What an exciting time it's been to continue to settle in at home, and make it [for the most part] everything I ever imagined while incorporating my own personal style. During this time, I've also had the chance to step away from social media and better manage my intake of everything going on in the world. It was a much needed break, and allowed me great amounts of time to slow down, refocus, and plan for the future. DIY projects are an awesome way to relax and get creative.
This door decor project was one of my favorite to do during my social media break. Though I am a fan of wreaths, which are commonly hung on doors... the beautiful arrangements whose ring or circular shape is meant to represent eternity are also laid on graves and often seen as related to death. Growing up, I would always hear my Mom say she (or Liberian people in general) didn't use wreaths for decoration on their doors/at home because of this. I was looking for a design that would be just as gorgeous as a wreath, but way different than what you'd typically see hanging on a door or at a funeral.
Within a few minutes of online searching, I found a design that I liked and looked easy enough to replicate. I skimmed through my craft supplies, frames, and outdoor spaces and scavenged for all of the materials I needed (needle, thread, small branches and twigs, faux flowers, pine cone, plexi-glass, frame, ruler wood burner/stencil cutter, chalk markers, sealant, 3M hanging strip, scissors, spray paint, water, a rag and hot glue gun)! After some short, sporadic sessions of putting everything together, I hung up the sign on my front door... for $FREE.99! To seal and weather-proof the piece on the door, I sprayed the chalk ink lettered design with fixative, but that left it with a foggy residue I was not happy with. I ended up testing which spray of the ones I had on-hand were the best on sections of the first piece. Then I redid the lettering on a new cut of the plexi-glass. Of the four sprays that were tested, Krylon's Crystal Clear had the best results. Pictures in the gallery below show a little of this project's behind-the-scenes process. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed and/or feel inspired to create one of your own! Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section if you have any!
Whether attending a festival to enjoy good music, to serve the community, or to work as a face painter or vendor, festival life has become THE LIFE from Spring to late Fall. With Durham Art Guild's Swing Into Spring arts fundraiser to kick off this year's festival season in the Triangle, I've had quite a few that I enjoy participating in each year. Those include the Eno Festival, the African American Cultural Festival, and the Art of Cool Festival; however, there are so many more that take place. The Dreamville Festival was scheduled to kick off this year in Raleigh, and I was reeeeeally looking forward to being a part of its Art Market. It was canceled due to Hurricane Florence, but will be happening next year on April 6th instead, so I will still be looking forward to that. Mark your calendars now!
Each event has its own type of crowd as well. Being a vendor at events for the past year now, I've learned to better prepare and cater to my audience. I'm still learning and growing, but here are some photos from past occasions where I've vended. The evolution is real. Thanks for reading!
In the words of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, "There's NO place like home!" I'm officially ten full weeks in at my new place, and this is the very first time I have felt "at home" since moving to North Carolina. The word [home] alone is one that has given me mixed feelings my whole life. Growing up in two separate households from the ages of 12 through 18 as well as living as a first-generation [naturalized] American, "home" always felt bittersweet and family gatherings grew to feel strange. I dreamed of one day starting over and being able to create a home and family of my own. Fast forward 11 years, and I'm almost halfway there!
Earlier this year, the phrase "Home is where the heart is" had me pondering the idea of 'home' once again. I was participating in an art auction and fundraiser hosted by the Carrack Modern Art and Smashing Boxes for Habitat for Humanity of Durham, where they used the phrase as the event theme. "Where was my heart?' I wondered.
The answer is that my heart is in good ol' North Carolina... for now. NC is where I found what I love to do and where I learned to heal, forgive, and love myself fully. NC is where I finally came out of my comfort zone and grew up. I am grateful for this place. I settled into my first apartment here. I lived by myself for the first time here, and I feel like I can call the place I reside "home" without any lingering feelings of sadness.
