Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mind Body Spirit Odyssey 2013 Holiday Gift Picks

The Holiday Season has arrived, and once again Diane Fergurson and Abby Horowitz have put together some of their favorite Mind Body Spirit related items that they have found online.  This is the 4th year that the Mind Body Spirit Odyssey has featured this list, and every year it's popularity continues to grow. Some of the products that are featured may be familiar to you because they were previously featured on the Mind Body Spirit Marketplace Facebook Page, which is updated with new items everyday.  Others are Diane and Abby's personal favorites.  Some of the products are handcrafted and available from independent shop owners, others are traditionally manufactured and sold through online retail sites.

For additional gift ideas, you might want to revisit the  2012 Gift Picks List, and even go back and look at the 2011 Holiday Gift Pick List, and 2010  selections.

There is lot to look at and enjoy!  You will definitely find something for everyone on your list - and even for yourself!

Hope your Holiday Season is a healthy and happy one.  Stay positive and thank you for following The Mind Body Spirit Marketplace Facebook Page, Twitter, and Pinterest page.  Also for supporting and following this blog.  
(Oh, and don't forget to tell your friends about us -  spread the word!)






  
Gift ideas from Abby :










Connie, the creator of Eco Chic Soaps says that OH! Christmas Tree Handmade Soap smells just like the forest did when you were a kid chopping down that Christmas tree with your folks - piney, brisk and fresh. It's a fantastic "woodsy" scent; the pine notes really come out in the soap, making it a "must have" for the Holiday Season! Her shop is filled with wonderful gifts for the season! 








This handmade wire wrapped necklace features three rough-cut clear quartz crystals ranging in size from 1.12 to 1.25 inches, accompanied by silver moon and sun charms on hanging chains.  The perfect gift for your favorite Christmas Angel!  ArianaSierz creates a wonderful array of talismans, necklaces, and earrings featuring angels, fairies, deities, day of the dead, crystals and minerals. Seventeen year old Ariana has late stage Lyme Disease and the money she earns from her shop helps with the cost of her treatments.









 

HeidiLane created this lovely Gratitude Candle to create a sacred space to celebrate the holiday season, meditate, pray or simply sit in silence as you thank your creator for the gift of love and life. She hand rolls each candle upon ordering and lightly anoints each sheet of pure beeswax with her own anointing and blessing oil. Each candle has 1 mini clear quartz crystal tucked in the base that has been set with the intention of Gratitude and Giving Thanks to our Creator. Each beautiful crystal has been charged under the Full Moon and basked in the rays of the Summer Sun. Her shop is filled with wonderful gifts!









Julia Pasichnyck makes colorful environmentallyfriendly baby toys. This braided toy of wooden beech and juniper beads and organic cotton thread is the perfect gift for the special little one in your life!  She says that this interesting accessory helps your child to see and distinguish colors and develop fine motor skills. This toy is made entirely from natural materials in the Carpathian Mountains!









Lauren Gray’s shop was born of her love of woodworking, crystals, and minerals. She offers Crystal and Mineral Curio Sets as well as art prints, sage, and beautiful examples of her woodworking.
The smoke of white sage has been used for centuries as a natural incense and for smudging purposes. It is a great way to cleanse your home, your work space and of course your crystals and minerals of negative energy.













Robert from Belfast, Northern Ireland creates these lovely hand made Dreamcatchers.  You can choose one from his shop or have one created especially for you. Choose your favorite colors for web, trim, beads & feathers. A great gift to keep those bad dreams at bay!












 
When I found KV’s shop, I knew it was very special.  She tells us that it is her soul's purpose to bring us tools that help us to stay grounded during these shifting times as we move into a new epoch. She has created several items that help us to remember who we really are so that we can take charge of our life and truly BE the master co-creator we are so that we can set our dreams into motion. She offers custom Birth Chart Books up to 80 pages!  I know I’ll be ordering several of these.  Check out her wonderful shop!









