A Person’s A Person…

So, there I was, 9 months pregnant and yet to paint my own bump! I had been so busy with other bumps that I hadn’t had time to brainstorm my own. I needed something that would be do-able upside down and backwards. I didn’t want to get in over my head with a full belly scene like I normally do for my clients. I couldn’t come up with something that I really loved, especially since we didn’t find out if we were having a boy or girl. My sister suggested something with Dr. Seuss, and *ding ding ding*! Of course! From Horton Hears a Who, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

dr seussI used a mirror to see what I was doing, and let’s just say I haven’t exercised my brain like this for a long time. My neck was completely stiff for the three days or so after doing the painting.

click to go to the galleryIt’s funny, I did this painting for myself because I thought it was just a simple, sweet expression of how I felt about the little person growing inside of me. I never meant for it to be anything other than personal to me. If I had stepped out of my pregnancy brain fog and actually thought about what I had just painted I might not have been so surprised about what happened after I posted my little picture to my Facebook page. It went viral. In less than a week, over 20,000 people had seen my belly! My humble little FB business page jumped from 160 to over 500 in less than six weeks. Previously, I would have done a happy dance at a 10 follower increase. Turns out, this is the perfect pro-life statement. Duh! When I first figured out that it was a pro-life page that started sharing and got the momentum going, I didn’t know how to feel about it. I’m very much pro-life, but still, my image was being shared for a very specific message. Ultimately I decided that I liked it. Especially once a well known natural parenting magazine based in Australasia (yes, it’s a term!) shared it. It’s nice to know that so many people out there appreciate and like what I’ve done.

click to go to the galleryI did not intend for this to be an image for a cause. I did not intend for it to promote my business. It was just a pure expression of the love I have for my own child. It’s funny how that simple expression, and definitely the simplest painting I’ve done, attracted the most attention.

See full process here!

Business Bellies

I have very officially launched a new service for The Painted Oven, business bellies! What is a business belly, you may ask? It is a pregnant belly painted to promote your own baby oriented business! So, let’s say you are a wonderful birth photographer, like the lovely Robin Baker.

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She hired me to recreate her flowering tree logo on one of her doula clients. Oh yea, did I mention she’s a doula too? She is truly a multi-talented woman, offering many different types of photography and birth services. She is the same photographer that included me in her breast feeding mini sessions, the photos of which were featured in my last post for World Breastfeeding Week.

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This was my first business belly EVER and I was so pleased to work with such a talented photographer right out of the gate. The care I witnessed of Robin with her client was truly inspiring. Her generosity with sharing some business knowledge with me was also greatly appreciated on my part!

©BirthBlessingsPhoto2013_PaintedOven_43view the full photo shoot

Birth Blessings Photography webpage

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Or, perhaps you are exclusively a doula and birth educator, like the sweet Cris Harper. I may be a little biased since she was my doula for the birth of my daughter, but she’s pretty awesome. Her North County Natural Birth logo features a Palm Tree, so we did a stronger beachy vibe for her business belly.

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Cris is a birth educator with Alpha Childbirth, Christ centered childbirth classes being offered for the first time outside of Tennessee. My daughter was the very first West Coast Alpha baby, by the way! Here she is modeling with the other “baby” from our class, haha!

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West Coast Alpha Classes, North County

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Or, maybe you are a really good newborn photographer, like the up and coming Paige Prior. Maybe you want a baby bump to show some off your maternity photo skills. Seriously, it’s a skill. You can’t just photograph us ladies when we are pregnant from any angle!

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Paige took our daughter’s newborn photos too, but those are pictures for a later post! (do you like how I teased you there?)

Paige Prior Photography webpage

My Breastfeeding Story

See my whole nursing photoshoot here...

Since it’s World Breastfeeding Week, I thought now would be appropriate timing for sharing my breast feeding story. I may not have thought to write it had it not been for the opportunity presented to me by my Doula, Cris Harper, to model for the lovely photographer Miss Robin Baker. I took breastfeeding photos with my then 3 week old daughter, Tabitha. Here is my breastfeeding story…

Two and a half years ago, I welcomed my son into the world. From the very beginning breast feeding was easy. My biggest issue was too much milk. Oh darn! We were so good at it, and enjoyed it so much that we nursed until he was 19 months old. On march 4th, I welcomed my second child, a girl. Starting out breast feeding with her was a little trickier. She “pinched” quite a bit, and after meeting with a lactation consultant discovered that she has a high pallet. OK, no big deal. We adjusted our technique and were making lovely progress.

