Good luck and my little one

Jen Cushman Bracelet Lucky Charm


My daughter is pretty darn cute. I know every mother says that about her kid…and every grandma and grandpa and daddy too. But, really, she’s adorbs. Here’s a little known fact about me. I’m not really a baby person. Yeah, they’re cute and all, but I’d much rather hold a puppy or kitten truth be told. I completely loved my own children when they were babies. I think back to how quickly those days sped by even though when I was in the middle of them, I felt like I was living in the movie Groundhog Day. However, I’m really enjoying the age she is now. The 5-7 year old time frame is so much fun because she’s still excited about life and hasn’t yet learned how to roll her eyes at me.

Lately she’s been on this kick where things are Good Luck. Examples:

  • Last Saturday she was eating her Cheerios on the couch watching cartoons. It’s a comfy older sofa so I don’t care if the dogs sleep on it or the kids eat while watching TV. She spilled a little bit of milk and said, “Mama, good luck I was almost done.”
  • We were running late for school and I was hurrying her along to class. We swooped in just in the nick of time and she says “Good luck we made it before they closed the gates.”
  • I was running to the post office to collect a package that I had to sign for and on the way home she wanted an ice cream cone from McDonalds. I pulled though the drive thru and realized I didn’t have my wallet. I dug around in my console and pulled out some change. “Good luck you have a secret hiding spot in your car, mommy.”
  • She dropped one of her My Little Pony dolls and the wing broke off. “Good luck daddy can fix anything!”

I know she really means to use the word lucky rather than good luck, but I’ve never stopped to correct her. I want her to continue believing that good luck is everywhere. I want her to see possibility and fortune whenever she can. In practicing conscious parenting, I’m choosing to teach my kids that the glass really is half full. That optimism is a learned skill they can cultivate to help them roll with the punches of life.

I hope this little tale brightens your day. Also that you might think of it when something unfortunate happens to you. Lose your car keys? Good luck you have a spare! Spill some paint right on the focal when you’re painting in your art journal? Good luck you have an old credit card handy to scrape away that paint blob to create more texture!

Please remember, you are a magnificent being. The Universe wants you to shine and thrive and be happy. Do your part to make it happen.

Good luck in all that you attempt this week!



Inspired by shadows

Every weekday morning I set my alarm for 6 a.m. I get up, make myself a cup of coffee, grab my phone and snuggle into my favorite corner of my leather sofa for 30 minutes of quiet time before I have to wake my kids for school. The early morning light streams through my picture window and the plants outside cast shadows that dance across my living room wall.

Every morning without fail, I take a few moments to watch the graceful movement where the leaves form positive space shapes on the negative space filtered sunlight. I breathe in a few deep breaths and exhale. Without fail, I’m inspired by the shadows and the interplay of form, light and movement.

shadows no filer

I’ve sketched this scene in an art journal. I’ve painted a canvas of it more than a few times. I’ve taken photographs and played around with various filers in Photoshop. Despite the fact I see the same scene every morning, my response to it varies according to my mood. Some days I feel reflective. Other days I take it as a good omen for creativity in my studio. On rainy days, I miss nature’s shadow puppets on my wall and silently will the sun to peek from the clouds so I can feel the comfort of my morning routine.

As I was looking at the photographs the other day I realized these images are a good teaching tool for seeing in a new way. Take a look at the top photo. This is exactly what my eyes see each morning. Soft beautiful light intermingled with the repetitive pattern of the leaves. The pop of blue chair next to a cluster of dark objects – wood chair, vintage shoe forms and woven wire basket.  Pretty scene, but you have to really focus to notice positive and negative form.

Take a look at the next photo using the Photoshop Express app’s vibrant filter. The positive shapes of the leaves are starting to become much more prominent, as is the shadow behind the blue chair. I also love the way this warm filer makes the image appear as if I were looking though an old Edison bulb.

Shadows Filter Vibrant

Now take a look at the third pic using the invert filter. Wow, this one is an amazing transformation. All of a sudden you can “read” the light in a way your eyes and brain cannot. Take a look at how the blue chair and the wooden one are now reversed color wise. Notice how strong the shadow of the light is behind the chair. See the double imagery of the wire bag, and like an X-ray machine you can magically see the cloth bag inside the wire one. The lovely play of shadows from the leaves is now a long vertical strip of black. It’s fascinating the information one can get changing focus.

Shadows Invert Filter

Teaching your brain the look differently as an artist is important. It’s tantamount in what Marcel Proust meant when he said:


How about you? Is there anything in your home that inspires you every day and causes you to simply stop and be present?



In between space

 no longer quite


There are changes coming in my life. While I’m beyond excited for them to begin — for new beginnings, it’s also been months and months in the making. There have been days… weeks… that I fret about all the “what ifs” and “how tos”.  I’ve had many nights when I wake up at 2 a.m. and cannot get back to sleep because my mind is racing.

