It's Looking a Lot Like Christmas {Here at the Cottage}

...this is the first thing you see when you walk in my bedroom. A Christmas tree, my pretend fireplace, and the rocking chair where I rock my grandbabies. Plural. I am now the proud owner of two.

Or maybe they own me.

I'm quite busy, decking these halls. This fumpty nest (both full, and empty) is getting its holiday groove going, big time.

Christmas tree in the Master Suite?

Yes. Yes, indeed.

Sheila Atchley
All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

New In the Shop - Little Bits of Beauty and Goodness



Available in my shop...

...and a big shout-out and a thank you to my beautiful friend Wendy Cantrell for the suggestion!

Grace and peace to you,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Small Business Season Discount!

This is the season to support small businesses, and local artists, versus Wal-Mart, where much is made in China.

To celebrate my first Christmas in business, I am offering a 30% discount on EVERY item in my shop....every print, every original, every collection, all jewelry.

I will not be having a sale in my shop every other week. You might see three a YEAR, because I only paint or create what I love, so if one or three things don't sell, I am beyond content to let art hang in my home or send it to my brick-and-mortar retailer, or wear the jewelry myself. No fire sales at Sheila Atchley Designs. No need.

So this is my first sale, my first ever discount, and it is through Monday.

Please peruse My shop and see if there's anything you or a friend would love to have. Then just type in "smallbusiness30" at checkout.

One of a kind original art, and jewelry pieces. You cannot find these things at any price in any mall...and you know....I love that.

I truly love that. Made in the United States. By yours truly.

It's a good cause, people!


Written for you with love...

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Sold Before She Could Be In The Shop...


Another "In The Middle" girl has sold...literally, the paint wasn't dry on her.  She sold right off of Facebook.
Everyone celebrates beginnings, and they commemorate endings, but the middle gets lost in the...well, the middle.  Particularly, few celebrate the beauty of the middle age woman.  I aim to change that, both in life and in art.  Thus, the birth of my "In The Middle" art theme.  ("Mercy In The Middle" is also the title of the message I spoke, at the Master Builder's National Conference - our church's network - in Florida, back in '03.  I plan on making that message available via MP3 download soon...)
The middle is what you make of it.  If you need a little perspective, I would be privileged to help you see the beauty inherent in your middle.
Two other of my girls did make it to the shop today (they weren't featured on Facebook).  They aren't "In the Middle" girls, but I think you'll find them lovely just the same...

"Shared Secrets"...and...

"She Cut Her Own Hair"...(subtitle, "Crowning Glory)

"Shared Secrets" made me smile, but "She Cut Her Own Hair" made me laugh out loud.  I don't know where she came from, I promise.  She may or may not be autobiographical.  I may or may not have needed to reassure myself one day recently.  I so love the crown that sits on top of her "Crowning Glory".
Both these 5x5 mixed media originals are available in my shop.

Enough about me...what do you think about my hair?

(All intellectual and visual art property entitled "In The Middle", featured on this blog and in my shop, belongs to Sheila Atchley Designs. Thanks for respecting that... )

"Thanksgiving and Advent" wait, this should be "Sheila Atchley Is a Walking Blooper" (W.E.L.L. Being - a Video Weblog Series)

Happy, happy Thanksgiving to all my friends - new and old.  What a blessed year this has been so far - I've made so many new friends in the art world.  And in other worlds.

Um...other areas.  I've made friends in other arenas, such as business and nonprofit and ministry.  My friends are all earthly.  Let me repeat:  I have no alien friends.

Nevermind.  Another installment in my W.E.L.L. Being Video Weblog Series

Lillian Has A New Home

...the Lillian Collection has sold. She will soon be shipped out of the country. I confess, I am a bit nostalgic about it, as I named this collection after my great-grandmother, Lillian Marie McCommons.

She's the first collection I ever made...and I was so afraid to begin deconstructing all my vintage pieces (bought at an estate sale, at what for me was a dear price) and reinterpreting them into new, original designs. I created the Lillian first...before the Aidyn and the Kaitlyn Marie and the others...because I was so partial to the elements I created her with...the crystal bracelet, vintage earring, and vintage pocket watch. From the earrings to the tassel on the end of that watch-pendant, the Lillian is stunning and beautiful.

The woman who wears her must wear her with grace and must be....or become...confident of her own innate beauty....the Lillian simply comes with that sort of mojo all over her. She'll make that wearer feel so special....because Lillian knows there isn't another piece of jewelry like her, anywhere in the whole world. She was resurrected literally from the dust of a huge old box, redesigned, remixed, and given a brand new life, and she is a work of art that is completely, completely unique. You cannot buy her at any price in any department store.

