Read any good books?

A few months back, maybe it’s been as long as six months now, I became serious, determined, and doggedly insistent on finishing my novel. It was a sudden compulsion to finish a project that had been hanging over my head for so many years. Very similar, in fact, to the sudden compulsion that strikes me to clean out a messy closet or vacuum the car. It had to be done and nothing would get in my way!

And now I am in the ‘final edits and fine tuning’ period of my first novel. It’s a magical feeling of accomplishment.

That is not to say I didn’t have moments of gnashing my teeth – times when I drove my husband to gnashing his teeth, too – but now there is less gloom and doom and more positivity and hopefulness. The hard, cold days of winter have ended and spring is transforming the landscape.

That said, since I am in the later phase of the book and the bones, muscles and arteries are in place, I have more time and ability to read other novels. Side note: Once I became serious about this novel, knowing I was writing for publication, I couldn’t read other books. Their storyline or characters were just too much for my brain to keep straight in addition to my own storyline and characters. I needed a ‘quiet time’ with my own ideas. Many pages later, I think I made a wise decision.

But I will say this: To anyone who is currently writing or will be writing a novel, reading is such a grammatical and creative muscle toner. I followed the advice of other writers who suggested writing every day as well as reading for a few hours each day (aside from my aforementioned hiatus). As my husband likes to put it, I ‘ingest’ about 1-2 novels a week depending on their size and my interest level. But some I just can’t get cozy with and, for the sake of time and my happiness, I put them down. I used to look down on this behavior until one day it dawned on me: Life is too short and full of too many books to suffer through one that doesn’t match my vibe. Most of the books I pick, however, are delightful and swoon-worthy.

Here are some of the books I just ‘ingested’ or am currently ‘ingesting.’

Amazon link to ‘The Love Goddess Cooking School

A lighthearted, easy read. It made me crave Italian food so if you’re giving up sweets or pasta for Lent, I’d wait it out.

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

Amazon link to ‘The Martian’

I loved this book. It was recommended by a consortium of librarians and they did not let me down. It’s full of electrical engineering jargon, which went over my head, (I’m more of a biology/chemistry gal) but that didn’t stop the enjoyment. If you like science fiction, this is a great read.

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

Amazon link to ‘The Hobbit; or There and Back Again’

This read was inspired by Peter Jackson and the liberties he is taking with the movies. I enjoy the movies, but I wanted to see what the author had intended for this fantastic journey through middle earth. I’m halfway through the novel and delight in the humor and action.

Amazon link to ‘Julia Child Rules’

I read this over the weekend and was thoroughly amused and entertained. It’s a quick read, but a good look at the history, personality and interpretation of Julia Child mixed with a current day, here’s-how-to-find-Julia’s-happiness message.

Amazon link to ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’

I’m getting ready to read this novel, which was recommended by ‘Robin Reads’ on the Columbus Metropolitan Library website. Can’t wait to get it started!

Happy Reading to you!

Cortney

So, I haven’t written in a while…at least not here

I decided this morning that I needed to write a blog post. It has been some time since my last posting because, well, I suppose I’ve been distracted. A good kind of distracted, though!

The first big reason I haven’t written on my blog is this: I’m writing a novel. Oh, yes, a big, giant novel. (Not ‘War and Peace’ giant, but giant enough.) At this point in time, I’d say it’s more correct to say I’m finishing my novel, which feels more akin to finishing a five-year marathon than anything else.

I began the idea so many years ago just on a whim, just for fun. It has taken me on an interesting journey from having fun creating this story to being in the position now that I need to consider things like: literary agents, publishers, copyrighting, self publishing, editors…sigh.

What’s been the most surprising about this hobby was its slow and steady rise into my life’s passion. I enjoy creating art, but creating art with words is something that has entirely transfixed me. The way I feel about writing – the complete passion for it – is a desire that nothing else I have done in my life touches.

The ‘how’ of how I’ve gotten to this point is an interesting, winding path and one that I plan on sharing, but for now, I wanted to send out that update. I’m smitten with writing and I hope it is smitten back.

The second big reason I haven’t been writing on my blog is that my work laptop crashed weeks ago. No prints, no art and in Etsy terminology, my shop had to go on vacation. No fun. But, after a pricey overhaul, the computer was returned to us last night (hooray!), but the AC adapter was no longer working (boo!). As a side note, the AC adapter sounded like a Killdeer crying in our office. That said, we immediately ordered a replacement and hopefully it will be fully operational soon.

