August 25, 2010

Serendipity or Happenstance - or Both?

When you think of good things that have happened in your life, do you think they occured because by chance or fate?  Do you think we make our own luck or do things happen at random?

There have been a few instances lately in my life that began as totally random events but that have turned into amazing opportunities!  So would that fall under the "both" category?

The first such incident happened on a trip to Duluth, MN that Brian and I took during the 4th of July weekend back in 2007.  I don't recall now why we chose Duluth; the only reasons I can think of are that I figured it would be cooler than it would be in Wisconsin and some friends of ours really love it there.  We actually stayed on the North Shore of Lake Superior, which is a 20 minute drive from Duluth.  It's so lovely and I know we'll vacation there again.

While in Duluth one evening we happened across this old warehouse-type building with a few shops in it.  One of the shops was a photography studio that Brian wanted to check out.  We both went in but when he started talking cameras with the owner I knew it would be a while.  So I wandered across the hall to a shop called Peasantworks.  What a neat store!  It was a great mix of art supplies, home decor and commissioned artworks.  It was really vibrant and colorful and there was something new to see in every nook and cranny.  And as happens so many times in non-chain shops, I struck up a conversation with the owner, Lori.  I think she and I talked for an hour and a half!  It was a lovely way to spend the evening (and I bought a gorgeous pillow and some AWESOME Jo Sonja acrylic paints that I still use to this day!).

Flash forward to late 2008 - a full year and a half since we'd been in Duluth.  I just joined Facebook and I got a friend request - from Lori!  The last name didn't register at first but when I saw her profile picture it all clicked.  So of course I friended her!  Flash forward ANOTHER year and a half, to earlier this year.  Lori was thinking about putting together an art retreat - and would I be interested in teaching a workshop?  Of COURSE I would!  So I am, along with Lori and Teresa Kolar, in Duluth in October.  I am terribly excited about this fun event and I can't wait!  It's also right around my birthday so Brian and I will be taking a couple extra days to explore the Northern Wisconsin area as well. 

All because I wandered into Lori's shop that one fateful July evening over three years ago.

The second surprise all started with my May/June issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.  In an article in this issue, artist Cathy Taylor demonstrated a new mixed media technique using a product called Citra Solv, which is actually a vegetable-based household cleaner (that smells deliciously like oranges or lavender!) that does amazing things when paired with National Geographic magazine pages (seriously!  Just brush the pages of a Nat Geo with Citra Solv and the inks mix, making these beautiful other-worldly art papers.).  I tried it and not only was it fun to do the project, the papers turned out wonderfully! 

I happened to mention that I tried the technique on my ATCs - Artist Trading Cards Facebook page.  Well, somehow the good folks at Citra Solv saw this and invited the group to enter their art contest!  I did, along with a few of my friends.  The entries were AMAZING, and the winner was an artist who had rendered Andy Warhol completely in Citra Solv pages.  Incredible.

So many of my live trading group friends were intrigued by this technique that I did a mini-tutorial at our May live ATC trade.  I made Artist & Display smell like an orange grove in the process!  :D

A couple of weeks ago, I heard from my Citra-Solv friends again, this time wondering if I'd be interested in running a giveaway on my ATC Facebook page.  Of COURSE I would!  I ran the contest and five lucky winners received a bottle of Citra Solv in the mail so they can make their own artworks (and clean their homes!).  At the same time I thought I would enter their latest art contest, "Freedom of Expression".  The gist of this contest was to create some Citra-Solv art that embodies the best of our country, at a time when we really need some optimism about this great land.  So I used a photo that Brian had shot while we were in Hawai'i at the USS Arizona Memorial and rendered it in Citra Solv pages.  I also wrote a little essay about the memorial and how it pertains to the best part of us.

Well, imagine my shock when I found out yesterday that I won the GRAND PRIZE.  I was flabbergasted!  And flattered, honored, moved - all those great things.  I am just thrilled (and I won a gift certificate! WOO HOO!).  :D

All of this because I happened to try a new mixed media project and product. 

Long stories long, I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is room for serendipity in every encounter!  And maybe we have the ability to steer the course of every chance meeting we have.  Sure, there are plenty of times that I've somewhere and nothing amazing has come of it - yet.  Who knows?  Maybe something that happens during the day today will affect the rest of my life positively (I try not to focus on the negative!).  Isn't that a fun prospect?  Maybe it'll happen to you!


  1. If you think about it, all the things that you did also affected others too. Not only have you shared with people about how to use Citra Solv,(which certainly helps us but also brings the fun of altering the pages to other artists) but you have created a wonderful piece that will surely brighten the day of men and women in the service that see it! (Not to mention how much you have brightened our office with your pictures) So if you hadn't opened the Cloth Paper Scissors and I hadn't read your post...

    And of course we share the same name :)

    Loved your post! Melissa and the Citra Solv gang

  2. Woah, Way to go with the Grand Prize win, Mel!!!!!

  3. Melissa - I'm so glad our paths crossed!! Serendipity indeed - and you are such a great company to work with. Thank you so much again for the opportunity with your contests! :D

    And speaking of serendipity - I'm really glad OUR paths crossed too, Pam! What a wonderful year 2010 is shaping up to be, with many happy returns! :D And thanks so much for the well-wishes!