Light in Darkness

Since the middle of October, I start my Wednesday workday with a Morning Meeting. I spend about a half hour in the woods with my Canon Rebel Xti photographing what I see. Rain, fog & gray clouds have joined me on all but one morning. Today I stalled in the truck longer than normal. The gray days have become draining.

Life can become pretty draining too. From the outside it looks like all potential for joy & color have been lost. Much like the minutes before I force myself out of the truck with camera in hand. Then you dig in. You start connecting with your environment. You start building relationships. And suddenly a beautiful story starts to form. Color screams from the grayness. Joy over pours from your soul.

I found vibrant color and an overabundant amount of joy during my Morning Meeting today. Not only in he photos I was taking, but in the promise of Christmas. The promise that Jesus will put His light into my gray & dull life everyday. 

"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." John 12:46

May your Christmas weekend be filled with light, joy & color!

See today's entire Morning Meeting here.


In Progress: Bike Love

The beginning of this journey was documented here.

Painting #1


State of Painting #1 as of 11.30.11

Painting #2


State of Painting #2 as of 11.30.11

Painting #3

Finished Painting (!!) #3

Photos that will hang in front of Painting #3

I love it when a project starts coming together - even if a bit late. Hoping to have everything put together by Christmas.


In Progress: Jenny Lake Illustration

"A lake is the landscape's most beautiful & expressive feature. It is the earth's eye; 
looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." 
- Henry David Thoreau

View of Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons from Inspiration Point
Copy & initial sketch to work from to create paper cut





Morning Meetings

Wednesday mornings I've been going to Lake of the Woods Park in Mahomet, IL. There I spend at least a half hour with my camera. What I find I've been posting on my flickr's photostream. Below is one image from each week. This week I'm in Atlanta. My camera has been attached to me.

Morning Meeting 10.12.11

Morning Meeting 10.19.11

Morning Meeting 10.26.11

Opryland Hotel. Nashville, TN.

Georgia Aquarium. Atlanta, GA.



Today is the greatest
Day I've ever known
Can't live for tomorrow,
Tomorrow's much too long
I'll burn my eyes out
Before I get out

I wanted more

Than life could ever grant me
Bored by the chore
Of saving face

-Smashing Pumpkins, Today

* * * * *

Everyday I wake up at 6AM. Workout. Shower. Build Relationships. And Make Art.

Here is the progression of some of that art.

Words to Paint By for Bike Love 

Painting #1
Get on your bike right outside your front door.
Low-traffic residential roads will get you anywhere in town.

Painting #2
People will think you’re having fun. And you will be!
Plus you will get some extra exercise, fresh air, and a sense of accomplishment. 

Painting #3
When you bike all over a place it becomes yours.  
The more we bike CU, the more we love CU.

 Photos to Paint By for Bike Love

Inspiration for Painting #1 for the project Bike Love.
Inspiration for the under-painting of Painting #2

Inspiration for the overlay of painting of Painting #1
Inspiration for the under-painting of Painting #3
Inspiration for the overlay of painting of Painting #3

State of paintings on 10.21.11

State of paintings on 10.26.11


Build an Effective Mobile Office

Work can be done anywhere. The tricky part for many of us is showing up & focusing on the task at hand. Jessie Marie Studio has been utilizing a mobile office since the beginning of June. I've learned there are certain things you need, want & need to bring when working out in public.

Open Air Mobile Office

Free WiFi


Large Tables

Public Restrooms

Work Group Mobile Office


Free Parking

Windows with a View

Free Food & Beverages

Or Food & Beverages to Purchase

A Cool Atmosphere

Privacy for phone calls

Cool Atmosphere Mobile Office

Basic Items to Bring:

Laptop & power-cord (forgot mine today. Opps!)

Headphones - to help you get into the zone

Cell phone - for any needed phone calls

Wallet - to pay for above mentioned food

Pen & Paper - for notes & to do lists

Snack or Beverage from Home

Anything else you would add?