While I wait, however, I am not panicking. I get to write/edit/spruce up my novel. That is the best work agenda I could imagine at the moment.

Take care and Happy Tuesday to you!

Finding Nature

I found myself stunned the other day by what a friend mentioned. It was a conversational mention. Not meant to be profound or to be instructive or to be insightful. But it ended up being every one of these traits. Powerful in its own way. Revealing with its perspective. Possibly even prophetic considering how our world is turning.

Here’s the quote: ‘I need to get into nature to escape reality.’

My friend said it with such casualness. Cloaking it between two ho-hum statements that had no significance. It didn’t seem fair. It was like placing a truffle between two pieces of moldy, week-old bread. This assertion deserved more attention. It demanded more dignity.

So now I’m giving it the spotlight because the truth was, this statement downright frightened me. With this assumption, that nature is not reality, then what, my mind asked, is reality?

Is reality the imaginary show we watch nightly for chuckles, thrills and distraction? In other words, the made up shows with made up hair, made up actors and made up scripts representing made up life?

Is reality the phone that can do everything within one click, telling me that I need not have patience anymore? Ergo, if the task at hand can’t be accomplished with one click, good grief, that’s just not efficient and it’s wasting my time! Away with you inefficient two-step apps.

Is reality the internet that has all manner of opinion, thought and idea available to me all in one, writhing mosh pit of information? After all, the people who write stuff on the internet are always the experts, always telling the truth and always fact checking themselves because you can’t publish incorrect opinions, thoughts and ideas on the internet. There are internet cops for that sort of thing. And they are probably employed by Google. At least that’s what I’m told.

Is reality the social networking that must be done every other second of the day because I might miss out on what Jimmy is saying about Susie’s aunt’s cousin? I must know what is happening with this person who lives five states away, who is not my family and who has never met me and never will. It is crucial or my life is over!

For the next second anyway.

If I accept this as reality, then I want to escape it too. I’ll be the first person to place myself on a life raft, lower myself down the side of the boat and paddle to my tropical island. Who’s with me?

I hear you calling out – though I must urge you, to get onto my tropical island, you will have to abandon that phone once in a while.

Now I hear less people calling out.

Coming back to my friend’s statement. If I could edit my friend’s words – play with the choices – I would have the words read something like this: ‘I need to get into nature to find reality.’

Is not nature the ultimate reality show? This morning while watching the whimsical songbirds eating gratefully from the bird feeders I had just replenished, a Sharp-shinned hawk came out of a tree and grabbed one little bird from its spot on the feeder. Talk about reality – I want a little therapy after seeing that event! But it was real. No turning back, no story writing, no coaching the hawk how to turn ‘just so’ in order that I might see the talons glistening against the rising sunshine. No. The hawk needed to eat, so it did. Expertly and graphically. That is some reality.

Is not nature the original device that can produce just about anything we need? If we just give it time, that is. A tomato does not burst forth two seconds after placing the seed in the ground. You can’t place the seed in a small bowl of soil, add 1/4 cup of water, stir, place in the microwave, walk away after pushing the ‘one-minute’ cook time button, and –ding- you have a fully grown tomato plant. No. The plant has to grow roots, stems and leaves. The plant has to convert sunlight to sugars. The plant has to absorb water from the soil. The plant has to launch frilly, yellow flowers that have an enticing scent for pollinators. The plant has to grow strong enough to support the weight of a fully ripened tomato. Then the plant can grow the delicious, juicy tomato. That is some patient, worthwhile reality.

Is not nature the original internet, full of every answer we could ever ask? Nature teaches us what color palettes are in season. Nature teaches us how to use patterns and textures together. Nature teaches us how to compose a symphony. It never is contradictory, yet always changing, updating, adapting. If you’ve ever been looking for a true, authentic answer, chances are nature has it, but you have to sit and listen before nature will reveal it. That is insightful reality.

