Karen Andersen – Art that makes you smile.

When a piece of art literally makes you smile every time you look at it you know you’re onto a good thing.

I have been searching high and low for beautiful art to fill my house recently, my wish list is big but unfortunately my budget is not. Even spending a few hundred dollars on a piece of art can be a big decision, but it can also be an investment. Choosing to buy an original painting from an up and coming local artist can be a very smart move, and definitely a choice I wish I had made many times over. I have wanted to buy pieces from artists at the beginning of their career in the past, I have taken far too long to actually buy it and then their prices double, triple and quadruple due to their high demand.

Moral of my story, If you see a pice of art that makes you smile and it’s within your reach, grab it!

Which brings me to the gorgeous new painting hanging in my home. It is from a local abstract artist who is fairly new to painting and is starting to be recognised by her peers as somebody to watch. She recently won second place with her ‘Coral Sea Garden’ painting in the Hidden Wonders Art Exhibition at the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery.

Karen working in her studio on the Fraser Coast.
Karen working in her studio on the Fraser Coast.

You know I’m a big sharer, ok, maybe an over sharer, but I thought you might appreciate learning a little bit more about Karen and her art.

 Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a fine artist, working with acrylic paint and pastels to create lively, brightly-coloured abstract paintings. I am 41 years old and I live with my partner David and two teenage children (my son is 15 and my daughter is 13) on the Fraser Coast in southeast Queensland, 3 hours north of Brisbane. We own a 1960’s era four bedroom Queenslander that we are in the process of renovating (HUGE job!) and I love to fill it with vividly coloured homewares and art. I feel very lucky to have my art studio in our home too – it really is my happy place, filled with light, art and glorious colour, where I can create until my heart’s content whenever inspiration strikes.

What age did you start painting?

I have always painted and drawn. Art-making was an integral part of my childhood and was my most favourite activity (apart from playing with my Barbies and going to the beach). It wasn’t until high school though, around the age of 12 or 13, that I became absolutely and totally besotted with art. I loved the work of Ken Done, Picasso, Matisse, the Post-Impressionists, and the artists of the Fauvist Period for their use of colour. I would spend hours studying their styles and composing my own (mainly abstract) paintings at home. Creating abstract art was never encouraged at high school by the time I progressed into Year 11 and 12, and though I loved to draw in realism, I could never shake the discontent I felt at having to paint objects and scenes for assessments that were completely uninspiring to me.

Disillusioned at the thought of spending 3 years at university doing the same if I was to go on to do a degree in Fine Art, and choosing to focus on a less risky career option (in biological science), I pushed any thought of having a career as an artist to the furthest reaches of my mind. I busied myself with life and put my art on the back-burner, drawing and painting here and there throughout adulthood, but depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem saw that I never let myself entertain the thought that I could be a professional artist. It wasn’t until October 2016, at the age of 40, that I finally allowed myself to chase my artistic dreams. I began painting every day and the rest, as they say, is history.

Out of the Darkness | Karen M Andersen
Out of the Darkness, Into the Light | Karen M Andersen

Were you surrounded by art growing up? Does anybody in your family paint?

No one else in my family painted when I was growing up, but I was instead surrounded by very creative family members. My maternal grandmother was an extremely talented dressmaker by trade while my paternal grandmother was a champion cake decorator, baker and farmer who loved crafting with fabric and yarn. My dad is a carpenter and builder, very perfectionistic in his work. My mum has been crafting since before I was born – she sews clothing, quilts, accessories for her home and soft toys; she also crochets, knits, and enjoys scrapbooking and card-making. Mum has dabbled in many other crafts over the last 40 years and recently she has taken up art journaling and painting. She and I tend to heavily influence each other’s creativity and enjoy crafting together as adults, so I am not surprised that she has developed a fondness for art of late.

Anyway, I digress. I spent an inordinate amount of time watching my grandmothers, my mum, and my dad creating as I grew up. Everything about the process each of them followed in order to make something with their own hands was absolutely fascinating to me. I was encouraged to join in too and would often complete little projects with them. There is no doubt in my mind that growing up in such a creative family has been pivotal to me developing such a passion for creating too, and I dabble in a few different crafts myself as an adult, but I do believe that my overwhelming passion for art has arisen primarily as a result of my lifelong obsession with colour.

What inspires you to paint?

