Artist Feature | Jess Blazejewski

Jess Blazejewski

I first came across Jess' work on the world wide instagram. Her flowers captivated me through the screen and they triggered a memory in me. They reminded me why I fell in love with flowers. As a florist, it can become very easy to get desensitized and immune to beauty. I sometimes feel like I'm taking the view for granted and not fully taking it in at every chance. Don't get me wrong, I know flowers are beautiful and there are moments when they still take my breath away but those moments seem to be fewer and farther between. I'm sure the people who live in the town by the grand canyon feel the same way sometimes.   

I don't feel that way when I look at Jess' paintings. I see flowers differently and I fall in love with their beauty all over again. I see how she uses color and shapes, how she follows the curves of stems and creates fullness with petals, and I'm reminded (again) that flowers are truly one of our greatest gifts. 

Captured by Ruth Eileen Photography

Tell us about yourself.

I’m an artist painting in oils. I work out of my home studio, where I live with my husband and our toddler son just outside Boston, in Natick. I actually got my degree in Fine Arts (a decade ago! eep!) but I hadn’t really considered making art into my full-time career until after the birth of my son in 2014. So in one way, I have a lot of experience and training in this, and in another, it all feels very new to me again. Previous to this I was styling photoshoots for the wedding & lifestyle blog Style Me Pretty, and I love seeing that influence my process and work today. I’m still finding my way towards my truest work- I can feel that I’m circling around the edge of it. I adore flowers, which is what my current series “Flourish” is filled with, but I can already feel a desire to expand in the next series and add in the figure. 

Where do you find inspiration?  

I am actually inspired by such a wide of variety of things that I can get easily distracted! I have to pay close attention to catch that subtle gut clench for the things that are endlessly, timelessly inspiring to me (and not just trendy, or more someone else’s thing than my own), so now I have a running pinterest board to collect just my “core” inspiration for art. My inspiration tends towards the natural world mixed with an old world european aesthetic, with a pinch of dreamy romance. Period dramas always seem to get me in a painting mood :)

What advice would you give to other artists pursuing a full time career in art?

Just start. It’s going to be just as hard to take a leap later as it is now. Start where you are, with the materials available to you and the methods that feel easy and accessible. Know that fear is always part of it (at every stage!), and that feeling fear doesn’t mean that you’re not moving in the right direction- it usually means quite the opposite. Make the work that feels like a little bit like magic to you when you think about it, the ideas that feel very personal, that you’re scared you won’t be able to do justice. Work like you’re on a deadline, but with the knowledge that you’re probably going to be blindly feeling your way around for months-to-years. When you have a body of work you’re truly proud of, there are so many ways to go from there, whether you want to learn the business of selling directly to consumers or learn to navigate the gallery world.

My all-time favorite quote on getting started is from Ira Glass: “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” 

How are you inspired by flowers and nature?  

I love all the feminine curves of flowers and greens- no straight, masculine, geometric shapes for me! Natural stems make beautiful, organic compositions with an effortless sense of movement. One of my favorite things is when blooms overflow with petals and spill forth with this sort of luscious, layered beauty.

What is your favorite flower?  

Ooh, that’s a tough one! I think I have to go with peonies, because they’re just so plush and fragrant, followed by lilacs (that smell is heavenly!) and almost any kind of garden rose. 

Currently reading and listening to?   

“Start” by Jon Acuff- it’s the most motivating book ever, I swear! If you have anything in your heart you’ve been wanting to start on, you need to read this book yesterday. 

Lastly, where can we see or purchase your work?

You can find me on Instagram (@jessblazejewski) and purchase original paintings or prints on my website, jessblazejewski.com!

A Maine Vow Renewal

This past winter in a quiet town in Maine, Sharon and and her husband Jake renewed their vows. The intimate ceremony, captured by Elizabeth LaDuca, is featured on Cottage Hill Magazine and I felt so lucky to be apart of it.  

I think Beth said it best when she wrote, "We would love to tell their story to remind couples to reflect in quiet moments and cherish the slow growing trust that comes from a nourished marriage with a focus beyond the wedding day."  So good, Beth. :) 

Thank you to the amazing vendors who are committed to telling beautiful and honest stories through your art and businesses. It was an honor to work alongside you. 

Photography by Elizabeth LaDuca Photography | Planning/Design by Elizabeth LaDuca  | Bride, Sharon Luecke | Bride Wardrobe, Hackwith Design House and Elizabeth Suzann |Groom Wardrobe from Frank + Oak and Everlane | Paper by Chaz Cole of BRYLO Wed | Florals by True VineStudio | Rentals from Kadeema | Hair and Makeup by Stacia Makeup Artistry | Ceramics by Lara Cecilia | Napkins by The Everyday Co. | Jewelry from E. Scott Originals | Film Lab, PhotoVision Prints 

True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio
True Vine Studio

Tend Your Gardens

Happy Friday 

This week is brought to you by rain.

