Monday, December 21, 2009

Our blog has MOVED to our new website!

Howdy everyone!  Just wanted to let all of you know that our blog has moved to, which is our new website.  It will have increased functionality and a great new design too!  Please come on by and update your bookmarks to the new site, since this site will no longer be updated.  Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Interview and Feature at the Revolving Styles Blog

I want to thank Anna over at the Revolving Styles blog for interviewing me and featuring my studio and work for her "Thursday's Treasure" this week.  She did a wonderful article and she also has some really great vintage fashions in her Revolving Styles Etsy shop.  Check it out!

Photo of the day: How Now, Brown Cow?

"How now, brown cow?"  Ever wonder where that phrase originated?  I did, so I looked it up:

"How now brown cow" is a phrase used in elocution teaching to demonstrate rounded vowel sounds. Each "ow" sound in the phrase represents an individual diphthong. The phrase does not have an explicit meaning per se but can be used as a light-hearted greeting.  Although the exact origins of the phrase are unclear, it can be dated to at least 1942 in the United States. In February of that year the Maryland newspaper The Capital mentioned the phrase when discussing a famous thespian's voice:
Laird Cregar, now contributing his booming voice to 'Ten Gentlemen from West Point': explains how he got it. When he first tried out for the Pasadena Community Playhouse his voice wouldn't carry past the front rows. Coach Belle Kennedy had him declaim 'How, Now, Brown Cow? and The Rain in Spain Still Stains' - over and over.

Hmph.  Who'da thunk?

I took this picture of these curious cows in Zillah, Washington at my nephew's house.  He has steers and miniature horses.   Again, the lighting was just beautiful - this photo was taken around 9:30 in the morning.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Photo of the Day: Idaho Farm Sunset

 Today, we went for a drive.  It's been raining for the last few days, which caused all of our snow to melt... so you can just imagine how incredibly sloppy it is out there.  The overcast skies make for some GREAT lighting though, and I was able to snap this photo of a farm against the beautiful sunset.  We also saw about 25 pheasants in an adjacent field.  It was just neat!

Blog Feature: Autumn2May

I'd like to thank Jennie over at Autumn2May for featuring our Partridge in a Pear Tree Christmas cards in her Tenth day of Christmas lineup... it's quite an honor to be featured in such good company as the other artists in the post... head over and check them out!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hunting in the Owyhees

This photo is one of my favorites - it captures the scale and terrain that makes hunting in the Owyhee Mountains of Idaho so unique. The unwitting subjects of this photo are my husband, Greg, and his dog, Jennie, a Vizsla.. Here they are looking for chuckars, on a clear fall day. Later on that same day, Jennie scented one and chased it up a big plateau... and got so far ahead of us that Greg had to fire his shotgun in the air to get her attention.  I think those two would hunt every day if they had the chance!  It's so interesting and fun to watch a dog work with her master for a common goal!

Road Trip to McCall, Part 5: Ghosts in the Window

While driving around on the back roads near McCall, we came to an intersection where the old town of Roseberry, Idaho is.  Roseberry has many historic buildings, including this cabin.  And no, that's not a ghost in the window - that's my husband.  I do like the effect his reflection has on the photo - it makes me think of the folks who used to live there and what they were like.  What do you think?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Road Trip to McCall, Part 4: Cattails

Cattails are just the neatest plant.  In addition to being really interesting visually, they had many uses among Native American tribes.  The downy material in the flower was used for tinder for starting fires, lining for moccasins, bedding, diapers (due to its absorbency), and for papoose boards. 

These cattails were located just across the road from the reindeer in the last series post. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines

I have had some questions from customers in my Etsy shop regarding whether their items will make it to them in time for Christmas. If you are wondering when your package should be mailed in order to make it to its destination in time for Christmas, here is a list of Holiday Shipping deadlines for the USPS:

I generally ship items via USPS first class mail (and my shop shipping rates reflect that).  If you need an item sooner or in time for Christmas, contact me and I will advise you on shipping rates for Priority Mail, Express Mail, etc.  I appreciate your business so much, so thank you!

