Travel

Vulnerability + love = JOY

Hello lovely blog readers, I hope your week is going well. I have been down with a bad cold but I'm on the mend. All that time in bed, let me truly reflect on all that has happened in the past month.

Many of you know, I had an Art Retreat on Bainbridge Island about four weeks ago - the Intuitive Muse Retreat.

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Where we focused on trusting our creative instincts and quieting the critical mind. We set intentions, journaled and made A LOT of Art! It was an amazing experience and a great honor to teach on this magical island - a place I had been two times prior but as a student! The women that joined me were incredible souls, all beautifully open and excited to delve into learning more.  (Little did I know, just how much I would learn along the way.)

So let me share with you a little about the journey...

Robin and I were lucky enough to stay in a sweet spot just a few steps away from the farm. It was the perfect place to center myself for the teaching that lay ahead and with a view of Seattle like this...well...it was beyond gorgeous and did much to soothe my anxious mind.

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The days leading up to the retreat were spent drinking tea and practicing my lessons with Robin. She was so kind and patient, listening to me go over things a thousand times! LOL.

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That's the funny thing about what I do - it kind of terrifies me! I actually get very nervous when having to speak in front of a crowd. Online, in front of the camera, it is somehow easier but sitting in a room with a many sets of eyes on me - oh boy - it makes my hands shake and my nose sweat. (Yes, my nose sweats when I'm nervous, it's very attractive - I assure you.) 😜

I knew that the hardest part would be the first night. The introductions. The part where I have to talk about myself.  I knew that if I could make connections, I would soon relax. I wanted to get to THAT place as quickly as possible but as time would have it, I needed to experience each stage as it came. There was no fast forward button on this gig.

That first night, we gathered at the ranch house for the welcome dinner.  I was greeted with beautiful, warm hugs and even a few excited tears. It humbles me each and every time I meet a student "in real life". The connection I feel for them and them to me is a true thing. What a gift to receive. It amazes me to this day, how powerful the internet is and how very real the connections can be. Invisible heart strings that somehow manage to go through the computer screen. Magic indeed.

When it came time to sit in a circle and do our introductions, the ladies did the rounds first and I listened intently,  shaky hands folded in my lap. Each woman lit a single candle to represent her presence and placed it gingerly on a beautiful old artist's palette - a treasure from Serena's family. It was a sacred thing to behold.

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I was stunned at the similarities of our stories. Before me, was a group of 10 women from all different backgrounds, all different ages and family situations but the common thread was apparent. We were all seekers. We had lived a life seeking out our creativity, searching for our joy and the connection to our soul. We had all jumped through careers, or passions - each coming in with force and usually fizzling out until we followed the next pull. The next insatiable curiosity. Photography, crafts, scrapbooking, cooking, gardening and even creating skin creams! We had all jumped through multiple phases on our journey towards Art. The fact is, Art is seeking. It becomes the vehicle of expression to discover the deeper layers, the hidden parts, the shadowy darkness and the shining light we all carry within us. So, while on the outside we had our differences, really, we were of one mind. One heart, hungry for more.

This helped ease me a bit as I felt the circle close. The bonds forming already - in a matter of minutes! But, my hands and slightly glistening nose gave away my nerves as I began to share myself with the group. I hoped they wouldn't notice but I know they did. I hoped it wouldn't matter or make me look unprofessional. I hoped, with all my heart, that I would be accepted. And there it was - Ahh - hello VULNERABILITY!

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This is where I was. Where I had to be. Exposed and vulnerable, yet doing what I wanted to do so very badly. Connecting and guiding and teaching. So with a deep breath, I accepted the uncomfortableness of it and just spoke my truth, trembling hands and all. I don't know everything that I said but I knew when I had finished that I was safe. These women made me feel so and I was grateful.

The rest of the blissful days glided by full of hard work and wonderful art! The women battled it out with their inner critics, we laughed and shared stories and helped each other solve problems in our compositions. I was at ease, in my role, soaking up the precious time I got to spend with each student. Carefully listening and helping to guide them through projects they could enjoy and learn from.

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They created pieces that pushed them out of their comfort zones, slipping into the unknown, the fear - where the good stuff starts to emerge. Where the left brain retreats and our intuition begins to lead us. The sweet spot. The flow state. I could tell from the class when people were going through it, they worked intently in silence, not pausing to judge or worry. Just moving. Creating. It is one of the most joyous things to witness as a teacher.

