Year in Review: January thru June 2017

2017 was quite a busy year! I was a horrible blogger all year too so please pardon me as I post a giant update on what I was working on the first half of last year! As you’ll soon find out, this was the year I broke into the watercolor floral game and had a lot of fun doing it too!


January

To start the year off, I worked on some sweet little first birthday invites for some close friends.

Sam Allen Creates Ice Cream Social Birthday Party Invitation

Sam Allen Creates Woodsy Bear Lumberjack Birthday Party Invitation


February

The month started with first birthday prep for my bestie’s little girl. Even though this was well over a year ago, I still plan to share a more in depth blog on it because it was so darling!!

I was also working on another batch of designs to be presented to retail stores like Hobby Lobby! They were really my favorites and was so happy to see them in stores later in the year.

February is also the month Disney released some of the most epic of their original animated films and I love to create some fan art in honor of their anniversaries!

The month also included a few more custom pieces including this adorable woodcut sign!

And lastly!! Handpainted Where the Wild Things Are invitations! Looooove how these came out!!





March

It’s always fun to work on a different canvas, and in this case, literally canvas! I painted navy blue on this black canvas and then used a watered down white paint for the lettering. It’s still a favorite of mine!

Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Canvas of Titanic Last Song Lyrics - Nearer my God to Thee

The month ended with a beautiful beginning… the start of my friend Lauren’s baby shower planning! And what’s the first thing you tackle for any event? Sending the invitations! I painted my first ever flower for Lauren’s invites, having no idea how the year would continue filled to the brim with watercolor florals!

The Adventure Begins Shabby Chic Baby Shower Invitation 1 Tribal Watercolor Wreath

Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Envelope Addressing Bridal Shower


April

While continuing work on Lauren’s shower, this month also brought my friend Kara’s wedding to the front of my focus, starting with getting her wedding invitations addressed. I adore white on gray, just love it!

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To close the month, and just in time for Lauren’s shower, I got to photograph some sweet maternity portraits! You can view more on my blog here.

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May

The month of May started with Lauren’s baby shower! It was such a joyous day which you can view in full here, but here’s some of my favorite parts:

After the shower, Mother’s Day arrived within a blink. My little guy helped me create some fun projects for the grandmas!

Sam Allen Creates Grandparent Gifts from Children Love Sign with Footprints

Sam Allen Creates Grandpa and Grandma Pillow Designs, Printed and Produced by Hen House Originals

And of course there were miscellaneous Etsy orders completed throughout the month, like writing out these tags for a baby shower! Love when my customers send me photos!

Sam Allen Creates Handwritten Calligraphy Placecards for Baby Shower in Temecula


June

The start of June was filled with celebrations of my little guy’s first birthday! I did a full blog post on the party here, but here’s some peeks for you!

With the leftover sea glass from the party, I created these adorable mini placecards!

And then I ended the month painting this hot air balloon piece for a soon to be born baby girl! I think it barely arrived in time for the birth!

Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Hot Air Balloon Nursery Art for Baby Girl


Stay tuned for another post to come for the rest of the work created in 2017! It was such an amazing year!

 

One Little Word 2018: Focus

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This year, I have chosen the word “focus” to be my “one little word” for the new year!

And here’s 3 reasons why:

O N E .Improve the process. Over the past few months, I have constantly had to remind myself of this to the point it has become my mantra! I’m always whispering it to myself as the many distractions in this world split my focus. While I am really good at focusing on working and not getting distracted by social media, it’s the many projects that I am working on that I keep getting distracted by. So rather than plowing through a project to completion, I work a little here and a little there and then inspiration strikes on a completely other project and I start to dabble there. By the end of the day, I look back and see that not one thing can be checked off the list but the list has actually grown. Ugh.

To fix this, I will be reworking my day to day processes. Implement a schedule with daily routines, like taking care of the business side on Tuesdays, painting on Wednesdays, photographing those paintings on Thursdays, new listings on Fridays, etc. This will help to streamline the day to day and not have me jumping back and forth between all the various duties of a small business owner and the many hats we must wear.