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Road Trip to McCall, Part 3: Eight Tiny Reindeer

(Click photo to enlarge)
Actually, there were a lot more than eight... we found these reindeer in a meadow between Donnelly and McCall.  They are being raised on a farm.  The buck was quite concerned with keeping his herd together and under control.  He made these strange sounds (they sounded quite a lot like a very loud belch) to keep everyone where he wanted them.  They were very tiny - I am not sure what breed of reindeer they are... but they were quite adorable. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Caldwell's Winter Wonderland

One of the best Christmas lighting displays I've seen in a long time is in downtown Caldwell, Idaho along Indian Creek. It's just phenomenal. I was able to capture a few photos (in 2 degrees Fahrenheit weather) this evening, but had to cut my shoot short due to the extreme temps. It's amazing how very cold your fingers get when they're outside your gloves for only a few seconds at a time to push the shutter button. I used my timer and a tripod to get these shots - I have lost my remote shutter release and really need to get a new one!

This display has over 250,000 energy efficient LEDs. Last year, the city of Caldwell recycled 64,000 incandescent lights in order to convert to the LED display. Another 50,000 lights illuminate a 10-figure polar bear village and four nutcracker soldiers (1). There is also a lighting display with synchronized music. The display stretches through downtown Caldwell to the Caldwell Train Depot along Indian Creek and is surely a must-see this Christmas season! Go check it out!
  1. Lea, Dan, "Caldwell Aglow Friday", Idaho Press Tribune, 2009. 12/9/2009,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Experts Agree... My Calendar Featured!

Thanks so much to Samantha from the blog The Experts Agree for featuring my 2010 Sustainable 3-in-1 Calendar today!  I'm so honored to have been chosen and featured alongside so many other wonderful calendars!  Be sure to check it out!  Also, check out their Etsy shop, Design des Troy, where you can find some really great gocco hand-printed cards!

Road Trip to McCall, Part 2: Mending Fences

Sometimes the most commonplace objects can make interesting subjects - if you can just find the right angle.  And that's what this photo's all about - angles.  The angle of the horizon, the angle of the barbed wire, the angle of the fence posts.  This barbed wire fence was right next to the old barn in yesterday's photo.  I desaturated the colors since they were washed out, and since I wanted to focus on the contrast of the barbed wire against the background.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Road Trip to McCall, Part 1: Lonely Barn

Back in October, Aunt Sharon and Uncle Darryl were so kind as to invite us to stay at their condo in McCall.  One day we all went out shooting, and I was able to get some great photos of the old barns and the landscape near McCall and Donnelly.  This is part 1 of a 5 part series.

This barn sat in a field all by itself.  I love the abundance of old barns here in Idaho; it's a shame that so many of them are falling down.  It's interesting to think about the people that built them, a hundred years ago, and what the landscape looked like when they were new.  What were their names?  Were they struggling, or prosperous?  How many children played in the hay loft?  Sometimes I wish I could transport myself back in time to take a peek.

We'll be at... Christ Kindel Market (this Friday & Saturday)

The Christ Kindel Market will be located at Camille Beckman in Eagle, Idaho.  I'll have photography, calendars, and Christmas cards for sale, and on sale!  If you've waited to send out Christmas cards, you're in luck... you will get a great deal, but only at this show!  We'll have 2-for-1 deals and free gift wrapping, so be sure to stop by! Camille Beckman is located just west of Eagle on Highway 44 (State St.), near Eagle Island State Park.  See map below for directions (click to enlarge). I hope to see you there!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Original Mine

This is a shot of the Original Mine that I took last summer while visiting my hometown of Butte, Montana. I really enjoyed exploring the contrasts of such heavy machinery sitting right in the midst of the neighborhoods gingerbread-style "cottage" houses. The Original hosted the National Folk Festival for the last two years, and will host it once more next year on July 9-11 (the last year in the 3-year rotation). I have heard that it is an awesome weekend. I need to make sure and be there next year. I hope to apply as a vendor where I can sell some of my photos and illustrations.

I did desaturate the background on this photo a bit, just to intensify the contrast between the cute little house and the industrial nature of the gallows frame.

