Tag Archives: kids art

A not so perfect, perfect little person.

Milo's latest painting

“Mom, I drew a picture and I didn’t like it so I put it in the trash. I forgot that paper has two sides and that artists always try again.”

Milo's spot in the studio

Milo is really growing up and as a mom it is so hard to watch sometimes. He’ll be five in May. Over the past five years I have come to understand that I control a lot less than I thought I would. Parenting seems to be lessons in duality and letting go. Milo can be diabolical and sometimes down right mean. I occasionally ask myself, is this really my child? Could someone that I made really be so…so, terrible? I know that sounds bad. Let’s face it, I think most parents would be lying if they haven’t wondered how  they’ve messed up their kids. Am I too strict? Am I too nice? Did I handle that tantrum calmly or like a crazy person trying to put out a fire with a eye dropper of water? Then, I take a deep breath, I let go, and I remind myself that he’s only been on the planet for four years and that he’s learning and it’s my job to calmly teach him not to say things like, “eww, that’s nasty.” in a valley girl voice when served a meal with something green in it.

That's me bossing him around. At least I look happy while I'm doing it!

He struggles sometimes,  but his highs are remarkable and I might just be saying this because he’s my kid, he’s pretty neat and I like the way his mind works. I have a feeling that things won’t always be easy for Milo. He has to try out everything before he knows it’s not for him. His little heart gets broken easily and he gets mad when he’s hurt. But he’s also the kind of kid who spends three hours hand crafting 27 valentines for his classmates.

Milo's valentines and heart crayons

In the same day where I was convinced that I was going to lock him in his room until he graduated from high school, I saw my boy holding his little brother’s hand so that he doesn’t slip on the waterslide at the pool and waiting patiently every time Wyatt wanted to go down so that he had a safe set of hands to splash down into.

A cat and a buffalo

Sticky Paper and Snuggly Guys

We started our day by updating the kids work area. Their table had seen better days (by that I mean before I dragged in from the ally and cut its legs off and let Milo draw and paint all over it). We found some sweet contact paper and went to town. Milo and I agreed that it looks FABULOUS and very chic.

Too much?

My budding designer

Milo and I were super inspired by our clean studio (only took 5 hours to clean a 10×12 space), especially the cleaned out fabric bin and while Wyatt was snoozing we collaborated on this snuggly guy. His name is Frankie.

Always start with a plan

Frankie and him Mom (we'll work on her another day)

Meet Frankie.


Um, yeah. even the notion of making declarative statements makes me uneasy. Writing an artist’s statement is no joke. I want to sound smart and my work be interesting. I need it to make sense and I have to make it sound like I’m solving some problem or making something really cutting edge. Yikes! Here it is (towards the bottom of the post) in it’s pretty finished form and I’m well on my way to having things packaged and ready to ship. If I was nervous last week…

our latest collaboration

Procrastination is not my friend. I can find a million things to occupy my mind besides what I’ve set out to do like, getting super cute hair cuts, buying Thundercats toys on ebay,crafty things, cleaning projects (Milo’s closet must be clean before I can work on this), hanging at my brother’s house pretending to like football ( I do like his company), etc, etc. so I got a lot done and now it’s nine  on Sunday night and I’ve just now finished.

I think Wyatt likes my hair

For the luckiest kid in the world...Two Lion-Os and only one comes with chew marks on it's hand

As I was writing earlier today, Milo wanted to know what I was doing and I told him that I was writing about why I make art. I asked him why he likes to make art. First he insisted that he type his name  and then he told me to type his own artist’s statement:

Milo Fessler

I like when everyone likes my art. I like when everyone likes me. I like people. I like Mommy. I really like when I bring them to the art show. Everyone loves my art. I love everyone, yeah! I like to make art because it makes people happy.

I love you Uncle Daniel and Bobo and King Kong Bungee (Bundy). The end.

King Kong Bundy is our good buddy. Jon and I got him on our honeymoon.

