Emily J Artist Cyber Week Sale

Art therapy has been a crucial piece of me regaining my muchness. Pushing beyond my fear of failure and just creating to create has been so freeing. I have found a new depth to my art as I have attempted to put my thoughts and feelings into my images. I have also found a lot of healing and validation in sharing that art with others. Working on creating my own financial independence through selling my artwork has boosted my confidence and increased my self-esteem. As a thank you to you my loyal readers and supporters I have decided to put my entire collection of art on sale for Cyber Week.

Emily J- Artist Cyber week Sale 2018 | muchnessmama.com | etsy sale | christmas sale | Black Friday sale

Etsy Cyber Week Sale

I have a few ready made pieces and several custom artwork slots available in my Etsy shop. Prices range from $3-350 (pre-sale price) and the discount is already applied automatically, no coupon code needed.

[etsy-shop shop_name=”EmilyJArtist” section_id=”16359153″]

Fine Art America Cyber Week Sale

Most of my art prints can be found on Fine Art America. Everything there is also 15% off. You do have to use a coupon code for this sale though “PXZMKC”. Fine Art America has all sorts of different products to print on as well from watercolor paper or canvas to shower curtains and phone cases. If you aren’t a big art on the wall kind of person, but still want one of my pieces this is a great option.


Worthy Written Words Cyber Week Sale

All of my scripture journaling kits on Worthy Written Words are also on sale. Use code CYBERWEEK2018 to save 15%. They are also running 15-50% off sales on several other products on the site. You can see all my products here.

If you have any questions about product options, custom orders, or anything else please feel free to contact me! Also make sure you head over to the right sidebar to subscribe to the blog via email and be notified of an AMAZING giveaway I’m doing with 12 other amazing small business owners starting on Small Business Saturday.

I Am Broken and That Makes Me Beautiful

Have you ever heard of the Japanese art of Kintsugi? Artists will take a broken piece of pottery and repair it with a special lacquer that is dusted with silver, gold, or platinum. The broken piece becomes even more beautiful as the precious metals gleam through the seams which were once broken. Kintsugi is a celebration of seeing beauty in the flawed, expressing regret when things are wasted, and the acceptance of change. As I spent more and more time in the world of addiction, betrayal trauma, and abuse I began to feel like on big broken mess. There were little pieces of who I was scattered across the floor of my life, and I couldn’t see myself or my beauty anymore. As I have worked on healing the past few years I have allowed God to Kintsugi me back together.

I am Broken and That Makes Me Beautiful | muchnessmama.com | Japanese art of Kintsugi | repairing pottery with gold | betrayal trauma healing | addiction recovery

God Uses Broken Things

Not only does God find glory in repairing broken things he actually requires that we be broken before he can use us. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17) God can not use us until our hearts are humble enough to accept his will and instruction. None of us escape trials in this life. We all face things that can leave us feeling cracked and broken. If we allow God into our hearts he will put us back together stronger and more beautiful than we could ever be on our own. As he works in us we can begin to see the beauty in our flaws, refuse to waste our precious time and lives, and accept the changes that are an inevitable part of this mortal experience.

Seeing Beauty in the Flawed

When I was in my twenties I listened to the same radio station every morning on the way to work. They would often have a fun little trivia question with a prize for whoever called in and got it right. One day they asked what is the #1 thing people criticize about themselves that the opposite sex actually finds attractive. All sorts of answers were given. It was fascinating to hear men and women both talk about the little things they loved in their spouse or significant other that they wished that person loved in themselves as well. Answers ranged from a little bit of extra weight to freckles. The correct answer according to some survey somewhere was a gap in the two front teeth. I wonder how many people have spent money on braces trying to remove that gap that others may find incredibly attractive. How many things about myself have I seen as flawed or broken when they were the exact things about me that God could use to bless others? I can’t reach out to someone in my own perfection and be received. It is through our imperfections, our weaknesses, our struggles and our trials that we are able to connect with others. It is our willingness to let others see those cracks that allows us to truly serve them.