The great Impressionist painter Claude Monet is quoted as saying, “Colour is my day-long obsession, joy, and torment”. That is precisely how I feel about colour too. As a child, even when I was as young as 2 or 3 years old, I remember feeling obsessed with the colours in my books, on TV, in the environment around me. One of my most favourite things to do was to lay all of my pencils or crayons out in rainbow order. I adored rainbows – seeing them, creating them, and wearing rainbow-coloured clothes. There was something about looking at groupings of bright colours, observing the way that they played against each other, that always made me feel happy and alive. I still feel exactly the same about colour today. It features heavily in my art, my home, and my wardrobe. I live colour, I dream it. It is such a source of happiness for me. Colour is also a torment however as I can never get enough of it – I am always looking for that ideal new colour combination to use in my paintings, that perfect way to lay colours next to each other on a canvas. Colour is certainly the primary inspiration behind my work and the search for new ways of representing it in my art will forever push me to create fresh paintings.

I am also heavily inspired by living in Queensland…our climate, our lifestyle, and our seemingly endless Summers. Being at the beach, watching the sea, walking in the waves as they lap the shore…it feels like home to me. I feel blessed to have the picturesque beaches of Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, Rainbow Beach, and Noosa North Shore so close to home and I visit all often with my family. I have always loved to be either on or in the water, so our coastal waterways and river systems are very inspiring to me too. Our natural environment is a huge influence on my work – our eucalypt bushlands, rainforests, coastal and marine ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef, and all of their inhabitants – encouraged by conversations with my Dad (a nature lover) and university studies in biological science. It is my feelings about all of these elements that I endeavour to express my through my abstract paintings, through the use of colour and mark-making.

Whitsundays
Whitsundays | Karen M Andersen

Your love of colour is evident in your art. Do you start a painting with a colour palette in mind or do you see where the art takes you?

Yes, colour most definitely informs the decisions behind how I start my paintings. I always begin each painting by choosing a colour palette that represents either the inspiration in general or how I feel about it. For example, recently I painted a piece about how I feel about being on Seventy-Five Mile Beach on Fraser Island, about what it feels like to stand and watch the waves splash and tumble, so I chose a palette heavy in blue, aqua, and turquoise, accompanied by drips and splashes of white. I also recently made a painting about my love of the Great Barrier Reef which features a palette of rich vibrant colours, bathed in an ultramarine background. My favourite technique is to use bold colours against more sorbet or pastel tones for maximum contrast and impact. Colour is always the element which is foremost in my mind when I am planning and constructing a painting and is essential in conveying my feelings about the painting’s inspiration.

Your paintings make me smile. It must feel great to know your art has such a positive effect on people’s emotions?

Awww, thank you so much Hayley – it’s lovely to hear that my work has such a wonderful effect on you! That is what I aim for in creating my paintings – for people to feel happy when they look at them. Knowing people love what I create certainly forms part of the reason why feel so compelled to do what I do. My work always comes from a place of absolute joy and from a deep passion for art-making, for colour, and for the things which inspire me. I endeavour to communicate those feelings through my work, so when someone tells me that they love my paintings or that they make them smile or feel happy, I always feel unbelieveably excited, proud and content.

Estuary
Estuary | Karen M Andersen

Do you have a favourite artist?

Oh yes! Iconic Australian artist Ken Done is my absolute favourite artist. I first saw his work at the World Exhibition (Expo88) in Brisbane in 1988 at the age of 12. I remember standing in front of those huge letters that he painted that spelled the word “AUSTRALIA” feeling in absolute awe of such a marvellous creation. I couldn’t believe that I had found someone else who very obviously felt the same way about colour and pattern as I did! I’ve followed his work ever since, with my favourite pieces of his being his beach and reef-themed works. In October 2016 I had the opportunity to see his work in person, to meet him, to seek some advice fom him, and to take an art class with him as part of his exhibition of reef paintings at the Rockhampton Art Gallery. The collective experiences around the Ken Done exhibition last year became a turning point in my life and formed the catalyst behind my decision to finally chase the dream I had held deep inside since I was a teenager – to be a professional artist.

Where would you like your art to take you?