That about sums it up. Maybe I should hire Milo to write my statement. Here’s mine:

The act of making marks has been central to my life since I was a very young child. I am drawn to creating something out of nothing. As an art teacher in a high-poverty school, as a parent of two boys and as a painter, my everyday life is all about making new things happen with little resources. It is my goal to make work that is representative of living a creative life and to share that work on a larger scale.

I begin each watercolor with a simple mark or wash of color. I then move intuitively through the work layering washes and marks created from a brush, stencil or everyday objects like bottle caps and spools of thread. Caps and spools create circles of various sizes. The circle is the first mark that children make to represent people, places and things. I use circles as a child would, a universally representational symbol. My paintings are a bold and earthy response to my appreciation for the tensions that exist in everyday life, the desire for both simplicity and complexity, large and small spaces, inner and outer worlds, natural and urban landscapes, solitude and relationships, excitement and calm. Through my use of the most basic elements of art, color, line and shape, I am able to create a balanced and storied environment. In each new painting, the viewer is able to find connections to the contradictory nature of life.

In my most recent body of work, I completed 100 paintings in 100 days. Each painting is an 8” x 8” work made in one day. This classic exercise allowed me to bring painting into my everyday life. My three year old son made art alongside me almost every day. Making art has become central to our lives and we continue to express ourselves good, bad, and ordinary each day.

Make sense?

It’s on Like Donkey Kong

You missed us, didn't you?

Nervous hands typing….

Dear diary,

It’s been a long time since my last entry.  Nothing much has been happening around here except perfecting awkward family photos and eating large quantities of food. I think we all needed a break from school and setting goals and achieving them (except I’m now a week into P90x and no, I will not be posting before pictures). Jon’s back to school today and it seems fitting to start up again. I will still be posting all about being a momma, doing what you love, and living a creative life. The new name? I think we’ll go with Drawing a Blank, Creative Living and Parenting.

Paintings are bigger in 2011

I wanted my first post project post to be full of wit and charm and excitement but I’m feeling a little gun shy.  I’m still working on the same piece I started on the first of the year and I haven’t gotten new images shot or my press packets together.  I’m just not working at the same brisk pace as when the project was looming large. I think I will start to declare arbitrary deadlines here to make myself accountable to my interweblog readers. My first arbitrary deadline will be to get my gallery submission packets together by Sunday and have them shipped to at least 5 galleries by Monday…I already feel more in control and motivated, thanks blogosphere.

Ok enough backpedaling, I’ve been snuggling with everyday life and that’s not a bad thing. My kids and my man are being lavished with attention and baked goods (got my first cavity yesterday, goodbye sugary treats, I’ll miss you terribly).

I have however, made some really awesome trades, here’s the run down:

Traded for:

Sweet day of the week hand towels and kid napkins from my very talented aunt Kathy

A kids bike trailer

A pair of See Kia Run shoes for Milo and a hand sewn cape and cuffs set

5 bottles of really good vino

2 lbs of coffee every two weeks from Batdorf and Bronson (soooo good)

Morning, perfected.

Hand thrown mugs with which to drink the delicious coffee by Tony Deland (he’ll do custom orders if you ask him nicely)

A massage for my dear mum (Katherine Nelson is amazing if you are in the Denver area)

Paintings by Alyson Kahn

The talented Mrs. Kahn

A logo for Fessler Masonry from  Lauren Carbon at Slice.

If we’re still working on a trade or a purchase, message me and let’s get it together!

P.S. After spotting Jon’s Thundercats comic, Milo has become desperate to get his hands on any  figurines, will trade art, left arm, etc…


Dear Jon,

The show at Slice. Check it out and support local, small business!

We found our old camcorder this weekend and watched home movies from our wedding reception and when Milo was a baby. We stood there watching all of these moments of our life together getting all choked up. The fact is that Jon and I are giant, sentimental dorks. We say dorky things and look pretty dorky most of the time. But in the majority of the videos we’re laughing and that cannot be a bad thing.

