Sunday, July 26, 2015

One step at a time

My first experience with running was in High School.  I joined the track team in the spring of my freshman year 1985. There was no try out, they took everyone.  My first year,  the coach had no idea what to do with me.  Eventually, my event became the mile.  Being put into the mile run is the equivalent of being put into the chorus of the school play, both are places where you put the kids that you don't know what else to do with.  I was always in the chorus.

The girls that placed in the mile were running 5 minute miles.  I started out in the 8 minute range where I fought not to be last.  Knowing that I had no chance of ever placing in a race, my personal goal became to break 7 minutes and not be lapped by the fast girls.  I slowly chipped away at my time.  Each race, I would pick up the pace a little bit more and eventually... I broke into the 6 minute range.  My fastest time was just a few seconds less than 7 minutes!  I was pretty proud of myself.

Over the years, I've tried unsuccessfully to become a runner again.  During each attempt, I would quickly and easily get discouraged and quit.  Walking became my exercise of choice.   (Walking really is great exercise!)

My husband has always been a runner.  He runs on the weekends and any chance he gets on vacation days.  He would love to run more but he just doesn't have time during the work week.  Last July, we were having dinner one night when he announced that he wanted to run The Blessing of the Fleet... the next day!  It's a local 10 mile race.  He normally runs 2-3 miles.  I smiled and said "OK, Sure! Yes, I'll go register you and pick up your race number tomorrow morning."  Inside my mind though, I thought that he was nuts.

The next night, my daughter and I went to cheer him on.  The race starts at 6:00pm and attracts about 3000 runners and walkers.  As we waited for my husband by the finish line, I watched, as beautiful, in shape, young, hot bodies crossed the finish line.  I stood there feeling old and terribly out of shape. Then, something happened, all of the average looking people, young and old started to cross the line.  People that didn't look like the cover of a fitness magazine were finishing the race.  My husband crossed the line smiling, looking great.  He did great!  He was confident that he could do it and he did.  I noticed how happy everyone was when they finished.  I stood there wishing that I could run like I used to and I decided at that moment that I would make it a goal.

At first, I just wanted to be comfortable running a few miles.  I started out REALLY slow.  I would warm up by walking first and then running just one mile. That's it, one mile. I found a pace that works for me (slow) and I stuck to it.  In just a couple of weeks, the mile was so easy that I actually WANTED to run more than a mile and I tried for 3.  After a couple of months I was giddy, feeling like I had cracked a secret code for how to run and actually enjoy it!  Patience, that's the key!  I would look forward to the chance to get out and run with enthusiasm.  I very gradually started to increase my miles and on New Year's Day I ran 6 miles for the first time in 30 years!  That was the day that I decided to make a new goal.  I wanted to run The 2015 Blessing of the Fleet with my husband.

I marked my calendar for Friday, July 24th.

Last Friday, we did it!  I loved every minute of it.  It was a beautiful night (except for a downpour and some lightning during miles 5-7).  The air was also electric from all of the runners!  The energy from everyone was contagious.  I loved the sound of all of the feet hitting the pavement, the thousands of heads bobbing up and down for as far as I could see.  All of the people that lined the route to cheer were amazing too!  Mostly though, I felt so much pride in accomplishing my goal and I was so happy to be able to run with my husband.  He kept me calm and made it all fun.  We hope to run the race every year now.

So... Why a post about running on a design blog?  I simply hope that I can inspire someone.  I want someone else to feel as happy and as proud as I felt running over the finish line.  If there is something that you have been wanting to try, set a goal and go for it.  One step at a time.  Don't worry about how long it will take either.  Have patience.  Sometimes, getting there is half the fun and going slow allows you to take in more of the experience.

10 miles.  1:43:00 was our final time.  I'm still smiling.









Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Amethyst Paintings

Hello and Happy Summer!

My amethyst paintings are now available as single prints on a white background!  I think they look great as a group.  They are now available in my Society6 shop.

http://society6.com/jillbyers

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Society6 - Free Shipiping!

Society6 is currently offering FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING!

*The offer excludes framed art prints, stretched canvases, wall clocks and rugs.
Also, the offer ends June 7, 2015 at midnight pacific time.

Use this link:
 http://society6.com/jillbyers?promo=J6GFP7YBK7ZZ

Every design in my shop is included but I chose a collection of my shibori designs to highlight here.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love these shibori designs?  I love them.  Notice, they are now available as leggings!

http://society6.com/jillbyers

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MATS Bootcamp - May

Our assignment for May was to create plates with dark crustaceans on a patterned background.  Recently, I was at my favortie garden shop and I took some photos of these caladium leaves.  The color and patterns were beautiful and I thought that they would be a fun backdrop for my crustaceans.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/93559750@N07/18160730545/in/photostream/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/93559750@N07/18161879101/in/photostream/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/93559750@N07/17540141113/in/photostream/

My plan was to have two plates with crabs on them and two with lobsters.  I ran out of time so they all have crabs.  Try to image some lobsters painted in the same style!

Check out the May Gallery here.  There are some really great designs!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/93559750@N07/18160755945/in/dateposted/

I really like the caladium design and I've uploaded some colorways to my Spoonflower shop.  I love some of these colorways!  I think the plates would also be nice with an indigo blue crustacean placed on one of the darker caladium colorways.
http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/jillbyers

This colorway is available in my Society6 shop.
 
http://society6.com/product/caladium-12s_print#1=45

I haven't had the chance to upload the diamond pattern but I plan to create a few colorways out of it too.  It's a cute coordinate.  Also... Crabby will be making another appearance soon!  The next Spoonflower contest that I'm working on is "Sandcastles" and I'm thinking that I can find another home for him in my sandcastle design.

