Talk to me Tuesday: Audrey Eclectic

One of the regular things we’ll be doing around her is “mini-views”, which are little mini interviews with artists, crafters, moms, entrepreneurs, or whoever else I think is neat-o.  I’ll ask everyone the same (mostly) questions and then ask them to tell us a little something about how they make lemonade in their own lives.  I’ll usually post these on a Tuesday because… well, because I didn’t get around to it yesterday, so now it’s Tuesday.  And I’m going with it.  Also “Talk To Me Tuesday” has a nicer ring than “Moan With Me Monday” or “Whine With Me Wednesday.” Anyway, I’m so excited to share our first artist feature with you today!

If you don’t know Heather from Audrey Eclectic, then I am tickled to introduce you.  She is an amazing artist, mom, and lemon squeezer.  Here is her Mini-View, and after that is her guest blog post for today.  When you’re done reading, please be sure to stop by her blog and leave her a comment to say hello, and then visit her flickr and her etsy shop too!  I can’t believe how talented this awesome artist is. Enjoy! (All photos courtesy of and © Heather Sleightholm/Audrey Eclectic).

 

Hi, Heather!  Please tell us a little about who you are and what you do.

Hello! My name is Heather Sleightholm and I am the artist behind Audrey Eclectic Folk Art. I love painting my own unique version of folk art portraits that I sell as originals, prints, and postcards. You can find my website at AudreyEclectic.com, my store at AudreyEclectic.etsy.com and my blog at AudreyEclectic.blogspot.com.

Where do you do your art & crafting

I have taken over a little spare room in my house as my art room. I wish it was immaculately organized and adorably decorated, but it’s most very utilitarian and *this close* to being a complete disaster! Every so often I clean it out and organize it and it makes me feel so calm and motivated and ready to paint. You’d think I’d keep it up, wouldn’t you?


What inspires you?

I feel like I’m always on the look out for inspiration, and it comes from the most random places. I love art that tells a story, so other types of stories always appeal to me—be they great novels (especially the Brontes and Austen) movies, or old photographs. The backs of old postcards, vintage magazines, classic illustrations. As for the arts, I’m really interested in traditional folk art, both Americana style and European. I am also at once inspired by my home state of Oklahoma (we’ve been here 5 generations now, and no one’s found oil yet!) as well as far off lands—particularly the United Kingdom and Sweden. Oh, and Russia. See, it’s a rather rambly list!

What are your favorite art supplies?

Well, I use a lot of acrylic paint—mostly just the traditional tubes of craft paint that I started using with my mom as a kid. I am also proud to say that because of my parents’ tool and abrasives business, I have a lifetime supply of sandpaper at my disposal! So you’ll always find me scuffing up my paintings before I seal them, I love an aged look. And if I’m aging fabric, I love to coffee stain. It smells so good!

What is your home like, how is it decorated?

We bought our home a year into our marriage, a little bitty ‘starter home’ in a new neighborhood that’s rather cookie-cutter. Back in the olden days of 2005, we had no idea there would be a housing bust and that we would ever manage to outgrow 1100 sq. feet! We’re still here though and trying to make it work (cue Tim Gunn) and I’ve just about stenciled every room in the house!

I’d call my style old timey eclectic, and I decorate mostly in antique mall finds and family pieces that have come to live their last days with me, the girl who loves old crusty antiques. It’s been my mission to take this new house and turn it into a house that looks like it’s been here for decades. I love old photos and paintings (the more chipped the frame, the better!), blue and white dishes, and strange and slightly spooky old dolls. A year or two ago I painted my bedroom a deep almost peacock green and stenciled over it in a chocolate brown on two walls. I paired it with cream curtains and a cream embroidered bedspread and I’m more than a little pleased with how it all turned out. I am also blessed with a very understanding husband who lets me do what I want to the house, no matter if I know what I’m doing or not!

Where do like to find your diamonds in the rough for your home?

I find diamonds in many different places. I also love sifting through junk for the good stuff. Some of my dearest items are from family members who know I appreciate old things and so they let me have them. I’ve been collecting old family relics since I was little, really. I was always the kid who wanted to look through all the old family albums and hear the stories.

I also enjoy a good antique mall—especially small town antique malls that are an adventure to explore. Etsy can also be a good place to find some unexpected gems and there are some beautiful things to be had there! I think it helps too to have an appreciation for a little aging and cracking and chipping. I love thinking of the story a piece could tell—and no perfect new piece can convey that feeling like an old vintage piece can.

