Friday, May 31, 2013

#SomethingAwesome . . . IT'S HERE!!

How many of you just freaked out because you forgot to enter to win our #something awesome? Don't worry, you still have 24 hours to post #somethingawesome on our Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter to be entered for your chance to win. (Don't worry if you skip reading the rest of this post, we love free stuff too.)

Image from
That said, I just can't keep a lid on our big surprise any longer -- we're starting a book club!!

No, no, hang on -- it's going to be an awesome book club. Remember Keri Smith? Starting this July, we're going to be vlogging our way through her Wreck This Journal, in a little series we're calling Wreck This Journey. And we want you to be part of it! Kadie and I will take turns posting our own video responses, but what we really want to hear is what you all think of the experience -- and we'll be featuring our favorite Art Abyss community response videos every week here on the blog :).

But first, here's just a taste of what you're getting into:

Yeah, so much love for Keri Smith. In fact, we adore Wreck This Journal so much, that we're giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader! Wondering how to win it? Go read the start of this post again, and then get to telling us what rocks your world!

We'll be waiting . . . and stay tuned to hear if you won a copy of Wreck This Journal!! We'll announce at midnight tonight :).

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Incredible Keri Smith

WARNING: Extreme fangirling ahead.

Keri Smith. Always Awesome. (Image from
If the world had a BFF, and that BFF was always trying to make the world sit up and take care of its creative spirit, well, that BFF would probably be Keri Smith.

This kickass author/illustrator/guerilla artist and generally awesome person lives in Vancouver, B.C., and has been rocking the world with her incredible books since 2005. For a complete bio, check out her site. Actually, for a whole lot of awesome, check out her site -- you'll be glad you did.

But what I want to focus on today is what she wrote to one young artist -- yes, she reads and responds to ALL of her fan mail, including the email I sent her (squeee!!!).

It's called Ecstatic Flailing, and these are the choice quotes from it that made my little heart tie itself up in knots before exploding in joy:

If we were sitting in the same room I would sit next to you, take your hand in mine, and look straight into your eyes and say, “I know that pressure you speak of very well. The “focus on self-promotion, competitiveness, networking and always attempting to be edgier and smarter than others at all costs”. I have felt that pressure too, still do on occasion. But here is what I know now, that I didn’t know before when I started out… Creating work out of that pressure, doing all of the things that you have been taught by others, and listening to that voice in your head that tells you you need to be better is not what will create that success you are craving. The true work, (meaning the work you are here to do), comes from a completely different place than this.
[… T]he energy that you feel when you are creating is very important and will tell you if you are on the right path. Not that there is only one path, there are many, but I am referring to doing work that fulfills you and brings you “success”, and when I say success I really mean “work that is meaningful to you”, work that is aligned with your ideals
[...] I’m not saying that you won’t have many bad days where you feel incompetent and like you are flailing like a crazy person. As Kurt Vonnegut put it so perfectly, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” But at times you will also feel like you are able to leap over tall buildings with great ease if you go directly into that place you spent a lot of time when you were a kid, experimenting and making messes, and playing on the floor.
[...] I hope I have not painted the picture that I have got it all figured out, because that is hardly the case. I am flailing right along with everyone else. But I now do it with as much open energy as I can muster, and I am much better at recognizing what is filling me up and what is sapping me.
You can see why I'm a fan, right? But this is the clincher for me:
[... Y]ou are beautiful, and talented and you have something to say. [...] It doesn’t matter one iota if you are unsure of what it is that you want to say just yet. The more you try to trust the process, the more you will figure it out piece by piece.
BE STILL MY FREAKING HEART. (Did you read the whole thing yet? No?? GO. READ. Now.)

Was I right about the awesomeness? Perhaps --- it certainly is #somethingawesome for me. But I bet there are some other something awesome things out there, that you might want to share. If so, I have some good news for you! There's still time to enter your #somethingawesome to win our something-secret-and-awesome -- and you have until midnight Friday to do it! Read more here, and then get to sending us the stuff that rocks your world!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Life In The Right Brain: Vintage Memorial Day BBQ

Sometimes in our society I think there is an unspoken idea that creativity is confined to art or the studio. In reality creativity is all around us in every choice we make as we move through our day.  If we try to bottle up our creativity and let it out to play only during certain times we deem appropriate, eventually it's going to get angry at us and stop working.  (I mean, I wouldn't enjoy getting locked away and ignored for days, weeks or years at a time either!)  As creatives our creativity is not simply something we do for a living, it is simply a part of who we are.  In the spirit of that we are going to start running a new set of features on the blog called: Life In The Right Brain. In these we are hoping to share how our creative juices really do seep into every aspect of our lives and aren't just confined to our artwork. 

Up first is a little something I threw together for a few friends on memorial day! I love throwing parties. When I was little I used to have a dedicated notebook I would us as my "party planner" and all year long I would gather ideas here and there to inspire me for my yearly birthday party. I would rent books from the library, look at magazines, and one can only imagine how my little 8 year old head would have exploded if pinterest had been around back then!

It's been a while since we really threw a party at our place so on memorial day this year we decided to have a few friends over for a good old fashioned vintage BBQ.

For anyone interested in all the DIY goodness that went into this, heres the scoop on that:

Table Setting:
Flowers: Joey and I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon the day before the party and picked a TON of simple wildflowers. They ended up being one of my favorite parts of the party and they were totally free! 

Vases: Most of the vases were just old liquor bottles we've been given or collected over the years along with a few vases and jam jars I picked up from a local thrift store for about a buck.  For a couple of the vases I cut strips out of paper bags and secured then around the glass with some simple twine for a little more interest.

Table Cloth + Runner: The table clothes came from the 99 cents store and the runner I made out of cheap butcher paper cut in half.

