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Atlas Mural Process Photos

I just put the finishing touches on the Atlas mural this morning! This piece has been three years in the works and I am so excited to show you the finished project. Thank you so much to the City of Greeley for this opportunity and to the Atlas Theater and John Galt crews.

If you want to stop by and see it in person, it is at 709 16th Street in Greeley, CO.

BEFORE…
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Power washing that dirty wall

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My new “fade” expert

 

The background ombre almost done…

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Lots of filling in shapes

 

Painted using a mixture of spray paint and hand brushing

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Lots of late nights…

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Getting closer!

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Such adorable little helpers. And they are getting pretty good with paintbrushes!

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Almost done….

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and….AFTER!!

The finished piece.

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This mural was definitely a family effort!

 

Now on to Bellwether projects!

 

“Ghosts for Tinder” Painting Story and Process Photos

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A photo of a wildfire that was about a quarter of a mile from my parents’ house.IMG_5177IMG_5175

My parents’ farm in the Kansas Sandhills is surrounded by hundreds of acres of native prairie. Farmers there are constantly fighting the growth of cedar trees and other invasive species to try to retain the health and beauty of the prairie. One of the reasons why the prairie can be difficult to maintain is because fire is necessary to its life and health. Wildfires burn away dead plants; prevent certain other plants from encroaching; and release nutrients into the ground to encourage new growth. But in our world, we fight against fire.

Where I grew up, prairie fires are a very real concern. My childhood home was destroyed in a prairie fire (thankfully after we had already moved out). I remember many nights where my dad would leave all the sprinklers on in the yard “just in case”  because a nearby wildfire might jump the road and head our way.

Understandably, we don’t have room in our lives for fire. It can be dangerous and destructive. We have belongings and homes that are cherished. But, in our needs for safety and to protect the things we love, we can miss out on some of the restorative benefits. Especially in the sense of fire as a larger metaphor.

So the prairie here is a metaphor. Sometimes the best healing for new growth is a clearing out. This painting is my reminder to myself; that sometimes we need to start anew. Sometimes we need to let pain in and let go and begin again.

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Interesting little side note, this is the one piece in this series that was not started on a new blank canvas. The canvas had a painting on it that I was never happy with, so I painted over it to create this new piece – an act that mirrors the symbolism of the piece. The gray bird in the sky flying towards the past is the one element I kept from the original painting.

The butterflies here represent (as always in my pieces) hope and forward momentum.
The fire has sparkles of the universe within it.
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A 2013 photo of burning cedars in the prairie

 

GHOSTS FOR THE TINDER lyrics by Tim Coons

Come and keep by my lovely fire

I’ve got pieces I’m scheming from the liars with in me

You’ve replayed in my darker mind

You’re re-lived in the days I have assigned without you

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Burn it down here

burn it down

it will come again

come up, on up from this ground

Up and around

So burn it down

I’ve got ghosts for the tinder glow

I’ve got pages to wash clean as snow to warm me

I’ve got memories for matches now

I will lighten the load so sad and loud for
When I see you

Heaven knows it will light

Heaven knows it will light

 

Story behind the painting “On Becoming and Artist”

Over the course of this month, we will be sharing some of the stories behind the paintings and songs in the Becoming series.
You can purchase prints of this piece here.
And, you can listen to the song, Eventually, here.

ON BECOMING AN ARTIST
24X18 mixed media on canvas
Companion Song: Eventually
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I grew up in a very artistic family. My mother is an amazing artist and she dedicated many hours of our homeschooling to magical projects with artistic bents. But I never considered myself an artist. My older sister was always the one who could draw elaborate characters and scenes from her head. I was the kid that was good at math and science. It wasn’t until H.S. – when my sister went off to private ballet school in Canada – and I took my first structured art classes, that I even considered that I was good at art as well.

Little River H.S. is a tiny rural school in Kansas only accessible by dirt country roads. There were 32 kids in my graduating class. The year below me had 12. Beth Myers is the art teacher there and she has this amazing little “attic” art department that smells like wax and sunshine. It is the only room on the second story and had a door to the rooftop. She let me set up my own work table under a window in the corner where I could leave my scattered in-progress works out. It was this glorious little world all in its own. It was the first time I started to see my self as an artist separate from my sister.