Is not nature the ultimate social networker? No human sound has to be heard for there to be a conversation of monumental quality in a forest. And the speed at which it can be communicated is impressive. The leaves are pushed in the wind overhead. A storm is coming on the horizon towards the sleepy forest. The ominous rustle is felt like a vibration through the forest. The jays call to one another from the edges of the clearing. The squirrel looks for the nearest shelter, but not before grabbing that tasty acorn lying right beside the closest twig. She needs to have a snack while she watches the storm. The chipmunk, hearing the squirrel’s claws climbing against the tree bark sees its opportunity to grab a few more acorns while the competition is away. She scampers, grabs her meal and dashes off to her log just as the squirrel hops aggressively from the tree to grab another tidbit. She scampers back up the tree into her nest. The thunder pierces through the rustling leaves as every living thing in the forest, who has already heeded the alarm, watches the leaves dance with the drops of rain. There is a play, a dance, a conversation happening between plants and animals, different species. All of nature communicating succinctly. That is spoken reality.

So I wish at the time I had this as my answer. The answer to the question my friend never asked. I would have said, my dear friend, perhaps realities are decided – that is, my reality and your reality. My reality will always be nature and technology will merely be the tool, the assistant to help me get through the other things in life so that I might enjoy that true reality – nature. Yes, yes, that is what I should have said to that little loaded truffle of a statement trapped between those two other moldy sentences.

Technology is my assistant and nature will always be my reality.

Creek3

© 2014 Cortney North. All Rights Reserved.

Good bye weekend, hello Monday!

This past weekend was a busy one! Was it for you too?

Saturday I was finishing up a print design that involves magnolia flowers. These colors might be shifting a bit, but the overall design is set. I’ve been designing this magnolia composition for the past week and I am total infatuated with it!

Magnolia Flower by Cortney North

My goal will be to add a few other color editions and have these up for sale optimistically by the end of today. At the very least I should be able to have this color scheme up today.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t added any new paintings to the site, there’s a good reason for that. I’m inspired by nature and colors, which means during the winter of Ohio, the only colors that would come out would be browns, whites, gray and perhaps some muted green. I really enjoy putting bright, colorful prints up online, but I’ve been getting the itch to paint – we’ll see what happens. Will my need for vibrant, punchy color win out? Will I paint the wintery colors and love it? I don’t know! TBD.

In the meantime, I’ve begun working on these graphic prints because they’re fun, new and different. They take far more time to complete than my paintings, but the change of pace has been so enlightening for my creativity.

Sorrento Ocean in Gray by Cortney North

I put up the ‘Sorrento Ocean’ a week or so ago and I loved it so much. It’s the first of many more to come.

That was Saturday. Sunday, which I normally make sure is a genuine ‘no work’ day so I can refuel, I was reading, playing Lego Star Wars with my husband and helping my parents out with their master bedroom re-design. But those are some stories for another day. Especially the book I’m reading. And the master bedroom re-design.

And now here we are! Monday morning, I’ve completed my hour long morning workout, load 2 of laundry is in the washer, it just started snowing – the nice big flakes – and I’m getting ready to finish up the last of the Magnolia flower print to post for sale. Starting off on the right foot today!

I should go celebrate. Perhaps with some of the pecan pie that is calling out to me. It is so beautiful and tasty – so hard to resist. But then what about that great workout? It wouldn’t ruin it too much, would it?

Ahh, the decisions.

Hope you’re having a great Monday morning too – full of post-holiday weekend cheer and great decisive moments just like me! Ha!

Cortney

While making a light dinner last night

Since there was so much delicious, rich food graciously made at family get togethers the past few days, we decided to go a bit lighter last night for dinner.

Our waist lines thanked us greatly!

Avocadoes Avocadoes are among one of my favorite treats on this earth. Pair them with some smoked gouda and I’m in heaven.

While chopping and shredding and chopping some more for the salad, I looked up and noticed the sky. Oh man was it beautiful!

Sunset just beginning When there is only a small range of colors during the winter, I find that I miss seeing the vibrancy of what nature can do. But then it also makes me appreciate the colors when they decide to pop out at unexpected times.

One of those unexpected times was last night. Apparently the blanket of clouds was moving through and it allowed just enough of an opening to let the sun shine its heart out.

Sunset in the middle of its beauty Don’t you love the ray of light shooting upwards? It is always surreal, but that’s all the sun’s doing. No Photoshopping here. No light glares. Just the sun.

The big sunset The colors are majestic.

sunset And then as with most things, it fades quietly and the moment is done.

Sometimes it’s good to spend some time watching a sunset and taking it all in. It’s relaxing. It’s on its own timetable. It roots me in nature. It reminds me to enjoy the little gifts in the present moment.

