Tag Archives: Creating

In Thanks


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Days and weeks are flying by! I have been devoting my time to several different projects, volunteering at my son’s school, and nurturing relationships. I’m going to take tomorrow and Friday to let my to do lists go, and practice gratitude for the good that is.

Next week will be full of preparations for a holiday sale in Quincy, Illinois that will take place on December 6. I’m looking forward to spending time with very dear friends and am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the event. The weekend after that will bring another art and craft sale in Jefferson City, Missouri, and I’m looking forward to that one as well. Let me know if you’re in either of those areas and I’ll give you the details!

I also hope to collect more stories for my newest venture: #WithMyClothesOn. You can learn more about that at: withmyclotheson.wordpress.com

Follow me on instagram (instagram.com/thefreerangeartisan) to see how the sale preparations progress!

Creatively and Gratefully Yours,

Free Range Al


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Have you read “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold” by William Wordsworth? It’s one of my favorite poems:

My heart leaps up when I behold,

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The Child is Father of the Man;

I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.

The idea of embracing one’s inner child is one I appreciate. As adults, it’s tempting to feel as if one must stifle expressions of joy, excitement, or wonder. My favorite literary character, Holden Caulfield, would say that’s just being a “phoney”, and I’d have to agree.

Lately, my muses have directed me toward rainbow designs. Working on these pieces have really lifted my spirits, and I’m excited to bring them with me to a special sale event tomorrow and to Saturday’s market.

What makes your heart “leap”?

Here’s to authentic expressions of happiness and delight!

– Free Range Al


See something you like on my blog that is not in my shop? Click “contact the shop owner” and we can easily arrange a custom order.

Love On!

Love On!



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The topic for Illustration Friday this week is “Journey”, and it was a delight to create a design based upon that topic.

Fr. J.J. Lakers, my dear friend and mentor who died in 2011, often spoke of the “journey into the unknown”. He used that phrase a lot when discussing marriage in his Christian Marriage course. J.J. made me responsible for his writing before he died (he was a great writer and thinker), and I couldn’t help but return to a section in which he writes that spouses:

“…embark on a journey into the unknown. When they find themselves at cross-purposes, they are called to plunge in. They have a choice. They can respond with honest self-revelations which allow empathetic entries into each other’s tangles, or they can turn to judgements or self-justifications, to fight or flight. If they enter through God’s love, however, they committed themselves to transform flawed exchanges into passionate, vulnerable, respectful, and faithful responses.”

The idea of taking a plunge into the unknown can go beyond that of marital relationships, of course. There are so many twists and turns in our life journey that make it impossible to clearly see what lies ahead. I’ve found that the more I open myself up to the experience and the people around me, the more I gain from it and the more I develop as a person. This is not always easy. In fact, it is something I am trying to do now in the midst of great uncertainty. When I look beyond myself, though, and enter into honest and vulnerable discussions, there is much beauty and I am full of gratitude.

My current design falls short of fully reflecting those ideas, but I do hope it portrays a sense of play in the face of uncertainty, which is something I think J.J. would approve of.

Here’s to the fecundity of the journey…

– Free Range Al


PLEASE NOTE: excerpts of this blog using Fr. J.J.’s words may not be used without written permission.

(c) 2014

A Theatrical Break and a Practical Return


The past two days were absolutely wonderful for me and my little chickadee (thank you, dear husband, for making them possible). My son and I drove to Springfield, Missouri to see Tent Theatre’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” with some very special people and enjoyed time with a dear friend the day after the performance before returning to our nest.

Missouri State University’s theater department puts up a tent every summer to showcase  fantastic productions. My parents took my sisters and me to see Tent Theatre for as long as I can remember, and I was so excited to be able to share that experience with my son. I’m delighted to report that he loved it, so this is a tradition we can easily continue.

Tent Theatre

Tent Theatre

Watching the performance sparked a great many thoughts that I’m itching to explore in the future – Happiness, Tradition, The Human Spirit – but today is a day full of errands and Farmer’s Market preparations.

My polymer clay owls are very popular, and I need to make several more this evening. I also need to replenish my polymer clay crops:

Carrots, Sweet Pea Pods, Strawberries, and Apples

Carrots, Sweet Pea Pods, Strawberries, and Apples

It is terribly easy to fall into a sensation of being overwhelmed with what I think “needs” to be done, but I think my yoga practice is helping me return to a deep feeling of gratitude. Of course I would have loved to have stayed in Springfield a bit longer, or to have an entire day to make what I want to make, but I am grateful that  I could be there when I was, and I am fortunate to have the resources to go where I need to go and replenish our cupboards and refrigerator.  What is ready will be ready for tomorrow’s market… sometimes creating positive experiences and a comfortable home takes precedence over creating material items. Okay – time to create some lunch…

To Life!