Regret in the Wasted

How much time have I wasted over the years trying to put forth a perfect image? How many relationships have fallen by the wayside because neither of us was willing to be vulnerable and form a real intimate connection?  How much money have I wasted on trying to look perfect, have the perfect accessories, or say the perfect thing? How many opportunities to truly serve others have been wasted because of my inability to see the beauty in my brokenness and the value in what I had to give? I don’t want to just float through life unconnected and unfulfilled because I allowed my brokenness to become trash instead of beauty. I want to connect. I want to be used. I want to let the light of Christ shine through me. I can’t do that in broken pieces on the floor. I can only do that through the beautiful glints of gold Christ repairs me with.

Acceptance of Change

Change is inevitable. We all know that, and yet we all fight it. Even when the life we are currently living is broken and ugly we resist change because we fear “what if it gets even worse?!” Well what if it gets better!? I have spent so much time in my marriage walking on eggshells trying to avoid rocking the boat. The biggest change that I have embraced through working my recovery is the need for boundaries. Not only can I embrace change, but I can create it. I can say no more. I can decide what I will and won’t live with. I can open myself up to the threat of more pain because I know that I am strong enough to handle it. I know that I have an amazing support network of women surrounding me and a God standing under me to lift me up. I can embrace the changes in life with not only trust and humility, but with excitement at what the future may hold. Sure I may trip and fall. Sometimes I may even tumble end over end back down that hill. As long as I keep getting back up, patching up each new crack with a little more gold lacquer, I know I’m not only going to survive, but I will thrive!

I Am Broken and That Makes Me Beautiful

I am Broken and That Makes Me Beautiful | muchnessmama.com | Japanese art of Kintsugi | repairing pottery with gold | betrayal trauma healing | addiction recovery

Yep I crack under the pressure. We all do. There was only one perfect man to ever walk this earth, and even Jesus needed alone time to rest and recuperate. So how do we embrace our own broken beauty? For me it starts with owning my story. Being vulnerable and sharing my heart makes me stronger. As I share my broken parts with others they have so graciously shared theirs with me. I see the beauty and strength in these women. I see their courage and their hearts. I listen to their laughs and see their tears. Every one of them is radiant and beautiful. As I see and embrace the beauty in them it becomes so much easier for me to acknowledge it in myself. It is only in the dark of night that we can see the stars. So it is with us. It is only in the cracks and broken pieces that we can truly see our beauty.

How do you find the beauty in your broken pieces? What has helped you to stop wasting life and embrace change with optimism? Who has inspired you through their broken beauty? Do you have a story of brokenness that you’d like to share as a guest blogger? Come join us in the Muchness Mama’s group on Facebook and let’s chat about it!

Create and Self Publish Your Own Book With Blurb

As the holiday season begins many of my friends are talking about how they can make sure their kid has fun time off, but also keeps their mind active. It is so easy as a parent to just set them in front of a screen and let the time pass. I know, I’ve done it! Well what about helping the kids write and publish their own book and/or magazine with Blurb instead?

Create and Self Publish Your Own Book WIth Blurb | muchnessmama.com | self publishing | publish a book on Amazon | create a family yearbook

I’ve been planning to print my enormous collection of photos into books with Blurb, but have just been procrastinating it. You see the artist in me just can’t use pre-created drop in pages or worse yet a blank background. I think that may be a crime. I’ve got o create myself some fun scrapbook pages and journal the memories. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to make it a family project! I’m sure their perspective on different events will be a great addition. I think I will scroll back through my Facebook and include some of their best funny quotes as well. Maddy and Ben have really shown an interest in photography lately, so it will be a lot of fun to include some of their images too.

In addition to including our family images I’m going to ask the kids to write out our adventures. For the younger kids I can write as they tell me the story in their own words. This will not only be educational, but it will be an awesome addition to our family history! I’m going to make one for each year. I’m planning to make a nice book for me to keep and an inexpensive magazine for each kid. That way when they grow up and leave the home they’ll have a set of magazines from each year to take with them and show their own children in the future.