Are you or someone you know struggling with expressing their creativity? This is an amazing gift for anyone who has wanted to draw, paint, write, or compose music. The Artist’s Way helps you to find the artist within through a 12-week program that takes you on a journey of discovery.  The seeker will learn how to unlock their hidden creativity, break through blocks, and how to connect with the energies of the universe. 









Kat O'Sullivan’s sells the most amazing Sweater Coats and lucky for us she also offers instructions on how to create your own!  What a perfect gift for someone who loves to sew and has lots of old well loved sweaters just waiting to be given a new life!  Check out her shop and see for yourself!  A wildly colorful Sweater Coat just may be in your future or someone you gift with her wonderful Guide to Sweater Coats!















Oriana Rodman’s SantaFeOrnaments Shop on Etsy is filled with enchanting examples of her colorful artwork that is inspired by the diverse cultures of her beloved SantaFe. The ornaments feature sacred hearts, retablos, owls & hawks, milagros, birds & hawks.  Stop by her shop and get lost in her imagination!














~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~







Gift ideas from Diane








                                                                             



Silver and Earth creates a gorgeous line of earthy, organic jewelry which combines natural elements with natural gemstones, fossils, and exotic beads.  Featured is a stunning Red Jasper and Silver Pendant - one of may gorgeous pieces in their shop on Etsy.  #SilverandEarth is also one of the original sellers in the Mind Body Spirit Marketplace when it was located on 1000 Markets.  I love how their work has evolved over the last few years.  so lovely ~












When we spotlighted The Yoga Poster earlier this year in our Marketplace on FaceBook, it was easily one of our most popular features.  The poster is a visual guide to the practice of yoga...and I can't think of a nicer, affordable gift to give someone who is really into their practice.
#TheYogaPoster can be purchased on Etsy.










I originally purchased Stones of the New Consciousness by Robert Simmons at a gem and mineral show earlier this year, but was surprised when I found out the other day that my local New Age Shop also had numerous copies in stock.  This book is not a lightweight intro reading guide.  It is a thorough, in-depth guide to sixty-two of the most important stones for awakening and healing, while exploring the attunement relationship between man and mineral.  Definitely a good gift idea for anyone interested in expanding their knowledge base on gems, minerals, crystals and healing. 


Also - if you have not checked out our intro series, Gemstones of the Zodiac, here is a link that will get you there.









I know what you're thinking....
Really??
I had my doubts too, but honestly, this is probably one of the best cookbooks to be released recently containing recipes for healthy, natural, clean eating.  This book has become a go-to both in my household for sure, especially since it contains recipes that are both gluten-free and vegetarian (although there are plenty of meat and fish dishes too).  Everything our family has cooked from this book has been wonderful.  Doesn't get any better then that!
Good job Gweneth!
Available on Amazon.








This is one of cutest kids' toys I've seen in quite awhile.  My First Buddha is one of several great items in Dharma Crafts' Children's Collection which is available on their website.  A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of My First Buddha goes to Save the Children, the world's largest child protection organization.



















Lavender Cottage on Etsy is another former 1000 Markets shop that we had the pleasure to re-connect with earlier this year.  Sterling sliver artisan jewelry that is made by hand - the pieces reflecting love of the natural world around us.  Featured is their gorgeous Bee Ring, one of many stunning choices in this beautiful shop.
















Colorado photographer Julie Magers Soulen is known for her stunning shots of the natural world.  Putting these images on to cards however, has given them a whole different life.  This gorgeous butterfly card set astounds me every time I see it.  One of many beautiful card sets available through her shop on Etsy.  A lovely gift for someone special! 



















Another of our features which gained quite a bit of attention earlier this year, was the stunning, hand painted scarfs from Australian artist  #Shovava on Etsy.  A wonderfully unique gift that is definitely reasonably priced.  Many different wing and bird styles are available. Just gorgeous ~ 













Continuing forward with the winged theme...
Kino Lorber is releasing the DVD version of the very interesting and informative documentary More Than Honey in a few weeks.
It's available for pre-order from Amazon, or you can purchase it as a download.  The film profiles the current decimation of bees and beehives that is spreading globally.  50% to 90% of all local beehives have disappeared.  A very education and timely film...  Narrated by John Hurt.

