What everyone wants to know about living in a tiny house. Do you go insane in there? How do you make it work logistically?Read More
Dallas-born Jennifer Moreman knew at an early age that she wanted to be an artist: a popular aspiration for many children, but Jennifer learned the challenges of turning that dream into a reality. She chased her passion through her studies, trial-and-error, and some risk-taking along the way, and in the decade since her graduation from Baylor University, has found success and emerged as an artist whose paintings are recognized and appreciated not only in her native Texas, but around the world.
We had the opportunity to talk to Jennifer, who now resides in Tyler with her family and stays busy with commissioned projects, about her journey, her style, and her inspiration.
TB&B: Is art something you've always had a passion for? When did you decide to pursue it as a career?
JM: I've been fond of art my whole life. I colored for hours as a small child. I was an aspiring artist in middle school and decided I would major in art during my junior year of high school. I had amazing art teachers at Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, Texas, and then again at Baylor. I'd say if it weren't for them, I would not have become the artist I am today. They pushed me to take risks and have fun.
TB&B: Which media do you usually work in?
JM: I use a lot of different types of paints, including acrylic and oil. I once even used finger nail polish, though that may be a one-time deal. :) I like to experiment and use paints in unusual ways to get them to do what I want.
TB&B: How would you describe the typical aesthetic of your artwork? How has that style changed and evolved throughout the years?
JM: I think I am a bit different from some artists because I have two completely different styles that I paint in. I love to paint my whimsical, drippy animals, and then I love to experiment and play with my abstracts. Both styles are very colorful, and I hope people find them exciting. When I get frustrated or stuck on one I go to the other. I'd also say both are a beautiful mess. I never take myself or my paint too seriously, and if I'm not covered by the time I wrap up, something didn't go right. I think I've gotten better with that through the years.
"Olivia the Octopus"
TB&B: Tell us about some of the pieces you've had commissioned.
JM: A lot of the work I do is commissioned. I work with a lot of talented designers and clients. I recently finished a longhorn for the University of Texas, my husband's alma mater. It is going in their Student Union building. I also did two pieces for suites in the new Baylor football stadium. I have giant chevrons in Beverly Hills and bulls in New Zealand. I need to get a map and start pinning where I ship my work. It would be fun to keep track!
I love the challenge of a commission. Some clients know exactly what they want and others just give me a couple of pointers and let me go with it. I'm usually about 4-6 weeks out and they keep me busy. I am very thankful to be a booked artist. Blessed for sure!
TB&B: From where do you draw your inspiration?
JM: Through my art, I focus on everyday moments taken for granted in life and encourage people to notice the simple splendor in the details. I depend on my capability to pause and recognize the natural beauty of the world and the interesting features found in God's creation that most people walk past each day and often overlook. My enthusiasm and joy as an artist comes from the ability to remind people that life is beautiful.
It was such a joy to get to know Jennifer a little better. Her paintings really do excite - seeing the beautiful colors in person puts you in awe and lightens your mood. The longhorn paintings are my personal favorite - but how great would any of these beauties complement your home, no matter what your décor style? Whether your vibe is more rustic, contemporary, or traditional, Jennifer's paintings bring a bold, visually interesting and gorgeous pop of color to any room.
To see more of her paintings available for purchase, shop the links below or visit her Etsy shop.
When artist Amanda Richardson opened an Etsy shop at age 18, her hand-painted leather accessories drew lots of attention, but none to the effect of her first pair of custom painted boots. Inundated with requests, Amanda now takes custom boot orders one at a time through her new business, HD West. It's almost like Richardson is giving each pair of boots a tattoo - telling a story unique to the one who wears them, transforming the leather into a canvas through color and design. These incredible works of art leave us pretty speechless, so we'll just let the pictures do the talking...
"Where there is a will, there's a way" is a familiar mantra to Carly Melancon, owner of Desert Canary Design. With a newly renovated but empty house to decorate and quite a disparity between what she'd envisioned her décor looking like and the realities of a young 20-something's budget (don't so many of us feel that pain!), Carly went to work on what she calls "furniture plastic surgery." The term is pretty spot-on, and Carly has managed to turn her personal hobby of giving old pieces new life into a business for people "with ro-day-oh taste on a ro-dee-oh budget." Running her restoration business in Huntsville, Carly has re-done custom pieces for clients all over the state. Each piece has a unique Texas hacienda feel with a touch of rodeo flair.
