GIVING BACK

This past year has involved a whole lot of reflecting. Reflecting on what it means to be a work-from-home-mom. Reflecting on how I can best take care of my children and my business simultaneously (I think I’ll forever be working on this one). Reflecting on my voice as an artist as I’ve slowly but surely transitioned from being mostly a watercolorist to mostly a printmaker. And reflecting on why we’re here and what the point of all of this is.

I love making art. I shared with someone recently that I feel extremely confident that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and they commented on how big of a deal that is. I guess it is! There are plenty of hard days. Days where I question if doing something else would be easier or more consistent financially. Days where I am ever so aware of how exposed I am when I put my art out there for the world to see. And even on those hard days, I always come back to that feeling of confidence. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is where I’m supposed to be.

So Luis and I were talking about all of this over the Summer, but in the discussion, we still kept coming back to why. Why am I doing this? I don’t want it to be just because it feels right. I don’t want it to be all about me. I want to take that sense of assuredness and do something with it. Do good. Do good for others.

We ended up coming up with a list of core values that helps to motivate us and to keep us in check when life starts to overwhelm:


We value finding joy in our work and in providing joy to others. 

We value handmade items and original art making with an emphasis on being high quality and well designed. We also value offering all of these things at an attainable price. 

We value working hard to stay true to our voice and aesthetic.

We value supporting small businesses and humans that are working hard to serve others.

We value being generous and doing justice for those less fortunate than ourselves. 


Honestly, the first four come naturally. They don’t take much effort at all. Those values have been engrained in me from the beginning even if I didn’t have words for them at the time. But the last one… that takes work. That takes planning and effort outside of simply making art. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that it isn’t uncommon for me to do a fundraiser when natural disasters occur or when social injustices take place. Those are things that we have felt grateful to be able to help with, even if it’s only in a small way. But I am hoping to also develop an ongoing voice of generosity. One that is taking place every single day and not just for big events. As we work through (and fumble through) what it looks like for us to be generous and do justice in our daily lives, our prayer is that we would be regularly and consistently looking outside of ourselves for inspiration, guidance, and motivation.

As we continued to pray and reflect on what this ongoing generosity would look like, we felt that a good place to start would be donating a portion of all of our retail sales to a specific person or charity. At first I thought that it may switch quarterly, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it would be good to allow the timeline to be fluid. I especially like the idea of this because it means that with every purchase, you are being generous. You are helping and loving on someone who is in great need, and that’s a very cool thing.

So who/what is up first?

We are so happy to formally let you know that for the foreseeable future, we will supporting our friends, The Fergusons, as they walk through the long and difficult process of adopting their son from Ghana. They have been in a season of waiting for a long, long time. They have come across countless obstacles and faced many trials in their efforts to bring home Emmanuel, but they have stayed true to their belief that he is theirs and they are his. The timing isn’t in our hands, and most of the obstacles are out of our control, but we can certainly help to keep money from being one of those obstacles. If you’d like, you can donate directly to their adoption fund, or you can simply rest assured that a portion of your purchase will go to helping them bring Emmanuel home.

FREE MINI-PRINT WITH EVERY ORDER

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When I’m working on a print, I always mix a custom ink color (unless I’m using black) for the print. When I’m done printing, there is always a little bit of ink left on the plate. It’s not enough to make another large print out of, but it’s enough to make a handful of little prints out of.

That little bit of leftover ink inspired me. Instead of watching it wash down the drain, I could create little mini-prints to include with each order. I could even use the chunky scraps of linoleum that I cut away to create the block with.

It’s a win-win. I don’t feel like I’m being wasteful, and you get a nice little surprise with your package! So now, with every single order that I send out, a surprise 4x6 print will be included with the receipt. They are all hand printed by me and sent with lots of love and appreciation to you.

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New Denton Print

Denton, TX. A city full of culture and diversity. Artists and musicians and students and teachers and business owners and supporters of one another and appreciators of varying backgrounds. A city full of life and love.

We’ve been living here for 14 years and are fully committed to the community here. We hope to be able to serve here and live here for many many more years to come.

As we really started to establish our roots here in this city, I also started to become involved with The DIME Store. Its the mission of this precious store to encourage and support local creatives/makers/artists, and they’re a big reason why I am where I am today. As an artist, they gave me a safe space to figure out how to run this business of mine and how to grow into my own creative voice.