I have so many artistic goals I want to fulfil! I would dearly love to have a solo exhibition of my work one day. I can just imagine how it would feel to walk into a gallery and see all of my work hanging on the walls! I would also like to use my art somehow to increase public awareness and decrease the stigma that exists around mental illness. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, and I know many other people and artists who suffer mental illness, so this is a cause that is very important to me. Like many other artists, ultimately I would love to be able to make a good living from my art eventually. In the short term though, my goals are to keep exploring and experimenting with art-making, to keep producing new work, and to continue sharing it in exhibitions and online. I’m very excited to see what lies ahead for my art!

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I think when you get to know the person behind the painting you can understand where the colours, passion and mood comes from. I feel connected in a way that I wouldn’t if I didn’t know anything about the artist.
This is my painting titled ‘Coastal” in it’s new home, on the wall between my dining room and bar. I hung it where it will be seen everyday and make me smile.

Coastal in my home.
Coastal in my home.

Pop over to Karen’s website HERE and see if her paintings make you smile too.
If they do, grab one for yourself, you won’t regret it!

Oooooohhhh and just because you’re all so fabulous and Karen and I want to spread the smiles …
Karen is offering all my readers 10% off until the 25th May with the code MUMLITTLE10.
Be quick, they are all original pieces and once they are gone they are GONE!

Happy Shopping!

Hayley x

How to Outlet Shop Like a Pro

It’s no secret … I LOVE SHOPPING!
I can’t tell you how many times people ask me where I bought things, tell me I find ‘the best things’ and then nearly fall over when I tell them how much I paid for it. It’s often followed by nudges from husbands saying ‘you have to go shopping with her‘ and gasps from the girls saying ‘I have to come shopping with you!‘.

So, I thought I’d let you in on a little secret – I have an Outlet Mall 15 mins from my house, I shop there far more than I am willing to admit to my husband, but I really do get some great buys.
There are some tricks to outlet shopping though and I thought I’d share this great article with you to give you all the pro tips. I found it really useful and I hope you do too, because you know all I’m about sharing the good stuff!

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Harbour Town … just down the road 🙂

How to Outlet Shop like a Pro

Do you ever wonder how some women manage to look amazing, stay on trend, but not break the bank? Well, their secret is out as we unveil the tricks of the trade to become a seasoned Outlet shopper!

With trends changing every season, Outlet shopping lets you indulge your inner-fashionista without spending a fortune. Outlet hubs like Australia’s largest Outlet Shopping Centre, Harbour Town on the Gold Coast, offer up to 70% off the recommended retail price, attracting shoppers of all styles with their unique mix of popular international and iconic Australian brands at unbeatable prices every day.

The changing face of retail has seen a host of big-name brands join the Outlet revolution sweeping the country including the likes of Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Furla, Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Klein, Coach and more.

There has never been a better time to update your wardrobe while still keeping your hip pocket happy. Harbour Town’s Marketing Manager, Rebecca Stevenson, gives us her top five tips to shop like an Outlet pro:

  1. Think Ahead, But Don’t Make A List!

Some days, your shopping stars align and you find exactly what you are looking for at an incredible Outlet price. Other days, you may not find the items on your list, but if you’re shopping with an open mind you could find something even better! When you hit the Outlet malls be prepared to comprise and be “fashion-forward” in your thinking. You may not need that beautiful dress on sale at 60% off today, but wedding season is just a few months away and Harbour Town’s Outlet prices make it worth investing in the piece now! If you come with a strict list, you may walk away empty-handed…but if you embrace the thrill of the Outlet find your wardrobe and wallet will come out ahead!

  1. Invest (Guilt-Free) In A Statement Handbag

In most cases of fashion and life, a statement handbag is all you need to lift your spirits and your outfit. Conveniently, the key to a statement handbag often lies in the quality and you don’t have to break the bank when you can buy premium brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Kate Spade, Furla, Oroton and Mimco at Outlet prices. Most of these brands specialise in a specific style handbag, and while the colours may change ever so slightly each season, you can still buy a classically designed purse, tote, pouch, clutch or shoulder bag at a fraction of the price. It may cost you a little more than other brands, but if you’re wise in your selection you’ll find yourself taking your investment with you everywhere you go, and the extra dollars spent on quality craftsmanship will have been worth it.