In the ten weeks it took me to settle into my apartment, the wall art I imagined hanging up in my bathroom slowly came to life. I wanted some art to match a piece of counter top decor and the beach-theme shower curtain and colors of my bathroom. I learned a lace and spray paint technique while teaching at Seeking the Self summer camp this past July, which I tried out on the background, then used other sources of inspiration from there. See below for pictures of the transformation and read on for the revamped classroom caddie, refurbished bookshelf, and reused window decor projects I did for my living room as well!
Summer is a busy time for an Artist that's involved in camps. As the time for longer and warmer days end each year, I get a little nostalgic and reflect on all of the great things the season brought. This year I returned to Hidden Voices and Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate's Seeking The Self (STS) Camp as an Assistant Art Instructor and also joined SEEDS' Summer Camp as a Guest Teacher to [finally] complete my North Carolina Environmental Education Certification Program's Community Partnership Project. Working with the kids lesson-by-lesson to come up with a concept for a mural we designed together and began painting was a challenge, but very rewarding. I met many talented young artists and it was a pleasure to teach them some of the basics of art and design. Photos from SEEDS' Camp directly follow. Read on for more about STS Camp after that!
Two years ago at this time, TYPE USA and See Why Designs were deep into planning and preparing to lead Canvas Creations for the very first time, which took place on September 10, 2016. We came together almost two weeks ago to "celebrate" that... but it was completely staged and the brainchild of my cousin, Michael Stewart (TV Personality seen on Lifetime's Love at First Flight). Not all attendees knew the secret, but he was using the event to be the perfect place to pop the big question to his then girlfriend, Britney. Many friends and family members joined to make this day special, and it was a real pleasure to be a part of it. Big thanks to Zweli's for serving as a great venue and everybody for showing up and making it a success. Photos are below, mostly captured by Esther of Esther Hicks Photography. Enjoy!
How Two Days Taught Me Two Valuable Business Lessons
I recently had the honor of lettering a huge, overhead chalkboard menu for Zweli's, a Zimbabwean restaurant that opened up its doors to customers in Durham, North Carolina in late June 2018. It was a great opportunity, especially with it being the first time I had ever done such a large-scale project. Although I had the pleasure of getting this job under my belt and having much of the process video documented, two major and hard lessons were learned as well through unexpected challenges I had to face first-hand. Check out the video below and continue reading for two things all creative business owners and/or DIY-ers should know when tackling similar projects!
Art for Cause..
Going down Memory Lane today to share photos I took at an artist's exhibition at the Scrap Exchange three years ago. Beauty From Toxicity, by Denise Hughes, was a show created entirely by upcycled plastic and displayed in Durham from Friday, June 19th to Saturday, July 11th, 2015. Hughes creates and shares her work to educate the public about our overproduction and overconsumption of plastic. She invites people to send their used plastic items to her studio instead of disposing them. That way she can use them in her mural projects and artwork while also diverting them from our landfills and waterways.
This show was a huge inspiration because I was only a few years into my Artist journey at the time and was still exploring the possible ways to create art for a specific purpose, outside of making money. Years later, I now realize that art has been a healing exercise for me and sharing it with others helps to show how they, too can feel relief, hope, freedom, and all types of other good feelings that are often felt through painting.
In fact, that's what I've enjoyed the most about sharing my love of art with others. IT FEELS GOOD. It also helps to open conversations about deeper topics. I had the pleasure of assisting at a teen's paint session a few weeks ago at StepUp Ministry Raleigh led by my good friend and fellow creative, Nate Key. They discussed identity and reflected on who they are and what makes them them. Art helped me to re-learn that for myself after college and relocating to Durham, NC. I really appreciated their dialogue and the opportunity to engage with such a dynamic bunch of young people. As the months go on and summer approaches, lots more activities and events are planned to happen. It's bound to be a busy, but [God-willing] fruitful summer and I'm very excited for all the good things ahead. I am grateful to God for it all. Stayed tuned!
