Em’s Family Portrait

Lately I’ve been trying to develop my artistic talents. I’ve never had any sort of training (someday!), but I know that I really enjoy painting, drawing etc., and that it’s incredibly therapeutic (even more so than my beloved sewing).   I need all the free therapy I can get right now, as things continue to be difficult with Tiny (since her surgery she has been happier, but as far as feeding goes, it looks like her swallowing problems were unrelated to the cleft, and that she’ll have this feeding tube for the foreseeable future).

So for my sister Em‘s birthday a couple weeks ago I wanted to try and paint their family portrait. I wanted to really exercise my creativity and come up with something unique for them. As I painted though, it kept evolving to look more and more like a local artist’s portraits, that I’ve long been a fan of.  It wasn’t conscious, I didn’t even look at hers, but afterwards when I looked them up, I was disappointed at how much “exercise in creativity” turned out just like hers. Dang. Is it copying if I wasn’t trying to?  I struggle with that raw creativity thing.  Even when I try, I’m subconsciously influenced by what I’ve seen and like.  Of course mine isn’t exactly like hers (hers are way cooler), but its obvious that her style was (even subconsciously) influencing my picture. There’s a fantastic post about using other’s ideas over at evie s that I really like.  After reading it I was inspired to draw from and learn from others ideas and this experience, and then just keep working at it allowing my own style and creativity to develop as I go. You gotta start somewhere, and I did learn a lot about watercolor doing this.  In the end, I really do like how it looks and am pleased with the likeness. (How do you like it, Em?)
mad mim_watercolored family portrait

Speaking of amateurs, I recently received my first hate-mail from an anonymous reader.  She criticized my site saying that  everything I did was  ugly and cheap-looking, that I didn’t know what I was talking about,  and that I was a bad writer.  She mentioned specifically some techniques and spelling errors in my Anthropologie Hue Pyramid Earring Tutorial , so I figured she was probably a real jewelry designer, and was obviously offended by lack of expertise (although I specifically mentioned I’m no professional and have just figured it out on my own in that post).  In one way I totally get it. We live in a DIY world, and the internet has made us all self-taught seamstresses, artists, decorators, photographers, ETC, and I can understand how the real professionals out there would get tired of seeing us amateurs pump out tutorial after tutorial about stuff we only sorta-kinda know about.  Another part of me says who cares?? Who cares if I made a tutorial and didn’t properly close my jump ring and misspelled pliers. Why take the time to write me a scathing email about it? I guess that’s part of putting yourself out there. Some people are mean. On the flip side of that, that post is one of my most popular, and I received two different emails that same week from people taking the time to tell me how much they liked it, and enjoyed making their own. Some people are so nice.

Have you had any experience with this stuff? I know there’s lots of different sides to both of these matters, so I’d be interested to hear what you think.


Miranda @ One Little Minute

I love this. I think it is fabulous, and though reminiscent of the Ashmae stuff, this one is your own. I totally think about the whole “original idea” thing a lot. both because I’ve had people feel like I had stolen their ideas, and because I’ve been sensitive to that when I see something that looks awfully familiar…
We’re all influenced and especially with blogs, pinterest, etc, the same ideas are all over the place all the time. It’s crazy to try to come up with something TOTALLY new.

You’re awesome. And your hater…whatever.

Crunchy Con Mommy

The creativity thing makes me think of discussions of college about media bias. Personally I think it’s impossible and futile to avoid being influenced by other people and the world around you in either political reporting or craft blogging! I think it’s just part of being human, and of course we ought to give credit where it’s due, but no point fighting your subconscious!

Re: trolls, some people just suck. Probably had a bad day and took it out on you. Again with the whole being human thing, of course you make mistakes sometimes (although I personally don’t usually notice any on your blog). You aren’t a robot or even someone like Martha Stewart with a whole editorial team to make sure mistakes don’t make the final printing. Pointing it out (other than someone close to you doing so kindly) is just jerkish.

Heather Feather

I wonder about the creativity stuff too because sometimes I’m looking around and someone’s tutorial sparks a similar idea. I always give credit, but then I feel like I’m just copying when I’m not?
Sorry about the hate mail. People can be so mean. I get that sometimes and lots of times it’s because they skimmed instead of read my posts.
And I studied sewing in school and worked as a seamstress, but my boss was really good about showing me how there’s many ways to do something and there is no one right way. So sometimes when I see people doing a tutorial that makes my “book taught” self cringe, I remember what my boss taught me. There are so many ways of doing something that I would never ever criticize what someone did. Who am I to say my thoughts are better than someone else’s anyway?


