Coffee With A Creative: Esther Clark

I'm always looking for ways to intentionally connect with the faces that I come across online. In thinking about how to utilize my blog space more, I recently came up with the idea to offer interviews (or, less formal, coffee time) with artists around the web that I admire. I love hearing how other makers spend their days, how they deal with the struggles that come along with the job, and where they find their inspiration. I am very pleased to share with you my first Coffee with a Creative, Esther Clark. Esther and I have not yet met in person, but have discovered that we share many similar passions and interests as we have gotten to know each other online over the past year or so. She is a talented artist, hard worker, and overall beautiful human. Her work is delicate and graceful, exuding an old-world quality that is quite simply, gorgeous! I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. 

Photo c/o  Katie Kopan

What's one of your first memories where art played an integral role in your life?

I have been doing art for as long as I can remember, and it's hard to pin-point one early memory! I had a best friend growing up who was also really creative, and the two of us loved to get together and write and illustrate our own books! We spent hours drawing and making up stories, and those are some of my sweetest childhood memories! I often think back to those times when I am feeling burned out or in need of inspiration!

Photo c/o  Emilie Anne Szabo

Why do you create now?

I create for two reasons: firstly, to provide for my husband and I - it's our main source of income at the moment. But also because, as cheesy as it sounds, I don't know how to live without creating. My job is also my passion and my favorite pastime, and it's hard to separate between creating for practical reasons and for pleasure. If I'm not creating in some way, be it new prints for my online shop, wedding invitations for a client, or fixing up our new house, I feel so stifled and restless. Art is definitely my vocation!

Photo c/o  Christine Gosch

What do you consider a successful day's work?

I am a big list-maker - nothing brings more satisfaction than being able to check items off a list of tasks! I consider my day to be pretty successful as long as I've completed most (because honestly, days rarely go as we plan and it's nearly impossible to complete everything we want to!) of the tasks I've set for myself. That to-do list can vary greatly from day to day, so there isn't really a set amount of work I need to accomplish in order to feel successful. Some days, I want to complete a myriad of small tasks, while on other days I feel good if I get one major design project done.

How do you seek out opportunities in your work?

My business has two facets: freelance work for clients, and a small online shop of paper goods. Client work is my main focus, and I get most of my clients from Instagram or Pinterest. Since most people find me on social media, I have to maintain a pretty consistent and frequent presence on my platforms to showcase new work and draw people in. I'm still figuring out how to seek out new opportunities for my shop! I'm hoping to expand into wholesaling my prints and cards this year, and I would also like to create some new products! I really appreciate having the shop side of my business because it allows me to try new things and push myself, since I don't have anyone but myself to answer to. I can be a lot more experimental when I'm not working for a client!

Photo c/o  Emilie Anne Szabo

What are some things that you struggle with in the creative life?

One of the biggest things I struggle with is work-life balance. My husband and I both own small businesses that are under two and a half years old, so we are both in the "hustle" phase and are putting lots of hours into our companies. I work a lot more than 40 hours a week and take days off very rarely. Since I work from home and since my job is also my passion, it's hard to draw a line and say, "okay, Esther, enough is enough!" I really appreciate a slower pace of life, I get stressed and anxious easily, and I never saw myself as a business owner, so it's been difficult to learn keep up with the amount of work I have. It's also hard to not have more time for myself and for my husband. It's a constant struggle to maintain my health and the health of my relationships while also accomplishing what I need to in a day!

Who are some other artists/makers that have inspired you along the way?

There are so many inspiring artists out there!! Some of my favorites for photography and interiors are Emilie Anne SzaboMur Lifestyle, and Gillian Stevens. Other painters/illustrators/calligraphers I love are Carleigh Courey Design and Gemma Koomen!

Photo c/o  Emilie Anne Szabo

What do you listen to while you work?

I am a huge British period drama fan! More often than not, I will be working with Poldark or Downton Abbey on in the background. I don't mind watching things over and over again, so I've seen both shows an embarrassing number of times! I will sometimes choose a podcast (Me & Orla's "Hashtag Authentic" is a favorite) or music, but it's usually a period drama, haha!

What are you enjoying in your down-time currently?

I don't have much down time, but when I do, I usually choose to do some work on a home improvement project or bake something tasty!

emilieanneszabo2.jpg

Where can someone find your work online?

My website is estherclark.co!

Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your working life with us, Esther! It was lovely to hear your thoughts. 

Photos c/o:
Katie Kopan
Emilie Anne Szabo
Christine Gosch
& Esther.

Flower of the Week: Hawthorn

Hawthorn by Jenni Haikonen

The start of the new year feels like the right time to both introduce a new(ish) project and resume what will hopefully be a consistent blogging season once again. In the back of my brain I've wanted to hop back on the blogging train once more, but it seemed that there was enough going on that it became just another thing to do (not to mention that my camera broke on me and started a series of events that I will go into much more detail about on another day...). So to begin, an introduction to a painting series called...

Flower of the Week! I've been following the work of fellow botanical artist, Ron Nicole, for a while now. Although she works in a different medium than I, her dedication to exploring plants has been so inspiring to see from afar. She creates her art in plaster, working to preserve the details of live plants by producing both small and large artifacts of beauty. She has been doing a project under the name, Flower of the Week (which you can find on her site)I approached her and asked if it would be alright for me to borrow the name for my own plant study project. She enthusiastically agreed and we both liked the idea of it becoming a community building project as well.

For me, the basis of the project will be to explore a new plant each week through the studying of its practical uses along with the aesthetic qualities and unique details that each plant holds. I hope to create a small series of watercolour botanical studies that will reflect my learnings. These studies of different sizes will become available for you to purchase right here on my site! 

