Thursday, December 01, 2016

in the studio with alexis drolet

Hi! My name is Alexis, the artist behind the Etsy shop “Dashes of Happiness,” where I make and sell colorful abstract art with motivational and inspiring hand lettering.  I’m a 35 years old, living in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, PA with my amazing husband and two daughters, ages 8 and 10. I’m actually not one of those people who always dreamed of being an artist. In fact, this is something that I never saw coming. I took my first art class at age 30, after spending basically my entire life telling people, “I don’t know how to draw,” without ever once attempting to learn how to draw. One day it just sort of clicked that all of the skills that I silently wished I possessed, were things that I had never even given myself a chance to learn. So I swallowed my pride, and found a local beginner’s art class. Once I got over the initial anxiety of doing something so outside of my comfort zone, I absolutely fell in love with it.  I think I always had all of this art inside of me, I just never knew how to get it out. And I’ve found that the more that I learn and the more that I create, the more inspired I feel. It really is like stoking to a fire.  

I love seeing how other artists set up their creative space. Can you tell us a little bit your studio?

My studio is the spare bedroom at the top of the last set of stairs in our funky split level home. From the first moment that we saw this house, I just knew this would be my creative space someday. I think the exact words that I said to my husband were, “The natural light in here is way too good to waste on a guest room.”  

I share the room with my daughters, and we have always called this room, “The Art Room.”  Several years ago I painted one wall with magnetic chalkboard paint and bought them a bunch of chalk and magnets to continue to encourage them to use this space to create and display their art. Over the past few years I have claimed a little more of the space as my own, and I sometimes I have to erase all of their cute little chalk drawings to use the wall as a photo backdrop for one of my projects, but I still try to let them use this room to make their art as much as I use it to make mine. 

They have a desk along one wall, I have a desk along the other, and we fight over the floor space in the middle. Usually the room is a creative disaster of projects in various stages of completion, with pages of paint drying on every available surface. And since I share it with my girls, there is pretty much always glitter on the floor. But regardless of whether it’s clean or messy, when the afternoon light streams in through the windows, it is pure magic.  
What inspires you? What motivates you to create?

Without a doubt my two daughters are my inspiration, my motivation, and my everything. 

In a broad sense, my work is inspired by them because it’s very colorful and joyful, and almost all of it is stuff that they want to hang in their rooms. Lots of my artwork features positive messaging, and as my girls rapidly approach their teen years, I think more and more about the importance of promoting positive self-worth and self-esteem.  When I’m creating, I always think about what I want them to see every day when they wake up. 

In a literal sense, my world of inspiration is very much a product of our daily life. In the past 10 years as a mom, most of my time has been spent with them- at parks, playgrounds, museums, and the sidelines of sports fields. We are constantly out exploring together, and the colorful images of our daily life sink into the corners of my brain and then eventually spill out through my paintbrush.  I sometimes don’t even know exactly where my inspiration is coming from until I find an old photo, and realize that my latest painting has all of the same colors and movement as something that I photographed on a whim months ago. 

How do you organize your creative schedule?

As an artist I have learned that without deadlines, I pursue perfection to the point of producing nothing.  So, I have been forcing myself to commit to things that I am not necessarily ready to do, in order to get a deadline in front of me. For example, the only way I could actually get myself to hit publish on my website was to enter an art contest that required me to have a website. In the end, it was the contest submission deadline that finally forced me to finish the website. Then I registered to sell at an art show even though I had no inventory to sell and frankly had no idea how to set up a booth once I had my inventory. At that show, I put a notebook out on my table saying “Join my email list,” even though I had absolutely no sort of email system in place.  Once I commit to something, and I know I have to make it happen, I always pull through. I guess it’s called “Fake it until you make it.” 

What is a typical day like for you?

I’ve been selling my art for less than a year, so I honestly feel like a baby that is still trying to learn to walk. For the longest time I just kept adding things to my plate without taking anything off…and that didn’t go very well. So I’m still learning how to actively pursue my art and make it my priority, instead of just trying to fit it into the nooks and crannies of my day.  I find that I have to continually fight back at the self-imposed notion that I have to be everything for everyone all of the time.  

