Friday, May 29, 2015

Be A Firecracker

original art © OJD 2015
Happy Friday!!

Recently, I've noticed that some of my art is taking on a FIRECRACKER effect, as I'm playing with a new technique of letting the water droplets fall diagonally to form an overlapping lattice.  

According to this handy little reference glossary, I think my designs look like crosettes:


I created these pieces below as a gift for my friend. Inspiration: *BLUES and BRIGHT !*

                                                          What do you think?
Mid-section shot of the top two
Mid-section shot of the bottom two

Back on the topic of firecrackers, it got me thinking:  what does it mean to BE a firecracker anyway (as an adjective, not as an explosive)?  According to Google...

noun: firecracker; plural noun: firecrackers
  1. a loud, explosive firework, typically wrapped in paper and lit with a fuse.
    • an outstanding, exciting, or attractive person or thing.

      "the book was hardly a literary firecracker"
      Luv that :) 
Also, in support of Ryan Adams' broken rib (yowch!), here is a perfect Friday song:

"Firecracker" by Ryan Adams via YouTube

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Roll Up Your Sleeves

original art © OJD 2015

I wanted to share a new favorite song I heard on The Current by Meg Mac, "Roll Up Your Sleeves", because I feel like I've been doing a lot of that lately with all my little projects going on.  Plus, this song is B E A U T I F U L <3

 "Roll Up Your Sleeves" by Meg Mac via YouTube

Cheers to rolling up your sleeves, whether it's to work, fight, knead bread dough, or fish a spoon out of the kitchen sink disposal.  Everything is gonna be alright ♪ ♫


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What's New Wednesday [#6]

Hi ya'll!  Its been a gnarly week with a lot going on, and I haven't had much time to paint, but I'm back with the weekly recap for What's New Wednesday...:)

Here we go!

My parents visited us over the long Memorial Day weekend and we explored the Southern and Northern Black Hills -- had a blast!  Then, like true winners, we spent the rest of the time relaxing and eating leftover turtle cake [recipe from one of my favorite restaurants in Saint Paul: Cafe Latte!]  We also went to see Pitch Perfect 2, as all proper Packer fans must do!  Did anyone else notice the blonde aca-German from DSM (see the movie, know the acronym) in the preview for next week's Game of Thrones (?!).  

 We also spotted some bison in Custer State Park over the weekend.  Incredible creatures.

In ART news around Olivia J Designs...

While we were showing my parents around downtown Rapid City, I finally got to check out the gift shop at The Dahl Arts Center, and was so excited to see my little greeting cards!  I love the feature sign thing they created -- looks awesome and really catches the eye.  A big thanks to the whole team over at The Dahl and the Arts Rapid City crew!  

*Love this!*

I've been working on a custom wedding logo for a friend, and it's nearly finished!  The couple is getting married in beautiful Costa Rica and the bride wanted a destination wedding/travel vibe for the logo to be used on the invites, luggage tags, etc. -- such a fun idea!  Here's a sneak peek at the design in a few different colors:

Fun fact: "Pura Vida" is a characteristic Costa Rican phrase that means "Pure Life".  Click here for more info!

Lastly, I submitted one of my pieces to an art competition at our new favorite winery out here in the Black Hills: Prairie Berry.  We'll see what happens!  It's for the annual Wine Club picnic invitation :)  It would be an honor to get the opportunity to promote their wine with my painting -- they make the tastiest wines I've ever had.  I submitted this one, entitled "Golden Pines, III" because it reminds me of the view from the winery -- gorgeous pines and bold skies:

Golden Pines, III


I leave you with this "Fire It Up" mashup of Modest Mouse and Lil' Wayne, 
because why not:

 Firemouse -- Modest Mouse vs Lil Wayne via YouTube

Have a wonderful Wednesday! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Simple Pleasures [#1]

Hello!  As I'm in the process of finalizing some designs (digitally), I've swapped my paints for Photo Shop for a short while.  So, for today's post, I wanted to share something fresh: two simple pleasures . . .

1.) Visual: 
A beautiful butterfly on a giant Spring lilac bush that I saw over the weekend

The little beauty basking in the sunshine

It was a humid and semi-breezy day, so the smell of the lilacs really took over the yard

2.) Tasty: 
A recipe for the EASIEST snack in the world: toasted cinnamon coconut chips

I LOVE and buy my unsweetened coconut chips through them, along with a bunch of other items. Penzeys is my favorite spice company and their cinnamon is the best -- highly recommend their other spices, too.  Great quality and reasonably priced.  I use their "Garden Salad" spice mix on everything from salads (duh) to roasted vegetables, soups, and dips.