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Art time was interspersed with walks among the mystical places on the island,  like the Labyrinth where we silently followed the stones that wound us gradually to the center. And we all enjoyed the special Buddhist Bell that rings out after you have spun it just enough times while focusing on your truest wish and intention.

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Looking back on this magical weekend, I am so filled with gratitude for the opportunity. The chance to not only encourage others to trust themselves but a chance to step into my truest self as well. Each time I teach in person, I feel myself grow. Each time it gets less scary and every time I walk away knowing that this is what I am meant to do. It is where my JOY lives. If it means I have to push up against the vulnerability then so be it - I'm up for the challenge! 😉


 

A big thank you to our warm and gracious hostess, Serena Berry, who was nothing short of perfect - spoiling us with delicious food and ensuring everyone was comfortable. You made the retreat truly lovely and relaxing for our guests and for me too!

Thank you to the amazing women who attended! You each taught me something and inspired me with your open hearts and creative spirit. It was such a joy and honor to spend the weekend with you! I'll cherish the memories of this special time, always.

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Much love to you all!

xo,

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Come create with me in Italy!

Hello there creative friends! Hope you are are all doing well! Summer has been lovely and busy for us in the Newport house. Our routine is speckled with kids camps, day trips and relaxing afternoons in the garden. In the midst of all this, I manage to find time to film my latest class and work on some paintings too!

The biggest excitement of the summer (for me) is that my latest international art retreat is now open for registration! I'm so honored and grateful that I've been asked to teach in beautiful Orvieto, Italy in September, 2017 by Adventures in Italy! The husband and wife team running this fantastic trip are Bill & Kristin Steiner and they are an absolute delight to work with!

fb banner***VERY LIMITED SEATS AVAILABLE***

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This artistic retreat will include life/figure drawing, portrait studies, encaustics, collage and mixed media painting! Along with all the yummy art we will be making, organized tours and cultural experiences are planned to create a well rounded and life changing adventure for all! Check out just how beautiful Orvieto is...

To read all about it go here!

I would love to have you come to Italy with me!!

Have a beautiful rest of your week!

xo,

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Collage Workshop with Crystal Neubauer

Hello there! I hope your week is going smoothly! I just returned home from Bainbridge Island, WA yesterday. The workshop with Crystal Neubauer was amazing!

She is a kind, passionate and generous teacher. I loved learning more about not only her process but the emotions, symbolism and personal meaning in her work. There is nothing better than hearing from an artist why she does the things she does in her creations.

The first day we foraged for natural elements to create our own mark making tools! We bundled up and went beach combing. Here are Robin and I out to find natural treasures!

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I came back with a pretty nice stash...

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It was such a delight to construct beautiful brushes to create gorgeous and unique marks with black india ink! Perfect for creating collage papers!

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On the second day, we got a tour of the beautiful Wacky Nut Farm - where the workshop was being held. This beautiful location is an exclusive equine center with the most exquisite horses you've even seen! After just doing my Spirit Horse class, it was quite a treat to connect with these majestic animals. This is Indigo - a sweet Fresian mare. I loved her!

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After our barn tour, we got right back to work. Piles of delicious collage papers awaited! Under Crystal's lovely guidance we created all day long! She showed us wonderful techniques and composition tips too!

I came away with these collages...

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Also, if you guys haven't already bought Crystal's book - it's a must!

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Much love to you all!

xo,

Ivy

Crystal Neubauer Workshop

Hi there friends, Happy Friday!

I'm so excited to share about this fantastic workshop on Bainbridge Island, WA - March 11- 13, 2016! Come join me! There are only 4 spots left!! If you are not familiar with Crystal's gorgeous collages let me show you...

These textural, abstract collages are just dreamy to me. This girl knows composition!!! I love how she creates exquisite balance, contrast and tension! And all those gorgeous vintage element....sigh...

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I would love to see you there! I'm so thrilled at the opportunity to be the student instead of the teacher!

Much love,

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3 Must Read Books

Hello there!! How is everyone? I wanted to pop into today and let you know a couple of things! First off - Trina and I are so, so excited that we ONLY have ONE more spot left at ArtWorthy 2016!

