2016 has been a year of re-focusing on work I enjoy, doing it in the way that is best for my business, and taking advantage of new opportunities. So while choosing not to do art fairs this year was scary at first, I'm even more confident it was the right decision. I have a renewed energy that had gone missing for a little while!

With that said, I'm thrilled to announce a partnership happening during the months of November and December here in Atlanta, GA. I'll be participating in a holiday pop-up shop, hosted by Crafted, inside Lenox Square in the Buckhead district. This shop will be filled with local, high quality artisan work with a modern, rustic vibe. It officially opens on Tuesday, November 1st!

I'll have a generous collection of my metalsmith jewelry available and will be restocking some pieces as they sell, but for others, once they're gone, they're gone (read: go early). If you want to know if a specific piece is at the shop before making the trip, feel free to send me an email.

To access the shop, park on level 4 of the garage and use the mall entrance down from Macy's Pink Pig. Once inside, the shop can be found next to Bloomingdale's, across from Pottery Barn Kids. Look for the Crafted sign.

lenox square pop up shop

This partnership is truly a match made in heaven. When I first visited Crafted Westside in Midtown to speak with owner Shanna Kenyon about her business model and show her samples of my jewelry, I fell in love with the look and feel of the boutique and was impressed by the artisan work so carefully curated. I'm honored to have my jewelry associated with Crafted and hope for the Lenox Square pop-up shop to be wildly successful!

Mark your calendars. :)

~Christina

I learned how to set a cabochon gemstone in a bezel setting during my first metalsmith class years ago. The stone was a warm speckled jasper, oval in shape, and set in a split ring band. I *loved* the way it turned out. Since then, however, I've only set a handful of stones, with an even smaller subset actually making it into the pieces I've sold. For some reason, I just haven't enjoyed the process. At least, that's what I've been telling myself.

The truth is that I've often felt all-thumbs when setting stones. I'd either make the bezel too small or too large, or I'd melt the bezel, crack the stone, or I couldn't seem to get the right leverage when rubbing the bezel over the stone. You name it, it happened to me, often at the same time. So in that sense, I truly didn't enjoy stone setting. But I also knew I wasn't consistent in practicing the technique, either.

In a way, it's been a mild case of torture. Natural gemstones are so beautiful and really enhance jewelry designs. I've been missing the pop of color they lend to pieces. So recently I checked out an online class on bezel stone setting, a class offered in partnership between Rio Grande, my favorite jewelry supply company, and Craftsy, a website offering a growing number of creative classes and supplies.

It was my first experience with Craftsy and I have to say, it was a good one! I received 7 video lessons on setting stones of various shapes and sizes and a number of different tools to use in the process. The instructor, Danielle Miller-Gilliam, was very knowledgeable and an effective communicator. While a lot of the information I received was a much-needed review of what I had previously learned, there were some golden nuggets of information that were priceless to me. There were things I was doing that made stone setting more difficult than it needed to be, and I immediately knew her tips were going to help. I could hardly wait to get started, so I grabbed a couple of amber stones I had sitting on the bench, already having cut their back plates forever ago, and got to work.

I could not believe how much easier it was this time.

I was confident, knowing exactly what I needed to do in the most efficient manner possible. It may have even been fun. :D It was one of those moments where I felt a shift in my head and heart and knew my jewelry making was headed in a new direction.

Amber Clover Necklace 3

Amber Clover Necklace 2

Amber Clover Necklace

I have a number of stones I've been hoarding saving for a time such as this. I have the knowledge and, now, the determination to build them into beautiful jewelry pieces.

The necklace shown here is currently available for purchase in my Etsy shop. Click here for details.

~Christina

Sweet Magnolia Art Print

Jul 23, 2016

In:Art

The only thing I miss about having my art prints on Pixels.com is the customer interaction. When a print sells, I don't receive the customer's email address or location since Pixels handles the packaging and shipping for me. On the other hand, it's beautiful when I receive an order and then have nothing else to do after that point. I trust the customer will be happy with their purchase.

