Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Amazing Women No. 4: Jeanne McKay Hartmann

Jeanne painting in Chianti.

Jeanne McKay Hartmann
Artist, fashionista, blogger
Seattle, WA
Jeanne is my "blue and white" friend. I also recently learned that she’s a leopard print girl too!  Her blog, cleverly named “I dream of,” is beautiful and colorful and full of fashion, home, art and life inspiration. According to Jeanne, she has her “dream job in marketing in the fashion industry (at Nordstrom), a dreamy husband, a happy house, lovely friends and family.” (Lucky girl!)  She is quick to add: “to be truly alive, you need dreams that you're still chasing, not just dreams that have already come true.” In her blog, she explores her dream of growing up to be a professional artist, plus the other aspirations, daydreams and musing that keep life interesting. It’s chock full of pretty pictures (eye candy), happy thoughts and her beautiful watercolors.

Here she answers some of my burning questions about her fascination with blue and white, fashion trends and her artful life. Enjoy!

Q. What is it about blue and white that you are drawn to?
A. Gosh, I’m not sure where or why it started! I’ve long been fascinated by John Singer Sargent’s The Daughters Of Edward Darley Boit, so perhaps it was the Alice In Wonderland sized Chinese Export urns in the painting that first wormed their way into to my consciousness and sparked it – or maybe I find the painting so mesmerizing because of the blue and white? I do know that I developed an early interest in porcelain (my Grandmother Rose had an extensive collection) and picked out a Royal Albert china pattern with little blue forget-me-nots when I was eight years old, and collected it piece by piece until I had a full collection before I went off to college! I have faint memories of my Grandmother’s house and know that there are certain elements that have made their way into my own interior style DNA – vintage crystal chandelier, Berger chair, lots of white, etc. My guess is that there must have been some blue and white pieces scattered around, even though I don’t have a specific memory of them.

Q. Besides blue and white, what is your favorite color this season and why?
A. You know, the funny thing is that I’ve have never have had a true favorite color. Color just makes me happy and I’ve never met a color I didn’t like. It must be the Gemini in me--I’m flighty and can never stick to just one! A color will catch my eye, get under my skin, and then I’ll see it everywhere and get obsessed. For instance, in December it was Orange, by January Yellow. That turned to bright Green in March and now is Turquoise and Pink. Red is always a favorite. See… I can’t be faithful to just one. Which is probably why the most prominent color in our home is white – the perfect blank canvas.

Q. What is your favorite fashion trend this season and why?
A. I’m not as inspired by seasonal trends as I am about finding something that I love, that works for me and then thinking about ways to keep it new and current. I love watching what others are wearing—whether it be Anna Dello Russo and the parade of other editors on the fashion blogs or people I see on the street. I like taking apart what they are doing, and pulling out the little details that speak to me and then putting it back together in my own interpretation. I’m kind of a fashion magpie that way. I’m also a great fan of contrasts – for instance, the more aggressive shoes became over the past few years, the more I wanted to pair them with very feminine dresses. I’m currently obsessed with some turquoise earrings I picked up this spring, as well as this terrific Marni dress that has that contrasty thing going for it – a lovely feminine silhouette, a funky bright floral pattern, but it’s trimmed with black leather. It’s a once-a-week go-to piece that makes me happy whenever I put it on.

Q. When did you start painting?
A. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing with color crayons or a paint brush – Tempera was my favorite medium in preschool, and I still have a very strong memory of the smell of the paint powder when our teacher would mix it with water for us. They also let us go to town with some weird chocolate-flavored finger paint pudding stuff they would put in this big bin that we would all get our little hands into – I’m not kidding—you could finger paint with it AND eat it!

Q. What are your favorite subjects to paint and why?
A. My favorite thing to paint is something that reflects back to a person who I care about – something that they love, or something that makes me think of them. What I paint is often a message to someone about what I love about them. I’m happiest when I’m painting something with a certain muse in mind, and I tend to be drawn to the little things that I think make life a bit more civilized and beautiful – so a pretty dress, a great pair of shoes, a vintage chair with great legs, a blue and white ginger jar, etc.

Q. Do you have anything else to add about art, fashion, color, life?
A. Everyone has different things that make them happy. The key is to figure out what those things are and incorporate them into life wherever possible. Sometimes it’s the littlest details that bring the most pleasure, the smallest, everyday moments that we build a life on.

Jeanne's watercolor from her Obsessed With ... Blue and White blog post.

Happy Birthday Jeanne!! Thanks for the inspiration to start my own blog and for your friendship.

Related posts:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Can You Resist Poppy Red?

As you may have noticed, Poppy Red is all the rage for spring! It's bold, bright and fresh!