We are over the moon happy and so grateful for the beautiful souls who have signed up to join us for this special long weekend! If you have been sitting on the fence, now is the time to snap up this spot! With a private gourmet chef, yoga, meditation, EFT sessions and loads of ART making you won’t want to miss out! Valentine’s just around the corner so treat yourself to some SELF LOVE!

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Ok, so I also wanted to tell you about three FAB books that I want to recommend!

#1

This book literally changed me! Literally. If you haven’t read it yet. Do. It. Now.

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This fabulous book was gifted to me by the lovely Trina and I ate it up! Full of wit and several laugh out loud moments - you will love this quick read about empowering your life with that sweet little word YES!

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And last but not least, this book knocked my artsy little socks off! Building creative confidence is not only powerful, it may radically change your existence! My belief that we are all creative beings is the cornerstone of this book and unearthing that creativity is not only your RIGHT it is your DUTY! Hiding those gorgeous gifts from the world is a major bummer for everyone!

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I adore the little trailer for this book too! Check it out... [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75L3HosXVAc] Okay, those are fresh off my stack of books! Check them out and let me know how they affect you I would love to hear about it!

Much love and gratitude to you all!

xo,

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WINNER of the ArtWorthy Giveaway

Happy Friday everyone!! Just wanted to pop in and announce that the winner for the ArtWorthy 2016 giveaway is:

Karen Goetz!

Congrats Karen! I will be in touch with you so we can get that bundle of goodies sent to you!

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Also, wanted to remind you that there are ONLY 3 more days for the early bird registration price for the ArtWorthy Retreat! A savings of $100!

Plus, check out this beautiful new promo video we made for you guys! We are beyond excited and we only have 5 more spots left!

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Don't miss out on this amazing, healing and creativity filled journey!

Have a gorgeous weekend!

xo,

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Outlander Art Retreat: Scotland

Hello my friends! I do hope you are well and that the holiday season is treating you kindly. I know it's crazy busy! We got the tree up early this year and the house is all decked out in lights and trim. So pretty!

In the midst of all the festive mayhem, I've been plugging along on a very, very important project of mine. A dream really....that has finally come to light. I've meticulously planned my first international Art Retreat for May 2017!!  Now, I just need guests to take along with me!

Who loves Art AND Outlander? Show of hands! Well, I do and I'm hoping some of you do too because that's what this Art Adventure is all about!

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I have found as an artist, that nothing inspires me more than travel and good stories! The Outlander books first captivated me (completely) when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I devoured the books and created art around the characters. I even named my second daughter, Claire. It's not a co-incidence!! ;)

A fan? Yup! A fanatic? Yeah, maybe but I thought why not combine two of my passions? A perfect excuse to travel with some like minded friends and see Scotland while creating art along the way!

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So who's with me? As Jamie would say..."Je suis prest!" (I am ready.)

If you want to read more about this extraordinary journey come check out the page here or click on the image below.  I've got a detailed day by day itinerary all planned out! It's dreamy!

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I hope to meet some of you in Scotland!

Happy Holidays and much love to you all!

xo,

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Hawaii

Hi my friends! Oh my goodness, I have been neglecting my blog but for good reason...Summer has begun and we've been busy with a new schedule and some travel too! Let's catch up a bit... In early June, we had the amazing opportunity to travel to Hawaii and stay at the Four Seasons in Kona. I had to pinch myself!

the gorgeous view from our room!

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It was through Chris' work and while he was busy in meetings, I got to play around the pool and beach with the other wives. Let's just say Mai-tai's at the swim up bar before lunch became a daily ritual! I know that is a tad early...but really they are mostly juice...and rum. Ah. Forget it. Anyways...

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Oh, did I mention that we left the kiddos at home with my parents? Yeah. It was kinda awesome. I missed the girls, of course but to have time away at such a dreamy place was sublime.

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I have to share this little adventure with you -

We had the first couple of days to ourselves so Chris thought it would be fun to rent a canoe and paddle around the ocean. I agreed - imagining myself reclined and sunning while he did the rowing! :) Well...let me tell you...I was in for a surprise!

We unknowingly rented a Hawaiian racing canoe! Think super long, skinny boat with two tiny seats, and outrigger on one side. Looks like it will tip over and dump you into the ocean if you look at it the wrong way. We must have looked confused because a burly Hawaiian guy approached us and inquired about our reservation. We gave him our last name. He nods, introduces himself and then proceeds to explain the training he is going to put us through before we can take the canoe out alone.