In college, I was majoring in the sciences – computer programing and biology (believe it or not), but would still take art classes for fun. The art rooms were always where I wanted to be. Walking in felt like home. I was working several jobs – scooping ice cream and delivering papers and I hated it. But I was teaching little art workshops for my friends. Then, in the classified ads I saw an advertisement for a M.S. Art teacher. I applied, and through uncharacteristic boldness and luck, I got the job.

And slowly, I realized that the thing I loved most, and the space I loved most was creating. Sitting in a sunshine filled place with a steaming mug of coffee, tools of making in my hands, excavating beauty from the stories that make up our lives.

To me this piece is about the pull. About how all these little tidbits and disconnected themes in your life have direction and movement. You may not see the image they are forming until you reach the destination. But, your passions, your curiosities, your dreams – they all are leading somewhere.

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EVENTUALLY lyrics by Tim Coons
My hourglass, my calloused hands

My furrowed brow in all my plans

I’ll come into my own, I’ll come into my own

The distance I have traveled

The wool that I have gathered

I’ll come into my own, I’ll come into my own

Heaven’s ship sails low

All the while, it’s ever close

You know you know…

You’ll never have that time you need

You strike the rock but nothing bleeds

You’ll come into your own

eventually

the distance you have wandered
The fabric torn asunder

You’ll come into your own, you’ll come into your own

Heaven’s ship sails slow

Give it time, it’ll show

before you go, before you go

you know, you know, oh

Documenting Our Creative Process – A Photo Series

This post is part of an ongoing series we post every couple of weeks, sharing our journey as working artists. Sometimes it is good to take the veil off of the creative process and showcase how we get from A to Z. See some of the other posts here.

So many little aspiring musicians around here.

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This creative mixer/master, the elusive Dave Wilton of Saint Ida’s studio, has been working his magic on our new “Becoming” album. I am almost giddy I am so excited about it.

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Tim has been experimenting downstairs with a new creative venture. Notes, harmonies, layering….sound and smell aren’t that far apart.

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We have been enjoying lots of Chalk art, especially in anticipation of one of our favorite Greeley, CO events, the Greeley Chalk a Lot on Sept. 12th.
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While momma has been painting away on her own projects, Lucy hatched out this fluttery, neon butterfly.
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I have slowly but surely been closeted away working on this new series of ours (“Becoming” will be an album AND art series). I truly can’t wait to share it with you all.
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I love my little studio view of the Treehouse Village. This window also becomes a temporary landing page for collage pieces I haven’t yet incorporated but that are providing inspiration.  IMG_6387

 

August Calendar Free Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

It is August! Sometimes I think this month is one of the most unnoticed months of all. The main thing it seems to be know for is “Back to School”. August doesn’t have any major holidays, it isn’t the beginning of a new season, it’s just not that memorable. But (and I might be slightly biased seeing as it’s my birthday month), I think August needs some new PR. Our theme for August is “Newspaper.” This month is going to be about Journalism, telling stories, noticing the little things, and all things “black-and-white-and-read-all-over”.  Enjoy!  For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen. For the desktop, click on the small thumbnail below to view the large size image. (Technically the first moon landing was July 20, 1969, but I wanted a little collection of feel good articles and clippings for August, and come on, it’s the moon!)

By the way, on a fun little note, we found the “Moon is Won” newspaper in the crawl space of our house when we moved in.

High Resolution Desktop Wallpaper:
August 2015 desktop

Two choices for iPhone Wallpaper:

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June Ideas and Activities Around the Theme “Collection”

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is Collection! All the bits and pieces that make up a whole, taxonomy, pressed flowers, and collected works of literature, poetry, and music. We wanted a theme that lent itself to playing outside, picking flowers, and long evening walks.

Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.

Below is our comprehensive activities list. Choose a couple to do with your kids to enrich the month or try to accomplish the whole list! What would you add? I would love to hear your ideas and plans for the month.

Dates in June to take note of/celebrate:

 June 14 = Flag Day
June 21 = Summer Solstice & Father’s Day

Our List of “Collection” Activities:

SCIENCE:

Learn about Scientific Naming and taxonomy.
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A perfect way to go about that seems to be to make a little collection of pressed flowers


Learn about Curiosity Cabinets and make one – I will probably pick up some old drawers from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and we will use the magic of hot glue to put it together.
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Looking at curiosity cabinets ties in nicely with the art of Joseph Cornell and his shadow boxes
 

GEOGRAPHY:

In celebration of Flag day, look at all the different flags from around the world, and sew our own flags to put on the treehouse (or summer club house of sorts).
(For slightly older kids, the book Swallows & Amazons, is great)

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Speaking of the treehouse, we want to have our second annual sleep over out there – enjoying the sounds of the night, the stars, and the summer air.
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Take lots of lovely summer evening walks – and find little treasures.
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I used some old letterpress trays I had laying around to make our “Collection” themed wall. My plan is to fill up the wall with all sorts of found treasures over the course of the month.