In addition, last year as one of our Gift Picks, you may remember we featured a beautiful screen printed Bee Mandala Shirt by astrolaboratory on Etsy.  Part of the proceeds from that shirt go to the North American Pollinator Project.  Definitely worth checking out again ~












The Hermetic Tarot was originally released by US Games in 1979, and was brought back by popular demand.  I ran across the deck during my travels this summer, and was absolutely knocked over by the amazing black and white illustrations (by Godfrey Dowson) and also the powerful symbolism depicted.  This deck is a great addition to anyone's tarot deck collection.  Some people collect decks to use to use for divination, other people collect for the artwork.  Whichever you are interested in, this one is a must.  Very powerful deck ~  Available on Amazon.










~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Thank you to our blog contributors this year:

 




Galleira di Giani















Jude McConkey Photography
















Karen Casey-Smith




















Salt Springs Malas






















Adam Fergurson




















Darren Orr














Abby Horowitz Designs






















Diane Fergurson

















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Monday, December 2, 2013

Mind Body Spirit Book Review: The Dharma Feast Cookbook - Recipes For A Fresh Start



Dharma Feast Cookbook - Recipes For A Fresh Start
by Theresa Rogers and Tika Altemoller
Published by Kalindi Press 

Reviewed by Diane Fergurson


The Dharma Feast Cookbook - Recipes For a Fresh Start, is definitely the kind of cookbook that you are going to want to own because chances are you are going to find yourself using it all the time.  In fact, after briefly looking over the PDF for the book that I was sent for review earlier this year, I promptly placed an ordered to Amazon for a physical copy to keep in my kitchen. Clean, was the word that kept coming into my head. Clean flavors, healthy and fresh food.  Something we can all benefit from.


As you look through the book you will notice that the premise for the book draws off the best of the nutritional ideas put forth through traditional diet, vegetarian cooking, macrobiotics, and raw food cooking and acid/alkaline ph considerations.  There is a section of the book which offers a step by step guideline to help eliminate unhealthy eating habits.

This book is the perfect addition to anyone's cookbook collection, and it is especially a nice, affordable addition or gift for anyone who is vegetarian.  I was going to add this book to our Holiday Gift Picks list, but I've honestly enjoyed it so much I decided to give it a separate review.

Below is one of my standing favorites from the book...a great Tabouleh recipe using quinoa.
This is also perfect for the person, like me, who loves Tabouleh but is also gluten free.

enjoy!

~ diane

Link to the book on Amazon.


Quinoa Tabouleh

5 cups quinoa
10 cups water
1 bunch parsley, chopped very fine
1 red onion, chopped very fine
3 red bell peppers, chopped very fine
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cook quinoa.  Set aside.  It should be fluffy.  If it's mushy use less water next time.

Combine vegetables in bowl.  Mix lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.  Pour over vegetable mixture and stir.  Let sit 1 hour.

Mix marinated vegetables with cooled quinoa.  Add more olive oil and lemon juice to taste.




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Monday, November 18, 2013

The Artist Awakens

Dispersing New Flavor by Adam Fergurson
The artist knows, up to a point, what he or she wishes to express but also feels it, senses it - feels and senses it so strongly that something like awakening has occurred.  The ordinary self that entered the studio is still there, but there is someone else in there as well.

...The theme, the task at hand, is clear and unclear.  The mind may conceive it precisely or, on the contrary, feelings and the body in motion may have a sense of direction that the mind hardly knows.  The forces must come together to serve the theme:  the sheer energy and closeness to materials dwelling in the body, the sensitivity to small differences dwelling in the feelings, the organizational clarity and the critical capacity of the thought.

