Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving and a Sale

 Happy Thanksgiving from Trowel and Paintbrush
I want to wish a 'Happy Thanksgiving' to all of my friends and customers who are celebrating today in the United States. I hope you have a lovely day with family and friends.

I hand-lettered this message this morning in watercolour and then surrounded it with some of the nature finds I have in my studio. I wrote the words in pencil, fleshed out the letters and then filled them with watercolour.

In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving in the month of October! It's always on the second Monday in October. I've always been a little jealous of the American tradition as I feel you have a more formal beginning to the holiday season. In Canada, there's a very long gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I never feel quite ready. Meeko's ready for the holidays though. He told me so.

I've been busy this month although I haven't been posting here on my blog very often. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you will have seen that I've been working on a new series of flower paintings. I will be working at creating prints of them in the next few days. If I have time, I am also hoping to include them in a special project.  I'll let you know.

I also wanted to mention that I am having a holiday sale in my art shop. You can get 20% off, now through Monday, November 30th. Just use the coupon code SHOP2015 at checkout.

 Trowel and Paintbrush

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November Musings

I've introduced a lot of new work to my shop recently. During the past week, I introduced a new collection of pansy prints. They are available individually and as a set. I have a real soft spot for pansies. Aside from being beautiful flowers, they are associated with many childhood memories. I used to pick pansies in my grandparents' garden. An extra layer to those memories and associations is the fact that my grandmother's name was Viola.

This past week, I also had something to celebrate. I passed 2,000 followers on Instagram! I appreciate the people who follow me there so much. Instagram is definitely one of my 'happy places'. It's a great place to feel encouragement and inspiration. A real hub of creativity.

Because I have been working on the computer so much the past couple of weeks to convert paintings into new prints, I find my afternoon walks with Meeko extra restorative. On Friday afternoon, I decided to walk a little farther than usual on a road we don't usually take. The road is bordered by corn fields. It was so beautiful.

That was the day that I learned that Meeko is the colour of a corn field in autumn. Now you know too.

While I do love autumn, November is not my favourite month. I miss the flowers in my garden. I find the lack of daylight hard. It makes taking product photos more complicated. I don't like that it's already dark when Chloé gets home from school. I start to feel the pressure of the impending holidays. I have lots of things to keep me busy in the weeks ahead which is good. Colder days will mean that I can start to walk regularly in the little forest with Meeko again. We've already been a couple of times.

With plentiful studio time and Meeko time, I'll get through November just fine.

Monday, October 26, 2015

My Herb Watercolor Collection

I have been working so hard the past few weeks on introducing new prints to my shop. I had a stack of paintings just waiting for me to spend some time with my computer and printer. Today, I listed my Herb Collection prints in my shop. I am such a perfectionist and I am thrilled with how they turned out. It always matters to me to get the details right. The paper I chose to print them on is really lovely. I don't think that the photos do justice to the delicate detail of the watercolour images and the beautiful texture of the paper. You can have a closer look at the six images in my shop. They are: basil, sage, thyme, lavender, summer savory and mint. I hope you like them!

The herbs in the top photo are from my garden. I picked bunches of them a few weeks ago to dry. I hung them from a big, beautiful branch that I had trimmed off of my spindle tree. That branch now hangs on my dining room wall right above the computer where I am typing this post.

I love having herbs in my garden and I will really miss them this winter.  Here is one of my favourite recipes from this past summer. I formed soft goat cheese into balls and then rolled them in a combination of fresh herbs. I put them in a jar full of olive oil and kept them in the fridge. They were absolutely delicious on slices of baguette. A real hit! The leftover olive oil had bits of herbs and goat cheese in it and was perfect in salad dressings and in pasta recipes.

While I am itching to get back to painting, I have a few more prints to make. Next will be a set of four pansy prints based on paintings I did a few months ago. After that, I will be framing a selection of my small watercolour paintings to sell in my shop. They will be perfect for holiday gift giving!

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for the overwhelming response to my last blog post. It was difficult yet comforting to know that so many of us have been feeling the same things about our Etsy experience, especially during the past year. Thank you for your support. It means so much to me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Breakup

A little over a year ago, in September, Etsy changed dramatically. They had already been making changes that were unpalatable for many of us by distancing themselves from their handmade origins and allowing manufactured products. In September of 2014, they changed the look, feeling and heart of their site by removing the treasuries (curated collections of products) from their front page. Making treasuries was a creative, collaborative exercise that I enjoyed very much. It was a way to get to know other shop owners from across the world and to actively promote beautiful products. My paintings would sometimes make it onto Etsy's front page and it was always a huge thrill.

The front page change was a shock to many of us as it didn't just affect the look of the site but the entire way that we had interacted with it and each other. I didn't fully understand how emotionally invested I was in Etsy until then. I spent days in tears. My husband would come home from work and find me in front of the computer with tears streaming down my face. "Etsy?" he would ask. Yes, I would nod. It's hard to explain. But the shift was profound and I know many others who were similarly affected.

After the initial shock and the realization that this was a permanent change, many treasury teams disbanded. What was the point of them if hardly anyone was going to see the treasuries they made? Some stores left Etsy and set up shop elsewhere. Others held on, hoping that maybe the new version of Etsy would still hold worth and meaning. I guess I was one of them.

The closest analogy I can think of is the realization that your loved one has changed profoundly and that they may no longer be 'the one'. It's hard to make a complete break. You want to believe that the time and emotion you invested are still worth something. You distance yourself. You separate but you leave a change of clothes and a toothbrush at their place, well because maybe? So my Etsy shop has remained open.

One of the most positive things that happened to me last autumn was being invited to be part of a fabulous group of handmade artists and vintage shop owners called Tributary Goods. They created their own collaborative shop of products outside of Etsy and have provided support to each other as most of us began the process of setting up our own independent e-shops. We get each other. There's a lot of strength and a ton of humour.

If you have read my blog this past year, you will know that I bought my own domain name and opened a Big Cartel shop in January. It was a good first step. While I liked how it looked, in June I moved my shop to Shopify for the increased flexibility it gave me in terms of the design and organization of my website. I am very happy there. I love how my shop looks and I am impressed on an ongoing basis with the customer service that Shopify provides. It's stellar. It also makes me proud to be associated with a growing, innovative Canadian business providing e-commerce opportunities to merchants worldwide.

Last month, Etsy rearranged the categories on their front page. Art is no longer a main category. If I was sticking around because I thought that maybe they still loved me, I guess this made things abundantly clear.  There were no tears this time.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the day I opened my shop on Etsy. While my love for Etsy as a company is not there anymore, I know I learned a lot from them. Most of all, I feel huge gratitude to everyone who has bought art from me online since October of 2011. I'm also thankful for the friends I have made there among fellow shop owners. So many amazingly creative people.

I still have some products in my Etsy shop but I am not renewing them when they expire. I am only listing my new paintings and prints on Shopify now. Slowly but very surely, I am moving towards creative control and independence, and concentrating on positive change. Blue skies and possibilities. Do you know what? It feels really good.

"I feel huge gratitude to everyone who has bought art from me online."

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  

Update -- I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has read this post--over 500 people at this point! Thanks to all who took the time to comment whether on my blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or privately. It's good to know that I am not alone and that we've shared similar emotions about the changes on Etsy and that many of us are on the same journey to find independence, stability and artistic integrity elsewhere. Thanks for your support. A big hug to you all. ~ Kathleen

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