This was such a wonderful honor (and surprise!) A huge thank you to everyone who voted for me.
Growing up, my parents always subscribed to the local newspaper and my dad wouldn't let them get recycled until he'd read each one front to back. (Much to my mom's annoyance given that she likes a very clean, uncluttered house 😉) Even all these years later, I can still vividly recall the memory of my dad sitting at the breakfast table, cup full of black coffee and the newspaper spread open between his hands as he read. Something about the newspaper (and having arms long enough to hold it open to read) meant "adulthood" to me.
So to open the Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal today and see my work in the Living and Arts section- well, surreal is the only word that accurately describes it.
Thank you so much to Linda Jerkins for the amazing piece and to the AJC for including my work! You can read the piece here.
"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."- Vincent Van Gogh
I came across this quote back in art school and it's proven to be very comforting throughout the years. Mainly because it always reminds me that the big things don't just happen; the large wins or successes are always tied to a lot of smaller (possibly even mundane) tasks and events that had to be done. So when it may sometimes feel as though you're constantly working on "small tasks" remember this quote and take comfort in knowing that all of those small things are coming together to form something great.
This past Thursday, my solo show, Cultivated, opened at the Atlanta Botanical Garden (and it was awesome.)
I normally have a lot of anxiety when it comes to showing my work. There is a vulnerability in displaying your artwork- all of the emotion, time, energy, etc. that goes into the work is just out there on display. And it's not that it's just "out there," as an artist you are actively inviting people into your personal space to comment, critique, and ultimately judge your work. (Anyone else always think about Jerry Seinfeld describing Elaine's new boyfriend, Aaron, as a close talker, when you think about personal space? No? Well now you will. You're welcome.)
Anyhow, back to the point. So normally, I'm nervous about openings, but this time I was really surprised at just how calm I was about the whole thing. I was (am still am) really proud of my work, how it all looked/came together, and was actually even kind of excited to share everything. (Awe, look at me growing up haha) But seriously, it was such a great experience. Even the opening itself was amazingly laid back.
Seeing that this was my first solo show (I'm still amazed and humbled and kind of in shock that my first solo show is at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, but that's a whole other conversation,) most people probably would have thought I'd would have made a really huge deal about the opening. And it's not that I was opposed to that, but my main goal was to be able to be fully present and experience the moment. So I didn't really stress about it. I sent out a Facebook invite to some close friends who lived in town, posted about it on Instagram, and called it a day. (Side note- I did have the luxury of knowing that the show would be up for 5 months so that helped keep the stress level low and kept me from feeling like I had to do everything RIGHT NOW or I'd miss my chance. I may have done things differently if that was the case.)
And you know what? It was the best of times. Not even a hint of the worst of times. (Tale of Two Cities, anyone?) Not everyone could make it (some got sick, some were out of town, some had other obligations they couldn't get out of) but even so, I was surrounded by people who are a constant source of love, support, and inspiration. There was one moment I remember looking around and seeing old friends and new friends all surrounded by my work and just feeling so overwhelmed with gratitude.
I didn't get to talk to every person as long as I may have wanted (I talk a lot though so this really isn't new for me ;)) but everything just felt so... perfect. And the cherry on top of it all was that after the show, a group of us just wandered around the Garden, drinking, chatting, and looking at all of the exhibits that were lit up for Cocktails in the Garden (which was also that night!) So it was just art on top of art.
All this rambling aside, thank you all for your support. It means so much to me and I'm honored to create pieces that bring you joy.
As for the show- it will be on display until October 31st so you have plenty of time to catch it! (All of the work is also for sale in case you've been looking to purchase a piece.) And if you do go, I'd love for you to take photos and share them with me!
You may have already seen this on Instagram or Facebook, but my solo show, Cultivated, is now officially open at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Midtown Atlanta! On display in the Garden Gallery until October 31st, the show features twenty of my contemporary watercolor and ink floral paintings.
If you've ever wanted to see my work up close (it's a completely different experience than on a screen) or maybe you're looking to add to your art collection, I would be honored for you to visit the Garden and see the show.