I may be wrong, but I don't think we've had a day in Boston since Memorial Day where it didn't rain at least once during the day. I'm thankful for rain, truly, but I like the sunshine more. I've done a lot of candle burning, tea making, and window gazing this week.  In between the rainy days, flowers were delivered to encourage a friend, the tech community in Boston is still the real MVP of True Vine Studios, and the June workshop is today! I'm looking forward to celebrating a sunnier weekend with everyone at the workshop.   

Do you journal? I never have but it's a habit I'm trying to form in the next few months. Everyone sings praises of how life giving it is, so I'm giving it a try! I like these journals. 

This new documentary series on Netflix. "Meet eight of the most creative thinkers and imaginative minds working in the world of art and design today..."  

These super cute stacking bowls. Florist friends, these would make fun vessels for smaller arrangements.

A new podcast, Masters of Scale. A lot of what I listen to has to do with how to army crawl through entrepreneurship. But! If you're a developer, a dreamer, a do-er, or just want to be better, I think you'll like this one too.   

These vintage flower prints.    

These gift boxes that give back. 

This artist from the southwest. She paints in the most extraordinary color palettes. Note: I am biased. She quite literally paints with all of my favorite colors. 

Photo via Lief Shop

 

Foodie Asylum Terrarium Workshop

On May 24th I taught a terrarium workshop at Foodie Asylum, a new shop right in Brookline, MA. They have the most amazing curated selection of specialty foods and gift boxes for those with an adventurous palette. On their shelves are things like charcoal jams, a spice rub that took ten years to make, and a favorite of mine, the thai curry nut butter. It was un. real. 

Guest were welcomed with a s p r e a d of appetizers all highlighting foods found in the store. Sella, the owner, made them herself and I am convinced she is the next Food Network Star. After appetizers we started our class and it was such a great time. Thank you to everyone that came and thank you Sella and Foodie Asylum for hosting!  

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Artist Feature | Marcy Cook

Marcy Cook 

Marcy is the first in a new series on our blog featuring artists. This series is meant to share their incredible work with you as well as inspire you. I believe in art and it's power to transform hearts, expose our strengths and weaknesses, and it's ability to capture beauty in all mediums.  

Marcy is from just west of my hometown and we went to Baylor together. I have an audible reaction to her work when I see it pop up and one of my dreams is to hang one of her pieces on my wall. I know you're going to love her work and I'm excited to introduce her to you. 

Captured by Taylor Lord Photography

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Marcy - I am from Richardson, TX and I have been painting since I was in early high school. I studied painting in college at Baylor and afterwards went on to own a lovely floral design business called Stems of Dallas with my best soul friend, Katy for 6 years. NOW, I’m a full time abstract expressionist artist. WOAH! I love to travel, especially in love with Italy and hope to move back (soon), I love love love mellow music, chips and queso on a patio, my dog Bonnie and the fourth of July is my favorite holiday of the year.

What is your creative process?

Okay - The process for me starts in the seeing. Keeping my senses open, specifically my eyes (obviously) - I work hard to be attentive, to be disciplined in noticing. Travel for me is, a lot of the times, the beginning of the process. I love to be moving and doing so most times travel kicks my creative process into high gear. I start directly with a blank canvas - typically working off of color studies I’ve worked on away from the studio - I build an “underpainting” that will define my overall (hopefully) composition, and will later allow a greater depth to push through the finished piece. After that, I kinda just let it go - and move forward. A painting can take me anywhere from 24 hrs to 6 months (or even almost a year in some cases).

Where do you find inspiration?  

All over - honestly. I think that is the definition of being an artist, whether in practice or not. An artist is always “eyes open”, sensitive to it all. I try to explain to people how my internal thought life feels, and the best I can say is I feel like my mind is a big balloon filled with confetti, and all of the confetti are bits and pieces of sensory overload. Honestly, what I see - from that sage-y colored grey/blue sky to the sound of Gregory Alan Isakov on the radio in the car and the way the wind feels on my arms when I’m sitting in my front yard reading. It’s all sensory information I lock away and study and notice and pour into my paintings. Sounds overwhelming when I explain it like that...haha.

What advice would you give to other artists pursuing a full time career in art?

1. Set aside fear.

That has been the greatest challenge of the decision to pursue art as a career. It’s a vocation that is really misunderstood by the majority of our world, BUT, in light of that, it makes it even more valuable. To share and work in the business of beauty and delight and intention.

2.  Keep your advocates close - Those people that are championing you on, keep them as near as possible. The voices of the people saying “you can do it” are SO imperative to deciding each day to keep on keepin on. One of my friends says, “just keep swimming”. It’s the best reminder.

Just keep swimming.

3. Remember why it matters - My counselor asked me to write down, on big butcher paper, the mission or vision or mantra for my work and life as an artist - Best thing I’ve ever done. It reminds me everyday to set aside that fear, that inner critic, the fear or failure or being misunderstood that really can overwhelm me, and to take heart as I walk forward in doing the work that I see before me.

