It was about one year ago that I sat in my office and entertained the idea of painting hand-lettered signs and gifts. I had so many questions swirling in my brain…Is there really a market for it? Would people see the difference between what I do and what is mass produced? What would set me apart from all the other people doing similar work? Who am I to think I am good enough to pull this off? But one question resonated louder than the rest…Why not?
And so began several weeks of sketching, researching, dreaming, planning, list-making and painting. What I realized in that time was that my purpose with this venture was far greater than making a few extra dollars. I realized that I could combine the things I love most…typography, materials with meaning, antiques, conceptual ideas, human touch, creativity, story-telling, and the spirit of giving…creating one-of-a-kind pieces that brought joy to folks giving and receiving them. JOY. This one small word that is the reason for all that I do.
I don’t know that I will ever deem myself good enough to pull this off, but I sure am having fun trying! Painting on a less than perfect surface with no Command-X option sure is a humbling experience. But I am loving every minute of it and, as my kids will tell you, there are no mistakes, just happy accidents. Unless, of course, you give your French-Canadian sister-in-law a sign that says “Joyeaux” instead of “Joyeux!” We all got a good laugh out of that one.
I am finding that some of my most treasured pieces are those that incorporate a loved one’s handwriting. I have always said typography has a voice (yes, even dreaded Papyrus) and to be able to paint a loved one’s handwriting, and give it a voice, is an amazing, humbling thing. The picture at the top of this post was one that was sent to me just after Christmas with a very sweet letter of thanks. This is “Bebe’s” granddaughter holding the sign with her grandmother’s handwriting. I hope through stories, pictures, and her grandmother’s own handwriting she will know and love her as much as she, herself, is loved from above.
The picture below is my husband and his siblings. Their dad, “Dear Old Dad,” passed away last year so this has been a year of firsts without him. If there was one thing DOD loved and lived it was wine! In fact, he always had a quip about wine on his answering machine. I happened across a scrap of paper on which he wrote down several lines he used for messages, such as “Red wine improves with age. The older I get, the more I like it” and “I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even use it in the food.” When I saw those words scribbled out on that piece of paper, I could literally hear DOD saying them. I knew I had to do something with them and it just so happened there were 5 sayings, one for each kid.
So, as I reflect on the past year, what I’ve been able to create, the many people I’ve connected with on so many levels, and I think about those questions swirling, I know one thing…if you put your heart and soul into something, and your purpose is greater than yourself, you are bound to succeed. Success is a matter of opinion for sure, but I think I’ve succeeded in bringing joy to some, which is good enough for me.
I am looking forward to the year ahead with my sketchbook brimming with new ideas. I am continually thankful, dear reader, that you’ve chosen to follow along with me on this journey!