Today Ellie only wanted to be outside.
She waited patiently for our walk and when the walk was rather short she seemed to ask for me to let her into the backyard. I knew it was probably our only chance for her to have some good outdoor time this week, but I also was feeling very productive and energized. My to-do list was getting tackled. It was warm-ish a nice 30*F and not too windy, so I let her out to explore the yard.
I noticed she wasn't running into the small patch of shoveled lawn. She wasn't sniffing the branches. She wasn't rooting around underneath the deck. She just was being still.
For several minutes I watched her sitting on the edge of the deck.
And it moved me.
It was as if my sweet little pup was sending me a reminder. To stop and be.
To go outside when the weather is warm enough and take it in.
Breathe. Listen. Be Still.
So I bundled up and took her to the walking trail.
Together we walked on the snowy path.
Breathing in the fresh crisp air.
Listening to the wind rustle through the branches.
Hearing the winter bird songs.
Our steps muffled and our gait slow.
We took it all in. Stopping to smell or snap a photo.
On our way back my glasses grew misty. It was raining or snowing. Just little tiny specs of water. Ellie's fur had collected mini snowballs and her sweater was damp. My cheeks were rosy, and my body warm.
For a moment we stopped. I took a deep breath in, just as a Blue Heron took flight. He had been resting in a small pool of water nearby. Iced over at the edges the water was still moving, creating the most tranquil sound. A moment to be still within.
For the remainder of the walk my brain was at work, creative sparks and ideas were bubbling to the surface. It was as if our walk on the snowy trail path had pulled these thoughts together and brought them to life.
Work will wait.
The world is calling us to come outside and breathe deep. If only for a few moments.
it will be the thing your work needs.
My friend and fellow artist lent me a book recently, ART/WORK
I am reading it slowly and deliberately.
It is helpful in so many ways.
the other day I began working on something that I really had no idea about. Something that you would learn about in art school, but since I didn't go to art school, I had no base knowledge but reading this book brought it up.
And THAT has me thinking...
The more I have jumped into my art career, the more I have learned.
There are things that would've scared me and stopped me in my tracks if I knew about them all when I started out.
and as I write that,
I find it more true than ever.
Personally, professionally, across the board. LIFE.
so much of life is
jumping in and learning as you go.
There are things we don't even know yet. Things that may stop us in our tracks if we do.
so we don't know.
a list of things I didn't know until I learned...
So we begin
I am beginning this year craving a sense of calm.
I have sat here, trying to force a blog post, which is very annoying. So I am going to stop doing that and write you a something else.
was I even hearing the rain
my mind was cluttered
but that did not stop me
from adding to the pile
filling up the space with extra noise
so much noise
the to do's and should do's and have done and need to do's
my eyes settled on the view
just beyond the window from where I sat
it was raining
it was raining
it was raining
I've always loved the rain (I thought)
I'm going to sit and watch the rain (I thought)
I'm going to enjoy it, because it sounds so peaceful.
so I sat
and I watched
but the noise in my head
was too loud
the to do's and should do's and have done and need to do's
it was raining
it was raining
it was raining
later... when the sun came out
I found myself asking
was I even hearing the rain?
It is so important for me to pause and reflect back on all of the happenings. Let's remember 2018 before it leaves us.
This year I really enjoyed creating so many different pieces. I loved mixing medias and trying new things. Earrings were a hit, embroidery has also been a fun new addition.
All of this and so much more.
I love noticing raindrops. Resting on beds of leaves. Colors so vivid and varying. Autumn glory against pavement grey and grass green. Beauty so subtle and brilliant, so fleeting and slow. The season of goodbye. This is where my soul is most awake... here on a rainy sidewalk, beneath a blue umbrella.
Clad in gear to keep my skin dry. Heart open, eyes wide. Breathing deep.
Process just as lovely as result. The journey and the destination.
I see colors combined in ways I want to dive into.
I see shapes and patterns in the changing leaves, the reflections, the air, the thoughts.
Moments collected to form a life.
Did you stop and look? Did you breathe? Did you see the rain? Are you listening?
I've been thinking of you.
Wondering what would be the best way to return to you.