Then, we got a phone call from our pediatrician. There is nothing more stressful as a parent than a conversation with a doctor that starts with, “Is your husband home? (yes) Can you put me on speaker?” Her PKU test had come back with high numbers for a condition called Galactosemia. With this condition a child cannot metabolize the milk sugar galactose. It’s very rare, and very serious. If not caught, it can result in such things as liver, kidney, and eye damage. Until we did a full blood test she couldn’t have any form of milk or dairy, including breast milk. She had to be on soy formula until we got the results. I would have to pump several times everyday to keep up my supply. For someone who is as incredibly passionate about breast feeding as me, it was devastating news. I am built to feed babies, breast milk is the absolute best thing you can give your baby, and I might have one that is being poisoned by my milk. I stressed about my supply as it very slowly declined. I was also really worried about nipple confusion since she already had a goofy latch and was going onto a bottle so young (only a week and a half).

One week later we got the results. She did NOT have Galactosemia! She IS, however, a carrier of the mutated gene, which is why her numbers came back so high. That was the longest, most emotionally draining week of my life. Before we got the results, we agreed to the mini session with Robin. If nothing else, it would be my farewell to breastfeeding. A moment of mourning the precious bonding I knew I would miss out on as she grew. Instead, it was a celebration of breastfeeding my normal, healthy baby girl!

I am so grateful that Robin included me in the mini sessions. She was a joy to work with! She was very understanding of the stress I went through with the Galactosemia, and made me feel so comfortable during the shoot. Thank you Robin!

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July! What does this holiday mean to you? It’s one of those holidays, like Christmas or Easter, that has struggled to keep its identity in this commercialized country. Don’t get me wrong, I do like and believe that it should be a fun celebrated holiday with family and friends. However, do we realize how heavy and serious this holiday really is? It marks the day that we signed the Declaration of Independence, declaring our independence from England. Our founding fathers aren’t just a bunch of old dead guys, they set us up with a pretty cool country. A country with freedom.

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John Trumbull’s depiction of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. picture source

The Fourth of July is filled with symbolism. We use fireworks, for example, to represent the “bombs bursting in air” that are sung about in our national anthem. Our beautiful flag is also full of symbolism. The 13 red and white horizontal stripes represent the 13 original colonies that declared their independence. The current flag has the 50 stars in the blue field representing the 50 united states. It is a representation of the individuality, yet unity, of our great country. Diverse, yet we stand together. I love our country, here is my simple tribute. Happy Independence Day!

Photos courtesy of Kristin Collins

Happy Father’s Day!

So, being quirky me, I couldn’t just celebrate Father’s Day like any other artist. I had to take what I already do and put my own twist on it. The result? Daddy bellies! I had this really fun quirky idea a couple months ago when I was lamenting to my husband about missing the boat on painting some “Happy Mother’s Day” bellies. I was so busy with adjusting to life after the birth of my second child and the death of my grandmother, all of which happened within two months of each other, that Mother’s Day just came and went. So I jokingly said, “well, I’m not going to miss Father’s Day then! Bring on the daddy bellies!” The more I thought about it, the more fun the idea became. So, a week from Father’s Day I scheduled a couple paintings with some daddies that had a great sense of humor.

My friend, Briana, has been a great supportive fan of my little business since it started. She often comments how sad she is that she never got to paint her belly with either of her children. So it didn’t surprise me at all when she answered the call for a daddy belly on my Facebook page and volunteered her hubby to be a model. She was so cute during the whole painting process. She even commented that she was jealous that he was getting to do it and she wasn’t ;) So daddy, Jacob, is a corpsman with the Navy and we decided to do a fun little character family representing them. Mommy, Briana, is a huge chargers fan. She even has a tattoo of the bolt on her foot. So that was an easy little representation to come up with for her character. They are also HUGE Disney fans. I mean, HUGE! So for her son and younger daughter I painted little classic Mickey Mouse heads on their shirts. Jacob was a fabulous sport, and I must say it was weird that my canvas wasn’t wiggling ;)¬†Thank you Jaime family for participating in my fun little Father’s Day Project!

