What makes an ordinary week

(for further context, see last week's post Ordinary Time in My Studio

Lesson plan for history: To experience a “taste” of what life was like as a monk, prepare a typical “monk’s meal” for supper one night. You might like to pretend that it is Christmas, so you can have some butter on your bread!
Pretty Pavlova || What makes an ordinary week || blog post || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Me: "Since we are learning about Monks, we are going to make a bread like the kind they would have eaten. "
AJ: "Can't I make Mary Berry's Pavlova instead?"
Me: "I'm not sure we have enough eggs... "
AJ: " We only need six!" (proceeds to recite rest of recipe and directions)

Yeah, she won. 

/>
/>

This month, we are still figuring out what an ordinary week for us will look like this year. I was given some very wise counsel that co-teachers (homeschool moms) usually doesn't get their routine down until October so I know we have a few more weeks to get our stride. I'm still participating in the #PCJ30in30 Challenge on Instagram and am loving the process of observing one memory or moment of each day in a painting. 

Chilly Sunday || #PCJ30in30 || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Pretty Pavlova || #PCJ30in30 || 8x8" acrylic on watercolor paper || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

Sometimes I know what I want to capture within the first few hours of the day, other times it takes until dinnertime. Either way, this practice is helping me focus on what little thing sets each day apart from the next (a tall order for someone who is big-picture minded).

Raining sunshine || #PCJ30in30 || 6x8" || acrylics + paint pen on watercolor paper || Rachel Loewens
Turning season sunset || #PCJ30in30 || 8x8" || acrylic paint on watercolor paper || Rachel Loewens

To stay up to date on this challenge follow me on Instagram



Ordinary time in my studio

I just finished the book Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren, and it was really amazing. One of the moms at my daughter's school gave this whole presentation on establishing rhythms of liturgy in everyday life, and I felt like it brought deeper meaning to some of the practices my family tries to observe. Something that was new to me was this idea of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time takes place two times a year, generally January-February and then again June-November (more info here and here).

 
Ordinary time in my studio || Rachel Loewens
 
/>
Road trip across Nebraska || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

The word "ordinary" is referring to both a counting of days (ordinal) and to a simpler season between times of the year filled with extraordinary amounts of celebration. The second meaning is what I'm taking comfort in right now. My summer was just so full of good, fun things that I feel like I'm trying to catch up with just ordinary time at home and in my studio. 

The #PCJ30in30 challenge on Instagram by Amira Rahim is really helping me to get back in the swing of ordinary life practices. I'm aiming to have each piece tell something about the day that it was created: the weather, an experience, a memory with my family. 

Pulling and printing with ornamental grass || Ordinary Time in my studio || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
Raining sunshine || Ordinary Time in my studio || Rachel Loewens Fine Art

To stay up to date with this challenge, you can find me over on Instagram as RachelLoewens!



30 days, 30 pieces of art

We survived our first week of school, and I forgot just how much I love our fall routine. Drop off, errands, and the afternoon to spend working on projects before pick up or lesson time, symposium with all the kids, lunch and the conclusion of lessons before nap/ dinner prep time. Dividing our time between at home lesson days and at school lesson days keeps things from feeling monotonous. 

30 days, 30 days of art || Rachel Loewens || Fine Art || Omaha, NE

Now that we are getting back into our groove, I've been itching for a bit of accountability with my studio time. Another mom at my daughter's school is doing a #100childhoodstoriesproject on Instagram (go check out Oana Befort's AMAZING work) which got me thinking about trying to do a smaller daily challenge to reestablish my art practice. That's when I heard about the #PCJ30in30 challenge Amira Rahim is hosting during the month of September. Thirty days sounds just about right!

I am really good at coming up with grand plans for things but often get stuck in the first few days of a new venture. Making a mini "look book" of colors, marks, and shape inspiration to get things going often helps me start a new collection so I'm going to try the same with this challenge. 

30 days, 30 pieces of art || Rachel Loewens

 

Follow me along HERE to see my (hopefully) daily posts beginning September 1!


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. 

 
Back to school, back to normal || blog post || Rachel Loewens Fine Art
 

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!

 
 

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!!