Training?! What the ----?? Ok. Let's do this - I told myself, trying to muster up my courage. It was when, in his long speech about operating the canoe, that he said "simulate a flip" that my heart start to beat.

"Wait...simulate a flip?" I asked, trying not to sound terrified.

"Yeah...it's no biggie. We will get you out to about 150 ft. depth and then we will lean to one side and flip the canoe over." He shrugged.

I stared at him. No biggie? I hadn't even planned on getting wet during this "relaxing" canoe trip. Plus, I couldn't even remember the last time I actually swam. Wading into the shallow end during a kid pool party probably doesn't count.

"Yeah...he continued, and then I'm gonna have you pull yourself up on the capsized canoe and pull it over so it's right side up again. It's easy!" says the guy who is all muscle, complete with a sinuous dragon tattoo meandering the slopes of his bulging arms.

I continued to stare. I'm pretty sure my mouth was open.

Chris laughed a little and squeezed my hand.

I chose to watch from the safety of the beach as the trainer and Chris went out first. They made it look easy...of course. The canoe sliced through the water as they timed their rowing.

As they hauled the canoe back to the beach, I could feel myself mentally sliding backward. I didn't HAVE to do this. I could say no but then somehow, I managed to push past my fear and cheerfully grabbed an oar. I was gonna do this!

I gotta admit, once on the canoe, and adjusting to the rowing, I found myself enjoying it! The water was beautiful. Infinite shades of sapphire, turquoise and teal. One or two sea turtles swam just beneath the surface, their sweet faces popping up out of the water as we glided by. As the ocean got darker and darker, I could feel my hands start to shake. I knew we were closer to the dreaded "flip"!

Finally, our kind instructor announced, "Okay, Ivette time to flip this thing over!"

My body tensed up as I gazed into the seemingly endless blue depths. I decided this was not a good time to ask about sharks...

"Just lean to opposite side of the outrigger and we will flip over. Then swim back up to the boat, pull your upper body on the canoe and reach with your hand to pull it over. You can do it!"

"Okay...."

Boom. Within a millisecond of leaning we were in the drink. I came up, sea water up my nose. Mascara running down my face. I must have been a sight. Somehow, my brain told my legs to kick and my swimming skills returned. Not sure if I was terrified or super annoyed, I swam back to that damn canoe, hauled myself up on it and flipped it right over! Yeah! It felt good!

Now, I just had to get back on the stupid thing. Kicking like a maniac (I probably looked like a dying sea mammal - basically a shark magnet) I finally pulled my lanky self back into the seat. The trainer glanced back at me to get a read on my mental state. I managed a smile and we headed back.

Chris and I took the canoe out together and enjoyed a "paddle". We did quite well, till I turned back to him and asked "Hey do I still have mascara all over my...."

I had turned around the WRONG way and dumped us both in the sea. Damn it!

At the end of our little adventure, I was proud of conquering my fear and trying something VERY outside my comfort zone. Would I do it again? Probably wouldn't be on my top 10 but I'm glad we did it. I found I was stronger, braver and more determined that I thought I was. Discovering that made it all worth it.

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Have you ever done something out of your comfort zone only to discover something about yourself? Would love to hear about it!

xo,

Ivy

P.S. I have also been working on some new art pieces...more on that later this week. :)

Life after the Art Retreat

Hi lovely people. How's life treating you? With lots of love, I hope. I've been playing catch up since I got back from my wonderful Art Retreat. It was a pretty rough re-entry into reality after four days of blissful art-making, learning, laughing and connecting with beautiful, inspiring artists! I arrived home to a sick Claire bear and a rather exhausted hubby. Poor Chris!

Claire had conjunctivitis in both eyes and a nasty head cold. I scooped her up in my arms and went straight into mommy/nurse mode. Thinking that she would recover quickly was a big mistake. Her eyes cleared in a few days but the cold turned into viral infection with fever for 5 days and then ear infections! Sigh. BIG UNHAPPY FACE. My typical schedule went right in the trash and all that anticipation to keep creating art came to a screeching halt. It was a tough week...and then I got sick too...ugh!

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I'm happy to report that she is all better now! Smiling and laughing (and having melt downs) like her usual self. I am still on the mend but excited to get creating again. I even started a new e-course, that I am loving!

