Summer Special Features from Creative Connection Members

by | Jul 20, 2023 | 2023 July, Art, Create, Home, Lifestyle, Paint

Heart Smiles

Shannon Olson

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I have been creative since I was a young child. I would spend hours in my father’s shop, finding so much joy in creating and painting things. My father once made me a wooden boat with a sail that I painted with lots of colors. I was so proud of it. I was excited when the day came to launch my boat in the local river. Well, the river took it away, with the help of the sail, and I was forced to watch as it sailed out of sight. My Dad shrugged his shoulders, laughed, and said, “It worked so well we’ll have to make another.” Looking back, I can laugh knowing that my art has taken me much farther than the river took my boat that day.

In high school, I took every art class whether it was clay, acrylics, oils, or abstracts. I loved being in that creative environment so much that I became the teacher’s aide. Creativity runs rapidly in my heart and soul. There is never a time of day that I’m not thinking of painting or sketching out my next canvas on a piece of scratch paper. Creating is what brings me joy.

As I grew into my artistic business, I had to learn a lot, so I took a course with Dionne Woods from The Turquoise Iris. She taught me how to do better staging, write content, and take better photos.

With that said, the winds here in Nebraska are rarely calm. Taking large canvases and easels out to a dirt road with wind and traffic is a challenge. During one of the photo shoots that I did all on my own, I would run, set the painting on the easel, and snap the photo before a gust of wind blew over. Between the wind gusts, pickup trucks, and semi-trucks, I spent most of my time waiting for the dust to settle and the wind to die down. It was a long day but I was able to get a handful of great photos out of one hundred that were taken. I had to laugh because I knew this was a lesson in patience.

Laughter has always been a part of my creativity, especially when running a business. Sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and say, “Jesus take the wheel!”

Laughter and joy are just a couple of the emotions that shine throughout my art and my process of creating. Vibrant colors are a big part of my floral paintings and reflect the happiness in my heart. Getting inspirational photos from my flower garden can also be challenging. My garden is about seventy-five feet by forty feet and has two small bridges, several paths, a waterfall with a small pond, and a variety of perennials, annuals, and tropical plants as fillers.

One summer morning, I was standing in the middle of my garden and contemplating my next photo when a squirrel came running down the path straight at me! I just froze, I didn’t know what to do. He ran right between my feet. I could feel his fur on my ankles as he passed though! I had a good belly laugh and thought, “Did that just happen?!”

Another time, I was standing at the bottom of my deck and editing some of the photos I had taken when I heard a humming noise in my left ear. At first, I thought it was a bee and froze so he wouldn’t sting me, but I looked out the corner of my eye and realized it was a hummingbird only six inches from my face! I didn’t move until he flew away. I thought, “How special was that!”

Another evening, after dark, I was entertaining a group of ladies outside on my lattice-covered deck. As we were chatting and visiting, I looked up at the connecting pergola and I saw a furry face peek around the large connecting post. Finally, it revealed itself… It was a young possum! I DID NOT FREEZE THIS TIME!!!! I kicked my chair backward, clear across the deck, ran inside, and closed the glass door leaving my friends to wonder, “What just happened?!”

I pointed up to the possum and the gals did not have the same reaction as I did. They took their phones out and started taking pictures of the little guy! There is something about animals after dark that makes me draw the line! We laughed about it for days and the possum became famous on social media. He just wanted to join our lil ol’ party!

Be sure to laugh and smile every day, even though it might be tough. Remember good things are about to come. You can see them if you let your heart smile!

Shannon Olson is the owner and artist behind Nanas Workshop. She is a floral artist known for her bold contrasting colors in her canvas art. She is also known for her large flower garden in Neligh Nebraska. She gets all her floral inspiration from her peaceful garden. Shannon is a canvas artist inspiring others to create their passion. In addition to her canvas art, you can find her prints on decoupage papers, tote bags, throw pillows, and greeting cards. Find Shannon online at @NanasWorkshop1 on Instagram and at for more.

Prescription-Strength Laughter

Allison Kruer

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The year started off rough with an announcement of uncertainty in my full-time job and then someone I looked up to and admired passed away.  But good opportunities come in my life too; like being a featured artist on MadeTV, the creative friends I made at the Creative Connection, and submitting to an in-person event I learned about last year because the lady liked my work and she thought it would fit right in. Plus, I started packing for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Egypt and London. My friend and I are invited to a wedding in Egypt. Cool, right? I am looking forward to all the sightseeing, of course, the land of hats and fascinators. If you do not know, I LOVE HATS!

I am no different than anyone else, success and loss are part of everybody’s life. Everyone has different ways of coping with all of it. Laughter is my way of coping.  My goal is to laugh or make someone else laugh every single day. This lowers my stress and, hopefully, someone else’s at the same time.

The best compliment I ever received was, “You have the best laugh.” That may sound rather conceited since I am the one writing this, but I have not always been appreciative of my laughter. I was teased in elementary school because of it. My laughter is boisterous and over the top. I remember being in the room where the principal made announcements over the PA system and showed us youngsters how it all worked. When I returned to my classroom a classmate said they knew it was me because my laugh was the loudest. I was not given a cute, small laugh naturally, so I kept my laughter small and quiet for years.

It is true that the older one gets, the more one decides they won’t be forced into acting or being a certain way. I can only be me: the loud woman with the boisterous laugh, who laughs to reduce her stress and worry, who keeps trying to reach her goal of laughing and making someone laugh every day.