Milo's first sale!

Being married to your best friends has its perks. There is someone there to tell you you have buggies or that knows never to leave dirty socks in the living room, someone who will say nice things to you on demand (although he might get sick of you constantly asking for sweetsies),someone who will be honest about your work, someone who will laugh at your really bad jokes and someone who will always be there to let you sniff their beard. But marriage ain’t always the easiest thing. Living your life tethered to someone can be the most comforting thing in the world and the most constraining. Sometimes you feel so close that you’re one person and other times you’re worlds apart, and that’s ok as long as you know that a life well lived is a life lived with your partner.

Thanks, shnarf. xoxo

Milo-"Mom, this is you when you were a little girl with glasses."

But that Jon Fessler, I’ve loved that man ever since I walked into the house on 13th st. Five years after I had first met him and he stood up when I came through the door and said, “Hi, I’m Jon.” in a super awkward way. We went to see Hot Water Music and he stayed in the under 21 section to keep me company. The next night he grabbed my elbow and asked me on a date. On our first date we drank a pitcher of PBR and ate bread sticks. The next day he brought a grocery bag full of daisies into the coffee shop where I worked and I was totally gaga. Before he headed to Alaska for the summer, he gave me his Super Friends pillow case and plastic mug with a smiley face and feet to remember him by. We spent the following summer totally in LOVE, exchanging letters and packages while Jon lived in a tent inside of a tent down by a river. You’ve never heard a more romantic love story, have you?

Love LOVE young love

Almost ten years have gone by. We’ve built a home and a family complete with a rottweiler and a shed made out of shipping pallets. He’s still my best friend and he still sometimes makes me crazy. We had a family weekend this weekend; bacon egg and cheese biscuits for dinner, checking on the art and picking up Milo’s first check, donuts and beer, bad tv (after Milo went to bed) and lots of chit chat with conversations that start with, “you know what would be awesome…” and planning our future in a million and one directions. All while drinking tea and snuggling our kids.

It can be really hard to remember that people don’t know what you need until you tell them. Men are from Mars women are from Venus…But, the weather is cool and the house is warm and we’re staying in. Love you Papa bear.

Day seventy-two

Day seventy-one

PS We’ve made some great trades so far, keep ’em coming!

I’ll trade you a painting for…

...a guitar solo.

I was talking to my mom the other day and she was asking me if lots of people were buying my work. The answer is no. A few pieces have sold and I am super grateful for that. She was saying that the sentiment that she heard from people was, “if only I had a $100.” It bummed me out and I immediately made a list in my mind of all the beautiful supportive people who have followed this project and shown their appreciation for our work. Why should only the people who have $100 get to have a painting? My efforts are worth something, yes. But are they only worth money?

In my mom’s new novel she wrote about a place where dollars don’t have value:

As Sachi ushered Adam and Gertrude into her bakery new aromas overwhelmed his senses—cinnamon, yeast, nutmeg and something rich and warm like roasting garlic. His mouth started watering.

Sachi said, “Welcome to the Solas bakery. This is my contribution.”

Adam raised his eyebrows. “Contribution?”

“Yes, this is what I give to the community. Everyone here chooses a contribution when they turn 18.”

“You mean like a job?”

Sachi scowled at him. “I remember Meara telling me about jobs. They are not at all the same thing as contributions. Contributions are done with love.”

The bell above the door tinkled as a young woman with a long blonde braid and little girl entered the bakery. Sachi greeted them. The little girl peered at Adam and Gertrude from behind her mother’s skirts, her blue eyes round with astonishment. Sachi squatted down next to her. “This is my brother, Adam, and his friend Gertrude. They have come to stay with us.

The mother took a loaf of bread from the cooling rack by the door. “We’ll see you at the feast. Welcome to Solas.” Then she walked out the door.