T W O .Cut the clutter. Not only am I trying to clear my mind to allow myself to focus, I am also physically reworking my office to allow for maximum productivity. My office is always in a constant state of “creative clutter…” paintings are drying on every surface, old lettering projects for scanning are scattered everywhere waiting to by filed, scraps from the paper cutter left in a pile. All this is getting cleaned up or getting thrown out! And it’s feeling amazing!

T H R E E .Niching down. I tend to say YES to any and all projects. But it’s far past the time to start saying NO! Another perspective on focusing is narrowing in on what projects I want to work on. I tend to take on too many pro-bono projects, styled shoots, and other photo shoots that may not fit my aesthetic anymore so my new plan is to say YES only to the projects that will move my business and skills forward. This will all make me a better artist rather than keeping stagnant doing the same old thing. Giving me more time to focus in and hone my design skills and run my business (as the business side of life is always what gets pushed down the list).

Now I must remind myself yet again, “FOCUS, Sam and wrap this up!”

I hope this message may be helpful to some who feel just as all over the place as I do. I’m here to help and hope to share a few other tips along the way as I focus in on becoming a better artist by focusing my craft and on what really matters: getting the work done in a timely matter SO I can spend time with my little family!

“One Little Word” is a concept created by Allie Edwards, learn more about it here.

Isaiah’s Under the Sea First Birthday Party

After Lauren’s beautiful baby shower in May, I was in a party planning slump which meant I ended up putting off planning Isaiah’s birthday party until the absolute last minute! The whole party pulled together only the week of the event, except for the invite of course.

I took some photos in my office of my favorite decorations before the party just in case something happened to them on the day of. I got a little caught up in them and they probably don’t really go for a first birthday but I love them nonetheless.

But first, I want to share the invite with you! It was so fun to work with such bright paint colors! And make the simple ocean illustrations all fit together like a big puzzle!

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And of course I had to paint up some Thank You cards to match! However, that did make me end up sending them months late! Just like this blog post, I’m always late nowadays! 😛

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While searching for Under the Sea birthday party ideas, I came across this saying about the ocean and loved it so much, I knew it needed to be on display at the party!

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I also came across these amazing glass bottles at Michael’s and of course I had to write all over it. I used lyrics from “Oceans” by Hillsong… it’s another one of those decor items that don’t really fit a kid’s birthday party but I just had to make it. My hands were itching to letter on this bottle!

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One very important part to any kid’s first birthday party invitation is the “achievement poster.” I loved going over all of our boy’s favorite things, collecting what’s near and dear to our guy and painting them all out. He made the perfect model as well! I had no idea what he was going to do posing with a poster over half his size but his little faces looking at his mama’s work was adorable.

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Finally, here are some photos from the actual birthday party day!

Our amazingly generous friend Anthony took the majority of these photos! It was such a relief to just be able to focus on Isaiah and not have to worry about documenting all these details! So thank you, Anthony!!

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And that’s the end of that! It was here and gone within a blink of an eye and now I have a 15 month old! But seriously, when do we stop counting months? Anyway, the day was such a joy. I love watching our boy be loved on by his family and friends. My heart just overflows.

Lindsey and Anthony’s Tropical Wedding at Bali Hai Restaurant, San Diego—Watercolor Wedding Stationery

You guys, I wrote this post TWO years ago, just after the wedding and then I found out I was pregnant and my blog pretty much burnt out for a bit while I struggled with a full 9 months of morning sickness and then newborn craziness and then just working mom life with a baby. So I hope you’ll indulge me with this “throwback post” as I’m excited to be posting this now even though it’s two years later!!

This was such an amazing wedding to work on!! First of all, I got to be bridesmaid AND the stationery designer so that’s always fun!! Second of all, Lindsey let me paint all over everything! And that is extra fun!!

Lindsey and I have been friends since 4th grade. She was in our wedding several TEN years ago and I was honored that she asked me to be in her wedding as well!!

