Tag Archives: the creative process

Work in Progress



Greetings! It has been awhile since my last post – 2015 is a busy year already!!!

I took a class on Creative Live taught by James Victore titled “Bold and Fearless Poster Design” a few days ago. He talked about being a creative person in general, not just in terms of poster design. My major take away from the class was the challenge to be sure I use my own voice to create unique and meaningful work.

Victore probably wouldn’t approve of this particular design – it is a bit cutesy – but I don’t really care because I enjoyed illustrating Sir Thomas Browne’s quote, and I feel good every time I look at it. Using crayons to complete this particular piece made sense because I wanted to embrace a playful approach to the illustrations. I am going to play with more designs that bring out other parts of who I am as a person and creator while continuing to work on illustrations that are simply pretty and happy – the world needs that too.

New cards are available in my shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheFreeRangeArtisan). I posted new pieces that will be lovely little trinkets for Valentine’s Day too. I’d love for you to stop by!

A local art gallery will be offering my cards in the gift shop next week, which is exciting for me. I’m going to be printing and packaging them over the weekend… and playing with color and words whenever possible. In other words, I’m a…

IMG_3731.. and really, aren’t we all?

May you embrace the wonders you carry within.

Creatively Yours,


The Free Range Artisan


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.




Do you know about Creative Live? It’s an amazing site that offers classes regarding design, marketing, communication, and much more. The classes are free if you watch them while they are being taped, but they are also available for purchase. I should probably add that Creative Live is not paying me to write any of this – although I am totally willing to enter into negotiations should someone contact me. 🙂

Richard Mehl taught a class titled “Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, and Application” on Monday and Tuesday of this week, and I found it to be inspiring, interesting, and useful. My son participated with me after I picked him up from school, which was very fun and special… and messy.

Here are some cards I designed after watching the class:

Color Theory Cards 002Color Theory Cards 005

Color Theory Cards 006What does the color wheel bring out in you?

The rest of this week involves preparing for an art and craft sale on Sunday. Let me know if you’re in Jefferson City, and I’ll give you the details!

Colorfully Yours,

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.

Good Things!

behind the scenes 253

A new card design in progress

So many projects! So many special moments! So little time!

I’m participating in a winter sale on November 2 and am preparing new cards (like the one above) for that event. My other creative outlet is the written word, and I’m giving a talk in Illinois on October 26. Preparing for these two events on top of my normal schedule is keeping me very busy.

Do you remember my glass pendants with original drawings?

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I made one that can accompany one of my cards this week as well:

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Another priority is fostering the friendships I’m beginning to make. We’ve lived in our “new” city for a little over two years and meeting people has been a bit of a challenge. Some really interesting and caring people are part of my life now, and I’m very grateful for their presence. I could totally spend entire weeks to myself and be content, but I am making sure that I put effort into nurturing my new relationships just as I nurture my other interests.

Do you find that it takes thought and effort to be sure you spend quality time with people in your life and not become caught up in your lists of things to do? What works for you? What doesn’t?

Wishing You Balance and Fulfillment,

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.


Katy Trail Sky photographed by the Free Range Artisan

Katy Trail Sky
photographed by the Free Range Artisan

This marks the season in which I’ll be focusing on developing my craft as a writer and as an artist. The final weekly market was last Saturday, and I have no major events that require preparation except for a talk I’m going to give on October 26 at a very special place in Illinois.

Next week, I’m going to see what classes are being offered by our local gallery, call a nearby college to sign up for drum lessons, post new pieces on my Etsy shop, and begin writing my talk. For now, however, I’m going to let myself breathe – to take my time in organizing my studio while listening to music that lifts my soul and programs that invigorate my mind, to browse through books for inspiration, and to just do things because they serve me, not because I have to… until it’s time to pick my son up from school, of course. 🙂

What about you? How do you make sure you take time to really breathe so that you feel restored and ready for a new season?

Peaceful Thoughts to You,

Free Range Al

Rainbows as Metaphors


My studio continues to be full of rainbows! They are seeping into my Etsy shop too, starting with this new card:

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As an English major, my mind often goes into the realm of symbolism and metaphors, and I like it when my artistic and literary interests combine. Rainbows are lovely in and of themselves, but they are rich symbols as well. They represent natural beauty. The fact that they appear after rain reflects the experience of the calm, peace, and goodness that can come after difficult times. When they appear during a shower, they remind us of how beauty and goodness can coexist with what seems challenging.

Etsy Cards 045What do rainbows mean to you?

– 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.

The Blank Page – or Adventures with Fecundity


Fecundity is my favorite word. It is the ability to produce. When I am at my best creatively, I am relaxed, comfortable, and feel free. This state of being does not come naturally. I have (as do you, I suspect) what feels like A TON of things that must be done. I have roles of mother, wife, and friend that are important to me to fulfill. It is easy to feel very limited.

Yet, when I see a blank canvas:

behind the scenes 124I can’t wait to gather my paints:

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And fill it with color:

behind the scenes 129Don’t get me started when it comes to what is possible with polymer clay:

behind the scenes 126I can begin a piece feeling discouraged or sad, but it’s nearly impossible to hold on to those feelings when I play with colors and design:

dream onjourneywhat a lovely dayfeel betterjoymay find yourself smiling oftenbeloved let us love

As some of you know, I occasionally work with students in English. Yesterday, I spoke with a mother who needed guidance in how to help her daughter with her writing. She said that one of her assignments simply asks the student to write a story and provided a blank page. For the reluctant writer, a blank page is overwhelming. We discussed ways in which she could help her daughter brainstorm and organize her thoughts, which is really an amazing process when I stop to think about it.