Jill


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pickles!

My daughter has only 14 more days of school!  Where did the time go?  I feel like it's crunch time.  I know that I get very little artwork done in the summertime so the last few months of school feel like a race.   I am determined to finish the May, MATS Bootcamp assignment and also a few more Spoonflower contests while enjoying the beautiful weather and working in the yard and a list of other things too!  I'm also determined to not be disappointed if I don't complete everything on time.

Last week, I created this new design for Spoonflower.  I've decided that I really like to paint glass!
http://www.spoonflower.com/designs/4238650
I'm skipping the next Spoonflower contest to focus on MATS.  I LOVE the May assignment!  I hope to finish before the deadline this weekend.

Spring fever is in full swing! 

I hope that you're enjoying your spring... or fall, depending on what side of the equator you reside!
Jill

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lotus

There are some lotus that grow nearby and when they are in bloom people come from near and far to photograph and paint them.  They are so beautiful!  The large flowers bloom high above the water supported on strong but somewhat thin stems.  After the flower blooms, the petals drop off and leave an equally beautiful seed pod.

I decided to use lotus flowers for this weeks Spoonflower design.  The contest this week was called "Flowers for mom border print".  They wanted a 36"x42" design that can be printed as a continuous border.  They also suggested that it be made into a skirt for mom in honor of Mother's Day.  There was no time for sewing.  I just barely got the painting finished!   I was really crunched for time last week and was not able to finish last months MATS bootcamp assignment.  I was further along with this lotus design than my MATS assignment so I continued with the lotus.


My reason behind painting them blue was something that came across my Pinterest feed.  I was inspired by this delft blue, Wedgewood plate depicting lotus that was made at the turn of the century.  The plate is gorgeous.  I probably should not show it next to my painting because it's making my painting look bad. 
https://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/dining-entertaining/ceramics/wedgwood-pearlware-water-lily-plate/id-f_716869/
Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying "Comparison is the thief of joy".  Let's not compare.  Here is my design...
http://www.spoonflower.com/designs/4199520

Overall, I like it!  I also made a print for Society6...


http://society6.com/product/lotus-16b_framed-print#12=53&13=57


The Lotus are not in bloom right now so I needed to use photos for reference.  I've taken quite a few photos of the lotus but not nearly as many as my sister, Janice Sullivan who is a photographer.
Here are some of my sister's beautiful lotus photographs.  They are all available at Society6.

http://society6.com/janicesullivan/collection/lotus-flowers


http://society6.com/janicesullivan/collection/lotus-flowers

http://society6.com/janicesullivan/collection/lotus-flowers

http://society6.com/janicesullivan/collection/lotus-flowers

http://society6.com/janicesullivan/collection/lotus-flowers

I love the simplicity of this one.  Floating in space...

http://society6.com/janicesullivan/collection/lotus-flowers




http://society6.com/janicesullivan/collection/lotus-flowers


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Honey Bees

Here is my latest design for Spoonflower.  The contest theme is "Bees".

I love to garden and one of my favorite perennial flowers is russian sage.  The honey bees love it!  The first thing that came to mind when I started to think about this design was my russian sage.  I love the way that the sage looks with echinacea and honey bees love echinacea too.  My neighborhood deer love to eat the flowers of the echinacea so I do not have a lot of success with it.  The sage is not appealing to the deer so I have it planted everywhere.  It's really beautiful when it's planted in large groups.

I thought that I would show the process of my thinking through this design.  I took some photos along the way to illustrate how the design came to be.

Here is my original quick sketch.  I was thinking about the elements that I wanted to be in the design and the colors that I would use.  I made a little note that I thought that it would be fun to hide a four leaf clover in the design.


This is a more detailed sketch of how it would repeat.  I was picturing the honeycombs being more of a background texture.


This is just the beginning of the painting.  (I can't tell you how many times over the years that I've put my paintbrush into my coffee/tea.  You would think that that would be a lesson learned the first time.)


I like to paint big.


Messy, messy palette.  I keep thinking that I should wash my palette and start with fresh new paints.  I never do.  My paints are all dried up and mixed together and it always works for me as it is.


I make a lot of print outs along the way to check for repeat and also because I like to sketch onto the printouts if there is an element that I want to add.  Sometimes I cut them up and arrange the elements differently.  I know that I could do the same on the computer but I like having the big print and having it in my hand.  I do not have a large format printer so I piece together 8.5x11 prints.


Finished design!  After scanning in my paintings, this design was pieced together entirely in  Photoshop.  (Sometimes, I flip back and forth between Illustrator and Photoshop.)  The honeycombs ended up being a more prominent element rather than a background texture.  The clover was cut because I wasn't crazy about the way that I painted them and they were not offering enough of a contrast of color, even after I tried to adjust the color to be different.  I also added a linen texture to the design so the background is not a flat grey.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  It's not exactly what was in my mind in the beginning.  My designs almost never come out exactly as I originally picture them.  I'm looking forward to ordering a swatch to see how the color and texture prints.  I hope you like it!  Jill

http://www.spoonflower.com/designs/4173245