On an ideal day I’m up early before the kids, sometimes early enough to get a little bit of computer work done over a cup of coffee. Once everyone is awake and I’ve successfully completed the lunch making, hair brushing, shoe finding shuffle to get them off to school on time, I try to spend a few hours painting.  My energy and creativity are at their peak in the morning, so I try not to waste that time on household tasks. I tend to chase the natural light around my house, and if I have any projects to be photographed, I’ll drop everything for an hour or so in the early afternoon when the light is warm and perfect in my studio.  
Once 3 pm hits, it’s a flurry of homework, violin practice, dinner making, and getting everyone out the door for sports practice. I rarely work after dinner so that my hubby and I can relax together on the sofa, and then I turn into a pumpkin around 10 pm. I feel like each day is simultaneously a marathon and a sprint. 

What are you working on right now?
Oh, so many things! I’m still learning so much every day, both on the creative end, and on the business end.  It feels like there is a never ending list of skills I would like to learn and things that I should do to help my business grow.  On days when I just want to create, I’ve been painting lots and lots of greeting cards. They truly are my favorite things to make. Each card is like one of my babies, and I have the hardest time letting them go.  But I know that they spread joy to everyone who sends them and receives them, so that motivates me to just keep making more.  
I’m also working with my friend on a handmade jewelry and accessory brand, where we are combining our talents to make wearable art that is super unique as well as empowering.  The best part about being an artist is that it really feels to me like the sky is the limit, and now that I have the skills to get these ideas out of my head, it’s just a matter of finding the time to do it. 

Want to see more of Alexis?

Also you can find updates at
Or on FB and Instagram @AlexisAnneCreative

"In the Studio" is a feature here on the blog where I share a glimpse into friends and fellow artist's and crafter's spaces. If you are interested in submitting your studio to be featured, send me an email at

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

creating with julie: owl ornament

Hey Friends! I am super excited to introduce Julie Madden to you! Jules is an artist, illustrator and maker living in Victoria, Australia with her husband and two crafty girls. She loves color, creativity and connecting with other like minded people. She will be sharing some DIY projects and inspiration in the coming months!

Craft this pretty peaceful owl as a gift or to hang on your own Christmas tree. My two girls have seen me making these and they really want to make some themselves! They really are quite fun to make.

Gather Your Materials:
Air Dry Clay
Acrylic Paints
Fabric Scraps
Mod Podge
Silver Thread
Glitter (optional)

Greylead Pencil
Rolling Tool
Wooden Skewer
Clay Tool (for smoothing)
Click HERE to download owl template at 100%

Print your template PDF image out at 100% and cut it out

Take a piece of your air dry clay and roll it to approximately .5cm (3/16”).

Place your template over the clay and cut around the body shape.

Cut the wings from the paper template and cut them out from a piece of rolled clay around 3mm (1/8”) thickness. 

Reserve your paper template pieces for later

Mark where the hole will go in the top of the ornament and poke with a wooden skewer or similar.

Score the back of the wings and the wings area on the body.

Moisten slightly with water and press together, smoothing out the joins.

Press beads into the soft clay body.

Leave your clay shape overnight, or until dry.

When dry, cut two fabric wings using your paper templates.

Paint Mod Podge onto the clay wings and press the fabric shapes on.

Paint over the top of the fabric with Mod Podge.

Also cover your beads with a layer of Mod Podge, this will help glue them into place when you paint your ornament.

Next, paint your ornament all over with grey paint.

Paint the sides of the ornament as well, not forgetting the inner sides of the wings.

Rub any paint off that got onto the beads with a damp tissue. 

Paint extra little cute spots on your owl with light grey paint.Paint your owl eyes and beak in black and orange. Paint the reverse side of your ornament in a nice color for a professional finish.

Once the paint is all dry, apply a final coat of Mod Podge to the whole ornament. I sprinkled some glitter onto my owls body, as I love a bit of glitter!