Candles: I pretty much just raided our house for every glass candle holder and tea light we own for the rest of the table which worked out to be just enough! (see mom and dad, eventually all those bazillion candles we bought back in the day for my wedding came in handy again)

Hay Bales: We totally lucked out on this one, I told Joey I was thinking of picking up a few hay bales for seating (since I only own like 6 chairs and didn't know where the hell all these people were going to sit) and after asking around at work to see where he could pick some up an amazing co-worker with horses offered to just let us borrow a couple for the party! To make them a bit more comfy I just laid down a few pillow cases I got from the thrift store for about 2 bucks on top.

Bites N' Booze Striped Food Table Awning:
This was probably my absolute favorite thing at the party.  When I first told my husband what I wanted him to make me for the party I could see the small freak out taking hold, however I assured him it would be cheap and easy.  The cheap part totally worked out, as far as easy… well we'll just say it was a little more time consuming than expected.  We constructed most of the frame out of 2x2 boards and a couple of 1x4 furring strips.  For the base we used a couple of cheap discount bin 1x6 fencing material boards.  For the awning I just bought a white king size sheet for a buck from the thrift store and painted red strips on in!  All in all the whole thing only cost about $10!

Make-Your-Own-Smore's Table:
This was super simple. I just set up an old bar cart we own in the yard, filled a couple of paper bags with graham crackers, filled a tiny portable grill with marshmallows and laid out a bunch of gourmet toppings like Nutella, sliced strawberries, carmel, granny smith apples, and tons of different kinds of chocolate!  Finally I grabbed an old vase to hold all my marshmallow sticks!

Bean Bag Toss:
My awesome hubby was able to make this for about $3 out of some MDF board and old 2x4's he had lying around.  I just added a little left over red paint to make it pretty.

Fabric Garland:
This was probably the most time consuming thing we did for the whole party.  I bought about 12 yards total of assorted clearance fabrics, ripped them into two inch strips, then looped the strips around a long piece of twine. Doesn't seem like it should take almost 6 hours huh?

All photos are © Kadie Pangburn and Joseph Ho.

Now that you have seen a little of what I think is awesome, don't forget this week we are giving away FREE STUFF!  All you have to do is share your own #something awesome on our Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to enter!  We'll be picking one lucky winner at the end of the week!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Challenge #8: Just Say No - Protecting Your Creative Space

Hi my name is Kadie and I suffer from something known as "The Yes Addiction."  

If you’re a creative, there are major risks involved in engaging in "The Yes Addiction". Research shows that often abstinence from saying yes is the safest option for creatives. “No” can’t protect them from every risk, but it can lessen the odds of creative block, depression, burn out and anxiety significantly. 

We all know the major issues associated with "The Yes Addiction":

  • More than 360,000 creatives will never get around to finishing their art projects
  • Half of those creatives will suffer severe depression over the lack of progress they make in their work
  • An estimated 8,300 creative ideas will never be thought of each week due to "The Yes Addiction."
  • Every 11 seconds, a creative will give into "The Yes Addiction."

*All stats came from the mind of Kadie Pangburn and are completely made up, but probably true.  "The Yes Addiction" is also not yet clinically recognized but might as well be.

Grab your nifty challenge badge to share with your
friends online and inspire them to join in on the fun!
Your creative space is like a precious flower.  You have to protect it from all those who may try to steal it away from you.  Many times society may not understand and think you are selfish for keeping your flower all to yourself.  But at those moments you have to stand firm, take action and just say no.  Giving your flower away to anyone and everyone will only cause you grief and heartache and leave you frustrated. 

Your creative space is what fuels your creative mind.  It is your time to work and play and grow and inspire your creative self.  Without it, most creatives burn out and suffer from creative blocks.

It's hard to protect our creative space because we often are made to feel selfish by doing so.  We don't have "The Man" telling us we need to buckle down and work because we are "The Man" and it's hard for society to understand that at times.

If an accountant is asked to do something and replies: "I wish I could but I have to stay late at work this week."  Society gets it, they understand, they don't hold it against the guy.  If a creative person is asked the same question and they reply: "I wish I could but I need get in some time at my studio this week." Society often replies with "well couldn't you just put that off and do it some other time?"

For years I've lived with the bad habit of treating no like a dirty word.  I didn't want to disappoint people, or have them not like me anymore by saying no to them.  So I gave in and said yes, thinking "what could it hurt?"  Turns out a lot.

I ended up giving away all my creative space.  My projects didn't get finished, I didn't have the time to gain the inspiration I needed to fuel my creativity, and I worked on projects I wasn't passionate about and only served to harm my creative spirit.

It has only been in the last year or so I have really come to understand the beauty and power of the word no.

No is not selfish.  No is self empowerment.

No means that you are recognizing your needs as a human being, especially as a creative human being and listening to them.  You know what's best for you and you are giving yourself the authority to act on it.

So your challenge this week is to work up the gumption and empower yourself with the ability to say no and protect your creative space!

Some people may not understand, and that's ok.  You need to give yourself the authority to know what is best for you and what is not and when you know what that thing is to hold on to it dearly and never let it go.  And that my friends will get you further in life that simply always saying "yes" ever will.  

Don't forget this week we are giving away FREE STUFF!  All you have to do is share your own #something awesome on our Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to enter!  We'll be picking one lucky winner at the end of the week!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Yeah, We're Marathoning Arrested Development Too

Happy AD Day from The Art Abyss!! In honor of this very special occasion, we'd like to present something from our own #somethingawesome stash -- the Bluth family in eighteenth century garb. (Those wigs!!!) We'll see you on the other side of the binge -- in the meantime, don't forget to share your own #something awesome on our Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to enter to win free stuff!