We are Things With Wings — Connie, Jill and Laura – a mother-and-daughters team of mixed-media artists who live in Iowa City, Iowa. We have been creating and showing our work together for about 13 years at a variety of art festivals in our area. We combine paint, paper, and our own special techniques with our love for words, pattern, and color. Our work is full of hope, humor, and whimsy and celebrates faith and family. Our goal is to use positive and encouraging messages that not only speak truth into our own lives but others’ as well.
“This Thing Called Family”
We started a new adventure about 4 years ago when we were contacted out of the blue by a product developer from DEMDACO who had found Jill’s Etsy shop online. She explained who DEMDACO was – a company that makes meaningful gift and home decor items, most notably their Willow Tree line. They were on the hunt for new and inspiring artists to work with and wanted to know if we’d be interested.
Later we found out that a colleague had independently found Laura’s Etsy shop in her research. When the developers met to present their findings, they discovered that these two artists had the same blog and that they were actually sisters! And then once they realized there was a mother too?! Well they were sold!
The natural result was “This Thing Called Family,” a line of wall art and home decor products which centers around the theme of family values. Although licensing had always been a distant dream, we did not seek out this opportunity. God orchestrated the timing and the circumstances. He continues to move and bless today in the midst of our continued partnership through friendships with a talented bunch of DEMDACO colleagues and artists.
We create art with encouraging messages because that’s what we need in our own lives. We need to see something hanging on our wall every day that reminds us and our families to live with gratitude and to remember who we are: precious creations made by God to be just the way we are. It projects the place we want to be and are learning and yearning to be and are growing toward, but haven’t gotten there yet!
When people look at our work, they sometimes think that we must have all of life’s lessons figured out, but we definitely have not “arrived!” We are works in progress. We don’t always wake up with the right attitudes. We mess up, make messes, and forget our priorities.
Our artwork helps us regain the perspective we can so easily lose. When other people relate to it as well, that is an awesome moment! It connects us to strangers in miraculous ways and we sometimes find ourselves talking to them like we’ve known them forever. Just knowing you’re not alone in your struggles is powerful. Art has a way of doing that. Or more accurately, faith that shines through art has a way of doing that. Because it’s not really about us and what we’ve created, but about sharing and encouraging and pointing people toward what really matters.
In this way, the act of creating, then putting it out there into the world and watching it be received all become an act of worship to God.
So even when we think we’re creating something for ourselves, we find out that we’re all not as different as we think. Other people are going through the same kind of stuff too. Isn’t it a relief to realize we’re not the only ones who don’t have it all together!?
We all need to be reminded every once in awhile that there is hope and a reason to be thankful. The best and most humbling part of our job is hearing people’s stories and why a particular message speaks to them. Or who they’re buying for and what this gift will mean. Stories of brokenness, hurt, illness, low self-esteem, loss, waiting, and depression, but also of hope, friendship, celebration, faith, joy, love, triumphs, births, adoptions and marriages.
We know that God is using what we do to bring healing, renewal, celebration, encouragement, affirmation, joy and glory to Himself in all kinds of circumstances. The really awesome thing is that all of those benefits bless the artist, the giver, and the receiver! It’s a wonderful cycle and it makes our hearts full to be a small part of what our mighty God is doing.
By: Jill Brown, Things with Wings
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Jill, Connie, and Laura have also designed a Christmas line within their This Thing Called Family Collection— take a look here! This month, DaySpring is offering 25% off your entire Christmas order– including our This Thing Called Family Christmas products! Take a look at our entire Christmas selection here. Just use code: INCHRISTMAS25 at checkout!