Buttercup Farm Journal

Storytelling with Art

September 27, 2010

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As I dig deeper to unearth my true creative voice, I find myself looking for more meaning in my work. What does this piece say about me? Does it reflect my story, my thoughts, my dreams? Am I listening to the whispers that guide me when I am painting, editing, or shopping for the bits and pieces that go into my work?
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Am I recognizing the themes that pop up?
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“Little Church on the Dell” and “Sing it with Spirit” from my new series, “Willie McCarty’s handwriting practice”

What are my inspirations? Do they come from nature, life, books, art, music, heart? Is my work supposed to be beautiful, meaningful or both? And finally, am I creating from truth and reflection?

The answers to these questions are slowly coming through as I attempt to create without fear or self-judgement. All I wish for in my creativity is that it is as it is meant to be.

White

September 24, 2010

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Photo by Shawn Stratmann in her office

It all started last winter when for the first time since I have owned this house, I painted a room WHITE. The room was my office, which also happens to be the room where I spend a good deal of my time. As soon as the color went on the walls, I felt as though I had been reunited with my soul mate…”where have you been my whole life?” I thought as I sat in my clear, energized office.
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From there the take-down began. Room by room I have been incorporating shades of white. First my daughters bedroom. She said she wanted green, but I knew….I just knew we could give her the feeling of a “green room” even though walls were white. .
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She loves it…and so do I.
After that, I added white tile to my kitchen walls….
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Oh lawsy bee….how is it that I never had any white in my house????

Wanting to tie the brightness of the kitchen into the rest of the house, I was ready to tackle the the center hall foyer. Keeping with the cool tones, I added WHITE bead board with a cool dark blue on the walls. I love the connection of white and blue from the kitchen and its white subway and blue/white Portuguese tile to the foyer.
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And finally, the Chicken Coop…..it had to be white.
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I love how with white you can make a room ANY color by choosing accents and artwork. I love how no matter what time of day it is, if the sun is out, it feels bright AND I love how clean it looks.

I am thinking about finishing my “white project” with two more rooms..the dining room and the family room. I still will have several rooms with color on the walls, but that will round out the main flow of my house.

Breakdowns, Slowdowns, and HAPPINESS

September 23, 2010

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“1.2.3. Spiritual Order” acrylic paint/collage by Shawn Stratmann

Sometimes it is hard to see the reasons behind life’s curve balls. Two weeks ago, in one day’s time, my computer broke down, my car broke down, we were rejected by a shelter for a new puppy because we live on a busy road, and I learned that my favorite web designer’s schedule is full until the end of the year just as I am ready to launch my next project.

On this one day, I experienced moments of frustration and probably performed more than one “poor me” speech to my friends and family. As I laid in bed that night, I started thinking about what I couldn’t do without a computer or a car. “I can’t check e-mail or write on my blog, I can’t go here or there…blah, blah, blah”. Just as I was about to close my eyes I looked over at my nightstand and caught a glimpse of the spine one of my favorite books by Byron Katie, “Loving What Is”.

Here is the thing about that moment. I don’t believe there are any accidents. I don’t think I have noticed that book in a year and there it was pulled out and calling me to “LOVE what is”. I spent a minute feeling guilty for my “poor me” attitude and not being grateful enough and then I took a deep breath, and said out loud….”Let it go!!!!” There was a reason I didn’t have a car, a puppy or a computer and I was ready to be open to why and went to sleep.

I woke up in the morning with a burst of energy that I hadn’t had in a LONG time. Wafting into my thoughts was this POST from March.

I haven’t MADE the time to ponder much of anything on this list. I think that subconsciously I have chosen not to tackle the “Fit by 40″ questions because I might FEAR the outcome of some of the answers.

The GIFT of not having a computer to sit at all day or a car to drive around or a brand new puppy nipping at my ankles was that I for the first time in months, had TIME. The list of questions popping into my head needed some attention and I now had the SPACE AND TIME to start answering and to perhaps ACT in accordance.

So here is where I started….

When do I feel the happiest?

I feel the happiest when I call myself an ARTIST. Whether that is through writing, photography, cooking, painting, or sewing….CREATING is when my heart pounds with excitement and time stands still. I am ready to embrace what it means to be an ARTIST. I will challenge myself to create and reflect my true thoughts, self, and vision through my work.

In the two weeks I was without a computer, I completed eight paintings/collage pieces. I patterned and designed two journal jackets and started a pillow set. I completed a Photoshop course at the community college (something I had wanted to do for two years since I got Photoshop) and I read three books on creativity. And finally, I dreamed. I DREAMED and sketched and mind mapped a plan for what is next. I gained some spiritual order for myself (and an inspiration for my art) and I am ready to fly!

