Hello out there!

I feel like the theme of 2018/2019 school year has been “on the cusp,” but I am SO ready to get past that and onward to the rest of the year. Over the course of a major home remodel across 11 months in May 2018 through January 2019 we went from being on the cusp of having hot water again, to on the cusp of having the ability to do laundry, to on the cusp of having heating, and then on the cusp of having a functioning kitchen again, and more. I am so intensely thrilled with how the remodeled kitchen and the whole home renovation project turned out. We are intensely fortunate.

The final cusp I still remain on the edge of is preparing my new art studio space for active production. The desk? In place! Art supply storage? Also in place. Special cushion for my “art cat” to come lounge at my side while I work? Ready. I am tracking the delivery timing for the last essential item – a chair to sit on while I work! This is a bit of a silly final hurdle because of course I can (and have been) carrying one of our rickety old dining chairs into the studio to use during the organizing-stuff phase. Yet I really feel like I NEED some sort of official “go” flag to drop or trumpet to sound for me to really get going. My angst over what chair to get seems to have fit the bill. Gave up on an out of stock chair from Ikea, so now this chair arrives June 4th and I am so excited!

My mind has been humming with project ideas, but the funny thing about ideas and getting started is that sometimes I never know quite what I will focus on once I do sit down, blank pages in front of me, ready to sketch and paint.

My book making ideas, fabric designs, and other creative work have been almost entirely on hold for the past twelve months. My only major project during that time was a special commissioned “family tree” themed watercolor piece for the family of a dear friend. I enjoyed working on it so much that I hope to put commissioned paintings as a new option on my Etsy store this month.

Wish me luck this week (I could really use it!) as I cross this last hurdle, construct this chair from Office Depot and start up my art production schedule again. Here’s to a bright and productive summer ahead!



Bonus Card Designs

2018 Resolutions and Goals

Announcing my 2018 resolutions and goals! I love the ‘fresh start’ feeling that the New Year provides – do you feel ready to take on 2018?

From cleaning my house (sorted through my clothing using Marie Kondo’s ‘does it spark joy’ criteria today), to taking time to be thoughtful about striving to be a better and more patient mom to my two kidlings – these first four days of 2018 have been a whirlwind.

Art Goals:

  1. Create and publish 2 books on Amazon Self Publishing: I’ve been compiling a list of book ideas for a while now, and the list is really long! Too many ideas, but nothing created yet. This is the perfect goal where devoting specific time will be needed, and staying on track and holding myself accountable will be so important. I’ve never published a book before, so the process itself related to file preparation, image preparation, proofing, and formatting is going to be a big learning curve. Luckily I’ve found some excellent library resources as well as signed up for Skillshare to take classes from creatives who are sharing their expertise. I’m ready!
  2. Create 24 new designs/patterns for publishing on Spoonflower and Society6: Over the last few months (since my littlest began preschool) I’ve been able to squeeze in a few more art hours each week. In that time I’ve felt great about producing several new designs. Even now I still have more in-process being finalized for upload. From that effort I’ve learned that it’s possible to keep myself going and I’m feeling great about my artist workflow. A new scanner and more experience using my new touch-pen process for perfecting the seams on my repeat patterns has boosted my confidence that I can make patterns turn out the way I envision them. Now that I’ve ironed out that process, the remaining step for 2018 is simply to keep going. Any fabric/pattern design themes that you want to see come to life? If so, let me know and I’ll add them to my list of possible design ideas!

Personal Resolutions:

  1. Plank exercise for 90 seconds every day! I have really bad knees from over a decade of tap, jazz, and modern dance, so I’m switching up my barre class routine to only once per month – to help stay toned and healthy I’m adding in a daily plank exercise, using the timer on my phone, which is really good for keeping my core strength up.
  2. Push-ups every day! I’m sort of a wimp. Yes, though after a year of weekly barre class in 2017 I went from being able to do zero push-ups to being able to do 5 great push-ups, my upper body is definitely not very strong. This goal is easy to do before or after my plank exercise, so this way I can sneak in some upper body strength into my day.
  3. Eat something fermented (yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha) every day. There are lots of health crazes going on around food choices, but one thing I feel pretty confident about is that probiotic-containing food is an important part of a balanced and healthy diet, so I’m making an effort to consciously include more fermented foods.
  4. Stretch for 1 to 10 minutes every day. I remember fondly when I was a dancer and was so much more comfortable in my own body – my plan here is to sneak in some stretching time each evening. Usually I watch at least one episode of an Anime (my favorites right now are The Ancient Magus’ Bride and also Recovery of an MMO Junkie) – perfect for me to sit on the floor and do some gentle stretches during the show. It’s January 4th today and even after 4 days I am already noticing that the daily stretching is making a BIG difference – it feels great!

