Why I’m Not Making “New” Year’s Resolutions

Who doesn’t love a fresh start?  I know that I do!  I revel in throwing clutter out, simplifying my life, and the hope that comes from knowing a solid goal has been made is incredibly empowering.

So, why do most people only make fresh starts on January 1st, or after a traumatic event such as a divorce or death?  If fresh starts are so wonderful, why don’t we decide to make them every month or even every 90 days?  For that matter, we could even revisit the same resolutions at regular intervals so that we can succeed this year.

January Calendar

Or, November 1st, March 27th, August 8th?

I’m writing this because I ate a ridiculous amount of sweets and other foods devoid of nutritional value this past week.  Anyone with me?  The truth is, my holiday gluttony was just the natural next step to my gradual shift from eating what I know to be good for me. A little sweet here, a little white flour there.  I used to be a health nut!  Now I’m more like an empty walnut shell with a brown sugar and cinnamon glaze.

So the day after Christmas, I decided I was done: I’m focusing on fruits and veggies for a solid week, and thinking through every food choice before I make it.  I’m not trying to conquer all of 2012 at one time.  Let’s be realistic, y’all.  But this week?  I’m going to WIN, and not like Charlie Sheen “wins.”  😉 To wait until January 1st to make a decision that needs to be made now seems a little crazy.

So, do you have decisions you’re waiting to make for 5 more days?  Why not make them now?  Besides, if your goal is to get fit or lose weight, then you’ll get a few extra days of enjoying a deserted gym before the January 1 rolls around.

The Nashville Rescue Mission Features My Painting

The Nashville Rescue Mission is an amazing organization that gives countless numbers of homeless men and women shelter, food, and hope.  They also have a life recovery program that allows those who are willing to experience lasting life change.

It was a graduate of this program that I used as a model in my latest painting The Hour I First Believed.  The Mission wanted to feature the painting and its story in their November issue, and I was honored to be interviewed and able to share it.  65,000 people received the newsletter, and I’m excited to see how God will use this article!  You may read it in its entirety below.
Nashville Rescue Mission November Edition Article

Life & Art Intersect

Having volunteered at the Nashville Rescue Mission in the past, artist Kelly O’Neill knew exactly where to look for inspiration when God prompted her to paint her most recent painting, The Hour I First Believed.

God the Creator

“I was singing Amazing Grace at church when a vivid memory of singing the song with my grandfather shortly before his death came to me,” shares Kelly. “It had been seven years, but as I sang the words my grandfather lived and believed—‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.’ I saw what I knew would be my next painting, as clearly in my mind as if it was already completed.”

As with most of her “God-inspired paintings,” Kelly knew that not to paint it would be disobedience. It was important to Kelly she use a model who had truly experienced God’s transforming grace.

“After hearing so many amazing stories of transformation from both men and women going through the Mission’s life-recovery program I knew this is where I’d find the right person to use in this painting,” said Kelly.

My Latest Charcoal Portrait!

My Most Recent Charcoal Portrait

You may have seen my last drawing of Ethan. The cuties below are his cousins! These drawings will be Christmas gifts for my customer’s sisters, so it’s sure to be a special holiday for his family.

Charcoal Portrait From A Photograph by Kelly O'Neill

Want to Give a Sentimental Gift This Christmas?

Tis’ my busy season, so I can only accept 2 or 3 more commission requests to complete in time for Christmas. If you’re considering a portrait this year or next, go ahead and get on my waiting list for 50% off to save! Otherwise, spread the word and earn some Referral Love Cash ($100-$300 per referral).

Thanks for stopping by! It means a lot.


Charcoal Portraits from Photographs

My Latest Charcoal Portrait

I recently had the joy of drawing a cute little kiddo named Ethan.  The drawing will be a Christmas gift to my customer’s sister, and he is also having me draw his two nieces as well, which I’ll post soon.

Charcoal Portrait of Ethan

Is he not the cutest thing?  (Well, the cutest thing not related to me at least) I think there’s a Mama rule about thinking your own children are the most precious, right?

Christmas Gift Idea!

Have you been wondering what to get someone in your life who already seems to already have everything?  It’s not too late to place your portrait order for Christmas, and now you’ll receive extra perks like free matting (for drawings) and framing (for paintings) as well as two free prints of your portrait to keep or give as gifts!  I have to stop taking Christmas orders sometimes as early as the last week of November in order to complete them all in time for the holidays.

