Still-Life Painting and Stress-Relief

My grandma’s silver champagne bucket; this was a homework assignment. Still kicking myself for not getting an actual bottle of champagne. I would’ve enjoyed sharing it with Grandma.

My grandma’s silver champagne bucket; this was a homework assignment. Still kicking myself for not getting an actual bottle of champagne. I would’ve enjoyed sharing it with Grandma.

When I was in college, even though I was majoring in animation (yeah, that changed), a still-life painting class was a required course in my first year. It met once a week for six hours and before it even started, I dreaded it. I loved painting landscapes, but I’d never painted a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers. The idea seemed daunting to my twenty-something self and I had zero interest in a subject matter that I considered boring.

Little did I know that still-life painting class would turn out to be one of my favorite classes ever. Not only did I learn more about what makes good composition and how to use light and color in different ways, but I also learned how to paint reflective surfaces, how to paint transparent glass, how to paint folds in fabric, and how to really handle oil paints (I’d only ever painted with acrylics). But mostly, it was just a fun class. We’d crank up some music (usually Pink Floyd or Bjork) and just paint. That class became a source of stress-relief when other classes, a long commute, and work had me frazzled and feeling overwhelmed.

My second or third attempt at painting wine glasses. I loved how they turned out but didn’t love the pink fabric. I’m pretty sure this painting is sitting in a box somewhere in my house.

My second or third attempt at painting wine glasses. I loved how they turned out but didn’t love the pink fabric. I’m pretty sure this painting is sitting in a box somewhere in my house.

A couple of canvases went to my grandma (whom I lived with when finishing college and would often call dibs on canvases before I was even finished with them), one painting of fruit and a silver kettle went to my future-mother-in-law (I should take a photo of it), and I even managed to sell two 5x7 canvases from my job at a picture framing store.

One of the 5x7 paintings I actually sold, eggplant, Bosch pear, and grapes in an extravagant frame. Sometimes it was fun to get to play with scrap pieces of moulding.

One of the 5x7 paintings I actually sold, eggplant, Bosch pear, and grapes in an extravagant frame. Sometimes it was fun to get to play with scrap pieces of moulding.

The other little canvas I sold, this one was my favorite with the little silver pitcher and pomegranate. I’m a little sad I don’t have them anymore, or at least have a higher quality photo, but I needed the money at the time.

The other little canvas I sold, this one was my favorite with the little silver pitcher and pomegranate. I’m a little sad I don’t have them anymore, or at least have a higher quality photo, but I needed the money at the time.

Quite a few canvases were garbage too and I will eventually paint over them, or let my son paint over them. But this painting was my favorite with the copper kettle and brass bowl. It currently sits on my dresser and though I don’t love the frame, looking at it brings me back to that still-life class and the peace it brought me each week.

IMG_4138.JPG

It’s been probably fifteen years since I painted with oils and the idea of starting up again with small children just seemed daunting. My 3rd grader has recently shown some interest, so I ordered some student-grade oil paints. Thankfully, I have a few unfinished canvases that we can doodle on and we’ll see what sparks us to put on canvas.

Cecile & Francis

Cecile and I have been friends for just over 20 years. She grew up in southern France and we met when she stayed with my family through an exchange student program when we were teenagers. The following year, my brother and I saved our summer job money and spent a couple of weeks exploring France with her family hosting us. It happened to be the same summer that France was hosting the World Cup and while we didn't have the funds to attend any games, we got to watch from bars and public venues as France made their way through the quarter and semifinals and eventually won the World Cup. It was an amazing trip, and one I still have very fond memories of. 

Cecile went on to attend college in the United States and fell in love with Francis; an expat from Uganda. They settled in Minneapolis with their kids and this past summer, I was honored to work with both of them on the printed items for their long-awaited wedding. 

IMG_7348.jpg

Their wedding invitation paid homage to their backgrounds with a world map marking Uganda, France, and their home in Minnesota using their wedding colors in teal, navy blue, coral, and copper. I absolutely LOVE how this turned out.

IMG_0328_s.jpg
IMG_0327_s.jpg

They went with Panel Pockets from Cards and Pockets in Imperial Blue with matching envelopes. These are an awesome solution for wedding inserts if you don't want the pomp and circumstance of a traditional pocketfold. The 5x7 panel simply has a pocket on the back for any inserts.

IMG_0334_s.jpg

The two inserts included R.S.V.P. information along with maps and directions to each of the two venues.

IMG_0330_s.jpg

A fun detail that I have been doing more and more for clients is a custom return address stamp. I created what we later named their "family logo" and had it made into a 2" rubber stamp with Hello World Stamps.

Don't stress, the magic of Photoshop allowed me to change their home address.

Don't stress, the magic of Photoshop allowed me to change their home address.

Kelly with Hello World Stamps is amazing to work with and HIGHLY recommended. Cecile went so far as to emboss the stamps for all 200 envelopes that were mailed out. They look wonderful with the metallic copper finish!

My oldest son and I had the privilege of attending Cecile and Francis' wedding this past August. My son is eight and had never attended a Catholic wedding ceremony before. He was confused about why we kept standing up and sitting down, and why he couldn't use the rail for kneeling as a foot rest. But he made it through and had fun dancing with new friends he made at the reception, including Cecile's oldest son.

When guests arrived to the reception there was a red carpet and this step and repeat backdrop that Francis had printed with their "logo" and their wedding hashtag. It was so fun to take photos!

20690017_10155564539549725_3924888218482592816_o.jpg

Cecile sent me a few photos from their wedding photographer: 

For wedding favors, Cecile was originally planning to use traditional Ugandan kikoy fabric and sew it into small bags to hold Jordan almonds. But the fabric connection fell through. Then I suggested we create our own kikoy print and have fabric custom printed. She sent me a few photos of different kikoy stripes and I created one that used their wedding colors. Cecile ordered the fabric from SpoonFlower and it tuned out really beautiful! 

Studio220_2017_0484.jpg

In this process, I also learned that Jordan almonds are originally from France! I will try and find my favor and take a closeup photo.

There were also a handful of Reserved signs for family.

Studio220_2017_0650.jpg

These little signs were scattered throughout the reception too, reminding guests to share photos with their wedding hashtag. 

Studio220_2017_0479.jpg

They printed this giant map in lieu of a traditional guest book. Everyone was encouraged to sign with well wishes and love. It will look wonderful in their home with messages from their guests!

Studio220_2017_0480.jpg

Finally, a few weeks after the big day, we created this thank you card that they sent out to guests.

IMG_3733.jpg
IMG_3734.jpg

We continued the travel theme with the map and turned it into a mock postcard with two of their wedding photos. I really love how this turned out. The back was left with empty space so they could handwrite a thank you message.

IMG_3731.jpg

Cecile and Francis, thank you so much for thinking of me when it was time to create beautiful printed items for your wedding. It was truly an honor to get to play a tiny part in your big day and to actually be there too was just the icing on the cake! Congratulations and I wish you many, many years of joy. XOXO!