Where the Light Gets In

I sit here on our back deck marveling at the sunrise. Light creeps into the neighborhood like fingers finding their way through the maze of cars, bushes, mailboxes, trees and houses. Patches of light cover yards and streets like picnic blankets. Golden shafts blaze down and through shrubbery like kids playing tag or hide and seek. Only they would certainly be found by friends if they glowed as the morning sun does here in my back yard.

Already, our yard is showing the signs of high summer – the variety of spring greens have settled into their darker more homogenous hues. A few brown patches where summer heat is sapping the life, are beginning to show here and there.

Yet I am dazzled by this trio of bushes – two red tips and a butterly bush. Right down at the base of these bushes lies the most gorgeous colors. Golden fingers illumine a near-black green dancing beside the pink and burgundy of pine straw. Turquoise, sap green, yellow green is interrupted by these shafts of pure gold. I feel dizzy gazing at this gift of a moment, as if I’ve drunk too much wine. Yet my head and heart are clear as a bell. God is here, reaching out to me in this quiet space of morning light.

I am needing this desperately. Time to drink in the wine of God’s beauty and love for me. I feel that I’ve been living and making art for a long time somewhat disconnected from this quiet center where I can just be. I’ve been making, and stitching, and painting without getting still and quiet enough to connect to where it all comes from. No wonder I’ve been feeling stretched thin like the frantic making is a bit dry and perhaps singed around the edges, even if it all appears lovely to others. I’m weary of just cranking it out. I want this – shafts of light to burst in and through the shrubbery of my heart, igniting and illuminating all within.

Yes. This is what I need today and everyday. Rise, O Son, in the yard of my heart. Spread blankets of love for child-like play. Embolden the dry colors that have sat too long without Your golden fingers touching and illuminating. May I sit in stillness long in this summer yard where the Light gets in.

Kork Nisses Discovered and Designed

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Every now and then I discover something that sparks a flurry of creativity. Perhaps “flurry” isn’t the word…more like a snowstorm! Over the Thanksgiving holiday I found these little cuties and rushed to click on the Free Pattern links.

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But when I did, there was no pattern to be found. Not even the website. For some reason, the pattern for knitting a Nisse had been removed and I could only find a paragraph written in Norwegian, which sadly I could not decipher.

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OK…so let’s try for a crochet version. Yes! A crochet pattern here indeed! But I wanted some changes…a slightly different single crochet fabric as well as a different shaped hat. So off I went in creating both a knitted pattern and a crocheted version of my very own!! I think my family thought I had fallen down a rabbit hole.

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Indeed it felt very much like being transported to another world. I eagerly looked up the definition of Nisse and this is what I found:

A tomte, nisse or tomtenisse (Sweden) (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈtɔ̀mːtɛ]), nisse (Norway and Denmark) (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈnìsːɛ] or Danish pronunciation: [ˈnesə], Danish plural nisser) or tonttu (Finland) is a mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore today typically associated with the winter solstice and the Christmas season. It is generally described as being no taller than three feet, having a long white beard, and wearing a conical or knit cap in red or some other bright color.

They often have an appearance somewhat similar to that of a garden gnome.[1]

–Wikipedia

How delightful! These would be the perfect mystery make for my knit & crochet students when we resumed classes after the holidays. And yes…they have enjoyed them immensely and now I can share the love with you all!

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Feel free to download either the Kork Nisse Knit pattern OR the Kork Nisse Crochet pattern. Or if you are multi-stitchual, grab both!

And I hope you enjoy the fun of making your own little village of Nisses! Share them on Ravelry if you can! I’d LOVE to see them!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

InkTober UnderWay

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#InkTober is proving to be such fun for me! I saw that it was coming up a few days before October began from Liz Steele’s Instagram feed. I thought it would be a great opportunity to just play with ink of all kinds…pens, washes, even a splash of color if I wanted to. I got a head start on things, warming up as it were, getting set with some of my favorite tools for drawing.

I try to show in the photo of each drawing, what I have used to make it. Thus far my go-to is a Faber Castell Brush Pen, an Artist’s Loft .05 Fine Liner Pen, a black watercolor crayon and a water brush. The crayon is only used as ink, activated by swiping the water brush on the tip before applying to the page. Really totally fun!!

I am keeping open to the possibility of color, as October should begin to show some color around our area soon. But thus far, I am so loving the black of ink on white paper. Love, love, LOVE it!!

Every now and then I’m posting some thoughts over on A Pilgrim’s Draw. Do follow along there as well as Instagram for my inky journey through October.