Adam said, “She didn’t pay for the bread.”

Sachi said, “Pay?”

“You know with money.”

“Another thing Meara told me about—money. That’s little pieces of paper your people exchange for goods and services? What a strange thing that is. We exchange energy.”

“Energy? How does that work?

“Well, my contribution is baking. I put my energy into breads and pies and the like. The woman who just left is a weaver. She creates fabric. When I need fabric I go to her studio and pick out what I need. Her energy for mine.”

“And, that works out?’

“Of course it does. We do not get. We create. Is there a better way?”

Day seventy-one

Day seventy-two

When I wrote that I would not give away my artwork I immediately felt badly. Over anything else my desire is for my work to be valued by people. I want my artwork on the walls of people’s homes who will appreciate, it not just the ones who can afford it. My energy, creativity, and time are valuable and so are the time, creativity, and energy of everyone else.

We want to teach our kids that people and relationships are more important that money and stuff. When Jon and I were talking about this, Milo piped up and said, “I don’t need anything, I have everything I want.” I’ll give my artwork away. Love that boy.  We want him to value his efforts and show value for others.


So here’s the new plan, you like it and it’s yours with a few caveats.

You are welcome to pay full price (I do have a mortgage, preschool tuition, college tuition, and health insurance bills that won’t take paintings as payment), you can pay what you can (minimum of $20/unframed and $50/framed to cover materials and shipping), or you can trade me or some combo of cash and trade. We spent the better part of the morning coming up with a list of big and small scale trades. I am happy to negotiate any type of trade and maintain the ability to say yes or no.  Some things on our list are worth more than the cost of one framed work of art and we can chat on multiple works for services.

Visit the website and send me an email with the work of art you’d like and how you’d like to procure it and we’ll go from there. Don’t be shy. I am super excited to see how this all works out. I don’t want a stack of unlooked-at paintings. It’s time for my little babies to go into the world.

I’ll be posting about what trades go down.

I am also interested in the kids learning about bartering. So mamas and papas, Milo wants to trade your kid something for a custom work of art (hint: Milo likes other kid’s art).

Here’s the list (I’ve a few of you in mind specifically…)

  • Artwork
  • Haircuts
  • Mittens
  • Hats
  • Clothes
  • Massage
  • Ceramics (my  favorite mug just broke, hint hint)
  • Hand-made jewelry
  • Books
  • Quilts
  • Pay off our student loans
  • Food
  • Cloth diapers/covers
  • Car maintenance/repair
  • Paint exterior of house
  • Kitchen remodel
  • Eyeglasses/contacts
  • Seeds
  • 2, 14” wide bedside tables
  • Wine glasses
  • Shipping supplies or unlimited access to someone’s UPS account
  • Closet organizers
  • Music
  • Poetry
  • Size 8 or 9 boy shoes or slippers
  • Cell phones and coverage
  • A mountain bike
  • Donate breast milk
  • Donate 5 hours of your time at your neighborhood public school
  • Kids bike trailer
  • Contribution to kids’ college fund
  • Bread machine
  • Canned deliciousness
  • Baked goods
  • Hugs
  • Virtual hugs (If your name is Jessica, this is all I need from you xoxo)
  • Photo shoot
  • Babysitting
  • Fresh flowers
  • Business cards
  • PR
  • Web design
  • Baby toys
  • Children’s books
  • Dress-ups  for Milo
  • Crocheted/knitted things
  • Frames
  • Commemorative plates from states we’re not likely to ever visit
  • Cool rusty stuff for Jon’s rust farm
  • 3 plane tickets to:

o   Pennsylvania

o   Southern California

o   Northern California

o   Helsinki

o   Fairbanks

o   Portland

o   Madison

  • House cleaning
  • Yoga classes
  • Art supplies
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Wall space in your shop/gallery
  • Dental care
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Facials
  • Mountain cabin/condo use
  • Electroshock therapy for Jon (his choice)
  • Beer (homemade or other)
  • Wine (homemade or other)
  • Whiskey (preferably not homemade, no one wants to go blind)
  • Mead (preferably homemade)
  • Plants
  • Sharpies for Milo
  • Dinner at your restaurant
  • Door installation
  • Windows for our very chilly single-pained glass sunroom studio
  • Good old fashioned cash money, what you can afford
  • Worm compost set up
  • Homemade bath and body sweetness
  • Cloth napkins and kitchen towels
  • Spanish lessons for me or Milo
  • Vintage aprons
  • Dog walking