...Entering more deeply into the creative process, the artist begins to receive spontaneous gifts; signs and meanings suggest themselves "from nowhere" - forms previously unimagined, new themes or motifs that seem remarkably fertile.  The working faculties and the companion self have come to life, shedding seeds with abandon and generosity....A degree of spontaneous ability has made itself known, always a gift however one reaches for it.


  ~  Roger Lipsey, from the book
"An Artist's Book of Inspiration"
Compiled and Edited by Astrid Fitzgerald



Artwork courtesy of Adam Fergurson




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Monday, October 28, 2013

Angel Unaware

You’ve been an angel more times than you know.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.  ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

Close in Heart - Red Bleeding Hearts
Close in Heart
Let me explain why I call you an angel unaware, and why I believe that I get to be one now and then too.

Have you had someone call you just when you needed a friendly voice, had a stranger simply smile or say something kind when you’d had a hard day, or someone slow up to let you in front of them in traffic? Have you received an email that contained helpful information that you needed, a handwritten note, or caring message, that lifted you up? And then, perhaps it was you who made the call, or smiled, or sent the message.

I’m sure you can think of many kindnesses, and many ways they can arrive. Maybe you think of them as random acts of kindness, which is lovely, though I believe there’s more than that going on. It’s not random at all.

The reason I call you an angel is because one of the meanings of angel is divine messenger.
Informal angels are all around. Contact with them is always positive. Being this kind of angel is a casual position, on an as needed basis. Sometimes others are angels for us, and sometimes we get to be the angels; both are a gift, and a joy.

When you get to be the angel, you may not be consciously aware, especially at the time, that you’ve had this honor. You might notice on those occasions that you do find out how much what you did meant to another person, that it felt like you really did nothing extraordinary, in that it was effortless and done lightly, a spontaneous expression of the peace, joy, and love you were experiencing within.

When you’re feeling loved, you’re naturally loving, and in this state, you’re also in tune with the Divine. If you are the nearest tuned in person, to the one who needs the message, then you have the opportunity to deliver it. It’s that simple.

So tune in first, then heed those gentle promptings, make that call, say those kind words that just now came to mind, to your friend, or that someone you haven’t been introduced to. Being in tune with the Divine is a wonderful place to be anyway, and then too, you have the delightful privilege of being available to be an angel.

It’s a brilliant delivery system!
Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.  ~ Scottish saying
En Pointe - Pink Bleeding Hearts in the evening
En Pointe
Thank you, thank you, to all you angels. Never underestimate those seemingly small acts of kindness; they really do make a positive difference. Please appreciate yourself, just as much as you appreciate each angel in your own life. ♥

~ Karen Casey-Smith 




Thank you to Karen Casey-Smith for sharing this beautiful post with our blog.
Karen's lovely photography can be found in her shop on Etsy.




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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Healing With Gemstones - Getting to Know Aquamarine




Welcome to this month’s installment of Healing with Gemstones.  This month, we will take a look at the beautiful stone Aquamarine.

Aquamarine is an Astrological birthstone for Scorpio as well as the October birthstone in Arabic, Hebrew, Polish and Roman cultures.




Aquamarine Origin

Aquamarine takes its name from the Latin words “aqua” (water) and “marina” (of the sea).  It is from the beryl family (which included emeralds and morganite).  It ranges from a blue-green color to a pale blue.  The clear, almost colorless blue are the most sought after and valuable of the aquamarine stones.

Aquamarine stones are found in many places, such as Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Madagascar.  The most valuable aquamarine stones come from Brazil.




Aquamarine History

In Ancient Rome, an aquamarine was given as a gift from the groom to the bride the morning after the marriage was consummated.  It was  believed to absorb the energy of young love.  The Roman legend stated “When blessed and worn, it joins in love, and does great things.”  They would also carve a frog into the stone because they believed it would help reconcile relationships, and turn enemies into friends. 




