Changes at Lisa Congdon Art & Illustration!

06/30/16

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{Clay and I in our home, earlier this year — with our pup Wilfredo}

As many of you who’ve been following along here for any amount of time know, my wife Clay and I left California and moved our entire life here to Portland, Oregon last year. It was a big move for us, because not only did we venture thousands of miles north to make a new home, Clay also left her job to take on the role of helping to manage the marketing and operations for my business. I wrote about that shift here back when we made the decision to go for it.

Because we didn’t know what working together in real life was going to be like, Clay and I treated it from the beginning as an experiment that we’d try for a year. In most ways that experiment went really well. Clay helped to build the capacity in my business for new illustration and licensing work, class offerings and book projects, and it was my highest grossing year as an illustrator. She is a natural negotiator and marketer, exceptionally organized and thoughtful under pressure. We had an fruitful and growth-filled year.

But towards the end of 2015 when it was time to assess if we’d continue to work together, Clay came to realize she wanted to pursue something of her own, and something that involved working more directly with people — and real estate felt like the most exciting place to land. This past Spring Clay became a licensed Real Estate Broker in the state of Oregon. She still negotiates manages my contracts & new business (a skill she has gotten really good at), but now you can find her mostly over at RE/MAX Equity Group, Oregon’s leading real state agency. She’s loving real estate and is welcoming new clients — so if you are thinking of moving to Portland or live here already and need an agent, you can email her directly at claylaurenwalsh@gmail.com. You can also find her here on Facebook.

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{Clay’s identity, background design by me!}

My art & illustration business has grown so much just in the last year since Clay joined me that I realized when she decided to pursue real estate that I really needed to hire a studio manager. I posted an ad here on my blog and Instagram back in November and received 60 applications. Through that pool of applicants, I had the great fortune to find Kristin Wilson, who has since then made herself indispensable to my business (I tell Kristin weekly she is never allowed to leave!). Kristin started in January, and has now been with me for six months. She brought with her six years of copywriting, editing, and project management experience to her post in my studio, and has worked in small presses and creative agencies since graduating from PSU’s Masters in Book Publishing program in 2012.

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{the amazing Kristin}

I’m all about happy endings, and this was a happy one for us. Thank you to everyone who has supported Clay and me along the way as we experimented, learned, grew and branched out. What a year it’s been!

Happy Thursday to all.

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Reviving the Living and Dining Rooms

11/06/15

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{The living room in our 1898 Portland Victorian}

As many of you know, my wife Clay and I moved 7 months ago to Portland, Oregon. We mostly moved here to be closer to my family (my sister and parents have lived in this city for years), but in the process, we also had the opportunity to buy our first decent sized house together — something we couldn’t afford to do in the Bay Area of California. Last June we purchased a 2000 SQFT 1898 Victorian on a corner lot in the heart of the Kerns neighborhood. We loved this house instantly when we first walked in — it has enormous windows with fantastic light, a wonderful flow and beautiful high ceilings. It is surrounded by trees and just a short block from a beautiful park. But it also needed a lot of TLC, and we began quickly to make renovations. So far we have finished the downstairs half bath, which you can see here. And just last week we finished the living and dining rooms (more on that in a moment). We still have a long way to go (the complete renovations will take years), but it feels really good not only to be making progress on fixing up the place, but also to be nesting. Clay and I are both homebodies. We love to cook and clean, to organize, tinker and hang out at home.

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{Looking down on our Eames coffee table}

When we moved into the house, I connected immediately with my friend Kate at Rejuvenation to begin helping us pick out some new fixtures and furniture. They house hadn’t been updated since the early 1990’s. In addition to lighting and some other accents, one of the things we needed was a new living room sofa. I wanted something modern, but I also wanted something that would reflect the old feel of our Victorian house.