Want to Save 50% On Your Portrait?

I’ve started a scholarship program!  It’s basically this:

I discount 1 drawing commission per month and 1 painting commission per quarter by half of my posted portrait prices. 

The discounts are given on a waiting list basis, but since I’ve just implemented the program, the list isn’t long yet (Lucky you!) If you’re considering a portrait this year or next, go ahead and get on the list for substantial savings.  Otherwise, spread the word and earn some Referral Love Cash  ($100-$300 per referral)!


Love, Loss and Letting Go… A Behind the Scenes Video of Mine For a Moment

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so I think it’s the perfect time to share a video that our team has been working on for quite some time: Behind The Scenes of my painting Mine For a Moment, which I painted after I lost a friend to cancer.

I’m excited that it’s finished, and that we now have a beautiful, moving way to present what this painting is all about, and remind people of our mission. From the beginning, we’ve been giving lithographs of Mine For a Moment away to people who have experienced personal loss or are working through grief in any form.

I’m amazed at how God has used this painting already to help bring peace to the couple who lost their child, the woman whose father passed away from cancer, and even a dear lady who had envisioned this exact scene at a retreat to help deal with aborting her baby over 30 years ago. (Read that story here.)

Mine For a Moment

Mine For a Moment - Oil on Canvas

I hope that you’ll share this video on Facebook, Twitter, or by email.  Prints may be requested or donated to a friend either by visiting the Mine For a Moment website. More purchase options are available on TheArtistOfLife.com.

Cancer isn’t just something I hear about on the news or from a friend.  It’s very real to me now.  My Dad recently became cancer free after a year of waiting, treatment, and then finally receiving the great news that the cells were gone!  I’m grateful for the advances that are being made in medicine and treatment.  Consider taking this month and getting involved in the fight against cancer prevention and treatment.  Visit Susan G. Komen’s website for a great place to start.

Miniature Polaroid Photo Magnet Project

I had way too much fun with these and…. I may be officially addicted.  After stumbling across a post about miniature magnets, I knew I had to turn some of my stunning photos of my daughter Juliet into teensy, fun Polaroid photo magnets! Thanks to The Velvet Trunk for the awesome photos, by the way.

Photo of three tiny polaroid photo magnets in my hand

Three of my favorite completed magnets

Step 1: Pick the Photos

First, my husband and I picked out our favorite photos of our daughter from birth until now.  (We ended up with over 40 of them.)

Step 2: Make them “Polaroids”

Then we scanned a Polaroid photo, cleaned it up a bit, sized it down to 1.5 in. wide and plugged in our photos in Photoshop, making several sheets of them and having them printed as 8x10s.


“The Hour I First Believed” – My Latest Painting

Amazing Grace…

I’m walking down a familiar hallway for what I know will be one of the last times. I’ve come to visit my sweet, 94 year old granddaddy.  He greets me with a warm, toothless smile.  He’s frail, but strong in spirit.  He’s been longing for heaven for some time now, even telling us that he sees the gates and angels that await him. “Let’s sing,” he says.  I ask what he wants to sing, and he chooses “Amazing Grace,” his favorite. Together, we sing the words that he truly believes.  He has experienced so much of God’s grace in his 94 years, and though he mixes up some of the words now, we had a moment together that day that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.  We had only two more visits after that.

“’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.  How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.”  Seven years later, as I sing these words now in worship, as always I remember my granddaddy.  But this time, I also see what I know will be my next painting, as clearly in my mind as if it was already completed.

The Hour I First Believed - Oil Painting by Kelly O'Neill

The Hour I First Believed

A man, tattooed and masculine, is shackled, but Christ is releasing his chains.  It is the moment of his salvation… the hour he first believed.

As with most of my “God paintings,” I knew that to not paint it would be disobedience. However, I wanted to use a model who had truly experienced God’s transforming grace so I started looking.  I called the Nashville Rescue Mission that has a rehabilitation program for breaking addictions, and they directed me to a young man named Chris.

Our Award Winning Lemon Marble Cream Pie!

