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wednesday wisdom: it is what it is

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I happened upon this simple, beautiful typography print from Etsy seller Coco And Dee, and was inspired to share a little bit about a topic on which I’ve been working in my personal life recently: acceptance. Accepting the world around us isn’t always easy, and accepting ourselves is often even harder. “It is what it is,” is a statement I’m known to use often when discussing external situations or problems, but applying that same understanding to myself has been a significant challenge throughout most of my life. I know I’m not alone in this; many people experience the same difficulty and it holds us back from being our best, most satisfied selves. A few moments of digging online will produce an ample selection of resource options, though, so there’s definitely hope for us!

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – e.e. cummings

Accepting oneself does not necessarily mean approval of where one is in life right now. You can still recognize area for improvement, have goals and ideals, and have a plan in place to help you achieve those goals (which, of course, means changing something about where/who/what you are), but you don’t have to beat yourself up along the way. Acceptance simply means no longer struggling against your reality, which will actually make it easier for you to attain results and make lasting changes.

In a Tiny Buddha post on the topic of self-acceptance, author E.K. Bradley explains, “No one can attain happiness if they are hung up on what is lacking; we must transcend the need to compare ourselves to others and let go of our apparent flaws and shortcomings. This frees us from self-imposed judgment and the need to fit into society’s standard of what we should look like, be, act, and do.” (The site has lots more great content on acceptance, by a variety of writers, FYI.)

In acceptance lies empowerment, happiness, and freedom. Be kind to yourself and consider your weaknesses, without making excuses, when beginning a new journey to improvement. Making small, realistic, quantifiable actions toward your chosen goals will help you achieve lasting lifestyle changes — but don’t forget to love who you already are along the way.

You are who you are. And it is what it is.
xo
-Jen

 
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wednesday wisdom: teamwork

When people cooperate to achieve a common goal, amazing things can happen. Even for those of us who prefer solitude to being around others much of the time, the benefits of connecting with fellow humans — both in personal and professional contexts — affect not only the group, but also the individual in positive ways. (Of course, if you are an introvert, this may require a little creativity and a pretty thorough understanding of your boundaries, but there are tons of innovative digital resources these days that make it easy to collaborate with a team on your own terms.)

Working together, at home as well as work, boosts morale and yields higher efficiency when each person focuses on his or her contribution to the whole by offering their respective strengths. Even better? Practice makes perfect, so practicing a specific task diligently (as opposed to handling a whole project on your own, spreading your attention thin) will ideally create new, stronger strengths for you. Practicing teamwork also teaches improved conflict resolution and communication skills. According to research, cooperation can even make you more intelligent!

Together. It’s a powerful concept. We are stronger together than apart, and history has proven the power of organized groups of people passionate about the same causes.

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In my personal life, I’ve begun implementing team-building practices into our household routines, and am continuing to seek solutions that seem fun for the kids and easy for me to maintain. The goal is to encourage generosity, solid work ethic, social skills, and balance. We’re still attempting to design the perfect chore chart for my family’s lifestyle, one that makes it easy to keep track of goals and how/when/how much each member acts in the interest of achieving them.

When it comes to art and business, I find myself doing my best work with a team, despite not considering myself much of a “people person.” I’ve found many ways to create awesome things that are integral to their projects without being confined to an environment in which I’m not comfortable enough to thrive. I paint theatrical set pieces in solitude, usually while rocking out to 80s-90s music and getting quite a workout, which are then combined with the fruits of the actors’ and theatre staff’s labor to produce wonderfully entertaining shows. I make custom accessories at my desk at home for clients who are overseeing team-powered projects and events of all kinds, and am always thrilled to see the finished product, once it’s all pieced together. Being an important little part of an awesome bigger picture is exhilarating and inspiring to me, so there’s an effect on my momentum going forward as well.

Even for this blog, Renée and I each contribute posts that highlight our individual interests and areas of expertise. We both have busy daily lives, and have each experienced our share of significant family and personal obstacles that serve as setbacks on the path to some of our professional ideals. If one of us is overwhelmed when life gets in the way, the other always tries to make certain the ship stays afloat.

