Here & Now




Ok, so here's the thing: 
We're about to start blogging again and the last time we blogged was January of 2019! That's nearly a year and a half ago. In that year and a half tons of things have changed (yeah, lets not get into that yet) but also, many things are almost exactly the same. We're still making art. We're still cooking and baking lots of good stuff. We're still painting rooms in our house. We're still feeding the squirrels and the birds. We're still talking about finally fixing up our deck so that we can spend even more time out there with the squirrels and the birds. And we're still very much in the habit of starting a half dozen creative projects at once. None of that has changed. 

So...we were just wondering if we should dive right back into blogging as if we never left? Or if we should do a recap post about the past 18 months for the sake of good record keeping?
  
Well, it looks like we already came up with our solution. We're just going to dive right in and talk about the here & now. For our sake and yours. 

If life has taught us anything at all lately it has shown us that the here & now is all that really matters. 



Ok, so me and Aaron stopped going to stores back in March. We saw the cases of Covid-19 begin to shoot way up. And no matter where you were getting your news from the one thing that was consistent was that the best way to avoid getting the virus was to um...avoid getting the virus. We work from home and pretty much always have, so we have been super lucky when it comes to avoiding illness in general. I'm almost positive that me and Aaron haven't even had a cold in close to three years. Avoiding illness just so happens to be one of our hobbies, lol. 
So when New Jersey issued the initial stay at home recommendation we heard it loud and clear.
We didn't need to be told twice. 

If staying home would help in easing the workload of hospital workers, grocery store workers, sanitation workers, law enforcement, first aid...we can definitely help out. We're very good at burying ourselves under mountains of work and not seeing the outside world for days, weeks, months...
Again, it's one of our hobbies.

We were all set to start on our Spring collection, but the first thing we figured out is that it wouldn't be easy for us to get the supplies we need to make our plaques. This was a temporary roadblock. But then we decided to do something completely different.
We had just picked up two big beautiful pads full of smooth Bristol paper, restocked our favorite paint colors, got some new .5mm mechanical pencils, and also grabbed a bunch of fine tip round brushes. Like I said, we were just about to start on the Spring collection, so these are all the tools we would've used to paint our master designs.

And as luck would have - these are also all the tools we'd need to paint custom portraits.

We just needed one more thing:
Orders for custom portraits.

So that's when the portrait of the two us, see above, happened. We needed a sample to list in the shop and to share on Instagram, Facebook, and in our mailer.
It was also perfect timing. One of the things on our 2020 vision board was to paint a new portrait of the two us. We'll use our portrait for so many things - our tags, business cards, graphics, labels, etc.
Ask any self employed artist that you know and they'll tell you the same thing - As an artist you always put your own projects last.
So this time it all worked out. We checked off one of the things on our vision board that also helped us take orders for portraits.


If you thought our shirts looked familiar you were right! We've had the Pink Bunny sweatshirt on our drawing board for a looooong time. It's based on our pink bunny plaque of course, and vintage stuffed bunnies have always been our unofficial Everyday is a Holiday mascot. But when we jumped into making shirts it was right before Halloween, so we thought our Haunted House design made a ton more sense for a debut shirt. Wow, that seems like a million years ago. I said that we were just going to talk about the here & now but jeez, I never thought I'd feel so much nostalgia for eight months ago.


Our first shirt was such a great success! We honestly had no idea what to expect. There are so many things to consider. We learned so much about sizing, t-shirt brands, fabric blends, and printing methods. We were thrilled with the quality of the graphics. It looked EXACTLY like our painting. No details were lost at all. Even the creepy little guy in the attic window is crisp and clear.
We were going to have Christmas shirts but we couldn't find a minute to squeeze them in with the orders we already had for ornaments and plaques. And right now we're just waiting for the shirt warehouses and shipping chains to get running smoothly before put any new designs in motion.


And yep, Aaron's shirt and hat are taken directly from last year's Tigers & Roses collection. We're definitely getting back into the clothing design biz. It was a lot of fun and it was some of the fastest, cleanest work we ever did. By 'clean' I mean no sanding, no painting, no gluing, no varnishing.
It was just folding shirts and packing them up in bubble mailers. Living the dream lol.