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  1. Take A Friend A Make A Day Of It

Even back in the caveman days, the hunters and gatherers worked better in tribes…the same could be said for Outlet shopping. Two sets of eyes and two sets of hands will come in handy as you’re trawling through the racks for discounted delights. Also, a second opinion from an honest friend can really make or break a purchase, so take a friend who can offer a third-party view of your Outfit finds from every angle. You don’t want to miss out on anything either and shopping with a friend makes it easier to go the distance as you are more likely to enjoy a full day of strolling the malls when it’s a social affair. You can always schedule stops to refuel with lunch and coffee breaks throughout the day too!

  1. Try On Everything

Every Outlet pro knows the golden rule of all shopping is to try it all on – EVERYTHING! Particularly in an Outlet setting where you may be overwhelmed and a little frazzled by the countless options available and all of the enticing prices! This is the time to take a deep breath, check the fit closely, make sure the colour suits you and that you feel comfortable in the item. The Outlet prices usually help seal the deal!

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  1. Shop Weekdays

If you really want to get serious, schedule some time to go shopping on a weekday. You will avoid the crowds, there will be less competition and the queue for a coffee will be shorter. Remember, new stock is delivered to stores every week, so if you are really committed, a number of trips will help you find the Outlet buy of your dreams.

With these five tips on how to shop Outlet like a pro, you will find yourself looking your best and feeling even better because you managed to save a few bucks too. There’s no need to pay retail when Outlet centres such as Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre on the Gold Coast are on sale every day – because full price is so last season!

So, what have I nabbed lately?
Completely random purchase by me, but I saw this sweet little dress for my fur baby and just had to have it, doesn’t she look sweet!

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Other things that I recently bought from the outlets are Calvin Klein underwear for my girls, apparently they #NEED Calvin Klein. They are lucky it was 40% off or their #need would have become a #want and #neverhappening !!!

OK, So now you are armed with all the best tips I want to see your shopping purchases, make sure you leave a message, e-mail me or tag me on social media!

Happy Shopping!

Hayley x

  • Article written by Connor Wallace and published with permission.

My kitchen … the pretty bits!

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I split my kitchen reveal into 2 posts because some of you really want to know about the planning, the process and the products, while others of you are only interested in the pretty things. This post is for the pretty things. If you want to read about the process you can do that here.

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OK, now I have a beautiful, classic white kitchen, but I love a pop of colour in my home so I knew I needed to add that somewhere. I didn’t want to do anything too permanent, but I did want to be a little bit risky. I decided to make my statement with the window treatments. I actually had the white cedar shutters that were originally in this room, but I was shocked how much more light streamed into the room when we removed them so I didn’t want to put them back up. I wanted something that could be completely open during the day and give us some privacy at night. Roman blinds were the best option, so I went about finding the perfect fabric.
One thing I learned during this process is to always order a sample of the fabric if you are choosing something online or from a catalogue. I have 6 metres of another fabric that I ordered and thought would be perfect, but when it turned up it was all wrong. In the end I went with a heavy linen blend with a gorgeous pattern, it falls beautifully and I love the explosion of colour that I can control depending on how far I have the blinds dropped.

Coconut Row Poolside by Den Designs.
Coconut Row Poolside by Dena Designs.

The roman blinds in the kitchen determined the colour palette for everything else, which I love … blue and green. Of course the obvious choice for me was to fill my kitchen with cabbageware and blue and white, which is exactly what I did. I don’t have enough pieces of cabbageware to achieve the look I want yet, but thats half the fun … hunting them down. As for the blue and white, that’s easy!

I already had some beautiful pieces in my home that fit perfectly, I love these little striped jugs, they look like they were made for the kitchen.

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Another favourite ways to add colour to the kitchen is with a big french oven. You see them in all the stylish kitchens on Pinterest and that’s half the reason I wanted one, but honestly they are a dream to cook with too. I leave mine out on the stove top, I also bought a few mini cocottes to display on the range hood and I think they look super cute.

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Also on the range hood is 3 rattan jugs that I’ve had forever, and my boxwood wreath which looks as fresh as the day I got it.

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Probably the thing I was most excited about for decorating the kitchen was this floor rug. It is from the Dash & Albert indoor / outdoor range, I already own one of their rugs along with a door mat and couple of outdoor poufs, so I am familiar with their quality and how easy they are to clean, you literally take them outside and hose them. It is the perfect runner for messy spaces like the kitchen.

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With all the hard lines and cool colours in my kitchen I felt like I needed to add some natural wood elements to warm it up. I chose a chunky elm cutting board in a fun shape that I love, and a pair of salt ‘n’ pepper mills in acacia wood.