Because its name was derived from the sea, it was often gifted to, and worn by, sailors, who believed it would help them traverse the deep waters safely.  Roman soldiers would also wear it in battle, as they believed it would make them invincible and bring them victory.

The Hebrew, Egyptian and Sumerian people all looked to the stone as a symbol of happiness and everlasting youth. 

In the late 14th Century, the stone was thought to be a good antidote to poison.  Since poisoning monarchs was a common practice in those days, many of them took to wearing aquamarine.  Unlike other times in the past, when the practice would be to crush and ingest a stone to get its full power, the belief was that just wearing this stone would be enough to protect you.



The Ancient Roman belief that the stone absorbed the energy of young love was carried through to the Middle Ages.  Married couples would gift the stone to each other to help them rekindle their earlier passions.

During this time, the stone was also used in crystal balls, as the clarity of the stone was thought to help with the clarity of vision.  Famous mystic John Dee used an aquamarine crystal ball to help Queen Elizabeth I look into the future and decide the perfect date for her coronation.  




A secondary divination method was used during this time as well.  A pointed stone would be suspended on a thread and held over a bowl of water, with the tip of the stone barely touching the water.  Inside the bowl, around the edge, there were letters of the alphabet.  Questions were asked, and, as the stone moved throughout the bowl from one letter to another, it would spell out the answers.  In that way, it acted as the ouija board of its time.

Ancient Healing Properties

According to ancient folklore, in addition to the beliefs already mentioned, aquamarine was also thought to assist in the treatment of yawning, belching, and in curing ailments to the stomach, liver, throat, jaws, and even toothaches.

Because its name is a connection to water and the sea, it was also used in rituals to either bring rain, or, for malevolent purposes, to help cause drought to your enemies.


As it was used often in divination, it is also thought to help people clear their perceptions and sharpen their intuition, as well as help them with their own clairvoyance.  This makes it a great stone for meditation.

Charging Your Aquamarine

If you are bringing an aquamarine crystal home for the first time, you will want to clean it of all the energy it had absorbed up to that point.  There are two ways to do this.  One would be to hold it under running water.  If there is a point on the stone, hold the point towards the running water.  Do this until you feel the energy change.  If you are unsure what that feels like, you can also soak it in sea salt for 24 hours, so that the salt has a chance to draw out the energy.



As it is a stone connected with the sea, you can also charge it by leaving it out in the rain for 6 hours, and let it heal and recharge naturally.

Once that is done, you should finish the charge by carrying or wearing the stone, so that it tunes to your personal energy.

Aquamarine Jewelry

Although it is not a stone that I use often, I do have a few pieces made with aquamarine. 

For lovers of bold, chunky pieces, I have this great piece made from faceted aquamarine rondelles and round amethyst:



Amethyst and Aquamarine Necklace

For those who love a cleaner, more delicate look, I also have a set made with aquamarine and cultured freshwater pearls:


Aquamarine and Pearl Set

I think you would agree with the philosopher Pliny, who was a fan of this stone.  He once said “The lovely aquamarine, which seems to have come from some mermaid’s treasure house, in the depths of a summer sea, has charms not to be denied.”

Cleanse and Purify Your Stones

For information on how to cleanse your stones, see this  article published recently here on Mind Body Spirit Odyssey.



Thank you Giani!





You can read Giani's Tarot reviews in the Review section of this blog.
This is the first article in this wonderful series, and I am definitely looking forward to reading more
 in the upcoming months!  I thank Giani
 for his wonderful continued contributions to Mind Body Spirit Odyssey. 


The beautiful jewelry pictured above can be found in Giani's website and on CraftStar.
                                                                                  
 ~ diane



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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mind Body Spirit Artist Interview - Amy Kirkpatrick


How did I discover artist Amy Kirkpatrick and her gorgeous watercolors?  
Butterflies.
I was looking for images of butterflies to showcase on the Mind Body Spirit Marketplace 
 daily feature.  
Little did know that those beautiful, beautiful butterflies would lead me to
 discover an artist who could offer so much more!  Enjoy!

