It's a big day at Casa Swift today. See the house above? The one that we moved into when we first moved to Portland 2 summers ago? Well, today this house is officially OURS. We bought it, and today is the day it will be finalized. OMG! We bought a house! The best part: we don't have to move. YES!

We're feeling like real grown-ups, because we're talking about things like going to Home Depot and buying a ladder and gallons of paint and maybe a new dishwasher… I can't wait to start doing some projects around here.

I want to paint everything white (Ryan is being a pain in that department, but I will sway him when we go look at paint colors). I can't wait to have white walls.

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We also desperately need a new mattress. Ours is old and hurts our backs. But it looked so pretty in the morning light today…. I couldn't resist snapping a pic.

Here's our mantle:

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You can see the mustard-y colored wall that's in the living room. I can't wait to say goodbye to it! Hello, white, here I come.

More succulents are in my future:

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They are just perfect for Portland summers.

This is one of Juneau's perches upstairs in my studio:

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Her sweet little face just kills me. Isn't she the cutest? (These walls will all be white, too…. I cannot wait!)

And these two together, don't even get me started. They are the absolute sweetest! They love hanging out and goofing around in the backyard together:

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Uh-oh, watch out, Juneau:

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Attack!

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They love to wrestle. Sometimes Anika wins, and sometimes Juneau wins. Anika won this round.

We have some goodies growing in the backyard right now:

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We're about to have a tomato explosion!

Speaking of milestones, we have another big one coming up tomorrow. 5 years ago today Ryan and I were having engagement photos taken on the beach, getting ready for our wedding on August 1st. Our spectacular photographer, Ashley Thalman, captured some amazing shots. This is one of my faves:

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Such good memories!

We had a party the night before the wedding, and our friends and family all came to help us celebrate. Here I am with my siblings and my cousin Danielle:

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Awwww. I miss them and wish we all lived closer together. I can't believe it was already 5 years ago that Ryan and I got married. It's hard to get us all together in the same place anymore unless there's a wedding.

We also found out yesterday that Ryan got 2 interview invitations for fellowship programs at OHSU (the hospital where he is currently a medical resident), which is a huge deal, because it's where he wants to stay once he finished residency in June 2015, and it would mean not having to move away from Portland if he gets it. We absolutely want to stay in Portland -- this city is the best. So, fingers crossed on that one -- getting 2 interviews there is a great first step!

So, it's an exciting time full of milestones + big things happening around here. There's more to share, but not quite yet….. 





Hello, and happy Wednesday!

I've got a few new things to share with you today: 3 new one-of-a-kind hamsas and 3 new inspirational prints. It's all about color and inspiration up in here today. (Speaking of that, I'm getting ready to interview the colorful + inspirational Carolyn Gavin in a few minutes, as part of my Pattern Camp course… I've never met Carolyn before, so it's going to be fun to get to know her a little bit this morning!)

As always, if one of these hamsas calls to you, scoop it up, because there's just one of each. There are also several others that are available in the shop, with different energies. You can check them all out here.












Above: Inner Compass print



Above: Everything Right print

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Have a lovely day!





Good morning, friends!

I'm pretty excited today to share with you some details about my upcoming pattern design e-course, Pattern Camp.

1. The website is up and running! Check it out. (That's a screen shot of the site above.)

2. I've set the dates for the course! Mark your calendars for October 11-12, 2014. It's going to be a fun, fun weekend.

3. The cost is going to be $189 USD. If you'd like the chance to register before everybody else, and at a special price, hop on the wait list. Registration will open in early September.

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The process of creating this course has been a little bit intimidating. I've never created a video course before, and it's not a small project, to say the least. In truth, I've been doing my fair share of procrastinating getting started on the parts that feel hard and scary. (Hard to admit, but true!)

I read a great blog post a few days ago called It's ok to be dumb that helped remind me that jumping into new territory and figuring things out as you go is the name of the game and where major inspiration + self-confidence-building lies.

So, I figured I'd better quit being wishy-washy and giving myself procrastination wiggle room about when to run the course… so I set the dates. And the price. And now that that info is public, there's no turning back. (Eep!)

But really, I'm thrilled with the way the course is coming together so far. I think it's going to be amazing, useful, and so so fun. I think you'll love it, and I can't wait to share my passion for pattern design with everyone who signs up!

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There's more info on the Pattern Camp website, and of course if you have any questions, please let me know.