As all the machinations continue to move at this slower pace than I’m accustomed to, I’ve turned my working hours into pages of new ideas that I cannot wait to get started on. I’ve read books on marketing and the new economy. I’ve listened to dozens of podcasts with some of the world’s best business leaders and innovators. I’ve made a little bit of art, but honestly my heart is driving me in the direction of information consumption rather than reflection and introspection. I feel my muses happily taking a nap rather than indulging my creativity. They’re a million years old — infinitely wise — so they’ve already got this thing figured out.

I’ve visualized where I’m headed and already felt the changes deep in my heart.

The problem is this damn in between. The waiting. It goes against everything I am. Action-oriented, results-driven, always moving in the direction of my dreams. Type A, for shizzle.

So I take my work days a littler easier than I’m used to. And I remind myself to honor this space. While it’s difficult, it’s here to teach me an important life lesson about patience.

Have you ever found yourself between the no longer and not yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Enjoy Easter

Today marks Easter weekend and the renewal of Spring each year. Like many folks, I adore this time when the weather is beautiful and the outdoor weekend fairs and festivals are in full swing. I’ve been spending lots of quality time with my family and friends. Each Wednesday, we look through the events calendar and decide when and where we’re meeting up on Saturday. This weekend, of course, I’ll be taking my daughter to an egg hunt. We’ve already purchased her frilly pink and blue tulle dress and new sandals that she picked out. The thought of a party has had her bubbling with excitement since Tuesday.

Spring Quote - Jen Cushman Studio

Since I know this is a busy weekend for most folks, I just wanted to give you a little inspirational image of a Spring vignette pic I took at Sweet Salvage and then turned into a visual quote. I’m having fun creating these little digital graphics. If you have a Pinterest board this would look good on, please feel free to Pin away.

The soft color palette makes me want to get out some of my pastel beads and build a new necklace. The eggs inspire me to get out my resin clay and paints and see if I can make some speckled beads first. Maybe late Sunday afternoon after Easter brunch I’ll get some down time to simply play in my studio while my daughter colors beside me.

Tell me, what does this image evoke for you? 


What’s your love language?

Heart Journal page Jen Cushman

I’m sure you’ve heard of the book the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I first learned about this book from a friend of mine about 4 years ago. We were hanging out one evening and talking as only girlfriends do and I was filling her in on a stupid little tiff my hubby and I had. After listening to my frustrations, she said, “Jen, your love language is Words of Affirmation and his is Acts of Service.” It’s a clear as day.

Huh? Wasn’t clear to me, but I was intrigued. I picked up Dr. Chapman’s book. I did the test and asked my sweetie too as well. My main Love Language was, indeed, Words of Affirmation though I was surprised to learn his was Quality Time and then Acts of Service. (If this is all Greek to you right now, don’t worry, there’s a link to the test below). I’ve always been verbal, began talking in sentences at 10 months and never stopped. Communication has been a natural predilection of mine and reading, writing and talking is right up there at the top of my most favorite ways to spend time.

Family and friends how much I love and appreciate them because I’m forever telling them so. Complete strangers who give good service — like waitresses/waiters or just about any professional interaction that improves my life at the moment gets a positive affirmation from me. If they’re truly excellent, I seek out their managers to put in a good word. It’s just something I’ve always done. On Facebook, I’m one of the first to give a compliment or ‘atta girl. I do it because a kind word can generate smiles and their happiness always rubs off on me. Seriously, it’s a win-win.

My husband, on the other hand, is much more of a taking-action kind of guy.  He shows his love by running my car through the car wash and filling up my gas tank, or checking my wallet to ensure I always have cash on hand. I’ve come to expect to always have a $20 bill in my wallet at all times. Pretty cool, right? You betcha! But compliments not so much. I used to get frustrated. Now when I really need a word or two, I give him a nudge and say, “What’s my love language?” He grins and makes an attempt.

Words of Affirmation are not my teenage son’s language. Mom’s touchy-feeley words are sometimes too much for him, so I do my best to still be me, but tone it down. He refuses to take the online test because he thinks it’s “dumb” but I already know his button is Quality Time because I read Dr. Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages of Teenagers when he was in junior high. This means when I’m looking to show him how much I care or to reward him for good grades, for example, I find something fun we can do together.

You’re probably wondering why I’m even writing such a personal blog post today, particularly when it has nothing to do with art. I don’t really know myself. I’ve started and stopped at least a half dozen times. What keeps drawing me back is the fact that this book is something this has helped me honor and understand the people I care about. I also think it has implications in all relationships. If managers would ask their people to do this touchy-feeley test, workplaces could run smoother if we knew that Sally in accounting like gifts so leaving her a little piece of chocolate makes her happy, but Dan in marketing would be touched if you took a task off his plate because his son’s baseball team is playing a big game and you know he volunteers to coach.

One of my deciding factors in leaving the corporate world as a business reporter and work as an entrepreneur was the constant complaining at the newspaper. Had I mentioned taking a test to see what our love languages are, I’d have been fired for sheer stupidity. Fortunately, I made the right decision to follow my heart and my days are much more joyful.

If you do decide to jump on over and take the test let me know. What’s your love language? How do you feel about what Dr. Chapman is saying?



