Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The "Bono Project" - Chasing A Dream

In my last blog, I shared the story of my friend Sheila and I collaborating to create the "New Creation" limited edition piece. About that time I texted her with another crazy idea of mine...

Her response was "EEEEEEK! Girl. Let's dream big and do it. Get me the pic/file/whatever. We have nothing to lose." So, several emails, texts, and decisions later we came up a very special one of a kind piece meant for him. She used a gorgeous cross and Christ charm of an antique rosary that belonged to an Italian immigrant. And on the reverse side of my iris painting, a piece from an vintage song book titled "Mother's Love".  It is truly beautiful!

All along this journey I received encouragement that this was really going to happen. Even on the flight to NY when I shared the crazy idea with my neighbor when asked where I was going, she too said "It's going to happen!".  Saturday, my friend Taffy Jo and I found our way to a place where we thought we may have a chance to meet him. And this happened...

I said something to him something like "This is an image of an iris I painted from my mothers garden." and I told him about the cross and the charm and then showed him the back of the iris where the music is and then I said "My moms favorite flower was the Iris. She passed away this past year." 

He was truly touched and proceeded to take off his hat and handed it to me to hold while he put the necklace around his neck. After he placed his hat back on, I remembered I had a box too and then my hands started to shake nervously as I handed it to him.

In the box were letters Sheila and I had both written to him and my business card. (I included a few photos in my letter, one of my mom and I and told him about her.) He gave my hand a squeeze and moved on. Thank goodness for Taffy Jo! She captured all the photos and was able to tell me more about his reaction and about the hand squeeze because I couldn't remember much of anything. 

I hope to hear something but of course I understand if I don't. I still would love to ship a large painting to him one day. Here's how we shared the news with Sheila...

After Bono came out to say hello, Larry made his way around. He shook hands and said thank you to everyone. I thought that was so kind. And boy what a strong handshake by the way.

And soon after Larry, Edge came around and shook hands. On my way out the door to leave for NYC, I literally at the last minute tossed one of my small egg paintings in my bag just in case I met him. I mean, really? Well, we did meet him and took this selfie.

He was moving so fast, but Taffy Jo somehow managed to get the egg into his hand. You can see it here. I'm sure he was wondering what it was. On the back I had written the title and a scripture and my email address.

What I posted on instagram sums it up best. It's indescribable when you have the opportunity to share your gift with someone who has shared theirs with you for as long as you can remember. Bono was not wearing the iris it at the concert we attended Sunday, but his performance of "Iris" even more moving to me. Here's a video someone else took that night here. I have to be honest, I cried during the entire song. 

I hope the Edge will enjoy the tiny Egg oil painting and that Bono will enjoy the necklace. It sure was a blessing to me to share with them and I hope it blessed them too. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Creation

There is nothing like getting a fun package in the mail. When I found a package from artist Sheila Atchley in my mailbox I could hardly wait to open it! Sheila is a new friend of mine who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

I had been longing for one of Sheila's gorgeous pieces and, after seeing a collection she posted online, an idea came to me. Why not work together on a piece? So I shared this crazy idea of mine with her and she was game! So I sent a piece of my artwork to her and the rest is history as they say...


Don't you love it?! Sheila hand soldered and dreamed up this one of a kind piece of wearable art we titled "New Creation". I love its length and weightiness...and the beading...and the details like the bird and the toggle! The pendent is hung by a removable clasp. Oh, and the reverse side is even special too...

So here's the fun part!

YOU have an opportunity to have one too! Because this is a one of a kind statement piece, it has a hand crafted limited run of only 25. Pictured here is number 1, so there will be only 24 more made! They are priced at $75 (shipping is included).

Like they say, "Act now!" if you would like to have one too! Just click here to order via Sheila's online boutique.

To learn more about Sheila Atchley Designs, visit her website: 

It has been an absolute joy to create and to share this with you!


Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Throne of Agony!

Author Sally Hogshead who wrote that wonderful book"How the World Sees You" sent an email newsletter this week that really resonated with me. And here I am. In the very predicament she described. I am in what she calls the "throne of Agony"! Ready to throw in the towel and feeling frustrated and discouraged.


Dr. Hogshead says this is part of a five step process to a creative breakthrough-

1) Possibility  2)Doubt  3)Agony  4)Epiphany  5)Finesse

My friends and I have called it "the ugly phase". It's when you really wrestle with a painting and panic sets in and you question if you are really an artist at all. Really, we do! And we've learned that it's not THAT bad and it really will feel wonderful when we can breakthrough and make something out of a real mess. Ah, finesse! Will this one ever get there?