Super easy --- pre-heat oven to 325°, then sprinkle 1.5 cups of coconut chips on a cookie sheet and top with 1 tsp of cinnamon.  Bake for 5-7 minutes, while turning the coconut over/re-spreading it over the pan to make sure it bakes evenly.  The aroma is heavenly, and will make your home smell divine.

Happy Monday!


Thursday, May 14, 2015


original art © OJD 2015

Today, I'm keeping it short and sweet with a quote from one of my favorite artists, Matisse: 

"Derive happiness in oneself 
from a good day's work, 
from illuminating the fog that surrounds us."

 --Henri Matisse

A foggy shot I took of the Black Hills near Deerfield

Have a great Thursday!  Enjoy  :)


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What's New Wednesday [#5]

Hello there!  

To begin, I must share my new favorite song.  I stumbled upon the movie "Obvious Child" recently.  Pretty sure the name behind the movie is based on the song by Paul Simon, as there is a featured scene where the love-struck maniacs (Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy) are romping around to the heavy drum beats, and basically having the best date night EVER.  That's when I knew I had to find the song on Youtube for myself.  Jenny Slate is fantastic in this film and Jake Lacy does an epic job of playing yet another prince charming boyfriend in a sea of slimeballs.  (think Hannah Horvath's new boyfriend at the end of Girls season 4.  Yep, same dude.)

"Obvious Child" by Paul Simon via YouTube

Back to the news around Olivia J Designs...

So, I finally took the plunge and decided to work  L A R G E R.  I typically work quite small (we're talking 5 inches x 6 inches!), because I like to work on four pieces at a time in a sectioned off quadrant thing.  I actually never work on one piece at a time, but I decided it was time to live a little.  I was also encouraged to paint larger at the art critique last month :)  I fired up a 36 x 12 canvas (the largest I've ever worked with for watercolor), and had at it.  I used this opportunity to create a friends' wedding back-drop project, and I was excited to see how the their signature colors (coral, navy, teal, and a pop of gold) would look.  The plan here is to paint an abstract watercolor with their colors mentioned above, then blow it up take make a canvas poster to hang behind their head table.  I love this idea!  The bride is a visionary.

Horizontal, left side

Horizontal, right side


        I also played with the colors on paper for a wash look with thicker lines.

Then, I selected my favorite chunks of each piece, edited tone/colors in Photoshop, et voila!  I tried to pick a variety (textures, colors, and composition); here's a little sampling:
After the couple picks their favorite, the next step will be adding a bit more gold to glam it up (or you like it more organic?  Still deciding.), finalizing fonts, then getting the canvas poster created for the big day ❣ 

I'm also in the process of finalizing some designs for a logo for a friends' wedding!  This one has been a blast to work on as well, because the bride is seriously a Pinterest diva and has provided a zillion ideas.  Stay tuned for a separate post of that project  :)
Lastly, I was notified that I sold my first STAY WILD bumpersticker this past weekend at The Dahl Arts Center gift shop.   Yay :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Grow Where You're Planted

original art © OJD 2015
Hi there.  Back on the blog after a mini hiatus and a MAJOR May snow storm here in the Black Hills.  We got approximately a foot of snow last weekend....blarrrgh.

Captured this shot as the snow started to stick to the ground and our little Russian Olive tree
So, as a result of the snowstorm and a gloomy homesickness for the Twin Cities, I succumbed to an unexpected bout of the blues, and activities around OJD were put on hold for a few days.  Let's just say I watched way more Big Love than I should have and my consumption of homemade puppy chow sky-rocketed.  The good news is that I'm feeling much, much better now.  Back to painting and designing!  I think I just needed a time-out to calibrate.  With the exception of the daffodils (RIP), I also have a new appreciation for the plants and flowers around the yard that weren't damaged by the snow.  Beautiful little warriors. 

It got me thinking about a quote I heard often while growing up (because we moved several times):  Grow Where You're Planted.   Timely, too, because of the new Spring blooms.  I love this nugget of wisdom, even though it's not always easy to follow. 

Similarly, I've been reading a great book entitled "Body, Soul, and Baby" by Drs. Tracy Gaudet and Paula Spencer.  It's (obviously) a book about preparing for pregnancy, but it explores more than that -- it explains the importance of nurturing your whole self -- body and soul.  Here's a little excerpt from the book:

Good health consists of five different (but overlapping) domains that must be individually strong as well as balanced overall. These five Centers of Wellness are:

1. Nutrition: food, drink, and supplements.
2. Movement: exercise for fitness as well as movement that brings you joy.
3. Mind: the state of your mind, including your stressors and your perceptions.
4. Spirit: a feeling of connectedness to self, to other beings, and to an entity larger than yourself (such as God or nature), whether via spirituality, community, religion, or other vehicles.
5. Sensation: sensuality (the senses: touch, taste, vision, hearing, and smell) and sexuality.

