Tag Archives | affordable art

My little cabin in the woods.

Cabin in the Woods painting © Jen Norton

Cabin in the Woods on Aluminum, 6x6"

Today’s Advent reflection is on Psalm 27:1-4

One of the best places I know to “dwell in the house of the Lord” and “behold His beauty” is at our family cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains. My grandfather built it in the mid- 1950s, and I’ve been going there since I was small enough to be held in one hand and bathed in a tupperware container (my mom has pictures). It really hasn’t changed much in all that time. There’s still no TV or phone and it takes a continuous roaring fire to keep it warm in the winter. It is used by almost every member of our family for weekends with friends, care-free holidays and a get-a-way for needed respite. It is our safe place.

A few years back, a serial killer was temporary kept in the Ranger Station, which is in walking distance of the cabin. While he actually committed his crimes about 2 hours away, it still creeped me out that he was kept there. My safe place seemed less safe. Innocence lost. Even now, probably 15 or 20 years later, I still think about it as I pass the station. Would I come up here alone? It gets awfully dark at night. I’m not sure.

But in some ways maybe that slight chink in my imaginary armor of safety is OK. It makes me more aware of what God offers…not necessarily safety from dangers, but safety from overwhelming fear of the dangers. I will not let one evil person destroy my love for our cabin.

A few years ago, I read a moving book called “Left to Tell” by a woman named Immaculée Ilibagiza who survived the Rwandan Holocaust by hiding in a small bathroom with seven other women for 3 months. Her story, and the intense fear she and the other women lived with is incredible. Even more amazing is her account of how God revealed Himself to her more and more and the danger grew. She learned of God’s promise, composed in today’s psalm by King David, firsthand. If you’re heading off to a cabin and in need of an inspirational book, you might check it out.

Today’s painting was not painted today. I decided to re-show an older piece, now printed on aluminum so I can catch up on some other tasks I’ve been neglecting while writing this Advent blog! New art tomorrow, I promise!

• You can purchase the 6×6 art here. (1 left in stock. If it is sold when you read this, contact me to order. $24 + shipping and tax)

• This art is also available as a 3 x 4″ aluminum ornament here. (1 left in stock. If it is sold when you read this, contact me to order. $8 + shipping and tax)

• This art is also available in a 12 x 12″ size. (None in stock. Contact me to order. $45 + shipping and tax)

The Season of Family

In the flood of Cyber-Monday media, it’s easy to overlook that we are also in the season of Advent, the beginning of the Western Christian liturgical calendar, and the four weeks leading up to Christmas. In an attempt to be more present in this season, I got my shopping done early and thought I’d try something different this year. Maybe you’d like to follow along? No need to be any version of Christian. Everyone is welcome.

Working from the “Painting a Day” idea, I am going to do a small painting each day from now until Christmas based on my reflections on a daily scriptural reading. This is not a bible study…I’m not a scholar. This is just about what the reading makes me think of on that day. If I read the same scripture on a different day, I might have a different take on it. I am following the readings listed on, and I am reading them from my old and well-worn copy of “The New American Bible,” Catholic translation. I will post the scriptural reference, my personal reflection, and the painting it inspired. In addition, the art will be listed for sale in my Etsy store at a discounted rate during this 2011 holiday season.


And so…on to today, which is Day 2 of Advent. The reading is from Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 3-9.

Garden Party © Jen Norton

Garden Party

Paul is writing to the Christian community in Corinth to address the problem of the community splitting into various factions. The verses for today are merely the opening of the letter as Paul expresses thankfulness for the believing community, assuring them that they have all they need through Christ, that they will be strengthened through Him, and it is by God alone who that they are called to a fellowship with Jesus.

This reading made me think of family, especially after the two Thanksgiving celebrations I attended last weekend. The painting for today is from a photo of my sisters, mom and a few cousins at a family gathering. I think it might have been my Grandfather’s birthday somewhere in the ’80s, but I can’t be sure. We were all sitting around a table in the garden just talking about “stuff”. Probably didn’t seem important at the time, but 20+ years later, I find inspiration in it.

The most important social structure in God’s eyes is family, because it is through family that we learn the lessons of love and forgiveness. Sounds easy enough, but there sure are days I fail the class. If you’ve ever gotten annoyed with a spouse, frustrated with your children, fought with a sibling or whined about family obligations, you know what I mean. It’s so easy to think things would be SO MUCH EASIER if only everyone would just think like me! (can you relate?). But that’s a selfish lie. It’s a lie that breaks down relationships and community. In God’s world, we’re meant to give. We’re meant to put another’s needs first. We’re meant to live with charitable hearts. That’s a tough calling for a mere human to uphold. The Corinthians struggled with it. I stumble over it. But when I can surrender my own mindset for the good of another, I see what is meant by being “called by God to a fellowship with Jesus Christ.” Those same family situations that challenge me also give me opportunities to see that I am capable of more and loved by many.