Then add a doubled up and tied length of silver thread through the hole, loop it into itself and hang up to enjoy, or gift away! I think these would make great stocking fillers or gifts to teachers :) If my kids can part with them!

I really hope you enjoyed that tutorial. To see some of my other work or to get in touch, visit me at

Monday, November 28, 2016

new coloring book available!

I am incredibly excited to announce that my latest coloring book Feminine Wild is now available for purchase! This is a 25 page self published coloring book that I collaborated on with my crazy talented husband Andy. About 6 months ago, we had the idea to create a coloring book that made use of our individual talents! Andy is a master at drawing portraits and I love drawing pattern so we began working on a coloring book completely dedicated to women- all kinds of bold and beautiful women! 

The coloring book is available over in my shop and on Amazon. Here is a little peek.

This coloring book really lends itself to coloring pattern but it also give you the opportunity to play with shading faces. In the coming weeks Andy will be sharing all kinds of simple shading tips and tricks for shading the pages of this book.

P.S. Another batch of messy pouches are in the shop this week and I've got more coming in weeks ahead!

Friday, November 25, 2016

black friday sale- three more days left!

Just three more days of left to get in on my black Friday sale! Online class are all marked down and lots of products are on sale. Head on over the shop HERE for all the deals.

REMEMBER! Purchase $30 or more in the shop and receive a free exclusive 15 page digital download full of colorful paper and tags to use for your holiday crafting.

Purchase $100 or more in the shop and receive the free digital download AND a free class of you choice! *Please use the notes section at checkout to include your free class choice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

happy weekend!

We are heading into a long holiday weekend and I am signing off here on the blog to spend time with family. I'll be back on Monday with all kinds of fun new stuff! Love to all of you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

the art of chasing a dream: botanical watercolor artist

Tell us about yourself and your journey chasing your creative dreams.

My name is Anne Butera and I am a blogger and self-taught botanical watercolor artist. I believe that art, creativity and gratitude are transformative and I’m passionate about encouraging others to embrace their creativity and discover their joy.
A little over 6 years ago I hadn’t yet picked up a paintbrush. My job and the city where I was living left me constantly drained. I knew I had to do something and without much of a plan I quit my job and moved to the country to chase my dream of living a more creative and fulfilling life.

I secretly wanted to be a painter and although I started teaching myself to paint, when I opened my first Etsy shop it was to sell sewn and crocheted jewelry and accessories. Things didn’t work out quite as I had hoped and that first step of my creative journey was a failure. I moved back to the city and tried to patch together my life. It was a dark and difficult time, but I held fiercely to my dreams and kept creating.

That was five years ago. Five years of hard work. Five years of slow progress. Five years of clarifying my vision. Today I sell my art on my own website and on Etsy. I have a fabric collection available on Spoonflower. I teach classes on Skillshare. And I write a blog where the focus is art, magic and joy (a good overview of my blog can be found here).
This past spring a project I collaborated on with blogging friend and fellow artist Dana Barbieri was featured in Uppercase Magazine. In June I had my first solo exhibition. And recently another dream came true when my blog was featured in the Winter 2017 issue of Artful Blogging magazine.

I feel as if I’m finally getting closer to truly living my creative dreams.
Something I didn’t fully understand when I was starting out is that success doesn’t happen overnight and that (for most) achieving your creative dreams is a long, slow process. My journey has not been easy. The road has been long and winding, challenging and sometimes scary, but my faith in the importance of creativity, art, gratitude and joy has kept me going.

What are your favorite materials and supplies to work with?

I am completely head over heels in love with watercolors. Over the years I’ve tried various media and techniques, but I always come back to watercolors. I think they are a perfect match for painting botanicals, giving a very organic feel to the finished pieces. I prefer working with pan watercolors and I use professional grade paints from three brands: Sennelier, Winsor & Newton and Yarka St. Petersburg.