Have you seen the May issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine? It is filled with beautiful, colorful images of poppies and Poppy Creations craft projects in celebration of "20 Years of Colorful Living." There's a quote on one of the pages that says it all:

"Who can resist their CHARMS? Sunny, vibrant, and fresh, poppies defy the limits of the IMAGINATION in ways few flowers do."

 This giant poppy caught my attention and grabbed my IMAGINATION
on my walk this morning.

And so did these orange ones!

I've never seen poppies quite like these. Aren't they gorgeous?
(Martha Stewart Living photo)

Now I just need to find the perfect pop of Poppy Red for my wardrobe this season! 

Happy weekend friends!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amazing Women No. 3: Glacier Kingsford-Smith

Glacier Kingsford-Smith
Boutique owner, fashionista, mother
Hood River, OR

Glacier and I met during sorority rush at University of Washington almost 20 years ago. (How can that be?!) We were both sophomores and we pledged the same house. We both hail from small towns – she’s from Ellensburg and I’m from Olympia! We wore our “Nordstrom best” for rush and we still laugh about Glacier’s light pink suit! We’ve come a long way since then, especially Glacier, when it comes to fashion. Nine years ago she and her fabulous husband (one of my husband’s BFFs) moved to the awesome town of Hood River, Oregon, in the beautiful Columbia Gorge. Long known for windsurfing and other extreme sports, Glacier was determined to bring high fashion to this neck of the woods, which sits 60 miles east of Portland. In 2002, she opened Plenty, a fabulous clothing and cosmetics boutique.  I could go on and on about Glacier and Plenty, but first I want to share her spring style and color insights with you. She sent this to me in an email earlier this week (red font and all!) and I actually felt a little emotional after reading it because she is so talented and has really found her voice around fashion. Maybe a blog is next for her?

Q. What is your favorite color combination for spring and why?
A. I love the very modern use of reds, fuchsias, and spice colors with blush and nudes.  These two together are so unexpected, modern, and very wearable for the northwest.  We like our neutrals here, and when you pair a blush/nude top, with something bright red on the bottom, and throw in some medium brown shoes or accessories, you have a really modern, beautiful look.

Q. I am seeing bright orange red lips everywhere this season? What is your favorite color and brand?
A. Smashbox has a fantastic stain with color seal balm attached to it. The color is called Guava.  It has all the color you need without being thick, obnoxious pigment.  It is non-drying and comfortable to wear too.

Q. Where do you look for fashion and color inspiration?
A. The natural beauty of the Columbia Gorge, where I live, is constant inspiration. Additionally, every time I travel and see new perspectives on living I get lots of ideas.  And of course through the copious amount of blogs/publications I read on art, design, and fashion.

Q. What is your favorite trend for spring and why?
A. The African/Tribal trend (with a touch on Native American) is really what I love right now.  The world is smaller and smaller every day.  We get to reflect this in the way we dress by using ideas from these different cultures.  The color, print, and perspective of these cultures is something fresh (and needed!) in America right now.

Q. Who are your favorite designers this season and why?
A. Oh, this is a hard one!  Transit par Such (amazing fit and design - always), Suno (the reflection of Africa, as we talked about above), Joie (for really affordable fresh looks), Mike Gonzolez (modern ways of doing great pieces), and Thierry Lazry Sunglasses (for the coolest girl in the room).

Q. What one item of color is a must have for spring?
A. I'm going to go with red.  Partially because it is going to be big into fall 2011 as well, and because women can use it in so many ways.  It can be:  a red lipstick, a red handbag, red denim, etc.  There are many shades and variations so everyone should be able to find something in the color that suits them.  (For myself personally though:  acid yellow is high on my list!)

Q. Do you have anything else to add?
A. Don't be afraid to take some chances ladies!  We only live once, and we will never be younger than today.  Look for your inspiration reflect it in how you dress . . . it will enrich your life AND everyone who sees you around town and on the street.

More about Plenty
Just as the Gorge is a one-of-a-kind place, so is Plenty. Opened in 2002 by Glacier Kingsford-Smith in Hood River, OR, Plenty has always been a special spot for women offering outstanding high-quality clothing and gorgeous beauty products, with a commitment to ethical/sustainable production. Women visit Plenty year after year to be inspired by their beautiful retail store (on the main street in downtown Hood River- you can’t miss it!) and their exceptional service and styling. Of course women come for the product too: everything is chosen with great care by passionate people. It’s truly a special experience.

Here’s to Glacier for being a fabulous friend all these years and for finding your fashion voice! I love you girlfriend!

Related posts:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Get Out and Smell the Lilacs!