Ok, back to the here & now...
Right now we're working mainly on portraits. We're doing a few at a time because it helps to switch gears and color palettes and techniques throughout the workweek.
Our studio kinda looks like we're part time FBI profilers. We've got pics of faces taped up all around our desks, we're literally surrounded by photo reference, color swatches, and pages of notes.


This is Elena & Steve. We loved how close up and focused their reference pic was and we thought the little bit of beachy background was a perfect fit with the border color, Tiffany box blue, and their teal and grey clothing.   


Ok, so if we're going with the idea that we're part time FBI profilers, then the other part of our time must to be dedicated to our pet detective agency. We've got adorable pics of cats and dogs, chinchillas, and yes tortoises too, tacked to our walls and bulletin boards. There are close up shots of their name tags, profile shots, shots taken for size comparison to other pets.
And we're those people who cry our eyeballs out after watching a five second video of a girl hugging a donkey. So obviously, we're falling in love with these pets! When you're painting you spend so much time staring into their eyes. You'll literally hear us going "awww" while we're painting.   


This sweetie is our friend Kate's best friend Arrietty. If you know Kate, you know Arrietty. She makes regular appearances on Kate's Instagram, in her videos, blog posts. We've known Arrietty for years and we were thrilled when Kate commissioned the portrait. 

Oh wait, I should explain how our portrait painting works. Ok, so we've got two listings in our shop. One for a single portrait and one for a portrait for two. And if someone wants more than two subjects then they can just contact us through the shop and we'll put together a custom invoice. We get the order, which is a ten dollar deposit, and then we follow up with an invoice for the balance and an email requesting reference pics, and color choices, and theme, possible lettering, etc. So we have no idea who or what we'll be painting until we get those reference pics in our email. Most of the time the requests are pretty straight forward...couples, couples and dogs, single person portraits, kids, cats... But sometimes we get some really fun requests that are bit outside the box.   

A couple highlights: 
-Yes, you read it correctly up above. We'll be painting an unbelievably adorable pair of chinchillas! And it's going to have a Beatrix Potter vibe. Bow tie, monocle, apron, a tiny basket of strawberries. Don't worry, we won't leave you hanging...I promise we'll follow up with pics of that one in a future post!

- And we're doing a girl posed with her fave K-pop star! The best part about painting a celebrity is that you're never short of reference pics. But the downside is that their so recognizable and you hope you can get it right. But we're definitely psyched to do it. Such a fun idea.  


There are so many ways a pet portrait can go but we thought the best way to capture Arrietty would be the classic, close up, posed, straight forward shot. Like a royal portrait, or portrait of a prominent well respected public figure.    


Kate really only gave us one specific. She wanted her name charm to be legible. So that kinda dictated how detailed the overall painting would be. If the half inch sized name tag is going to be legible then you have to make sure that the whiskers are distinct, and show the texture of her coat and catch the highlights in her eyes.


We have paintings of ours hanging around our house that are from decades ago, and this has always been our signature. We don't know many collaborative artist couples. Well we know lots of couples who are artists, but there aren't too many who literally trade brushstrokes on a single painting. Each of us bring something different to the work. Aaron can work on something that's super detailed for hours and hours, and he'll miss some huge detail that was staring him in the face. I'll look over his shoulder and point out something like "hey, I think you forgot the left arm on that pair of glasses." Seriously, a big detail can slip right past you when you're hyper focused. It's so helpful to have two sets of eyes. 


There are all sorts of studies that directly link better mental health with visits to the beach. For us specifically just seeing into the distance is super important. We do so much hyper close-up work. Just look at the pics above. We're staring down at tiny details all day every day. And then we're looking at phone and computer screens. They say that one of the best ways to de-stress is to find a spot where you can look at a very distant horizon. I bet there are some of you who live in rural places that are nothing but distant horizons, but I bet the average person can't remember the last time they looked 13 miles into the distance. Especially if you're staying home at the moment.

   And I know that the beach is a super touchy subject right now.
You'll see on the news that they open the beaches up and then the next day people come in droves. So then they have to close the beaches down again. Sure, some people are being careless, but some people definitely went there with all intentions of staying distant from other people. But if thousands of people all have that same idea it doesn't work. Eventually distancing is impossible because the space is too small for it.