Knowing we have a caring support system helps soften life’s blows. Having a cohort who shares your vision is an invaluable resource, making it more likely that we’ll get back on track after we stumble. I know there are areas in my life wherein I’d like to be a better teammate, and wherein I’d love to influence those around me to do the same.

Do you manage a team or a busy family? If so, what tips and insights would you say have been particularly motivational or helpful? Leave us a comment below!

-Jen

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makeup monday: blue bliss

BLUE MONDAY

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I had the pleasure of working with Loghry Photography this past weekend, contributing my makeup services to her nature shoot with multi-faceted artist and musician Meganoke.

I was eager to help, as I’ve known Naomi (the photographer) and have wanted to work with her for quite awhile. Her work is amazing and I urge you to contact her for portrait, fashion, and editorial photo services. I was mega-inspired to hear we were focusing on a blue-green color palette. Meeting Megan was an absolute pleasure, and she looked fierce and stunning. All in all, we’re all happy with how these photos turned out, and I hope you’ll enjoy them, too!

Product and technique info further down in this post, as well as photo credits.

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The photo shoot took place outside on a warm, sunny day, in a beautiful wooded area of west Austin. The color scheme, lighting, and angles used complemented one another to create a variety of dramatic images, each one full of emotion and depth.

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For Megan’s makeup, I went with a warm glowing base, dramatic contouring, and a vibrant stylized blue-green eye. On her skin we used a combination of Sephora liquid foundation and bareMinerals mineral powder foundation. Contour was created using colors from Kat Von D’s Shade & Light palette, and to highlight Megan’s cheeks I used NARS blush in Orgasm. She has the most adorable freckles and a natural sunny glow, so I was careful to try and let some of that show through.

On the eyes: navy eyeshadow in the crease of the eyelid, neutral beige for brow bone highlight, and sheer bright green on the inner corners of each eye are all from the Sephora Color Anthology palette. The shimmery teal color you see on most of the model’s lids is Ulta Mineral Powder Eyeshadow in Marine, which I mixed with Mehron’s barrier spray to create a liquid eyeshadow to brush across the lower half of the top eyelids. I used first a black liquid liner at the base of the top lashes, followed by a navy gel eyeliner to soften and smolder it up a bit. We applied black false lashes, but then applied Maybelline’s Totally Teal mascara to the tips of those lashes, as well as to the bottom lash line, for a subtle blue effect when seen in the sun.

The brows are intentionally bold, and quite blue, too. I used a combination of navy eyeliner pencil and powder eyeshadow with an angled brush to create the shape. Once happy with the overall brow look, I finished them off with a bit of metallic water-based body paint from Wolfe FX. We added some slightly sparkly bronzer to Megan’s shoulders, a pretty rosy pink lip, and the rest is history.

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All photos by Loghry Photography.
Model: Megan
Makeup: Jennifer Cunningham
Concept & hair: Loghry Photography
Assistance: Derrell Rodrigues & Tim Goelz
Jewelry: Gay Isber Designs

Visit Loghry Photography’s Facebook page to see the rest of this gorgeous photo set!

 
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art scene: nerd alert!

Austin Nerd Cave Showcase is back, and better than ever! Join us Sunday, May 17th, for a one-day spotlight on geeky local artists, plus a whole lotta fun. Renée and I will both be there with our nerdiest art, accessories, and gifts.

The event takes place at Spider House Ballroom from 1pm – 6pm, and is packed full of things to see and hear, including, but not limited to an art exhibition, a live nerdcore hip-hop showcase, an arcade tournament, live podcast, and lots of live art being created all the while.

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Featured artists:
Matthew McCoy
Shane Campos
Jennifer Cunningham
Jeremy The Artist
Paulo Hernandez
Francisco Salinas
ShoNuff Studios
Mariano Castro
Robo Roku
Strange Kids Club
Lou Pons
Chepo Peña

Live painting by Tom Britton

These bronze dice, created by Matthew McCoy, will be on display for the first time at this weekend’s event! Awesome, right? He’s got work in a variety of media, but the metal sculptural pieces always stand out and look amazing.