My friend Jeanne wrote a gorgeous blog post this week entitled Stopping to Smell the Lilacs. I could literally smell the perfumed flowers as I was reading her post. It inspired me to cut a sprig out of my neighbor's yard for my kitchen table. Jeanne is a talented artist and her watercolors always inspire me, especially as I'm starting to teach myself this pretty, delicate artform. Here I share the photograph I took and also the watercolor. I'm still a novice at photography and painting, but I am enjoying learning both immensely. 

I hope you get out to smell the lilacs!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thanks Kate!

I often turn to Kate Spade, one of my favorite designers, for fashion inspiration. Her styles are colorful, feminine, classic and current. The official description on the company website reads: “utility, wit and playful sophistication are the hallmarks of kate spade new york.” I love that! I recently discovered Kate Spade's color blog (it’s number one on my favorites toolbar) and I follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Yes, I'm a little obsessed, but it's free inspiration. You can't beat that!

I especially love her colored tights. My sister gave me these fabulous orange tights from American Apparel as a Mother's Day gift this year. I was both excited and little nervous to wear them the first time, but they were a huge hit and I didn’t want to take them off. I got so many compliments: from the male server at a women’s professional breakfast at the WAC who exclaimed “nice socks!” to a guy on Broadway who said “I love your orange tights. It’s nice to see some style in Seattle!” to my friend Dana who saw me on the street downtown and sent me a text that simply said "nice legs!" These comments, as well as the many others, brightened my day and put a smile on my face!

I even wore them to a black tie ball on Saturday night. They were a bright spot amongst a lot of black!

Where do you turn for fashion inspiration?  A favorite blog, magazine, website, a girlfriend?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Amazing Women No. 2: Tiffany Wendel

Tiffany Wendel
Personal stylist, twin to Tracy, mother of twins
Seattle, WA

If you are looking for fashion and style inspiration, look no further than my friend and amazing personal stylist Tiffany Wendel! Check her blog regularly for inspiration and a smile! Or have her over for a closet consultation. It’s so fun and an instant pick-me-up. Here she provides some tips about spring colors. Enjoy!

Q. What is your favorite color for spring?
A. Poppy Red and Pink

Q. What is a good rule of thumb for wearing color?
A. It is all about balance and harmony.  If the colors are all "friends" you can't go wrong.

Q. What designers are doing color best?
A. I love Jil Sander and Prada for Spring '11.

Q. Have you seen the Nick Cave exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum? What did you think? 
A. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!  If I could wear his art I would!

Q. What one item of color is a must-have for spring?
A. Bright bag! 

Q. I love how you mix in vintage with your outfits. Where do you shop in Seattle?
A. I love to shop Fremont and Ballard for great vintage.

Q. Do you have anything else to add?
A. Have fun and be yourself :)

More about Tiffany
With over 13 years experience in fashion, Tiffany has styled for stage, television, film and regular women with hectic lives. She began her work as a Personal Stylist in LA after owning a store in Presidio Heights in San Francisco and partnering in Dari Boutique LA.  She currently lives in Seattle and travels to LA and NY for client work and fashion weeks. Her television appearances include featured spots on Style Network Style Star, E! News, E! Fashion Police, Access Hollywood and TLC, A Makeover Story. She has served as a style critic for Life and Style magazine and contributed to People magazine Style File and DailyCandy and her clients have been featured in US Magazine, In Touch, People and Life and Style

outfitted for client shop at NEIMANS
(Zara blazer, Current Elliott Dad jeans, Rag and Bone camisole, Stubbs and Wootton loafers)

(Lemlem tunic. Find out more about Lemlem here, Current Elliott Elephant Bell Jeans, Vintage boots, friendship bracelets from Mexico)

Wouldn’t you agree, she’s amazing?!

To read about more amazing women, please click here.

Take Your Camera for a Walk

On my walk on North Capitol Hill this morning I came across these wonderful signs that provided little nuggets of inspiration to passers-by. They are small reminders of the little things that make life a bit more enjoyable. I didn't have my camera with me so I snapped these photos with my phone.

This darling sign in front of Mary Megan Olander Flowers encourages you to get out of the house and play!

I have seen this sign for years offering free poems but never felt the urge to take one until today. The poem for May is called "Memory of Eyes." You can read it on the Streetcorner Poems, Etc. blog.

One block further, I saw this sign in front of the Prospect Congregational United Church on 19th Avenue and just loved the quote.

Have a great weekend and don't forget your camera!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Gratitude

As a mother and a daughter, Mother's Day is all about giving and receiving gratitude. As I reflect on my fourth Mother's Day as a mother, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my own mom, gratitude for my amazing daughter who teaches me every day what it means to be a mother, and gratitude to my wonderful husband who treated me like a queen yesterday. My mom always says being a mother is the highest honor and I always respond with "and the hardest job I have ever had!" I am grateful for what motherhood has taught me about myself (my strengths and shortcomings) and I am grateful that I have a great role model who will always be my mother. 
I painted this card for my mom (my first "real" watercolor beyond painting with Sofia) and gave her a matching pink azalea topiary. She is an artist and recently took up watercolor again, which is inspiring my own creativity. Thank you mom! 