Photo books aren’t the only thing you can make. Blurb allows you to create any book you can imagine, and even allows you to self publish for others to purchase. Your children can write a short story or novel, create a cookbook of their favorite recipes, design a themed photo book, or write a graphic novel or comic book. Blurb also has these fun notebooks where you can create your own cover then choose what type of pages to put in it. You can use these to create a journal or an idea book for them to brainstorm ideas for their story. They also have simple online book making tools, so anyone can do it!

Have you printed your family photos and included the stories? What fun holiday projects do you have planned? Come chat about it with some other awesome ladies in the Muchness Mama’s Facebook group!

Getting Started with Art Journaling

Recently, as part of my healing from betrayal trauma, I have started an art journal. Now I don’t work in it nearly as often as I’d like, but such is life as a mom of young children. It has definitely been a hugely therapeutic thing for me. I’ve shed tears more than once while creating. I also consider a lot of my digital art therapeutic journaling as well. Added bonus no messy supplies to get out and put away! There’s just something about working with actual medium on paper that is just so healing for me though. Maybe it’s because I’m a little less in control and there’s no undo button.

Getting Started with Art Journaling | The Muchness Mama | muchnessmama.com

What is Art Journaling

Art journaling is simply putting words and images together to express yourself. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. There are no grades. There are no rules. Oh wait there is one rule: there are no mistakes, just happy accidents (yes, I love Bob Ross). Simply use whatever speaks to you to give a visual aspect to the thoughts and feelings inside. Put aside any thoughts of what is right in art. Forget about focal points, color harmonies, balance, unity, or any other “rule” you’ve been taught. Just get your feelings out on paper!

Art journaling has been around since the dawn of time. In fact many of the great artists in history kept these visual journals. The British Library has actually digitized one of DaVinci’s journals and made it available to the public. It is quite fascinating!

Therapists have also found the value in using art to unlock suppressed memories and feelings. It can also help to heal trauma as you process through those feelings in a creative way. By processing using your physical body and incorporating both words and images you use your entire brain. The more of your brain that is activated during therapy the more thoroughly traumatic experiences can be processed. You don’t need a therapist to guide you through art journaling. All you need is a willingness to dig deep and be honest with yourself. Sometimes it helps to have a prompt and other times it’s best to jsut start makign a mess and see what happens.

Art Journaling Supplies

All you need to get started is a writing implement of some sort and a piece of paper. Don’t let a lack of art supplies hold you back! It is far better to do a simple pencil sketch than nothing at all. Of course art journaling is a lot more fun with some color, so here are a few of my favorite things to use.

For starters let’s talk about paper. You can use a basic notebook, but you’re going to be a bit restricted on what you can do with the flimsy paper without destroying it. If you just want to use dry media (pencils, crayons, chalk, pastels, etc) you’ll be fine with a simple sketchbook. If you want to use more paints, glues, and other embellishments you’re going to need a heavier duty paper. A mixed media book is a great choice. If you really love to work with watercolors then it’s even better to get a book with watercolor paper pages.

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Colored pencils are my go to for sketching. I really like that they are hard to erase. It forces me to accept imperfections and mistakes, and allows me to just think about creation rather than perfection. Your basic Crayola pencils that you can get at any grocery store will do just fine. I have also recently discovered and am loving Arteza. They’re a bit higher quality and still a very reasonable price. If you really want to splurge then Prismacolor is the way to go. Their pencils are super soft with vibrant colors that get great coverage and blend beautifully. 

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Watercolors are another fun medium to use. When you think watercolor you’re probably remembering those cheap pan sets from grade school that gave you pale washed out paintings on wrinkly paper. Watercolor is so much more amazing when you have good paints on good paper. For a decent starter set The Artist Loft pan sets are a bit better than the grade school stuff and still very budget friendly. If you want to step up your quality a bit then Sakura Koi, Arteza, Prima, or Kuretake are a great choice. Jane Davenport is another middle of the road brand price wise and I am totally in love with them!  The neutrals pallet is perfect if you want to paint a lot of skin and hair tones. If you really want to get the top of the line watercolors Holbein, Sennelier, and Daniel Smith are all highly recommended. If you want to start out with the higher quality, but still on a small budget you can get individual pans or tubes of the three primary colors along with white and black then mix your own colors. For painting on the go water brushes are awesome! If you really want a good brush at a great price I also really like my Winsor & Newton Cotman brushes.