Other things/services we have to barter:

  • Cookies
  • Babysitting
  • House/Dog sitting in Whittier
  • Homemade organic baby food
  • Art lessons for kids
  • Stonework
  • Brick repair
  • Mending clothes
  • Framing/matting
  • 0-6 month baby boy clothes
  • Handmade bibs, burp rags, and blankets
  • Knit hats
  • Mural painting
  • Custom artwork and portraiture

Inspiring the Fesslers towards happiness

Inspiring aren't I?

When I was I college I took an advanced ceramics class. One day in class we watched a video on some ceramicist (I can’t remember his name) who talked at length about what makes a really great ceramic drinking vessel. We had to examine our concept of a just-right vessel. Does it hold the right amount of liquid? Does it feel right in your hand? Is it weighted properly? How does it feel when you hold it to your mouth? Does it keep your coffee or tea or whatever the right temperature for the right amount of time? What is the glaze like? Does the shape appeal to you visually? All of these things suddenly mattered. A mug. I have a few perfect vessels. One for tea, one for coffee. My tea mug was made by a mentor teacher and I formulated the hideous glaze. The mug feels light but substantial, it keeps my tea warm for a long time, the lip of the mug is not too fat and not too thin, I feel at ease when I have this mug in my hand. My coffee mug is a standard issue diner style coffee mug that we got on our honeymoon from the bed and breakfast Jon used to work at in Alaska.

Day 57

Day fifty-seven

Day fifty-eight

Day fifty-nine




Finding the perfect mug is like finding home. You know it when it’s right. I have been thinking a lot about the concept of domesticity and the idea of having a home, not just living in a house and having stuff rather, having a space where your life happens. Home is the center of our existence and for Jon and I it always has been. I think that’s why we’re so good together. We both know that our home is not just a place but a life being lived. It is where we make or choices that will trickle out to the rest of the world and create some sort of change.

Milo, Day 57. "This is a window and me and Uncle Tony looking out."

Milo, Day 58. "This is a silly mountain."

Milo, Day 59. "Shh, he is sleeping and he has buggars."

Now that Milo is getting older and Wyatt is here, home is even more valuable. I could not even begin to put a dollar amount on the time I spend making home. Being the stay at home parent this year has gotten me thinking about how we address home life. It is so easy for women and men to get into the “house wife syndrome” of being completely unfulfilled by domestic and childcare responsibilities. Since the industrial revolution domestic life has become centered on consuming things rather than creating them. I fell so easily into the emptiness of going to Target, buying things and consuming them. By the end of the summer I was downright sad. I felt empty and guilty for feeling so empty. I knew that I didn’t need something outside of the home. I needed a new perspective; I need to feed my home and my life with some creativity. Ever since I started this project I am not sad every day. I don’t feel so  empty and I no longer feel like I’m watching my life happen to me while I drink coffee from a mug that doesn’t feel right.

A very serious post for a Halloween weekend. Sorry folks, let’s lighten things up with a few good Halloween photos…In 3rd grade I was Tammy Fae Baker (my mom has a wicked sense of humor), this year Milo went as a Rescue Hero (or a member of the Village People). He won win 3rd place at the coffee shop costume contest and we didn’t spend a dime on his costume!

P.S. Check out our pictures from the I Am photo shoot

Tammy Fae Baker

Rescue Hero Milo