Hawthorn by Jenni Haikonen 2

Week 1: Hawthorn

Allow me to share the first plant of the project- Hawthorn. As it is mid-January, it seemed fitting to focus on the berries, rather than the flowers that this plant produces. Hawthorn varieties are native to much of North America, but the varieties native to Saskatchewan are Fleshy Hawthorn (crataegus succelenta) & Black Hawthorn (crataegus douglasii). (Note: Because this plant is an endangered species in SK, it is not recommended that it be picked or disturbed, should you come across some!) 

Hawthorn is a relative of the Rose (rosacea) family and shares many of the same characteristics. The leaves, flowers and fruit have been used as medicine and food for centuries and are most often connected to the healing of the heart. They may also be used as a nervine or anti-inflammatory.

Head on over to the shop to see the pieces that I've created and maybe nab one for your own! They will all be sent unframed, with instructions for framing so that you can choose a frame size and colour that suits your home. If you are interested in seeing more of the project on Instagram or taking part yourself, head over to Ronni's Instagram or my Instagram . (There will also soon be a hashtag that you can follow and join in on).

Studio Scenes of August

Wow. I'm not so sure how August went by so quickly, but somehow we're into September already. Sigh. I was hoping to hold onto summer a bit longer but it appears Fall has decided to come to the west coast without much warning. So many things happened this summer, especially in August, so I would like to share some of those with you! I'm finding it difficult to update the blog regularly with how busy I am, so you can expect small updates here and there, as I continue about my busyness. Here are a few things going on in my life: 

Jenni Haikonen's studio.jpg

Studio Work: I don't have a picture for this one, but this summer, I started working in the studio of Grace Lee of Eikcam Ceramics as a studio assistant! I've been wanting to work as a studio assistant for a while and this job just kind of happened upon me (God was working behind the scenes on that one!). I have never done ANYTHING with ceramics, so being hired was kind of a miracle and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to learn a new skill (all while being paid!). So far, it's definitely been a real learning curve- my hands are learning to work in ways they haven't before and I've made quite a few mistakes, but I'm confident it will become more natural the more I do. If you're interested in seeing some of Grace's beautiful pieces visit her website or follow along on instagram!

Illustration: I haven't been working as much illustration this summer while I've been focusing more on acrylic canvas paintings, but there have been a few projects on the go. I submitted a piece for Maker's Movement magazine which will be coming out in January. It feels really exciting to know that I will be seeing a illustration of mine in print for the first time. I have also been working on a submission for another print publication. At this point, it's just a possibility, but even the possibility feels pretty darn good. I have also received a few requests for commissions, but my calendar is still open, so if you would like to have a custom house portrait done or if you have another idea for commission, I'm all ears! Throw me your ideas and get on on the bandwagon. Hint: Christmas is a-comin'....

Paintings: I've been moving in a new (or old?) direction and working on a ton of paintings over the past while. I'm finding a whole lot of freedom in my painting days. After starting my 100 Day Project, I began to realize that I have missed expressing emotion through paint. I'm thankful that I felt nudged to start again. I've been experimenting a bit with combining watercolour and acrylic and I'm loving the effects that are forming. All of the current canvas pieces I'm working on are for sale and I'll be posting them in my shop as I get around to it. If you are interested in anything you see here or on my instagram, shoot me a line at jenni.haikonen8@gmail.com and I can give you the details. 

100 Day Project: Speaking of my 100 day project...I've currently got some prints on order for the above paintings! They've been selling like hotcakes (and I'm not even sure what that phrase means). I've been taking pre-orders on these ones, but the listings should be going up in about a week in my shop. These are limited edition 5x7 prints which means that there will only be 10 prints made and once they are all sold, they will not be re-printed. They will be printed on 310gsm watercolour acid-free paper to have the same quality of the original painting. Each will be signed and numbered on the front. Please contact me if you would like to place a hold on one of these prints before they are listed in the shop!

Etsy: Other things selling around the Bottomley Cottage shop- these 5x7 Morning Glory prints and I just sent off another 8x10 Sailboat Print last week! One of my favourite things of the whole online shop process is packaging each print off to send. I'm always looking for new ways to make my packaging prettier - it makes it so fun to send out mail. Let me send you some mail- I'd love to do it! :)

Other Studio Scenes:

Bunches of Flowers // work in progress

Ahh May. You bring the prettiest flowers. And I can't help but want to paint them all! Also, somehow it's Thursday already and I haven't posted since last Thursday...how did that happen? Here are a few of the things that I've been working on over the week: 1. My desk as it always looks- a little haphazard, but I don't mind. 2. Lavender forever reminds me of our wedding day and I could probably say this about a lot of flowers, but it truly is one of my favourites. 3. Dainty lilacs that are just about done their season here, but fully in bloom for many right now! 4. This little sharpener has been getting used an awful lot for all the sketches that have been happening before I paint (see first photo!). 

Since I forgot to leave some inspiration for Monday, I'll include a quote I pinned to our collective inspiration board on pinterest:

"to live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong" -Joseph Chilton Pearce

Vintage Inspired // Work in Progress

Today, the sun is streaming into my window, the sounds of Louis Armstrong and the Hot Five in the air and I'm dreaming of lazy summer days. Most often, when I start dreaming, I'm inspired to paint so this is what sits on my desk today. A simple floral design that's almost done being painted and then it'll be scanned for some post-painting production. Any guesses as to what it'll be? Hint: We had Louis Armstrong and other 30's jazz playing at our backyard wedding reception :)

I've also been updating my site lately and have done a bunch of work on my portfolio page! Just trying to simplify things a little Check it out under the "work" tab or follow the link here! Hope you all are having a cheerful and sunny Thursday.