Holiday Gift Giving

Yep, it's that time of year!! If you haven't yet, you better start making your list and checking it twice....  

The best gift that I can think of giving is something made with love by a local artisan! By supporting artists, you are supporting small businesses, which are so important to every community. Just a reminder that I have a few handmade items (tablecloths, table runners, felt coasters, and candles) for sale at The Junk Drawer in Spearfish, South Dakota. Please stop in and say hi to Lindsay, the shop owner and show your support for handmade goodies! 

I'm hoping to get a few things up on my Etsy shop and might have a few things for sale around the Kansas City area for the holidays, so I will keep you updated! As always, let me know if you have any requests or commissions! 

Happy Monday!

September Update

I started the first semester of my final year of undergrad just over one month ago. As expected, every day has been packed to the brim, especially the last couple of weeks. I worked for the wonderful artist Betsy Youngquist at the Plaza Art Fair, finished up some custom nursery decorations for a close friend, had my first critique of the semester, helped with the opening celebration for the Plains Indians exhibition at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, dyed fabric for Kadie Nugent (a classmate and good friend), wrote a show proposal, attended the Kansas City Yoga Festival, hosted a BBQ and bonfire for my friends, and bought a new vacuum cleaner. Are you tired yet!?! Cause I am! Although I'm running on fumes, I truly think it's all worth it. I know that someday I will look back on this crazy time and be glad that I pushed myself, took risks, and didn't necessarily sleep a lot. 

Grrrr, a sculpture by Betsy Youngquist

I always enjoy working at the Plaza Art Fair. While some of my classmates turn up their nose at the perceived commercialism of art fairs, I see the value in learning how artists sell work and try to suck up every bit of knowledge that I can. There are so many different kinds of artists there to talk to! Betsy treats me well and buys my meals for pete's sake- how could a college student turn that down?!?! Seriously, though, every time I work for her I am incredibly inspired by the whimsical beaded sculptures that she makes. They are beautiful, have a sense of history, and a sense of humor. I leave the art fair every year with grand intentions of covering everything in my studio with beads. Beading, however, is not really my thing. Dyeing is though...

Hand-dyed fabric by me!                                                                                                                    Photo by Kadie Nugent

I recently dyed this fabric, requested by Kadie Nugent (a super awesome artist/ friend of mine)... and she turned it into this...

In process dress by Kadie Nugent!                                                                                       Photo by Kadie Nugent

The dress is still in process in this photo, but you get the idea. She used a pattern for a 50's style dress and then customized it to make it more modern. Kadie and I have been collaborating a lot lately and it has been such a positive learning experience. Despite our almost ten year age difference, we have similar tastes and interests, which helps when planning and designing something. We just proposed a show for a gallery space available to students. Planning and writing the proposal together was fun AND challenging. It is so beneficial to have someone to share ideas with, knowing there won't be judgement, just honesty. 

Hot air balloon mobile made for baby E! 

Another project I have been working on is custom nursery decorations commissioned by one of my friends for the arrival of her second daughter. Although this was vastly different from what I normally make for school, it was a nice change to make some purely decorative and whimsical work. I hope baby E is thoroughly entertained!


And, last but not least, of the most deeply moving experiences that I've had in the last few weeks was helping with the opening celebration for The Plains Indians exhibition at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I've had the pleasure of interning in the Education department at the museum for the last few months and have enjoyed every minute of it. Plains Indians artwork resonants deeply with me for many reasons, one of which is having spent a large part of my childhood in Western South Dakota, where Native American culture is ubiquitous. On the day of the opening, I had the honor of escorting The Royal Valley (Potawatami) dancers. Unfortunately, I was too busy to take any pictures, but it wouldn't have done them any justice anyway. The Boyz, an intertribal drum group with members from across the country accompanied the dancers throughout the day. Watching the powerful performances brought tears to my eyes. It was so magical seeing the normally quiet and austere Kirkwood Hall full of music and dance. The Plains Indians exhibition is on display at the museum, through January, for a small fee, and I highly recommend going to see it!  


I think I might be bad at blogging. No, I take that back...I'm ok at blogging, just not good at actually updating my blog regularly. This forum is a place for me to record and share my creative process and well... sometimes my creative process just stops. Or, I'm so busy creating that I forget to document my creative process altogether.

My last semester was rough...and exciting...and inspirational...and fun...and a lot of work. And just like all the others, at the end of it I go into a zombie mode of sleeping, cleaning, and refusing to analyze anything aesthetically for at least four weeks. I'm usually jolted out of that haze when I realize I only have two months left to do something creative (that I won't be graded on!) before the next semester starts.

I've found that the best way to jump start my motivation is to spend four days in southern Missouri, sitting in a river, and drinking beer. Even though I'm not actually drawing, I'm thinking about drawing the scenery around me. I look down the river to where it bends out of sight and can hear the charcoal creating this line on the page. I watch the way the sun is filtered through the leaves on the massive trees surrounding the river bank. There's a dog barking far off in the distance. The cool water on my feet is welcome relief from the heavy air pressing down around me. I wonder if I could capture not only the sights, but all of the other senses around me in a drawing. 

I love being in nature and that's one of the many reasons that I love living in the country. Recently, one of my close friends moved to the country so I decided to visit her and her family. What started as a one night stay got extended after drinking copious amounts of wine (I'm easily persuaded when you know my weaknesses!). 

