Off to Grampa's House

Well, we're packing up the troops and heading out to Gramma and Grampa's house this weekend and I couldn't be more excited. This is how it will go down... We will start out at our favorite pizza place and the rest of the weekend will be about eating, drinking, cooking and talking and vegging! It's the perfect winter escape and the perfect reason to lay around and be babied by my Daddy. Ha ha, I'll be answering to "Jenny" this weekend and couldn't be happier!

I'll be showing my Dad my new Etsy shop this weekend and getting his constructive criticism and I'm sure some great new ideas. Maybe I'll get him to open one, too. He's an amazing artist and poet and I'm sure he could find a niche there. Hmmm, I think that will be my one weekend goal besides stuffing myself with my Dad's famous meatballs!


Coffee anyone?

I just got back from the best time! A friend of mine invited several girls over for coffee and asked everyone to bring their newest project to share with the group. We all arrived with computer print-outs, knitting patterns, scrapbooks, photos, jewelry, cookies and shared and laughed. It was so great to be together with friends and learn something new.

Did you know how easy it is to make a delicate knit scarf? Or a purse out of capri sun pouches? Can you believe the detail in scrapbooks or how healthy irish soda bread is? Most importantly, it was affirming to sit around and feel completely normal as I discussed my obsessions with angels and shrinky dinks!

I think the sharing coffee break should be held on a monthly basis...maybe I'll be next. Until then, I'm off to catch up on orders and answer emails, do the laundry, sweep the floor. You know the drill.


My Angel

Did you ever spend too much on something with no purpose or use except for being "pretty'? I have a statue of Ascending Angel I bought for a high shelf in my bathroom a few years ago that I love like one of my children. I spent way too much on it (shipping was $75!!!) but I've never regretted it. I look at her every day and love her just as much as I did the day I unwrapped the 50 yards of bubble wrap and saw her lovely face (oh, to have that bubble wrap now!).

I placed her above my shower and a skylight over her shines down as if she is truely lit from heaven! I photograph her all the time when the light changes and it's usually in the late afternoon when I have other things to do (dinner, for instance). I'll walk into the room and can't believe the way the light is shining down and pretty soon I'm standing in my sink trying to get just the right shot...got it! Okay, maybe one more...ooh, look at this angle! I need a ladder! Next thing you know, the house is a mess, the kids are hungry, my husband is home and looking at me on the ladder just shaking his head.

He doesn't understand my obsession with this particular possession, but I think it boils down to this : She is beautiful, not functional and she is MINE! No one can reach her to break her and she serves no purpose but to just be beautiful. She isn't remotely boy-ish and sometimes in a house chock full of testosterone, I need something girly to remind me who I am. I'm Jen, a mom and wife who doesn't get the laundry put away on time and I sometimes burn dinner. I dig in the dirt with my boys and dig a garden with my husband. I rake leaves, take out the garbage, and clean up dog poop in the yard. But...I'm still just a girl inside, and I love pretty things.

For a piece of my Angel, check me out at http://www.hopestudios.etsy.com/


Introducing my new ACEOs

My cute little paintings are done and though I was afraid to try something so small, it was fun and I'll probably try another soon! These two Original ACEO's are watercolors on canvas and the titles are Reflective Nude I and II. They are available for sale in my Etsy shop, come take a look at : www.hopestudios.etsy.com


Into It

Snow day

Question: What is the easiest way to mess up the newly clean house and work your pants off without actually accomplishing anything? Answer: Snow Day!

Here in Pittsburgh, we have ANOTHER snow delay and my three boys are bouncing off the walls! It's 9:42 am and they have already played video games, watched TV, ate breakfast, rollerskated in the basement, played spy, and planned a play that involves me making Spiderman, Sandman, and Green Goblin costumes!

I, on the other hand, have a frame order to get out by tomorrow and lots of dishes, laundry, and sweeping before I begin. I think I mentioned before I always give a "mom time" estimate as to how long it takes to finish a frame. It's 3 days in "mom time" which might take the average person 3 hours. Thankfully, most of my customers are moms and they've been there or ARE there!

