FF: We Design Studios

Today we’re talking with a pair of creatives.  David and Laura of We Design Studios have been sharing their gifts with the world through drawing and designing!

Why are you passionate about drawing?

Our passion for drawing originates from four identifiable areas. The first is a desire to understand forms. Drawing engages the brain differently than just looking or touching something. One can perceive deeply when focusing on an object and rendering it. From understanding springs the second area: communicating. An artist or designer essentially exists to broadcast ideas to the public. Drawing gives life and a sense of permanence to otherwise ephemeral ideas, which makes it an important component for a well-rounded life. The third area is problem-solving. David’s training in landscape architecture informed him on how communities live or die by the quality of well-designed solutions to the challenges they face. An inner city neighborhood suffering from the ills of social dysfunction, for example, can begin to foster openness and a free-exchange of ideas through the elegant design of a community garden. Laura’s training in the fine arts demonstrates how the very act of painting is an exercise in micro problem-solving. An oil painter is constantly faced with the dilemma of what colors to combine to render a cloud, face, chair or shadow. Lastly, our passion for drawing is rooted in the evolution process. Designers and artists constantly speak of the creative process where a project is launched from point A but ends up at point B, which is often a very different (but often better) place than initially imagined. Drawing is being an active participant in evolution. You can examine this on a project-by-project basis or take in the thousands of years humans have been designing things. We are in a very different place now than we were when mud huts and tepees were the modern buildings of the day.

What got you started with design and being creative?

We met in the woods in Georgia last summer leading a crew of high school students on a month-long environmental conservation program. Both of us come from a design background and decided to join up together to cover a wide spectrum of design services (illustration, landscape, fine arts, environmental). You can learn more here.

What is one of your projects that you’re most passionate about currently?

We just launched our latest art education series “365 Days Of Drawing“. The course delivers daily email lessons as well as offers online resources such as interviews with professional artists, video tutorials and one-on-one critiques with Laura. We are really passionate about encouraging everyone to pick up a pencil and draw and 365 Days is designed to make drawing accessible to all.

What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

We are currently exploring a trip abroad to Asia to spread creative encouragement and to pick up on new inspiration. Our idea is to hook up with an NGO or development organization and offer our skills to provide art/design education to communities.

Do you have any tips/inspiration to share?

Keep drawing. Don’t get discouraged or stuck just because what you drew differs from what you had in mind. Just keep at it and find inspiration in your budding talent. Take in the world around you from new sources of inspiration. Drawing is also seeing deeply so accept this new sense as you continue creating.

You can connect with David and Laura at their website, on Facebook, on Tumbler, on Etsy, and tweet with them at their We Design Studios and 365 Days to Draw Twitter pages.

Well I know what I’m going to do tonight, draw!   Thanks David and Laura for spreading the message about drawing and design!

Cinco de Mayo Party

May is rapidly approaching.  I love celebrating Cinco de Mayo because it’s such a festive, active, alive event.  The culture around Cinco de Mayo is boisterous and lively.  I’d love to hear your favorite Mexican recipes, crafts and game ideas, feel free to share them below.


Straw flowers, mini sombrero, Mexican dancing doll, tambourines, place mats.


Dips/Guacamole/Salsa: 7 Layer bean dip, Cilantro Lime Salsa, Black Bean and Corn Salsa, Cinnamon Tortilla Chips and fruit Salsa, Fresh Tomato Salsa, 71 Guacamole recipes.

Fajitas: Gold Medal Sizzling Fajitas, Fiesta Fajitas, Chicken Fajitas.

Nachos: Buffalo Chicken, Jerk Pork, 50 other yummy ideas.

Enchiladas/Empanadas: Chicken and Cheese, Cheesy Fried Chicken.

Tacos: Red Chile Short Ribs, Fish Tacos.

Other meal ideas: Portabellas with Corn Salsa, Mexican Sushi Bites.

Desserts: Sopapillas with Chocolate Sauce, Churros with Coconut Sauce, Flan, Sombrero Cookies.

Drinks: Margaritas 10 ways, Mojito Limeade, Paloma Cooler.


Bingo: instead of the usual B I N G O board, write the letters C I N C O in the top 5 spaces and fill in the numbers as usual.