"If your justifications are peppered with words and phrases like "should," "makes sense," "is the responsible thing to do," and "I can't back out now," this is a sign that you are fooling yourself. A quick test is to listen to your answer to the question "How do I really feel?" Trust the answer." - Pamela Slim, Escape from Cubicle Nation

Last week I pruned my part-time position at Horizon Hobby out of my life. Horizon Hobby had been more than flexible with my new schedule as a Mommy Freelancer. Letting me work from home & come in for needed meetings when I had childcare. I was working on a thought provoking & challenging project with a great team of people. I had even held onto my favorite benefit: a membership to the Fitness Center.

September 30th approached. The day that upper management had set as a reevaluation date in May when I attempted to quit. I began questioning if staying on with Horizon Hobby was the best thing for myself & Jessie Marie Studio. Throughout August the answer was it "is the responsible thing to do."

New opportunities began to present themselves.

I was asked to redesign a cover for Storybuilders. A great fit for my talents. I accepted. The client loved what I created. She can't wait to work on a larger project with me.

The redesigned back cover, spine & front cover. Completed last Wednesday.

Connections in Maine started to present themselves to promote Adventures with Ranger Roy: Acadia National Park in the place we see as our book’s natural home. Someone had to follow up.

First Prospective Vendor Packages sent to Portland, Maine today.


I was asked to create an installation piece for 40North's SIGHTSPECIFIC - a rotating series of storefront exhibitions in the downtown Champaign area. I was challenged with creating a piece to be shown in the ticketing window of the Art Theater. An idea was gaining traction in my head. Time was needed to create.

Photo of Chad Knutson pulling...

his six month old daughter, Janet from last Friday.

Jill & Clara Knutson enjoying the same afternoon bike ride.

My time is limited as a Mommy Freelancer. I have between 20 & 25 hours a week dedicated to Jessie Marie Studio. Half that time is spent attending to any administrative work, business planning, brainstorming, emailing, social networking & photography fun. The other half is dedicated to my client's projects & building the Adventures with Ranger Roy empire.

A choice had to be made. I had to deliberately pick which client's projects I was going to focus on. It seemed between August & September God created a clear path of new opportunities. The path didn't "make sense" - or bring in a consistent paycheck. But I had to trust Him.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test & approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing & perfect will." Romans 12:2


Mountains & Music

View of the Continental Divide from our 5 mile hike

Inside Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Summer slides by faster when time is spent doing things you love. And no summer would be complete without this Midwestern girl heading out to the mountains & taking in a live show (or two).  It's even better when both can happen at the same time.

On July 9th the Avett Brothers were scheduled to play at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. A must go to venue outside of Denver, Colorado. The weekend road trip from Champaign, Illinois turned into an adventure to remember. Creative encouragement, teamwork & laughter filled our newly formed traveling team of four: Jarrod, Jessie, Leslie & Roger. We couldn't have planned a more perfect trip if we wanted to.

Did you have a trip of a lifetime this summer? Tell us about it.

Fabulous Traveling Team of Four: Jarrod, Leslie, Jessie & Roger

--ADDITION: Video sent by Jarrod showing a trip of a lifetime this summer. Enjoy! --

Almost There - The Muir Project from The Muir Project on Vimeo.

During the summer of 2011, a group of multimedia artists spent 25 days hiking the 219 mile long John Muir Trail. The intent was to capture their experience on the trail and bring it back to the general public in the form of a gallery exhibit including photographs, video installations and hands-on displays that allow visitors to truly get a feeling for the beauty and majesty of the trail without the burning lungs and blisters. Alongside the exhibit will be a feature length documentary chronicling their adventures on the trail.

This is the first glimpse into their epic journey, accompanied by the single, ALMOST THERE by Opus Orange.



Come Inside

I would like to invite you inside the offices of Jessie Marie Studio. 

Washington Street in Champaign is where I work when Cadence naps.

As Cadence says, "Mommy works in the living room."
At least once a week I pack up my work bag & head out to...

... places like the patio at the Champaign Public Library...
... coffee shops...
... other people's offices...
... client's locations...

... with free coffee & cookies...

... more coffee shops...
... and other city's libraries.
The walls may change from day to day - or even not exist, but the high quality marketing & design stays the same. Follow my Workday Location posts on facebook.