Back to school and back to normal life

This was a stand out summer in the Loewens Family in both good and hard things. My arthritis wasn’t much of a factor for any of our activities, and my kids had tons of fun at swim lessons. I took on a major freelance project that ate up most of my creative time and proved to be very taxing emotionally and spiritually. The scope of the project meant that I knew it would be very hard going into it but knowing something will probably true and living it can be very different things. I’ve got at least 5 more months of work still left to do, but it will not be as high up on my priority list now that we are starting lessons up again. 

I am so looking forward to getting back to our normal rhythms of life!! These past two weeks have been filled with teacher training (we homeschool part time), reading some great books that have helped me focus again on what I want our lives to look like, and hours in the studio making collages and prints. I’m also stocking up on essential oils to help combat all the germs we will again be exposed at school. Ah, life of a mom!

Back to school and back to normal || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Back to school and back to normal || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Monday we are heading out to Broken Bow for one last adventure before the first day of school. Nebraska is fortunate to be right along the path of the solar eclipse so we are making a day trip for the event. Fingers crossed that the clouds stay away!

 
IMG_7497.JPG
 

The return of Sun printing

Alas, I am not yet back to 100% but am doing well enough to work in my garden and outdoor studio (my back porch)  a little bit.  A few years back my husband and I transplanted some ornament grass from my mom's garden to ours because we thought it would add some nice height to our perennial bed. At the time, we did not realize how much more sunshine our garden received so the grass grew more like a weed and began choking out other flowers. Not good!

Shovel vs ornamental grass. Grass won! || Rachel Loewens Fine Art || Omaha, NE

 

So this year we've decided to get rid of it once and for all! So far, only one shovel has been completely broken and another is not in the best shape. My husband had to use a crow bar and hammer to get one of the clumps out, and I am continuing to work on the last two. At this rate, it might be July before we're done but it will be so nice to have that off of the checklist!

With all this unwanted plant life piling up on my porch, I find myself again making sun prints with these cast off bits. Kinda like my Winter Garden series but still a bit different. 

There is just such a creative freedom that comes when you don't view your supplies as precious, and there is nothing less precious than weeds or, in this case, clumps of grass destined to go in the yard waste bin. 

Spring garden cyanotype || Rachel Loewens Fine Art || Omaha, NE

Spring garden sun print || cyanotype || Rachel Loewens Fine Art || Omaha, NE

 
Cyanotype closeup || Rachel Loewens Fine Art || Omaha, NE
Cyanotype closeup || Rachel Loewens Fine Art || Omaha, NE
 
“Before you dismiss any gift as worthless, look again because it may just contain hidden treasure.”  ― Rejoice Denhere, Trash to Treasure

Hostess gift guide: summer 2017

this post contains affiliate links

We got some much-needed rain this week here in Omaha and along with the precipitation came the humidity......and a flare up for me. Bleh!

 
Sunshine and rain || weather in Omaha || Rachel Loewens
 

(yes, it was sunny during this tornado-producing storm)

So instead of making with my own hands, I've been window shopping handmade goods on Etsy with the excuse that I need to purchase a few hostess gifts for some upcoming summer parties. I'm sure some of you are in the same boat as me with invites to BBQ's and The Fourth being just around the corner so I've picked ten of my favorites to share with you!

10 Hostess gifts under $10 || Rachel Loewens

Roadside foraging

So there I am, just driving down my street after a fairly conflict-free trip to the grocery store with my littles when, bam! I see this amazing flower/weed growing in the yard of an abandoned house on my block. 

Tragopogon || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

I mean, amazing right? Like a ginormous dandelion! Thanks to some help from someone on Instagram, I was able to find out that it is a Tragopogon (possibly Tragopogon dubius) and is indeed a weed. 

Now, the gardener in me hates weeds, but my printmaker sides loves them!! I don't have to be precious with them while I try out different ways of using them in my art because they will grow back in abundance. 

Tragopogon || Rachel Loewens
 
Tragopogon cyanotype || abstract print by Rachel Loewens
 

I've had a few days to play with them with cyanotypes, but not yet with acrylics. Fingers crossed the lawn they are growing in doesn't get mowed anytime soon!!


Fresh Air is Soul Care

I was beat, just beat. Four nights in one week of having one of our kids up during the night and then joining us in bed was really starting to have an impact. Covering up the ever darkening circles under my eyes with a little extra concealer was an easy fix but stopping my arthritis from flairing up was just something that was beyond my control. Friday afternoons are usually spent cleaning the house so that Saturdays can be spent doing fun stuff, but I was too tired to even think of something fun! That is, until I got this lovely email from my husband:

So, I’m thinking about hitting up Calvin Crest tomorrow for two or three laps. Looks like they didn’t get any rain and it’s way more fun than Tranquility. I know you like to go out there too, so I thought I’d run it past you now in case you wanted to go too. 

Camp Calvin Crest has mountain bike trails which Travis loves, and hiking trails for me so obviously my answer was yes!! My neurons really started firing as I started to think what I would need to do to get ready. Sun screen, check! Bug spray, check! Cyanotype paper.....ummm no. My stash of prepped paper was quite low. Thankfully it was still early in the afternoon so I could take advantage of Quiet Time to take over the bathroom to mix the chemicals without having to be interrupted.  

Cyanotype chemistry || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Word of caution to anyone thinking about taking up sun printing: if you have only one spot in your house that is suitable for working with these type of photo-reactive supplies, everyone will suddenly need to be in that space the moment you get set up to work. Every single time. #funnybutnotfunny

The kids were pretty good about observing the main tenet of Quiet Time, namely, staying quiet, which is very hard to do on Fridays because they know that in just a few short hours they will be at Grammy's House for a sleepover. I had just enough time to get everything ready for the next day's adventure.