To purchase this, or any of my other photos, go to and click contact girlingearstudio and send me a message.  I can create a custom listing just for you, which you can purchase easily via PayPal, check or money order.  All photos come matted and in a protective plastic sleeve, but can be sent without the mat at a reduced price, if you wish.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Owyhee Sunset

I was so lucky to capture this great color as the sun was setting in the Owyhees a few weeks ago. My husband was looking for some chuckars to hunt, which are these elusive little birds that live high in the cliffs all around in the Snake River Canyon and the Owyhees. If you want to hunt them, you had better prepare to do some serious hiking! But even if you don't see any birds, the views and the terrain are worth the trip all by themselves. Gotta love Idaho.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Home for the Holiday - Number Hill (Arco, Idaho)

One of my favorite sights on the drive home from Idaho to Montana is Number Hill in Arco, Idaho.  Arco's claim to fame is that it was the first community in the world to get its electricity from nuclear power (on July 17, 1955).  This fact is proudly announced on Recreation Hall on Main Street, on a marquee style sign.  Number Hill is the result of a tradition of Butte County High School painting the year of each graduation class on the hill, since 1920.  It's quite unique and striking, and this is the first time I've stopped to get a photo of it.  I love all of these small towns in Idaho and Montana - they're so proud of their accomplishments and traditions.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Home for the Holiday - Mountain Sunset

I love driving home for Thanksgiving.  It's just beautiful.  I'm so blessed to live here in the Northwest in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.  This photo was taken on Highway 33 near Arco, Idaho.  Stay tuned for more photos of our trip!  I took the photo from the passenger seat, through the windshield.  Glad we got that crack fixed!  Other than being a little blurred, it turned out pretty good!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The 4-Day Sale is Here!!!

The Black Friday thru Cyber Monday 4-day sale is here!

We have great deals and free shipping all weekend on our products, so have a look around - you’re sure to find something you love.
  • 30% off all 2010 calendars here
  • 35% off all single cards here
  • 25% off all card 10-packs here
  • 20% off all photographs here - these make great gifts!  
  • FREE SHIPPING TO THE US ON ALL ITEMS from NOVEMBER 26-30!  (Please note - due to the holiday weekend - all items ordered during the weekend will ship Monday, November 30th.)
And... to readers of this blog - you get a free Christmas card of your choice with any purchase!  Just send me a conversation or email and note which design you'd like, and I'll ship it along with your order!

Thanks so much and have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mailboxes in the Snow - Comment to Win an 8x10!

It's becoming that time again!  Time for snow, and winter, and warm gatherings with friends.  This photo was taken in the Emmett Valley in last year's first snowstorm.  We were driving around, and were lucky enough to be caught in the snowstorm, with a camera! 

Comment on this post to win this photo (8x10, glossy, matted).  Winner will be notified after  December 1st.  Photo will be signed by the artist and matted in a white mat that will fit an 11x14 frame.


Sale! Stay tuned for special Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in my Etsy Shop!

Looking for great deals on Christmas gifts for your loved ones? Want to avoid the rush in the stores and have something unique, original, and handmade to give this year? Read on...

Starting on Thanksgiving morning, I will have some special markdowns in my Etsy shop ( good for this weekend only! Stay tuned for a blog post with details of the sale! I will be offering FREE SHIPPING all weekend and some buy one, get one deals just in time for Christmas!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Visit my Etsy Shop!

My Etsy shop is finally up and running. I have uploaded some of my photography and a calendar, and I'll be uploading more product in the next few days. Check it out - you just might find a great gift for that special someone - even if that special someone is yourself! Christmas is right around the corner, so why not get your shopping done early, and from the convenience of your own home?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Vineyard Boise Holiday Sale!

Wow, it's been way too long since I've posted an entry here! I've been crazy-busy getting ready for the Vineyard Boise Holiday Sale, which will be held next Saturday, November 14th. I'll have photography, christmas cards, and calendars for sale. Stay tuned - I am debuting my product line in my etsy shop this week, and you'll be able to order everything that I am selling at the craft show there too! I'll post a link in a few days.