So that’s what I was watching while I was chopping and shredding and chopping some more at dinner last night.

Wishing you a great weekend and I hope you get to enjoy a great sunset or sunrise at some point soon!

Cortney

Cable Knit room designs because I’m missing my cable knit sweaters

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! We had a great one. It began on Christmas Eve with my husband’s family. It was full of delicious food, lots of family and excited children. The time went by so fast because we were helping the kids play with their new gifts. Like Legos. Those little blocks suck you in for hours! Christmas Day we were with my side of the family at my Grandmother’s house. That was a cozy, fun time spent by the fireplace. It was relaxed and the food was oh-so good.

But, while we were traveling around the state of Ohio to our various get togethers, I was yearning for a few of my cable knit sweaters that I owned in college. It was survival to have sweaters up where I went to college – those winds were piercing! However, ever since leaving college, I haven’t been able to locate those sweaters. It’s such a curious thing. There must have been a sweater thief at my college! Or perhaps it was a roommate giving me a hint.

Either way, I was longing for my sweaters and in honor of my dear departed cable knits, I thought I’d find a few room designs that feature this great winter texture.

Without further ado, here you are: Cable Knit Rooms

What I like: The cable knit is large and in charge here, which provides a great texture difference against the smoother fabrics. It also works to soften some of the hard lines in the room – such as those on the chair and headboard. There’s a great cozy femininity to this room that appeals to me.

What I like: I don’t think I would have thought to put a cable knit pillow in this traditional beach room, but I like how it takes the formality down a notch. It says “I like nice things, but I enjoy being comfortable.” Amen to that!

What I like: I’m a sucker for pattern and this rug has a lovely amount of it. The color bands on the outside add a bit of whimsy.  What kid wouldn’t want to dump their toys in the middle of this rug?

What I like: Textures and patterns are running rampant through this room – and it’s great! The cable knit isn’t the first thing you look at, but I like that it’s in the contemporary room adding a bit of softness.

What I like: Really, I believe this room is a great representation of winter. You have charcoal, brown, white, off white, and twigs in the corner. What is better to snuggle around you in the middle of winter than a big, comfortable sweater. But here, you have a cable knit blanket. The winter room is complete!

Whimsical Christmas Ornaments and foxes as salt and pepper shakers

Before I get to the main subject of my post, I wanted to share these little salt and pepper shakers: My husband and I had to take a trip to Target one night this weekend and as we were looking around, I veered into the holiday home decorating section. I’ve been known to do that a time or two. That’s when I found these two little foxes, which are salt and pepper shakers. The black and gold makes me think of Egyptian art. Love them!

Threshold Porcelain Assorted Salt Shakers Fox/Owl

Threshold Porcelain Assorted Salt Shakers Fox from Target

Inspired by Friday’s post about my childhood ornaments, I wanted to look around and see what ornaments are out there in our vast, shopping universe. I was looking for ones that are different, cool and great conversation starters. Here’s what I found:

Agate Ornament

Agate Ornament at Target – I have a collection of geodes, so this ornament was right up my alley.

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Global Gourd Ornaments from Crate and Barrel. Here’s the story from their website about these beautiful ornaments: Artisans employ the ancient craft of gourd-carving to create these beautiful ethnic ornaments. Each hollowed gourd is hand-carved with folk art flowers and birds and handpainted in sunny brights. This ornament was handcrafted exclusively for Crate and Barrel by women in rural Peru in collaboration with a fair trade group, empowering crafters to earn a sustainable income to provide their families with food, shelter and healthcare.

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Carved Wood Alpaca ornaments from Crate and Barrel – Alpacas, llamas and foxes seem to be taking over everything right now. Have you noticed this? You have, oh good. I thought it was just me.

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PomPom Poodle Ornaments from Crate and Barrel – These made me laugh because they’re ridiculous. I can picture the vibrant Christmas tree they would adorn so well.

Peacock Ornament Sequined Peacock Clip Ornament from World Market – What a great ‘pop’ of whimsy to include on a few branches of the tree. It’s sparkly too – lovely!

Rooster Ornaments Wood Rooster Ornaments from World Market – For some reason I’m on a rooster kick and just love all of their beautiful colors. Wouldn’t these be a great pop of color on a tree?