The Jaime FamilyMy next family to volunteer is very near and dear to my heart, the Caustins. Shannon was my very first belly ever. I painted her belly at the suggestion of my other friend, Sarah, and thought it would only be a one time thing to do for fun. At that point nearly everyone who say pictures of the painted butterflies said I need to start doing this as a business. I made lots of excuses why I couldn’t start a business, mostly revolving around not being able to afford the expensive paint. Well, some dear friends from Hawaii gifted me money to buy paint so I had no more excuses (thank you Cris and Michelle!). Now, a year and half later, I am also painting Mike’s belly! Haha! I never thought it would come full circle like this. Mike and Shannon are huge movie fans, and especially love Star Wars. A sweet little girl leading an AT-AT with a butterfly painted on it. Mike was SUPER fun to shoot, and totally up for posing in some classic maternity poses! Baby Tori is crazy photogenic, and so into whatever it was we were doing to daddy’s belly. Thank you Mike for being so fun to work with!

The Caustin Family

I am so honored that these two great dads were down for some spoof belly paintings to honor fatherhood. Thank you both so much! A great big Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there!

A special thank you to miss Kristin for photographing both of these fun shoots.

Take a gander at the Father’s Day Album!

Jennifer and Twin Baby Girls

Playing a little catch up with my photos after having my own baby in March! I had the immense pleasure of painting my friend, Jen’s, baby belly in February. Not only was she a first time mommy, but she was expecting twins! Two little girls, whose names were a secret until they made their debut :) With only 5 weeks till her due date, I imagined those babies were getting pretty cramped. I was so surprised to find that twin bellies tend to be more quiet and less wiggly. I would have thought that with two buns in the oven there would be more action, but nope! This was the second twin belly I painted, and that belly was not as wiggly as previous ovens either. I will be curious to see if that trend remains true as I get more twinsies.

Go to Jen's Album

So, Jen has a mild obsession with moose. You walk into her place and they are everywhere. So much fun! I absolutely adore that she wanted to have a moose family for the theme of her oven…especially for girls! As I was doing some visual research and perusing the vast collection of images and photos the internet has to offer, I quickly picked up on the fact that moose seem to have twins quite often. How perfect is that?! Jen seemed surprised that they had so many twins too. I love little coincidences like that. And, oh my gosh, are baby moose CUTE!

I am so excited for Jen and her beautiful little girls, Isabella and Dakota, and am honored that she allowed me to paint her adorable baby belly!

This is the maternity photography debut of miss Kristin! Thank you, Kristin, for participating in recording this beautiful homage to twins and family.

Visit Jen’s Album!

Melisa and Twin Baby Boys

It’s been awhile since I’ve had photos to put up! I painted Melisa’s belly back in January, but I’ve been so busy learning to be a mom of two that I haven’t had the time or energy to write about it. It was my first double oven. Twinsies! Melisa and her hubby, Patrick, were expecting two little boys. Patrick is an avid fisherman, so Melisa decided that a fishing theme would be perfect, especially since they are both boys. While dad is really more of an ocean fisherman, we decided it would be fun to have them on a pond. Melisa and Patrick were also married under an oak tree and wanted to add that symbolism to her painting, and there are not many oak trees out in the ocean if I remember correctly ;)

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Melisa’s boys, Oliver and Levi, already had two distinct personalities. I don’t know which one was which, but the one on her right was more calm and quiet, and the one on her left was more energetic and wiggly. This totally wasn’t planned, but if you look at the boys in the boat the one on her right is calm and sitting and the one on her left is up and actively catching a fish! My husband pointed that out, isn’t he perceptive?!

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Melisa herself is an amazing professional lifestyle photographer. It’s kinda hard to take your own picture, so she had her good friend come and take photos with Melisa’s camera, and they turned out beautifully. If anyone else out there wants some lovely photos of their own, I greatly encourage you to check out Melisa’s photography!

Check out Melisa’s Album!