My visit included all of the best things about summer country living, including catching minnows in Muddy Creek, watching movies in a cool basement, sitting outside supervising the Slip N Slide, trying to pick out constellations in the night sky, grilling, late night girl talk, and nursing an injured dog back to health. 

 Muddy Creek lives up to its name!

Muddy Creek lives up to its name!

After both of my little vacations, I'm feeling refreshed and energized to be creative again. So, hello again world. Hello Lexie. 

 Louie's recovering from herniated discs. Poor lil guy. 

Louie's recovering from herniated discs. Poor lil guy. 

Snow Days

So, last week was CRAAAZZZYYY! We had two snow days off from school, which is fantastic, in theory, but not great in practice. The studio is the only place where I have access to certain equipment, so being snowed in can be frustrating. Thankfully, we had notice that there was a winter storm coming, so I was able to gather up some projects to work on while being stuck at home. The bad thing about having to work from home is the high probability of being distracted by my dogs, laundry, chickens, dishes, plants, and really anything else. So, I did get some school work done, but I also got lots of cleaning, playing with dogs, surfing the internet for inspiring stuff, and sleeping in done. 


I found the following video during my web surfing and it is generally related to art school, but specifically related to typography class, in that it uses text to illustrate an audio clip from Ira Glass, host of 'This American Life.' Both the content, and the aesthetics drew me in. 

This is good stuff people! Also, before Snowmageddon I took advantage of our wonderful library here on campus and checked out a movie about the life of Georgia O'Keefe. She is an inspiration to me as an artist and woman!

Another priority during the snow days was to get ready for my pop-up shop at the BadSeed market in the Crossroads art district of KC. Over the last few months, I had been working on many different functional products to sell. Thanks to everyone who came to see me last Friday night! I had a great time at the market and got to catch up with a few old friends.


 I know this post is all over the place, I but I'm going to add a few more creative text examples that I ran across on the website If you've never looked at this site, DO IT NOW and DO IT EVERY DAY! Yes, I am yelling at you. Thisiscolossal has so many inspiring art projects, photography, videos, and design, and I always turn to it when I feel guilty about being online and need to feel like I'm being productive. So, here you go.

And, just one last thing that I want to share. We have been talking about the importance of kerning (the space in between letters), in my typography class. There's a great game online for really obsessive-compulsive people in which you fix the kerning of letters.

Maybe on the next snow day I will play this until I get a perfect score! 

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The world is covered in ice! I had planned to go into the studio this morning, but changed my mind when I saw multiple cars in the ditch on my way home last night, and on the local news. Therefore, I have to force myself to be just as productive at home today as I would have been in studio.

Instead of starting out the day with my never-ending list of school projects, I bundled up and went outside to take care of my chickens and duck. While they have to be fed and watered every day, the weekends are my special time to give them some extra attention. This means everything from giving them fresh veggie treats, to doctoring wounds, to cleaning out the coop.

With all of my layers, I wasn't cold at all, and spent about two hours with them. There's something about taking care of an animal, that depends solely on you, that is very humbling. I've always been a bleeding heart when it comes to animals and happily try to adopt any creature that comes within grabbing distance of me! If you are an animal in my home, you get treated just as good as any person. Today I took the birds a chunked up spaghetti squash, potato peelings, and strawberry tops. It's the least I can do to repay them for providing me with delicious fresh eggs every day! My time outside this morning, communing with the chickens, was just what I needed to feel refreshed and ready to work.


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After I tackle that long list of school projects, I plan to reward myself by curling up on the couch and watching this gem of a movie that I recently discovered:

I found this movie so inspiring and know that my words won't be able to do it justice, so just go check it out! Also, the director, Mike Mills, created a blog with additional movie information, especially in reference to inspiration and art in the film, and can be found here: 

I hope everyone stays warm and safe this weekend! And good luck finding inspiration wherever you look!

Reading, Reading, Reading

Over the course of this first week of school, I've been assigned multiple readings by different teachers. My fiction workshop teacher told us yesterday that to become a good writer, it's as important to read, as it is to write. So yesterday as I sat down with my stack of readings, I was killing two birds with one stone; doing my assignments AND becoming a better writer!

I pulled out lots of good nuggets from my readings, such as this one from an essay by Frank Chimero:

"Design is just a language, it's not a message. If you say "retro" too much you will get hives and maybe die. Learn your design history. Know that design changes when technology changes, and its been that way since the 1400s."

I believe the idea of deeply understanding the history of any artistic medium really is the key to making good work. It's also the key to winning arguments at cocktail parties. Did you know how letters came to be called 'uppercase' and 'lowercase'?

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Now you know!

Our first couple of readings for Typography give a clear timeline early through modern development of recorded language. While calligraphy will always be the 'one that brought me to the dance,' I loved the depictions of experimental typefaces of the 1990s, such as this one by Ed Fella.

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The forms were drawn by hand and developed by making multiple copies, and would technically be considered, "damaged and defective." Now that's my kind of typeface! There is something about seeing the hand of the artist in the work that is really important to me.

Frank Chimero's list of advice for graphic design students is full of many things we hear every day from our teachers, and this one, while obvious, really seems like the perfect recipe for success:

"Develop a point of view. Think about what experiences you have that many others do not. Then, think of what experiences you have that almost everyone else has. Then, mix those two things and try to make someone cry or laugh or feel understood." 

I'll do my best, Frank. 

Oh, and I'll leave you with one last nugget.

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So, to appreciate good typography, you must be modest and chaste. Uh oh.