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In addition to the traditional pan or liquid watercolors you can also play around with watercolor crayons, markers, brush pens, or pencils. There are so many fun and creative ways to use these that would be an entire blog post in itself! Some recommendations for pencils are Derwent, Arteza, or Faber-Castell. For crayons check out Neocolor, or Ranger ink. Sakura Koi and Tombow both make a great felt tip watercolor marker, and I LOVE my Arteza real brush pens.

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If you prefer more control and opacity then Acrylic paints are the way to go. For a simple art journal I haven’t seen a need for anything fancier than the bottled craft paints that you can get at any craft store or Walmart. If you want to do a finished piece to hang you may want to get something a bit nicer and more professional because of their light fastness.

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Washi tape is so much fun! It is easy to reposition and you can get so many fun prints. I may have a slight addiction to washi lol. I like to go to Michaels craft store and check out their bin of individual rolls that are around 3 for $1. Here are a few of my favorite patterns on Amazon as well.

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There are so many other paints, pens, markers, etc. that this post would get WAY too long if I listed them all. Instead I’ll just put a few of my favorites in the product carousel below.

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In the future I’m planning to do more detailed posts on each medium that I use as well as some great art journaling prompts. What other products are you interested in learning about? What are your favorite products for art journaling? Come join the Muchness Mamas on Facebook and lets chat about it! I’ve also created a Pinterest board just for Art Journaling if you’d like to see more tips and inspiration.

Watercolor and Oil Pet Portrait Paintings Now Available

I am excited to announce that I am now offering pet portraits in my Etsy shop. These portraits will be offered at $65, but right now are being offered at the special introductory price of only $45! Get yours now, because this deal won’t last long.

Watercolor pet portrait| Smithsquad.com | Digital Painting | Digital art | Watercolor art
Watercolor style

This beautiful digitally hand painted art is the perfect way to display portraits of your pet in your home. It can also be used as a spectacularly unique holiday card, birthday gift, anniversary gift or to celebrate any other special occasion.

Each pet portrait is hand painted by me using Corel Painter and Photoshop. Using your reference photo I carefully choose my colors, brush types, and strokes to create a traditional painting with digital media. Your portrait is then sent to you as a high resolution JPEG with a full release for printing with your favorite company. These are beautiful as framed prints or gallery wrapped canvases. They can also be very stunning on the new metal style prints.

Watercolor pet portrait| Smithsquad.com | Digital Painting | Digital art | Watercolor art
Oil Style

The price listed is for up to two subjects. Additional subjects can be added at a rate of $25 per subject. If you would like to add subjects please message me so that I can create a custom listing for you.

This item is made to order – Please allow for a turnaround time of 2-4 weeks.
If you need it sooner, contact me first about rush order availability and I will see what I can do to help you!!

