Of Flowers and Georgia O'Keeffe

One of the dearest people in my life is my sister.

I painted this painting for her while I was in Denmark - in fact it came together very spontaneously and fluidly a summer afternoon on the grass in the garden.  When I showed up to her place with it I pretended I just wanted to store it there while traveling to Norway, which gave me an opportunity to see her reaction to the painting before giving it to her.  If she did not seem particularly moved I would have not given it to her, because I wanted her to really love it.  Well, her reaction was better than hoped and I could tell she really liked it even before she knew it was for her.  Needless to say my mission to make it an early birthday present for her was accomplished.

"Ode to O'Keeffe", Acrylic on Canvass, 80x80cm


This painting was inspired by my love of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings of flowers, hence it is titled "Ode to O'Keeffe", although in many ways it is nothing like the paintings O'Keeffe painted.  For one, most of her flowers really do bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain part of the female anatomy.

Detail of "Ode to O'Keeffe"


When painting with super strong colors, especially reds and pinks, on a larger canvass it is easy get worried mid process that the end result is going to be a too bold or (shock) even crass and tacky.  You have to push past that and allow it to play out, because somehow by the time you put the final details in place things start to finally make sense.  It is hard to explain, but this is where experience and having faith in the artistic vision help - and worst case if the end result is still horrible you chuck it up to experience and the need to experiment.  This is exactly what happened with this painting - while I was working on it I was getting a bit worried about the huge areas of pink and red, but by the time I was painting the little pollen pods, it was all starting to gel quite well.

Texture is really important to me when painting, whether it is watercolor, acrylics or any other medium.  For some pieces you want that absolute smooth finish and perfect gradients, but for this piece it was important to add interest into the big areas of bold color by using texture.  If you have ever observed the surface of flower petals really closely, you will notice many are almost covered with surface of fine hair or powder.  When the light hits at a certain angle it shines and glistens ... it is really magical.


A Collection of Amazing Art Tutorials

Thanks to a lot of generous people there is a an amazing availability of art tutorials online.  These are a great way of getting your feet wet if you are new to art or a certain medium or simply looking to challenge yourself if you have some experience already.  Even as an experienced watercolor artist it is interesting to see how other artists work - everyone has a slightly personal way of doing things or has found a particular thing that works in addition to the fact that there are many ways to get good results.

Follow Frederikke Tu's board An amazing Collection of Art Tutorials on Pinterest.


While you can learn a lot from these tutorials, I do think there is no substitute for learning from others.  This is where taking a class or getting together with a few fellow creative souls will help you learn from each other.   But that said, I have learned most of what I know from books, experimentation and online tutorials.  This way I got a ton out of the few classes I have taken, because I already came prepared with the basics.


Sneak Peak: Character Development for Fall/Thanksgiving Card


Yesterday I started work on developing the characters for this year's Thanksgiving/Fall production.

The card will have quite a few characters, so this part of the design phase is especially important.  Some will be painted in watercolors, and separated into different body parts after scanning them into the computer.  This way I can keep the watercolor style but still animate the characters.  I have not yet decided whether the squirrel will be hand painted for each frame of animation, or whether I will  render it on the computer, since it will need a full range of motions when jumping.

The main character is the woodpecker, so I started when him first.  Once his character was in place I build the other characters up around him.  I will share more photos as I start painting the various elements of the card ...


Water Mixable Oil Colors

This summer I spend about ten days painting in the north of Denmark and trying a new medium for me, water mixable oil paints.  Since I normally paint with mostly watercolors and acrylics this was a real change in pace, as the longer drying times of oil presented a particular challenge while travelling.

But I must say I loved the richness, the vibrant colors of the pigments and the final result of the oil paints.  And being water mixable means there are no nasty fumes to put up with.  So after stocking up on four canvasses and paint in Copenhagen, I set off with my kids for the coast and the little cabin we would spend the next ten days in.

"Flights of Fancy"
Oil on Canvass
by Frederikke Tu

As luck would have it, this July was so hot in Denmark, it was almost unbearable to be outside some days, so I moved the garden furniture inside and made it my painting studio.  Luckily the cabin had lots of glass and it still felt like being outdoors.

Could you imagine a lovelier studio while on the road?  Happy memories ...


For the first painting I decided to forgo a grounding layer, which I normally would use with the acrylics, since there was a time constraint.  As you can see from the photos, the paint goes on nice and thin with the water mixable painting medium that is part of the range.  I have since bought a painting paste as well, which is more like the paints in thickness.

I did find that the key was not to use both water and painting medium together, or I would get some tackiness and the paint would not spread easily.  So you either use a little water or you use painting medium, but not both.  I also discovered that the white dries much slower than the other paints, so areas with more white needed more time in between coats.  As you can also see from the photos, the colors start looking really amazing after the second coat, so a second coat really is a must, especially without a grounding layer.

