I am super excited to introduce our 2nd Gratitude 52 Journal guest, Shelly Vaughan, to you. Shelly is from Kentucky and a fellow encourager. I love her magical and playful images; I think you will too. Curl up with a cup of tea and enjoy her interview below.
Hi Shelly! Welcome to the Gratitude 52 Interview series. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Shelly Vaughan, and I am grateful to introduce myself as a Domestic Engineer, which means I am a Wife, Mom, Home-School Teacher, and Homemaker, and I love my career! I graduated with a degree in counseling which I definitely use in all those rolls. My husband and I have a ministry called WordOutreach International, and we enjoy the privilege of sharing the love of Jesus with many folks around the globe.
One of my biggest passions is probably encouragement. I love to encourage my family in their goals and dreams, and I enjoy encouraging others in our home through hospitality. Big crowds or parties are not my thing, but I love sitting with a small group of friends, or better yet, one-on-one with an old (or new!) friend, a cup of tea in hand, and talking about things that really matter. I guess that’s one reason I have always loved art – because it’s a way to express your heart without having to make a speech. I’ve seen how the beauty of art has encouraged people, whether it's the artistic display of their favorite dessert, a hand-painted card just for them, or the cozy decor of a guest room that makes them feel welcome.
What made you decide to join this project, and what did you learn?
Joining the Gratitude 52 project was motivated out of a need for something to help me get back into sketching/drawing/journaling on a consistent basis, as well as knowing how important it is to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness, and this was just the perfect fit. Of course, I was excited to learn more about Jenny’s techniques … my mom introduced me to her art several years ago, and I find her style inspirational.
What did I learn from this project? Well, my goodness, so much! First of all, it showed me how many blessings I often take for granted, like clean water and shoes. It was convicting and encouraging at the same time - to regularly be grateful for all of the Lord’s blessings, even when dark times come. It was also wonderful to see others work. I wanted to try new things, like using bolder colors (can’t wait to try gouache!), drawing things I never had before (dragons are magical!), and how to add lettering to a journal page in a way that accents the artwork (I’m loving white ink, now). Seeing others be bold in sharing about personal struggles and joys, it motivated me to not be so self-focused, and to be willing to be open with others … I was impressed with the folks who participated - not just their talented artwork, but their lovely hearts!
How has your own art and journaling style developed as a result of this project?
I think this project confirmed to me how much I enjoy the medium of water-color pencils … and I definitely want to pursue getting better at using them. The most fun I had was when I drew animals, so that also was a discovery for me. I’ve always enjoyed landscapes and still-life objects, but now I want to get better at depicting animals. That’s probably why I’m so drawn to Jenny’s work - as well as some of my favorite artists being children’s book illustrators.
What was the most difficult part about the challenge? What did you overcome?
The most difficult part of the project was putting my work out there for others to see… it was a bit intimidating. The positive and encouraging feedback from others was sweet and so very appreciated! The other challenge was just making the time to do it. Most weeks, I tried to fit it in on Sunday afternoons - after church and lunch. Our house is usually quiet, and we all work in our own little worlds. I really looked forward to those peaceful moments away from everything else.
Describe a page or two of which you are most proud. What do you love most about those pages?
My favorite pages would probably be the ones with the little mice. It was fun to kind of create little characters that showed up now and again throughout the year, and I was happy with the page layout of each of those. I was also pleased with the page about eyesight … I feel that the depiction of the horse’s eye and the simple lettering made for a thoughtful impact. The hardest page to do was the "1 good thing page" My heart was so full of emotions that week, and I had a very specific message I wanted to put on paper but really wasn’t sure how to do it. It may not be the best artistically, but it was the page that was the most cathartic, and, I hope, a little magical.
Describe your creative setup. Did you have a special Gratitude Journal space to create?
Mostly, the journaling took place in my art room. We live in a log cabin in the country in the Bluegrass State, and we have a little room on the end of our house that looks out over our pasture and horses. There’s an easel in one corner, a little sink in another, a project table in the middle, a small cabinet full of my favorite artsy-crafty supplies, and lots of natural lighting. It’s probably my favorite room in the house, although we also have a school room which is where I spend a lot of my day … many of the pages were created in that room, fit in around teaching math, history, science, etc.
Who did you meet through the Gratitude 52 Community on Instagram? What did you enjoy most about the connections?
Well, it has been a joy to “meet” some of the artists who participated - and continuing to be inspired by them through their Instagram pages! I’ve really loved the little snapshots of England life with Sophie Thurlow’s page. I enjoyed the professionalism and open-heartedness of Leigh Ann Simpson. And Sharon Grace’s beautiful pages encouraged me to take up bible journaling and “artsy” Planning … It’s so much fun! I especially enjoyed when Jenny posted videos of her art in action.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to journal and express themselves artistically?
Advise for others who want to journal: Like most pursuits in life, it takes doing it consistently to see results. In home education, I have discovered that one of the best ways to learn is to copy the masters – in music, in writing, in art. Then, you can develop the skills that let you discover your own special, unique style. It’s okay to look at others work for inspiration. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!” Then, you can discover what is unique about your own style, and pursue that.
How can we connect with you?
My Instagram is artsycrafty7, you can find me on Pinterest under Shelly Vaughan, my Facebook account is here, and our ministry website is wordoutreach.org (My husband has a podcast encouraging from the Bible and highlighting our international friends and their work overseas if you would like to hear about places like India, Korea, Japan. And coming soon: a podcast called “Happily Ever After” for ladies only! My mom-in-law and I sharing about practical helps in our calling as wives.)
We love having friends come to visit, so if you’re ever traveling through Kentucky and need a little get-away, come on over to “Serenity,” where you will be happily greeted by our two loving guard dogs, and the tea kettle is always on … relax to live harp music while you swing on the front porch, or hit the trails with one of our equine friends! It’s peaceful and you won’t be lacking material for sketching and journaling! Although you may need to nudge one of our feline friends off your lap first.
Thank you sharing your experience and journal pages, Shelly! We need to take you up on that visit-to-Kentucky offer. Sounds splendid.
Be sure to connect with Shelly on her Instagram page.
And a gratitude reminder for you on this Sunday evening:
"Be in love with your life. Every minute of it."
. . .
Which one of Shelly's journal pages is your favorite?