The craft show is the same day as the Boise State-Idaho game, but don't worry - the church will be airing the game at the craft show so you won't miss out! There will be a food court and a raffle going on all day; you could win items from vendors featured at the show! I would LOVE to see you there!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Photography: Downtown Portland at Night

After our stay at the Oregon coast, we decided to stay one night in Downtown Portland, Oregon. Portland is quite a city, and from our 15th floor hotel room, I was able to get some interesting shots of the buildings and the streets below. I like the angles of this shot, and the repetition of elements (the cars and the windows) and how they line up. Sometimes I get the best shots when I'm not even looking through the viewfinder!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jump Creek and Jump Creek Falls

Jump Creek Falls is an amazing place just outside of Marsing, Idaho. This spring, we were driving around and happened upon the signs for the falls, and decided to follow them. We were pleasantly surprised to find a nice trail that led along Jump Creek up to the falls, which is really like something out of a postcard. The only thing we really had to watch out for was poison ivy all along the trail (which is sort of a problem if you have dogs) but we came away unscathed.

We were lucky enough to happen along this gem near sunset and I was able to capture the red sky against the walls of the canyon. Spectacular!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Mining City

This is another photo of a gallows frame that is right amongst the neighborhoods of Butte, Montana. I wish I could travel back in time to see the mines in all their glory, when they were operating 24/7. To see the miners walking to work with their lunch pails in hand; to see the men climbing into the hoists to be lowered into the mine. To see Uptown Butte bustling and busy, and all the buildings full... and to experience the splendor of the Columbia Gardens. Yes, I think that if time travel were possible, I'd transport myself back into Butte, Montana, circa 1924. Where's my DeLorean?

I took this photo in June 2009 with my Nikon digital SLR.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Mile High and A Mile Deep

Butte, Montana started out as a mining camp in the 19th century. The Butte hill is speckled with head frames or "gallows frames" and they are often right in the middle of neighborhoods. This head frame is from the Mountain Consolidated Mine, more often known as the "Mountain Con" or "The Con". Since Butte is in the Summit Valley (on the Continental Divide), it is a mile high in elevation.

The Mountain Con mine frame was erected by the Anaconda Company in the early 1920s. By 1964, the shaft had been sunk to nearly 5,300 feet -- making it a mile high and a mile deep.

This photo was taken with my Nikon digital SLR back in June during my visit to Butte.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Illustration Friday: Flying

My dog, Milo, has a one-track mind. He loves to play fetch. He would fetch all day long if he could. I drew this picture while sitting on the banks of the South Fork of the Boise River, and while I was drawing the landscape, Milo kept dragging all manner of riverside debris over to me to throw, so he could retrieve it. An osprey flew overhead just as Milo was dragging a large stick (which some people may have considered a log) to my feet. Milo looked intently at the bird, and I could almost read his mind.

This drawing was done in my Moleskine with colored pencil and India ink. Text was added in Photoshop.

Road Trip to the Coast: Newport, Oregon

(Click the photo for a larger view)

Newport, Oregon is a fishing village that was founded in 1882. It sits on Yaquina Bay and is the home of Rogue Ales (a microbrewery), the Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head Lighthouses, the famous Yaquina Bay Bridge, and the totally awesome Oregon Coast Aquarium.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium was the home of Keiko, the orca used in the filming of the movie Free Willy. His tank has been converted into an exhibit called "Passages of the Deep" which has a clear tunnel that you can walk through, where you are surrounded by all manner of marine life, including sharks. I've visited it twice, and it's awesome.

We started out the day trying our hand at catching crab under the expert tutelage of my brother-in-law. I soon tired of that (mostly because it was quite chilly) and set off to have lunch with some other family at the Rogue Ale Distillery. We had amazing (and expensive) Kobe beef burgers and Dead Guy Ale. Yum.

Finally, we made it over to the famous Newport waterfront, where we visited seals, and perused the delightfully touristy shops, where you can buy anything from salt water taffy to shark teeth. All in all, it was a wonderful day.