This month I've been so grateful to see my art start selling there. While I've kept the original charcoal drawing for my own personal collection, 2 prints of "Sweet Magnolia" have been sold in July so far.

This makes my heart happy. ♥

Magnolia Art Print

Devices
Social media and I have had a confusing relationship ever since we discovered each other. By nature I'm a fairly shy, introverted person, yet I have a deep need to be in community with others. Those characteristics together can present interpersonal challenges. Social media, however, gives me a window into the lives of others without having to be more outgoing, as I've sometimes wished I was. I love catching glimpses of what's going on with my family and friends. I love seeing the creative work of other artists and being inspired by their successes. I love meeting new people (and making great friends) through social media that I otherwise would not have met. I love being inspired to do good, especially in the midst of dark days.

But for me, there is a trade-off to the constant information-feed of social media. First, it's become a habit. Just like I wake up and eat breakfast without thinking about it, I often grab my phone to see the latest news on Facebook or Instagram, without thinking. And if I do that enough times in the day suddenly minutes (hours?) disappear without me being aware. Second, while social media can be incredibly positive, it can also be wildly negative. It's a place where many people don't think about the impact of their words or the images they share. There is open judgement, slander and inappropriate content. I also recognize that everyone simply wants to be heard and validated, sometimes hurting others as they react to their own personal hurts. But is it wise to feed our minds with negativity, day after day, much like a never-ending reel of the evening news? I don't believe so. Third, it tempts me to be discontent. I think this may be the biggest offender. I see the beautiful vacation photos in my timeline and the skilled artwork of fellow artists, happy things that most definitely should be celebrated. But if I'm not careful, my thoughts can easily shift from celebration of their joy to *myself*, wondering when it will be MY time to enjoy that tropical destination or have such incredible talent. And if enough people are "liking" the things I post, that means something, right? It's the ultimate comparison trap rooted in the lie that we can't be content where we are today with everything we already have.

So what does this mean for me?

I'm breaking up with social media.

Sort of.

I'm not quitting it altogether. But it's no longer going to play a significant role in my life as it has in the past. The good news is that the chains have already begun to loosen when it comes to my personal use of it. But for work, not so much.

I confess it's a little scary, as an artist, to think about not highly leveraging this tool. After all, what I do is visual in nature and what better avenue to share my work than a website that others view every day. But for now, if doing so isn't best for me personally, then it's not best for business. As I recently launched the new print collection, I had a beautiful season of productivity when the art poured out. I want to tap into that kind of productivity again, this time though, not feeling the need to stop and post my work along the way. At least, not as often as I was. One of my triggers for spending too much time on the web is posting content. Chad likes to say I start "squirreling" (i.e. going off on tangents) and while I used to take offense to that, I laugh now because it's COMPLETELY true. Being on Instagram sometimes feels like being a kid in a candy store. I am wired to create. I am not wired to gorge myself with social information.

Squirrel

If these thoughts are alien to you and you've always had a healthy perspective on social media then kudos to you! I sincerely admire you. But if you can relate, I hope this inspires you to make positive changes regarding your own use of social media. I've been battling these thoughts for far too long. Enough is enough. Time is too precious to spend another (unaware) second with my face in my phone.

It's time to look up.

It's time to live in the present.

I am worth it.

You are worth it.

New Art Prints Released!

May 20, 2016

In:Art

I know I won't do this blog post justice since I have a TON of thoughts floating in my head and not enough time, at the moment, to capture them in writing. But, I wanted to share that after many weeks of creating and editing, I've finally compiled a small collection of prints that are now available online.

I've chosen pixels.com to host my artwork. Not only do they make it very easy for artists to feature their work, but they also make it super easy for buyers to choose prints, select mats, frames, etc. and also purchase products such as phone cases, throw pillows, tote bags and more.

I confess that I geeked out a little when I first saw one of my patterns on a phone case. I never envisioned having my art printed this way and yet it seems so right.

phone case

This graphic dogwood print also made the collection with more soft blues and vibrant greens.

