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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Watercolor & Marsh Adventure

Anne Frank ~ The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.

The quote above is a favorite and it makes me wish for warmer weather and more time to spend outside on the nature trail. Within the last few months, my friend Hannah and I have had plenty of fun on the nature trail, rain or shine, 20 mile treks, you name it. Our last outdoor adventure was in September. On this particular outing, we packed up our watercolor gear and biked along the trail to find just the perfect spot to spend the afternoon.

Since I live right near the trail, I've been able to venture out more often than Hannah. On some of my solo rides, I kept my eyes open for a spot for us to watercolor. There were a couple of spots I had in mind before our watercolor ride. At one spot along the trail there is an open path that leads to a large field of wild vegetation. I thought we could park our bikes in the open path so they wouldn't block the actual nature trail.

open path around field

This was the path that led us to our destination.

Upon arriving to this spot, we rode our bikes along the open path closer to the open field. Along the edges of the field it was more or less cleared out. We decided to walk along the edges of the field as we looked for a prime spot. As we walked we continued around the corner edge of the field still not satisfied with a spot to watercolor. Thus, we kept on going leaving our bikes in the distance. This was all unchartered territory and it was fun to discover new places. Awhile after turning the field's corner, we noticed some water between the tall grasses and plants to our left. Then I vaguely spotted an Egret sitting in the water. As the vegetation thinned and we could see the pond more clearly, our new Egret friend started to fly away.

Hannah taking photos by the marsh

We were thrilled to find this peaceful sanctuary to set up our watercolor workshop. We got our blanket and set up shop for an afternoon of watercoloring and snooping around the marshy area to take photographs. And of course, I brought along one of our favorite snacks to eat, dried apricots.

Hannah watercoloring

Hannah watercoloring her masterpiece

We saw flowers, cattails, frogs, dragonflies and more while venturing around the marsh taking photos of anything that caught our interest. At one point, our Egret friend was flying over head nearly landing in the pond once again, but then abrupty changed his mind. Some ducks visited the pond and when they flew out of the pond, we could hear and feel their wings thrust against the air. Our time spent there was simply wonderful.

me watercoloring

Me watercoloring at the marsh

Please take a look at some of what we saw during our "marsh-safari" and see the watercolors that each of us created while there.

Queen Anne's lace

Some Queen Anne's Lace, so delicate and pretty!

dried out plant

Possibly a dried out Queen Anne's Lace?

purple daisies

Tiny purple daisies!

me observing

Oh look, what did I find? Um... I can't remember.

a gentle feather

One of our feathered friends left a piece of them with us.

marsh view

Our marshy view, isn't it nice?

the watercolorists

The "watercolorists" with their works of art.

Hannah's watercolor

Hannah's watercolor from our marsh visit.

my watercolor

My watercolor from our marsh visit.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Artisan Co-op in Janesville!

Grand Opening at Co-op

My sister, Sue & I in front of co-op on Grand Opening Day

Last month my sister, Sue and I joined an Artisan Co-op in Janesville, WI. My sister designs beaded jewelry pieces and I make a variety of items from pins to sculptures. Sandra, the co-op owner found me via my Etsy store and asked if I'd be interested in joining her Art Co-op. As a matter of coincidence, my sister was with me when I met with Sandra. As I was talking to Sandra she said that she was looking for jewelry to sell at the co-op. I went to tell my sis to see if she wanted to talk to Sandra about joining. How's that for being at the right place at the right time?

inside of co-op

The location of the co-op is a bit of a drive for both of us, but one good thing about the location is that it's about halfway for us to see each other. My sis lives three hours away from me, but the co-op is approximately an hour and a half away for each of us. Thank goodness we are able to work together on our co-op work days. One requirement for joining the co-op is working one day per month at the co-op.

artisan co-op

Last week my sister and I decided to work two days in a row and stay overnight at a hotel in Janesville. We had a fun time on our mini time away. Last week was our 3rd and 4th days of working at the co-op. During our first three days of working there, we had no sales. Thankfully, on our fourth day, last Friday, we had four sales. We were so excited to finally work a day and have someone buy something.

Artisan Co-op

One purchase from Friday was of a painting from a co-op member, Pam, who we have become to know since she works in the same building as the co-op. Each day she works, she stops in to say hi. And on Friday just after stopping in and telling us she still has not sold anything, my sister sold one of her paintings. We were so happy for Pam. After awhile I decided to try to find Pam's office on one of the floors above the co-op. I found her office and told her the good news. She was so happy. She gave me a hug and wanted to do a happy dance. The painting that she sold was one that her husband told her would never sell and Pam told him that it would be the first painting she would sell. And it was!

Artisan co-op

After our second day of working at the co-op, my sister and I were trying to think of some ideas to try to promote the co-op. One idea was to print postcards to hand out to people in the offices above the co-op. We had some postcards printed and last week on Thursday, we went to deliver them to the offices after we were done working.

my sis at beading table

My sister Sue at her beading table at co-op

Then on Friday, we had more customer traffic in the co-op. My sis was convinced that our postcards helped bring some of the traffic in. On Friday afternoon, I dropped of some postcards at a local cafe across the street from the co-op. The food in the cafe looks delicious. Next time I work at the co-op I want to buy some food from the cafe. I also stopped at, Carousel Consignment, a nice antique shop with so much to see, and dropped off a rack card for them to hang at the counter of the store.

jewelry display

While at the hotel, I helped my sister name her jewelry pieces. I try to encourage my sis to name her jewerly with unique names, instead of naming it "magenta & black beaded necklace", I recommend something like "magnificent magenta." On Thursday while at the co-op I was having a dry spell trying to think of names for her, but later at the hotel the names were coming more easily. I joked telling my sis that it must've been because I needed to eat some chocolate to get the ideas going again. :-)

my pins and magnets at co-op

My pins (shown on left) & my magnets (shown on right) at co-op

my turtle sculpture

My turtle sculpture at co-op