She's born from the heart.

I love that. Call me imaginative, but I believe she'll impart a blessing to the wearer.

Written for you with love...

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Oatmeal-Cherry-Chocolate Cookies

Credit for this recipe must go to the sweet Kimberly Taylor of Kimberly Taylor Images. I discovered it via the online class "Creatively Made Home", the lovely Jeanne Oliver has outdone herself putting these classes together...I have been so inspired by everything I've seen there.

So here is my riff on Kimberly's awesome recipe....

First, take your own picture, because you are. that. girl. You are a goober-blogger-geek. Own it. Work it.

Gather your ingredients...unbleached flour, oats, salt, baking soda, flaxseed (grind it first)

(No grits in this cookie lemon either...the grits sit there, and the lemon went in my water earlier...). Eggs, brown sugar, regular sugar, dried cherries, dark chocolate chips, vanilla, and walnuts...

Toast the walnuts and chop them super-fine...

Mix your dry ingredients ( salt, baking soda, flour and oats)

Cream your butter and sugar...

Toss your chocolate, walnuts, and dried cherries into your dry ingredients...then add your dry ingredients half at a time (mixing avoid a flour explosion)

Hear your KitchenAid make that satisfying sound...working hard...

Get your scoop out, sistah. Go big or go home. No sissy cookies allowed.

I mean big...

Bake 'em at 350 for about 15 minutes...

Cool on wire racks, and serve these guilt free to your family. Walnuts? Superfood. Oats? Superfood. Flaxseed? Suuuupahfood, baybay. Cherries? Yeah.

Sugar? Evil in excess, a blessing in moderation. Try having one cookie, not three.

This is what happens when your preacher jacks your iPad and forces you to pose. And for the record, I am from East Tennessee...and what you have heard is true...we drink our corn from a jar.

Just kiddin'.

The recipe:

2C. Unbleached flour
2C. Oatmeal
1/4C. Ground flaxseed
1tsp. Baking soda
1/2tsp. Salt
1C. Softened butter
1C. Brown sugar
1/2C. Regular sugar
2 eggs
2tsp. Vanilla

Add dry ingredients to wet, then toss in:

1C. Chocolate chips
1/2C. Dried cherries
1/2C. Walnuts

Combine and bake.

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual/visual art property...

A Peek At the Sketchbook

So that big, beautiful leather sketchbook I have? The one with the 140 lb. cold press watercolor, hand deckled paper?

It is getting pretty full. I am more than halfway into it. The sketchbook was a gift from my daughter Sarah and her husband Jonathan, and they just couldn't have known how wonderful a gift it was...I didn't know myself when I got it. All I knew is that it was a work of art all by itself. I didn't yet know it would be the most important tool in my arsenal, and a means of discovery and self expression unlike anything I had ever encountered before.

A sketchbook is to an artist what stretching and walking are to a jogger or runner. It warms you up. It leaves you with a history of ideas and color combinations and techniques attempted, and techniques mastered. And techniques epically botched.

You do have to overcome any anxiety about "messing up". You do have to understand that paper is the safe place TO mess up. You don't want to mess up a beautiful 20 x 20 deep edged hand stretched canvas. You want to make your mistakes on paper, in that art journal...or sketchbook...whatever you want to call it.
Today's art journaling:

I am still exploring the theme of "In The Middle"....celebrating the beauty of middle age, with my art.

Above, you see a background of three colors, acrylics, rolled on with a brayer. You want spotty is part of the overall look I like to achieve. Then, I gesso'ed the general area I knew I wanted to place my girl.

As I am doing all this, I am pondering things I've read in Scripture, thinking of other women I know, and being grateful for my own, one beautiful life. I am hearing the Lord speak over me, and I have to choose to believe what it is He says about me...and believe it enough to put it down in the form of art...for all to see...and mock...or admire...or resonate with...or not.

Tough stuff, this being an artist. Baring my own soul in this way is far harder than using words alone.

After gesso'ing, I come in with pencil and do a general outline. I choose her hairstyle at this point. I decide if she will be a red head or a blonde or short hair or curly or straight. I even did a gorgeous silver haired girl sweet friend Nancy Lyke from south Florida was my inspiration.

Then I use a mix of acrylic and oil pastel to create skin tone. Acrylics first, always. Oil lays down over acrylic but not vice versa. Look back in previous pages of my art journal to see how I found out.

Then I use acrylics to create hair color...two colors, sometimes more. Then a water soluble pencil creates details and always my trademark hair out of place. My girls always have a lock of hair out of me. They do not have faces because they are the face of every woman I have ever known and cared about. "She" could be you...if you want her to be.

