Monday, December 19, 2011

Jen's Coffee Window

Greetings friends! I hope that you are enjoying and making the most out of this fun, festive, and frantic time of year. I am packing up the car today, in preparation for my 6 hour trek up north tomorrow. Not looking forward to the drive, but looking forward to the time with friends and family.

The eye-catching collage that you see here was created by my artist pal Kari McDonald. She has challenged herself to make a collage a day for a year. I'm humbled that Kari took her inspiration for this this piece from my own work! I love the little pops of yellow amongst the neutral palette and her crazy good paper cutting. Look at those chair legs and back. Some mighty fine exacto work! Did you notice the text in the bottom right corner? She uses lots of vintage ephemera like this in her work. Sometime in 2012, Kari will be exhibiting her 365 collages all together. I can't wait to see this momentous show!

"Jen's Coffee Window" and Kari's other collages can be seen on her blog and flickr page. She also sells her fun repurposed vintage button jewelry and accessories at The Paper Button and her  handmade etchings, lithographs and screen prints at The Paper Button Press on Etsy. Please patronize my talented friend! 

Don't forget to enter my giveaway over on the Mrs. Monologues blog!  Last day to enter is Tuesday, December 20th.

Ta-Ta and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thrifty Gift Wrap

Greetings Friends! It's all Christmas at the Johansson house right now.  I leave to go up to Rockford for the holidays on Tuesday, so I'm getting all of my gift buying,  making and wrapping completed this week.

I have always enjoyed wrapping presents and aspire to make each one a little work of art. I also try to be somewhat "green" about my wrapping, reusing and re-purposing papers and ribbons from year to year. All my relatives know to hand the salvageable ribbons/bows over to me when we are opening presents.

This year a spent a whopping $4.25 on wrapping supplies. $4.00 went to a roll of brown craft paper.  This is my go-to wrapping paper and I really don't use anything else. I like its earthy, neutral tone and by changing out the ribbon, I can make it work for any occasion. The remaining $0.25 went to a bag of vintage sewing notions that I picked up at a thrift store a while back. There was lace, rick-rack, and seam binding in a variety of colors and all in its original packaging. Score!

I'm not all that big into bows, so I tend to wrap the ribbons around the packages to create stripes.  I then tie or tape the ribbons on the underside of the packages. It's not all that pretty on the back side, but it's the front that matters anyways right?

This is my mom's birthday gift.  (Her birthday is December 19th.) I just taped on the fake flower that I found in my trusty wrapping materials box, added some criss-crossed ribbon in complementary colors (also from my box) and voila!

I used a Crown Royal bag to wrap up this gift. I've got a small arsenal of these and have re-used them several times in a variety of manners. They are great for a rolled up t-shirt, jewelry, lotions, candles, etc.

How did/are you going to wrap up your holiday gifts this year? I'd love to see what you did.  Feel free to leave me a link in the comments so I can check it out!

Happy Holidays folks! Ta-ta for now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Giveaway at Mrs. Monologues!

Hello Friends!

I'm hosting a giveaway over at the Mrs. Monologues blog.  You can win a Sitting Serenity Card Set, Glitzy Gift Tags, and a 5x7 floral print. Woo!

Run right over and enter! 

Ta-Ta for now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Sketchbook Project - Pages 10-13

Greetings friends!

I've done quite a bit of drawing in the past few weeks and have several new pages completed in my 2012"Sketchbook Project" sketchbook.

This one was inspired by an NPR story about designing a hiking trail with switchbacks. 

 Only a few pages left and then I'll be ready to send it off to the Brooklyn Art Library and the Sketchbook Project tour! 

See my whole sketchbook on my Flickr page. 

In other news, I've been so busy that I never got around to taking my Etsy shoppe off of "Black Friday" sale mode, so you're in luck! I've decided to continue shipping anything in my shoppe for FREE until December 19th. Wa-hoo! Go shop! 

Ta-Ta for now.

Monday, November 28, 2011

CYBER MONDAY! The Sale Continues!

Greetings friends! I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend.

