First, a brief introduction. I'm Jill-Ann, the "traditional media" (ie: watercolor) illustrator behind The Lavender Whim brand. Known for vibrant color and playful characters and scenes, The Lavender Whim is sold in a variety of boutiques, museums gift shops, bookstores, and one national retail chain as well as direct to those of you shopping on your computer! I'm based in Ellicott City, Maryland although I originally hail from Eastern Iowa. This spot has been blank on the site for many years...I've had so many conversations with myself about how, or IF, I should have a blog, but if there's anything that has been born out of the events of 2020, it has been clarity in what it is that The Lavender Whim represents and exists for.
I think that anyone who has spent much time writing knows this space I'm sitting in right now: you've written the post/story/article/paper/song a hundred times in your head, but when you sit to actually put it on the paper or screen, the words evaporate. In this particular case, they're fleeing from my head like a flock of pigeons...making a really dramatic, flapping, feather-scattering scene of their leaving. I'm not going to put this off for when they return, though, because I've been overthinking this for years and wanting to do it perfectly will keep me from simply doing it. So today I'm going to click "publish" even if I don't get all of these thoughts out of my head and onto the screen exactly how I had wanted to do it. And what better time, really? The world is spinning around us in such unrecognizable disarray. This has been a year of massive changes in how we interact and live, shake-ups in our perspectives on social responsibility, justice, health, and community. To be honest, I have not been one of the creatives who has thrived in all of this. It has been extremely hard on my heart, spirit, and brain. I'm a social creature. I'm perpetually anxious. I am a born traveler suddenly needing to stay in one place. And then there's the puzzle of trying to navigate a pandemic for this little company of mine. There is a lot of push in the stationery and gift world to "pivot" and quickly find new directions as the retail world changes. I can't say that I have done the opposite of this, as there has been much strategizing in my head and on paper, but I have been careful and measured. I've been introspective. I have allowed my heart space. I have felt ALL of my feelings, and used this time to consider what it is that is most important to me and what actions best serve my artwork and my "why" for putting it out into the world. I've taken a step back to better envision the future. As I've gone through this practice, one thing has become very clear to me. The Lavender Whim is not just a stationery company. What gives my illustrations their voice is that they are part of the entire circle of life here in our little world. We believe in sensible and environmentally responsible use of our land, for example, and together with my husband and my kids, we've added more native plantings over the last few months to improve the foraging opportunities for native pollinators and our own honey bees. We've used our gardening and animal husbandry knowledge to help educate brand new gardeners and chicken owners, to preserve and share seeds from rare heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables, and to use our land not only to feed our family, but to help supply our local grassroots food security initiative for families experiencing job loss due to COVID-19 (see link to the organization below) Realizing this and refusing to let myself feel guilty about how I "should" be doing business through the past four months is what made my creative spark return. And from now on, I want share more about the world behind the artwork. The paintings come from the synergy of nature, curiosity, community, and relationships. It's my joy to bundle all of that into paper goods that help human beings reach across the distance to connect, celebrate, comfort, and love.For more information on Columbia Community Care in Columbia (Howard County) Maryland.