Learn some Spanish: You and your kids can learn some simple Spanish words that will not only be lots of fun to say, they’re also practical!

Pinata: this is always a fun activity, stuffing a paper mache animal or object with candy and toys and hitting it until the goodies spill onto the floor.

Mexican Hat Dance: great for getting the sillies out, play Mexican music while the kids dance around the sombrero or another hat.

Read a book about Cinco de Mayo.  There are many great books available at your local library, maybe some of these.

Make your own mariachi band.  Make some musical instruments and dance around making your own Mexican music!


Use lots of bright colors!  Red, Green and white are the colors of the Mexican flag and often used at Cinco de Mayo parties.

You could have Sombreros for your guests to wear.

There are also some cute little hot pepper (Christmas) lights you can use to illuminate your party.

Have a favorite game, craft, decoration or food that you have for Cinco de Mayo?  Share it below!

Creating with Purpose

Why are you creative?  What is it about being creative that you’ve decided to include it in your life?

This month on my other blogs we’ve been talking about purpose.  As a creative individual myself, and through my interactions with other creative people, it has become very apparent that being creative is part of each of our purposes.  We’re all different, but each of us have some type of creativity that is essential to who we are and how we express ourselves.

In fact, it is that creativity that is one of the best ways to express and live your purpose. Your reason for living, your passion for life, your specific message all come together in purpose and are wonderfully channeled through creativity.

I love meeting people who are passionately in love with creativity and expressing their purpose through their creative abilities.  It’s one of the reasons I do Feature Friday.  Everyone creates differently and expresses themselves through their work with differing degrees of awareness.

Your creativity is the best way to get to know yourself, to learn about yourself, and to express yourself.  Don’t ever believe the words of someone who says that being creative is unimportant and that you should focus more on something else.  Your dedication to creativity, to expression, to passion, and to purpose are some of the most important things you will focus on in your life.

Make time every day to participate in something creative.  You’ll thank yourself years from now that you did.

Why do you love being creative, and expressing your purpose though creativity?  Share your insights below.

FF: Color Bakery

Today’s featured artist is Mindy from Color Bakery. Mindy has some powerful words for us, be prepared to be inspired!

Why are you passionate about color?

I think that color creates a juxtaposition of conflicting behavior. What I mean by that is that, in my custom tile business, I get very involved with designing custom home decor projects for my customers. People who are
very drawn to vivid, rich color—the very reason they stopped long enough to look at our website—are still, to a large degree, unwilling to bring the same color that delights and entrances them into their own personal space.
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to choosing art for their homes–whether it’s a piece of wall decor or a tile backsplash–is that they are more concerned with matching their color scheme than they are in choosing art that truly expresses them, that makes their hearts soar every time they look at it. Why pick a piece of art because it matches your counter-top? It’s *art*, it’s supposed to match your soul, not your carpet. I personally believe that color has powerful healing and emotional properties. They’ve already done studies with the effects of certain color on people (pink soothes, red and yellow together make you want to leave the fast food restaurant and not linger), but I am talking about real healing. I believe one day we’ll have color healing machines that work with light. No, I’m not a new age nut. I simply believe this utterly.

What got you started with color and tile murals and being creative as a hobby/business?
I had developed an art following over the years, and my husband and I were looking for a good way to offer my art to customers. Paper prints didn’t excite us, it seemed so limited. So we learned about custom tile manufacturing, got the equipment, and dived in blindly. But we also opened Color Bakery for other artists, as well. We know that options for artists to get their work manufactured on beautiful products are pretty limited. As an artist, I understood the frustrations of artists to get their work out there, to develop a product line that they could be proud of. And the much vaunted Cafe Press, which was the main show in town seven years ago, just rips artists off. They made me mad, so I wanted to be the master of my own ship. Ultimately, my husband and I wanted to give the control back to artists and offer them something they could be proud to show their customers. So it was just as much about them as it was about me.

What is your favorite mural you’ve designed?

I would have to say it was a stained glass art mural that we actually printed on ceramic tile. It was “1922”, a very ornate art nouveau piece from our Stained Glass Gallery, which looked amazing on ceramic tile. It was the size that was so cool, it was nine feet wide. It’s my favorite because it looked so lovely, and it was a challenge to do a mural that big. (Check it out here, about 1/2 way down)

Why do you like working with tiles?