Neat painting, Mim! I love watercolor, and you’ve inspired me to find some time to paint again :)! The style you used is neat, too! I can’t believe ANYONE has the time or desire to write a stranger hate mail about a blog! I enjoy it every time I come, and am always impressed and inspired by you (both your talents and your life)! Love you!


I love your watercolor. I think that the green dress is especially stunning (maybe it’s because she appears pregnant and I am too and think pregnancy is absolutely mesmerizing!)
I definitely think that you have a tremendous talent with creating and re-creating things you love. Most of what you do is inexpensive and cool. I am sorry that you got a horrible email. I have copied so much of what you do and hope you never stop because then I’d have to go other places for such great ideas. . .

Love and blessings!!


I think it’s totally cute and creative.

Don’t EVER listen to such rude comments. People who can’t give “constructive criticism” don’t have a professional bone in their body. I just think it’s absolutely foul for people to be mean and angry online. And for them to publish their comment anonymously is the mark of a complete coward.

My sister, a VERY gifted photographer, honest, and hardworking, has had some problems with people trying to sabotage her business through slanderous comments online because she’d had some legal problems with them (which they refuse to make right.) I kinda wonder what these people think about before they sleep at night when (or even if) they kneel before their Maker.


I absolutely LOVE the painting! So good. And as far as being uniquely creative-it’s almost impossible today. Everything has been done. So if you can do something great-then it’s great! Regardless of whether someone has done it before or not-it’s still yours and it’s still you.

So…blogging is so funny, you feel like you know the people who’s blogs you follow when you really don’t, but it still is seems like a form of friendship (although one sided). Normally I don’t comment a lot because well…it is a tad stalkery-but I felt prompted to this time. That person who sent you the hate mail must just not be very happy. To go out of their way to put someone down like that is immature regardless of whether there is anything to what they say or not. In this instance though-there isn’t! Don’t think for a second about what they said. Your blog is great! Your tutorials are fantastic! (those earrings were SO cool!) All of your clothes tutorials inspire me to be more creative-and if it weren’t for spell check-no one today would spell anything right!


Thank you Megan for coming out of the blogging anonymity to say a kind thought. I appreciate it, and it’s people like you that make blogging worth it! Thank you!


I say, Go girl! We are all drawing ideas from other people and history all the time, and then they evolve into our own thing as we draw from more and more sources. The portrait looks great!


hey Mim, I am sure i am classified as one of the stalkers Megan mentions!! I actually read a few blogs, mainly sewing related, and really yours is the one that i ALWAYS enjoy reading and commenting on. Its because, although we have never met or are likely to, you talk to us like friends, we feel included in your world. And even on your bad days, it feels like its a cool world! You inspire me with your craftiness, not just what you do, but the way you do it with love for those around you (and occasionally for yourself), at the same time as being such a devoted mum and wife (obvious from your posts). I suggest the “hater” is jealous and i feel sorry for someone that feels the need to write a nasty email to you. People like that are everywhere and its the downside of the world wide web that people have an anonomous face to hide behind and spurt forth their opinions. This person is simply not worth worrying about, you have many many many more devoted fans who are grateful for your blog.
Sorry to hear things haven’t improved with feeding for Harper….but hopefully its just one more step on the path to healthiness..
Many smiley faces flying across the web to you 🙂
“Stalker” Jen


Jen, I do feel like we’re friends, I really do. Your comments have always been a bright spot for me, and I love that blogging makes it possible to have a friend across the world. Who knows, maybe someday we will meet–my sister in law is from NZ and goes home every couple of years, so maybe someday I’ll make the trip with her (she always spends some time is Australia). Ok, it’s a long shot, but you know…we can plan on it:)


First, I love, love, LOVE the portrait! It is totally awesome! And about originality, one day (and it really was just ONE day) I pulled out some of Plato’s writings (who was pretty much copying Socrates, right?) and he was constantly quoting other people who were famous at the time, and it occurred to me if you couldn’t really be original in THEIR day, well, we don’t have a prayer in ours. For myself, I never claim to have an original idea, but I’m happy to say that I never found an original idea I couldn’t make a little better! And really, that’s what it’s all about. It always amazes me at the church dinner that so many ladies using the same recipe can come up with casseroles that look so different from each other. We’re all tweaking things, not having the exact right stuff on hand and adapting. And that’s what makes it all great. Your stuff is great and so is your blog. Your troll paid a far greater price in negative energy than her nasty-gram will ever cost you. Too bad for her. You go, girl!