I wanted to share a few of my favorite images from the wedding, of my work and the day itself!

First off though, let’s start with the wedding invitation suite….

Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Weddng Invitation Suite Water Lily

It was my first time painting flowers of any kind, I definitely learned a lot during pages and pages of practice! Even looking back two years later, I still love this suite so much. It was also my first time addressing envelopes in watercolor. I went through quite a bit of purple watercolor paint that summer!

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We even worked on some rehearsal invites to go with the theme as well…

Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Rehearsal Dinner Invitation

Okay okay enough of nerding out over paper goods in my home photo studio, let’s see the real wedding photos… by photographer Melissa McClure! And you can see her blog of the day here with so many more amazing photos!

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The reception was held at the Bali Hai Restaurant in La Jolla. It was a gorgeous restaurant right on the beach with a dock down into the water.

Wedding Bali Hai Reception - Photo by Melissa McClure

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Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Wedding Reception Cards Birdcage - Photo by Melissa McClureSam Allen Creates Watercolor Wedding Reception Guest Book Sign - Photo by Melissa McClureSam Allen Creates Watercolor Wedding Reception Drink Selection Sign - Photo by Melissa McClure

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For the placecards, we created individually painted bookmarks which would then fit a photo strip from the photo booth!

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And just a few more pictures of the beautiful bride and groom and I’m sneaking one in of me with the bride too! Isn’t she lovely!!

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Lauren & Kellen — Menifee Maternity Photos

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This little sweet baby girl is about to make her debut in the next couple weeks so I thought I’d share a few of her parent’s maternity photos with you all first! I can not wait to cuddle and love on this babe. Timehop has been reminding me daily of my little Isaiah as a newborn from last year everyday and it’s giving me baby fever!! Olivia June, I can not wait to meet you! And neither can your mama!!

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Menifee Maternity Portraits — Lauren and Kellen

Taylor and David’s Wedding at The Crossings, Carlsbad — Elegant Lace Wedding Stationery

Not every day does a designer get the privilege to have their hand, in my case that can be taken literally, in so many aspects of a single wedding. My wonderful family friend Taylor, had me create so many amazing pieces for her wedding last year two years ago… from the save the dates and invitations, to the tent cards to signage, I got to do it all—and I loved every piece! I have been so excited to share this special day with you all and the time has finally come! Just in time for their 2nd anniversary!! What the what?! Where does the time go?!

Starting with the Save the Date… we started to explore the type we would eventually use and the overall look and feel.

Sam Allen Creates Wedding Invitation Suite for Taylor Save the Date

Then a few months later we started on the invitation. I love every bit of it even still after these last two years! I found the lace embellishment on shutterstock.com and after showing Taylor, she LOVED it as it reminded her of her wedding dress. So that was the perfect border elements to our stationery for the invitation suite and day of paper goods. After you take a look at the invite, there’s beautiful photos from the wedding day itself ahead!

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Okay okay, enough invites already… here’s the beautiful wedding day photos captured by Heather Elise Photography.

Heather Elise Photography crossings at carlsbad escort tent card display lettering by Sam Allen Creates

Guests first look after arriving to the wedding was seeing this amazing table set up for the place cards! I loved the circle design these tent cards were placed it with the large silver vase in the middle.

But of course, before the guests were to find their seats. We needed to watch those two lovebirds get hitched! It was such a beautiful ceremony! Not only did I cry, but I laughed as the groom handcuffed himself to his new bride… and then they couldn’t get the handcuffs off later. Oh my.

Taylor and David are beer snobs connoisseurs, so the reception tables were named after their favorite breweries.

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Heather Elise Photography crossings at carlsbad tablescape (562)

Heather Elise Photography crossings at carlsbad tablescape lettering for centerpieces by Sam Allen Creates 2

Thank you so much, Taylor and David, for letting me be such a special part of your wedding day. Creating your paper goods was such an honor. Love you guys!