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{Living room arrangements of some of my favorite things}

One day Kate invited me to visit the Rejuvenation salvage warehouse (which is also the location of their 87,000-square-foot U.S. based factory). And while I was there I spotted a simple 1920’s vintage sofa, stripped down to its bare bones, and fell in love. I think Kate could see the adoration in my eyes, and so she suggested that we collaborate with Leland Duck of Revive Designs — a partner with Rejuvenation — to reupholster the beautiful old piece for our home. I quickly agreed. For the record, here’s what the piece looked like before:

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Shortly thereafter, Clay and I went to North Portland to meet with Leland of Revive Upholstery & Design and his wife Chelsea in their new showroom and workshop to discuss what we’d use to give the piece a new and modern look. I’m not sure what I expected when I walked in, but I didn’t necessarily expect to see a young couple! So I asked Leland how he learned to reupholster furniture so beautifully (his showroom and workshop were filled with really gorgeous stuff he’d worked on). I learned that day that her learned the art of reupholstering by working on vintage cars as a teenager. In his early twenties this unique skill, combined with his keen eye for the good bones of cast-off furniture and love of historically significant fabrics, led him to creating one-of-a-kind chairs, sofas, ottomans, and pillows that are far greater than the sum of their parts.

In the newest segment of their partnership, the gurus from the Rejuvenation Salvage team have scoured antique shows, flea markets, and vintage dealers across the country rescuing rare pieces and trucking them back to Leland’s skilled hands. The result is a truly original and one-of-a-kind collection of furniture finds, each with a unique story to tell. I felt so lucky to have this furniture find and so honored to be working with Leland to make it new again!

After our initial meeting, we decided on a subtly textured blue fabric (I’m really into blue these days!). I went off to Hudson New York for my residency, and Leland set to work on transforming our new sofa. When I returned from Hudson, he came over to drop it off, and I was thrilled with the results!

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Leland’s work was impeccable, and we adore the white accent stitching. That’s a vintage Chinese textile hanging on the back of the sofa and the beautiful pillow is by Anna Joyce.

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We also replaced the former light fixture with a new globe pendant hanging light from Rejuvenation (which we love) and which you can see below. Trio of prints hanging on wall by Katherine Jalaty.

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We also worked with Jen Garrido of Jenny Pennywood to purchase some yardage of her beautiful screen-printed fabric to cover the cushions on our vintage side chairs. The bold pink flower pillows by print maker (and my best friend) Jen Hewett. The abstract paintings are by me.

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We also got a fabulous new light fixture for the dining room — a Cobalt Blue Butte Dome Pendant from Rejuvenation, which you can see below. We think it’s the perfect match to our blue accents and Danish dining furniture.

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More from the dining room:

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To celebrate the opening of their new showroom and workshop, Leland and Chelsea of Revive are hosting a grand opening party from 6-11 pm tonight at 2030 N. Willis Blvd in Portland. I will be there and if you enjoy Leland’s work, I hope you will check it out too! Drinks! BBQ! Live music!

From my home to yours: have a great weekend & happy nesting.

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I’m Off to Portugal and Spain!

10/09/15

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I just wanted to say ¡Adiós! I am leaving for a three week trip to Portugal and Spain! I will return back to regular programming on November 2, 2015. I will be documenting my trip in drawings and photographs over on Instagram and you can follow me there. When I return I’ll post highlights from my trip here.

I am incredibly excited for our adventure. We will visit Lisbon, Porto, Sevilla, Granada, Madrid and Barcelona.

Have a wonderful month and I’ll see you over on Instagram while I’m away from the blog!

XO,
Lisa
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Small Victory: Renovating Our 1/2 Bath

09/09/15

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As many of you know — especially those of you who follow me on Instagram — Clay and I have been renovating an 1898 Victorian in the heart of the Kerns neighborhood in central Portland, Oregon. We decided to tackle the smallest room in the house first: the 1/2 bath on the main floor of our house. The room is pretty small — so small, in fact, that I couldn’t manage to photograph much more than a corner at a time!