Oh, I love tiles. Unlike paper or canvas, they are tactile. They *feel* good when you touch them. And the tile finish can add so much depth to the art on it. Most of all, the applications of tile are incredible–you can line your walls, your floors with tile; you can make stunning clocks and trays from tile. And tile furniture! We can customize tile and make the most mouth-watering coffee tables! Limitless, just limitless. In fact, few people ever really consider tile when they buy art. They’re in a paper head, or they think canvas is their only option. Tile blows canvas away–not only is it richer and three dimensional, it’s also more sturdy and it won’t tear, rip or get washed out the way canvas will. A tile mural can transform a room…a mural can be as big as you want, even twenty feet! Paper or canvas can’t do that. And customizing tile–making someone’s dream come alive on a tile floor, for example—is beyond exciting. Most people don’t know that they can have a floor with custom art on it, that they are not limited to the cliche stuff that everyone is stuck with at the tile store. Sturdy, gorgeous, and unlimited applications—you can’t beat tile for any of it.

What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

Right now I am spread pretty thin, as I have recently become licensed and am designing work for manufacturers to print on mass produced items such as tabletop, fabric, area rugs, etc. Between that and Color Bakery, my plate is full. I do know that the art business is full of surprises. So I would imagine I might be doing something in a few years from now that I never dreamed of. Color Bakery, in the seven years we’ve been in business, has morphed into something totally different than we started with. The best laid plans are usually overruled by the universe, and I look forward to seeing where the art brings us 🙂

You can learn more about Mindy and Color Bakery by visiting their website, becoming a fan on Facebook, tweeting with them on Twitter and stopping by Zazzle for paper prints too.

I’ve always loved tiles, and I think that Mindy (and her husband Glen) are doing an amazing service to both the art world and other artists.  Keep up the good work guys!

Celebrating Easter

Easter is this Sunday!  In celebration here are some ideas for eating throughout the day, fun things to do and decorations.



Banana crunch muffin, baked french toast, spinach and bacon quiche, ham quiche, hot cross buns, flatbread, carrot muffins, spinach and gruyere quiche, currant scones, honey-ricotta turnovers, caprese-style herbed strata, oven puffed pancake, apricot scones, honey-glazed bunny biscuits, cheesy sausage and egg bake,


Tangerine-glazed ham with carrots, Marmalade-glazed carrots with candied pecans, 4 cheese scalloped potatoes, spring shells and cheese, roasted asparagus, fig & orange glazed ham, easter bread, herbed leg of lamb with roasted turnips, buttered new potatoes, shrimp bisque, steamed crabmeat and coconut milk custard, salmon with orange butter glaze, bow tie ham bake, swiss-onion potato bake, cherry-stuffed ham, baked mediterranean cod and asparagus, orzo risotto with roasted vegetables,


Chick & egg cupcake, flower cupcake, strawberry lime stuffed cupcake, classic cupcakes with lemon meringue frosting, lemon thyme bars, easter pie, carrot cake, strawberry-orange fool, chocolate orange bread pudding, bird’s nest cookies, 1-2-3-4 lemon cake, lemon icebox cookies, lattice linzer torte, pastry puff eggs, chocolate covered matzos, strawberry shortcakes, layered yogurt fruit salad (gluten free), bunny puffs,


Relay races: carry eggs from one end of the yard to the other on a spoon.

Bocce: check out how to play bocce here, and use hard boiled eggs instead of balls.

Dye Easter Eggs: one of the old traditions with Easter time is dying hard boiled eggs, or those that you’ve blown (check out a how-to here).

Hide Easter Eggs: whether you paint them camouflage like I’ve seen in commercials lately or you just hide them around the house or yard, it’s lots of fun for kids of all ages.

Easter Crafts: on Monday I shared a whole bunch of fun activities and crafts you can do for Easter.


Crepe paper carrots, pussy-willow wreath and balls, colorful egg tree (outdoor idea), bunny fold napkins.

Of course you’ll want to use lots of fresh spring colors and pastels.  Choose a color theme or just coordinate colors with your dyed eggs or flowers.

What food, fun and decorations are you having at your Easter celebration?  Share your ideas below.

