Friday, May 30, 2008

Back to the interviews...Today we have an interview with a very talented and kind woman..Michelle Allen of Allen Designs
Please tell us a little about yourself

I’m 35, married for 15 years, two daughters (13 and 8) and a dog.

And a little about what you do

Ohhhh. What do I do? I’m an artist, I design gift product, paint canvas, create, explore… get distracted! And, I’m a business owner, I manage four employees, cast vision, organize, do wholesale shows, analyze inventory, pay bills and whatever else needs to be done.

I am curious about how you started your business . How did that start and are you surprised at how successful it has become.
(I think I told you that I saw some of your work at a shop here in my small town. I got all excited for you.)

About 15 years ago I decided to go back to school for graphic design. I registered, went to my first day of classes and headed over to the college bookstore. When I was there I saw this amazing book on taking recycled picture frames and turning them into colorful artwork. We were so broke at the time I left that book behind and drove 30 minutes home only with the required books. I couldn’t get that colorful, creative book out of my mind. I finally got back in my car and drove back to the college, dropped the classes, returned the books and bought my “new college class”! I got home and my husband drove me to Home Depot, helped me buy a scroll saw, set it up and showed me how to work it. From there I began making all kinds of misc. things-wall plaques, key holders, greeting cards, clocks, magnets. One thing led to another.

Am I surprised? Yes! I never wanted to be an artist. I watched my mom struggle as an artist all my growing up years. It definitely wasn’t on the top of my “to do” list!

I see that you travel to China for your work. How many times a year do you go and what exactly happens in China?

I go twice a year. The wholesale markets are in the Winter-Jan.& Feb. and Summer-June & July so I go and develop the new lines for each season. I have posted on my blog the past two trips to China and all that goes on while I’m there if you would like to see more detail.

You are a very talented artist, how does it feel to be able to do what you love for a living.

It’s a huge blessing! I can’t imagine doing anything else. My heart aches for people who have to work day in and day out at jobs they don’t enjoy or have a passion for. I have much to be thankful for.

I see that your mom has a blog and that she is also a very talented woman. How has she influenced your art and business?

She’s been a huge inspiration to me in so many ways. When I was young she taught me to draw and to “see”. She’s a hard worker and a problem solver and has modeled that for me my whole life. Like I said earlier I watched my mom struggle as an artist when I was young but she never gave up. Now she’s published and making a living as an artist/author. And, she has always been my #1 cheerleader!

When did you realize that you were a creative soul? And what was the first thing that you created?

I probably started feeling most creative in middle school when I would draw with blue Bic pens tattoos all over my friends arms. Now, having a middle schooler myself, I’m sure their parents were also embracing my creativity!

What most inspires you?

Color and patterns of any sort inspire me. Of late I’ve been spending a lot of time paying attention to things in nature. I am a blog addict so seeing what others are creating makes me want to get my brushes gooey!

Do you have a studio in your home or is everything offsite?

We have 3.5 acres which include our home, a studio where our US made line is produced and everything is shipped out of and a larger shop that houses warehouse space, a woodshop and a smaller studio where I work and Katy my graphics gal works.

You have two daughters, is it hard to manage motherhood, work, and travel? As a mother I am always curious to see how other women deal with these issues.

It was a lot harder when they were younger and crying every time I left for shows or China. The loads of guilt were heavy! I had to always remind myself that when I’m home – I’m home! Now they’re used to the schedule and they always know where to find me.
It will be interesting to see what they say about their mom working when they grow up. I’m sure they’ll be in counseling for something! Lol!

Michelle, I have to say that when ever I read your blog I get such a good feeling. You give off such an amazingly kind energy with your words, pictures and art. It is no wonder that you are such a success as an artist, business woman and a person.
I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day off today-drive hour and half to Dr. appt-some shopping then home.
Planted a ton in my garden-lots of flowers-lots of weed pulling-lots of sunshine and lots of sore muscles.
Finally watched Sweeney Todd.
Still no TV-having a fight with Dish Network-bad customer service
Happy the days are so sunny and long
book- The Saffron Kitchen

Friday, May 23, 2008

Another Friday

Rainy and cold. Riding my bike to work in the rain has actually been fun.
Saves on gas for sure.
I made a hat out of bubble wrap so my head wouldn't get wet on the way home. Well I also made it and wore it to horrify my daughter, but she just rolled her eyes!
Have a great weekend.