In art school we were encouraged to always carry a sketchbook and to sketch or doodle as often as possible. It was explained that just like in sports, you have to consistently use the muscles, practice the motions, etc. to keep "in shape"- to "keep loose." That's why I try and take a few minutes (or more if possible) everyday to just sit and sketch. It trains both my hand and my mind- which gives me the confidence (and freedom) to trust my instinct when creating artwork. Sometimes the sketches develop into paintings and sometimes they are terrible/embarrassing*, but they always allow me to explore, discover, and align the space between my mind and my brush.
*And when I say terrible or embarrassing, I truly mean it. Some of my sketches look like a child drew them. Actually scratch that because that's not fair to children. Either way, some look very very...tight. Or maybe forced? Almost painful. But that my friends, is just why you sketch. So the painful, terrible, "are you sure you're an artist" moments can work themselves out of cheap sketchbook paper, as opposed to that 100% cotton rag you bought from France.
Day trip to the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia (Athens Botanical Gardens)
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent the day in Athens, GA and in addition to eating way too much and wandering the campus of our alma mater, we spent the morning visiting the Athens Botanical Gardens (technically it's called the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia, but I rarely call it that so bear with me.)
Side note- When I lived in Athens I spent a lot of time there, both as a visitor and a student. (I even worked with them while writing my thesis on utilizing art to educate children on complex scientific concepts and procedures.) So now that I only live an hour-ish away, I try to make it back at least once or twice a year. While it's not the largest or the fanciest, there is just something about it that draws me in everytime.
It was still relatively early in the season, so aside from daffodils poking out, most everything was still pretty dormant outside. Inside though, their orchids were on full display. (And unexpected happy surprise.) I absolutely adore orchids (they're actually the focus on an upcoming series) so I was especially excited to see so many different varieties up close. Here's a peek at what we saw:
"The Cotillion Series," new original watercolor and ink paintings by Atlanta Artist Courtney Khail, launch TODAY
I am SO excited to share my newest works with you all. These have been a long time coming and each piece means so very much to me. I'll go more in depth about the specific pieces over the next few days, but until then, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Something I'm really stoked about? How large some of these are. over 3 feet by 3 feet. I wish you could see them in real life because they are pretty kick ass.
And before I go celebrate (both the launch and St. Patrick's Day,) I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your encouragement and support. It means so much to me!
©Courtney Khail for Design Crush
It's fitting that this journal entry follows my last quote. For the past few weeks, criticism has been at the forefront of my days (and by that, I mean, I've felt a lot of criticism.) Now normally I reserve political conversations to "in real life" interactions (or, you know, my personal Facebook page where people are free to "unfollow" or "unfriend" if they are so inclined) in order to keep my personal life separate from my business life.
(To be honest though, I cannot imagine it's too difficult know how I lean seeing as I am an artist, I'm a nature/conservation fanatic and I shared my absolute joy on social media when the SCOTUS ruled that everyone had the right to marry. Not to mention that my current body of work is centered around the complexities and strength of women and the dualities seen in femininity, yet somehow- to many- where my heart lies has indeed come as a shock.)
©Lisa Congdon for Design Crush
Unfortunately though, with art you can't really untangle personal life from business life. My personal life and what I see happening to me, those I love, and even complete strangers- well, it sinks into my soul and my heart and comes out through my hands. Every brushstroke or line holds my emotion- whether that be of joy or angst- and no matter how I try to curb it or control it, I can't. I have to let it out- I have to be present and active. And that activism has spread into my everyday life too by way of political and community involvement.
So when my friend Kelly (of Design Crush) wrote me and asked if I wanted to take part in an "active art" project I didn't even think twice about joining in. Of course I wanted to participate! Her idea was simple- she invited some of her close artist friends to join her in creating a postcard to express how they feel/what's going through their minds that would then be shared with you all. Then, you all would have to opportunity to download and print our artwork for free (only for personal use- these cannot be sold and each artist involved still maintains all copyrights) to then be filled with your concerns, thoughts- whatever you want to say- and mailed off to your representatives.
©Emily McDowell for Design Crush
Now of course most are left leaning, but not all. And no matter your political stance I urge you to check them out and if you are so inclined, print one (or two or all) of them out and write your reps. Tell them what matters to you. Tell your story. Communicate with them. You are not just a number; you are a person with an opinion and a voice and it's time we all start taking a very active role in our government so it can best represent ALL of us.
(In case you missed the link above- you can click here to see the 24 pieces all of us artists created)
©StrawberryLuna for Design Crush