The wacky Christmas ornaments of my childhood

This has been the view in the backyard for the past week since we were sprinkled, dusted and confetti-ed with snow. I can’t say that it is not pretty – it is. It’s just that I’m from Florida and even after spending more than a decade in Ohio, and some of that time was spent up in the northern too-cold-to-even-breathe part of Ohio, my blood still hasn’t ‘thickened up’ as they say. I’ll take it as a sign to move back down south. I’ll grab my bags now before the snow storm hits tomorrow! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I like the wind blown ripples that form in the snow. Doesn’t this look like the tundra?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Snow cone anyone? I can make you one really quick.

Christmas Ornament This past weekend, we decorated the Christmas tree. This year I decided to use some of the ornaments from my childhood that I haven’t seen in awhile. It’s nostalgic and I like that this time of year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Oh, Sebastian. You and your delightful movie got me through elementary school.

I like that he has mittens, ear muffs and a scarf. And a heart for a tongue. Perhaps he moonlights as a caroler during the holiday season?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I used to read this little book every year. Over and over. Does anyone else have these little Golden Books as ornaments? I think it is such a great idea! Interactive Christmas tree!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’ve included this ornament because it’s well… it’s interesting, and hilarious. When I was a child, I thought it was awesome to have an ornament that moved his legs and arms when you pulled the string.

Now, I’m questioning everything. But it’s whimsical. Sort of. I’m still questioning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Hmm, I didn’t realize this when I was taking the pictures, but I’m noticing an interactive theme to my favorite Christmas ornaments. I wonder what that could mean? Do I have a short attention span? Well, that’s been proven. No research needed there.

As for the ornament: This one moves as though the reindeer is galloping happily through the pine tree forest with a little 3 year-old going along for the ride. It’s fun and moveable. Thus, I like it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Aha! Here’s one that’s not dependent on movement to keep me interested. I did write on it though. I thought it needed a little something extra apparently back in ol’ 1998.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’m not sure about the history of this ornament, but I know it came to live with us later in my childhood. It’s not interactive! It’s not been ‘enhanced’ by my childhood hand! But I did like to put the lights from the tree’s strand inside so it lit up the little love bird’s home.

Side note: This ornament always made me hungry because the birdhouse’s post is a candy cane and the snow on the roof looks like thick, fluffy frosting.

On an unrelated note, I’m going to go eat a sugar cookie with a generous helping of fluffy frosting.

Have a great weekend and if you’re living anywhere where this giant snow storm is hitting, be safe and warm!

Cortney

Office

The Home Office: Some inspired designs to help get inspired in the office

Oh, the home office. Can you relate with me that it’s the place that becomes a catch all, that random room that holds the relics from your college/first apartment days? There’s that desk chair you found at a garage sale that was perfect for the desk you picked up from your grandmother’s brother’s aunt. That chair was only $2, too – what a steal!

Now you’re thinking it’s stealing the successful mood right from the office. Perhaps it’s time to let someone else have their ‘what a steal’ moment. Go ahead, spread the joy!

I will admit, it’s difficult to spend money on home office interiors. Even if you work from home like me, it’s still very difficult to find the justification for sprucing up the place. The public spaces always take priority because other people will be spending time in those rooms. You want them to look nice for yourself, but there is also the element of “but it needs to look put-together for guests.” I don’t disagree and your guests won’t disagree with this either.

And that’s exactly what happens to the extra $500 you set aside for designing your interior. It goes to the public, well loved spaces.

But the office should be given some attention too. After all, what sorts of activities are happening in there? You’re paying your bills, planning your finances, working on a side business, working on your main business, scheduling your activities for the next week, month, etc. It’s called an office because running a home is a business in its own right.

And how would you feel if you had to work at an office that had avocado green shag carpet that was peeling at the edges? What about looking at walls speckled with spackling paste that was never painted over? Or what about your work chair being patched together with duct tape? And a desk that was jimmied together with bungy cords to keep the drawers from falling out? (Side note: I have worked in an office with desk chairs that had duct tape and a desk that had bungy cords. A squirrel also fell through the ceiling. Once. It was very alarmed. So were we.)

It’s difficult to see yourself as serious and successful in those situations because your surroundings aren’t matching what you feel inside or where you’re wanting to go with your life and career. In some cases, it’s only reminding you of your past. So take some time and a little money and invest it into the poor, old home office. Create it into a space you want to work in, you feel successful in and feel positive, uplifting vibes in.