So...I know... you are wondering...how was the Retreat?

One word - Divine.

Katie and I left on Thursday morning to drive up to Bainbridge Island, WA. The weather was a perfect 75 and sunny. Couldn't ask for a better day for a road trip. With my car loaded up with art supplies, we made the 3 1/2 hour journey with Starbucks stops and a lovely lunch in Olympia sprinkled in.

We arrived at our rental condo for the weekend. The actual retreat was at the Wacky Nut Farm but since we were the only locals attending, we snapped up this place which is just five minutes down the road. Totally gorgeous and highly recommended! This was our view...

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That night shot was fun to capture! I set my camera up on the ledge of the balcony and did a long exposure! Very cool to experiment with...you must give it a try!

Anyway, once we got settled in we went over to the farm to meet up with the ladies. I was so nervous and excited to actually meet Jeanne and Stephanie in person! We were greeted by our ever gracious and lovely host, Serena and as we met the other women and the teachers I felt my shoulders drop and my butterflies disappear.  The retreat unfolded beautifully. The women were warm and open. The teachers were inspiring and genuine. And the art making was truly blissful. I'll stop ranting and let the images tell the story...

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So happy to have had this experience with Katie!

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Our morning view! Not too shabby!

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The gorgeous Wacky Nut Farm.

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Nature walk with the girls.

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Bainbridge Island is gorgeous!

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Beautiful creations by my classmates.

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This was a collaborative piece! It was a true exercise in trust that Stephanie walked us through. Giving up control of your art and having faith that each student would add beauty to it was challenging but it was a seriously moving and emotional creative experience! It was amazing to have each woman make their mark on this piece. I love that it has been touched by them all.

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The wonderful Jeanne Oliver teaching our class.

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A mixed media piece I created on wood panel with collage, acrylic paint and wax.

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This little piece was a plastered piece of wood which I then collaged, painted and coated in wax.

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Another piece I created in Jeanne's class. A mixed media piece on wood with collage, acrylic paint and wax.

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The whole gang gathered for a Mexican fiesta at Serena's beautiful home for our last night together!

I will never forget these amazing women and I hope to see them in the future. Truly beautiful souls!

This retreat truly affected me and will be a powerful memory always. I hope to go on more art adventures in the future!

Thank you to all the ladies for being so kind, genuine and inspiring. Thank you to our fantastic teachers for pushing us, lifting our spirits and feeding the flame of our creativity and a BIG thank you to our host, Serena for being so incredibly warm, putting us all at ease and taking such good care of us. Your hard work, love and connection to us all was deeply felt and appreciated.

Okay sorry for the looooong post...but that was a lot to catch you up on.

xo,

Ivy

 

 

Life lately...

Hello lovely people! How are you? Things are going very well in the Newport home. We just got back from celebrating Grace's 8th birthday in Disneyland! The Claire Bear stayed home with the grandparents, so it was really special (and a hell of a lot easier) to just be able to spend time with Grace. Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 1.31.39 PM

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She loved Disney...of course. Her favorite ride - Space Mountain! Below is the very embarrassing but hilarious shot that is taken while on board this insane roller coaster. Although, I look like I am about to be killed, I am actually having fun...sort of. Grace on the other hand, looks just thrilled and a lot less terrified! We laughed about this one for days...

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On the Art front, I finally completed my most recent abstract commission. It sat like this for a LONG time...

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Then one day, I just couldn't fight it anymore...so I tackled the underpainting.

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And then finished it within a couple of days. My client loves it! Thank God! I'm so honored that it will be hanging in her front living room above the mantel. Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 1.39.14 PM

I did the underpainting in acrylic and then went over the entire thing with these water-mixable oils that I am totally in love with! I was originally trained in oils and I've missed them ever since art school but once acrylics became so popular I just migrated over to them. Less toxicity and easy clean up but I've always missed the buttery richness and blend-able quality of oil paint. Discovering these has been exciting and I want to continue exploring them.

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So...the BIG news is that I leave for my very first Art Retreat on Thursday morning with my friend Katie! I can hardly wait! It is the Nuture Your Creative Seed Retreat hosted by the lovely, Serena Berry on the enchanting Bainbridge Island, WA.