I'm in a panic because there are deadlines and people waiting on me to create something they will love. Realizing that I should stop for a while, I put the paints away and chose to blog about this "throne of Agony" moment and share a little insight into the studio life with you.

Like Sally Hogshead says, "The Agony is a valuable, healthy, and necessary part of creating anything worthwhile." (And like Scarlett says, "Tomorrow is another day.")

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Do one thing every day that scares you." -Eleanor Roosevelt

I'm going to be completely honest and share something personal here. Do you ever struggle with negative self talk? I do sometimes and I have been working to improve that. Today was a great example.

"Grandaddy Parker's Barn" -Amy Crews © 2006

Barns. I used to paint them quite often. In fact, I used to pride myself on having a new barn each year at the local art show. And then my nests and florals took off and, in order to present a more cohesive exhibit of my work, I steered away from landscapes.

I always have my camera in the car and as a result I have a collection of photos of landscapes that have inspired me.  Having focused on "still life" for so long, it can be a bit intimidating to paint landscapes again. So I've been putting it off.

A photo from my car window. I loved the light on this tree!

One day I mentioned to an artist friend that I may paint a barn. Her response was "But you don't do landscapes." I was taken aback but realized she had not known me back in my barn days. And it's true, I have not done many landscapes since knowing her. She didn't mean any harm at all. She's one of the sweetest people I know! I bet she had no idea how those words would stay with me. Just in case she reads this, let me put this disclaimer's not you. It's me. I promise.

Another friend shared a photo that I fell in love immediately so asked her if I could paint it. A landscape though. A gorgeous serene and dreamy place! I put it off because I kept hearing a voice in my head say "But you don't do landscapes". Today I did though. One step at a time.

Sure, I'm a little rusty and may not be as fast as I am with other things I paint. But it was fun! I just looked at it as time well spent out of my comfort zone. I need to do more landscapes and I look forward to looking through the photos collected. With each one I do, I'll get more confident and more efficient I'm sure. How about you? Is there anything holding you back? Anything you've been wanting to do but have avoided?

Here it is! I'm happy with it. I'll probably tweak it some more tomorrow.

Monday, March 30, 2015

My Top 3 Books for Beginner Artists

We all have them. Books we love that made an impact in our lives and that we tell others about. Here are the 3 books I suggest the most.

1) "If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of The Boat", by John Ortberg
My cousin gave this book to me years ago now. It was a time when I was nervous about putting my artwork "out there" on the market. This book is great for encouraging the reader to take risks and face your fears. You may have guessed it from the title, but the book uses the biblical story of Peter walking on water as an example throughout. Some people never get out of the boat! But like Ortberg says, "You are one step away from the adventure of your life." I love his sense of humor too.

2) "The Creative Call",  by Janice Elsheimer
Whenever I meet someone who says they "used to" paint or put to use any sort of creative gift, I encourage them to just do it! I firmly believe that we each were created with some sort of gift that the world can use or benefit from. Sometimes we've stopped using our gifts because we're too busy or maybe because we were once criticized. This book will help reignite your inspiration and help you work through anything that may be holding you back. It too is a faith based book and has suggested prayers and scriptures throughout. You can work through this alone but I think it's great to share and discuss with friends.

3) "How the World Sees You", by Sally Hogshead
This is a recent find. Sally Hogshead says we were all created "fascinating" and learn to be boring by being told to conform, color in the lines, and do like everyone else does. She says the trick is to un-learn boring! With her advertising expertise and years of experience, she created a test to determine what strengths you have that make you unique. (The book comes with an online access code for taking the test.) Everyone can benefit from this information. She also provides coaching and helpful tips on how to make the most of what makes you fascinating to get the best results for your business. It's a positive approach focusing on your strengths.

How about you? Do you have any books that you find yourself quoting or suggesting more than others? I'd love to hear about them!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Seeing Double

Copyright has been in the news again this week. There seems to be blurred lines between copying to learn and copying for profit. And not just in the music industry.

A friend of mine was shocked to see people inside the Louvre Museum on a recent vacation copying the art. I told her it is ok and that they even rent easels there for that very purpose. The masters themselves learned at that museum the same way!

I found this fantastic article about it in Smithsonian magazine back in 2001 at my dentist's office. I have never been to Europe but this is number one on my bucket list. They let me keep the magazine. I still have it on my coffee table.

"El Jaleo" after John Singer Sargent by Amy Crews

This Sargent I copied hangs in our living room. In art school I was taught that it's ok to sell copies of another persons artwork just as long as you reference the original artist and that the artist has been dead for a significant number of years.

These two paintings went to court. The story is here. I hope the artist is not hiding his work now.