A reminder today (to you and to me!). You never know who your words will reach and how they will affect them. Your words could be exactly what someone needed to hear to push them over the edge toward a breakthrough, an aha moment, a life changing decision…..

Think about the blog posts you've read, the podcasts you've heard, the conversations you've had with a friend, etc etc, in which you gained a really valuable insight that made a difference in your life. YOU provide that for other people when you're honest, open, and brave in sharing your voice. Don't hold back!

xo

{print available here}




I got inspired last week, and I'd had this image in my head for a while that apparently needed to come out, of a man with a red and yellow painted tribal face….. I'm not sure where the image came from, but I guess that doesn't really matter now, does it?

So, in a flurry of paint, I started working on a bunch of different little canvases all at the same time. Here's a peek at a few of them!


That one on the right above (with the pink and red and green face) got painted over because I thought it was hideous and looked like an alien.

I'm excited to see where these experiments will take me! It's fun just messing around artistically without any specific agenda. I don't do it very often, so it felt really good last week.





There's something about the Oregon coast that is really special. It's so rugged and misty and wild….

I spent the weekend on the coast in Manzanita and Cannon Beach for the wedding of 2 wonderful friends. The weekend began with a hike in Ecola State Park down to Crescent Beach, which is supposedly one of the most photographed beaches in Oregon. It's really stunning, so that's no surprise!

We were graced by the presence of a herd of elk at the trail head:

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And as soon as we got down to the beach, we were graced by what I'm pretty sure was an immature bald eagle. You can see him flying above the trees there:

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I learned from a ranger that it takes them about 2 years to develop the white feathers on their heads. Interesting, eh?

Another fact I learned this weekend, totally unrelated to eagles or elk, is that kangaroos cannot walk backwards, but they can swim. Now you can impress all your friends with that little bit of trivia! Ha.

Anyhoo, the coast is simply spectacular, and it was a perfect day to be out exploring the tide pools. I'm so in love with the giant rocks in the water on all the beaches. They're great perches + homes for lots of different types of birds.

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We saw a lot of starfish in the tide pools, and I learned about sea star wasting disease. Have you heard of this before? It's so heart-breaking. I also learned that star fish eat mussels and shellfish, which must be what they're up to here: 

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I loved this crazy, geologically-awesome hillside here:

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And that's a light house wayyyy out there:

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Makes me wish I had a boat! (Although, I get seriously motion sick, so I doubt I'll ever spend much time on a boat…)

My friend Becca and I were in charge of making a few cheese plates as part of the dinner the night before the wedding, and we were quite pleased with the job we did:

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Isn't it so pretty? (I ate a LOT of cheese this weekend!)

Here's the walk to the wedding ceremony:

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It was a gorgeous, warm, dramatically beautiful day, and the ceremony was short, sweet, and intimate. 
While we waited for the ceremony to begin, we amused ourselves with taking selfies:

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My friend Dan kept photo-bombing Becca and me as we tried to take photos, so he's back there in every shot! Haha.

He was photo-bombing Ryan and me, too, and this one seems free and clear, but if you look closely you can see his nose there behind Ryan's ear. 

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All in all, a wonderful weekend. I can't wait to get back out to the coast for more of its magic!





I got the loveliest email from one of you (you know who you are!) the other day that I haven't been able to stop thinking about.

In the email, I was kindly asked if I would mind writing a post about motivation for artists: how to work through nerves, how to believe in yourself, how not to let opportunities slip by due to feeling undeserving or unworthy of them.

You know, easy stuff. ;) (I kid. This stuff is hard.)

My first instinct when someone requests something like this from me is to think "what the heck do I know about this stuff? I struggle with the very same things!" (Read: I am not good enough. They will find out I am a fraud.) (Also: gosh, why are we so mean to ourselves?!)

My second instinct is to feel such gratitude for the reminder that the things we say and do can make a difference in people's lives. You never know when something you say or write is going to be exactly what someone needs to hear in that moment. Truly. When I'm feeling like "what the heck do I know", I try to remember that by not talking/writing/making art I'm actually potentially keeping someone from having a life-changing a-ha moment. Or I'm potentially keeping someone from seeing something in a new way. Or I'm potentially preventing someone from simply having a little bit of a better day.

I never know how my words are going to affect others, and it's not my job to know… my only job is speaking what's true and relevant for me in the moment and trusting that whoever needs to find it will find it.

So. Here are some thoughts on motivation. Nerves. Doing scary things and feeling less than. Judging yourself. And other random bits. Shall we?