Until recently I primarily used Arches cold press paper and love the texture, durability and beauty of that paper. Lately I’ve also been trying a variety of hot press papers and am enjoying the change of working on super-smooth paper. It’s nice to shake things up every once in a while and I enjoy experimenting and trying new things. The sketchbook collaboration I worked on for over a year with Dana Barbieri helped me to stretch and experiment and one of the things I especially enjoyed trying was block printing.

In my sketchbooks I like to use black Micron pens and keep things simple. Sitting in the garden with my sketchbook and pens on a sunny summer day is such a joy.
I also enjoy taking my watercolors into Photoshop, whether I’m simply preparing an image for my website or making prints from my paintings or working on my yearly art-print calendars or designing fabric. It’s so different from painting, but I find it very satisfying.

How do you go about finding inspiration for your work?

Inspiration is everywhere. I find most of mine in my garden. I like painting vegetables and herbs from the garden as well as flowers. Having interesting subjects to paint is always a good justification for adding a new plant to my garden, too.
Seeds, leaves and other bits I pick up on walks with my dogs also find their way into my paintings, as do butterflies (real, imagined and inspired by field guides) and goldfish.
Because I live in Wisconsin where the winters are cold and long it’s then that my attention turns to my indoor garden. I have a large collection of indoor plants and they often work their way into my art. As long as I’m paying attention to the beauty and magic of the natural world, I’m never at a loss for inspiration.

Can you tell us a little bit about your creative space?

My creative space is always evolving. I’m fortunate to be able to use one of the bedrooms in our house as a studio. It’s a very bright space with two windows (which are both jammed with plants). I’ve painted the room white to give a clean backdrop for my work and to make the space brighter. I have two main work tables, one in the center of the room where I do my painting and one along the wall where I do things like trim my watercolor paper, prints and calendars (or fabric when I’m sewing). Recently I had my husband build tall legs for the table along the wall (which is actually a repurposed door) so I can stand up and work without hunching over. It also gives me more room underneath for storage. My computer has its own desk, a cabinet whose back creates an entryway into my studio. I’ve collaged the back of that cabinet with a patchwork of papers and it never fails to bring me joy as I enter my studio.

What is a typical day like for you?

I am most productive in the morning and my part-time job at the local library is a perfect fit because I don’t start there till the afternoon. Many days I spend some time blogging, whether it’s preparing a post for that day or for the future. Usually I spend some time each day responding to emails, networking and working with social media. Depending on where I am in a painting project I might be mixing paint, sketching or painting. Or I might be scanning a painting, cleaning it up in Photoshop, making prints or photographing my art or prints of my art. If I have orders to fill I’ll be packaging up art to send out. I might also be working on planning, filming or editing my latest Skillshare classes. Other days I’m updating my website, doing research or seeking out opportunities. I keep a running to-do list as part of my planner and adjust my schedule according to what special projects are going on. I try to regularly evaluate my way of working to make the most of each day. It’s always a challenge to balance everything.

What are your goals for your creative business?

I want to keep growing. Growing my skills and growing my business. I don’t yet make a fulltime living from my art, but I’m working on expanding my streams of income with that as a goal. Teaching has been a wonderful addition and it’s been so satisfying to be able to inspire people with my classes. I’d like to do more surface pattern design and license more of my art. I’d also like to do more commissions.

Want to see more of Anne?

Dana Barbieri’s website:

my sketchbook collaboration with Dana:

Do you have a small business that you are proud of? Send me a little information about your story at for the opportunity to be featured in my "The Art of Chasing a Dream" series.

Monday, November 21, 2016

shop update!

Hey friends! From now and through December I will be adding all kinds of handmade goodies to the shop! This week I've got a batch of hand dyed, hand printed scarves you can check them out HERE

And a batch of colorful messy pouches, you can check them out HERE.

Due to requests from many you, I'm also extending my early black Friday sale for the rest of this week. You can head over to the shop for low prices.

REMEMBER! Purchase $30 or more in the shop and receive a free exclusive 15 page digital download full of colorful paper and tags to use for your holiday crafting.

Purchase $100 or more in the shop and receive the free digital download AND a free class of you choice! *Please use the notes section at checkout to include your free class choice.


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