Sometimes at an art show someone will say "That artist over there is copying you!!" To be completely honest, it's like a punch in the gut but if you know me, you know I'm not going to say anything about it.  It's an uncomfortable situation to be in.

My booth shot from a show back in 2006.

Many new artists will imitate other artists until they find their own voice. There are times when you happen to find the same thing inspiring or there is a trend in the marketplace. They even said in art school "There is no true original idea." But I was taught, and I agree, that is is just wrong to blatantly copy someone's work when it is for profit. 

Kleon has a great way to sum up what he calls theft.

Every time I see a copyright story in the news I think of the book "Steal Like An Artist" by Austin Kleon. It's a dilemma and an uncomfortable topic to discuss. How about you? Does it frustrate or flatter when you feel like you've been copied? For more by Austin Kleon check out his website 

Monday, February 9, 2015

LOVE (what you do)

Two weeks ago my cousin Becky shared an article with me titled "10 Signs You've Found Your Calling". I related to all ten but number two on the list is "Mystical Things Will Start Happening" and number seven on the list is "You May Find That Money Flows In Just As You're Ready To Throw In The Towel" hit home recently. Ah, the old "there are no coincidences". Providential I like to say. These are the gentle nudges that keep me on this path with my art and reaffirm that this IS what I should be doing at this moment.

Christmas Eve is when this story begins. It was the beginning of the realization of an accounting error that was a real doozie. I mean to tell you, if I was an employee I would have fired myself. That bad. Basically, I did not have my reading glasses on and let's just say I significantly undersold a piece of art. And not just any piece, but my favorite. Heartbreaking! So I had a southern come-apart and prayed and quickly had to let it go.

A day or so later I received a very enthusiastic email from a gentleman out of town who had been "stalking his wife's Facebook page" and decided he wanted to really surprise her and give her one of my paintings, maybe travel to come and meet me. Later, when we spoke on the phone he said she had long admired my work and described a particular painting he remembered. As "luck" would have it, I had a painting that sounded just like it in his area. I relayed to him that it was on display as part of a special exhibit in a friend's counseling office and then I got he and my friend in touch with one another. Fast forward a few weeks, he went to see it and loved it and when the exhibit was over he took it home where he hid it in his attic. It would remain until his wife's birthday at the end of January. (I LOVE being in on surprises like this!)

As if this didn't sound like a romantic movie script already, his wife got a call from a friend who needed to borrow crutches. "Sure!" she replied and where were the crutches? Yep, in the attic! So she soon called her husband and exclaimed her delight and professing her love for him having accidentally found her birthday gift. He begins to tell her about talking with me and the story behind the painting and she stopped him and said she already knew it because she met me in person at an art show months ago where I told her the story myself. Even better, she had taken a photo of the painting and still has it on her cell phone because she wanted it so badly. I got goosebumps when they relayed that to me and it's with their permission that I am sharing this story.

She saw this painting at it's "debut" show in May. Afterwards it was a part of a show on Pentecost where I was asked to share my story about the piece (I posted the story in June on my blog entry titled "No Place Like Home"). Later it spent a short time in a gallery and then at another show this fall where it almost sold multiple times and then was selected to be a part of my friend's journaling exhibit focused on "Rest" (she blogged about it here). Maybe it's a stretch, but I do believe this painting had several purposes, the last of which was to be in this very couple's home. Providential. Oh, and the accounting error? It would also seem that the sale of the piece helped recover a good bit of that lost income. In the end, my painting "No Place Like Home" answered so many prayers. 

"Here is the picture from the art show where I first met you and fell in love with this piece and your story behind it! It has been waiting for us!!" - Her cell phone photo & comment she posted on my Facebook page

It delights my soul when things like this happen. I don't feel like any gifts I have are mine, but God's. I don't think I'm any kind of super hero by any means. I just sincerely desire to do whatever it is He intended for me to do with the talents instilled in me. And that may not always mean doing what I am doing now. But as long as I receive these kind of "nudges" I'll stay on this course. 

Today's nudge. As I am proof reading and debating on whether or not to post this I received a phone call. Would I do a painting in memory of someone who is losing a baby this week? Oh, my heart. A pain I cannot fathom. But yes, of course I will! And again, it will an honor to be a small part in someone's journey.

Friday, January 16, 2015

True Story

I received an email today from a friend of mine. It said she had seen a fish picture I did yesterday while at the University of Alabama's Gadsden Center. I had to laugh to myself. I had not thought of that fish in years! I don't think she knew the story behind it and it's really one worth sharing. I thought it best to write it down. To make a long story short...