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I just did something new and scary for the first time last week at the ICON 8 illustration conference (lecturing in front of a crowd), and let me tell you, my nerves were on hyper-drive. I had a llllll the thoughts running through my head: they made a mistake inviting me, what do I know about licensing artwork? I'm no expert, everyone's going to hate it and want their money back. I'm not making this up.

But when I stopped to really think about it, I realized that all I had to do was to talk to the crowd about my own personal experiences. Share what I know. Tell them I'm not an expert, invite them to ask questions, and know that what I have to say will be useful to those who need it. Once I remembered that, I calmed down a bit. (A bit!)

Something I've noticed about myself lately is that I often try to ignore undesirable feelings (nervousness, fear, anxiety, sadness), but what actually helps more than ignoring them and trying to just push through is acknowledging that the feeling is there. I've had a few cool moments where I've said something like "OK self, so you're feeling scared. That's ok. People get scared! You're growing into new territory, and that's important and exciting." And then, miracle of all miracles, I actually feel kinder toward myself, and the fear starts to dissipate! I think just acknowledging where you are and accepting it allows a space to open up that wasn't there before. in which you can be kind and gentle with yourself and stop freaking out. Many of you have probably had this realization, like, years ago, but I think I might be a late bloomer in the feelings arena. ;)

I think you can acknowledge these types of feelings and voices in your head that are trying to sabotage you and tell you you suck, and just move forward anyway. Getting into action always works for me. When I'm afraid to paint because I think I'll make something ugly: that means it's time to paint anyway. I'm anxious about making an important phone call: making the phone call eases the anxiety. Afraid to speak in front of a crowd: sign me up and plunge forward, even though I'm terrified. (This is a new one, by the way! I used to simply avoid talking in front of people at all costs.) Don't listen to those voices trying to stop you. Know that what you're putting into the world matters, and it's not your job to judge it or figure out who it matters to… your job is just to get it out of you and do the thing, whatever that thing is.

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I am oh-so-familiar with the feeling of comparing myself to others and feeling like I'm not good enough / not doing enough / not fill-in-the-blank enough. Bit by bit, little by little, though, I'm beginning to understand that we are each truly and uniquely equal, no matter what. Me included. The way I feel is valid. The people I like to hang out with or don't like to hang out with is valid. The way I am is valid. There is nothing wrong with me. I may have qualities within myself that I'd like to transform or improve, but it doesn't mean I'm less than anyone else. Simply acknowledging that I'm allowed to feel however I feel, just because, has been a game-changer for me. I've spent so many hours and days believing I'm supposed to be feeling/looking some other way than the way than the way that I actually am, and I'm beginning to get how truly pointless that is.

It's each of our jobs on this planet to celebrate and express who we each truly are -- because if we were all the same, how boring would that be?

I've lived a life of taking everything too seriously, and, quite frankly, I'm sick of it. I want to make stuff just because, without judging it before I ever start. I want to sing and play guitar even if no one ever hears it but me, and I'm not going to be famous. I want to give in to my weird quirks. I want to waste time, look at bugs, watch the ocean, cover my house in color the way I want to and not how I think I'm supposed to want to… I just want to BE!

I think that's the key here, in finding motivation, working through nerves, feeling worthy + equal….. it's about BEING. Right now. It's about being kind to yourself, because you have to live with yourself every day. Why not be kind to yourself? It's better than the alternative! (Believe me, I know. I'm not own worst critic sometimes.)

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How do you want to BE in the world? So be that way. There's no one stopping you by you. I say: start now. The world needs you, glorious you.





Happy Wednesday! I've got a few new one-of-a-kind goodies for you today : bright, summery Dreamsicle sea elves and spirit-filled hamsas.


Above: Hamsa of Protection + Intuition


Above: Hamsa of Protection + Truth

Sea elves and hamsas are both infused with special energies for you to call into your life. I love having objects around me to remind me that I'm tapped in and connected to the universe and all that's around me, and all I have to do is pay attention -- that's what the hasmas and sea elves both are. Visual reminders that you are connected. Now and forever.

All the sea elves are here (there are some on Laura's website, too!).


If you want your own reminder, go check out what's available. (There are many!)






So, I don't know how it's possible that I've never seen or used a water brush before, but this sweet, simple little tool might just be changing my life. I got some new felt-tip pens, too, and they are just a pleasure to draw with. Having the right tools is really important!

