated my photo being taken. So it may seem odd to have jumped into self portraits...but really, that was the easiest, best way for me to accomplish a few goals: keep on top of my photoshop skills as I job searched (for graphic design), explore photography (one of the few art classes in college I actually enjoyed), and to simply have a creative outlet. Often times this creative urge struck when I was unable to sleep, late at night...er...really really early morning. (more about how I started self portraits can be found here)

I started with a point and shoot. It was a really nice one, with a manual mode option where I had some (though still limited) control over aperture and shutter speed.

I remember one of my earliest ones... when I was still living with my parents. Like a lot of the self portraits in the beginning, I shot it in the bathroom, which provided the best lighting and it was easy enough to do hair/makeup right there. A simple one...I was inspired by a vague makeup idea I wanted to try--I had never been that into makeup, until I realized it could be treated just like painting a canvas. ;)

Eventually, when I moved out onto my own, my locations expanded. As did my bathroom counter space, privacy, and schedule.
More elaborate hair/makeup/wardrobe started to happen...though
the bathroom still remained an excellent shooting location ;)

New wide open spaces to play with
Huge backyard that came with a beautiful creek

Things slowed down while I worked a normal person job for a while, but after I was let go, I jumped back into things, full force. Shortly after, I stumbled across a photographer looking for an assistant... I contacted him, thinking it would be a great way to learn. He had seen my work, and asked me if I'd model for him. I was thrown off, I was NOT a model and still hated my picture being taken... With self portraits, I don't really see them as photos of ME, and I have complete control over every aspect... so if I find something distracting, I have no issues adjusting it in post-it is about creating a piece of art, not capturing the true essence of an individual. It is about the emotions....and I think THAT is what had caught this photographer's eye. (more info about starting in modeling)

Meeting new people, some of them I was
fortunate enough to collaborate with...
Ghost: Seth Nayes

For nearly a year, I continued shooting self portraits and did a good amount of modeling. And then there was the hair incident... I stopped shooting self portraits for years after that. It knocked the wind out of me, I had no inspiration. Once I started working with Andrew Kufahl, inspiration leaked in once again (our first shoots), but I had no desire to shoot it, and hated the thought of having to look at what had happened from beginning to end. Plus, Andrew is a heck of a photographer...and could make any crazy idea of mine come to life. (more about starting to collaborate with Andrew)

Now... the past year has been a crazy one... a lot of challenges, and not a lot of time/space/options to create. I'm stir crazy, to say the least. It took a while, but I finally found ways to get back to making art... playing with watercolor, knitting (more knitting), and guess what? Self portraits. I am overflowing with ideas again, and can't even keep up!

Soo...for this giveaway, you get your choice, of ANY self portrait. I found what seems to be an eco friendly photo printing company, and I am excited to give them a shot (note: I am not sure what kind of turn around time the printing/shipping is going to involve, so just be warned it may take a while to receive this one). Take a look through my self portrait album on facebook (or a more refined one on my website), copy the link to your photo of choice, and paste in the comments of the giveaway announcement video for your chance to win. Deadline is October 9 (NEXT Friday) at 12pm (central)

We are back to the original rules by the way...

Thank you :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August's Art Giveaway 2015

Deadline: Friday, August 28, 2015, 6pm (central)

I have been enjoying these giveaways for so many reasons (and counting). There is something about giving freely that I felt I needed to explore. There have been many times where I wish I had something to give, but feel as if I don't- whether it is because of my financial situation, my health, my location, etc. Do you know the feeling? It has been pretty cool to let go and just give... from a place of truly wanting to, without expectations.

This month, I thought I'd let you take part of my year long project in a new way...I thought it would be fun for YOU to have the chance to do your own giveaway. Anyone and everyone is eligible for this one, including past giveaway winners. Here is the deal: you get to pick a pendant (small or large), and then you get to give it away to someone you think would enjoy it. Whether it is a gift for this year's holiday season, a birthday present, a reminder you are thinking of them, or just because.  Maybe you know someone who is going through a rough time? Or maybe you want to give this away in a completely random way to a stranger, "pay it forward" style. YOUR CHOICE. The only rule is you must give it away.

Side A... of the small and large option up for grabs this month.
Side B... of the small and large option up for grabs this month.
The thought behind these heart pendants has a few layers, but long story short, it was my way of reminding myself of some important lessons. The distressed wire heart symbolizes the variety of struggles life can dish out... leaving you feel beaten up, among other things. The yarn represents the choice to keep that soft spot in our hearts... to keep being kind, to keep loving, to keep loving yourself.

Of course you can attach your own meaning. :)

Here is a link to the past pendant giveaway, for some more info.

Some of the technical progression: My dad may have started my love of wire jewelry, making me some wire rings a while back. My grandma got me interested in knitting-the yarn is scrap from my knitting supply/projects. I took a jewelry and metals class in college (and a textiles class that including knitting), expecting to dislike it as I used to dread working on a tiny scale-I actually loved the professor and the class, and my classmates, the whole shebang! Fast forward-->My friend Joe was kind enough to donate the wire to my art, and plenty of information my brain probably can't contain. And my friend Andrew was willing to share some tips, so I could achieve the look I envisioned. Mix in the inspiring wire jewelry I've collected/seen in my travels from artists across the country. And there you have it.
NOTE: this pendant can be used in a variety of ways... The excess yarn can be used to tie as a necklace (I just tie in a simple bow when I wear one). You can also cut the excess yarn off (keep the knot though!) and put it on your own necklace chain. But this doesn't just have to be used as a necklace, you could hang it where ever you'd like--ie: someone hung from their review mirror (a fitting reminder to come from a place of love, even in crappy traffic ;) ). Get creative and use in the best way you see fit. I'll include a few photos of how these have been used/worn thus far, below.

To enter: comment on the original video on facebook (www.facebook.com/NFGartist ) or on google+ ( https://plus.google.com/+nNFGjolly ). Make sure you actually say you would like to enter the contest please, and let me know which one you would like. While I appreciate any comments, I try my best not to assume that kind words mean you want to enter. :)

I would love to hear about who and how you pass this gift on to if you are willing to share. :)

Wearing as a necklace WITH excess yarn as chain...   Photographer: Andrew Kufahl

Excess yarn cut off and pendant put onto ball chain

Pendant hanging from review mirror in car
Some work well to hold notes or photos... or in this case, a business card!