Devices

I'm truly thrilled by all of the design possibilities. There has never been a time like this when artists have so many different ways to share their work, right at their fingertips.

You can see the entire collection by clicking here.

~ Christina

Patterns and Butterflies

Apr 20, 2016

In:Art

Patterns and butterflies. Not necessarily butterflies in a pattern, but the butterflies I've felt in my stomach as I continue making art and know I'm going in the right direction.

Since my last post I've been consistently trading off between watercolor art and more modern, graphic art with saturated color. I'm leaning toward one vs. the other (I think) and am having more thoughts regarding product possibilities. I'm still practicing patience as I wait a little longer, create art and refine ideas...and trust that allowing this process to happen naturally will yield better results.

Yesterday I walked in the back yard to find natural inspiration for artwork and had something very specific in mind. Instead, the unexpected caught my eye (love when that happens!) and shifted my focus entirely. I noticed small, maple leaf seeds in the form of "helicopters", as I call them, dotting the ground underneath our tree. Their unique V-shapes automatically suggested a pattern to me, so I went to work and ended with this:

Seed Helicopters Pattern

Black, white, gray, red-orange and red-purple - my personal, perfect color palette. This pattern says "decorative pillow" to me.

→ Continue Reading

Every artist experiences bountiful seasons of creativity and dry seasons when good ideas seem elusive. Sometimes in the desert, your heart tells you it's time to create but instead, you find an excuse to do anything but make art. I didn't use to believe in this concept called "artist's block", but I've experienced it enough times to know it's a real thing. Fortunately, though, I'm currently in one of the most freeing times in my art journey.

The one thing I've been missing for *so long* is to just

Play

and be okay with whatever ends up on the canvas...or paper...or computer screen. To just let the art pour out and not judge what I've made, or feel like others have to like it, or try to make something that will sell. Those things are certainly important in business, but as I work toward finding my unique style, it's necessary to just experiment and make what I personally love, so my art can become a true reflection of me. → Continue Reading

A few weeks ago I shared with you the charcoal drawing we were given, made by Mom Steward, that we didn't even know existed. Since then, we've received more of her art possessions that are equally as special: an old box of charcoal sticks and a charming wooden box of Talens colored pastels. Again, we had no idea she experimented with art, let alone saved her supplies!

Char-kole box

Talens Pastels

→ Continue Reading

Stretching

Mar 16, 2016

In:Art

The first day of spring is four days away and this season always makes me want to draw and paint. It's one of the few constants in my creative journey. So, I've been thinking a lot about the direction of my artwork.

Since making the decision to work entirely online, it's given me the freedom to focus on my art again. As I explore digital techniques more and more, I've realized there is still so much to learn about drawing, painting and expressing myself through art. And I believe the only way to arrive is by doing.

In my last post I shared some discoveries about image manipulation using Photoshop. Making those prints has since led to creating art, in a more traditional sense, using Photoshop "brushes".

When I discovered you could create a traditional "oil" painting in Photoshop...or a watercolor painting, acrylic painting, charcoal drawing, etc., it was revelational to me. An entire world of possibilities opened up and I felt like a kid in a candy store.

Pear - Oils → Continue Reading

In my recent post about printable wall art, I shared with you some original sketches I manipulated in Photoshop to make them more graphic in appearance. This week, I've taken Photoshop a little further and used real photos I've taken in various places.

First, I'll say I'm no professional photographer. But, I do have fun with a camera once in awhile. And as I've learned a few new techniques in Photoshop, using photos in my artwork was a natural progression.

The funny thing is that some of the concepts I've uncovered are not that different from ones found in Adobe Illustrator, which I use for vector drawing. I just hadn't realized the potential with image manipulation and how it can be incorporated into digital art.

Take this first print, for example. Obviously, the original image of the water lily was rectangular in shape. Photoshop allows you to "cut out" any shape you wish and drag and drop it where you'd like. In this case I chose a circle placed on a white background. Think of the circle being "layered" on top of it.

Water Lily Instant Download Print → Continue Reading