Painting the first coat - a little streaky, which second coat takes care of


I waited a few days between coats and in total this painting took three days to paint, much longer than a similar painting would have taken me with acrylics.  But I think the results are worth it and for many things this medium will still be my new favorite.  I still love acrylics, just for the sheer convenience and speed, but acrylics do lack something in the final feel and touch.  However they gel well with my temperament and allow me to work in my own impatient and frenzied pace.

If you would like to try water mixable oil colors yourself, there are several brands that offer them.  I choose Cobra from Talens.  But enough about the medium, I will let the painting speak for itself!  Let me know what you think.



Fathers Are Just as Important as Mothers

It is easy to forget Father's Day - it just does not get the same kind of attention that Mother's Day gets. I know this for a fact - and statistics support it.  I see it every year when far fewer cards are sent on Father's Day than Mother's Day. And I don't believe it is because we as a society do not value to amazing contribution that fathers make in the lives of their families.  I do not know why as a society we are less likely to celebrate fathers than mothers on their special day.  But I would love to hear from you: how do you celebrate the father figures in your life?  And Dads, how do you want to be celebrated?  You can comment here or send me a mail through the website at www.ojolie.com.  Got any special requests for Father's Day cards for next year?  Tell me now and I will give them full consideration.
Happy Fathers Day   2012
From toonpool.com
In the meantime, I am happy to share this touching video with you, just a reminder for us all in our busy daily lives to take a moment to really connect.  We don't need a special day to acknowledge the wonderful people in our lives, but sometimes these special days help remind us to do so.


Wishing You a Very Happy Father's Day this Sunday!

The Art of Manliness


I would love to create more ecards that appeal to men. I was therefore thrilled to find a blog dedicated the Art of Manliness with an entry dedicated to nothing less than the Art of Letter writing. Yeah! What a great find and follow up to my blog entry on The (Lost) Art of Letter Writing.

Great tips for you guys out there who might sometimes wrestle with getting pen to paper - or words to keyboard :) And as woman I can honestly say there is almost nothing more manly than a man who can express himself.  And with Father's Day coming up, son's everywhere might need a little inspiration for celebrating their father.

 The Art of Manliness
from The Art of Manliness blog

The (Lost) Art of Letter Writing

“In a generation or two letters will be obsolete. 
Everyone will talk to absent friends the world over by radio.
It will be nice; but something will be lost with letters. 
The world can’t eat its cake and have it, too. 
And none of these things really “save time.” 
They only fill it more breathlessly full.“ 

[Saturday December 16, 1922 -- Volume 3, L.M. Montgomery Selected Journals]

Shortly before Christmas a dear friend wrote to ask me about my new mailing address. When I received an actual Christmas card in the mail several weeks later, my heart skipped a little beat with joy. Of course I showed my gratitude by forgetting to write a note of thanks amidst a more than usually stressful holiday season (the holidays are ALWAYS busy at Ojolie, but this year was crazier than usual as we relocated for the second time in a year). Well past the holidays, I found this little memento and finally sat down to pen a short email. Okay, my better half will laugh and point out that I never write short emails.



It is because I used to write long hand written letters as a child. I don’t feel old, but I realize that probably makes me sound rather old to my own children. My parents were expats and I lived in several different parts of the world growing up. So to keep in touch with friends, this was the only option available. I kept a metal trunk under my bed with all the letters from friends neatly stashed away long after I had lost touch with friends, who likewise moved around a bit. Shortly before I left for college in the US, the letters were tossed in favor of what I could carry in the two suitcases.

If only I had know then that the art of letter writing would quickly become a thing of the past, maybe I would have held on to at least a few of them. I did re-read some before tossing them and there were so many fun details in these letters I had forgotten. I don’t tend to be a collector or hold on to things, but in this case it is not the actual letters I miss, as much as this way of communicating with friends half a world away. Storytelling that is meant to allow us to partake in their life from far away, sentiments committed to paper, dreams and hopes shared.

Even though the format of human communication may have changed with email, facebook and other instant messages, human sentiment and the need to connect transcends time and progress.

I have noticed that perhaps because of this there is a revival of interest in the art of letter writing. To return to a more personal way of connecting. More than ever, it doesn’t matter what medium we use to communicate our sentiment. The sheer act of sitting down and taking the time to pen a personalized message will be appreciated more than ever. It doesn’t mean rushing out and buying special stationary or a fountain pen (although by all means do if that inspires you to write). Although some will hold a more dogmatic view than me, the art of letter writing is not about form or a beautifully handwritten letter. As the word ‘art’ implies, it is really open to interpretation. An art form is something you practice and perfect, find inspiration and joy in - a medium for sharing human expression. What that means to you personally is not for me to say. But I would love to hear what you think.