                                                                                                     ~ diane fergurson


Spotted Wing Butterfly
MBS:   Tell us a little bit about your background.  How did you start making art?

Amy:  When I grew up in Florida, playing outside with friends until dinnertime was the norm.  And, when I wasn't playing with my friends, art was my pastime. I filled every coloring book I ever had and once when I asked my mother for a new one, she handed me a stack of paper and said, "Make your own." And, so it began...

I studied graphic design at Florida State University. I took a lot of painting and drawing courses but what's funny is that I never took a watercolor class. My first job after graduation was working for a check printing company in Atlanta designing checks and bank logos. It gave me an excellent foundation and I've always thought of it as getting my Master's degree, because perfection was required. I moved on into advertising and corporate marketing creating designs for many leading companies. Advertising and marketing are fast paced environments with never ending deadlines and one day, after years of 50 to 70 hours a week, I had nothing left. I burned out. Thanks to my husband, I was able to quit working for awhile. My sister, who was an accomplished watercolor artist, immediately suggested I take up watercoloring, but I didn't right away. She kept after me until finally, in 1996, I signed up for a community class at a local college on beginning watercolor.

The first day of class, we painted a simple flower and were taught the technique of painting wet-on-wet. When my paint filled brush burst into the wet watercolor paper,… well, there's nothing like it … only a watercolor painter can understand. It was like magic to me and I've been hooked ever since. I put a #1 in pencil on the back of that first painting and my latest painting has #465 written on it's back.

 
The Journey Begins
MBS:  Having dabbled in watercolors as a mixed media artist, I definitely understand what you are talking about.  But what is it in that one moment of spontaneity that you think keeps you coming back and back?

Amy:  Every painting is spontaneous. I may have a clear image in my head of what I want, and if I was painting with an opaque media, I could achieve that image. But with watercolors, I can't be sure what I'm going to get and I am always surprised. I can paint an area and then barely touch a new color into that area and have it completely explode into a brilliant starburst only to have it fade to pastel when it dries. I would call it interactive painting because it's a bit like playing a game. I make a play, then the paint makes a play, and then I react either with joy or a scream. I never know which. 

When I first started painting the fear of the paint reaction was very scary to me. I'd have a beautiful painting and would be afraid to ruin it. My teacher used to say, "It's just paper. Paint!" I'd get pretty worked up and have to take deep breaths and walk around the room. I would want to fix every blossom and every splatter, but now I realize, those can be what take a painting from ordinary to WOW! Happy mistakes. Coming from my graphic design everything-has-to-be-perfect background, it's quite a challenge for me to let go and let the paint do it's thing. 

And of course, I can always change it up by changing the paper, going from cold press to hot press to Yupo. Even the same brand of 300# paper reacts differently than the 140#. 


MBS:  Your work reflects many different facets of the natural world around us, particularly animals and insects.  What draws you into nature so much as a subject matter?


Amy: I mostly paint what I feel a connection to, but I also paint a lot of requested subjects. If I can paint what I like I feel it will magically appear on the paper. Of course, good drawing skills and a clean palette make all the difference. I enjoy painting animals because feathers and fur are spontaneous. I try to simply capture the essence of the feathers or fur and leave the detail to the face, and I love painting eyes. Well painted eyes give the animal life. 

As for all my butterflies, I painted these in response to a request by the
wonderful people at Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. The first butterfly I ever painted, I sold on eBay the first hour I listed it, so I tried a second. BHG was doing a kitchen makeover, saw the second butterfly and chose it as the theme. They asked me to paint two more and while painting, I started my challenge of painting 100 butterflies in 100 days. I eventually ended up with 104 butterflies. I have recently completed a series of dragonflies and a series of sea shells, but again these were requests for licensing. 
You might be surprised that I really enjoy abstract painting. I haven't had much time lately to do them with all my requests, but I have a bunch. You can see a few here . My abstract paintings are never planned. I start with a pencil sketch and just go for it to see what happens. I have also filled several books with zentangle gel pen drawings that I love but I don't know what to do with them, yet. I keep my current book handy while watching TV.