We traveled up to Rockford and celebrated with both Matt's family and mine. (Did I ever tell you that our parents live 2 blocks away from each other? Crazy!) We got to eat a little at both houses. Here are my highlights:  Grandma Vicki's (Matt's mom) sourdough bread stuffing, my mom's Italian sausage bread, my cousin Breana's banana cream pie, and Matt sister Carrie's salted caramel cheese cake. I love my carbs!

We also traveled to Chicago to celebrate my parent's 37th wedding anniversary with them. We shopped, saw a spectacular show (Memphis) and had a dinner I'll never forget at  Rick Bayless's Topolobampo. Our 5 course tasting menu with wine pairings included genius combinations like Foie Gras and sherry, Wagyu ribeye and black mole, bittersweet chocolate cake chocolate-red wine sorbet. The wait staff was incredible and went out of their way to accommodate Matt's food allergies. What a night!

On the Etsy front, my weekend sale continues!

All of my shoppe listings are set up with free shipping, but you have to do a little work to get the 20% discount. Hop on over to my Papernstitch exhibition to score that one, and do check out the other fab artists there while you're there.

Happy shopping! Ta-Ta for now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

12 Months of Cozy

Happy Early Thanksgiving friends!

Matt and I are about to get in the car and make a 6 hour trek up north to celebrate the holiday with the family. I can't wait for stuffing, potatoes and pie!

I'm pleased to present my newest creation to you today.....Ta-Da!

My 2012 Wall Calendar features 12 months of cozy! Each month includes a comfortable little room piece, that reflects the particular season.  The pages measure 8.5" x 11" so you get a nice big image and a considerable amount of space to write. I did all of the printing myself with pigment inks on a nice archival matte paper.

I decided to leave the pages loose, so they can be configured and hung in a variety of ways. Display them all at once and fill a whole wall, use a magnet to display a page at a time on the fridge, or just use the included binder clip to hang the calendar on a hook or nail.

The Cozy Calendar is available for sale in my Etsy shoppe and will also be available at the Rockford Art Museum gift shop. (I've also got cards, gift tags and prints there!)  And while we're at it, do check out my exhibition on Papernstitch. There is a discount code there you can apply to any purchase in my shoppe. Woo!  

Well, Happy Turkey! Check back tomorrow to find out about my Black Friday Sale.  Ta-Ta.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I don't know where to start this blog post. There are so many questions, frustrations, and fears running through my head.

As my regular blog readers know, my life is in transition.  There's been a big move, and a job resignation in the last month, and I'm struggling to find my way. Now it's not been all bad. I love our new home and locale. I'm happy to have the luxury of time, to really concentrate on me and my art, following through on some ideas I've never had the time to pursue in the past. But a month into this transition, I'm starting to worry.

We moved to Carterville for Matt's dream job. He truly knows that he is in the right place, and he's doing what he was meant to do. He tells me that work doesn't feel like "work" anymore. I have to admit, I'm a little jealous of him. Matt wants me to be as happy as he is in his work, and upon moving,  it was our plan that I stay home for a time, trying to figure out my next move. We can comfortably make it on one income at the moment.  So, the full-time soul searching began.

Since graduating college some 13 years ago, I have always held a full-time job and supported myself.  It's been a little difficult to wrap my brain around the idea that I'm now dependent upon my husband. I know it shouldn't bother me and some would certainly envy my position, but not being self-sufficient bruises my ego. I want to feel like a partner with Matt, not a dependent. (Does that sound familiar Mom and Dad?)

Though I have had a successful and mostly fulfilling career as I teacher, my heart is no longer in it. I've always felt like there is something more for me out there.  The more time I've spent making art over the years and the more success I've had in my creative endeavors, I knew that I'd like to find a way to make art my full time gig. Art is me. I honestly can say that it's vital to my existence. I don't feel quite right if I go too long without making something with my hands. I've set out to make this dream a reality. Now is the time.