Is there a wrong way?
blogging is another form of art for me. It cannot be forced. It just needs to flow from the place that all of my work flows. And if I force it... we can all tell.
So does returning have rules? guidelines? promises?
It's hard to say.
but let me tell you a story...
On a breezy October afternoon, sitting in front of her computer she received a phone call.
It's not habit for her to answer calls from unknown numbers but today she did.
A brief moment while phone connections flickered. She almost hung up. Then the line connected.
"Hello? Is this (name)"
She knew immediately that this wasn't a personal call or even a professional call. It was not a doctors office or political candidate.
The voice on the line was making a sales call. Specifically about the website. Hers.
He spoke and she could see where this was going, NO THANK YOU.
Did she know that her sight is TEMPLATE?- he spoke with disgust.
Did she know it doesn't show up in searches. Did she...
She did. She does. And she is happy with her sight. Thank you anyways.
But that doesn't work. The person on the line, has a script to follow, the job they do depends on how well people react to the script. It is their job, and she knows this, and she hates this dynamic. But she really is fine with her website, and she isn't interested.
So She politely stated that this was indeed okay with her. Thank you and good day.
She hung up.
That story was from today. In my real life. And it got me thinking.
Why can't it be okay for this space... my blog and website to be in a state of becoming?
I mean... for me, it is okay. It is more than okay. It is how I want to model my life. Being fully me, actively growing and changing and evolving, a work in progress. It is how I approach my art, my studio, my life....
I don't need to be perfect. Perfect doesn't exist.
I just kept thinking about the conversation, and how maybe my goals don't have to look like everyone else. My pace and timing is for me to set.
All this to say. Hello again. I'm here, I never really left. I just needed to write something that felt authentic and true... when I was ready. And tonight I felt ready.
Thanks for being here.
ashleymanley.com/Photos by Ashley Manley.
I've painted not one, not two but THREE murals and I assisted on another one!
A while back when my friend Jessica of Lit on Fire Used Books was opening her new location I worked with her on creating a very special mural for the shop. www.litonfireusedbooks.com/
Fast forward a year and I was approached by another Jessica. Fellow muralist and amazing artist friend of www.loveheylola.com/ She hired me to assist on a commissioned mural project. We painted her amazing tree designs on a local grade school. It was so much fun.
Then I began work on the Heart Wall Mural for LOVE WALL PEORIA.
As part of the Peoria Public Art team I got to work on various aspects of #lovewall. Working on the Heart Wall and lettering the fundraiser mural messages.
Bethany from BushBaby reached out to me. She was looking to hire ME for a mural in the new location for Bushbaby. They were building all kinds of amazing new features in the new shop, including a Rental/Party room!
Time was limited... could I do it?
YES YES YES!
I am so honored and grateful that Bethany hired me to do this mural. Here are some photos of the whole process. Enjoy!
And be sure to stop by BushBaby as they reopen their adorable store. Info for renting the party room and other info can be found at www.bushbaby.co/
Interested in hiring me for a mural of your own?
Visit my contact page and send me an email. I'm happy to visit your location and give you a quote.
Once upon a time I blogged regularly.
And then the app started crashing on my phone and ipad. I could only blog if I logged into the computer.
It wasn't a huge deal really, just an extra step. And to be honest I much prefer typing on a keyboard. All was well... or at least fine. All was fine and I was mostly keeping to my regular scheduled blogs.
And then one day my husband took the laptop downstairs to work on.
And I forgot about it.
That is the story of how I forgot to blog for two and a half months.
Don't worry... I am ready to tell you all the things I did.
I visited Texas with my hubby. I watched the Peonies come and go. I had the most delicious dessert. I got new glasses & contacts. I took Ellie on plenty of walks. I got a haircut. I went to the Farmer's Market as much as my schedule would allow. I thrifted and found some very cool things. I celebrated Cheeky Remix's birthday. I biked A lot! I visited murals and even got to help paint a few. I did yoga. I painted. I went to art events. I drank so much coffee. I visited St. Louis. I worked on cleaning my home studio a tiny bit. I went to my uncles wedding. I had a pool day with friends. I rearranged the coat closet. I had my mom and sister visit. I had my sister inlaw and mother in law visit. I made new friends. I visited the new cyds. I snuggled Ellie. I stopped to smell the flowers. I worked on abstract embroidery. I got to visit with my friend Mal.
so now you are all caught up.
whew. Let's get back to regular blogs shall we?
