I came across these images recently of a flower shop in France and I fell in love immediately. (They are screenshots from a commercial that I don't have a source to, so if anyone can provide that, I'd be most grateful!) Don't they just seep with Romance and imagination and dreamy atmosphere?? I can't stop staring at them and I'm transported to a perfect environment for the spring season. I think I'd be content to go here to just sit and sketch for a while while taking in the sunshine. What a dream! Do you have any far away spaces that you find yourself traveling to in your mind? I'd love to hear about them!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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 Szabo, Mur Lifestyle, and Gillian Stevens. Other painters/illustrators/calligraphers I love are Carleigh Courey Design and Gemma Koomen!
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!
Winter Blues are in full force around here lately with cold winter weather, a battle against a bodily cold and a tiring of the hibernation mode. I've been needing some escape, and the other day I happened to see the images that I'd been pinning lined up together on Pinterest- they seemed to fit perfectly, so I thought I'd create a small grid here to show you what's been catching my eye. Perhaps I'll just get lost in these images to escape the humdrum...
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!
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).
This has been a nagging task in my brain- not one of duty, but a desirable task that keeps getting pushed off because of duties. But at last! My body is forcing me to sit on the couch with an autumnal wet-weather cold and I feel like I can finally attend to sharing pictures of our summer getaway with you. It was a trip for the books! The financial books are still struggling, but it was oh, so worth it. This year we chose to go to New England because a) it looked dreamy, but b) it was also less expensive to fly to Boston than it was to the Canadian East Coast, which was where we had originally been wanting to explore. But it turns out the east coast of America has an over-abundance of magical places to explore and we wandered the countrysides of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine with city stops at Boston and Portland. My Romantic, history loving side was fulfilled with each and every new inch of land we discovered and my soul was so satisfied with the amount of beauty we happened upon.
As it turns out, my camera lens had some issues, so some photos turned out blurry and out of focus. At first I was annoyed, but after editing, I realized they had a old film quality to them that was actually kind of appealing!
The beaches had a quality to them that is unmatched to the west coast. There was an abundance of shells to be found, the sand was so soft, and the rocks even sparkled. These were both taken at Reid State Park in Maine.
A few vignettes of various towns around Maine. Our favourites included Wiscasset, Rockland, Camden, and Kittery.
Enchanting Goldenrod along the Portland seashore.
The greatest moment of the trip for me was to visit the town of Concord (above) and tour the Orchard House of Louisa May Alcott. I grew up very much attached to the story of Little Women because I, too, have 3 sisters (I would be Jo in the mix!). I watched the movie every Christmas and was even once played Meg in a high school stage production of the story. We arrived at Orchard House very last minute for the last tour of the day, but I did get to see and hear about all of the parts of life that influenced Louisa in writing her great masterpiece. Hearing those stories brought back memories of my own childhood and I suddenly felt very connected to the Alcott family in a strange, unexplainable way. It was incredibly surreal and felt like a pilgrimage, of sorts. And yes, I did listen to the Little Women soundtrack very loudly on the way into town.
The last portion of our trip included a visit to the very memorable Isabela Stewart Gardner museum in Boston. It was absolutely awe-inspiring and I'm sure words and even my photos can't quite capture the feelings of wonder that existed while wandering this space. A must-see for any Boston traveler.
A few last photos from our time spent in Boston- Harvard and a street in Beacon Hill. I had been asked multiple times after we got back, "Tell me about your trip!" and I had trouble knowing how to respond, how to encapsulate everything we saw, all we took in. But I do have memories that will stick with me forever and small words that describe those. So if I were asked to describe it again I would say, Goldenrod, Crickets, Cicadas, Wild Grasses, Classic Brick, Black & White, Gentle Green, Rose Hips, Salty Air, Steeples, Warmth, Depth.