Almost ten years ago I was invited by the wonderful Bobby Welch to be a participating artist in the "Gadsden Reads" program. This city-wide literacy program would be featuring the book "Big Fish", written by Daniel Wallace. I'm sure you are familiar with the kind of city wide projects that feature large colorfully painted statues scattered about town? Well, Bobby was commissioning a few Alabama artists to paint a SIX FOOT FIBERGLASS CATFISH. (Sorry. Caps seemed appropriate.) These would be sold to businesses as a fundraiser as well as a fun way to drum up interest. I agreed and for weeks we had a gigantic fish, complete with whiskers made out of weed eater string, in our basement. Since nests were my "thing" I envisioned covering this fish with sticks and titled it "Fish Sticks".  My son who was five or so at the time named him "Fin". I don't think I ever told Bobby this, but I hid my name in the artwork just for fun. 

"Fish Sticks" aka "Fin" before it left our house for his wild adventure.

To unveil these marvelous creatures which had been mounted along Broad Street in Gadsden, Bobby found a truck to pull a decorated pontoon boat down what he now referred to as "the Broad River" and the artists onboard would lean over the edge and, with a long pole, remove the drape that was covering their fish to unveil it for the crowd walking alongside in somewhat of a parade of one vehicle fashion. Here's the website with my bio and photo of my catfish. Below is a photo of the unveiling.

Bobby (lower left) helping me as I reached from the boat. My daughter looks on from behind. 
Do you see my name on the fish? This was on the cover of the Gadsden Times.

Every good story has a tragedy they say and here it is. Someone stole "Fish Sticks"! And not long after it's debut either. And really, I was ok. It had served it's purpose and in this tragedy it gained another one. It made the 10 o'clock news and people, out of kindness but mostly out of good humored fun, began a memorial at the site of the empty pole where "Fish Sticks" once stood. There were fish lures, flowers, fish food, and tall memorial candles. It's pictured below. Bobby printed "Have you seen this fish?" posters offering a $500 reward and they were everywhere. I made t-shirts with that poster on it for our family and I even wrote a short poem about it. Click here to see the poster and poem. 

"Have you seen this fish?" reward poster and memorial on the pole, now empty.

The picture my friend saw yesterday was probably a poster pictured below that shows all the fish painted for this event. In the end, this tragic tale helped draw more attention to the wonderful reading program and we made some great memories. I so enjoyed spending time with Bobby and the other artists. Daniel Wallace the author also painted a fish. He was kind enough to autograph his books for my mother and I. I loved the movie version of "Big Fish" as well as the book.  This crazy story seems right in line with it. And did you know it is a felony to destroy public art? I did not either. But they did find out what happened to Fin and those who destroyed it were caught.

"The Big Fish of Broad Street" poster my friend saw (autograhped)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Happy New Year!

In a recent post titled "How to Forget about 2014", Donald Miller quoted someone who said this about life...the windshield is much bigger than the rearview mirror. I love that. People who focus too much on the rear view are less able to steer and make good decisions or changes for what's ahead. I thought it might encourage someone if I were to share my rearview mirror story. I hope you don't mind.
I have said more than a few times, "I can't wait for 2014 to be over." In January I found my mom at her home in one of those situations we all fear will one day happen. That was the beginning of an almost 6 month fight for her life and quite an emotional roller coaster. The exhaustion felt almost unbearable as did the heartache. She passed away in the middle of 2014. And the remainder of this year found my family and I dealing with grief. You hear about the phases of grief and about how time heals all wounds, etc. Indeed, grief is quite an individual thing and I am confident now that it varies from person to person.
Here comes the "but". BUT there were jewels in 2014 as well and if I were to erase the year from my memory, or rearview, I would not have them to treasure. The ol' circle of life kind of things, like the birth of our nephew Tucker and two beautiful weddings. Both weddings were at crucial times but in each of those times we were able to celebrate the moment. And dance. I love that! Somehow it's like a rebellious response against whatever is trying to rob your joy. Despite it all, we knew this was good and right and we were able to set aside any pain for a moment. It didn't go away. It just didn't have so much power. Some would call that "surprised by joy." And this year I traveled with my children on some pretty spectacular trips. I will never forget a breathtaking, clear and starry night when I was dancing and laughing onboard a boat in NYC's harbor with a crowd of happy high school students and parents...

Life is so very hard. And life is so very beautiful. I experienced both simultaneously in 2014. I do believe God gives us more than we can handle. Because it's in those times when we come to our own ends, we cry out to God to help us. He was faithful. He is faithful. Good bye 2014. I will never forget you.

Happy New Year!

Now let's dance...

*Special thanks to my friend Diana Contorno for the images and the laughter.