Watercolor pet portrait| Smithsquad.com | Digital Painting | Digital art | Watercolor art
Oil Style

~~~How This Works~~~

Step 1: Purchase the listing on Etsy or email/message me directly

Step 2: Upon purchase, send your desired reference photo to emily@Smithsquad.com. Clear photos with good lighting are important.

Step 3: I begin painting! You will receive a small reference file to approve before finalizing the image and I will do up to 2 rounds of revisions. Additional rounds of revisions can be requested at a rate of $25 per round.

Step 4: After I get your final approval, I will send the image to you as a high resolution JPEG along with a full print release.

Watercolor pet portrait| Smithsquad.com | Digital Painting | Digital art | Watercolor art
Oil Style

Are you ready to get started? Check out my Etsy shop now or send me a message!

Would you like to win a free pet portrait? comment below with your pets name(s) and why you love them. I will choose a winner on Tuesday August 16. 

Senior Pictures at Little Mulberry Park in Dacula, GA

At the beginning of the year a new family started attending our church. The Penningtons had just moved from Colorado. I bet you can imagine my excitement when I discovered they were fellow homeschoolers who LOVED “A Thomas Jefferson Education” as I do. It is so refreshing to be around people who don’t think you’re weird for not worrying about your 7-year-old who doesn’t read well yet or tell you that your 6-year-old wouldn’t be shy if she just went to public school. They scored some bonus points for also being much further along the path than me, I REALLY love have some real life mentors to help me as I figure out this homeschooling journey. The biggest bonus points, however, come from the fact that their kids are amazing! They love my kiddos so much and have become excellent friends and babysitters. I can tell that these kids/teens will be my lifelong friends every bit as much as their parents will.

DSC06049

A few months ago They asked if I could take their oldest daughter’s senior pictures. Abbe was the perfect subject. We had a ton of fun wandering around Little Mulberry Park in Dacula, GA. We made sure to feature her guitar as well, because Abbe is an amazing musician. We even had an older gentleman ask if he should be getting her autograph because she looked like a star!

I am looking forward to taking pictures of the entire family soon!

CreativeLive Mid-Year Sale: Save up to 50%!

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It’s no secret that I love CreativeLive. Since I first discovered them a few years ago I’ve watched hundreds of classes while they were streaming, purchased many, and even attended two as part of the studio audience. It has been such an amazing educational resource for me. Right now CreativeLive is having their mid-year sale where all classes are up to 50% off!! No coupon code needed, simply go to their catalog and choose the classes you want.

Shop Creative Live Classes

When CreativeLive first started they were really focused on photographers. No w they have five different channels; Photo & Video, Art & Design, Music & Audio, Craft & Maker, and Money & Life. They have classes on everything a creative entrepreneur needs. Whether you need help with business, marketing, or actual artistic techniques you are sure to find something useful. If you aren’t sure where to get started here are a few of my favorite classes:

Kickstarter for Photographers and Film Makers

This is one of the classes that I attended in the creativeLive studio. In this class Clay Hebert walked us through the steps to take before and during a Kickstarter campaign to ensure its success. He showed us some case studies on a few successful projects that he had worked with and showed us why they succeeded.

The Creative Newborn Photography Studio

This was the second class that I attended in studio and it was a life changer for me! Julia Kelleher is an amazing teacher and I absolutely loved her passion for teaching. Julia encouraged each of us to find a way to be creative and put our own hearts into our work. She encouraged us to try new things and find a personal project to work on. We got to watch her photograph a few different newborns as well as work on her own personal project exploring motherhood. She showed us the basics of creating a painting in Corel Painter as well as how she mounts her art prints. It was because of this class that I first tried digital painting which I LOVE and is now one of the staples of my business.

Photoshop Classes by Ben Willmore

There are TONS of classes a on Photoshop on CreativeLive and it can be hard to choose which one to purchase! I would highly recommend anything by Ben Willmore. I have watched several of his classes. He has an easy to follow teaching style. He explains things in a simple manner so that anyone can follow along. He doesn’t stop there though, he also goes into more advanced concepts and ideas. I have never failed to learn something new from every call of his that I have watched.

Brush Lettering Bundle

This bundle includes three excellent classes by Laura Worthington. Watching and participating in this class was probably the most fun I’ve had with a CreativeLive class outside of the studio. Laura started with the very basics of how to use the brush to create lines and shapes before moving on to letter forms. She then discussed how to think through and add flourishes and other ornamentation. From there the third class of this bundle discusses how to take a piece form idea through sketching to a finished piece.