And seriously…you should join in, if you haven’t already!! Jake Parker, the initiator of #InkTober says you can do the marathon (all 31 days), the half-marathon (every other day) or any combo you like. He even offers prompts to guide you should you wish to do that.

I just like the simplicity of one (or more:) drawings a day in ink. Just ink. 🙂

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

P.S. If you haven’t heard of Liz Steele, you should check out her website and classes she offers! She is a true powerhouse for watercolor sketching as well as perspective in drawing architecture!

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice!

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“Three little pumpkins sitting on a rail…”

Well, that’s as far as my rhyming mind will take me today. I had thoughts of:

“One said, ‘Hey, won’t you go my bail?”

no, no, that won’t do! Or:

“One said, Hey, better check your e-mail!”

ugh. Not good.

So I’m just gonna leave it alone and offer you this FREE pattern to make a patch of pumpkins!

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You’ll need:

Chunky to Bulky weight yarn or several strands of yarn held together to create this bulk.

A Size J hook.

Some DK weight cotton and a size G hook.

Cinnamon Sticks and Stuffing.

That’s it!

Oh, and of course….my pattern! 

My students have been having fun with this, sending me pics of their  little pumpkins. Perhaps I’ll ask permission to share their photos with you. One gal added a leaf in with the Curly Cew! So fun!

So Click Here to download the PDF.

Or Click Here to access this pattern and all the other FREE patterns I offer.

Have a wonderful Fall day filled with Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

Placemat Pattern for YOU!

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Some years ago, my mom gave me a couple of white cotton placemats that my Grandma Bowen had crocheted. She was an avid maker (artist, knitter, crocheter, embroiderer), as is my mom, and now me, and well… my girls are makers too!! It’s lovely to have a heritage of creativity, art and making!

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So for some time now I’ve wanted to figure out how Grandma made these placemats. Since I only have two of them, they are used as centerpiece “doilies” (you can see the white one under the wooden pedestal in my photos) and I’ve often wanted to have a set of them to use under plates.

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I’ve worked it out now in pattern form to share with you! It’s FREE for you to print off and enjoy! Do let others know about it if you like this pattern, but please give credit where it is due! I changed the edging a bit since I love the fan stitch and added the picots in keeping with Grandma’s version.

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I’m now working on a set of them in multiple colors! I have the Fiesta dishware so I thought it would be fun to crochet different colored placemats to mix and match with the plates. I can still use just one if I like for centerpiece decoration.

I hope you enjoy making a set of these for yourself or for a gift. They work up quite easily, round and round you go.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend!

Jennifer 

P.S. You might enjoy these other Free Patterns as well, or browse the ones for purchase Here!

My Trellis

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There’s been lots of livin’ and therefore lots of drawin’!!

Somehow I thought life would slow down after the wedding, but since it hasn’t, filled to the brim with all good things, I’ve taken to drawing to slow down the moments a bit, to lean into all the goodness jam-packed into my days and weeks.

Even before my birthday last week, I had been drawing, drawing, drawing. Not even stopping long enough to Instagram them all!! Lately it feels as if I cannot get enough of it. Like there isn’t enough paper to catch all the lines and wrangle them into memories. Yet with each drawing, I can sense the haphazard jaunts of living being groomed into something more steady, upright, and ordered. Or at least somewhat ordered.

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Drawing is a trellis for me. Laying down line after line, offers a solid trellis for the color and textures. Scaffolding is another good word for it…a solid form upon which to hang all manner of splashed-on, riotous color. Without a trellis, the vine just takes over. With a trellis, there’s peace, order, structure. I like structure.

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Even without any color added. Just lines. Lots of lines. Line as the ultimate abstraction. I love them. Yes I do. I’m putting lines down every day. Must. Draw. I’m nearly half way finished in a brand new sketchbook I just recently purchased. Fun. Good medicine.

I’ll share more of them soon! In the meantime, I hope you are able to set down a trellis or two in your own sketchbook! Keep ’em flowing…hang onto them…cling to the trellis and you’ll grow a bit more every time.

Pensieve Paintings

WeatherAbstract

Some day, and maybe someday quite soon, I want to paint really big abstract paintings. Yeah, this is nothing new. I have wanted to do this for many years. All kinds of reasons blocks rise up when I go to actually make these little ones on a larger scale…i don’t have time, no one would want to buy such a thing, i don’t have room for big canvases, translating watercolor on paper to acrylic on canvas will not work, where will I store them, yada yada yada, blah blah blah.