You’ve probably walked in to a number of offices and said, ‘Wow, this is impressive. These people must know what they’re doing.’ Think about what those offices looked like and write down some of the features that made you feel good. Maybe it was a modern looking desk. Or perhaps quality artwork on the walls. Or it was a pleasant paint color on the walls that felt fresh and new. Or it was the desk chair that didn’t need duct tape to keep the arm cushions attached to the frame. Whatever it may be, take some time and some of your design budget and work towards that picture in your head. It may take a series of months, or longer, but step by step you’ll start seeing your beautiful home office come to life.

Here are some inspiring home office designs I found on Houzz that might get your motor running. Or your design fire crackling. Or your financial buzz tingling.

What I like: You’ll notice with all pleasant looking rooms, the clutter is zilch. That’s the case here. The colors are bright and cheerful – there has been attention paid to make sure the accessories, book covers, rugs and art all fit within the color scheme – that’s important to the eye. The furniture has nice, clean lines, which gives this a professional modern appearance.

What I like: A home office doesn’t have to be its own room. The colors (green, black and white) are repeated in this under-the-stairs office to give it a sense of its own space. It’s simple, but still inviting and well designed.

What I like: I wanted to toss in another example of this under-the-stairs look. See that little pendant light hanging just to the right of the computer? What a great way to emphasize this as a room without four walls.

What I like: I would like a fireplace in my office. What a great touch! I spy with my little eye a ceramic horse.

What I like: The colors! If you’re looking for energy, vibrancy and excitement from your home office, perhaps try some bold, energizing colors like these. You’ll be making your finances do push ups with these colors bouncing around the room.

What I like: You would have to do some investing in cabinetry, but it you’re looking for a traditional office look, this neutral color scheme and clean lines might just get you going!

What I like: There’s always the possibility of painting pieces of furniture you currently own in the same color to create a cohesive look. I’m all about giving a face lift to quality pieces!

What I like: I was thinking about my husband and a design he would enjoy. This office is modern, industrial and masculine. No fluffy, girly anything. And it’s complete with a black leather chair. A manly staple.

What I like: If I threw in one for my husband, I wanted to include a dream office for me. Swoon! I would have greens and blues on the interior, but I love the submersion into the garden. Lovely in every way!

What I’ve been up to in the studio

To keep my creativity at a top notch status, I like to try new things in art that I haven’t done before. Or in this case, some things that I haven’t done in a while.

Like sculpture. Back in my later years of college, I made three ceramic horse sculptures. I’ve been having the itch to sculpt again so I picked up some polymer clay the last time I was shopping at the art store. Art stores are dangerous places! I have to watch my basket when I’m in there. One minute, my basket has one pencil and a tube of paint, the next minute, I have three baskets and a cart of enough art delights to supply an elementary school!

Back to my point, I picked up the polymer because it is able to be ‘fired’ in the oven at 275 degrees. It took less time than a casserole! 15 minutes in the oven and ‘ding’ it was done!

So after playing with the plastic clay, here is what I came up with: Horse Sculpture by Cortney North The horse is so fun and whimsical. It’s about 4 inches tall, which is a miniature version of my earlier horse sculptures. I won’t be switching over to polymer clay permanently, but if you’re looking for a project to do on a snow day with the kids – or you just want to sculpt without needing to fire your piece in the kiln – it’s a good choice. Fairly inexpensive for the amount you get. I paid $11 for a 2 lb. box, which had more than enough to make at least 7-8 of these horses. I did paint it white with my acrylic paints, but it turned out a little sticky. I searched on the mighty internet for what to do about a sticky, painted polymer piece (alliteration!) and people were suggesting that the higher quality acrylic paint you use, the stickier the surface will become. Who knew? In this case, cheap is best apparently.

The other project I’ve been up to recently is creating pattern designs. Here’s a little sneak peek at the one I’ve been working on. Ocean Damask Pattern I’ll post about this once it is complete, but here’s a little look before the completed project is debuted.

I absolutely love patterns and have been in love with them since art history in college. I also love interior design and, well, designing in general. It’s really a match made in heaven, isn’t it?

That’s a look into the studio right now. I’m hoping this week the pattern will be complete and I can have it for sale as wall art next week. It’s going to look amazing once I’m done with it!

Take care and Happy Wednesday to you!

Cortney