For the past month, my days have been devoted to building up my art business and beefing up my online presence. In my mind, I have to have an outlet for sales year-round and I just can't depend on art fairs and holiday markets. Much of my time has been spent working on my Etsy shoppe, my blog and other social media outlets. I'm blogging regularly, making and posting new work. I've considered purchasing my own domain and paying someone to custom design my blog and business cards to make my online presence more polished and legit.  I'm doing all the things that the online handmade business gurus tell you to do. I'm starting to wonder if all this time and effort I'm devoting to this is worthwhile. (Yes, I know I may be jumping the gun here, but that's just the way I am. Impatience rules my life! Please don't tell me that I should meditate, do yoga, get therapy, get a life.....I've heard it all before.)

Take this anecdote. Today I listed a new print in my shop. Offline, I have gotten a lot of positive feedback about this particular work. (For example, juror at a big time art fair gave me big props about it!) I was excited to list this and have something new into my shoppe for the first time in a long time. I wrote a big blog post about this new work, tweeted, and facebooked about it. I even decided to offer this piece as a discounted price, to see if would draw in some buyers. (It's been almost 3 months since I've had a sale in my Etsy shop. Barf.)  And after devoting a good chunk of my morning to this new piece what happens????? NOTHING! 4 views on the listing in 8 hours, 8 views on the blog post, no sales, no comments, no nothing.  Believe me when I say that I know there are many factors that contribute to my lack of feedback. Maybe I'm tweeting out links at the wrong time, maybe I'm overwhelming my Facebook Fans, maybe my online range is lacking......And then there's Etsy's new default relevancy search. After much reading, re-tagging, and editing of listings, I still can't seem to find the Etsy "magic bullet" that makes my listings relevant. My shoppe used to receive 100 or more views a day and enough sales to give me a little extra spending money without me really even trying. Now, post-etsy changes, I struggle to get 20 views a day and sales are non-existent! To add even more insult to injury, I paid a pretty sizable fee to take part in a well know online exhibition, to spread my online presence even further. I didn't expect miracles but I expected a slight boost. And how many views has this brought to my shoppe in the last 2 days? A whopping 3!!! Can you feel the frustration in my typing?????

I fully realize that  I can't "put all my eggs in the Etsy basket", that I am not the only one who is struggling to make sales on Etsy and that I have suffered from Etsy droughts in the past.  I also know that should not take all of this personally, equating online success to self worth,  but I can't help but feel frustrated and upset! It makes me question my work, its quality, content and style. It makes me question what others are doing right that I am doing wrong. It makes me wonder if I need to find something else to spend my time on.

Now, don't worry I'm not going to stop making art. I just get a little insane at times and I had to get it out. Here are some things I do know and understand about myself and this little manic moment. 
  • I know that my art sells well in person. I made a killing at my last outdoor art fair! (That was back in September though, so the thrill is gone.) 
  • I have always put undue pressure on myself and likewise suffer from a little thing called Depression and Anxiety. (Woo! I'm really laying all of my cards on the table now!) Even though I take medication that manages my condition very well, I still can find myself in the "black hole" on occasion, and I'm kind of in one now.
  • Being by myself every day probably isn't helping either. I am a people person and I crave interaction others. (Shayla Maddox just wrote an article about this very topic on Jessica Doyle's blog.)
So, where do I go from here?

I'm feeling better by just writing this post. I felt compelled to get this out there and off my chest. I will probably back away from my online life for a moment and concentrate on getting ready for an upcoming holiday show. I'll start looking for some type of job, maybe substitute teaching, just to give me some social interaction and time to get out of my own head. And, most importantly, I'll still make. Hopefully this too shall pass.

Ta-Ta for now.

New Print and It's on Sale!

Greetings Friends!

I've got a brand new print in the shoppe today! "Color to Live" is an archival 8" x 8" art print that features LeCorbusier's iconic LC2 chairs.

Le Corbusier (who's real name was Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris) was a master of Modern design. He was interested in making clean-lined, efficient yet attractive furniture and architecture.