These are just a few of my very favorite classes, but there are hundreds more that I have watched and enjoyed. Go check them out now while everything is on sale! You won’t regret it.

Have you watched any classes on CreativeLive? What were your favorites? What types of classes are you searching for? Please share and ask for recommendations in the comments. Let’s help everyone get their perfect class! 

5 Easy Steps to Reclaiming Your Muchness

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My last post was about my feelings as I lost and then reclaimed my muchness. Today’s post is all about how I got my muchness back. Each person has a unique journey ahead of them, but here are a few simple steps anyone can take to help them create their own new path.

5 Easy Steps to Reclaim Your Muchness | Smithsquad.com | Alice in Wonderland quote | Mad Hatter | Finding your life's purpose

Recognize What You Have Lost

I knew I wasn’t happy, but it took me a while to figure out that it was because I had changed. It was so easy to blame things on my circumstances and relationships. It was much harder to look inward and take responsibility for my own happiness in life. Instead of saying if only I had more money, if only I had a better relationship with my spouse, if only I didn’t have an ex, if only… I started looking back on my childhood and asked myself what about me has changed? What things am I doing differently? What things did I love that I have now given up? What talents have I buried instead of growing? Identifying what exactly it was about me that had changed, and whether those changes were good or bad led me to then ask myself. What can I change?

Identify What You Need

As you look at the changes that you’ve made for the worse you can identify what you need to change about yourself to find more fulfillment in life. Maybe you need to speak up for yourself more. Maybe you need to pursue a talent or passion that you once had. Maybe you need to leave an abusive situation. Maybe you need to work more hours, or less. Only you know what exactly it is that you need. Ask yourself is there anything that I used to love as a kid that I no longer do? Are there any specific character traits I had as a child that I wish I hadn’t lost? Is there any knowledge that I wish I had pursued? What did I want to be when I grew up and do I still want that?

Find a Great Mentor and Support System

Change is hard for anyone. When you are suffering from a lost of muchness you often find that your gumption for making change has been completely eradicated. This is when it is crucial to surround yourself with those who can lift you up and keep you going. Find someone who will ask the hard questions and not let you make excuses. Sure a good rant to a supportive friend is great and necessary, but you also need someone who is going to give you a swift kick to the rear when needed. Use mental health professionals, friends, online groups, life coaches, or any other resource you can. The more support you have the better.

My first steps into discovering who I am were prodded along by Jeff Jochum. He is the king of the question why? Dig deeper, why do you want/feel/need that? He can be quite aggravating at times, but that’s exactly what I needed at that point. Someone who didn’t put up with any excuses and made me ask myself the hard questions. At that point I knew I needed to make changes, but I was still afraid. I continued to build up my support base with an AMAZING church leader, a few close supportive friends, and a weekly women’s support group at church. About a year after working with Jeff I had the opportunity to attend a class at the CreativeLive studio with Julia Kelleher called The Creative Newborn Studio. At the beginning of the class she gave each of us some clay and told us to just create something. It didn’t matter what it was just create. It was such a freeing experience. I was right back in childhood and having a blast. I was proud of my cute little creations. As her class continued the focus on being artistic really opened up a desire I had stuffed down for far too long. I wanted to create. I needed to create. I was then given an amazing opportunity work with Christine Tremoulet in her Blogging Brilliantly course. I thought I was in for a great course on using blogging to help build my business. What I got was so much more. She really focused on making your brand YOU and that meant that I had to find me. She has been an amazingly supportive mentor and cheerleader and still pushes me to keep digging deeper and doing better. She is also the one who helped me create a clearly defined purpose for my life.

Define Your Purpose

I believe that everyone needs to have a purpose in life. That is where the true joy is found, in having and working towards a good and deep purpose. I’m not talking about a specific goal like making 100,000 a year or creating 100 art pieces. I’m talking about a deep and never ending purpose that motivates you throughout your entire life. When you have a purpose and you are working it suddenly so many little things in life just don’t seem to matter as much. Just as every person is unique so are our life purposes. What really helped me refine my purpose was creating a manifesto. This was something I did as a part of Christine’s Blogging Brilliantly class. She had me write down hundreds of statements in different forms and answering different questions. I then cut out all of those statements onto wordstrips and sorted them to decide what were my top thoughts and ideas that had to be included. My manifesto is below and you can read Christine’s manifesto here.