Lastly, I use pan pastels and charcoal to create depth and another pop of color.
Then, the message. Always, always words. Words are my first love and my art form. Without words, there are no images for me.

In the above journal two page spread, I wrote, "in her life, the energy of youth and the wisdom of old age met in the middle, and caused new things to spring up from her beautiful heart continually..." Then I added the heart and the butterflies...because the girl on the page wanted it to be so.

That is a peek and a walk-through of my process. None of it is perfect. It doesn't have to be.

It just has to be.

Being is enough. Being creates the doing. Grace plus nothing. You pretty much have to have the soul of an artist to understand.

New Vintage Jewelry Design Collections!

Finally, they are ready...and available in my shop...

The Aidyn Collection!

A mix of vintage and new elements, in a necklace, ring, and earrings...

hand painted details on the pendant and ring...with a gorgeous tassel


...the Kaitlyn Marie.

She's also a mix of vintage and new elements...necklace with vintage cameo, vintage cameo ring, and vintage earrings (that used to be elements in a 1940's bracelet)...


...and my favorite...the Lillian Collection.

A vintage, non working pocket watch, with beautiful elements also on the other side of it...truly, this is gorgeous on both sides.  With a real, antique crystal bracelet incorporated into the necklace...a glass bead vintage ring (used to be an earring) and earrings that compliment the entire collection.

I would be happy never to part with this collection!

There is more...much, much more.  Visit my shop to see...

Happy Christmas shopping!

New In The Shop

...the latest in my "Mercy In The Middle" She-Art series:

(click on image, to see it slightly enlarged...)

At the bottom, it says, "In her life, youth and old age met in the middle and clothed her with strength and honor..."

All around her (who is you, my beautiful middle-age friend) the hand written script says, "Strength and honor are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come..."

She is 10x20, gallery wrapped, rendered in Pan Pastels, acrylics, oil pastels, Marks-All pencils, and shades of lavender, cream, blue, and burnt umber...on a background of truly antique book and hymnal pages (versus digitally reproduced) and vintage wallpaper.

She is also trimmed in beautiful upholstery tacks, all around her edges.

She'll be priced at $175, shipping included to all lower 48 states. If you are out of the country (as several of my customers have been) just email me and I will see what shipping charges would be for your country.

A Little Instagram Love on My Birthday

I plan to assault you with random, unrelated Instagram shots today. I can hear what you are thinking, "Whaddya think this is? Your birthday?"

As a matter of fact...

It sure is. And look what the Lord has given me, already!

...and this...

Love that "Kelvin" effect on Instagram. It's my favorite.

I am literally sipping this, right now, hand delivered by my Pastor. He's caring like that.

Today is also my son-in-love's biggest art show of the year. There was a beautiful write up on him in the paper this week, as he is also FEATURED ARTIST in said large art show. That is an original Jonathan Howe hanging there. With my harvest wheat. And a wooden apple. And candle. And art calendar that features an artist quote and painting every day of the year. And if you've ever hurt me, real bad, you will never be able to have a J. Howe original. We're clannish like that.

Have regrets. Have deep regrets.

Actually, if you just say sorry, he'll paint one for you, too. Far be it from us to hold a grudge. We're friendly like that.

My living room walls are no longer harvest gold! They are the faintest whisper of fog/gray/blue/misty morning. I heart them. And the giant clock. And that houndstooth patterned mustard yellow throw covering my feet in the corner of this shot...

My bed, as it looks most mornings. I know, right? This keeps on getting more riveting with every wanton picture posted.

Slice of life, friends....slice of life. Why is this on my Instagram camera roll? Not entirely sure. I was probably artfully finding the beauty tucked away in the every day, and finding One Thousand Ways to give thanks.

(gratitude to Ann Voskamp for all the stupid pictures I have instagrammed all in the name of #onethousandgifts. Ann, you are my thousand-and-oneth gift. Can't wait for your DVD study!)

Speaking of gifts and gratitude...

He's already a Bible Thumper, just like his Pop Pop.

This was the little grin she saved just for Mimi, late last night. Babysitting this one is a joy...and a challenge...she literally will not let me out of her sight.

Enough about me...

What do you think about my hair?????

I love my birthday. My whole family spoils me rotten, and I am ready to head full tilt into all the festivities, which, from what I can smell, are about to include breakfast in bed.  (Post edit:  The Preacher was actually just making coffee...he took me out to breakfast, instead.  I had a breakfast panini with asiago cheese and egg and bacon.  And more coffee.  Amen.)

My pastor serves me well.