Over the years, I’ve designed a couple of pieces that have been created exclusively for The DIME Store, but I hadn’t yet designed a linocut print for them. It took me several months to plan and sketch before I felt great about my design, but I finally got there and I’m so happy with the end result. I hope you enjoy it, too!

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Why BLOCK PRINTING?

For many of you, this whole block printing train that I’ve so enthusiastically hopped on is a surprise. It surprised to me, too, to be honest, but I wanted to give a bit of an explanation into the why and how this all started.

When I was in college, I was a drawing and painting major. I spent most of my time working with oil paints, but I also took a couple of watercolor classes and one printmaking class. To be totally honest with you, I didn’t love my printmaking class. I loved the process, and the ink mixing and the techniques, but my teacher was more on the subjective side, so it became hard to enjoy the end results. After that class, I didn’t dabble in printmaking again for over 10 years. Over those ten years I worked to grow my business and focused primarily on drawing and watercolor painting. I wish I could remember what inspired me to dig up my old printmaking supplies, but all I can say is that it was a divine moment of inspiration. I happened to have saved everything that I had from that class, and there was an old piece of rubber for me to experiment with. By that point, I had started to develop my own style, so the design part came quickly. I carved a little bunny based on my love for Otomi textiles.

I was in love. Ideas for more blocks immediately began to flood my brain, and I haven’t looked back.

At the time I don’t think I would have been able to clearly put into words what drew me in. It felt like such a departure from the photo-realistic painting that I had been trained in and spent so many years pursuing. It felt like such a departure from the even the digital printing that I had been doing of my simpler watercolors.

I’ve had a couple of years now to dive deeper into my growing passion for block printing and the why of it all, and I think I’ve been able to narrow down why I enjoy it so much to a few things:

EMPHASIS ON MATERIALS

Block printing, also known as relief printing, includes woodblock prints, linocut prints, or rubber stamping. Block printing can be as simple as a rubber stamp or as complicated as one can make it. No matter the degree of difficulty, the type of block that’s used, the type of paper or fabric or whatever that’s chosen, and the type of ink that’s selected makes for drastically different end results. Each material has an effect on the quality and personality of the print. This leaves so much room for experimentation and for an artist to be able to make something that speaks of their unique artistry in every little detail and nuance of the piece.

INTENTIONALITY IN MARK MAKING

As you can imagine, I’ve spent years and years of my life drawing. With pencil and charcoal and ink and pastel. With markers and brushes and nibs and graphite. With drawing, some lines are so carefully laid and some shading is so precisely applied, and in contrast, some lines can be done without really thinking. It’s an ebb and flow of having to focus and then being able to relax and let go.

With block printing, the carving process takes focus and intention almost the whole time. There’s no going back. No “Whoops! Let me grab my eraser.” So each dig into the linoleum requires me to think first. “Is this where it should go? What about the thickness/thinness of the line? How will this translate when printed as a mirror image?” For some, I’m sure that can sound overwhelming or daunting, but I enjoy it so much. I enjoy that I put thought and care into each mark, and that I get to be intentional with every move that I make. It rewards thoughtful planning, and thoughtfully changing the plan, and it makes the end result feel so me.

IT INVITES CHANGE

As intentional as I feel I have to be, or maybe want to be, block printing at its core is very simple. Carve a block, ink it, press paper to it, and you have a print! With a painting or drawing, once it’s done, it’s done. The materials are what they are, the colors are what they are, and the end result is the end result. With block printing that’s not the case at all. Paper can be changed, colors can be switched, the layout can be adjusted. You can layer in new blocks and rotate them and the possibilities are endless. It’s not only ok to experiment, but it’s totally welcome and a part of the fun. The flexibility and ability to improvise is something that I, a lover of change, relish in.

As I continue to grow and change as an artist, I hope to always welcome in the unexpected. My path so far has been full of surprises, and I’m definitely in a place where I can look back in awe of the path that has brought me here. This is not what I would have expected of my life as an artist when I first started out, but each little step and misstep has brought me to this place where I feel more confident and at home in who I am as an artist than I ever have before.

If you’re an artist, and you’re reading this. Keep going. Just keep taking steps forward. Welcome in the uncomfortable and the unexpected in the name of growth.