Cheers to growing where we're planted by properly nurturing all of our needs, not just the easy ones :)


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What's New Wednesday [#4]

Welcome to the fourth edition of "What's New Wednesday"!  A look back at the past week of happenings around Olivia J Designs...

One of my best friends from elementary school recently got engaged, and I wanted to make her a special watercolor as a little gift.  She loves blue, purples, and I set to work, and created some different pieces.  I'd never worked exclusively with those 3 colors, so it was really fun to see how the water worked its magic.  I'll definitely dabble with that color trio again :)

I dropped off my note cards and bumper-stickers at The Dahl Arts Center gift shop on Friday.  Their gift shop is stocked with amazing goodies, by the way.  Definitely take a look if you live in or are planning a trip to the Black Hills!  They have a wide variety of different styles and mediums of local art for sale at really reasonable prices. 
The Bachelorette Party invites that I designed arrived, and I mailed them out on Friday.  (Already received a few RSVP's!  Thanks, ladies!)  I also created a little place on the OJD website to feature examples of custom orders.  

Some of my custom fabric designs arrived, and I'm really happy with how vibrant the colors turned out!  I also wanted to see how the designs would look on silk and faux suede, and I'm quite pleased with the results.  Take a look:

Here is that classic Elephant print that I created for the Printed Village contest (still haven't heard about finalists; hopefully they announce soon -- I'm so curious).  This particular design with the orange/peach, pink, and blues is my favorite color combination.  I ordered the fabric in modern jersey, because I wanted to see how it would hold up if made into a baby receiving blanket (thanks to a new mommy-to-be for that suggestion!). 

I'm IN LOVE with the OJD "Bonjour" design in faux suede.  I think it would look fantastic as an ottoman pattern, bar stool, or dare I say (pumps, moccasins, boots?)  Clearly, obsessed with this print.  What would you make?  Available here.

I adore soft materials for lounge-wear; that is no secret.  Very excited to see the OJD "Marilyn" pattern in minky fleece turn out as vibrant as the original design -- the colors translated really well onto the fabric.  I think I see a snuggly pair of socks, robe, or maybe even a Winter hat is in this fabric's future.  Available here.

The fairest of them all is definitely the OJD "Le Jardin du Matin" pattern seen here in silk crepe de chine.  Scarves, blouses, dresses, fancy pajama pants...beautiful possibilities with this custom fabric.

For something new, I decided to see how my art would look as an acrylic under glass.  I have to keep the dimensions relatively small to keep the price reasonable, but I don't mind.  It may be small, but it's sleek, and a collection of maybe 3-5 of these displayed together on a wall would look fantastic. They each also come with wall mounting accessories, which is a plus.

Lastly, I discovered a fabulous British show called "Scrotal Recall" (I know, I know...the name) on Netflix, and it features one of my favorite singers who I had no idea was an actor: Johnny Flynn!  Two minutes into the show, I was like "Is that Johnny Flynn?  His voice sounds familiar...".  So I Googled, et voila!  It was him.  Get over the name of the show, and just watch it.  You won't be disappointed.

To celebrate Mr. Flynn's impressive acting skills, 
let's toast to a timely song of his from 2010, entitled "Churlish May":

 "Churlish May" by Johnny Flynn via YouTube


Monday, May 4, 2015

Don't Delay

original art © OJD 2015
Happy Monday!  

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. The weather in the Black Hills was pretty incredible on Saturday, and we had a little picnic along the Spearfish Canyon area. 
Our dining spot :)
Brought along a growler of Crow Peak's Spiced Brown Ale (delicious)
As I sat peacefully eating and gabbing near the rushing rapids, I was relaxed but an old familiar feeling of dread started to creep in.  That mental anguish I get every year when the nights stay lighter longer and I can smell lilacs in the breeze....I should be doing something else right now...laundry, meeting with that custom art framer, Spring cleaning, following up with recent art contacts, mulching...(the mental list goes on and on).  It's ironic that the beautiful weather makes me think that I can be more productive, because it's so challenging!  In Spring, my Summer schedule really starts to fill up with assorted travel plans, house guests, weddings, the like.  It almost feels like the beginning of the Winter holiday season, but with fewer gifts to wrap and no Bing Crosby.  Along with all these upcoming events to work on and plan for, there are still the day-to-day items to accomplish.  It's tough!  This time of year, all I want to do spend my days outdoors and have a late dinner with my husband on the back porch.  I truly lose momentum for the mundane (but necessary) tasks, both in art and everyday life.  