The teachers will be Jeanne Oliver and Stephanie Lee!! SO EXCITED! Jeanne has been an inspiration to me for years and was truly the one that led me back to art, so it will be such an honor to meet her and learn from her in person. I adore Stephanie's book and her whole thought process behind her creations, not to mention all the inventive techniques she has to share, so I know she will be an amazing mentor too! I feel so grateful to be able to experience this! Like deep in my bones grateful. 4 days of art, connection, creativity and even a dash of yoga. I couldn't ask for more! Thank you, Katie for being brave enough to join me on this adventure!

I look forward to sharing my creations and experiences with you when I return!

Have a fabulous rest of the week!

Much love,

Ivy

 

 

 

A Creative Weekend away...

Hello there! How is life treating you this week? Besides a pesky summer cold, I'm doing quite well and I'm so thankful that last weekend I got to get away with a dear friend for a creative retreat! We stayed at the sweetest cottage in the quaint Oregon beach town of Manzanita. Here are some shots via my Instagram... Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 4.01.53 PM

This cottage doesn't get any cuter right? It is the perfect place for a beach getaway.

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The vintage kitchen is adorable with layered personal touches and unique collections.

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Mornings (sans kids) were blissfully quiet and peaceful - sipping coffee, reading magazines and writing in my journal. Here is Katie enjoying a fav cooking mag.

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After we had substantial amounts of coffee we would move outside into the "garage" which is really an amazing outbuilding that my friend Candace converted into a charming dining hall. Strung with lights and adorned with artwork, old wine bottles and other beautiful objects it feels like a beachy treasure trove. The energy in this space is fantastic and you can tell many wonderful evenings have been spent at the long farmhouse table. We were immediately inspired.

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It didn't take long for us to spread out and get right into a creative zone...

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After a little bit of art journaling and playing with my watercolors...

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I began a small mixed media piece...

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Almost done...Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 10.43.35 AM

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And finished! Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 10.43.48 AM

It was an amazing weekend and I was sad to leave. As much as I missed my family, having some precious time to focus on art was such a gift. Katie and I agreed to do it again soon! Thank you, Candace for letting us stay at your magical home!

Do you have a favorite place to get away and create?

xo,

Ivy

Sydney Love...

Hello there. I'm sharing more pics of Sydney today. My experiences there were completely amazing and I can't even express the joy and gratitude I felt. Pictures do a better job than I can with words...

the stunning Harbor.

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a stormy sky over Palm Beach.

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a magical tree at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

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feathers in the grass at Circular Quay.

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  the beauty of the Opera House.

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G'day.

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a beautiful morning at Balmoral Beach.

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gazing up at the Ferris wheel at Luna Park.

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a dear friend's charming beach cottage.

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a cake made with love to share with friends.

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bug-hunting with my best friend's daughter.

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exploring Manly Beach.

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sipping bubbles while...

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gazing at this lovely view.

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my last day.

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coming home.

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It was bittersweet to leave the place where I spent most of my childhood days but coming home to my family was wonderful. I got to see my old friends and their new lives. I got to meet their children and visit their homes. We shared many laughs about the old days but the best part was seeing how they have all grown into amazing, beautiful and successful women. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for dropping everything for my visit, showing me a fabulous time and welcoming me into their hearts and homes again. I felt truly blessed to be surrounded by their grace and love.

Have a lovely rest of the week and thank you for letting me share these with you.

xo,

Ivy

Room service at Dawn

Hi there! Happy Friday! Wanted to share a few more Instagram snapshots from my Sydney trip. One of my favorite mornings there we ordered a room service breakfast, promptly delivered at 6 am. Jetlag didn't really slow us down, it just had us going to bed early and waking up with the birds - which - actually turned out to be a gift. Watching the sunrise over Sydney harbor is quite breathtaking and enjoying a hot cup of tea in the snuggly hotel robe wasn't too shabby either...

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I have a thing for itty bitty jars - especially when they say "Made in Australia".

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What a magical way to start the day. I felt so grateful for this sweet indulgence.

Have a gorgeous weekend!

xo,

Ivy

Home again

Hi dear readers! Yes, I am home from beautiful Sydney and I'm still trying to take it all in. It is always a bit surreal when one day you are in another country and the next you are in your own bed. Always trips me out a bit. We actually got home a week ago but my family stayed on to celebrate Grace's 7th birthday...so...this is my first chance to sit down and post. I have dozens of photos and I promise not to unload them all at once but I thought today I would just share some of my favorite Instagram shots from the first day of our adventure.