LOVE LOVE LOVE the portrait! It’s amazing but then again I really don’t expect anything less from you!

The comments above are so sweet and heartfelt. That negative person who sent you that email really needs to get checked out! There really is not time or place for that kind of behavior. If you don’t like something, don’t read it. Save yourself the misery! But to go an extra mile to write you about it is absurd.

Anyway – you are an inspiration! You are doing something that you enjoy and you take the time out of your day to share it with us. Keep it up and know that there are SO many people who love you and your site and inspired by YOU!

Love you Mim!


that’s so gracious of you to see the “good” in that hater’s email. haters are just jealous. i’ve been a hater of a few bloggers, but i’ve always known it’s totally because i’m jealous. the fact that she took the time to badger you is so incredibly unclassy. i love how blogging has given people a level playing field. may the best blogger win! and the best bloggers usually do win. they are people like you who are real and authentic and hilarious and comfortable being yourself. onward and upward. the more hate mail you get, the more you know you are rockin’ it.

ps that watercolor is fabulous. i guess i didn’t realize emily’s family was so huge already! i want to see her.


I absolutely love your painting; it’s so clean and cozy!

And I absolutely do not have a problem with hate mail because nobody hates me! Or, maybe it’s because I don’t blog well/often enough to attract trolls. Trolls are a sign you’ve hit the big time, I’m pretty sure. (wink wink)

Anyway, I think you’re super cool and maybe I’ll name my next child after you.


Like others have mentioned before, that hate mail-er just has too much time on their hands! Something I love about reading your blog is that I can tell that every post is made out of love and creativity! You experiment with clothes and other arts, and I always walk away from reading with the feeling that I can do that too! It’s not as if you sit around and opine about what a fantastic ______ (fill in the blank: seamstress, cook, jewelry designer, mom, etc.) you are; you’re a girl with a passion and it makes you happy to share. As a frequent reader and infrequent commenter, I’m happy that you’re happy to share.

the mither

Hey Quick– go look at today’s google-doodle for Daguerre– I swear they copied your picture! I’m serious, the people are faceless.Or else great minds think alike. And remember what Thumper’s mother told him–if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Guess somebody didn’t have enough Disney magic in their life. Well, you’ve got plenty of magic and imagination to spare–thanks for sharing with the rest of us!

Emily Balling

Dear Mim,

I LOVE my beautiful family portrait. This is something I will always treasure! You nailed the face shapes of each one of us, and I love what you did with the dresses, the faded resemblance of the fabrics patterns in Hazel’s and Milly’s dresses is dreamy. We mostly don’t do pregnant photos but wait till we are slimmer and have a new baby to show, but I am glad that I have this warm bump and you rendered it so well. I can just see the folds on the boy’s shirts too. You did great. I think that the scariest thing of becoming an artist is finding our own. I am befuddled to think that inside of me is an artist that has a voice not just as any other out there. I think each technique we learn we build our repertoire until that voice comes out completely. I watched a really priceless show on an artist on BYU tv, the one that does the fanciful characters. To see his early work which were mostly realistic, and to see his doodles, why he finally had the courage when someone told him, his voice was in those doodles, and out came all the hunchback characters in crazy imagination and dripping with style onto the canvas. I can’t wait for that day that I find me like Pan on Hook, found himself, Peter. But until then, I am (planning to) copy Tasha Tudor’s work because she has a lot of me elements that I hope will help me find me. As long as we credit the artist I think it is like finding a mentor, really.

Anyway, about the hate mail: Bullying becomes easier on line for cowards which is exactly what people are whom find their thrills in sticking their claws into other’s voices and creations they have chosen to share on line. There is no excuse whatsoever for blog bullying, and any sort of cheap thrill they receive for doing it shows where they are, in the gutter where trash finds joy in trying to tear another down to bring it to its own level. This life is too short and too hard for anything but encouraging and lifting our brother in their paths toward success and happiness.

But past that ugly subject, again, thank you dearly for this beautiful picture, and when you mail it, that beaded necklace in the pocket of your coat is Hannah’s gift to Milly which I plum forgot.


So glad you like it, Em. I’ll try and send it soon. I will try and send that necklace with mama when she goes out, because i don’t think it will fit into a flat document mailer, although i will try. Love you!


I am SOOO impressed by this portrait. Your sister is going to cry!

Also — haters gonna hate. Boo to them, but don’t give them the power.


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