We did it again! After our success with last year’s Pie Bake-off Competition at the Nolensville, TN 4th of July Celebration, we decided to enter again. And this year with two pies! While we were baking, we thought, “wouldn’t it be funny if both of them placed?” Well, they did: 1st and 2nd. And I saw a few of the other pies, and I must say I wasn’t confident afterwards! But, apparently the pies that we entered ranked high on taste (50%), appearance (25%), and creativity (25%).

This year, we decided to enter a Lemon Marble Cream pie, which tasted much like a zesty cheesecake. It featured lemon curd swirled onto the top, whipped cream and fresh raspberries. The crust was a delicious vanilla wafer crust with a lemon zest kick. The other pie was a variation of our Red, White, and Blueberry Cream Pie that placed 2nd last year.

I think my favorite part is the decorative lemon slice in the middle. Delicious food that's also pretty? Bonus!

At the request of many, I’m posting our recipe for this year’s 1st Place winner.  Enjoy!

Lemon Marble Cream Pie Recipe

Lemon Curd
-1 t finely grated lemon zest
-1/2 c fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
-1/2 c sugar
-3 eggs, beaten
-1/4 c butter, cubed

Note: We ended up having leftover lemon curd, so you can enjoy the remaining portion over some vanilla ice cream or on your favorite scone!

Vanilla Wafer Crumb Crust
-1 1/2 c vanilla wafer crumbs
-3/4 c almonds, toasted and finely crushed
-2 t lemon zest
-pinch of salt
-7 T melted butter

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling
-2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
-2/3 c sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 c sour cream
-1/2 t vanilla
-1/2 t lemon extract
-Reserved Lemon Curd

Ways to Save Money on Practically Everything

How would you like to have an extra $100 in your pocket this week? Would you like me to show you how to save money on practically everything so that you could could save even more?  Keep reading. :)

My husband and I are on a mission. We’re even more intent on becoming financially free now that we are parents, and our mortgage is the last item on our list!  We’ve decided to buckle down and start saving money in every way that we can, and use the savings to dump into extra house payments.

After paying off  $15,000 extra on our mortgage in the past 4 months, I’ve have friends ask “Can you help me save money, too?” I know that I can, so I’m going to disclose all of my best tips here!

The first thing I’ll stress is that little savings add up.  Never think that a savings method isn’t worth doing just because it’s a small idea.

Wouldn't you rather save money than eat it? :)

How to save money dining out

1. It’s so easy to not pay full price on restaurants these days! Groupon started the craze of half-off dining, but a lot of sites are riding the wave and doing an excellent job at cutting our dining out budget. My other favorites: SharingSpree (they donate part of each sale to a local charity), LivingSocial (they’ll give you $5 to spend on their site just for signing up today), and DoubleTakeDeals. Double Take Deals is a little different, in that deals are available for about a month instead of just a day, which is nice.  It’s largely unpublicized, so you’re welcome. :) Another perk about these sites is that they have great referral systems where you can get credit on future deals just for sharing them with your friends! I’ve gotten free massages, meals out, and shopping trips this way.

Sweet CeCe’s Goes International!

It’s a day I’ve waited for . . . a company that I branded now has international presence!  Better yet, it’s international because of a friendship I have with a former logo client. Twitter and Facebook have made the world so very, very small. Read on to hear how this all came about!

Almost three years ago, I was approached by the nicest lady who was opening a self-serve frozen yogurt shop here in Nashville, TN called Sweet CeCe’s.  Though many “competitors” have sprung up since then, Sweet CeCe’s was the first of its kind in our area, and remains the best in my opinion. I created her logo, which led to promotional material, which led to me becoming their “official” graphic designer, handling all things aesthetic up until corporate took over late in 2010.  I also had the opportunity to set them up with a Twitter and Facebook presence and manage it, which which they have agreed has fueled (along with the amazing froyo experience, of course) their rapid success.

A year or two into my working with the company, a former logo client of mine who follows me on Twitter, asked me what I thought about him opening up a Sweet CeCe’s… in Kuwait!  He had seen my constant tweets about the delicious yogurt and success of the store here.  I was thrilled with his idea, and I put him in contact with the people in charge.  After a few months of negotiation, he ended up buying the rights to open 10 stores in the next 5 years in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and United Arab Emirates.

I’m writing this today to show off his STUNNING store that opened last week. Check out these photos to see how the middle east does frozen yogurt!

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