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We landed at 6:07 am. Bright and early!  After enduring all the fuss of customs and luggage wrangling, we jumped into a cab and headed to the Four Seasons Hotel. Even though I was exhausted, my heart was beating fast with excitement! I was actually here. The view from our room brought me to tears. Of joy.

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Like good little travelers, we resisted the urge to stay in our room and sleep and instead went for a brisk walk in The Rocks district, discovered a sweet cafe, downed a few coffees and a tasty breakfast.

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The feeling of being back in Sydney was rather indescribable. Surreal, bizarre, overwhelming, exhilarating. I was overcome with gratitude that somehow, in a matter of a few days, my dream of returning to my birth city had been actualized. I was in Sydney, with my beloved husband, staying at a beautiful hotel and only hours away from seeing my childhood friends. To quote my dear Aussie friend Jo - "I was completely spun out!"

After a very short nap, we got up showered and felt somewhat human again. We had to seriously rally because we were off to the Opera Bar for sunset drinks with my mates!

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The Opera bar was swarming with people, all taking in the gorgeous view, the warm sun and of course the lovely drinks. I scanned the hundreds of people looking for familiar faces. The butterflies in my stomach raged and my trembling hands were doing their best to steady a glass of white wine. I was nervous and excited at the same time. What would it be like to see these girls after 19 years!?

Just when I thought that perhaps we arrived before them, two hands fell on my shoulders and spun me around. In front of me was two of my girls. Claire and Natalie. We screeched, laughed and embraced in one hysterical mess. I'm sure we looked crazy but we didn't care. Before I knew it, another two friends arrived with bottles of bubbles, warm hugs and endless giggles. While the champagne flowed, we caught up with one another like no time had passed at all.

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The night unfolded beautifully! We ended up at a sushi place where we were joined by another friend. Chris celebrated his birthday there - the actual day had been lost in time when we crossed the date line!

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After that we meandered the Rocks, linking arms, sharing stories old and new and laughing about high school memories. My heart was flooded with happiness.  It felt good to be home.

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Okay more to come - I will break it up a bit so I don't bore you to tears - I promise.

What have you been up to while I was away? Anyone else travel or start a new Spring project? Do tell.

xo,

Ivy

Hello, Sydney.

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Hi there my lovely readers!

Well, I have some exciting news to share with you today - we are leaving for Sydney, Australia on Thursday - yes, as in two days from now!! A last minute opportunity landed in our laps yesterday, when one of my hubby's clients invited him to an executive retreat in Sydney. Well...as many of you know, that is my birthplace and there was NO way in hell that I wasn't going with him. So we scrambled and made arrangements for my parents to fly in and take care of the girls! I'm in total shock!

I've gotten in touch with several of my childhood friends, so I hope to meet up with them and catch up! I haven't been back since we left in 1994!! I was in the 11th grade. It was so hard to leave all my friends but at the time we kinda idolized America and I had fanciful notions of becoming a cheerleader, dating a quarterback and going to Prom! ha! Things didn't quite pan out like that...

Anyway, I have always wanted to go back and visit so I feel incredibly grateful for this chance! I will be taking tons of photos and hope to post a bit while I'm there!

See you when I return from the land Down-Under...

xo,

Ivy

Ranch life...

Hi all, Hope your week is off to a good start! As promised, here are shots from our trip to Brasada Ranch...(these are a mix of iPhone pics and shots with my Canon).

Central Oregon has a wild, rugged beauty to it. Gnarled Juniper trees with their soft blue berries, bristled sage brush and tall evergreens dominate the landscape.ranch1

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Grace got to go on her very first trail ride...

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and she tried out my camera on our photo walks together! It was too cute to see her snapping shots of everything.

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Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 3.02.39 PMClaire was a trooper too and loved being all snuggled up in her stroller for our long strolls around the property.

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My favorite photos were taken during the golden hour when everything seemed to glow with the warmth of the setting sun.

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This was the gorgeous view from our cabin's deck...sigh...

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Felt so very blessed to spend our Spring Break here. We will be going back to the ranch for sure!