Today, I think about how, even though a blank canvas, page, or a glob of clay doesn’t phase me, staring into the face of the unknown is daunting – just as a writing assignment with no real prompt and only white space was daunting to the reluctant writer. Jean Paul Sartre writes of this sensation in Being and Nothingness. To have nothingness can be ideal in that there is great freedom, but it can also be the source of great existential angst. Great power lies in the ability to create – and great responsibility accompanies that power.

I think, in the midst of experiencing some uncertainty in my own life, that returning to the metaphor of the artist is one that can inspire me to push through the angst and toward the sensation of hope, wonder, and playfulness. In the words of Fr. J.J. Lakers (who I write about in my post on Journeys), “I claim a certain right to expound a vision… by analogy with artists in a theory of artistic creation… when artists meet insuperable limits on the full and free expression of their longing in this actual society, they feel the limits intensely. Yet, where others who meet these limits may repress the longing or adjust to the reality, the artists refuse to surrender. They therefore set out to create new forms of life and interaction, if only in imagination.”

Here’s to the artistic spirit that dwells within us all – waiting to be unleashed. Here’s to fecundity.

– Free Range Al


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

behind the scenes 124




I decided to make a greeting card version of my Dream On postcard. It should be ready for posting tomorrow or Monday.

Behind the Scenes 087

The postcards are already in my Etsy shop:

I’m really pleased with how the card I designed a few days ago turned out:



All of my originals are done completely by hand using colored pencils and acrylic paint. I copy them onto blank cards using our Kodak ESP 7250. To keep the handmade feel, I initial the bottom of each card and write “The Free Range Artisan” on the back. I take pride in the fact that I keep my hands in the handmade idea of selling on Etsy and do not outsource my print work. Still, I have been listening to interviews with successful professional artists who use computer programs and have printing companies mass produce their work; I appreciate the way in which they keep their art unique and am in awe of their success. I certainly would not mind reaching the point in which I have actual clients and could afford a major printing run!

Another idea came to me today, but that will be something to show you at a later date…

I find myself dreaming a lot: dreaming of my next design, of how to make my Etsy shop a success, of what to write as an author, of… well, the list goes on and includes dreams for my family and hopes for my son.

What a gift it is to dream – to imagine what is beyond our current reality. My greatest challenge is finding peace when my dreams do not fit within what is possible; it can be a creative feat to find a way in which that need can still be met, but I think it’s an important challenge to take on.

May you dream big, and may those dreams become a reality more beautiful than you imagined…

– Free Range Al


New Day, New Postings


I’m not going to lie. Yesterday was a very difficult day. For the sake of maintaining some sense of privacy, I will not go into the details, but it was one of those days in which one stressful experience was immediately followed by another. There were some beautiful moments sprinkled throughout – my son and I took a few breaks from it all to dance and sing, my husband and I were able to listen to and encourage one another, and the place where I vote ended up being within walking distance (I do not like driving to new places).  I also received the support and care of a wonderful friend who made me feel less alone even though she lives in another state.

Today, I’m happy to say, is a totally new and different day.

I’ve been busy posting new pieces in my Etsy shop:

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Tulip in Bloom Pendant

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Pink Kite in Flight Pendant

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Happy Billy Buttons Pendant

I drew the images within the glass pendants using colored pencils. Each pendant is unique in that in contains a hand drawn piece that has not been digitally altered or copied. They are popular pieces at Saturday’s Market, and I love the way they add color to my table.

I also posted a postcard set with photographs from a ride on the Katy Trail:

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These pieces – and more – are in my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheFreeRangeArtisan

As a thank you for reading my blog, I’m offering a 20% discount code to my readers only. Just type BLOG20 for the coupon code. This offer expires on Saturday, August 9.

Here’s to New Days!

– Free Range Al

July 16th’s Creations and Views


My son is attending an art, music, and dance day camp this week, so I have been able to devote concentrated periods of time to various projects these past few days. Today is the day I set aside to focus on adding pieces to my Etsy shop.

I’m pretty excited about the new additions to my Owl section. Introducing:


Wilma - my husband says she looks very surprised

my husband says she looks very surprised


George - for dignified fun

for dignified fun

and Patricia

Pretty Patricia

very purple

Ever since an awesome artist friend taught me how to wire beads to make a bracelet, I’ve been hooked. They’re quite popular at the Farmer’s Market, so I decided to see how two pieces do in my Etsy shop:

Etsy Owl Necklaces and Bracelets 003

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There were quite a few more things I wanted to do, but the weather was so wonderful I could not resist the call of the Katy Trail. The ride was breathtaking:

Katy Trail and Garden Pictures 008Katy Trail and Garden Pictures 010Katy Trail and Garden Pictures 012

I could not help but be amazed by the sky today:

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Sometimes I have to remind myself to look up when I’m outside, and I’m always glad when I do.

I feel really good about what I was able to accomplish today, although the best part was being available for a hug from one of my favorite fellows:

Katy Trail and Garden Pictures 020

I may not be a published writer yet,  I have a long way to go before I can call myself a successful Etsy seller, and graduate school is still a dream, but I call this day beautiful and good.

Beautiful and Good Thoughts to You,

Free Range Al