My most favorite of Le Corbusier's designs is Villa Savoye. Constructed in 1929-30 outside of Paris, he called this home a "machine for living." Although it looks severe, and kind of crazy, there was a reason for every design decision he made. The curve of the lower level interior space was designed around the turning radius of a car. The interior space is filled with windows and it flows almost seamlessly into the outdoor courtyard.

I just adore this lego model of the Villa!

Art History lesson over. Back to my art! To celebrate the arrival of this new print in my shoppe, I'm offering this for only $15 ($5 off regular price!) "Color to Live" will only be available at this discounted price until Monday, November 28th. So hurry on over and buy!  And while you're at it, head on over to my Papernstitch exhibition for another discount! Woo.

Ta-Ta for now! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Find me on Papernstich!

Good morning friends!

I'm  excited to be part of the new holiday Papernstitch exhibition that opens today.

As proprietor Brittni Melhoff states, "Papernstitch is a curated, online exhibition space that was created to promote talented artists, designers, and makers selling handmade goods. The exhibition space is curated monthly and showcases the best of the best on an international level. Hence our tagline: hand-picked. handmade. Handmade expert, Brittni searches high and low every month for the best quality goods so you don’t have to."

It really is a beautiful shopping site and blog!

My Papernstitch exhibition is connected to my Etsy shoppe, so you can buy anything you see in the exhibition. During the run of the exhibition, I will be offering a sweet discount on anything in my shoppe My exhibition and discount run through December 7th.  Head on over to Papernstitch and check it out now!

Ta-Ta for now! 


Monday, November 14, 2011

The Wright Inspiration

It's a little known fact that there is a Frank Lloyd Wright Home in Rockford.  I myself just found out of its existence in the last year. 

Built in 1949 for Mr & Mrs. Kenneth H. Laurent, and it is the only Wright house still occupied by its original owners. This one story Usonian style home was designed to be totally handicapped accessible, as Mr Laurent is wheelchair bound. 

The Laurents have been trying to sell their home for some time now and there is a growing interest in turning this piece of history into a house museum. Doc Slafkosky and Jerry Kortman, my pals at JR Kortman Center for Design have organized a group exhibition of FLW inspired work to bring attention to this treasure in our midst. 15 killer local artists, including moi will be exhibiting work for this show.  I have created 2 pieces.

Both of my pieces feature chairs that Wright designed for the Laurent House. These chairs were part of a lot of furniture auctioned off in June of 2011.  I used my usual paper and Bic pen approach.

“The Wright Inspiration: Art, Design, and the Laurent House” exhibition opens Friday, November 25th with a reception from 5 to 10pm in the Kortman Gallery. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend this. (Boo! Gallery openings at Kortman's are always a blast!) 

The show will run through the end of the year (I'm not sure exactly when it will come down) and can be viewed any time the store is open.  Store hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am – 6pm, and Sundays (in December) 1 – 5pm.

All of the work in the show is for sale. Art makes a great gift! Hope you can come out and support local artists and a local treasure.

Ta-Ta for now!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Jennifer Mullin Johansson

For 35 years, I was Jennifer Mullin. It was me, my family, my art. Before getting married this summer, I thought long and hard about keeping my name. It wasn't that I didn't want to take Matt's name......Jennifer Johansson has a nice ring to it! But, as many marrieds know, a name change is not an easy undertaking. Not only would I have to change my name on my bank accounts, credit cards and drivers license but I would have to rebrand myself as an artist.

People knew Jennifer Mullin as a mixed media artist. My blog, email, and etsy shoppe all carried my Mullin name. I worried that changing my name could hurt my brand recognition. Who is this Jennifer Johansson?

In the end, I knew that becoming a Johansson would mean a lot to Matt, who also recently changed his name. Matt's birth name is Johnson and he was tired of this ubiquitous, almost generic name. (He was one of 3 Matthew Johnsons at his former job!) This spring he decided to change his name back to its original Swedish spelling that his great-grandfather used when he emigrated to the U.S.  So now, I'm a Swede too!

I have slowly been changing things over to my new name.