Taylor+David Highlight Film from KAPPEL IMAGERY on Vimeo.

Four Month Old Isaiah

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Considering you will be 5 months old next week, I’m a little late in posting this. Thankfully I took good notes and wrote this out a few weeks ago because you have changed SO much since you turned 4 months. Every day brings us a new joy and discovery… but for now, I’m enjoying taking a look back on the month before:


You’ve found your hand, your fist and then your thumb. But you kinda prefer to alternate them all and end up with lots of eye pokes.
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For a time, you’d like to throw your right arm out and above your head, but end up with smacking yourself in the face. In just this past week, you’ve really figured out how to grab and hold things whether it’s a teething toy monkey or a blanket.
You’ve found your voice. Chats with you are my favorite. You rarely even interrupt but are always ready with a lengthy reply.
We heard your first laugh. It came and went so fast and I couldn’t wait to hear it again.
You’ve had your first Disneyland experience. Something I’ve been waiting for for as long as I can remember. We took you on Its A Small World for you first ride. Walt Disney and Mary Blair would have been proud! You seemed to like it at first, after all we are on a boat (another first!) and water is your favorite, but then your sleepiness kicked in and you kinda lost your cool. Your sleepiness overtook you for your second ride as well: Winnie the Pooh. Being able to take my very own baby to a place I’ve loved so deeply was so magical. Being part of the stroller pushing mamas, wow! I can’t believe I get to do that now!
You still get super excited about things and flail your arms up and down when you do. Add in your super big “crazy eyes” and we can’t help but get excited too! You love your Nemo jumper, especially when Sheldon the seahorse says a hearty “Hi Isaiah!” It almost guarantees your gummy bashful smile in return.
Bath time is still a highlight of the day. You’re almost growing out of your tub though so the kicks and splashes haven’t been as frequent! Now that you don’t hate getting out of the tub as much, snuggling up in your towel has become a lot more fun!
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Being your mama, son, is a privilege and an honor. Why God chose me for this joyful task, I will never know, but I will never stop thanking him for choosing me to raise you. Your smile and spark are contagious. Your curiosity in the smallest of things, like the polka dot lining on the Boppy, makes me wonder and makes me so excited to show you the world.

Molly’s Bright and Colorful 2nd Birthday Celebration

Mollys 2nd Birthday Handlettered Invitation 2

You guys… In my last post about working with Trisha, I mentioned how much I adore designing for her! With all this hand lettering and painting going on, Trisha is my #1 customer (no offense to all my other #1 customers though!). She is such an encouragement and makes me strive to keep doing better and better, while still surprising her with each design. And now that I’m in the midst of working on her daughter’s 3rd birthday invitation, I thought it was time to post about the 2nd birthday invitation!

Trisha was really open to the direction to take the design. She wanted it bright and colorful though! So after showing her a few ideas, we went with a fun and whimsical direction and I got to hand write the whole piece! And then the best and final and most perfect touch, Trisha punched out and sewed on a few bright and colorful flags. Oh I love them so!

First off, I wanted to show you the work-in-progress sketch of the design before it was fully inked. It was really important to plan it out in pencil to really get the layout and how the words and lines would interact and flow together.

Mollys 2nd Birthday Handlettered Invitation Sketch

And then the fun and festive color was added to match the scrapbook paper that Trisha found for the banner.

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I love how Trisha sewed on the paper banners, it was such a fun handmade touch to the invitations.

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Can’t wait to share this year’s invites with y’all! Hopefully it won’t take me a year to post about them though! Ah!

Baby Isaiah’s Newborn & Nursery Photos, and Birth Announcement

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I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to have these photos done… I just can’t believe these are of MY baby. And they are just so darn cute. I love them all so much!

My friend Jess came over when Isaiah was 6 days old to take these in his nursery. We were in the process of moving and thankfully were able to have his very first room documented like this. To say we love the photos would really be an understatement, but what has also been tugging on my heart is the love from behind the camera. Coming from experience as an auntie/photographer, seeing how Jess saw my son through her lens and having it captured on “film” is just so special to me. You can read her own blog post on the photos here.

