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Hello! Happy Wednesday! Oh man, I am so ready for spring. Last week we were teased with near 60degree weather. That was so awesome! The mountains of snow were finally starting to melt… Fast forward one week– more snow. Okay, so yesterday was a mere dusting compared to the nearly two feet we received a few weeks ago, but seriously? I am so so so tired of the snow and cold weather. I did see a little robin outside my apartment last week so that gives me hope that spring is just around the corner…. I hope you enjoy some of the awesome robin-themed finds from across etsy! I hope spring is starting in your neck of the woods!

Little Robin Zipper PouchLittle Robin Zipper Pouch

Wednesday Inspiration- Robin

1. French Script Pillow Cover “Robin” from Gathered Comforts

2. Mod Bird and Silver Nest with Turquoise Eggs

3. Robins on a Branch Brass Filigree Bird Necklace Vintage Style Altered Art

4. Our Nest – The Perfect Little Sign to Help You Feather Your Nest in Robins Egg Blue

5. Round Robin – 8×10 Art Print of my Original Watercolor Painting

6. Fine Art Print. Nesting In Numbers. Sepia Photograph

7. Red Robin Bird Felt Clippie

8. Gray Autumn- rustic fall inspired soft gray and burgundy with a pop of crimson red photograph of a robin in the woodlands of Chicago- Fine Art Nature Photograph- 8×8

9. Robin Birds Garland Handmade of Muslin Fabric

Thanks for checking out all these great etsy shops!!! Have a great day!
-April
http://www.creativeapples.etsy.com

Welcome to the first Featured Handmade Artist series of the New Year!!! I am so excited to introduce you to Nancy, from thePaintedSky. Nancy has some of the most amazing paintings I’ve seen on etsy. Not only is she a painter (I have a soft spot for painters) but she paints birds! (Those who know me know my recent love of birds since receiving my little parakeets.)

How cool is this? A custom painting. What a fantastic gift idea–Valentine’s day is right around the corner (wink, wink, nudge, nudge…)

Custom Love Nest from thePaintedSky

Not only are the names customizable, but so are the number of eggs in the nest!!

Here are a few other examples of the gorgeous paintings in her shop:

Featured Handmade Artist- thePaintedSky

Hi Nancy! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Nancy Jean Tobin. I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. After college I moved to San Francisco where I met my wonderful husband and gave birth to two gorgeous daughters. We moved to Maplewood New Jersey about 10 years ago. After years of various art-related careers, I’m right where I’ve always wanted to be, working as a full-time fine artist.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist. I knew it was pretty serious, when at the age of 10 I convinced my parents to let me make the back room of our basement into a painting studio.

Since then I’ve always kept my hands and mind busy creating something, whether it was an illustration for a magazine, a toy design for Hasbro, logos or graphic design for Herman Miller, or illustrating children’s books for Holiday House.

I’m so happy to say that now, after years of chasing jobs, I am back in that place where I was when I was 10 years old, painting in my studio. I’ve never been happier!

When I don’t have a brush or scissors in my hand, I love to spend time with my incredible family; Matthew, my dear husband, whose support for my art career seems to have no boundaries (believe me, I’ve tested this) …

What is the first craft project you remember making?

There have been countless projects through the years, but probably my strongest memory is the time I talked my best friend into painting the old television that was sitting in my father’s workshop. I think I knew it was wrong, but I just couldn’t resist the urge to get my hands on that paint and brush — that feeling has never left me.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Not surprisingly, nature and the outside world are major sources of inspiration, but there is another inspiration that comes from wanting to reach out and connect with fellow human beings. I feel blessed to be able to do both.

Can you please describe some of your creative processes?

What started as a way to capture the world outside has become more and more an internal vision. I rely less on photos and resource material and more on my memory. By trusting my gut, I find the work becomes more of an internal and uniquely personal expression.

What is your most prized handmade possession?

Oh, this is a tough one! I’m the youngest of seven children and four of us are girls. I grew up around the sewing machine, watching the older ones craft their way through life. So, as you can imagine I’ve gathered quite a collection of treasures along the way. But a rag doll that my oldest sister gave me is a strong contender. I was 10 or 11 when she gave me the doll, at the age when you’re teetering between childhood and the pressures and lures of becoming an adult. I was so happy to get the beautiful doll, and to know that it was ok to take my time growing up.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new etsy seller, what would it be?

Work; work; and then after you’ve rested a bit, work some more! I honestly believe that talent is great, but if you really want to succeed in anything, the only way it’s going to happen is elbow grease… and while you’re working, make sure to read the tons of great material available on the Etsy blogs, and website for all the things you don’t know.

What are some of the ways you promote your work?

My shop hasn’t been around for very long (Opened in mid-June of this year), and at first the idea was to just put some work out there. I never realized that it would take off in the way it has. So, I’m kind of learning as I go. Really the most promoting I’ve done is just good old-fashioned relisting. I think it gets your work noticed, and until I can catch up and start doing other forms of promotion, it’s serves me well.

What are the three websites you couldn’t live without.

Gosh, pretty much all of my time in front of the computer these days is on Etsy or Etsy-related sites, so I’d have to say:
1. Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/thePaintedSky
2. Craftopolis: www.craftopolis.com
3. Craftcults Heartomatic: craftcult.com

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Making a decent living working as an artist!
Beyond that, with the way my life has flowed and surprised me in the directions that it’s gone, I hesitate to speculate that far ahead. In the next year, I’d like to get a blog up and running as support for my shop. I think about branching out to wholesaling and doing trade shows. But I’m still on the fence with that one; one of my missions is to make beautiful, original artwork available at a price that people (like me) can afford. I worry I may not be able to keep the prices affordable if I move into that realm. That’s the great thing about Etsy; cutting out the middleman means that you can keep your prices low!

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

To fly, of course!

Thank you so much Nancy!!! It was a pleasure to get to know the artist behind the beautiful art!!! I hope that everyone has a chance to check out thePaintedSky!
http://www.thePaintedSky.etsy.com

If you’re an etsy artist that would like to be featured on my blog, or if you know someone you think I should feature, please let me know! Simply leave a comment in the comment section, or email me aprilbern (at) gmail dot com.
Thanks so much! I look forward to your suggestions!!

This is my entry for this week’s Photo Friday. The theme was “Vivid.”

Check out all of this week’s participants!
Photo Friday-Vivid

053/365, originally uploaded by rottnapples.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the win
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hillfor the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

–Maya Angelou

037/365, originally uploaded by rottnapples.

we’re both eager for spring…

good morning! Happy Thursday! Check out my first polymer clay creation!!!

(it’s supposed to be a bird)
I made this sunday nite. I had to paint it because the tail got a little…um… browned in the oven!!! (at least it didn’t melt!) It’s also rather lopsided, which fortunately, you can’t tell from the picture. Despite its shortcomings, I really like how it turned out. (I definitely need more practice!)

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