artistresidencyinmotherhood

In my studio: Instagram catch up

 

It has been awhile since I've posted completed works here on my blog. After several months without a regular studio practice, I am again trying to establish a bit more of a routine in that area. With the weather being just SO COLD in Omaha, I am focusing more on painting so I don't have to go in and out of the house like I do with cyanotypes. 

Instagram catch up || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

I've been breaking away from the color blue...

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and combining collage with painting...

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and then coming back to blue again!

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To stay up to date on my latest work, follow me here on Instagram


 

 

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What makes an ordinary week

(for further context, see last week's post Ordinary Time in My Studio

Lesson plan for history: To experience a “taste” of what life was like as a monk, prepare a typical “monk’s meal” for supper one night. You might like to pretend that it is Christmas, so you can have some butter on your bread!
Pretty Pavlova || What makes an ordinary week || blog post || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Me: "Since we are learning about Monks, we are going to make a bread like the kind they would have eaten. "
AJ: "Can't I make Mary Berry's Pavlova instead?"
Me: "I'm not sure we have enough eggs... "
AJ: " We only need six!" (proceeds to recite rest of recipe and directions)

Yeah, she won. 


This month, we are still figuring out what an ordinary week for us will look like this year. I was given some very wise counsel that co-teachers (homeschool moms) usually doesn't get their routine down until October so I know we have a few more weeks to get our stride. I'm still participating in the #PCJ30in30 Challenge on Instagram and am loving the process of observing one memory or moment of each day in a painting. 

Chilly Sunday || #PCJ30in30 || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Pretty Pavlova || #PCJ30in30 || 8x8" acrylic on watercolor paper || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Sometimes I know what I want to capture within the first few hours of the day, other times it takes until dinnertime. Either way, this practice is helping me focus on what little thing sets each day apart from the next (a tall order for someone who is big-picture minded).

Raining sunshine || #PCJ30in30 || 6x8" || acrylics + paint pen on watercolor paper || Rachel Loewens
Turning season sunset || #PCJ30in30 || 8x8" || acrylic paint on watercolor paper || Rachel Loewens

To stay up to date on this challenge follow me on Instagram



Turning mistakes into masterpieces

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Ahhhhhh! Summer break!!!! We are basking in the routine of sleeping in, wearing pajamas until lunchtime, working in the garden, and then running in the sprinkler to cool off. For two summers in a row I was pregnant and so miserable that I missed out on a lot of the fun that comes along this season but not this year. This year, I am saying no to a lot of good things so as not to miss out doing what I want most. 

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Turning Mistakes Into Masterpieces || A lesson on resilience for children || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
mistakes to masterpieces || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

This morning was to be the start of our drawing lessons. I fell in love with Drawing with Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too by Mona Brookes last fall but couldn’t make it work into our already packed schedule so I shelved it until now. By the time I got showed and dressed my kids had come up with a plan of their own for the morning: making paper crowns. They had paper, scissors, and markers already out on the dining table so I just went with it. Making is making, right?

As goes all craft projects with little humans, it only took about five minutes for disaster to strike. Child #2 made one of his dots bigger than all the others which ruined the pattern he had in his minds so he MUST start over. Then Child #3 colored over the same spot so many times as to cause a slight tear in the paper. There was just no consoling either of them. My mantras about valuing the process, taking risks with our art, and there being no such things as mistakes had absolutely no effect on the flow of tears rolling down their little cheeks. 

mistakes to masterpieces || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

 

So I changed tactics. “Who wants to hear about some of Mommy’s art mess ups? Who wants to see what I did to fix them?” They immediately perked up. At that very moment, I was printing a cyanotype on top of one that did not turn out very well. While doing a double exposure was something I wanted to experiment with, I was doing it out of an attempt to correct/improve upon one that did not turn out at all. 

 

In case that example wasn’t enough for them, I pulled out a print that accidentally fell onto my paint-filled palette. “See here, this big blob of pink. That wasn’t supposed to happen, but I kinda liked it so I dropped it again on the paint to make it look like it was part of the design.” Finally, the light bulbs turned on!!! #2 colored the tops of each triangle in his crown with a black marker and began to make a new pattern. #3 used a whole punch over the part that was ripped and then punched over the middle of each point. 