What is my purpose? I celebrate the nobility in motherhood through writing, photography, and art as I care for my own large family. This isn’t just a one time achieve it and I’m done goal. This is a purpose that can and does drive me in everything I do.

My manifesto| SmithSquad.com| I Believe in the nobility of motherhood
Creating a series of I Believe statements can help you to identify your purpose in life.

Take Action

This is usually the hardest part of the entire process. It’s easy to know we need a change adn dream about a change. It’s also very easy to come up with a million reasons why we can’t do it. It’s scary, it’s hard, and sometimes it looks near impossible. This is, once again, where an amazing support system comes into play. I clearly remember the conference call with Christine where she suggested I back away form being a full time photographer and focus on my blog. As she talked to me she had been able to hear the passion in my voice for motherhood. She could feel my frustration that the needs of my large family, which are very important to me, were hampering my ability to make my business a real success. As we talked about the possibility of focusing on the things I could do from home, blogging adn art, and keeping photography and a fun hobby rather than a business it all clicked into place. That didn’t make it any easier to take action, however, even though I knew it was the right action to take. It was very hard to give up that dream of being a full time birth and family photographer. Because I know and embrace my life’s purpose, however, I am able to refocus and accept that maybe that will happen at a later season in my life. I still fear that no one will want to read what I have to write. There are days when I suffer from some major imposter syndrome as I write. There are sometimes days on end where I look at my art supplies and just walk away because the thought of creating something from my heart and having it rejected is terrifying. As I become “much more…muchier” it becomes easier and easier.

 

You Can Find Your Muchness

Muchness isn’t something that we lose and never get back. It is somethign that we can strive to achieve and build upon every day. It is knowing that we have a divine purpose and that we are creating the path that will help us fulfill it. It is taking responsibility for yourself and your happiness. It is the process of shedding the pressure of living up to someone else’s standards and instead creating our own ideals.

Muchness is where the true happiness and joy in life are found.

Have you lost your muchness? Will you commit here and now to seek it out? Have you reclaimed your muchness? Have you found your purpose in life? What is it?

Brush Lettering on CreativeLive-Class Review

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Yesterday I had the chance to watch three brush lettering classes by Laura Worthington on CreativeLive. Laura is a font designer and expert hand letterer. The classes were Brush Lettering Basics, Flourishes and Ornamentation, and Putting Together a Final Piece. Each of these classes can be purchased individually or you can buy the bundle that includes all three at a discount. I really enjoyed following along and doing the exercises along with the class, at least as much of the exercises as Miss Hannah would allow in between nursing and snuggling.

Brush Lettering Basics

Brush Lettering Class on CreativeLive| Smithsquad.com| Online educational resources| Class review
Practicing basic letters with my name.

In the first class Laura discussed the basic tools she uses as well as how to practice the basic strokes and letter forms. The brush that Laura used during the class and that she gave to the seven studio audience members was a Pentel Color Brush pen which can be purchased from Amazon or Blick Art. On Amazon there was also an option for a set of 18 different colors. She also had both regular and tracing paper as well as scissors and tape. When at home she also uses digital tools to refine and vectorize her artwork. I personally was using the Sakura Koi watercolor brush pens and look forward to also trying out drawing directly in Corel Painter, Photoshop, and Illustrator with my Wacom tablet.

After showing us her supplies she started doing simple strokes and shapes to help us get used to the was the brush feels. She showed the proper grip for both right and left handed artists as well as discussing how the motions were different from traditional writing. As a free download with the class she provided a paper with different lines indicating where the different parts of a letter should fall. She had us focus on light pressure on the upstrokes and heavy pressure on the downstrokes. After doing the basic practice strokes we moved on to doing letter forms, both lowercase and uppercase. The final project for this first class was to practice writing your name.

Brush Lettering Flourishes and Ornamentation

Brush Lettering Class on CreativeLive| Smithsquad.com| Online educational resources| Class review
Flourishing my name

After a short break we moved on to the second class on flourishes and ornamentation. When you purchase the class there is a free download of several sample flourishes that you can practice tracing to get the feel for them. After practicing some of these flourishes Laura had us work on adding flourishes to our own name. As a demonstration she did my name! First she drew the name and added some flourishes in pencil then when she was happy with the shape she went over it with the brush. My own attempts aren’t nearly as nice as hers, but it was definitely fun.