TB&B: How did you learn the techniques for painting and reupholstering furniture? Is it something you've always liked to do, or a more recent hobby?
CM: Refinishing furniture has been a self-taught experiment full of trial and error. It all got started when my husband and I bought our first house and I had a very specific image in mind as to what our house would look like. Imagine, if you will, the interior design images from the pages of Cowboys and Indians, combined with every Pinterest page related to "colorful hacienda," all smeared into one little house. Then I very quickly realized the reality of my fresh-out-of-college budget vs. high-end home décor. But, where there is a will, there is a way. I turned to the Internet to teach myself the techniques needed to create the pieces that I had envisioned in my house on a modest budget.
TB&B: How did you make the transition from a doing this as a personal hobby to running a business?
CM: My furniture started to grab the attention of my friends and family, and I would do a few little odds and ends for others, but I didn't really gain the confidence to treat it like a business until about two years ago. Our best friends' mom showed up at my house with a stock trailer full of furniture and basically told me that if I was willing to treat her like a client and not my best friend's mom, then she was willing to do business with me. She was the push I needed to take the leap from hobby to business, and for that I will always be grateful.
TB&B: What are some of the craziest places you've found furniture for your projects?
CM: My poor husband has high-stepped across a highway or two to retrieve a chair out of ditch with me yelling, "High knees! High knees!" from the safety of the truck. I have ventured into some shady places for a bargain, but the one trip that stands out the most in my mind is the dark warehouses in downtown Houston. The gentleman turned out to be a very nice man and I got some really cool stuff, but my initial thought was, "Hmmm...this place seems familiar...
Oh that's right, Silence of the Lambs."
So aside from being pretty hilarious, Carly's got an obvious knack for turning forlorn into fabulous. To see more of her work or inquire about a project, head over to the Desert Canary Design
For fifteen years, Aaron Watson has been steadily making a name for himself among the greats of the Texas Country genre. His 12th album, The Underdog, was released two weeks ago and has since been sitting at the top of the iTunes Country chart, but Aaron isn't slowing down. He just played Ryman Auditorium, the mother church of country music, and makes his Grand Ole Opry debut in March. To Aaron, the awards and honors pale in comparison to the loyalty of his fans, the love of his family, and the steadfastness of his faith. We had the honor of talking with Mr. Watson about his latest record and family life. What does jelly have to do with The Honky Tonk Kid? Read on...
TB&B: You had Keith Stegall, who's produced records for George Jones, Alan Jackson, Clay Walker, and other Nashville big names, as your producer on The Underdog. What made you want to work with Keith on this album, and how was working with him different than other albums you've made?
AW: Anyone in the music business knows Keith is a heavy hitter. I had gained a lot of momentum after releasing the last album, Real Good Time, so I knew I needed to raise the bar. I needed someone to push me to the next level. It's always been a dream of mine to work with Keith, and finally being able to do that really motivated me to be more prepared. We made, what I think, is my best album yet and I really felt like working with Keith was like enrolling in a Masters program. Even after 15 years and 2,000 shows, I still felt like I learned something and that I matured - especially as a singer - while making this album.
When you're four and you're cute, you get to sign Aaron's boot.
TB&B: How did you come to the decision to choose "The Underdog" as the album name? You've talked about the message you wanted it to give your kids, but is there also a deeper meaning?
AW: It was a special song to me - a letter to my boys, from Dad, so that when I'm gone some day they'll know how much I love 'em and know what I expect of them. It's probably partly something I've felt as an artist too. I've always been more on the traditional side, and since I've been in the business, that hasn't been embraced. The traditional stuff is just not something they've been looking for anymore, at least at the big name record labels. Big labels get you played on mainstream corporate radio, and if you can't get played on mainstream radio, then the cards are stacked against you. I've been an underdog in this industry. I haven't had radio to build my business, so I built it with my fans, and the success of this album is really a testament to them.