Easter Fun

Easter is right around the corner, and whether you’re celebrating it or not, here are some cute ideas that you can create with your kids, or for yourself!


Super cute bunny ears, bunny cracker treats, sleepy bunny, hopping fun origami bunny, bead bunnies, bunny fold napkins, adorable big eared bunny egg, bunny napkin rings, flop-eared bunny, thumb bunny card, sock hop, bunny paper chains, pom-pom bunnies.


Ice Cream container basket, magazine basket, flower power cups, Easter basket favors, daffodil candy cups, paper grass, flowered Easter basket, doily basket, felt Easter bags,


Bluebird egg, sponge painted eggs, edible chocolate eggs, egg shell mosaics, Easter Dove, egg dying with rubber bands, painting eggs with strings, thumbprint eggs, yarn eggs, egg animals, decorating eggs with crayons, eggshell votives, crepe paper eggs.


Jelly bean chick, baby chick beads, crunchy critters, pompom chicks, fuzzy chicks, plant pal, spring peeps card, fingerprint pals.

Have a great day!  Share any great bunny, basket, egg or chick crafts or projects you have too.

FF: Crafting with Tonia

Happy Friday!  Today’s special guest is Tonya Tyler.  She’s been making crafts and special gifts for over 8 years.  She’s learned a lot in those 8 years, and her thoughts today show that.

Why are you passionate about crafting?
have always enjoyed making things. My mother was one of my biggest supporter. She used to say “You make nice things, you just have to make sure they last.” I never offer any of my items to anyone unless I am 100% satisfied with it.

What got you started with crafting and being creative as a hobby/business?
Crafting started as a way for me to work through some personal and relationship issues. I used to make things to find inner peace.  Many things have changed over the past eight years and with the support of my husband and my three children, I have been able to turn my hobby into a business.

Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created?
My favorite items to create are my mini clay pot bell ornaments. They are unique handmade bells I decorated to look like little ladies.

What exciting future plans do you have for your work?
I love paper and I plan to introduce more paper crafts from gift tags to note cards.

Do you have any tips/inspiration to share?
Do what you love and love what you do. You can’t go wrong when it comes from the heart.

To connect further with Tonia, you can visit her blog, talk with her on Twitter, stop by her website, and catch her on Ebay and Etsy.
Thank you Tonia!  It was great to hear your perspective on life and creativity!  Share your inspiration and encouragement for Tonia below.

Our Special Friends

April 18 is pet owners day!  If you’ve got a pet, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’re celebrating you and your pet’s special relationship!

Homemade Dog biscuits

Catnip Sock fish

Menswear Mouse toy

decorate your very own cardboard cat playhouse

knitted mouse toy

Wheat grass for your kitty

Gourd bird house

Door Cat Scratcher (save the furniture & rugs!)

Pet treats for dogs, cats, birds, and horses

Other food ideas from cooks.com

Make a collar for your 4 legged friend

Tweet Treats

Share your favorite things to do with your pets, share your photos too!

Earth Friendly for America

In April we celebrate Earth Day.  It’s also Keep America Beautiful Month.  To celebrate, here are 22 ideas to get your creativity started.

~make a stained glass American flag

~make a collage of your bit of America.  Your town, your life, your America

~color eggs in Earth colors or red, white and blues

~create a community garden

~paint a picture of your favorite spot in America

~sign petitions that support nature organizations (learn more at Charity Navigator)

~buy recycled paper notebooks to do your drawings

~scrapbook your travels to great American destinations like Yellowstone, Acadia, and Joshua Tree

~start a compost pile in your house or neighborhood

~create your greeting cards with recycled papers and other materials

~decorate your home with some barn stars

~buy or make all natural soap.  Your body and the drains will thank you!

~buy or make beeswax, palm wax or soy candles instead of the regular ones

~make a quilt of fabrics from all around America

~sculpt what freedom means to you

~create red, white and blue jewelry, or use traditional US stones like turquoise

~buy organic or eco-friendly clothes

~design a couple of bags that you can use for groceries!  They’re fun to decorate and you use them over and over again!