Have a lovely Tuesday!

xo,

Ivy

Grace & Dottie

Hi there! How is week going so far? All is well, here at the Newports. Claire Bear is saying more "words" and is desperately trying to stand on her own. Grace is getting excited to celebrate her 7th birthday later this month so we are in party planning mode and my dear hubby is super busy but grateful for the work. As for me, I'm excited to start a new online art class with Jeanne Oliver on Monday! I've been absolutely dying to make some art but I always do better with a specific assignment and a deadline...must be programmed into my brain from art college! I'm hoping to gut my studio this weekend and prepare all my art supplies so I will be ready to dive in. Eeeek! Can't wait!! Okay, so I promised to share some photos from our trip to Brasada Ranch and I managed to get these done the other evening. This is Grace and the ranch dog, Dottie. Grace was completely smitten with her. Every chance she got she would beg us to take her up to the main lodge to visit her. It was really sweet to see the connection between the two of them...

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More photos to come...

Hope you have a beautiful Friday!

xo,

Ivy

Weekend away: Oregon wine country

Hi there! How's it going? Okay, so I promised I would be back with some pics from our little weekend getaway. I have to admit that my big camera was left in the hotel room because I am so addicted to Instagram. It was fun to capture the moments in a spontaneous (and easy) way with my phone! We stayed in the historic town of McMinnville at the 3rd Street Flats. They are beautifully decorated, European style flats full of gorgeous decor, charm and local art. The complimentary bottle of wine and chocolates didn't hurt either. Love this place and would stay again! We could walk to all the restaurants, bars, cafes, tasting rooms and shops!

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That first night we ate at the beautiful and romantic La Rambla! Spanish Tapas and fancy cocktails. Yes, please.

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Now don't laugh but the whole point of this trip was, yes, to be romantic and go wine tasting but it was to also work on the re-design of my blog. I rarely ever get Chris' undivided attention (and talent) so I took advantage of the situation and we parked at the Cornerstone cafe to geek out together and actually get some things accomplished! Grace & Ivy will be new and improved very soon! ;)

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After a little hard work, we had to go play and taste some wine so we packed up our laptops, hopped in the car and ended up in the tiny town of Carlton.

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We stopped into two places we had never tried before. Absolutely loved the French style Burgundy wines at Scott Paul!

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And a ten sample (yes ten!) wine flight with chocolates was a delight at Seven of Hearts!

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That night we got all dolled up and dined at Thistle. I LOVED this place. Intimate, delicious, charming with a totally vintage vibe. I was right at home.

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What a wonderful treat to get away with Chris! It felt amazing to recharge, re-connect and get inspired.  Thank you to my fabulous brother and his beautiful fiancée for taking our kids for the entire weekend!

If you haven't gotten away with your partner lately...try and plan something. It is so worth it!

xo,

Ivy

Travel Visions 2

I know you may have been expecting a Friday Escape...but while I'm doing my Unravelling class, I've decided that I need to focus on my writing and photo assignments....so I hope you will forgive me and still enjoy this little collection of travel inspired images. I promise we will jump back into our vicarious travel when I've completed the course...which, by the way, is AMAZING!

Have a beautiful and inspired weekend!

xo,

Images via here.

Friday Escapes: Ireland

Happy Friday! With yesterday being St. Patty's I thought it only fitting that we journey to Ireland today. I can't wait! Let's go...

Speaking of castles...you know I have a thing for them...what girl doesn't? So of course, I found a gorgeous one for us to stay in! We are headed to Lismore Castle just outside of the town of Lismore in County Waterford. Map. If you want to stay at Lismore Castle you have to rent the whole thing out...it costs a fortune but I managed to pull a few strings and got us a deal. ;)

Oh and I have a surprise - I arranged for a coach to pick us up. Why? Because arriving at a castle in a horse drawn carriage is perfectly dreamy...

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/53377__dobroide__20080504-horse-drawn-00.mp3]

There is the castle up ahead!

Let's check in and take a peek at our room and then we can explore the gardens.

So beautiful! Don't you feel like a princess? Oh let's stop in the drawing room and have tea and treats before we venture out...

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Let's go for a stroll through the manicured grounds...

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Well...I must leave you now my friends. Have a rest on this bench, smell the roses and breathe in the gorgeous fresh air of the Irish countryside. Hope you enjoyed our little trip to Ireland.

Have a fantastic weekend!!

xo,

Images via here, here and here. Sounds via here.