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Live musical performances by:
The Millipede
Bad Barry
Damp Heat
D.J. R.O.C.K.M.A.N.
Johnny HackNSlash

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Live Podcast with Straight Outta Austin!

Arcade Tournament hosted by The Austin Toy Museum

Rad Batman illustration by Jeremy The Artist, one of many new works he’ll be showing on Sunday:

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RSVP for the event, share with your friends, and like our Nerd Cave page on Facebook for updates and announcements!)

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makeup monday: bridal beauty + winery wedding

Spring wedding season is in full effect, and that means lately I’ve been helping some seriously lovely ladies get glam for their nuptials. On April 11th, I ladies the pleasure of doing bridal makeup for Tyler, one of the sweetest people I know. Tyler and Trevor were married outdoors, at Three Dudes Winery in San Marcos, providing a perfect setting for the gorgeous photos seen in this post. (All photos by Rebekah Fisher.)

Details about this look can be found below!

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For Tyler’s bridal look, we went with a rich smokey eye and soft pink lip. I love this style for brides because it’s easy to wear with few to no touch-ups needed, provides a little bit of dramatic glamour, and allows us to use eyeshadow colors customized to complement the wearer’s unique eye color.

All shadows used came from the section of browns and coppers in Sephora’s Color Anthology palette. To combat the effects of perspiration/humidity all over the face, and to really grab the pigments in the eye makeup, we started with Smashbox Photo Finish primer for the whole face and Urban Decay Primer Potion on Tyler’s eyelids.

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eyes: copper base color with bronze accents in the crease and blended into the outer edges of the lids, with Buxom black felt pen eyeliner and Ardell lashes
foundation: Sephora oil-free 10 HR perfection foundation in medium 24 honey, set with a light coat of bareMinerals powder foundation in fairly medium
brows: Anastasia Beverly Hills brow duo in caramel (applied with an angled brush just to fill in her natural eyebrow shape)
contour: Kat Von D Shade & Light palette
cheeks: NARS Orgasm blush
lips: Sephora royal rose lip liner + Too Faced Melted long wear liquid lipstick in melted peony + NARS Orgasm gloss

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I designed this look to enhance Tyler’s natural beauty, and I think it was a success! The wedding was a blast, an evening filled with love and celebration and spent with amazing people. Thank you so much for letting me be part of your big day, guys!

xo
-Jen

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art scene: little artist BIG ARTIST 8th annual art show

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Celebrate aspiring artists in east Austin with food, drink, art, ukuleles, and bunches of fun! Tonight is the opening reception for the CHULA League’s 8th annual Little Artist BIG ARTIST exhibition.

Every spring, 5th and 6th grade “Little Artists” learn how art — such as pottery, painting, and photography — moves from a budding idea to the marketplace. “BIG ARTISTS” provide their time and professional experience as working artists to guide their Little Artists to envision, plan, and create at least two pieces of artwork during the semester. Both pieces are featured in the spring exhibit, along with a journal of their creative experiences together and a piece by their BIG ARTIST.

“LaBA is about artist mentors connecting with 5th and 6th graders through art. We provide the program at no cost to the families or schools involved, working directly in the their communities,” says LaBA Program Coordinator Jennifer Ramos. “With the support of Cherrywood Art Fair, Amplify Austin, and wonderful artists and teachers who participate, we hope to continue to grow the program because art should be accessible to everyone.”

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Artwork will be professionally displayed Mondays–Fridays, April 23–May 7, 9am–4pm with performances by student ukulele and recorder music ensembles from the participating schools at the 4/23 opening. This year’s participating elementary schools and art teachers are: Elisabeth Healey (Blackshear), Emily Leaman (Maplewood), and Leslie Vieau (Oak Springs).

The exhibit takes place at ReNEW East (2830 Real Street), home to Imagine Art, a non-profit arts incubator serving artists with disabilities on the East side of town. Recently, the organization has expanded its reach to serve the greater arts community in Austin by offering low-budget gallery space as well as studio space for artists in residency. Check out reneweast.com and imagineart.net to find out more about these fantastic resources.

Learn more about the LaBA program, and how you can get involved, by visiting their Facebook page!

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