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HISTORY:

Have mom share some of her love of button collecting with the girls. So many tidbits of history and folklore. The buttons have so many stories to tell. Check out her fun etsy shop here. She is also about to release a new site called “House of Button” that should be pretty neat.
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Visit the Build Frontiers exhibit at the Greeley History Museum (and of course play with legos)
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ART/CRAFT:

Draw lots of collections of tiny items (hopefully we will be making these into a calendar that will be available here!)

Visit the Denver Art museum (now free for kids) to see the collected works of Joan Miro exhibit with studio time (through June 28) (we didn’t make it last month, so I thought I would roll it over 🙂
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Last month at Denver Union Station I saw a little collection of hand cut paper silhouettes. I think I am going to start my own collection of them. Isn’t this fabulous!
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For that matter, I also want to continue adding to my collection of tiny art – I love this because they are small, I can afford originals of some of my favorite artists. Note to my artist friends, I would really love to curate our own version of the “Enormous Tiny Art Show” if anyone is interested 🙂
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Revisit the Collection a Day blog that Lisa Congdon did in 2010 – this is just lovely to browse through and get inspiration from.

Documenting:

Jump back into our Journaling – specifically using my sister Katie’s awesome tiny squares method. She just adds one each day, or to capture a little moment she wants to remember. #documenteachday
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PLAY:

Have a tea party with using my teacup collection – probably for Lucy’s 6 year old woodland fairy birthday!
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MUSIC:

Listen to Ars Moriendi by The Collection
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The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – Moonrise Kingdom
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Curate a Curiosity Cabinet Playlist

WATCH:

Indiana Jones
We Bought a Zoo

READ:

I want to read tons and tons. That is what summer is about for me. Lazy days filled with quiet reading.
We will definitely be participating in our libraries summer reading program. Their theme this year is “Super Heros”.

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For Grown Ups:
Collected famous stories – I am really interested in trying out some of this curated list from Powell Books.
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This list also has some I would love to read –
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For Kids:

Read Collections of Nursery Rhymes, short stories, and poems

Read the Borrowers by Mary Norton (they collect all the tiny things we don’t use)

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Read lots of books from Jan Brett’s extensive collection and then go to her show at the Fort Collins Contemporary Art Museum.banner_Brett-2015

Documenting the Creative Process: a Weekly Photo Series

Here are some of our projects we have been working on and some snippets of our artistic process from the last couple weeks.

I submitted a design for the city of Greeley Manhole cover design contest

manhole vector

 

Tim has been continuing recording on our new album “Becoming” and working on another still to be titled album. One song uses this sweet antique musical organ toy.

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I’m in the middle of this commission depicting a mine in Alaska. Still has a long ways to go 🙂

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I made a whole series of little sunprint bags for John Galt’s Boutique

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And finally, I have been working on an Art Deco poster and CD cover for the new Burroughs live album!

sweaty greeley soul

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Abacus “Spectrum” Round Up

And there it goes, March is ending already. Spring is here!

I have found doing these round-up posts really helpful for me. It’s funny how I will feel so behind and like we haven’t “done” anything. But then, as I start to compile images from the month, it amazes me just how much we managed to pack in. I’ve found it to be such a nice way of keeping track of our days. I highly recommend it 🙂 The theme for this month’s Abacus project was “Spectrum” (ABACUS is our creative home curriculum centered on a theme). I am excited to share where we have been going with it!  To see the whole list of projects we came up with (and resources) check out our original post, here.  It’s been a March full of color.

Lots of rainbow drawing and experiments with color (Hattie (3) jumped fully into being an artist herself this month, rather than just observing):
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Beatrice and I happened on a Marble factory with glass blowing demonstrations near Kansas City, called Moon Marble Company. We of course had to bring a few home with us. Each one is such a tiny world of light and color.
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We started seeds indoors – mini red bell peppers and more (all from the glorious Baker Creek Seed Company). They are enjoying the sunshine of our window seat. All of now come up!