My mom painted this darling little card for me. Lavender is one of my all-time favorites!

To me, this card from my sister, inscribed with one of her favorite childhood words sums up life and motherhood! Isn't it just bursting with energy?!

Have you ever seen peonie tulips? Aren't they gorgeous? A Mother's Day treat from my sister, along with orange tights. Thanks Jill!

Even if you don't have girls, this book, by one of my mom and my favorite authors, Alexandra Stoddard, is full of wonderful life lessons. Yesterday I picked it up again and read a few chapters including: Living Takes Time, Do Your Best and Leave the Rest, and Love Your Own Company. It's a small book about the big issues in life. I highly recommend it.

And last but certainly not least, thank you Sofia and Geoff for the perfect Mother's Day.

I wish every day was Mother’s Day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Amazing Women

Greetings friends! Today I am debuting my new Amazing Women series with my very own little sister. I feel so blessed to have so many amazingly creative, talented, wonderful women in my life and I want to share them with you. My favorite articles in magazines use the Q&A interview format. I find it easy to read, personal and engaging. So that’s how I am planning to present these amazing women to you, from time to time. I hope you find some inspiration yourself from reading about them.

 Jill Mason
My sister, artist, florist, businesswoman, mother, wife.
Portland, OR

Q. From a very young age, you have always been a talented artist. How did you choose flowers as your medium?
A. I feel like the flowers chose me. My first real encounter with the flowers was when I was 6 or 7 years old. The Bennett's (our next door neighbors) garden that was adjacent to our side yard called me in one day. The sweet peas growing on the vine were my first true infatuation with the natural world. I remember so clearly the act of picking a little bouquet of these blooms and putting them next to my bed. It was the intoxicating smell that invited me to begin my intimate relationship with flowers.
Q. What is your favorite color for this spring and why?
A. I have a combination of colors that I like all together rather than one particular color. Coral nestled with butter creme yellow and deep velvety purple (see above).
Q. Where do you get the inspiration for your amazing floral creations?
A. My inspirations come from nature. I study the way organic elements naturally move together through the seasons. I don't really look at fashion magazines, but subconsciously I pick up on trends by just observing what I see out in the world in my day-to-day life.
Q. What trends in colors and flowers are you seeing for weddings and other special events this year?
 A. I am not seeing any consistency in color choices so far this year. There seems to be quite a variety of colors happening with brides this year. I am seeing trend towards looser bouquets… a more wild look, less tight and more movement with textures.

Q. OK, let’s change gears a bit. What is your approach to gardening?
A. My approach to gardening right now is planting with a low maintenance designs. I would eventually like to have a zero scape garden with all native plants, but that transition will take some time and money. Right now I just plant with color contrast as a focus. For example chocolate foliage next to silver artemisia, next to a lime green oak leaf hydrangea.
Q. What is your favorite garden flower and why?
A. My favorite garden flower is Solomon seal. I love the little elegant white bells that stagger up the stem. So feminine and a gorgeous, long-lasting cut foliage in arrangements.

Q. What is blooming in your garden right now?
A. In my garden now I have lots of tulips. I would prefer to just have the pink tulips, but my daughter really wanted a rainbow of tulips. I also have an amazing bleeding heart, also one of my all-time favorites. I also have hellebore, morning star, tulip magnolia and many others that are peeking their way up through the ground.
Q. Anything else you would like to add about color, art, beauty, flowers?
A. I get really attached to flowers in each season and find that my favorite flower and favorite color is constantly changing depending upon what is going on in my life.

More about Jill and Starflower
Starflower is a floral design studio located in Southeast Portland where Jill Mason, professional floral designer since 1997, swirls her lifelong love of flowers, background in fine art, and natural aesthetic grace into vibrant botanical delights. From weddings to special events to hotels and restaurants, Starflower is consistently rated one of Portland’s top flower shops and is regularly featured in Portland Bride and Groom magazine.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day! May Day!

"Let all thy joys be as the month of May...."
-Frances Quarles

Happy May Day friends. Do you remember the childhood tradition of placing flowers on a neighbor's doorstep on May Day? I love that tradition... where did it go?

How about hanging a tiny basket of flowers on the door handle of your child's room today as a symbol of the merry month of May? I picked some blooms from my yard in Sofia's favorite colors and hung them on her bedroom door. I can't wait to see the joy they bring to her today and all weeklong as we ring in her birthday month and my favorite month of the year.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the launch of my "Amazing Women" series. I'm so excited to share some amazing, creative, wonderful women with you.