OvertheMoon

There’s nothing like a huge undertaking, like a wedding, or making one’s mother-of-the-bride dress, to heighten your sense of desire for realizing other dreams. Some day. Yes. Some day soon. After the wedding. Before autumn arrives. Yes.

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Until then, I will continue using my sketchbook as a pensieve…a place to deposit the ideas that swirl around in my head, the color I see in the skies, the land, the world out there as well as in here. They are not meant to “be” anything, to represent any particular place or event or even subject. Just color, worked quickly so that my analytical brain can’t break in and take over.

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Until the day when I can sling paint on a large scale, I will make page after page of these small ones. Sometimes I fit two on a 9″ x 11″ sketchbook page. Sometimes, in smaller sketchbooks, there is only one per page, or per spread. Different papers, different applications of the paint. Add some pencil here or there, or not. Totally free. Simple and easy. So satisfying. Just for me.

Sketchbook Chat!

SketchbookChat

I am excited to offer a new way to share my sketchbook with you! This is the first in a series of Sketchbook Chats where I will share with you anywhere from a few pages in my sketchbooks or a tour of a whole one (as you will see here). My aim is to inspire you to drawcument your life in a sketchbook as well!

For now, I am not planning on this being a regular thing as life will surely interrupt whatever weekly or monthly schedule I choose. I am purposing to make these little videos UNDER 10 minutes. Well, I’ve already gone over on that with this first one! But rest assured, they will certainly be short and sweet from here on! This one is longer as I wanted to share a Grand Tour of the sketchbook that includes my recent Stay-At-Home Pilgrimage which I posted daily over on APilgrimsDraw.wordpress.com.

Sketchbook Chat #1

Please share this video with others you think might enjoy it! And subscribe to my You Tube channel so you can receive each Chat as they are created.

Feel free to leave here in the comment section any questions you might have for me to answer in future Sketchbook Chats.

I do so hope this is inspiring and helpful to you!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

P.S. Things I’m working on… a. shorter videos! b. not waving hands in front of sketchbook c. being sure to put lipstick on entire lips and not just part! lol.:)

Painting with Leaf & Flower

StaffordCommission

I’ve been thinking about Carol lately. Wondering if she is out in her butterfly garden getting it ready for spring and a new season of winged visitors. I imagine her deciding to move a plant or two, adding in a few more of this or that, trying something different to attract her favorite species of butterflies. I’ve often thought that master gardeners are artists who instead of pen and paint, create with leaf and flower.

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I am now certain of this as I had the opportunity to create a painting of her garden for her earlier this year. I had the privilege of visiting Carol and her masterful garden in the fall of 2015. The butterfly garden was at its peak, just on the verge of diminishing for the cold season ahead. Cockscomb, zinnia, cleome and numerous other flowering plants rioted the front face of Carol’s home. She probably has a difficult time getting her guests to come indoors as they would surely want to amble around seeing all the gorgeous blooming. How could I paint such beauty?

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I honestly wasn’t sure I was equal to the task. This is a case where the beauty of what one is to capture on canvas seems to overshadow one’s ability to harness it in paint. I took a deep breath, said a little prayer, and dove in.

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She was happy with the results. I could not have been more pleased that she welcomed these paintings into her home with such joy and generosity. And I am tickled with the results as well. Especially that I had a chance to get to know such a wonderful  artist/gardener who lives in my town.

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***These paintings were created as a triptych. The center painting is 24″ x 24″. The side paintings are 18″ x 24″. (This final image is cropped from the right-hand painting.) Acrylic on canvas.

Two New FREE Patterns to Crochet!

I am finally finished typing up and can now offer to you two new crochet patterns! FREE for the making!

Two things for warmth…one for your hands

SimpleCrochetHandWarmers

And one for your shoulders

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You could even crochet them with coordinating colors! Ooooohhhh….that would be fun!

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Both are simple designs using basic crochet stitches. I designed them for my beginning to intermediate crochet students and they have LOVED them!!

I hope you do too! (Remember, these are FREE! My treat!)

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The Simple Crochet Handwarmers are made with worsted weight yarn. I love them best with variegated wool, but solids and heather yarns would be perfect too!

The Big Hook Shoulder Hug is made with Super Bulky Yarn. Works up fast and fits most sizes. Smaller sizes can be achieved easily by using different weight yarns.

As always, my patterns offer detailed instructions, lots of tips for tricky parts, and variations you can do to make multiples of the pattern for many hours of crochet enjoyment!

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**Be sure to visit my patterns for purchase on ETSY!