4. Write, for 5-10 continuous minutes every morning. Don’t lift your pen from the paper. Get it all out. Each thought. Write all of your fears and hopes and the things you notice and the things you’ve thought and prayed and what you see and want. Writing and pulling all of the “confetti” out of my brain helps me to work towards clarity and purpose in my day.

Being in the creative industry can be hard and sometimes draining. How do you manage a career as a creative entrepreneur? How do you recharge?

Draining is such a good word.

Well, first of all - rest. I have, over the last 3ish years really shifted the idea of rest in my life. I live in Dallas, and there is always SOMETHING to do, somewhere to be and someone to see. Busyness can be glorified in my heart to a very dangerous degree - productivity is honored over connection with God and I can catch myself patting myself on the back at the end of the day because I’m exhausted. Yikes! For me, personally, that is asking for an emotional meltdown. Literally. Haha.

So, I choose nights alone to recharge, and I choose to read good books, I love reading poetry - it helps to slow my little heartbeat and soften my soul towards tenderness and vulnerability with myself and with God and with my loved ones. I also love cooking - so restful to me - I love taking walks, so cliche… but true. Also, most importantly, time with the people in my life that encourage and inspire me.  

How are you inspired by flowers and nature?  

Flowers and nature - in every way.

Back to the idea of practicing the discipline of noticing. This is where that resonates most with me. There is an entire world in every facet of nature - The movement and intricacy of floral is and has always been the core element to my inspiration in painting, but I’ve more recently been studying color as it’s basic level - in nature - and how varied and rich it is, it’s not just a blue or a green, it’s layered with ochre and purple. I love the way God designed + gave us, so graciously, the gift of color and how healing and straight up good it is for our brains to look at.  It is the best gift.

Who are your favorite artists?

SO MANY. Oh my.

Okay - My all time forever favorite is Joan Mitchell. I study her work a whole lot. I travel all over the world trying to see her stuff in person. Her paintings are wild - they were wild in the 60’s and they still are today. I am basically forever trying to channel my inner Joan. haha.

Bobbie Burgers - her floral work is the most layered, intense stuff I’ve seen.

Helen Dealtry - she is a watercolor, floral artist and basically I am in awe of her color theory work - it’s rad.

Yang Yang Pan - She paints with such intentional movement and I study her layered texture a lot.

Monet - He worked on paintings for like 10 years. TEN YEARS. And that’s why they’re so entrancing to stand in front of. There’s SO many stories and lives painted onto his canvases and it’s just amazing, no words can do his work justice.

What is your favorite flower?  

Hardest question ever. I can’t choose one - Impossible.

I love a romantic antike garden rose at the very end of it’s life when it’s wide open. That rosy pink is my favorite color.

Sweet pea - I LOVE sweet pea. It is the best flower to press and I just love the softness of it, and it adds such a strong line in floral design.

Clematis - Happiest vine ever. I love it when it comes in pure white. And the leaves are my favorite shape to draw. I feel like clematis blooms are little cartoon characters with personalities and happy voices. (see, I’m crazy.)

Currently reading and listening to?   

LISTENING TO:

Fleet Foxes has new music out, so that’s been on repeat. I also LOVE forever the song “Someone You’d Admire”. It’s magic.

Gregory Alan Isakov, I listen to every day - he’s the most calming sound for my anxious/crazy brain. “Unwritable Girl” is beautiful. I write the lyrics to that song down, everywhere, because the words are so lovely.

There’s this song that WIllie Nelson sings, “Always on my mind” - I love it right now. It’s so tenderhearted.

John Mayer : “Something Like Olivia” - I was on a trip a couple weeks ago, and there was a card in my hotel room that said “Your room has been tidied up by Olivia” - then I got “Something like Olivia” stuck in my head ever since and it’s just the happiest song. It makes me feel light.

PODCASTS : OnBeing, The Liturgists + Shauna Niequist’s new podcast :)

READING :

“New Morning Mercies” - Tripp - The best way to start the morning. I love his reminders and perspective on the love of God and the way in weaves it’s way in and through my life thru mercy and grace.

“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver - SO GOOD. Kinda rocking my world in regards to food choices, choosing to eat and live slow and local.

“Chasing Slow” - Erin Loechner - Back to the idea of choosing rest and pushing back this whirlwind culture of busyness + more.

“Small Victories” - Anne Lamott - I love her writing.

“Felicity” - Mary Oliver - I try to read a poem from this book every morning - She’s a master in the art of noticing. I LOVE Mary Oliver.

What would you say to encourage the creative and artist communities?

My friend and artist, Whitney Schlander shared this once and I keep it written on a note in my studio -  

"whatever your work is, keep doing it. Through your doubt, through your not enough, keep putting it out there. Your purpose, your art, will land in the hearts it's meant to. You won't be for everyone, but you are for someone. And to that someone, what you have to give matters, and that changes everything.” 

Lastly, where can we see or purchase your work?

www.marcycookart.com 

https://www.instagram.com/marcycook/

www.villeapress.com

https://www.instagram.com/villeapress/