MBS:  It sounds like you are able to somewhat balance the whole commission work vs "my" work dilemma that many artists struggle with.  I know some people say..."oh it must be nice to get to that point", but it really can be an issue.  Especially if the artist feels their creativity is becoming compromised.  What are your thoughts on this and how do you handle that balance?


Amy:  Funny you ask that. I seriously love painting dogs and I did a big local campaign trying to get pet portrait commissions, but it just didn't happen. No one called. Not one request that wasn't a friend, so I sadly let that idea go.
Beagle Thoughts
I don't get many commission requests from individuals, but when I do, I weigh it. Are they willing to pay me, do I have the time, is it something I can do, and I listen to my gut. Yesterday, I was asked to design a half-sleeve tattoo using one of my butterflies. I think tattoo design is a specialty and there are so many artists better suited for that, so I declined. However, if a company had come to me and asked me to design a series of tattoos for licensing, I would learn everything I could about tattoo design and do it. My art moved from being a hobby to a business with a clear, conscious decision I made. 

Several years ago, I got asked to illustrate every article of clothing in a clothing catalog. It was a huge project and I really wasn't sure I could do it. Before accepting the job, I asked them if I could take one home and give it a try, run it by them, and let's go from there. Of course, this was at my own expense. It turned out very well and created a lasting relationship. I ended up illustrating several catalogs as well as doing the graphic design layouts. Had I said no because it would compromise the integrity of my art, well, why not just go hit myself in the head with a frying pan... I'd have lost a lot of money!

All artists need to answer this question, are you creating art for yourself or to make a money? There are millions of artists and everyone I meet tells me, their aunt, uncle, brother and sister is an artist, so logic tells me, not everyone can be the next big thing in NYC.


Perched White Lady Butterfly
MBS:  Not everyone can be, but not everyone wants to be either.  And that's hard for some to even imagine!  lol  What materials do you use when creating your artwork?  Tell us a little bit about your process. 


Amy: I use fine art watercolors and high end watercolor papers such as Arches, Saunders Waterford, and Fabriano. I mostly use cold press but lately I've been painting on hot press paper which is smooth. I use watercolor pencils sometimes, too.

I mostly paint from photographs that I have taken, but I don't necessarily stay true to the photograph. For example, my peacock painting, "Hey, Good Lookin'" didn't have a a reflection in my photograph. I didn't do a pre-drawing but loosely sketched the bird directly onto the watercolor paper. I thought I had finished it but after walking by it for over a week on my shelf, I felt it needed something else, so, I added the reflection. 

Usually, I start by sketching a basic outline on drawing paper, then trace my drawing onto tracing paper and tighten it up. I don't draw every detail. Then I transfer it onto the watercolor paper over a light table. If it's a big painting, I'll tape it to a window to use that as my light table. Sometimes, I will use a grid system to do my drawing, especially if I am painting a face or have a lot going on in the picture. I try to limit my palette to five or six colors and pick them ahead of time. I usually paint the main subject first and then decide the background later. 

When I am painting abstracts, my process is different. I start with a loose, unplanned sketch directly on the watercolor paper. I usually choose just three colors but sometimes more and I just go for it without thinking too hard about it. I might add some collage and do some raised outlines with fabric or porcelain paint.

Bee Eater
MBS:  Do you work on more then one piece at a time?  In a series?  What are you currently working on?

Amy:  I usually work on more than one painting at a time, and I have several that I may never finish. I never throw out a painting, no matter how bad, because I think I might fix it, even it means putting a coat of gold gesso over it and or using the back. I even save all the little scraps of watercolor paper to do my color testings on. 