Baby Bella's frame is finished and looks sweet as can be, I included a photo above. My HOPE series is next in line, though my idea notebook is overflowing. I have to pick from the list and get started or I will just get overwhelmed.

Oh, by the way, I ruined two canvases trying a new technique for my nude series I talked about earlier so it's on hold. As soon as my ACEO supplies arrive I will begin those, and keep watch for an angel photography series I'm working on.

Happy Snow Day!


Parting with an old friend

Well, I guess that's it...my baby is no longer a baby. The last of my children has decided the theme we chose for the first nursery will no longer cut it. Baseball has taken over and nothing "babyish" will be tolerated! So, it's time for my Beach Baby mural to find a new home. Here are photos of the mural and my inspiration, my Beach Baby Ben:

I learned my lesson years ago after I spent hours on a mural then we moved. Then and there I was determined to figure out how to paint a mobile mural. I have been painting them on prepared canvas ever since. It's really not difficult, but it is more time consuming and less comfortable (since I'm usually hunched over it on the floor instead of standing and stretching out). Acrylic paints and some sealer and an idea are all the supplies you need. This mural measures 90 x 62 inches! They are so easy to install, either with wall paper paste directly to the wall, or stapled to a frame, or hung with curtain rings with hooks in the wall as I did.
If you'd like to see more of this mural, it's now for sale (or should I say up for adoption to a good home...sniff...) on Etsy at www.hopestudios.etsy.com along with some of my other projects. I also create custom orders if you have an idea. You can find my address below or you can contact me through Etsy.


ACEO anyone?

Well, I'm embarking on a new journey soon...into the ACEO world! What is it, you say? Well, here it is straight from http://www.art-cards.org/ :

What ACEO is all about- ACEO stands for "Art Cards, Editions and Originals". These cards have one main rule - they are 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches - the size of a trading card.
The reason for this is, of course, that Art Cards are made to be traded! But while artists were happily trading cards, the general public was left out in the cold, having no Art Cards to trade. A group of artists realized this, and quickly made their cards available for sale at remarkably low prices so that everyone could join in the fun!

I've been reading about them and think I'm going to try it out. I just ordered some supplies this weekend (too much online shopping during the holiday!) and will get started soon. Stay tuned, I'm excited!

In other news, I'm preparing for a baby! No, not my baby, but a customer's baby. "Bella" has a sweet pastel pink frame in my studio right now that her mom and dad are ordering for her nursery. I can't wait to see how it turns out. I love working directly with my customers and hearing the stories. Thank you all for your business!

If you know a new mom or one who is expecting, take a look at my New Mommy Hope Necklace at the top of this post. You can find this and other items in my Etsy shop, www.hopestudios.etsy.com



Whew! I got busy with the holiday and haven't been able update this space in awhile. I finished the huge 24x24 inch frame and I was very pleased.

I love to hear back from my customers, it's so validating! Look:

"Dear Jen, The frame is absolutely beautiful. I have it hanging up already and it looks perfect. Tomorrow is my son's 6th birthday and we will be having his party on Sunday. I am so glad that I received it so quickly so that it is up for the party. Thanks so much for completing it so quickly. It is truly one of my favorite things in my house!!! I will go on E-bay and add my comments to your feedback. Thanks again, Stephanie"

I blog all the time about the laundry and all my other responsiblities, and no one is writing letters of thanks for mopping the floor! So, this is why I started making art to sell again... I'm smiling...


Snow Day!!!

Well, we've got a day off from school today and the kids are psyched! I won't get any work done and certainly won't have time to do much with my orders, but I'm sure we'll get in some sledding. I'm sending out vibes to all my neighbors to call and invite my kids over to play so I can get a frame cut out... anything?

I got an order yesterday for a 24 x 24 inch frame and I'm excited to begin! I haven't made one this big yet and I'm anxious to see how it turns out! The quote she chose is:

You are the poem I dreamed of writing
The masterpiece I longed to paint.
You are the shining star I reached for
In my ever hopeful quest for life fulfilled.
You are my child, now in all things
I am blessed.
Isn't that beautiful? I'm going to run a contest soon for your best Mother's Day quote to get a jump on the holiday before I get too swamped. Details to follow!