Mail man in Corsica 1952, photo credit: Prof. emeritus Hans Schneider

Follow Frederikke Tu's board c o n n e c t on Pinterest.


Inspirations from Nature | Making 'My Wish For You'

Often people are curious about where I draw my inspiration for my cards from.  There are so many sources of inspiration, but because nature has a very strong effect on me, probably that is the main inspiration in my work.

As an artist I experience the world visually, filing away things I notice for future use.  When creating a card with a specific sentiment in mind, I try to see what that could translate into.  In my newest e-card "My Wish For You" I tried to think of what I would wish for the many amazing mothers I know and love.  And what I would appreciate my children wishing for me.  And more than anything I realized it was about the little things in life that actually are the big things - the amazing mundane things that make life worth living.




So one morning while sipping my morning coffee and going through my art journal, I noticed I had jotted down a few things I felt grateful for a few weeks prior - bird song, the sunrise that morning, the hug my husband gave me and the company I had that day.  And from there the words to this card just came to me and from there the artistic vision started taking place.  Or rather it took flight as my little feathered friends take center stage in this card.



Here is an inspiration board I keep adding to all the time - where I file away things from nature that inspire my work or that just fascinate me.  

Find the Perfect DIY Gift Idea


"The manner of giving is worth more than the gift"

This sentiment might be interpreted to mean that it is the thought that counts. And so every year on mother’s day children present little handmade presents to show their appreciation for mom. These little keepsakes are lovingly stored away as a token of their children’s gratitude, because let’s be honest - that pasta necklace or picture frame made out of popsicle sticks is mostly going to be appreciated as a memento. 

For the rest of us, gift giving has to rise to a higher level to convey what mom means to us. But herein lies the challenge; the DIY gift, while heartfelt often looks just that - DIY. The store bought gift sometimes seems too impersonal and not creative.
 
These family luminaries at bestbites.com make the perfect gift for Mom

I have collected a few ideas that might inspire you to make some gifts that are both personal and convey what the recipient means to you. These ideas work for many other occasions as well - especially the holidays, but also Father's Day and Birthdays. Never too early to start collecting ideas and planning some fun diy projects that will make amazing gifts all year long!

And if all else fails, remember a huge bouquet of flowers will never fail to send the right message to a woman, mother and wife. Mother's Day is May 11th in the US and many other countries.

Earth Day is Tuesday 22 April

Earth Day is this Tuesday April 22.  To show our support of this global initiative I have created a card inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote and we are making this card free for everyone to send along with our other Earth Day ecards all year long.

The card is part of our new series of Notes, for quick and easy sending, with full mobile support.  And best of all it features two of my favorite flowers, roses and peonies, all hand painted with loving detail!


Earth Day inspired ecard for Ojolie of Roses and Peonies

Launching All New Line of Notes

Spring brings hope, inspiration and the promise of new beginnings.  So of course I have been inspired to launch a new line of Notes and here are the first ones for spring.  Perfect for sending a quick and easy message anytime with our classic modern look and design, as always hand painted for that unique Ojolie touch.
Tulips, Hyacinths & Ranunculus handpainted flower ecard for Ojolie


Pansies, snowdrops and shamrocks bring  message of spring
Spring ecard for Ojolie

Easter Floppy - new release

A few weeks ago I posted a sneak peek of our work on our newest card for Easter, Easter Floppy.  I am delighted to say it is finally available for you to send.  Not just great for Easter, but also for sending all your other springtime messages.

Easter Floppy


























I thought I would share a detail of the final flower arrangement in the card - enjoy!


Easy and Fabulous Easter Surprises

Easter is just a few days away and while we were busy working on Easter cards, I collected an inspiration board of neat and unique ways to stay in touch, send a message or an Easter surprise.  My favorite has to be this ingenious idea from poppytalk, which combines a custom fortune cookie style message with a hand painted Easter egg.

Photo from poppytalk

Just remember to include some cushioning if you plan to really mail it, or your surprise might be ruined.  Check out my pinterest board for other ideas for how you could paint this egg or any of your easter eggs this year!


Make Your Own Very Unusual Spring Surprise

In my native Scandinavia we still practice the tradition of sending a surprise papercutting called a ‘gaekkebrev’, literally “guessing letter”, in April.  Usually the papercutting will include a pressed snowdrop, but more importantly a short rhyme will be written on the papercutting.  The greeting is left as a surprise and only a dot for each letter of your name will serve as a hint for the recipient.