Reading-Alice Waters and Chez Pannisse

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Can i show the same picture twice? just a different version

Is time to get back to the interviews and stop with all the junk?
I have been so busy and side tracked lately...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008 – Perspective

"If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. That is the secret. Start right now."
~Sister Chan Khong

Friday, May 16, 2008

"You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world's happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime."
~Dale Carnegie

Today's Affirmation

I treat all persons kindly and with respect.

Today's Meditation

Dear God,

I move into this day with a smile on my lips and a song of praise in my heart.
I pause to remember that You are the core of me, the source of who I am.
I am reminded to let that which is within me shine forth.
A sweet smile, a kind word, a friendly glance or a loving hug; these are my gifts.
I may not remember tomorrow the seed of love I plant today, but someone else will come along to water and tend the seed until it flowers.
There is fertile ground all around me; the clerks at the gas station and grocery store, my co-workers and neighbors, passing motorists on the highway, the server where I will eat lunch, and the stranger on the street.
My intention is to be a roving ambassador for Your love.
Talking about Your great love is not enough, may my life truly reflect Your light to all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You ever notice how your confidence drains out of you as you get older? It is like a battery with the energy slowly draining out.

So, we must have to keep charging ourselves so that we don't lose it all. Learning new things, making new freinds, and the ever popular doing what you love.

Hey, you could be a role model to someone...and who wants a role model with no confidence?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Day all you Mothers

How did i get so lucky to become the mother of the most amazing child? Not only does she love me she actually likes me. last night she told us that she "Loves our Family". That was after I made her do the old fire drill around the car on our way to get ice cream while wearing our pj's and slippers...

Being a mother is something i was never sure if i could do. I am an all or nothing type of person ( i am finding this out after all these years) So, having a child was something i knew would be an extreme emotional take over of my being. Loving something so much that it actually is painful was a scary thing to me. How would i handle all the anxiety that comes with this responsibility?

The hurt feelings, the disappointments, the trying to protect her from any harm? --This has been as hard as I thought, by the way!!--

But, I am slowly learning that I can not race her to "what might happen", that I need to just to be beisde her with all my love and support...(very hard)...I really just want to stop any 'badness' that may be lurking up ahead--but, I am working on it-

Anyway, Mother's day as we all know is really everyday, isn't it??

So Happy Mother's day to you all -

PS -wether you have your own children or not- listening, loving and showing a child you care is the best 'mothering' anyone can do...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Finally it starting to feel like spring. The grass is green and you can see actual buds on the trees.

The bird feeder has been full of birds for two weeks now. We even had a blanket out in the yard last weekend for reading and doing homework and getting some very much missed sun.

My daughter's best friend had braces and now she is getting glasses. Em is beside herself because she wants glasses and braces...isn't it funny that the things that are nearly perfect on her she isn't happy with?? I tried to explain that to her, but no...I told her to get fake glasses..that was dumb!

So Glad it is Friday..this has been a long week and i only walked to work twice...

Still reading Extremely close and Incredibly Loud. I left if for awhile, it is such a cool book, I love the way it is written. If you have the chance you should really try it out I think you will be amazed. Seriously, go get it now.

I need to clean up this site it looks a bit messy!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I went with my friend Megan and we had a photo shoot with the girls. Megan needed models for her web site. The girls had a blast with all the fluffy cinderella dresses. I tried to learn some stuff. It was a fun day and we got some cute pictures. As you can see below.

I still have only processed two pics i will work on more this weekend. Time has just been flying by and haven't had a chance to post anything too interesting, sorry...

Work has even been really busy which is great as it makes the day easier to deal with.

My friend and I are trying to work on having a small 'art retreat' type thing here on the lake. just a couple of teachers and small groups. I think it would be really fun and it is such a beautiful spot to hold something like this. Just a lot of work organizing, I am not sure if we need to plan for next year or try for this fall. Actually things look good, I just get scared of "what could happen".

Anyway, one more picture and I know it isn't the best processing but it was this or no picture at all and we couldn't have that!

I also noticed that the images I process and post from the laptop do not look the same on other computers. They look fine on the lap top screen and then a lot darker on the computer screen at work. So I don't know if you see it as too dark or if it looks fine?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Some sunshine and a bike....and how about a Dick's burger??

What else could you ask for?

Things are getting hectic with spring cleaning and bathroom remodel. Time has been slipping away.

The bad news is now my bathroom is the nicest room in the house!

New book club books-The Glass Castle and The Good Earth. I loved The Good Earth when I was in Junior High. That and Go Ask Alice...Remember that book, Everyone was reading it. Then I remember sneaking my mom's copy of Fear of Flying-Probably not the best reading for a teenager.

I did quit my old book club and now will have a new book club with no negativity!!