Ordering Information

Let me help you honor your memories and sentiments with handmade, shadow-box style, picture frames hand painted with your favorite quote or lyric.

My picture frames begin as a large piece of solid pine that is measured, cut, sanded, distressed, antiqued, and painted through a complex layering process. Picture hangers and a dust cover are attached to the back. Black ribbon picture corners are affixed within the shadowbox.

The most popular size is 20 x 20 inches (selling for $99.00 + shipping) and fits a 4 x 4 inch photo. Smaller frames can be custom ordered.

Customization begins with your choice of color and font. I hand paint all lettering using no stencils or stickers. We will work together to find a nice fit with your desired quote.

Contact me today to custom order your own Heartsongs Memory Frame at
jsneill@zoominternet.net or my Etsy Shop, Hope Studios.

Payment must clear before I begin a custom piece. I will send photos for approval before shipping.

I accept Pay Pal.

Inspiration, the process

I didn't get a wink of sleep last night! I have so many ideas, but need to focus. One thing I'm working on is a series of nudes inspired by some of my work I painted to decorate my master bathroom. What better place to hang nudes? Here is step 1 in the process:

For some reason I hate white canvas or anything that looks too new, so it has to be aged. I have this idea that I've been working on and off on trying to execute for about a year. I have the image in my head of how I want it to look, ghostly faces looking upon the figure (kind of like a picture of one's self-image) I want them to be hidden...well, I'm waiting for paint to dry now (and you know what they say about that!) so it's the perfect time to blog. I will post the first one once I've finished and if I can part with it I'll sell it in my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5569166 so keep an eye out!


Inspiration Mania

I'm having inspiration mania. Ever have it? The thought comes to you in the night and wakes you up? You want to start first thing in the morning, you almost itch! BUT the dog needs to go out, the kids are begging for breakfast, and when's the last time you changed the sheets... My project will take more time than that, so I'll write about it now to get some satisfaction until I can really get to work. I have a notebook next to the kitchen sink today, write it all down - when the chores are done get to it! It makes you jittery, excited, I want to start!

Hopefully, I can get going and start filling up my Etsy shop soon (http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5569166) with all my ideas. Not enough hours in the day!

Off to wash sheets and try to organize my mess of a studio that gets so trashed in my moments of creation! Wish me luck!


The Best of Hope Studios

Check out these oldies but goodies!

Seriously, God, not one daughter?!?

My Paris Wrap-up

A Mother's List of Rights

These Boots Were Made for Walkin'...

A Rundown of My Oddities

Mama Bear

Camping Recap

Come on You City Slickers, We're Goin' to the County Fair!

Jimmy Buffett from the 5th Row

Randy Pausch 1960-2008

Remember When?

He's Gone...

How to Throw a Party

I am...

Our Boys: A Football Story

My Life With Boys

A Decade of Love

Soul Sisters Christmas Party

Back to the real world, a mom's life

Well, we survived Disney with three boys! Though it was exhausting, I have to say coming home to dishes, laundry, vacuum, cooking, and homework is almost more than I can bear! I dreamed about my computer while we were gone and craved to get back into my studio to finish those frame orders that were piling up, but once I got home I had so much to do to catch up with life. Never mind time to work on my business!

I am slowly entering into my own business, but home responsibilites take center stage. I can work on my orders AFTER all the chores are done. Hmmmm, didn't my husband just get up the next morning and drive to the office to comb through the emails and job responsibilities in peace and quiet? I've tried to catch up this week amidst fighting kids, a needy dog, kissing boo boos, and piles of laundry.

It's chaotic and frustrating to try to juggle all this... but also rewarding. I'm doing it! It seems impossible, but it's happening and I'm loving the new motivation. Loving getting back in touch with my creative side and making art again. Let's see what happens - after the laundry is done.

Your Skin Fix, December Edition