Sitting on the sofa, computer in my lap. I look up to a scene of organized chaos.
I have a festival this weekend in which I will sell my art and vintage goods. Today I spent the afternoon creating the inventory list, pricing and organizing all the things I need to take for the art side of things.
To say that our living room is covered in art... well... it isn't a lie. The windows are open with a soft breeze flowing in. My pajamas are the only clothing that made sense. I am in that crazy work mode. When I hit a flow and things just have to happen. (Also it should be noted... this is the product of procrastinating)
Yet. Here I am, blogging. Checking off all the things on my list.
Price Originals (Check)
Repackage Pendants (Check)
Update Financial Spreadsheet (Check)
Organize Art into piles for safe travel (Check)
It is times like these when I forget to eat. So Matt reminded me 12 times about the pasta he had ready for me.
It is times like this when Ellie needs a walk and I can't take her. So Matt took her.
It is times like these that I forget to take a break. So Matt snapped a picture of the blooming daffodil in our yard.
2018 Daily Mini Project
I'm here to talk about the Daily Mini project.
When I started the project at the beginning of 2018 I knew that I wanted to commit to doing a project. I knew it was going to be mini 3x3 canvas and sister sketchbook pages.
I didn't know how long the project would last.
The idea of putting time restrictions on the project seemed like the fastest way to suck the fun out of it. So I didn't.
I just began and it was really fun. Each day... paint, explore, play. As an artist who mostly paints...I paint often but I had yet to do a true daily practice. I loved the ritual of coming to my work space every day.
Plus, there was the joy of having social media content to post (Ha) but seriously. Sometimes it is hard to have fresh new content. This project was really helpful in that aspect. I gained a lot of new followers on Instagram. I had people come up to me and talk about the project. I have new clients because they've enjoyed following this daily practice!
I kept thinking "If I make it to 100 days... awesome! If it goes to 365... that'd be cool too"
It didn't get old. I love it.
But here is what did happen.
The process of showing up to my art everyday... meant new ideas were jumping up and down to win attention in my brain. The mini's inspired new work, new color combinations, new marks. New relationships. And (bonus) people want to buy the minis!
So I thought about the project. I sat down and really looked at it from all angles.
100 days would be cool- logistically I need to get ahold of about 20 more 3x3 canvas, the frame to hold them all is no longer big enough... build something for that.
365 days would be cool too, imagine all those minis together. But really imagine ALL those Minis together.... where, how, and don't forget the cost associated. Also people want to buy them NOW... not in 9 months.
The more I thought the more I had to return to the beginning of the project... my heart behind it.
Why--- I wanted a daily habit project... boom, it's working. Daily habit (Check)
I wanted to increase excitement in the community about my work. (Check)
So... if both of my goals are being accomplished then why force myself or this project to be something that fits into a clean cut mold? Because I don't.
I'm messy, with torn edges and mood swings. I have flaws and shoes that are too big for my feet. I like to change my mind, I like my art to be free from rules. I talk too much, sometimes I don't talk at all. I am not a 100 day project kind of gal. I am not a 365 day project kind of gal.
You know what I am. I am a 81 day project kind of gal.
That's all the mini canvas I currently have in stock. It'll be a nice collection of cute little mini's. I can take a group photo. They could all go on sale soon. And the people who love them can buy them. Just in time for me to begin working on my next big project. And guess what.
It'll all be okay.
Because I did what I set out to do. I loved it. And rather than push it from a place of love to a place of obligation, I am just not going to do it. Because I am in charge here. This is my zone.
And if I choose to continue the sketchbook pages, well then I will. And if I miss a day, oh well.
Because I can't run my life or my art business based on some arbitrary guideline on a personal project. That's just silly.
I kinda think it's cool. 81 mini's from the 2018 daily project. (81 ----18????) Maybe this project had it's own plan the whole time.
Follow along via @artbyjacimusec on Instagram. And you can spy all the mini's searching the hashtag #jacimusecminis2018
I love using words to connect with my fellow humans.