~create a photography collection of all things America.  This could include historical buildings, parades, public figures, or just natural America

~when doing wood working, choose your wood wisely.  Don’t use wood that comes from rare trees

~knit a blanket or baby’s cap with organic/natural fibers for a baby in need

~compose your own special song about natural beauty in the US

What have you done to celebrate Earth Day or make America more beautiful?  Share your thoughts and ideas below.

FF: The Stone Sculptor

Happy Friday!  Today as our guest we have Jason Nelson, stone sculptor extraordinaire!  Jason has lots of great ideas, inspiration and tips for us today.

1. Why are you passionate about sculpting?

I started my art career as a painter.  I had some commercial success in several genres, including landscapes, wildlife, portraits, sacred geometry, fantasy and abstracts.  However, by my early twenties, I was becoming bored with creating 2-D artwork and I realized that the art-form I am most passionate about is sculpture.  In particular, a love of sculpting stone has led me to work almost exclusively in this medium for the past 12 years. I like stone mostly because of its inherent natural beauty; there are so many colours patterns and textures to choose from.  When selecting a stone, one usually has an idea of what it will look like, but, its colour, patterns and translucence are often not fully revealed until it has been polished; this voyage of discovery is always interesting for me.  Also, I like working with stone because of the long history of this traditional medium and its durability/permanence. When I work with stone I feel a close connection with both nature and with all of the great artists throughout history that have enjoyed working with this medium.

2. How did you get started with sculpting?

It has been said that all artists are attention seekers, lol.  I remember painting and drawing with my mother and at school as a young child… people seemed to think that I was good at it and I suppose that this attention made me want to keep creating.  Later on, in high school art history class, I was inspired by the fabulous marble sculptures of the Classical, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-classical periods. By this time I pretty much knew that I would try to be a professional artist.  It’s not easy scraping out a living by carving rocks; sometimes I question my career path (especially when doing my income taxes), but, I know that I need a creative outlet to be happy.

3. Do you have a favorite piece?

I think that my personal favorite piece that I’ve carved  is “Wild Blue“, a Blue Whale cow and calf sculpture.  It is the largest of my sculptures, so far.  I put more time into this one than any other (about 180 hours).  Both whales were carved from a piece of marble from Turkey that weighed 606 lbs.  The base is yellow/green brucite (a type of stone somewhat similar to marble) and I made their eyes from black tourmaline.  This was a commissioned sculpture.
I’m also pretty fond of my “Veined Octopus“, sculpture, which is currently in my personal collection.  It was carved from a piece of “Raspberry Red” Alabaster that weighed around 80 lbs and its eyes are hematite.

4. What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

I am really excited to begin work on my next major project, which is being partially financed with a Northern Arts Grant from the Ontario Arts Council.  In my studio is a piece of translucent, white “Statuario” marble that weighs 2600 lbs.  It is from the legendary quarry located in Cararra Italy; this has been the stone of choice for master sculptors throughout history.  I plan to sculpt a figurative sculpture of a man and woman joined together in a yoga pose.  It will be carved at a scale of about 2/3 of life-size. I expect to spend in the neighborhood of 1000 hours on this sculpture. Finding this time will be the biggest challenge; unless I am able to sell items from my personal collection, I will need to work on making other things to pay the bills in the meantime.

5. What tips and inspiration can you share?

For those considering a career in the fine-arts, I have this advice…
1. Be prepared to work a “day job”, perhaps for many years.  Even if you are very talented, it takes time and a lot of hard work to establish yourself as a full-time artist.
2. Learn business skills.  Many university and college art programs neglect to equip their students with business and marketing skills; these are essential for success as an artist.  Other skills that may be helpful include photography, framing & mat cutting, website and/or blog design and maintenance, general people skills, social media marketing/networking, grant and proposal writing and public speaking.  For sculptors in particular, it is good to be able to use, maintain and if necessary repair power tools and equipment and to be able to do studio maintenance, repairs and upgrades.
3. Challenge yourself.  Try new things.  Don’t be afraid to make “mistakes” (they are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them).

You can learn more about Jason, as well as see more of his gorgeous sculptures at his website, and you can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Fine Art America, on Flickr, and Blip.fm.

Thanks Jason!  I always look at rocks outside and know they’ve got potential, but I don’t know how to get them there.  So thank you for doing what you do and it’s so inspiring to see how you do it!

What’s your favorite piece of Jason’s?  Share your favorites below!