I do work in series but not everything I paint has a mate. I completed a series of 6 flamingos earlier this summer. Most recently, I've completed a series of dragonflies, a seashell series, and am currently working on a hummingbird series. Except for the flamingos, I haven't released these paintings for public viewing, because I still need to do the watermarking which is time-consuming. I will get to it soon. 

MBS:  What is a typical work day like for you?

Amy:  Get up, have breakfast, and make a daily to-do list while I have my coffee. I then go into my studio where I treat my art business like a full time job. I start by checking emails. If I made a sale, getting that out the door is top priority. Then I start checking off my list. I prefer to paint in the morning, and then do my computer work in the afternoon. Computer work may consist of updating my Etsy store, my website, or scanning art and color correcting it for prints. I usually work until 5 or 6pm, but I usually check my email again before I go to bed. I don't paint everyday although lately I have been. I've been under a deadline for an art submission, and I am actually looking forward to a break so I can clean my house.



The Tiger

MBS:  I see that you sell your work online.  What has your online/social networking experience been like in regards to your artwork and career?


Amy: Selling online has been a double-edge sword. The positive is that I've gotten noticed. I'm still fairly new at marketing my art. However, the possibilities for financial growth as a watercolor artist are very encouraging and being online has boosted my career tremendously. It's gotten me noticed by art buyers for licensing. Just this year, I have had approximately 50 paintings licensed and that wouldn't have happened without having my art online.

The negative aspect has been the copycats. When I got the idea to paint 100 butterflies in 100 days, I googled painted butterflies and saw absolutely nothing like mine. I spent a lot of time researching Etsy and other art sites and again, saw nothing similar. I felt I was onto something fresh and apparently, so did a few other artists. You might say "copying is a form of flattery" but in selling art, it feels like theft. 

Being able to connect with people on a global scale has been a heartwarming experience. I've sent art orders to Viet Nam, England, Australia, etc. and it's always a thrill. I occasionally get fan email from far away places and have made friends with artists I may never be able to meet in person. I love how I can email an artist on Etsy and tell them "great job!" I set up a Facebook page when I first started marketing my watercolors and plan to take advantage of other sites. I see where others have pinned my art on Pinterest and that always feels like a nice pat on the back.

Without the online experience, I'm sure my watercolor art would still just be a hobby, shared with friends and an occasional friend of a friend. 

Fly

MBS:  Where would you like to take your artwork from here, either creatively or from a business standpoint?

Amy: Creatively, I have so many ideas in my head and I just need the time to do them.

From a business standpoint, I want to get more licensing contracts in the works. I am a near-guru level Adobe software user and have designed a lot of overall patterns using my art that would look great on fabric, wrapping paper and gift bags. I want to see my art on all kinds of porcelain and paper products. My dream is to follow the licensing paths set by Laurel Burch and Thomas Kinkaid

MBS:  What advice do you have for those who wish to (seriously) peruse an artistic path? 
Peruse or pursue? I'll assume you meant pursue. 

Amy: My advice would be to marry well! Kidding aside, the best advice I can give is to know what kind of artist you want to be and know where you want your art to go from an art business perspective. Do you want to teach, work professionally, license your art, or just enjoy creating and enter a show now and then. Bottom line, it all comes down to how much time and effort you want to put into it. 

There's a lot more to making a living at art than just creating the art you enjoy. Every self-employed artist needs to know how to survive the feast or famine lifestyle. Save your money during prosperous times for those times that it seems like you'll never make another sale. Feed your Roth IRA before you buy new clothes. You'll need computer skills and to know how to negotiate. Understand that if you are a self-employed artist, your fees have to cover your supplies, computers, websites, promotions, health insurance, self-employment taxes, social security as well as pay your salary.  If art is your business, treat it like a business. Set goals and whatever art path you choose, strive to be the best you can be.


Thank you Amy!  For more information about Amy Kirkpatrick and her beautiful artwork,
you can visit the following sites -
Links to other interviews in the Mind Body Spirit Artist Series.

         

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