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I alway like to have a clock in my kitchen as I often take my watch off when baking. I had my heart set on something timeless in a polished nickel and after quite a long hunt I found the perfect one at Pottery Barn, should have known to look there in the first place, duh!

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Another thing I had a hard time finding was a rattan cutlery holder, I saw them everywhere a while ago when I didn’t need one, then when I decided I needed one I couldn’t find it. Instagram to the rescue and I finally found one, it’s perfect for quick access to the cutlery when the kids are sitting at the island bench (when we get stools).

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Then the necessities, the toaster and the kettle, they aren’t always pretty but I think I found some pretty good looking ones. The toaster is all kinds of awesome with buttons and dials for every setting you can think of, plus it beeps when your toast is ready, very cool.

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Another necessity in the kitchen is tea towels. We all have those yukky stained one that have been used for one too many bolognese clean up, maybe they are your favourites, maybe they dry really well … get rid of them! A dirty tea towel makes your whole kitchen look grubby, they are so inexpensive and easy to replace. I just bought a fresh new set of 4 in a pretty blue colour for the new kitchen.

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And lastly, I always like to have fresh flowers and a beautiful candle burning in my kitchen. I had the most amazing hyacinths for these photos, the scent was incredible and they literally made me smile every time I looked at them.
I change candles often, but one range that is pretty consistent in my home is the Circa Home range, they have a lovely collection of scents that I love.

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Now all I have left to do is hunt down the perfect barstools …

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If there is something I haven’t covered or answered, leave a comment or send me an e-mail and I’ll get back to you.

Happy Shopping!

Hayley x

Roman Blinds – Coconut Raw Poolside fabric / Dena Designs
French Oven – Chasseur 6.3L in Imperial Blue / Kitchen Warehouse 
Floor Runner – Herringbone Indigo 76 x 243cm / Winton House
Clock – Pocket watch in Nickel / Pottery Barn
Toaster – Kitchenaid Artisan 4-slice in silver / Kitchen Warehouse
Kettle – Kitchenaid Artisan 1.25L / Kitchen Warehouse
Elm board – Elm cheese board Heart / Bloom and Co
Salt Shaker and Pepper Grinder – Williams Sonoma open kitchen / Williams Sonoma
Tea Towels – Multi-pack in Bistro blue / William Sonoma
Cabbageware  – White salad bowl / The Source Homewares
Striped Jug & Bottle – Aegean range / The Source Homewares
Flowers – Hyacinths / Flowerhaul 
Candle – Forest Berries and Fig / Circa Home
Blue Striped Jugs – Handmade on the Gold Coast / Fine Things
Wreath – Preserved boxwood / The Doors of Berry
Cutlery – Matte Black / Reform Merchant

Mother’s Day gift guide 2017

I shared a few of my favourite things on my Instagram story today that I think would make perfect gifts for Mum this Mother’s Day.
For those of you not on Instagram (why not, come on over, promise we’re friendly) here’s all the goodies.
I hope you find something perfect for your Mum, or maybe something for yourself.

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#1 – a hairstyla is perfect for busy Mum’s, you can brush your hair straight in just a few minutes!

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#2 – a pretty tea cup is always a good idea, this one from T2 is super pretty!

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#3 – who doesn’t love a pretty candle, I love this new range from Circa Home with the pink packaging and fresh fruity scent.

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#4 – Mum’s love jewellery, these pieces from Covet Handmade Jewellery are timeless pieces she can wear everyday.

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#5 – If your Mum is a tea drinker with a cheeky sense of humout then this sweet spoon from The Cutlery Commission and available at Hard To Find is a winner.

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#6 – Is your Mum an entertainer? These napkins from Peacocks & Paisleys are unique and beautiful.

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 #7 – linen and ruffles … you had me at hello! I’m completely obsessed with this throw from ‘her shed‘ lately and wish you could all have one!

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#8 – just in time for those chilly winter months, get Mum a hot water bottle to keep her warm. The best ones are at Toasty Warm Australia.

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#9 – beautiful blooms are always a good idea, these fresh hyacinths are from Flowerhaul.

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#10 – If your Mum is a dedicated cook, she’ll love this heart shaped elm serving board from Bloom and Co.

I hope you found the perfect gift for your Mum.
Happy Shopping!

Hayley x