Allison Kruer is a multimedia artist, who has not met a medium she doesn’t like. In addition to her love of shaping and handcrafting hats, she also enjoys working with wool, metal, acrylics, soft pastels, graphite, slow stitching, and anything else creative. She is now also offering printed versions of her 3D wall art. Find her online @artzyalli_creating_yourself and visit to learn more. 

Change is Beautiful

Lyne Verfaillie

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When I think about my life, I just have to smile and let out a good belly laugh. When I was in my early twenties, I thought that being in my fifties would make me so old. I didn’t think I would even make it to that age. I thought your fifties meant you were all done having fun, that’s it, time to settle down for the golden years.

I’m so glad I was wrong.

These 50-something years, simply put, are proving to be some of the best years I’ve had. The years have taught me a simple motto that I now live by why wait? Why wait to do all the things you’ve dreamed of doing, just do them! Tomorrow is not promised.

Just shy of two years ago, my husband and I decided to take a vacation to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. It was our goal, and 5-year plan, to eventually move south for the warmer weather so off we went to scope out the area.

Tennessee won our hearts equally. Our road trip was filled with exploring new places, eating different foods like chicken and waffles (we passed on the boiled nuts, though), and lots and lots of laughs.

As we both stood on the shores of Douglas Lake, which was showing us its beautiful turquoise water, the biggest question of all came out of my mouth and completely changed our life. Why wait? Why are we waiting 5 years? Neither one of us could come up with a solid reason. My husband works remotely and I could pack my entire workshop and studio and just resume business in Tennessee. We both knew leaving our family and friends would be the hardest part of it all but there was no reason to wait. This is what we dreamed of, what we were working towards. Besides, winter was hiding around the corner just a short 3  months away. We were more than ready to say goodbye to shoveling snow, ice, and freezing cold temperatures.

Within two months of our trip, we listed our house for sale. It sold in one day and just 30 days later we had two moving trucks plus my pickup truck packed to the roof. We were leaving New Hampshire with our dogs and headed straight for Tennessee.

Nowadays, we both chuckle now about what a crazy whirlwind it was. It was surreal! There were certainly a few panicked moments thinking, “What have we done, are we crazy?”

I’ve always said change is hard in the beginning, can be messy in the middle, but beautiful in the end. I certainly experienced all those feelings, but now I can say that it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

We rented a home in Tennessee for a year and began our search for a more permanent place to live. This is where the hard part of the change came into play. I didn’t want to unpack everything just to repack it all in a few months, 6 months, or a year. It was A  LOT of stuff to unpack but I knew that I just needed to create. I needed art in my life, that I definitely could not live without. Do I bite the bullet and unpack everything? Nope, it had taken me way too long to pack it up and I wasn’t ready to undo all that work. Or, do I take the time to study some new art techniques? That is the choice I went with.

I had been so intrigued by fluid art and paint pouring, but I never really gave myself the time to play in it. But now, now I had the time. I began my research… But research isn’t really my thing so that lasted about a day before I hopped in my truck and headed to the nearest Hobby Lobby to stock up on paint and inexpensive canvases. My husband took one look at me when I got to the rental and said, “We must protect this rental room.” Laughing, with such joy in my heart, I agreed.

I was really bad at fluid art in the beginning, but I was so bound and determined to learn this because it was so fascinating to me to watch paint blend, react and create some beautiful effects. I was instantly hooked! About a month or so into experimenting, I had an idea. What would happen if I tried a Dutch pour on a dresser? I need a dresser, pronto! I went up to our bedroom, emptied my dresser right onto the floor, then slid it down the stairs right into my makeshift studio. Then,  I hear… “Whoa, whoa, what are you doing?”

I told him my plans and, with a little bit of panic in his voice, he said, “Can we please protect the floor first?”

Oh, right. I sure didn’t want to lose that security deposit! We protected the floor and I made a mess, a glorious mess! It took two tries on the dresser, but IT WORKED. I successfully did a Dutch pour on the front of a dresser! This is where I was determined to learn and try even more. Why wait?

I loved it all, every bit of it made me laugh with joy… Even when paint hit the wall of our rental. Oops! Did you know acrylic paint stains really fast? I didn’t either, but I scrubbed and scrubbed until it finally came off. I guess maybe this is where the “messy middle part” of change comes in.

I strongly believe that fluid art was a form of therapy for me. I was missing my friends and family, wondering if we made the right decision, and my business was in boxes. I carried a lot of anxiety but paint pouring really did keep my mindset at ease while all those emotions of change overcame me, and when they did, I would just go pour puddles of paint.

It took us 10 months to find our new home, and in 30 more days after that, all the craziness would start to settle down so I could focus on my business again and give it my all. But that very next morning, I saw a post from Dionne Woods in her private membership group, The Turquoise Iris’s Creative Connection, about a business mentorship program that I knew I needed. Why wait? Now is the time, I thought! I didn’t even blink an eyeball. I signed up and it was the absolute best decision I could have ever made for myself personally and for my business.

That is where the “beautiful in the end” part of change really sunk in for me. Not only did our “home state” change, but I began to change inside as well. I was changing into the person who could finally feel comfortable calling herself an artist.

If we had waited for our 5-year plan, I would not have had the time or opportunity to experiment and learn a new skill. I would have kept spinning my wheels without mentorship in my business. I would not have met the amazing women in the program with me. I would not have been empowered to be the best version of myself! Change is hard work, but it is so worth it and beautiful in the end.

Lyne Verfaillie is the artist and owner behind Liquid Vintage Industries. On any given day, she can be found hand-painting furniture, creating wall decor out of found objects married with authentic reclaimed barn wood, or pouring paint onto canvases or furniture. Visit her website,, or follow her online @LiquidVintageIndustries for more information.

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