13 Highlights from Life and Business in 2021
I think highlights look a little different now than they probably did pre-pandemic. Somethings I cherish and appreciate a whole lot more than I did before when seeing friends and family was a part of life. And I bet everyone’s highlights from this year will include a little something that seems commonplace but in our current reality, was like an energizing boost for getting through the weirdness.
Art Collections + Painting
My life was upside down this year not only because of COVID but because I was going through the Swedish immigration process. My plan was to create print releases so that I could be confident I could get everyone’s orders out no matter where I was living at the time. I planned for a few print collection releases but what prints those would be, I didn’t know. I definitely did not plan on releasing an original collection but, when creativity strikes in me all bets are off.
The Tropics Art Print Collection
These super vibrant and lush tropical landscapes were painted in the dead of winter in Sweden. I painted the places I longed to be, sipping piña coladas with my toes in the sand. It was my first foray into acrylic paints and took me to a new place in my painting practice. I’ve fallen in love with the textures and streaky colors I can create with acrylics. Also moving from dark to light is so much easier than moving from light to dark in watercolors. It’s a nice new medium for me to add to the mix now when I need to step away from my watercolors. I reworked these prints a few times but I’m so pleased with how they turned out.
Here’s a review from recent collector Ellen,
Click to view the Tropics Art Print Collection
The Flowering Fruit Art Poster Collection
| I am so proud of this collection! It took me YEARS to find a groove with Procreate and I’m really into the fun textures and painterly style I landed on. This was my first time adding type into a collection and I think I’m addicted. As I look towards my goals for 2022, adding type into the mix is something that keeps popping up. What I really like most about these food prints is that the art seems quite neutral. The art prints look good in a variety of home decor styles. Not only that, I don’t feel they are overly masculine or feminine. They have a good mix of both. It was also my first time offering my collectors the option to go BIG with their walls. These prints go all the way up to 27x39 inches!
Here’s a review from recent collector Bryan,
Click to view the Flowering Fruit Art Print Collection
American Landscapes Art Print Collection
| While working on the Tropics Collection, I found a groove with acrylics and because the Tropics pieces felt wrapped up, I wanted to move on to another collection while I still had that groove. Sometimes you have to work often and quickly so that the muscle memory doesn’t flee before you’ve finished a collection.
Missing the States and traveling, I opted for a few national parks and general landscapes around the US. I used Unsplash for photo references for many of these. Many of these prints have been purchased in their larger size offerings like 24x36inches. I’m stoked about that because I was intentional in how I selected and arranged these. I see every piece in this collection to be placed in statement positions in the home. Like hung above the bed in the master bedroom or guest bedroom, hung about the mantel or fireplace, or hung above the couch in the living room. Statement piece home decor did seem to be a common thread in 2021 for me.
Here’s a review from recent collector Jamie,
Click here for the American Landscapes Collection
The Firework Flowers Original Fine Art Collection
| Boy, this original collection really came out of the blue. I was not going to release an original collection this year because of immigration. Having to go back and forth every three months made it really difficult to plan a release. But when inspiration strikes it strikes. In the middle of a 30-day challenge, all the ideas were flooding in. It was my first time using 18k gold leaf. My first time painting on cradled wood panels. And my first time using acrylics in an original collection. I thought, well why not give this a go. If no one likes them at least I was able to experiment and see where the process takes me. Well, they did sell and this collection ended up being one of my best-selling collections to date.
Here’s what a lovely collector of mine said once snagging her piece,
Click here to view the Firework Flowers Collection
My 30 Day Art Challenge
I found myself in a creative slump in June and really needed to pull myself out of it. When I get into a creative slump sometimes I have to force myself to paint for the sake of painting. To not have an agenda with the art and to simply play. Sometimes I need more structure though. This was a moment I craved structure. So I started a 30 Day Art Challenge. I gave myself my two favorite things to paint most, food and florals and from there everything goes. Any medium I wanted. I used watercolors, oil pastels, acrylics, and even some chalk pastels. I could paint for 30 minutes or four hours. All I had to do was start and finish a piece, of any size I wanted. Some of it was really bad. Some of it was good. One-piece started the inspiration for my Firework Flowers Collection. I love doing little challenges like this because it jump-starts your creative inspiration again.