 

Saturday morning came and brought with it an extra dose of humidity thanks to all the rain we had that week. I tend to wear skirts or dresses when I hike to keep cool but did add a long sleeve linen shirt to my attire to avoid more sunburn and provide less surface area for the mosquitoes to feast.

The plan was to be there for about three hours so I figured I would divide my time evenly between hiking/collecting interesting shaped plants and printmaking.

IMG_5816.JPG
Camp Calvin Crest || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future. -Mattie Stepanek
Camp Calvin Crest || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Camp Calvin Crest || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Camp Calvin Crest || Fremont, NE || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
IMG_5843.JPG
Camp Calvin Crest || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
IMG_5842.JPG

In the end, I a made a total of zero prints. The views were just too serene and the fresh air too restorative for me to head back to the van to get my printing supplies. Also knowing that I will be back multiple times this summer may have also influenced my decision! :-)

Lillie Langtry one said, "Anyone's life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit." 

I wholeheartedly agree!!


Turning mistakes into masterpieces

post contain affiliate links

Ahhhhhh! Summer break!!!! We are basking in the routine of sleeping in, wearing pajamas until lunchtime, working in the garden, and then running in the sprinkler to cool off. For two summers in a row I was pregnant and so miserable that I missed out on a lot of the fun that comes along this season but not this year. This year, I am saying no to a lot of good things so as not to miss out doing what I want most. 

Turning mistakes into masterpieces || Rachel Loewens #abstractart

This morning was to be the start of our drawing lessons. I fell in love with Drawing with Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too by Mona Brookes last fall but couldn’t make it work into our already packed schedule so I shelved it until now. By the time I got showed and dressed my kids had come up with a plan of their own for the morning: making paper crowns. They had paper, scissors, and markers already out on the dining table so I just went with it. Making is making, right?

As goes all craft projects with little humans, it only took about five minutes for disaster to strike. Child #2 made one of his dots bigger than all the others which ruined the pattern he had in his minds so he MUST start over. Then Child #3 colored over the same spot so many times as to cause a slight tear in the paper. There was just no consoling either of them. My mantras about valuing the process, taking risks with our art, and there being no such things as mistakes had absolutely no effect on the flow of tears rolling down their little cheeks. 

Multiple exposures cyanotype || Rachel Loewens || abstract art ||

 

So I changed tactics. “Who wants to hear about some of Mommy’s art mess ups? Who wants to see what I did to fix them?” They immediately perked up. At that very moment, I was printing a cyanotype on top of one that did not turn out very well. While doing a double exposure was something I wanted to experiment with, I was doing it out of an attempt to correct/improve upon one that did not turn out at all. 

 

In case that example wasn’t enough for them, I pulled out a print that accidentally fell onto my paint-filled palette. “See here, this big blob of pink. That wasn’t supposed to happen, but I kinda liked it so I dropped it again on the paint to make it look like it was part of the design.” Finally, the light bulbs turned on!!! #2 colored the tops of each triangle in his crown with a black marker and began to make a new pattern. #3 used a whole punch over the part that was ripped and then punched over the middle of each point. 

 

mistakes to masterpieces || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Not only was our morning saved, but my kids learned one of the biggest secrets to success in life: resilient people turn their mistakes into masterpieces. This isn’t just a lesson for artists, but for everyone who takes risks, tries new things, and dares to live a great life!

Baby giraffe with crown || Rachel Loewens

Brené Brown writes in her book Rising Strong,

" The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness - even our wholeheartedness - actually depends on the integration of all of experiences including the falls." 

I find it so much easier to be comfortable with my weakness when I am around others who do the same. My hope is that by modeling vulnerability and wholeheartedness to my children, they will grow up to be empathetic and resilient adults!


Spring showers and happy hour

My time in the studio this week has been limited but satisfying. I'm making cyanotypes with dead vines and leaves and then printing with acrylic paint on top using the same vines. It has been fun to extend the life of my printing materials!

Spring Showers || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

This one in particular brings to mind all the spring showers that have filled our Omaha skies this week. The winds were so strong one night that the tornado sirens went off and some people lost power because of falling branches. 

Before this week of rain, we've been spending a lot of time outdoors on our back patio. Someone in our neighborhood was giving away their table for free, and we picked it up on our way to church. We were quite the site pulling up with the back of our minivan door open and the table hanging out the back.

Happy hour || Rachel Loewens

As per our normal routine of taking a Sunday sabbatical, we spent the afternoon reading our library books and sipping on some sour beers (can't remember the name but it was delish!) and boxed wine from Trader Joe's. As much as we've needed the rain this week, I'm ready to feel the sunshine on my face again!

 
Artwork for sale by Omaha-based artist Rachel Loewens
 

Studio spring cleaning means more art for you!

Spring means the start of my semi-annual go through the entire house and get rid of anything that doesn't work/fit/bring joy (yes, I love the Konmari method!)

Studio spring cleaning || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

 

In the midst of my sorting, I found several pieces of artwork that I meant to put in my shop but never did or art that has been for sale before but never sold. These works are from my #100daysofcollage collection that I made last year or from a small series of more minimalist collages that I made a few months back. 

I'm rather attached to a few pieces so I think I might add some of them to my digital downloads collection so I don't feel like I have to totally say goodbye to them yet. 

IMG_5288.JPG

All the rest are being mounted on 8x10" watercolor paper so you can hang them in standard-size frames. Stop by on Friday morning and treat yourself to a new piece of artwork!