I spent some time tooling around in my sketchbook yesterday and then in Photoshop, trying out the water brush and also some new Photoshop brushes that I bought recently, and I'm officially hooked.

Here's a peek at what that little bear above turned into:


With Bill Murray spurring my along, naturally. ;) (I don't think I'll ever change my desktop wallpaper from this!)

The ICON 8 conference really inspired me to spend more time drawing…. I'm going to do my darndest to become a sketchbook-keeper. Drawing always scares me a little (I have no idea why), but I'm pretty excited to just PLAY and see what happens right now. I'm at a point in my art-making practice where I'm feeling a bit stale in what I've been creating, so I'm really thrilled to have some new tools and fresh inspiration swirling around. I had a hard time falling asleep last night because I was so jazzed about art-making (I haven't felt that way in quite some time)!

I also started playing my guitar again a few weeks ago, which is also something that's scared me for a while… I used to play and write songs all the time, and then got so wrapped up in my art career that it just fell away. Every time I picked it up to try to play again I'd end up feeling defeated; my fingers would hurt, I couldn't play the songs I used to be able to play…. but for some reason this time I haven't put it down, and I've been playing and singing again just for the joy of it, even if it's hard and I'm rusty. And it feels so good! Facing fears + playing + doing things that make me feel joyful seem to be themes in my life lately. Hummingbirds keep showing up, reminding me to be joyful and take everything a bit less seriously….. I am paying attention!





Licensing lecture + Q and A at the ICON 8 conference: complete!

I was so nervous when I woke up on Wednesday morning… I am not really a speaker, and crowds are not really my thing, so I was very much out of my element. But, you won't grow unless you do things that scare you a little bit, right? That was my philosophy going in, and it definitely worked out. I think next time I have to speak somewhere I'll be just a bit less nervous now!

But the talk went really well, and from the feedback I got from the awesome folks who attended, it was useful and informative. I got lots of great questions, and I hope people left feeling a bit more confident about what licensing is and how to get started in it. (Incidentally, if you're interested in learning more about licensing and weren't at the lecture, my e-book is alllll about it and is a fantastic place to get lots of info!)

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The conference started out with Love Bomb GoGo, a quirky Portland marching band, taking over the stage with crazy outfits, acrobats, and awesome music. 

I spent most of my time with one of my favorite people ever, Sarah Watts:

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If you've never seen Sarah's work, you should take a peek, because she's crazy talented. (And isn't she cute?!)

The conference was pretty inspiring, with many well-known artists and illustrators taking the stage to share stories and bits about their work, their processes, challenges, successes, and advice.

This was one of my favorite bits:

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Ummmm, yep, that seems about right. ;)

I've never been to an illustration conference before (I don't really consider myself an illustrator), and it was really interesting to hear from artists who work outside my typical realm; but it was also a nice reminder that all us creative types are essentially the same in a lot of ways: we spend a lot of time alone, we watch tv shows while we're drawing sometimes, we've loved to make stuff since we were little kids, etc etc. I loved seeing so many different types of work on the big screen

This is what greeted us as we walked into the conference each day:

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A giant mural-ed wall, and if you can believe it, it's made out of black tape! Amazing, right?

Speaking of tape, Sarah and I went art supply shopping one day, and obviously a wall of wash tape in every color of the rainbow is completely irresistible:

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It was great to spend some time hanging out with friends and talking about art + creativity. I hung out with Frank Sturges, my artist agent buddy on the left there, and Yvone Perez Emerson, a Portland friend who runs a fantastic studio called Tillamook Station, and my new friend Andy J. Miller on the right, whose presentation at the conference was one of my favorites of the whole thing.

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I got to meet some other people I admire for the first time as well, like Kate Bingaman-Burt, Steve Simpson, Souther SalazarMike Lowery and his wife Katrin Wiehle, and Susie Gharahmani. So fun!  

Sarah and I visited Antler Gallery one day, too, and they have the most fantastic textured wall and succulents in the back area, that I couldn't resist snapping some photos of:

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This deer lives outside the gallery, and he obviously warranted a photo as well:

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I dig it. I sort-of want a life-size deer sculpture in my yard now.

And on the final night we danced the night away at the Crystal Ballroom, where it was 800 degrees, but we didn't care:

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I stayed out until almost 2 am, which is literally about 5 hours past my bedtime, so you can imagine how great I felt yesterday (read: I did not feel great). But today I'm back in action -- ready to get back to work, inspired, and full of ideas! I sort-of always love Mondays. :)






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