Maybe you all can help me pick which ones to frame because I really just can’t decide!

And please stay tuned to the end of the post where I’ve shared the birth announcement photos!

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The white blanket Isaiah is laying on here was knit by my grandmother… I love that little detail! (Rug is from Target)

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I mean come on! Look at those lips!

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We’ve been calling him Monkey Toes since the hospital… as he rested propped up on my legs in bed, he grabbed my bottom lip with those toes. It’s hard to tell here how long those little toesies are when fully extended!

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2 days after these photos were taken, we moved! His room was the last to pack up in hopes that we would bring him home to his first nursery rather than the new house. Thankfully, we had one very sweet week with him in our first home.

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I looooooved his nursery! It was and still is my favorite room in either house! Even though it is highly unfit for a child right now with some of the decorations… those will be removed in time though! Childproofing comes later right?

The crib and changing table are from Babies R Us. The crates (from Michaels) and the lumber for the wall (Lowe’s) were purchased as raw wood and then stained by my hubby and in laws before installing in the room. That wonderful mirror we stumbled across at Hobbly Lobby. How perfect is that?!

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The very next morning after finding out we were having a boy, we started pinning ideas for his nursery. My main focus was collecting art for a gallery wall. I was so excited to purchase art from some of my favorite artists that I’ve been following for years!

The two top prints on the left are from Handlettering Co. The “Skillful Sailor” print was actually purchased last summer in Montana! We had no place for it at all but loved it so much. Little did we know that less than a year later it would be the centerpiece for our baby’s nursery!

The far right print is from This Paper Ship. The far left map was purchased as a plain wood hanging from Michael’s and then I handpainted the map on it in gold leaf paint. The small knick knacks are from Hobby Lobby… Captain Hook and Neverland map prints are both from Etsy! Whew!

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Thank you Auntie Jess for all these photos and memories! We love you so much!


For Isaiah’s birth announcement, I really had NO idea how to get started designing it. There was a lot of pressure on me too (from myself) after having designed so many other birth announcements. I of course wanted to handletter on it, but with my writing being so girly, I found some smaller ways to add it without making it too feminine. Plus I hand-addressed all the envelopes so that was added fun! I really love how it came out, from the photos to the small design details. Like the compass and arrows on the back and the diamond shaped pattern that I traced from the rug in his room. I just love how it came out and I hope you do too!

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Notice the pattern on the far right side…? That’s traced from the rug in his nursery 🙂

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Isaiahs Birth Announcement Envelope Addressing

I SO enjoyed addressing all the envelopes to mail these out. It was my creative outlet during nap times 🙂

And I loved getting to design my very own address stamp after crafting nearly a hundred for others through my shop. I went for a fully handwritten and whimsical design. Hopefully the post office can read it for any returned mail!

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The end!! This really could have been split into 3 separate posts but who has time for that!?

Luellen and Walkenhorst Family Portraits, Montana Reunion Photography

Hi there! As I recover from that crazy road trip of ours, I thought I’d share some photos from our family reunion this past summer…. my dad’s brother in law just turned the big 7-0! So that side of the family had me take some photos of the generations as a gift for grandpa Jim!

These were all taken around the yard of our rental house just outside Glacier National Park! It was truly a gorgeous place with an unbelievable view!

From left to right we have the Walkenhorst family with my cousin Katie, then my dad’s sister Diane and my uncle Jim, and then the rest of the Luellen’s with my cousin Tom…

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Grandpa with son and son-in-law…

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And Grandpa Jim with Grandson Jake…

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Grandma and Grandpa with the grandkids.

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Here’s my cousin Tom and his family who were our gracious hosts in Missouri last month!

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Later that week we took some more photos but of just the Walkenhorst side…

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And that wraps up our family photos from the trip… so fun! Next up, my cousin Jake’s senior photos!