Thank goodness for breakdowns and slowdowns. Isn’t it amazing how things happen as they should?

Updating Rooms

September 8, 2010

As fall is approaching, I have felt inspired to make a few changes inside our home knowing that our time inside will expand over the next few months. Here are few of the questions that I find myself thinking about before I make a design change:

  • Does my space/home reflect my goals, dreams, and values?
  • Is the space in my home being used to live the way we ARE living at that time?
  • Are there spaces that are not being used?
  • What has changed about…the seasons? our children? what we enjoy personally?
  • How do I feel when I am in my space/home?

Our most recent change is the room immediately to the left of our front entrance. Sometimes the room serves as a dining room, sometimes a library. The current design is a combination of both.
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Here are some of the answers to the questions that inpired this new design:

SEASONS: As fall is slowing creeping in, we will be dining inside more.
VALUES: I value good intimate dinner conversation.
FEELINGS: I love being surrounded by my favorite books. I love cozy.

This new room feels very European to me. The table is pushed right to the library case and the chair at the head of the table closes in the conversation circle. I love the idea of sitting around the table with a carafe of wine and a few good friends to share it with us. I can see our family sitting at this table on Sunday nights to talk about the upcoming week and life in general. The placement of the table draws me in to reach for one of my favorite cookbooks to plan our meals for the upcoming days.

Right now in our lives, this dining room/library feels RIGHT.

Are you interested in other “nesting” inspiration. Run on over to Melissa’s Inspired Room for a ton of great ideas!

Paris Journal

September 7, 2010

Paris Journal from Shawn Stratmann on Vimeo.

When I found out last fall that I would be traveling to Paris for my 40th birthday, I became instantly smitten with the creative preparation for the trip. I started an on-line search for “how to make travel journals”, and stumbled upon, Mary Ann Moss’s class, Remains of the Day. I knew I had struck gold when I watched Mary Ann’s video showing her free form style of creating and sewing knowing that this style of art is my favorite way to create. I immediately signed up for the class and soon thereafter, began my Paris Journal. Before I left for Paris, I created the cover and all of the papers inside the journal to hold the photographs and thoughts from the trip. I spent extra time making the internal pages out of my photographs and scanned vintage french postcards to convey the Parisian thoughts and feelings that were constantly swirling through my brain.

While in Paris, I filled the journal with thoughts and stories which I wrote directly on the papers I created or on postcards from the places I visited. I stapled pictures I took each day using my new Fujifilm Instax MINI 7s White Instant Film Cameraand when I returned home, I had all my favorite photos printed and just “threw” them in…I LOVE IT!!!!!! This project and Mary Ann’s fun class, have inspired additional journals in the Artist Retreat this summer!

Here are a few additional photos of the Paris Journal:
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Paris and Paparazzi

August 5, 2010

Like many who visit Paris for the first time, seeing “Mona” was at the top of my list of things to do.
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I had heard that she was smaller than one might expect and I would agree with that statement. While I am glad to have visited her, what really fascinated me about seeing her was the sociological behavior of all of the others who had put “visiting Mona” on their list too.
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I would describe it as an organized/disorganized herd of 200-300 people filling a room in a semi-circle (not a line) to get a glimpse of a great painting which is housed in a glass box. Naturally, not everyone could have a clear and close view of “the Mona” and this lead to some very interesting push and pull moments in the crowd. Little regard for personal space was observed while the multicultural mix of people ran their video cameras and flashed their SLR’s in unison trying to get “the picture”. Had everyone been yelling, “Mona, Mona, look here”, I could have mistaken the experience as a Paparazzi moment trying to get the latest shot of Justin Bieber.

To me, the observation of the people looking at Mona was as interesting as actually looking at her myself. I mean, watching hundreds of people from all over the world (push) fight for the chance to see a piece of ART… well….it was a moment that could spur a several hour conversation weaving human behavior related to expectations (thinking that the this piece of art is worth the extra trip), storytelling (the messaging that goes around the mystery of Mona), entitlement (I deserve to be in the front of the circle more than the person in front of me), and the appeal of art (what makes art appealing to one individual versus another). Of the 1,000 pictures I took in Paris, this is one of my favorites…this moment made me think.

Side note: Look behind the crowd at the paintings on the wall. In order to get to Mona, we were paraded by 10 hallways of the MOST GORGEOUS realistic paintings including a room of religious icon paintings that may have been some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

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