Etsy just recently enabled a shop name change feature, so you can now find me at:

This blog address has also been changed.  Be sure to update your bookmarks with the new address:
(Note the "m" in between Jennifer and Johansson.)

My Facebook Fan Page:

I wasn't able to secure a twitter handle in my new name so you can still find me here:

My Flickr photostream address has remained the same:

Did I miss anything? So many different addresses! Someday I will secure my own domain name and simplify.

OK, time to get outside and enjoy this 70 degree November day.  Crazy!

Ta-Ta for now!

Friday, November 4, 2011

New Surroundings

Illinois map
Vintage map from Maral Sassoun's Flickr Photostream

Greetings from Southern Illinois! Just about 2 weeks ago, I quit my job, packed up all of our belongings in Rockford (up north, right on the border between Illinois and Wisconsin) and Matt and I moved 366 miles south to Carbondale. Though we are still in Illinois, it feels like a whole another world down here!

Carbondale is a truly southern town. Things move a little slower, you hear a lot of southern drawls and country music. That renowned sense of "southern hospitality" pervades and barbeque is big. Our local news comes from Paducah, Kentucky and Cape Girardeau, Missouri and the closest big cities are St. Louis, Missouri and Memphis, Tennessee.

Unlike our hometown, the locals here are proud to call Southern Illinois home. They tell Matt and I about their lakes, hiking trails, art, university,  schools, and wineries (YIPPEE!!!) We are excited to be here and explore our new home.

So why did we move to Southern Illinois? Matt's new job with the Illinois Education Association (teacher's union) brought us down south.  I am currently playing the role of "housewife" while I set up our new house and figure out what I am going to do with my life. Though I do miss my babies (students) at school, I don't know if I will go back to teaching. I would love to make art a full time gig. Maybe this is the time and place to do it!

Once we get the condo all done up, I'll share some pics of our new space.

More soon! Ta-ta for now.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Sketchbook Project Update

Greetings Friends! So much to tell you so little time! Be on the lookout for a stream of new blog posts.

I have been diligently working in my "Along the Line" themed sketchbook for the 2011 "Sketchbook Project. Here are the first 6 pages.

I've been using the "along the line" theme quite literally. The line started on the inside cover has flown through each drawing.  Each drawing picks up where the line ended on the previous page.  As the paper in this sketchbook is a bit on the thin side,  I've decided to do the majority of the drawing on the right side of each spread.

Anyone else doing a Sketchbook Project sketchbook? I'd love to see it!

Next up on the blog: the big move!


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Sketchbook Project 2012

I just finished up my most recent Moleskine sketchbook. This is my last page. 

This Bic pen drawing does a good job visually illustrating my life at the moment. Busy, crazy, overwhelmed are some common words in my vocabulary as of late. (More about this in the weeks to come!) 

Now that I've finished up my Moleskine, I can get started on my The Sketchbook Project sketchbook that I received in the mail this weekend.  

The sketchbook has 32 pages that measure 5.25" x 7.25".  It's a little larger than I'm used to, as my Molskines are just 3.5" x 5.5".  I should soon have more time on my hands, so I'm sure I'll be able to adapt to the larger size.

When signing up for  The Sketchbook Project, you choose from one of 30 or so themes as a jumping off point for your sketches. I chose "Along the line".  Seemed pretty apropos for me and my very linear, often maze like doodles.

I have until Jan 31, 2012 to complete the sketchbook and mail it back to the Art House Coop. As noted on The Sketchbook Project website:
  • "It's like a concert tour, but with sketchbooks. Thousands of sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the world. After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view."
I'm really excited to be a part of this and hope to make it to the Chicago tour stop in May.

I will be chronicling my progress in my sketchbook here on my blog and on my Flickr photostream.  Be sure to harass me if you don't see me posting!

Happy Columbus Day. Ta-Ta for now!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Times, they are a changin'

Well hi! I've missed you!