We're lucky that we live three blocks away from a beach that isn't a popular destination. We live on the Bayshore, and when NJ people go to the beach they generally go to the ocean. All of the main tourist spots like Asbury Park, Pt. Pleasant, Seaside Heights, and Wildwood are on the ocean. On our beach we mainly see fishermen standing right at the edge of the water, and they're spread super far apart so that their lines don't get crossed.
Lately the skies have been so much clearer due to less traffic and air travel. So we can see straight across to NY with crystal clarity. We can literally make out the different rides on the Coney Island boardwalk.  


So that's how we get some air and exercise while doing a little bit of mental health maintenance. We also regularly walk between 7 and 9 miles on a local trail on the weekdays. We used to go on the weekends but it's too crowded now and it doesn't feel safe. But on weekday mornings we're virtually all alone. 

And speaking of alone...we're actually very lucky that we're never really alone. 
We just celebrated our anniversary on May 9th. It's been a loooong time! Lets just say that we've been together for more than two decades, but less than three. I think this was the first time that we didn't go out and do something. Usually we'd take a daytrip down the shore or to NYC, go shopping, and eat a ton of stuff. But those options were out. 

So we did what anyone would do to celebrate a big anniversary at home - We cleaned our bedroom from top to bottom, lol. 
  
We did the whole thing...like when you take the whole bed apart and put it out into the hall, and vacuum everywhere, and dust off twenty pairs of shoes, throw out old sweaters, freshen up the paint on the bed frame, hang curtains, put a fresh coat of gold paint on our closet doors...
 And we made it extra romantic by playing a mix of hiphop songs that came out the year we got together. ha!
But we did cook some good stuff, and more importantly, we baked an amazing cake. It actually was a depression era recipe that requires the most basic, shelf stable ingredients. And it's some of the best cake you'll ever have! I promise. Recipe post to follow soon.

Ok, we really can't keep you any longer. And if you have read this far then you are awesome. And if you do like our blog, don't feel scared to get invested. We've got at bunch of future posts already planned...recipes, room makeovers, home projects, crafty projects, a doll house, laying tile, painting walls and murals, all that kind of stuff.

Thanks so so much for reading! 
Stay safe out there!
Love from the Jersey Shore,
xo Jenny & Aaron



Comments

  1. Happy belated anniversary!!! Sooooo does that mean you started dating while still in diapers?? LOL! You both look TOO young to have been together that long! :) I love love love the catching up post!! The world has completely changed since the last time you posted. Loving your portraits ... it is on my bucket list to have one done of my Mr. Dandy (who passed away 11/26/19) by you two ... someday soon!! :)

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    1. Heyyy Julie!! Great seeing you here! HAHA! Thanks so so much!

      Yeah...It all seems like a really crazy dream doesn't it? Would any of us have believed it if we heard this would be happening? It's all too much. Hoping it ends soon. Thanks so much for the kind words about the portraits! We are really loving working on them!! We would LOVE to do something special with Mr. Dandy! We'll be here!! XOXO

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  2. I'm so glad you're back to blogging! I love seeing what you're working on. Happy anniversary!!

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    1. Hey Cadry!! Thanks so much for popping in!! And thanks! We are excited to be back to blogging. We have so many different types of projects in the works. We figured maybe someone would like to see them! Having the blog to come to is also a great way to balance all the weirdness in life right now. A little place to dump some feelings and maybe connect with friends. Thanks again! Be safe & Well! xoxo

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  3. My friends! I'm so glad to see a new blog post. I need to get on it myself. So glad you are keeping safe and sane, and are still able to walk on the beach a little. Here in LA, the mayor just opened up the city parks and I'm able to hike up and look out and it is really helpful for my mental health. I look forward to reading your updates! xoxox.

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    1. Katieee! Hiiii! Thanks!!! Yeah, having the beach, trails and parks is such good medicine. We told ourselves that if it ever seemed too packed we would turn around and come home and try again a different day. So far it's been ok. Who knows what summer will be like. This is all so weird. Just gotta do our best. Be safe & Well!! XOXO

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Thanks so much for reading! We absolutely love to hear from you guys...so please leave a comment if you'd like, or if you have any questions for us about a recipe, project, art supply , paint color, etc. Don't panic if your comment doesn't appear right away...we moderate all comments to avoid getting tons of spam. Thanks again!!
xo Jenny & Aaron

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