So, how can I maintain my productivity while still enjoying the outdoors as the weather grows more and more beautiful?  I think the answer is to recognize that I'm procrastinating and to say to myself: DON'T DELAY!  The time will come and go no matter what, so you're probably better off just starting the task rather than not starting it at all.  At a normal, un-rushed pace: catch-up on e-mails, run the vacuum, go buy stamps, mend that button, and then slather on the sunscreen.  It's no fun to frolick in the sun if you're thinking about pending chores. 

The Seasons (series) by Mucha (source)

Our lives get complicated, it's a simple fact.  We need to be kind to ourselves, and realize that with each season comes the need to re-adapt to life's chores -- the old and the new.  That's one of the many reasons why I love the 4 (or 6) seasons.  It's like nature changes the scenery in an effort to force us to stop and re-identify our new seasonal priorities.

"A Summer Song" by Chad & Jeremy via YouTube

Cheers to recognizing the necessity of re-evaluating our priorities, and mastering the mundane tasks just as expertly as we did when the ground was slushy and our warmest scarves were in heavy rotation.  Let's embrace the new season and all of its to-do's. 


Friday, May 1, 2015


original art © OJD 2015
Happy Friday, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Wes Anderson!  Last night, DJ host Jake Rudh from The Current (the best radio station of all time) featured a segment of only songs from Wes Anderson movies.  It. Was. Glorious.  Also have to give credit to Mark Mothersbaugh, the composer who creates those iconic tinkly happy tunes that give Mr. Anderson's films their special zest.

Mr. Anderson looking dapper in a Parisian (?) apartment with an impressive stuffed animal collection (source)  

Its truly been The Season of Love for me lately, as a lot of my friends from around the world are getting engaged, planning weddings, and also contemplating getting's a lovely time.  The song "Le Temps De L'Amour" (translation: The Season of Love) by Francoise Hardy is one of my favorite love songs (it's from the movie Moonrise Kingdom, by the way) and I was thrilled to hear it last night during the Wes Anderson radio segment.  Not only did we play this song at our wedding last year, but we actually printed the lyrics in English for a little framed display thing and had tiny hand-outs of the lyrics for people to keep.  Clearly, this song speaks to me!  Take a listen, and then look at the lyrics -- it's a masterpiece.

 "Le Temps De L'Amour" by Francoise Hardy via YouTube

Translated lyrics to "Le Temps De L'Amour" by Francoise Hardy

This got me thinking, as artists, don't we go through a miniature Season of Love every single time we CREATE a new piece of art?  Ok, that's not to say that we don't also go through a Season of Hate when the art we create is horribly awful and we begrudgingly decide to start over.  During the artistic process, we're focused, we're hopeful, and we're actively engaged in the process of trying to make something beautiful or inspiring.  Sounds pretty romantic to me.

A critical component of art (and love) is patience in unpredictable times.  Maybe it's just my abstract process, but I would say that I create the most meaningful art when I practice artistic patience (similar to mindfulness, but a little different).  Every now and then I paint something by sheer accident and I love it, but most times my art requires methodical patience.  For example, when I'm painting something and start losing hope (but can't exactly figure out why), I find that these pieces turn out to be my best.  When I feel like my artistic confidence is depleted (but a voice is telling my to stick with it), I have to just step back from the canvas or put my piece aside for a moment, and hit 'refresh' in my mind.  Once I've moved onto something else, I can then go back to re-examine the piece with a new set of eyes.  At this point, the painting isn't saying "Uuugh, start over!  I'm hideous!" anymore, it's now saying "Nice to see you again.  Transform me into something lovely, please!". I think this artistic patience thing can apply to any craft, really...crocheting, sewing, sculpture, etc.

Understanding artistic patience is a completely new thing for me, because when I was used to get fed up with technical snarls at my previous jobs, I usually had to plow through them because I had a deadline, lurking boss, or both.  With art, if I'm feeling stuck, I can put the piece aside and go back to it later.  The urgency is still there, but not in the same way.  I LOVE that, because it allows me to CREATE whenever I feel inspired to, not when I'm required to by someone else's agenda.  There are certainly deadlines to meet in the art business, but they're typically driven by the autonomy of the artist.  So if you feel like applying to every art exhibition coast to coast, go ahead and apply!  You're in charge of your artistic enterprise; no one else.  Literally, no one do it.

 Back to Wes...

Above are my favorite photos from my friends' The Wes Anderson Collection book (I need to get a copy).  I adore all of Anjelica Huston's characters in Wes Anderson's films and how cute is Mordecai in that tiny helmet? 

Cheers to having patience for the art we CREATE and the people we love :)

And remember: