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!

Sam Allen Creates - Isaiah's First Birthday - Under the Sea Birthday Invitation - Watercolor 1Sam Allen Creates - Isaiah's First Birthday - Under the Sea Birthday Invitation - Watercolor 2Sam Allen Creates - Isaiah's First Birthday - Under the Sea Birthday Invitation - Watercolor 5Sam Allen Creates - Isaiah's First Birthday - Under the Sea Birthday Invitation - Watercolor 6Sam Allen Creates - Watercolor Handpainted Envelope Addressing

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! 😛

Sam Allen Creates - Isaiah's First Birthday Thank You Card - Under the Sea Birthday - Watercolor PaintingSam Allen Creates - Isaiah's First Birthday Thank You Card - Under the Sea Birthday - Watercolor Birthday

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!

Sam Allen Creates - Isaiah's First Birthday - Under the Sea Birthday - As the Ocean has no end so does my love for you - ocean saying - handlettered watercolor artSam Allen Creates - Isaiah's First Birthday - Under the Sea Birthday - As the Ocean has no end so does my love for you - ocean saying - handlettered watercolor art 2

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!

Sam Allen Creates - Isaiah's First Birthday - Under the Sea Birthday Decorations - Handlettered Bottle - Oceans lyrics 1

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

Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Wedding Reception Bali Hai Table Number Chart - Photo by Melissa McClureSam Allen Creates Watercolor Wedding Reception Table Number Chart - Photo by Melissa McClure

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

Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Wedding Reception Bali Hai - Photo by Melissa McClure 2Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Wedding Reception Bali Hai Tablescape Floating Dahlia Centerpiece - Photo by Melissa McClure 2Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Wedding Reception Bali Hai Tablescape Floating Dahlia Centerpiece - Photo by Melissa McClure 5Sam Allen Creates Watercolor Wedding Reception Bali Hai Tablescape Floating Dahlia Centerpiece - Photo by Melissa McClure

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!!

Wedding Portraits - Photo by Melissa McClureWedding Portraits - Photo by Melissa McClure 2Wedding Portraits at Ballast Point - Photo by Melissa McClureWedding Bali Hai Reception Sunset - Photo by Melissa McClure

 

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Lauren’s Woodsy Shabby Chic Baby Shower

One of my long time friends, Lauren, is about to have her first baby so us girls joined creative forces to throw her one amazing baby shower earlier this month!

We based the look of the shower off the nursery which will be a shabby chic-woodsy-adventure-tribal theme. How fun is that?!

We had so much fun planning out all the details but let’s first start with the invitation…

Invitation Suite

The Adventure Begins Shabby Chic Baby Shower Invitation 2 Tribal Watercolor WreathThe Adventure Begins Shabby Chic Baby Shower Invitation 3 Tribal Watercolor Wreath

This was SO much fun to paint!! I had absolutely NO experience painting flowers before this but after doing A LOT of research, I really am so happy with how this turned out. Using a wreath allowed us to bring in all the fun aspects of the nursery, from the woodcut background to the feather and arrows.

The Adventure Begins Shabby Chic Baby Shower Invitation 4 Tribal Watercolor Wreath


Guest Tables

The weather forecast had called for rain, in May… in California!? Thankfully we had reserved this canopy back when we first started planning even though it was for shade! Turned out God had another use for it in mind. And you know what, the weather ended up being PERFECT! After some light rain while we were setting up, not a drop came down during the actual shower.

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So of course, with the impending rain storm, we totally redid the layout of the whole shower but I think we all loved how it came out!

The centerpieces were a collection of glasses, candles, bouquets and succulents. All the glassware was compiled just between the hostesses! I kept saying we need to start a rental company for all these amazing decorations! And that greenery down the center of the table? Well that was cut from this very yard on the day of the shower! So perfect!!

Shabby Chic Woodsy Baby Shower Centerpieces 2Shabby Chic Woodsy Baby Shower CenterpiecesShabby Chic Woodsy Baby Shower Guest Tables


Cake Table

Did you see the cake table in the background of the above photos? Well I think it may be my favorite…. Mostly because the focal point was this globe I painted for the baby’s nursery. And one of the other girls’ baked those “naked cakes.”

Shabby Chic Woodsy Baby Shower Cake Table

Shabby Chic Baby Shower Cake Table Succulent Cake Topper


Drink & Appetizer Table

This sweet little table definitely had its share of rain that day, but it pushed through admirably as I kept running out to save that watercolor painting from sudden death!

We served up pink lemonade and water in these awesome mason jar drink dispensers… the centerpiece was a homemade teepee and the print was done by yours truly (also for the baby’s nursery).

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Drink Table mason jar drink dispenser

We found these wood slices on Amazon for the watercolor dipped tent cards and then cut out little banners and washi taped them to the straws to personalize everyone’s drinks.

Shabby Chic Tribal Watercolor Wreath Painting

Our appetizer table housed this delicious chicken cheeseball shaped like some a pair of pinecones as well as our terracotta succulents that were the game prizes!

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Photo Backdrop and Gift Teepee

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Backdrop and Gift Tepee

I think this paper flower background was the star of our show though! I wish we could take credit for it but we borrowed it from a friend. It was just too perfect! Our gift teepee was from Target and draped with my grandmother’s lace tablecloths! Floral topper made from a few pre-assembled silk flowers from Hobby Lobby.

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Gift TepeeShabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Guest Book tableShabby Chic Baby Shower Paper Flowers Backdrop Polaroid Guest BookShabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Guest Book table sign

We had the guests take Polaroids for the Mama’s scrapbook for the day. The scrapbook was truly an amazing work of art—purchased on Etsy (shop: BurkeSevenVintage)! As a scrapbooker—I can’t fathom the amount of time it took to piece together all the pages.

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Guest Book table scrapbook


Headband Station

I wish I would have taken a photo of this table later on once more headbands had been made but I was taking advantage of the break in the clouds for lighting! Not yet knowing we weould end up with sunny skies for the rest of the day! Anyway, we bought two headband kits off Etsy (shop: BowtiqueEmilee), and set out all the parts in jars with a helpful little sign to guide the guests in assembling.

Shabby Chic Baby Shower Headband Station TableShabby Chic Baby Shower Headband Station Sign


Thank You Card Table

The Mama-to-Be requested for us to have the guests address their envelopes

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Thank You Cards table 3Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Thank You Cards table

I had too much fun painting all the table signs throughout the shower. This and the Trail Mix table sign were my favorite though. Maybe. Plus the Headband table sign… Okay, I loved them all actually.

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Thank You Cards table 2

Shabby Chic Baby Shower Handpainted Wood Name Sign


Trail Mix Favors

At the front door, as guests were leaving they could grab a bag of trail mix “to fuel their future adventures.” The decor on the wall is also from the baby’s nursery, canvas banner lettering design by me—another decoration I want to make for myself!

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Trail Mix Favors Table

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Trail Mix Favors Table 2Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Trail Mix Favors Sign

Each favor bag was stamped with the Adventure Awaits stamp from my shop.

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Trail Mix Adventure Awaits Favors

Shabby Chic Tribal Baby Shower Antlers and Handwritten canvas banner


Custom Snapchat Geofilter

Okay this may have been the best surprise that day for the Mama-to-Be! We created a Snapchat geofilter with the artwork from the invitation! I had never done one before but I couldn’t believe how easy it was to submit and get approved!

Shabby Chic Baby Shower Tribal Watercolor Wreath Snapchat GeofilterSnapchat Sign for Custom Geofilter


And last but not least, a girly group photo (photo bombed by my chubby cheeks son haha)… we love you, Lauren… and can not wait to snuggle that sweet baby girl!!

Shabby Chic Baby Shower Paper Flowers Backdrop GirlsShabby Chic Baby Shower Paper Flowers Backdrop with Lauren

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One Little Word

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I’m late to the game but I wanted to participate in the One Little Word yearly challenge where you pick your word to live by for the year.

After spending time thinking on it, my thoughts ranging from “faith” to “endure” to “_______”, I finally settled on a word…

Shine.

What does this word mean to me?

Well first off, in everything I do, I try to put 100% of myself into it. Of course, this is just a good work ethic to have but it came from growing up watching my mom juggle 1,000 things and never missing a beat, to working at Bath and Body Works and learning how to put the customer first, and now being the sole person behind my shop, Your New Friend Sam.

All that to say, why and how do I continue to give everything I have toward anything I do?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

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No matter what I find myself doing this year. Whether I am working on a project for a client or whether I am posting to Instagram a photo of my lazy Sunday afternoon, I want that inner light to shine forth in my attitude and in the quality of my work.

This past year has been such a work-centered year that I kept feeling burnt out over and over. I want to be able to rise above that struggle and just be content because after all, having work, even too little or too much, is a wonderful thing. I want to feel God’s light shining on me and knowing His hand is in all things. I want to take that light and shine it forward.

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A little behind the scenes shot, a still wet painting of the word shine on a cloudy January day.

The Shine watercolor lettering was created by me using the Pentel Aquash and gold watercolor paint.

Love watercolor lettering? See my listing for watercolor logos here.