We worked with the amazing Portland based company Rejuvenation for the fixtures, the lighting and a couple of the vintage pieces. More on each of those in a moment. The wallpaper is a design I created for Hygge and West several years ago and have been hanging onto ever since (it’s no longer in stock, unfortunately). And I finished off the room with many of my own vintage collectibles.

To give you some perspective on the changes afoot in this room, let me show you some of the before photos.

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The walls were painted dark green and the bathroom itself was dark and didn’t have much character. We set about to lighten it up and give it some personality.

The first step was to wallpaper. We hired a great guy to hang the gold ferns wallpaper. For the record, the wallpaper is what dictated the gold/brass theme in the room, and we couldn’t be happier with the results. You’ll also see that this bright wallpaper lightened up the room considerably. The photo below is taken at the same time of the day as the photos of the former bathroom above.

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Next we added a new sink and new brass fixtures. We worked with Rejuvenation to select the Tolson Faucet in the aged brass finish. We absolutely love this faucet! Even the stopper is a thing of beauty.

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We also selected the Tolson towel ring and toilet paper holder.

We didn’t want the bathroom to be too “matchy matchy,” so I added some vintage elements, including the vintage mirror and soap holder, both from Rejuvenation’s vintage stock.

Last but not least, we installed this gorgeous Plum Pendant light in aged brass with a filament bulb (plus resin antlers above the window).

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After all the fixtures were in place, I set about decorating with some of my own collections. I hung this old metal shelf on the wall opposite the toilet and I placed a few of my knick knacks onto it.

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I also added a few touches to the back of the toilet, including a plant and glass box filled with old photos and vintage bobby pins. I wanted the make sure the room didn’t look too precious, and so I searched my art collection for some pieces that wouldn’t compete with the wallpaper but would give the bathroom a little edge. I ended up selecting these two graphite drawings by Australian artist Sarah McNeil and a “1/2” piece (to denote the 1/2 bath) by Alexander Girard, and framed them all in gold and brass frames from the thrift store.

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When I was in Hudson I went to my favorite shop there, The Red Chair. and picked up some French linens to hang in the towel hook (pictured here in yesterday’s bathroom selfie).

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And voilà ! The 1/2 bath is currently our favorite room in the house.

Next up: the living room! We also worked with the amazing folks at Rejuvenation for some pieces in this room and I can’t wait to share with you.

Have a great Wednesday, friends!

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August Hudson Residency

08/13/15

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{Most of the work I make while I am here will include some blue // testing out blues yesterday}

Every once and awhile an opportunity comes my way that makes me really, really excited and happens at exactly the right time. Last year, I was asked by Katharine and Michael who run Drop Forge and Tool to come to Hudson, New York to do an artist residency in their space. I jumped at the opportunity, and after months and months of anticipation, I am finally here!

While I am here, I will be leave behind my client work, my book projects and my business. While I am here, I will be creating a new body of work — mostly abstract drawings and paintings, and some collage and print making. I’m not exactly sure yet because I am going to just take my time and experiment!

In the world of art and illustration, we call this kind of artwork “personal work” — which really means making art for art’s sake, work driven by personal inspiration & interests (and not work commissioned and art directed by a client).

In 2010, my illustration career began to take off. Since then, I’ve spent most of my time working for illustration clients and writing and illustrating books for publishers. I love that work a lot (and feel lucky to do it), but after five years of nonstop work and deadlines, I am experiencing really intense burn out.

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{Sunflowers in a giant flower garden I visited yesterday in Hudson}

I am so excited to relax, experiment in the studio there and sleep in a little bit too. Three weeks isn’t a long period of time, but this residency feels like a gift.  I’ll be documenting what I make and my adventures in Hudson on Instagram and every few days here on my blog if you would like to follow along.

Oh, and for those of you within driving distance of Hudson, at the end of August, I will have an open studio exhibit with everything I’ve created this month (RSVP on Facebook here). I’ll also be doing a book event in Hudson, which you can learn more about here.

Have a great Thursday, friends!

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