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The city of Greeley is doing a whole lot of awesome lego themed events in anticipation of “Build Frontiers” coming to the Greeley history museum in June. We can’t wait! This week we went to a lego event at the library and also a whole art show of lego builds (Amazing rainbow lego tree house was made by the lovely Natalie Mash – part of the lego show at the Tointon Gallery).
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We had a very “iridescent” morning making black rainbow paper (super fun, just need clear nail polish and black paper!) and giant bubbles. Thank goodness for sunshiny days.
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Speaking of colors, we painted our very dark living room a lovely fresh shade of light blueish gray. “After” pictures still coming.
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And, of course, sorted all the “things” by color. (I found these spools at a thrift store, does anyone know what they are for?)
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We played with lots of colorful musical notes.
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We harnessed the power of the sun to create Inkodye animal t-shirts.  More of these coming soon! I “might” have gotten so excited about this amazing new product that I bought all the colors…I actually have some SA-WEET zippered pouches in the works to sale here.
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The girls watched Wizard of Oz for the first time ever, and of course loved it. There were lots of discussions about future halloween costumes and who gets to be which character. Apparently I am the witch. Hmmmm….
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We ate the color spectrum for lunch one day.
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We also made these “favorite color” freezer paper shirts.
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Artist Kelly Cook and I completed our Spectrum themed sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project
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Harriet and I had a marvelous time one day making homemade play dough (my mom’s special recipe – which I will post someday) which we used to make rainbow cupcakes
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We played with prisms and sunshine.
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And finally, we whipped up a batch of Rainbow foam and had a “bike car wash”

That’s all folks! April’s theme is coming on Thursday!

If you want more info about this whole Abacus project, start here.

To jump in and connect with other families and share what you are working on, join our Abacus facebook group.

Sketchbook Project “Spectrum” Collaboration

This moleskin sketchbook was filled up in a color spectrum as a collaboration between Kelly Cook and me. She gave me the book as a Christmas present. We passed it back and forth between us, each adding bits and pieces. We gave each page a loose color theme. It was a fun venue to just experiment and play without worrying about the end result. The book was created to be part of The Sketchbook Project, a crowd-sourced library that features thousands of artists’ books contributed by creative people from all around the world. I am mailing it off tomorrow!

See more of Kelly’s art and process here.

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Sketchbook Project “Spectrum” – Kelly Cook & Betony Coons Collaboration from Tim Coons on Vimeo.

 

“Spectrum” Favorite Color Shirts DIY

This project is part of our March Abacus “Spectrum” theme. We spent the last week in KS hanging out with grandparents and my sister and her family from Canada, she has 3 kids ages 6,3, and 1. I saw that out shirts were getting old I visited this website to get new shirts.  I wanted to do a simple but fun project that all the kids could do together and that could be a little keepsake from the week as well. We came up with these freezer paper “Favorite Color” shirts inspired by paint swatches.

Supplies Needed:

Freezer paper – looks like this:
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Brush-able fabric paint (just not the puffy paint kind)
An Iron
Paint brushes
Water
Blank Shirts (or tote bags, hoodies, etc..)
An Exacto Knife
A scrap of cardboard slightly smaller than the shirt

1. Cut a simple stencil out of the freezer paper. You will need one for each shirt you are making. I traced my iphone case 3 times. Use the exacto to cut out the shapes.

2. Put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to keep the paint from soaking through to the backside.

3. Iron the freezer paper stencil to the shirt (plastic side down so it adheres)
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4. Have kiddos pick out favorite colors. This is a great time to learn about color mixing too.
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5. Squeeze a small amount of paint onto a paper plate and paint in the rectangles. I folded the excess shirt under to keep stray paint off it (but we are also talking about 3 year olds here…). 
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6. Paint each rectangle a different color. I went in at the end and made sure they had each filled the whole shape. (don’t mind the shirtless-ness, just trying to keep the paint off their other clothes 🙂

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7. Let the paint fully dry. If you are impatient like we were, break out a hair dryer to speed things along.

8. Once the paint is fully dry, peel off the stencil! All done!

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9. Wait 24 hours before washing and then just wash as normal. Probably isn’t a bad idea to heat set the paint with a clothes iron too.

Note: I thought it would be cute to write their name/age + “favorite colors” at the bottom in small letters, but we didn’t.

This obviously does not have to be a kid only project. I kind of want one for myself too…

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