For the good. As things change, I, too, am changing. I'm believing there is more in store for me than I can even imagine. I am planning for a great start to the new year, and I pray that by God's grace this will be my year.
I had the honor of facilitating a Canvas Creations session for Vision Church RDU's Living Life Content (LLC) [Singles] Ministry's End-of-Year event on Saturday, December 9th. In celebration of the holiday season, we had a great time in fellowship and painting together. More photos to recap are in the slideshow below.
Just about a week ago, I wrapped my fifth portrait drawing session (four times as a model and once as a participant) with a group of artists who draw and paint at Sertoma Arts Center in Raleigh, NC. I'm writing today to share a quick list of FIVE things I've learned over the last 18 months that would best prepare anyone to sit as a great LIVE model for portrait artists. It's a wonderful experience, so if you ever get the opportunity to... do it! I hope this will help.
1. Look Alive!
Come with your best face! Sitting for a total of almost three hours can be a little exhausting, especially if you have not practiced being still and holding a long pose. Keeping neutral (not too happy, and of course not sad) thoughts and eyes fixed on a focal point really helps to hold a relaxed face. You'll want to remain awake and aware, but without moving! If I had to describe what it may have felt like to be in Jordan Peele's "Sunken Place" from the movie Get Out, sitting as a live model would definitely not be far from it. Listening to a classical music radio station while seating motionless in a position you "can't" move out of for so long in front of a group made up mainly of retired white women made me think of that movie quite often. If you've seen the movie, you'll get the reference and if not... you have to watch it! Haha!
2. Be Prepared!
Find out the details. The session is normally broken up so that you have 5-minute breaks throughout to walk around and regroup. You're typically asked to come wearing bright colors and interesting fabrics and accessories [scarves and hats are encouraged]. Preparing in advance to factor in your travel time, locating the room, and settling in's vital. Make sure you are well prepared the night before to get enough rest and make it over to your modeling gig!
3. Arrive Early!
As a good friend of mine always likes to say, "To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and if you will be late... don't bother!" This is a good motto to have to help with being punctual, and punctuality is extremely vital when you are scheduled to sit in front of a group that will be studying YOU for three hours. Before you sit for them, there is most likely one person in the group that will seat you on the stage with appropriate lighting and a backdrop that complements the colors you are wearing and tones in your skin. Arriving early helps to ease that process and will better set you up for success.
4. Have a Good Attitude!
Show that you are glad to be there! Smile and interact with others during the breaks. The time will go by a lot faster once you immerse yourself in the experience. Be the best model you can be and let your observers do what they do. Sometimes the art doesn't come out looking exactly like you, but know that it's OK. Stay upbeat because that keeps the energy in the room high.
5. Enjoy the Process!
Check out the works as they transform from start to finish, and just be in the moment. The artist in me gets excited each time to see the early stages of the works and as the time goes on, I love seeing the final outcomes. I'd encourage any model to move through the room during breaks to check out the work (if the artists are comfortable with it) and enjoy the process!
Well, there you have it... five things to do to make your live portrait modeling experience as smooth as can be! Below are some images of drawings and paintings from several artists (I put their info in the captions) I've had the pleasure to encounter through these sessions. Modeling for figure drawing groups is on another level, and I don't have first-hand experience with that, but there is plenty of information on the world wide web for those with interest in that as well. I was recently asked to be a figure model, but there's no way I would want to model completely nude. I plan to sit in and take a couple of sessions before the year ends. Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions!
As Autumn's onset brings in lovely outdoor changes, I wanted to reflect on the fun art classes and a summer camp I was involved in over the summer. I had the wonderful opportunity to work in the art spaces of UNC-CH with middle school-students participating in Seeking The Self 2017, a summer camp hosted annually by nonprofit organizations, Hidden Voices and Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate (BRMA). The photos below are some highlights of my time there and the video following shows more about the camp. I'm thrilled to have participated and look forward to doing more work with Hidden Voices in the near future.
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