Since my last post, so much has happened! Let me give you a quick low-down:
  • School is back in full swing and I am now teaching with my beloved former art teacher.  We make a great team!
  • After 6 months on the market, I finally gave up trying to sell my house but rented it out to a friend instead. I'm glad to have it occupied for the winter.
  • Matt said adios to teaching and has accepted a new job as a uniserv director with the Illinois  Education Association.
  • I've said goodbye to my lovely and trusty Volkswagen Jetta. (Matt got a new car and I inherited his Honda Element.)
  • I rocked it at a local art fair and sold a lot of work!
  • I've scored a killer art commission.
  • I celebrated a birthday and now am half way through my 30's. (How did I get so old?) 
  • There's a move in the works! 
Well, you should be hearing from more regularly now that life looks to be slowing down a little bit. I'll leave you with a few newbies I made for my last show.  Ta-Ta!

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Art and Loosening Up

Greetings art fans! I just finished this piece and boy,  was it a struggle. There is so much going on, so much detail and tedium that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull it all together. But I hung on and finished it up. Now that it's done, and I've had some time to really look at it,  I'm happy with it. "Happily ever after" will join 5 other pieces in my new and still unnamed chair card collection. Once I have a name for this set, I'll be sure to share it here and make good on my offer of a free set of cards for the person who comes up with its name.

I was pretty burnt out after finishing "Happily ever after" and I felt the need to loosen up artistically. I wanted to do something fun and free, that I didn't have to think too much about. "Loose" is a little out there, but it was fun to make. I think there might be a few more of these in my future.

I plan to get back into the studio today. So much to do before the Greenwich Village show in one month's time!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Best Wedding Gift Ever!

My dear friend and fellow artist Jeanne Ludeke gave us this amazing, original painting as a wedding gift. She is so talented! I literally screamed when I opened this up. Wow!

I have been in the studio much of the day today cranking out a new piece. I hope to have something to show you soon.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Art: Favorite Place

I finished another Eames piece last night. "Favorite Place" features the Eames molded plastic chair.  

Hands down, my favorite place to be is at home. Though I do like to travel and explore,  my home calls out to me if I'm gone too long. Yep, I'm a homebody!

Where is your favorite place?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crafted to Last

Matt's love of Scandinavian design has certainly influenced my own design sensibilities.  I find myself more and more drawn to the clean lines and simple forms signature in modern design.

My latest piece features the mid-century modern classic Eames Molded Plywood Chair.  Designed in the 1940's by husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames, this innovative design still looks fresh and modern today.

"Crafted to Last" measures just 6" x 6" and was created with paper, adhesive and a good ole Bic pen. This one of a kind work is mounted on a 1.5" deep cradled wooden box and comes ready to hang. It is finished with a protective UVA/UVB coating, so that the papers and ink won't fade over time.

"Crafted to Last" is available for sale in my Etsy shoppe.  Stay tuned for my Eames chair varietals soon!

Ta-Ta for now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I need your help dear Readers!

Ciao friends. It's another sweltering hot day here. The weatherman is predicting 100 degrees with a heat index of 114. Eww! The only good thing about this heat is that it keeps me inside, working on art.

So I have a favor to ask of you, dear readers. I've created a new set of cards, and I'm having trouble coming up with a name for this collection. I'm hoping that you might be able to help me with this. (There's a chance at a free set of these new cards in it for you!)

So, I'm a big fan of alliteration, and my other card sets are aptly titled the "Funky Floral" , "Tempting Tree" and "Comfy Chair" collections.  I'm hoping to come up with a catchy alliteration for this new set as well.

The new cards feature some of my most recent chair/room pieces that were all created with just paper, scissors, adhesive and my trusty Bic pen. Included are:

 "Wish I Could"

"It's easy to be around you"

"Meant to Be"

  "Picture This"  and "Design Your Dream".

Each of these images has a sparse, clean lined and modern look. I would like the name to reflect that. Can you help me out? 

If you have a title suggestion, please leave it as a comment on this post. If I choose your title idea, I will send you a set of these new cards, so please make sure there is a way for me to contact you. Thanks so much for your help! Stay cool! 

Ta-ta for now.