Photos were taken with my Nikon digital SLR.

Road Trip to the Coast: Night Photography

Here are a few shots taken at night around our vacation house on the Oregon Coast. The first one is looking down from the patio to the porch below. I really like how the textures show up. The last two photos were taken from the front "yard" (basically the 30 feet between the front of the house and the beach cliff). All shots used a tripod with my timer, since I lost my remote on my trip to Montana earlier in the summer.

We had phenomenal weather for October on the coast. Normally it's rainy and a bit blustery this time of year, but we had sunny days in the 50s and clear nights. Back home in the desert, it rained. Now that's how vacation should go!

Stay tuned for some more shots of the coast, and then some shots of our trip to the South Fork of the Boise River.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Road Trip to the Coast: Playing on the Beach

Who doesn't love the beach? Our family trip to the Oregon Coast was classic... one evening everyone hiked ourselves down to the beach and enjoyed the sun, sand, and sea. I was the goofy one with the camera who had the privilege of capturing it all.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Road Trip to the Coast: Columbia River Windpower

If you love wind power, you will love driving through the Columbia River Gorge. There are hundreds and hundreds of windmills. Wind power is a rather controversial issue. A lot of people feel that the turbines are ugly, and that they interfere with the natural beauty of the areas in which they are placed. Walter Cronkite famously opposed the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, but later reversed his position and supported the wind farm. I happen to love seeing the giant turbines against the backdrop of nature. I think they are rather beautiful. Maybe it's because I'm an engineer... who knows? I just think it's great that we can capture a free resource like the wind and use it to make power. That in itself is quite beautiful.

These wind turbines are part of the White Creek wind farm, and I took this picture while traveling from Zillah, Washington to the Oregon Coast this past weekend. I love the colors (the light was just awesome for photographs this weekend).

Friday, October 2, 2009


At my nephew's house in Washington today... this morning provided the most phenomenal lighting for photographs... so I took some pictures of their cows. Last year we bought a 1/2 beef from them. Not sure I can this year, since the cows are so dang cute. Yeah, I'm a "city girl." From Montana. Ha.

Interesting bit of trivia... my nephew is only 1 year younger than me. My husband is the youngest in his family, and his brothers are much older. One of those funny family stories to tell!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Butte, Montana in the Summer: The Continental Divide Trail

The Continental Divide Trail runs 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico, along - you guessed it - the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. The Continental Divide happens to pass right through Butte, MT; and I have to say, I had never really heard anyone talk much about the trail when I was growing up there. After reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods (a great book - you should read it) about his adventures hiking the Appalachian Trail, I became more interested in the Continental Divide Trail (which is considered part of the Triple Crown of hiking, along with the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails). When I was in Butte this summer, we took a drive up into the Highland Mountains, and as we were coming back down, we crossed the trail and I snapped this picture. One day I'd love to hike at least the portion in Southwest Montana.

A really great book on the Continental Divide Trail as it passes through Idaho and Montana is Montana & Idaho's Continental Divide Trail: The Official Guide by Leland and Lynna Howard, who are brother and sister. Leland is a really great photographer and Lynna is a writer. At my previous job, I actually worked with their other brother, Gerry, and he is actually pictured on the cover of the book.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Took a trip back to my hometown of Butte, Montana in July and took this picture. I find it - oh, I don't know - ironic? That this building burned down right next to a fire and safety company? It was sad and funny all at the same time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coffee & Lipstick

Mmmm... morning coffee... can't start my day without it.

A fun shot I took the other day after I took my first sip... taken with my Nikon DSLR and using a piece of junk mail for some added reflective lighting in the foreground.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Warren Creek Dredge

Warren, Idaho is a small town located 50 miles outside of the popular vacation destination of McCall. Gold was discovered there in 1862, causing the settlement's population to expand to nearly 2000 people shortly thereafter. After a decline in mining initially, dredge operations were set up in the 1930s, which included this, the Warren Creek Dredge. Dredging was done all around Idaho, leaving large piles of rock around creeks and often negative environmental impacts. You can see some of these dredge piles in one of the sketches from my Moleskine that I posted a while back, here. Warren's current population is between 12 and 16 full-time residents. Many of the historic homes in the town are now used as vacation homes and cabins.