Brush Lettering Putting Together a Final Piece

Brush Lettering Class on CreativeLive| Smithsquad.com| Online educational resources| Class review
My work in progress, still have a long way to go.

The third class focused on how to create a complete piece of artwork with a short phrase. She had each of the students choose a phrase to work on and talked through each one with them pointing out which words to draw focus to and a few suggestions on how to do that. She then had each person to several thumbnail sketches of their chosen phrase. From there they chose a thumbnail and started drawing a larger version of their final choice. She cautioned that it often takes MANY tries to get to the final product. This is where she pulled out the scissors and tape and showed us how she would take the best parts from each attempt and pull them together to then trace over for her final piece. I decided to practice with the phrase “let your faith be bigger than your fear” which will become the focal point of one of the pages in my Pregnancy and Birth Coloring Book.

I have been trying to teach myself lettering from the book “Modern Calligraphy” as well as a few worksheets form “The Postman’s Knock“. They have both been EXCELLENT resources, but it was completely different to actually watch Laura doing the lettering and talking through her thought process. I think that my books and worksheets will be even more useful now as I am better able to apply what they teach. I am excited to continue to hone my skills with lettering and be able to offer it as a service to my clients soon.

Are you an expert or do you want to learn brush lettering? What are your favorite resources? I’d love to see some links to your work in the comments!

Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World CreativeLive Class Review

Yesterday I watched the class “Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World” on CreativeLive by Karen Alsop. It was AMAZING!! I had to share today to make sure that anyone who was interested could catch the second day of broadcasting which will be happening starting at 9am PST. If you are reading this after June 3rd you’ve missed the live broadcast, thankfully all CreativeLive classes are available for purchase for unlimited download, streaming, watching, etc. also as a special bonus if you buy this class Karen has included her custom brush set that she created just for compositing (a $45 value) as a free download.

Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World - CreativeLive class review| Smithsquad.com

The class started with Karen telling us a bit about herself and her work. She then showed a few time lapse videos of her process. She then quickly got into the meat of the class, how to create a composite. She gave some great insight into how to plan a composite and shoot images that would work together. In this class she is creating an Alice in Wonderland scene to teach the process. Before the class began she went to a garden local to her and shot tons of images of trees, bushes, hedges, paths, etc. She showed a time lapse video, and talked us through it, of how she  put these images together to create a fantastic background.

Now it was time to start shooting. Karen brought in a live rabbit and an adorable little girl to play Alice. She talked to us about how to choose a background to shoot on and how to light the scene to match the lighting in your finished composite. We then got to watch her shoot both subjects. As she was shooting she was quickly placing shots roughly into the scene to make sure that the photographs would work well together. She had to ensure that they faced the right way, looked the right direction, were shot from the correct angle etc. This part was a lot of fun. Karen was shooting with her camera tethered to her Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. This allowed her to instantly pull any image into her composite and play with it. The companion has definitely inched it’s way to the top of my wants list after watching her use it. If you are interested in learning more about the Cintiq read my post about Wacom tablets.

After Karen chose her favorite images she began to discuss different tips and tricks for extracting a subject from their background. One of the things I had never thought of before was using a textured brush to create the masking, using a leaf brush for foliage or a hair brush for a furry animal. I have always struggled with getting clean extractions around hair, fur, or trees, so I am really excited to try this tip.

The day ended on that point. For the second day of Class Karen has told us we will be working on completing our extractions and putting together the different elements she will be using from the photos of Alice. After that she is going to discuss how to create light, shadows, and other editing techniques to ensure that the piece looks like it was shot all as one image as well as add a fun fantasy vibe to it. I am really excited to watch the live stream today and I hope you will be joining me. This is also a class I will be adding to my favorites in my digital library along with Watercolors 101 and Photoshop for Photographers. I’m also excited to combine composite creation in Photoshop with Corel Painter to create more images like this one of my daughter.

Digital composite created in Photoshop then painted in Corel Painter | Smithsquad.com

What have been your favorite CreativeLive classes or which ones are you looking forward to? Do you have any awesome compositing tips or tutorials to share? I love seeing new links to explore in the comments.