The season of Advent is all about family. It’s about a 13-year-old Hebrew girl who becomes pregnant, threatening to dishonor the man she is intended to marry and ostracize her family. They’re poor, they have to flee to another land, sleep in barns and Joseph had to raise a child that wasn’t even his. Talk about family challenges! Yet, through the strength of God and His helpful angels, a child is born who is immediately recognized by poor shepherds and rich kings as the savior of us all. The family endured and we should all be thankful.

I hope everyone who reads this has someone they can call family, whether they are blood-related or not. What are your biggest family challenges during Christmas?

Would you like to purchase “Garden Party”? Click here.

Celebration of Craftswomen!

$1 off Celebration of Craftswomen

Print this postcard for $1 off!

Join me this Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday, November 11-13 for the Celebration of Craftswomen at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. If you come, be sure to print this postcard for $1 off the entry fee. To get your postcard, go to the Craftswomen site, click “ABOUT THE SHOW” and scroll down to the yellow button that says “PRINT A POSTCARD”. This is a great show by some really talented women artists. I usually end up buying a few treasures and gifts while I’m there! Plus, proceeds benefit the Women’s Building in San Francisco. See you there!

Bee Happy!

Beekeeper and Bee Happy art by Jen Norton

Beekeeper and Bee Happy art by Jen Norton

(reposted from April 1010) People often wonder whether “art imitates life”, but it was the other way around here at Jen Norton Art Studio. One of my illustrations is called “Bee Happy”, (a top seller in my Garden Charm™ line). The bees must have found out I was a fan because last week they decided to move to my house! If you haven’t yet experienced a bee migration first-hand, it’s quite a scene. And as fascinating as it is to watch, not entirely convenient when it happens near your front door! First a few bees hang around and check out the real estate. Then they call the queen to her throne. When she’s settled, she calls a few friends…like 10,000 of them and they swarm right in! In the end, we found a beekeeper who was able to do a live removal and give them a new home in an almond orchard. (In this photo, he’s removing a hive partition and showing me the queen bee.) My flowers look great this year, and I’ll miss my bees…but they had to go.

Should you ever need to remove bees (without killing them) near San Jose, CA , call “Smiling Bee Services‎” at 408-929-7983.

Change is good.

Three Sisters

Three Sisters in the Garden by Jen Norton

(reposted from Apirl 2010) Every so often I take some time to re-evaluate some of my unsold work. Is it just waiting for the right buyer? Does it need a little facelift now that I see it with new eyes? Or is it hanging around like dirty laundry taunting me with reminders of my lackluster housecleaning skills? This morning I came across a piece that needed to be shed like that extra 2 lbs gained on vacation, so I splashed paint, rolled ink and otherwise destroyed what was there. I decided to go with the theme of “Linked” from Illustration Friday that appeared in my inbox. A little uncontrolled “left-hand” drawing, some simplified shape…The result is this illustration of my two sisters and I walking hand in hand along a garden path. It’s simple, imperfect, uncomplicated and sure was a lot of fun to make. Sometimes, that’s all I ask of myself. Stains gone. Laundry folded. See what you think!

note: The original painting is sold, but this image is available to order on a Garden Charm, or for licensing. Use my contact page form for either.

Growing Garden Charms®

Terri Lyman, TML Custom Gifts

Terri Lyman of TML Custom Gifts

We artists spend a lot of time in solitude, but no artist is an island, and there are a few great people I rely on to help bring my art to you. I’d like to introduce you to one of them, Miss Terri Lyman of TML Custom Gifts. Terri does all the printing and heat pressing required to make my all-weather aluminum Garden Charms®.

Terri uses digital images of my work that she prints with pigmented inks on a special UV-coated paper. Then, she heat-presses the image onto the aluminum, and the heat melts the inks into the coating, rendering the final product weatherproof! Both my sister in Phoenix, Arizona (whose sunny front door temp can reach 130 degrees in the July heat!) and my mother in rainy Portland, Oregon can attest to the “weatherproof-ness” of Garden Charms in their respective climates.

TML Custom Gifts is a woman-owned small business in Campbell, CA. Terri works from her home to help support her family by printing and pressing all kind of images onto all kinds of stuff for artists, schools, and gifts for personal or business needs. She does great work, and no matter what, Terri always has a welcoming smile on her face and a tale to tell. She is a delight to work with!

Both the coated copper wire and the aluminum used in Garden Charms are manufactured in the U.S, and the decorative beading is added by the nimble fingers of my daughter and friends who are paid per unit. As you can see, each Garden Charm purchase helps quite a few people!

Check out my Etsy store …I’m always adding more items, and if you don’t see what you want, please contact me and I can add it to the store for you. Inquire about wholesale orders. Support your local artisans!