I did this drawing a few years ago on commission for a friend, who has a cabin in Warren (she and her husband own the dredge foreman's former home, I think). She had some old photographs of the dredging operation for me to work from. It was a lot of fun, and I thought I would share it with you here. I am thinking of making an edition of prints of this drawing for sale and I will post more information here when I do. Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fundamentals: Creativity

Creativity is a mysterious phenomenon. It is ethereal; it is fleeting. Since creativity is such an important part of my work as an artist, I thought it prudent to research the principles behind creativity so I could have more breakthroughs and less creative blocks. As I dove into my research in the past few weeks, I started to realize that the process of becoming intensely creative was analogous to the process athletes use to prepare for their game. Sure, football players scrimmage in order to prepare for their games, but they do so much more. They run drills, lift weights, practice the fundamentals of football. I realized that in order to create some really great stuff, I needed to practice the fundamentals of creativity - namely, I needed to make stuff for the sole purpose of, well, making stuff.

The creative fundamentals are outlined in great detail on The Accidental Creative, a website and blog founded by Todd Henry, who describes himself as "the arms dealer for the creative revolution." Henry preaches "unnecessary creating" in order to have enough resources to "create on demand," that is, to create for a living. Henry's podcasts and blog entries are incredibly articulate and insightful. I had always had a hunch about some of this stuff, and he was able to verbalize it and provide an in-depth analysis of it. One topic that I found to be a great relief was that you need be intentional about what you allow your mind to take in. "You create what you take in," Henry says in one of his podcasts, a reference to the old adage, "You are what you eat." He describes the importance of becoming very intentional about observing the world around you and drawing from everyday things and events for ideas.

In the last few weeks, I have been incredibly intentional as to what I have allowed in my mind... and have found not only that I have become much more creative in my "art life," but I've become a much happier person. For example:

I have both spiritual and creative devotional time.
Devotional time is critical for both a healthy spiritual life, and a healthy creative life. My church provides a daily devotional sheet that tracks along with each week's message, and I find that making time for these small spiritual nuggets to be incredibly satisfying to my soul. Along the same line, I recently purchased a book called Crafter's Devotional: 365 Days of Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Unlocking Your Creative Spirit by Barbara R. Call. This book has a small "devotional" to complete each day, and I have found that it has really stretched my creativity by encouraging me to try projects I never would have thought to try otherwise.

I have banished TV news from my home.
I don't watch the news on television because it makes me angry and depressed. I allow myself a cursory look at Google News in the afternoon so I can still be informed, but not overcome. Also, my husband keeps up on the news pretty regularly, so I can count on him to fill in the gaps in my knowledge. If there is something I want to know about, I am trained in research, so I research it, intentionally, on my own.

I watch my favorite movies.
When I watch these movies, I not only absorb the plot, but I also intentionally observe things like the cinematography and artistry of the film as well. Sometimes I even take notes while I'm watching so I can figure out exactly why this movie is a favorite. This has helped me to identify my own style and what inspires my artwork.

I watch cartoons.
Cartoons rock, and how can you not be in touch with (1) your inner child and (2) your creativity whilst watching cartoons, especially the old classics like Rocky & Bullwinkle, Wacky Races, and Looney Tunes? Boomerang is fast becoming my favorite channel.

I act silly.
Luckily I come from a long line of silly people. All I have to do is hang out with my extended family to tap into my inner silliness, but when I am not able to be around them (most of them live far away), I have taken to participating in childlike activities, like going up to the nearby elementary school and swinging on the swings, or playing a good old fashioned game of HORSE with my husband. I am thinking of buying some Lincoln Logs.

I listen to great music.
Which is pretty subjective, right? What am I listening to right now? Intergalactic by the Beastie Boys. Regardless of your taste, make a favorites playlist on your iPod and jam out. You'll feel more creative, I promise.