 

Not only was our morning saved, but my kids learned one of the biggest secrets to success in life: resilient people turn their mistakes into masterpieces. This isn’t just a lesson for artists, but for everyone who takes risks, tries new things, and dares to live a great life!

mistakes to masterpieces || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Brené Brown writes in her book Rising Strong,

" The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness - even our wholeheartedness - actually depends on the integration of all of experiences including the falls." 

I find it so much easier to be comfortable with my weakness when I am around others who do the same. My hope is that by modeling vulnerability and wholeheartedness to my children, they will grow up to be empathetic and resilient adults!


Creating and Co-teaching

With the school year being almost over, it is a toss up between me and my daughter over who is the most excited for summer break. She is ready to paint, play outside, and go on adventures any day of the week and well, so am I! 

 

Being so close to the finish means that there are more opportunities for her to study independently, which frees me up to work a bit on the business stuff (like create new listings for my next sale on May 12th) or even make a few prints!

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Collaborating between home schooling and traditional brick and mortar schooling has worked well for our lifestyle and the family culture we want to create. It has also decreased the hours I have in my studio to create, but I think the benefits outweigh the costs. 

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The impending free time seems so close that I can almost taste it. I am daily fighting my tendency to set impossible goals for myself and my time, but doesn't every momma/maker do that?

My dream to do list includes:

+swim lessons for the older two kiddos +begin nature journaling like Greta Eskridge +join the Sumer Reading Program +teach my kids Shakespeare + and spend 25+ hours/week in my studio

I know, too much! But if I don't set stretch goals for myself at the beginning of the season then I will get nothing done! Here is another goal I've set for myself. I am going to try to launch my next collection on Friday, May 12th. Watch for more posts here and on Instagram about what's going to be "in store". Get it? I know! Lame attempt to be punny, but you can't fault a girl for trying!


First lessons from my residency: choosing what I value

Sunday night we celebrated my oldest turning 6 at my mom's house. It was a lovely night full of good conversations, yummy food, and laughter. 

Dried hydrangea flower || Cyanotype in progress || Rachel Loewens

My mom's hydrangea bush had a few blooms leftover from last year so I snatched them up to do some sun printing. 

 
Outdoor studio || Omaha, NE || Rachel Loewens
 

While Omaha's forecast predicted 15 straight days of clouds and rain, we had plenty moments of sunshine for me to work in my "outdoor studio". 

Days later I set about mounting some of these prints because I hope to sell them as a means to fund my residency. The kids were all occupied and my supplies were at hand so I set forth to make a quick job of it. Of course, disaster quickly ensued.  Little ones offered to "help" me, I politely declined and in my haste to be as efficient as possible I ruined a print (my mom's favorite one, of course!). 

 
Mounting fail || Rachel Loewens
 

Of course I was immediately frustrated with what I did, but more so that I wasn't valuing my children's involvement with my work. Then I realized that I wasn't actually valuing my work either since I was in such a hurry to get it done. 

Studio mate || Rachel Loewens

A minute to slow down my breathing, a prayer asking for wisdom and grace, and we moved on to have a better day.  My daughter made flowers with her glue gun, and I returned to mounting the rest of my prints. 

Update: 

I have two 5x7" cyanotype prints available for instant digital down load here! Only $10 each! (they even will fit into standard frame)

My got done list. AKA: What to do when you feel like you are getting NOTHING done!

Like many people who suffer from sort of auto-immune disease whose symptoms include chronic fatigue, I often feel like I've gotten NOTHING done by the end of the day. My husband is very good at reminding me that that is a lie to tell myself and, in all reality, I always accomplish something just in the day to day care of my family.

This week my daughter had her first spring break ever, and I had a whole to do list in my head of cleaning out closets and art making. Guess what? Most of that didn't happen due to an elbow injury. *sigh* Thankfully, a shot of Novocain in my joint has eased the pain and I'm now able to get a few bits done.

Spring break at Henry Doorly Zoo || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

I once read an article that suggested people who have these seasons of low productivity should document all that they have gotten done instead of focusing on what they didn't get done. So here's my list:

#artistresidencyinmotherhood || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

+    Prepping for my Artist Residency in Motherhood. I thrive off of goals and accountability so I'm excited to take on this residency in the summer months.

+     Obsessively read my new favorite blog: Jocelyn Mathewes. She is currently participating in the same residency that I planning for AND does cyanotype printing. Her post on productivity and journaling how you use your time have been most helpful. 

+     Printing while the sun shines. 

+     Trip to the zoo with my kiddos!

Cyanotype in progress || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

How do you cope with less than productive seasons of your life! I would love to hear your tips!