Free Range Al


Fourth of July: George Eliot Says What I Would Like To Say Better


I’m going to begin by using an ending – the last sentence in Middlemarch by George Eliot:

“… for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

I think about this passage a lot. In fact, it is one of my favorite passages in one of my favorite books of all time, which is slightly ironic because I initially found the ending of the book to be infuriating when I read it in a Victorian Literature  course. I won’t go into English major mode now and dissect the text, but I will suggest that this passage honors the lives of those who are not mentioned in our history books and calls all of us to enhance our spheres of influence, regardless of whether or not our actions will be recorded or receive awards. In other words, all of us can use our creative abilities for good, and it is pretty awesome when we do.

To free thoughts and the ability to express them…

To being free to act in love and toward the betterment of all…

To the creative spirit everywhere.

Happy Fourth!

– Free Range Al

Illustration Friday First Attempt: Beard


Being the Free Range Artisan means that following the prompt of another does not always come easily, but the flowers from our bike rides and attempting to draw a beard for the first time made the challenge from Illustration Friday one that I thought I should attempt. Fellow artists might want to check out the site: http://illustrationfriday.com/about/how-it-works/

This week’s topic, in case you haven’t already figured it out, is “beard”. Here’s my creation:

His Inner Garden Grew

His Inner Garden Grew

Now to figure out how to submit it electronically… hmmm…

Meanwhile, here’s to you who dare to do what does not come easily, who take on challenges that will help you grow, and who create for the sake of creating.

Free Range Al


An Introduction: What’s In A Name?


In short, I think a lot can be in a name – ask any character from The Odyssey … then again, it’s easy to put too much into one’s name, or title – ask Romeo or Juliet.  When someone asks me what I do, I have to quickly decide if I will keep it simple (stay at home mom while adding that I do not like that phrase), or if I’ll avoid a label and provide a quick summary of what I do (write, create, mother, work with English students, support my husband, support those who are dear to me). As you can see, a quick summary is actually not possible, and each part of that summary has a story behind it. We all do a great many things, and our activities and areas of emphasis vary from day to day. That is how The Free Range Artisan came into being. It’s my attempt to have an identity without being limited by it. There are so many ways in which I love to create:


Dream On

Polymer Clay

Owl Buddies

Mixed Media

Mixed Media Purse


Heart Felt Bottle

I could go on…

The world of ideas is also really important to me. Reading and writing has always been part of my life, and an objective of mine is to be published. I daydream about being a published author and respected thinker as often as I daydream about being recognized for my artistic creations!


I wouldn’t mind being a professional drummer either…

Behind the Scenes

Sometimes having a great many interests and passions can be painful – it actually hurts when I do not have the time I need to write to the extent I want to write, or when I cannot stay in my studio by myself all day to make sure a drawing is just right – but these interests are also sources of great joy, especially when I can incorporate them into my current life as a mother. My son helped me prepare my business cards while I stamped bags today…

business card prep

… and it was a joy to share my love of nature with him during yesterday’s bike ride. I think my experiences of motherhood and the opportunities I have to build and maintain meaningful relationships will enhance my work in the future when I’m able to devote more time and energy to my writing and design.

What about you? What are your passions? How do you honor your own desires while being sure to care for those you love?

Take Care,

Free Range Al

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” – Nietzsche

An Inspiring Ride


Oregon is wonderful in that, among other things, it is very bike friendly, which was one aspect of our life there that I thought I would really miss when we moved to Missouri. Fortunately, we are very close to the Katy Trail now. While riding the trail is one of my favorite activities here, preparing to ride the trail, particularly when it comes to trying to carefully put my son’s bike in the trunk of our car, can be a bit laborious (although I’m not really sure why – when I think about it logically, it should not be as difficult as it feels). Anyway, I am really glad I put forth the effort, because we saw beautiful sights, talked, and just enjoyed a pleasant time together.

Our stopping point was a bridge, where we took a water break and enjoyed the view.

Bridge View

I had to take this picture on our way back to share with you:

Trail View

Flowers are among my favorite things to draw (I know I’m not alone in that). We stopped to take pictures of flowers we want to print and use to inspire future projects.

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Yellow Flowers

Write me if you know what this is:

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I’d love to see if these pictures inspire something within you – or if you have some of your own to share!

We rode next to a corn field, which was pretty cool for a little guy who likes to eat corn.


Our final treats were seeing this fellow:









… and practicing tree pose by a tree!

Tree Pose

We have a library event to attend tomorrow that involves making rockets, but we also plan to use our pictures to draw a bit. I’m hoping I can do something tonight – there are a lot of ideas waiting to be released!


Free Range Al