I am making my house pretty.
And really, really organized. My former life as a process engineer has been incredibly helpful here. The same principles I learned about Lean Manufacturing have translated directly to my home and the processes I perform around the house, like cleaning, cooking, etc. I spend less time looking for things, and more time doing fun things. My home is becoming a place of inspiration and a reflection of our personalities, which makes it a fun place to be.

I laugh. Hard.
Need I say more? Laughter really is the best medicine - and one of the best creativity performance enhancers around.

I make time for my friends.
I have a few really close friends who are just like my family. Spending time with them is good for my soul. Last week, I was fortunate enough to spend two days shopping, dining, laughing, and crafting with my best friend. We had a blast, and I spend the next two days pouring creative ideas out on paper. Coincidence? I think not.

I limit my exposure to negative people.
We all have those people in our life who take the wind out of our sails just by being around them. They might even be friends and otherwise great people, but they are constantly emitting negative energy. Maybe they complain, or even attempt to engage you in negative conversation about other people. Granted, sometimes these people truly need a friend to listen, or they are going though hard times, and I definitely make time to be a positive person in their life to help them out. However, I only do this when I am feeling emotionally strong. When I am feeling emotionally and creatively vulnerable, I make sure to take care of my own mind and spirit first - since spreading my own negative emotions does nothing to help the other person.

I write.
Journaling is not only incredibly therapeutic, it can also help to spark creative ideas. Each morning immediately upon rising, I write three pages of whatever is on my mind. Morning is the time of day when I feel most creative. I often wake up with a great idea for a project, or an interesting thought. If I don't write this down, these gems will evaporate quickly. Sometimes when I go back and read what I wrote, it makes no sense at all, which at least makes me laugh (see above), reminding me of that one episode of Seinfeld.

I work out.
Engaging in some form of physical activity each day not only fills my brain with endorphins, but increases my ability to focus for longer periods of time. I am much happier and more productive when I go for a run or lift weights. So the next time you don't feel like working out, remember the benefits of this activity span far beyond a great bod.

I eat right.
I have recently made the commitment to stay away from excessive amounts of sugar, because abrupt increases and decrease in blood sugar are not only dangerous to your health, but those spikes also pretty much annihilate the ability to think and solve problems. Eating with keeping a constant blood sugar level in mind will make you healthier and more productive, too.

I get some fresh air each day.
The photos from this post are from a few days ago, when I decided to go for a drive in the country and "document" it from the driver's seat. I randomly snapped photos without looking through the lens, and got some pretty interesting ones. I had fun, got some fresh fall air, and came home smiling.

Whether you are trying to be more creative for work, or you just want to feel better, the principles outlined above are sure to put you on the path to either. I would love to hear other peoples' ideas for embracing the fundamentals of creative growth, so be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts. And have a great week!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Tractor Pull" Poster

These are the very first posters I have hand printed using the screen printing process. I did the illustration by hand based on a tractor that we borrowed for our garden this spring. I laid out the poster with Adobe Illustrator, and also did the color separations with AI. I made a screen for each color, and printed the color poster twice, lining the images up from each screen... a two-color image. Also, the tractor pull event is entirely fake, I made it up and made it on Greg's birthday. He is 45 years old this year, so it is the "45th Annual."

Where I used to work, we used the screen printing process also -- except we used it to print solder paste onto printed circuit boards. I found it interesting that the types of problems we had with the screen printing process at the factory also translated to this process. Registration, snapoff, etc have to be just right to get a good print. It's a challenge, but overall, the process really intrigues me and I hope to have lots of new artwork to share with you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Garden Progress

Our garden is coming along really nicely. So far, we have corn, beans, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons, various types of squash and peppers, lettuce, cauliflower, chard, onions, carrots, radishes, and lots of flowers. This is my first attempt at a fully organic and sustainable garden. Currently it is 40 ft x 40 ft, but we have 1/3 of an acre available for planting. I'm hoping to eventually turn all of it into food production, including a small orchard. This "starter garden" is an experiment in companion planting and organic weed and pest control. Everything is coming along very nicely. I will be blogging about all of the different "experiments" we have going in detail in the future, so stay tuned! For now, here are a few photos from different angles.