Hey friends! There became so much that I wanted to tell you that I thought it was fitting for a little life update. I wanted to answer some of the questions I’ve been receiving and just have a moment to share where I’m at, what I’ve been feeling lately, and what’s been going on. I hope this isn’t too boring, but there’s a lot I wanted to get off my chest!
As an artist, it’s really, really hard to separate what’s going on in my life from my work. I basically can’t do it! Haha.
So, to sum up the update in a phrase: I bit off more than I could chew.
To be fair, there were a lot of projects and ideas that were extremely exciting to me and I felt a rush of energy!! It felt great to be in that state of inspiration and creation. As creatives, I think we go through cycles of rest and reflection as well as periods of producing and making things happen. I was ready for a season of the latter, bursting and ready to go!
We had our ten-year anniversary of Lily & Val at the beginning of June at which time I made some big announcements.
But then, summer happened.
I won’t get into all the details right now because I’ll save that post as part 2 for another day, but I struggled this summer. Despite all my best plans and intentions, life, as it often does, had a way of changing my course. At first, I beat myself up over this but then decided to lean into what was so blatantly telling me to wait and not to push.
Isn’t it funny how sometimes the best thing we can do is forge ahead and push through obstacles? And then sometimes the best thing we can do is stop, rest, and stay still. I’ve always struggled with knowing when to do each.
Our Big Announcement
During our 10-year business anniversary celebration, Mak and I went live and talked about some big announcements that were coming! One early in the summer and one later in the summer.
The first was the coming of valeriemckeehan.com, which I’ll get into in a moment!
And the second, well, we never announced it. This is one of those instances where it was time to wait.
This is something that isn’t going away, but it needs more time to fully develop into what it should be. I don’t know the timing yet and I hate to be so cryptic right now, but I can tell you that there are things on my heart that I feel led to explore in brand new ways and that isn’t changing. It just might look different than I planned and in different timing.
My YouTube Channel / Soft Pastel Lessons
This is another instance where my over-eagerness got the best of me. I still have the intention of starting this channel and sharing my love of soft pastels with you in this way.
The response I heard from my workshop with The Crafter’s Box was overwhelming. Soft pastel is contagious!!! I love connecting with those of you who “caught the bug” too and seeing your beautiful work! The experience of filming that Crafter’s Box workshop was a blast.
One of the questions I receive almost daily is “Will you be offering more classes and workshops?” And the answer is – I want to! But again, life circumstances threw me for a loop this summer and I need to reevaluate the timing of it all.
Also, something else I’ve been struggling with is finding how to balance my own art practice. If you’ve been following my painting journey, you’ll know that I started painting in search of my own peace and calm. It has been deeply therapeutic to me. Teaching certainly does change the dynamic and I have a tendency to heap on a ton of pressure especially when you add that element of needing to perform. I know I need to work on this.
I’m just trying to work through how to balance the sacredness of my studio time with the job of being an artist! And this becomes part of the conversation when we talk about creating reels and online content in general. I’ve heard from many artists who are spending more time creating content than they are creating the art itself! I know these are the times we live in, and it brings me much joy to share my work so I need to adapt.
I want to create meaningful content, I want to teach and share, and I want to keep the beauty alive of what drew me to soft pastel landscapes. Basically, I want to do it all haha, but I haven’t figured it out yet.
We launched valeriemckeehan.com also in June and this has been wonderfully received. I am so grateful! This is where I’ve been focusing a lot of my time, playing art-matchmaker for originals and offering something totally new for me – commissions!
It has been an honor to connect one-on-one with collectors, hear your stories, and bring some special pieces to life. Maybe it’s because the world is so consumed with mass numbers that I’ve welcomed this drastic change of pace to the one-on-one, heart-to-heart.
There’s power in meaningful pieces of original art that create a legacy in the home. I can’t explain it, but I still can’t get over the texture and energy in the original art. I could go on and on! Sharing it makes me absolutely giddy and I’m just honored to have the opportunity.
My schedule for commissions booked quickly and I’m now booking into mid 2023! Please fill out the form here if you are interested in discussing a special commissioned piece or an original.
Lily & Val
Because of everything going on this summer, I ended up taking solace in familiar comforts. This included drawing Fall designs! I lost myself in them, trying to conjure all the coziness I could. It brought me so much joy!
Sometimes I wonder if I’m being disjointed – hand-lettered pumpkin designs one day, wildflower meadow landscapes the next! But I truly love it all and it all taps into different parts of me. Society has a tendency to want to put everyone in a box of “this is your thing, this is your niche etc.” But we are multi-faceted people!
Also speaking of social media, Nicole and I have been working on some new content ideas for the Lily & Val Instagram and Facebook. As much as I cringe at all the reels and personally feel overwhelmed, I also recognize I am running a business and if reels are the way to reach our audience, then we’re not going to stay stuck in old ways either.
So, if you see some strange content coming from us, it’s because we’re trying, experimenting, learning, and figuring things out! Lily & Val has always been about savoring the simple pleasures in life, nostalgia, coziness, feel-good feelings, and encouragement. I want our social media to be a place for self-love and a celebration of all these things I mentioned. Thank you for bearing with us as we work to bring you valuable content, find out what you want to see more of, and learn the ropes of these new ways of communicating.
At the beginning of the season, I started a new Instagram to share all things cut flower garden. It started out just fine and then you may notice, I dropped off. This is because it hasn’t been a great year in the garden.
It seems there was one thing going wrong after another. This after we massively expanded the garden (again notice a theme here: biting off more than I could chew *facepalm*.) Between the critters getting inside the fence despite all my best efforts, diseases, bugs, and just failed plants that I couldn’t figure out, I essentially gave up. I told myself “whatever happens happens.” It was causing too much stress and I was losing all motivation!
I’m most disappointed about my dahlias. I planted 40 tubers and currently have about 6 producing plants. I was able to create a few arrangements I’m really proud of, but the garden was the opposite of the respite it was last year. There’s always next!
- Vienna stopped taking afternoon naps. I knew this day would come someday, but I was still unprepared!! We still try to have her take some quiet time in her room, but it’s not as it was. Nap time was typically my painting time, so I’ve been needing to adapt my schedule with Mak so we can both get done what we need to do. Working and staying at home full-time is not for the faint of heart!!! We’re doing the best we can and each day is different.
- A few weeks ago, I had a color analysis done by my friend Liz of Rise Styling and found out I am an Autumn! What a game-changer this has been! Just knowing my colors and being able to purchase clothes more confidently has really made huge difference in how I feel. I highly recommend it!
- The summer certainly had its good parts that were mostly simple, slow and wonderful. We went to the Farmers Market every week and then made a big dinner with the ingredients on Saturday night. Vienna turned 3. A gluten free bakery, Baked True North, opened close to our house and we’ve been indulging! Most Sundays were spent at Idlewild Park, which Vienna just loved. We got to see Billy Joel in concert, visit a lavender farm, and stay at a friend’s cabin. We made some great memories.
- I’ve also been working on a number of projects behind the scenes that I can’t yet share and it’s so hard not to! There are some exciting collaborations in the works.
I’ll be back again with more updates when the time comes, but in the meantime, I appreciate your patience with me. Thank you so much for being here!