A Dog Pet Portrait: Woody
My brother, Joe, got a dog this year. His name is Woody and he's an absolute diva. You must carry him down the stairs. His legs are fine. Joe wanted a big portrait of Woody done for his living room. I don’t usually do portraits but it was for my brother and not a collector trusting me for the first time. There seemed to be less pressure, although I still wanted to do right by Woody or he wouldn’t let me near him otherwise. As I said, Woody is a diva so I knew I needed to add real gold to this dog portrait. I painted him in a unique color palette and gave him an 18k gold grill. It’s one of my favorite paintings to come out of this year. Now, I love painting pet portraits! Need a pet portrait? Let’s talk!
Swedish Visa approval
I’m sure you’re tired of my writing about going through the Swedish immigration process. I’m tired of it too tbh. But one of the true highlights of this year was getting my visa approved. Finally, I can get excited about starting my life in Sweden and getting into a life routine there. It’s been an insane process of being separated from my partner for months at a time and it’s proved to be truly difficult to run a home-based creative business while being uprooted like this. That part is behind me and I can look forward to making the move, the more permanent move, to Sweden.
My Friend's Murder Mystery Party
As I mentioned in the introduction, things that made it onto my 2021 highlight reel may not have made it on during more normal years. I threw one of my friends a murder mystery party for his birthday. It was 1920’s speakeasy-themed and we were all decked out in the roaring twenties attire. We hired a bartender to sling 1920s cocktails like the Sidecar and Bee’s Knees (a favorite of mine). It was the first time many of us had been in a group environment and that sort of contact and fun with friends was joyous. I cherish family dinners and time with friends in a whole new way now, as I’m sure you do.
| During the summer, Will and I traveled to Greece. Greece has become a sort of big part of my life now after being with Will. He’s gone there nearly every year of his life. His family flocks to Aegina, a Greek island that family members have lived on for a number of years. It’s a special sort of place to me now. A childhood memory that's been introduced by proximity and association. It was our first true vacation in three years and it has become one of my favorite weeks to date. Life on the islands is slow and meandering. Beaches have always been a place that triggers gratitude in me and being on an island, I felt real joy each and every moment there.
I often don't take many photos on my trips because I'm enjoying myself too much. I snagged this photo off Unsplash. Credits to Woody Van der Straeten.
For many of my birthdays, I travel and make my family meet me there lol. This year we went to Spain for my 30th birthday. Barcelona and Granada. Granada, I’d already been too but I hadn’t been to Barcelona. One of the highlights of the year for me was seeing the Palau de la Música Catalana. The pictures just don’t do it justice. Will and I lazily made our way there late one morning and stumbled onto an orchestra and choir practicing. We sat for an hour in some of the best seats in the house and watched this performance unfold. I was gobsmacked at our luck. The music was stunning and to have been able to enjoy the show in a setting like that is an experience I’ll never forget.
Getting Star Seller in my Etsy Shop
| In October, Etsy started a new credential called Etsy Star Seller. Star sellers have a 5-star rating, on-time shipping, and reply to customer inquiries within 24 hours. It’s a high standard for quality and customer service. My Etsy shop qualified the first month and every month since. It may seem like a small thing that doesn’t really matter but it’s a nice little pump up for working as hard as I have to create a good shopping experience for my customers.
View my Etsy shop here.
Art Licensing with Juliet Meeks
| I bought another course this year even after telling myself DO NOT BUY ANY MORE COURSES. I’ve bought so many courses and I rarely finish them. So many of them are convoluted and leave you in the weeds without ever coming around the bend. Not Juliet Meek’s Licensing for Artist course.
Art licensing is something I’ve been keen on getting into and developing for my business. I paint with vibrant color and often paint foods and florals that I’ve turned into cute patterns and surface designs perfect for licensing. But I needed to learn all the bits and bobs of the business. I plowed through this course in a week. It was perfectly succinct with action steps and left me feeling confident and well-equipped to begin outreach. If you’re looking to get into art licensing I highly recommend taking this course. Her course opens again in January so it’s the perfect time to get on board!
Click here to view Juliet Meek’s Art Licensing Course.
Brand shoots with Kimberly Hoyle
| Photography is hard. Photographing my own work is something I really struggle with. I made it a point to find and build a relationship with a photographer this year to better build my brand imagery. I started working with Kimberly Hoyle and LOVE what we’ve created together. She’s a badass photographer and small business owner and has a great eye for lifestyle/branding photography. I’m trying to rack my brain on how to get her to Sweden a couple times a year now lol. Most of the brand photography on my website is shot by her. If you’re local to Brevard, Florida, and need some photos she’s your girl.
All in all, it's been a crazy year again with COVID and going through immigration but there have been some amazing moments! I'm so thankful for all the collectors who make this life possible.
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