TB&B: Tell us about your writing process. Do you have certain timeframes set aside, or is it more impromptu, whenever something inspires you?
AW: When I'm working on an album I get more focused. I'll get up early, before my wife and kids are up if I'm at home, or if I'm on the road, before my band gets up. I'll make coffee - I love to write when things are quiet in the morning. Really, though, throughout the day I'm constantly collecting ideas for songs. It's definitely a hobby of mine, writing songs, and I'm just lucky that I can make a living doing it.
TB&B: To you, what is it that sets country music in Texas apart from Nashville?
AW: I used to be a little more opinionated about this back in the day. I do think Texas Country fans are the most loyal of any genre. It's kind of like a birthright. They feel like they own it - like they have stock in it. Because if not for Texas Country fans, there is no Texas Country music. There's also a lot more independence in Texas, from an artist's standpoint. We do what we want to do. I think there's some Nashville guys who are a little envious of the way we do things here, because nobody's telling us what songs to sing, what to wear... we don't have to wear the skinny jeans. But I've always put it like this: it'd be a sad world if there was only one flavor of jelly. If you want some grape jelly, you can listen to Luke Bryan. But if you want some, let's say, apricot... or prickly pear jelly... then you can listen to me. I've realized as I've gotten older, that as artists, we're all just trying to do the same thing - and that's putting food on the table for our families.
TB&B: You just played Ryman Auditorium, you've got your Grand Ole Opry debut in March - where do you go from there? What goals do you still want to achieve?
AW: I've had one goal the whole time, and that's to pay off my wife's credit card bill each month. Joking! Kind of. I really don't have a list of goals. I wouldn't say that that the accomplishments don't mean anything to me - it's exciting, getting to do those things - but I'm just not wired like that. I just go day to day. This is my family business, and it's also my ministry. I've always prayed that God would help me focus on what really matters, and that's my faith, my family, and my fans.
TB&B: Speaking of family and your wife, how did you two meet? Your relationship and the esteem in which you hold each other is a major part of what your fan base loves about you. People appreciate a love like that.
AW: Well, I stopped her at school - we were at ACU - we had mutual friends, but I had never talked to her. One day she was sitting there and I went up and said something corny, like What have you been up to? She said she had just had a birthday, and so I asked her if she did anything fun to celebrate, and she said No and made this really cute frowny face. So I said, "Well I'll take you out for your birthday..." and the rest is history. As for our relationship, we really just try to keep God in the middle of it. We are NOT perfect, and we don't want anybody to think that we are. Nobody is. It's not perfection, it's persistence, and always trying to be better. It's tough! You have to constantly re-evaluate. Our lifestyle is a little different, so half the time we make it up as we go along. We just always try to get that family time in and we have a Never Say Die attitude. Marriage is hard work, but it's also really rewarding.
One fan at the in-store signing had brought a cowboy hat of her late father's for Aaron to sign. Ray Price's autograph can be seen on the left side. She and her father had always loved listening to Watson's song "Diesel Driving Daddy," and when her father passed away, she made sure it got played at his funeral.
TB&B: Lastly, what songs have you been loving lately? Any recent repeats on your iPod?
AW: Honestly, I've been so engulfed in my own - so busy with the album release - that I haven't really had time to listen to anything. And my kids control the playlist when they're with me. My boys like The Beatles and Michael Jackson - or Uncle Jackson, as Jolee Kate calls him. They also make me play my own songs for them a lot, which annoys me and makes me really happy all at the same time.
Among singer/songwriters, Aaron Watson is a different breed. He's achieved lasting success despite a lack of major label representation, sells out shows on a regular basis, and has found a way to balance the resources Nashville has to offer with the independent mindset of his home state. The Underdog, stylistically, shows a maturity not seen in Watson's previous albums and a variety in the melodies that will appeal to a wide audience, while still staying true to his traditional, old-school country roots. You don't want to miss this release - get it on iTunes or as part of a merchandise package on aaronwatson.com.