Photo credit Rikke Storm



If you are not quite in the mood for writing your own rhyme, here is one in English you could include:


Snowdrop, snowdrop, snowdrop fine,
Omen true of hope divine,
From the heart of winter bring
Thy delightful hope of spring.
Guess my name I humbly beg.
Your reward: An Easter-Egg.
Let these puzzling dots proclaim
Every letter in my name


If the recipient guesses who left it, it used to be you had to kiss them, but now they are rewarded with a chocolate egg.  If not, tradition dictated that they would have to give you a chocolate egg.  But tradition or not, with or without a rhyme, a papercutting is by far my favorite way to send a special greeting and including any spring flowers will make it extra special.

Here is a short video about the tradition and in a way I agree that this could be considered the first poke long before the digital version. Click on the image below to view video.

 how to make a gaekkebrev

Working On New Birthday Card Designs

 Today I started work on a new series of notes, the first will be available soon for spring, Earth Day and birthdays.  I will be sharing a little bit here and there of what I am tinkering with in the studio ...

painting new birthday card designs in the studio
And while I had the camera out I couldn't resist including a photo of the lovely light that filtered in ... sending a little light from me to you!
inspiring light 
Oh, and before I forget, as always let me know what you think and if you have any special requests

Carve Out a Place for Creativity


Ever feel like there just are not enough hours in a day?  I sure do.  No matter how much I want to make finding half an hour - not to mention a weekend - to paint, write to friends or even just do one of the million little projects I love to plan (sometimes even start, but hardly ever finish), somehow by the time I finally carve out that free half hour, I would rather just take a nap.  


So how to get out of the rut, if one can call it that?!  After all, I know it is not a lack of motivation.  Here are a few handy things I am going to try that just might work for you as well:


you don't need an art studio to get started painting or writing, just a little corner in the house with great natural light and a spot where you can immerse yourself for a few stolen moments or days :)
find your own sacred little space
photo credit www.philippastanton.com

  • set the bar lower - maybe instead of starting a big project, just commit to doodling for ten minutes and see where it takes you.  Find a set time each day and commit to a very short time that is yours to use as you want.  For some the morning is best, others prefer night time.  You can use this time to write a short letter, sketch an idea in your journal or even just play with colors without a set goal in time.  Or meditate.  
  • make it a pleasant ritual - light a candle or an essential oil diffuser, make a cup of tea or pour a glass of port, put on a great peace of music if that helps you - this is your special time, so live it up.  
  • if you have the space, create a little nook in your home where you can leave things until the next day.  Ideally a favorite spot with great light or a nice view, few distractions and that won’t be used for other things.  It doesn’t need to be a studio - even a little section of a table will do.  I have created a pinterest board with some ideas to get you inspired to create your own sacred little corner for creative immersion. Remember not to make this a project in itself! :)

  • this one may in fact be the most important of all; slow down, become aware of stress and practice presence in your daily life.  I often get stressed when I realize how much I have to do and how overwhelming it can seem to get it all done.  One of my favorite sites that has helped me in so many different areas is zenhabits.net.  


A Little Easter Peek

Work is progressing nicely on our Easter cards, here a little preview of what is in the works, without giving too much away.

Here you can see how the layering technique we use for watercolor works

I can reveal that this card will make you feel like spring and summer cannot get here fast enough - if you don't already feel that way!

A background taking shape with the help of a latex mask to preserve areas that will be painted in later

April Fishy Fools Day

Nobody really knows for sure where the tradition of April Fools Day originated, although explanations abound. I will not bore you with a long list of historical guesses, which you can just as easily find on wikipedia and other sites.

 Rather interestingly, fish features prominently in the tradition in France, where the April Fool is called “Poisson d’Avril” or “April’s Fish”. No, I have been told this is not because they used to throw fish at each other on April first - a more likely explanation is that the zodiac sign falls in the month of April.


This year I am definitely going to have some fun devising a creative prank on my unsuspecting boys. Unsuspecting because I don’t think they read this blog. And if they do, they will be wondering all day what the prank will be ...

 Martha Stewart has also been known to pull some very convincing pranks on her show and you can find some hilarious versions on her site.

New eCards for Valentine Day

With Valentine's Day just a few days away, we have added two new Valentine ecards to the site.

Announcing New Holiday eCards

Somewhere in Buenos Aires in the 20s an unusual and passionate tango sets the stage for a special event. An funny yet elegant statement for any special message for Valentine's Day, Birthdays, Anniversaries or invitations to parties, wine tastings, etc.


Tango

Paint splatter and washes turn birds of a feather into an artistic statement for your Valentines or Anniversary cards.


Birds Of A Feather

Ecards Featuring Various Artists

We have featured a few artists' work in our ecards.

If you would like your work to be included in our ecards or if you know someone who might, please contact us.