What is your favorite flea market/ garage sale/ thrift store find and why?

If I am itching to get out of the house or looking for something random, I love to go over to River City Trading Post in Jenks, because it never fails me. More often than not, I come out of there with something, even if it’s not what I meant to find! I once found a 1940s boxed set of beautifully illustrated copies of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I thought the price was for one book but it was for two. I was so happy I could have cried!

I also enjoy the Dewey Street Market in Sapulpa, my home town, which has a beautiful little down town. They’ve always got a wide array of items to look through and some beautiful old pieces.

I’ve also had some luck at the large Good Will store on South West Blvd. in Tulsa. They have some really nice houseware items there, and I think a lot of old family china and ‘outdated’ (but awesome!) dishware make their way to Good Will. Plus who can resist books for a dollar?


 

This past winter, I got it into my head that we really needed to move. I felt stuck in a rut and wanted a new house, a new adventure, and felt like we just needed to be brave and take a chance and put our house on the market. I think by dusk on Christmas day I had the house stripped of all ornamentation and nearly devoid of my slightly eccentric (but awesome!) decorating style so that we could enter the pool of houses on the market.

We knew that the housing market was limping along, and a lot less shiny and limitless than when we bought the house six years before. But gosh, everyone we knew was buying and selling houses in a week’s time! It seemed so easy, and who wouldn’t want a nice little starter-home by a great school that was so beautiful decorated?! We couldn’t lose! Or…so I thought.

The truth was, it was hard. Really hard. Especially for someone like me who hopes if I just clean hard enough, someone will fall in love. I would spend days cleaning and then another day toting my dogs and daughter out of the house for hours while strangers ambled through the rooms I was so desperate to be rid of.

But there was nothing. Barely even any feedback as to why we didn’t make the cut, and if we got any, it was usually ‘it’s too small.’ We began to realize that what people wanted were cheap repossessed McMansions, not well kept little homes. There wasn’t much market for ‘small, but great personality!’

Then something odd happened; my indignation at my home being rejected on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis made me fall a little bit more in love with it. Who wouldn’t want this place, with its eclectic color scheme, it’s cozy atmosphere, its tiny but epically bloomy yard? I started thinking about how these people who considered bigger to be better didn’t deserve this little house. We only wanted true love for the house, and maybe…we realized…this home’s true love was…us?

When our contract was up with our realtor, we said ‘thanks, but we’re staying.’ And by jolly, staying we are.  In those months on the market I did a ton of soul searching and reevaluating what it is that is important to me. I also started researching the way people live in other countries—and it is usually quite happily with a lot less square footage. I realized that the concept that ‘you upgrade to a certain size house at a certain point in your life/career/marriage’ is a bit of a myth. Sure, some people get it, but do they really appreciate it? Or is it just another rung on the ladder of things to want and acquire?

Ironically, a few days after deciding all this, I got contacted by the editor of Somerset Life Magazine and asked to write an article about blogging. I wanted it to be a different take on blogging than the ‘why I love blogging’ story I so often saw. But what to write?

I decided to write about my house. About how it was such an important part of my blog, as the backdrop of my life and the showcase of my paintings. My home has been featured in my blog since I began blogging in the infancy of my art business, Audrey Eclectic. I wrote about how my house helps me present my art and my work to the world via the internet and it became sort of a love letter to this 1100 square feet of tiny adorableness.

And just a few days ago, I received my copy of Somerset Life. And there, in it’s pages, was my house! My little house, too small for anyone to imagine living in, was gracing 6 entire pages of a nationally read magazine. I felt a little shocked and amazed. And a tad bit vindicated. But I also felt still very much in love.

***Heather’s article is in the Summer issue of Somerset Life, which will be hitting the newsstands any day now.  Thank you for sharing your story with us, Heather!***

8 Responses to Talk to me Tuesday: Audrey Eclectic

  1. Vickie says:

    What a sweet interview. Love the attitude and the art.

  2. Amy Wasinger says:

    Great article! Very much enjoyed reading this. I went through a similar emotional experience about my home when we listed it on the market and it did not sale. Made me appreciate it so much more!

    • Holly says:

      Thanks, Amy! How awesome that you experienced the same kind of thing. I love when I am full of gratefulness and contentment. I’m so much happier than when I’m pining for MORE MORE MORE!

  3. Jenny says:

    Great mini-view from an amazing artist!

  4. Wooo hooo… cool beans!… great article, great artist and a lovely gal… thank you Holly for sharing Heather with us on “Talk To Me Tuesdays” ;O)

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