A Peek in My Guest Bedroom

If you visited Thursday, then you know I participated in Seth Apter’s online collaboration to share how folks live with their art. As promised, I’m giving a little peek into my guest bedroom today.

Jen's Guest Bedroom Opening Door

While I definitely have a quirky industrial/vintage/found object vibe to my home, most of my house is pretty lived in family life. My guest room is the one place I was able to decorate just for myself and my family and friends who stay with us. I wrote a post about my French Flea Market Bedroom, but I’ve updated the room to add a tad more color and some of my collages (You see them in the photo above). I also wanted to incorporate more of my found objects on display as well. Truthfully, while I wanted to keep it a black-and-white palette, I just couldn’t maintain that no color look.

Guest Bedroom Desk Vignette Jen Cushman

This room is a work in progress. I want to get more pillows for the bed and a vintage bed skirt. The walls need the molding put back into place but my hubby just hasn’t had the time (ok desire) to finish it off from over two years ago when we moved in. The bed is super comfortable with a new memory foam mattress and that’s what counts the most; that the people I love feel safe and warm and comfortable when they visit.

Jen Cushman Guest Bedroom Bed


My little vignettes of found objects are vintage items, most of which I’ve picked up at Sweet Salvage. Since they’re a once a month vintage sale in Phoenix, I’m always finding new treasures to add to and replace in my home.

Vintage Found Objects Display Jen Cushman


What do wheels and real Amish shoes (you should see the cool handmade iron nails on the soles!), a beat up school photo and a vintage printer’s block have in common? This is the visual representation of what went through my head as I was arranging the vignette – A sweet, scared Amish teenage girl dreams of leaving home attend collage to study English Lit and become a university professor. However, she loves her mother and sisters dearly and is torn between the only life she knows and the life her soul longs to live. The beauty is in the longing and in the precipice of her decision. The vintage train case is my mother’s. When I open it, it still smells like cold cream. I cannot tell you how much I played with this as a girl.

Vintage Dress Form Display Jen Cushman


This vintage dress form – another Sweet Salvage find – is one of my most treasured objects. She’s been in our Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin booth a bunch of times, not to mention at Art Unraveled, Tucson To Bead True Blue and other shows. She’s starting to get a little too fragile to be attending more shows so I think she’ll be staying home from now on.  The gorgeous piece of handmade lace on her was found in an old trunk at a tag sale. I passed on the trunk but I had to have the lace. Some of you might even recognize this vintage chaise too. It’s been to CHA and back a couple of times. This is what it means to be an artist-based company. Our art and our displays are always personal.

Hope you enjoyed my little virtual home tour. Be sure to check in next week. I have some very exciting news to share with you!



Taking a little (bloggy) break

Jen Cushman Spring Bird Necklace


Hey everyone. Happy Spring! Well, it could still be mighty cold depending on what part of the country you live in. Here in the sunny Southwest, Spring has sprung, and guess what? I’m cleaning my studio. I still have to work my regular gigs so the cleaning and sorting is going slowwwwwww. I manage to do about two hours a day on it. The rest of the work day is taken up with my normal deadlines and projects. Weekends are still reserved for family time and household chores.

I was chatting with one of my best girlfriends over the weekend while our littles played. I groaned that I was the epitome of spring fever right now. I want to enjoy the gorgeous 75 degree weather and do anything besides the dailies. I’m also having a heck of a time finding my normal creative juice that usually flows through me. Do you ever have times like this?

As we continued chatting (and me doing a little more bitching and moaning than I should have), I realized that I need to give myself a little break. My soul is wanting to take a few daytime naps here and there and just flat line on some of my normal to dos. I made a list of everything in my life that gives me energy. Then I made a list of things that are not currently feeding my soul. The final column was a list of things I enjoy, but want to just take off my plate for a little bit. At the moment, blogging falls into that last category.

I’ve had various conversations regarding blogs over the years. Some people advise to never let your foot off the gas pedal of your blog because its “the driving force of your business.” (Picture me doing air quotes with my fingers and rolling my eyes) Others say it’s OK to do it, but for goodness sake, never tell anyone what you’re up to. Other social media folks have said they will let up slightly on the pedal by filling in the gaps with curated content (either their own past posts or other’s stuff on the internet) rather than coming up with new ideas. I could opine about all these scenarios, but instead I’m going to do what I would advise you to do if you were my friend having the same conundrum.

I would tell you to listen to the whispers of your soul because only you can hear the small, still voice within. The key is being quiet and stopping long enough to hear it.

I have no idea how long this little bloggy break is going to last. It might be as short as an afternoon, making this post irrelevant. It could take a week or more, or as long as my studio purge. What I promise myself, and everyone who subscribes to my blog and cares enough about me to follow me, is that I will never write a post just to publish. There’s a thousand big and small things in life that’s that way more fun and fulfilling than spending time reading half-assed blog posts.

Now get into your studio (or not) and have an Artful day. Whatever you decide to do, please be sure to live with it all your heart.