Looking Back at 2017

One bright spot in 2017 was meeting my postcard goal to create 12 postcards (one per month) as part of a Patreon campaign. Wooo! It really helped to have the monthly obligation to create something new, and over the course of the year, here are the 12 designs I produced, plus two bonus designs I created last week because I was so thrilled to wrap up postcard production.

January Card Design

January – Bright Year

February Card Design

February – Tu B’Shevat

March Card Design

March – Purim

April Card Design

April – Passover

May Card Design

May – Mother’s Day

June Card Design

June – Father’s Day

July Card Design

July – Memorial & Sympathy

August Card Design

August – Rosh Hashannah

September Card Design

September – Yom Kippur

October - Sukkot

October – Sukkot

December Card Design

November – Hanukkah

December Card Design

December – Wedding

I sent the final postcard of the year to the printer a few days ago, so I expect to add it to my Etsy Shop by the end of January. ­čÖé Wooo! I was so thrilled and excited to finish off my 12-card 2017 series that I painted two bonus designs, which are also being printed right now and will show up on Etsy soon. Check them out below:

Bonus Card Designs

“Meowzel Tov” and “Bark Mitzvah” Cards!

Pomegranate Tree Branches Fabric in the Spoonflower contest!

I’ve just released a batch of new fabric designs on my Spoonflower Store and am thrilled to get the chance to enter one of my black and white coloring outlines designs in the current contest.

You can go to the contest, find my design, and if you like it then please vote for my design! The submissions to this contest are an interesting mixture of designs all aimed to be used as a ‘coloring book’ type of design. There are a lot to scroll through in order to vote (the design entry order is randomized, so you have to keep hunting until you find mine). Mine looks like the fabric sample that I’ve placed below, showing an interweaving tangle of pomegranates, branches, and leaves, in a black and white outline format. The deadline to vote is November 7th.


Happy November and hope your week is going well!

-Kristin @ThePlumGrove

Copyright 2017, Kristin Johnson

Jewish Holiday Postcard Bundles are here!

It has been quite a journey this year, starting my new @ThePlumGrove art endeavor and each month finding a little time to make something new.┬á I’m so happy to be finally reaching the stage where I’ve made enough things that I am ready to bundle up my very first set of artwork for Jewish holidays and release it as a postcard collection. The encouragement from friends and family across the year has made a big difference!

Check out my postcard collection – available on Etsy and as a Jewish Holiday Gift Set and also a Jewish Lifecycle Gift Set:

Copyright 2017, Kristin Johnson

I’m thrilled that my latest 4 watercolor designs for Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Yom Kippur, and Hanukkah are back from the eco-friendly Union printer that produces my cards. The soft watercolor patterns came out even better than I had hoped with these new designs.

My Rosh Hashanah original watercolor design:
Copyright 2017, Kristin Johnson

My Sukkot original watercolor design:
Copyright 2017, Kristin Johnson

My Yom Kippur original watercolor design:
Copyright 2017, Kristin Johnson

My Hanukkah original watercolor design:
Copyright 2017, Kristin Johnson

Thanks for visiting!

Thanks for taking a moment to visit my web site and check out my latest artwork here at @ThePlumGrove. As a new artist just getting started here in California, squeezing in art creation time around my main job of caring for my two energetic young daughters, it can be tough to make connections and reach people. If you know someone who might like my work, please spread the word!

I always love to hear feedback from people about things you would like to see, or suggestions for improvement, so please reach out to me with any questions or suggestions. Please consider following me on Facebook or on Instagram so you can follow my art and see what I’m up to!

Learn more about why I love postcards:

They conserve paper! Yes, my postcards are printed on 100% recycled paper – but it is still great to conserve resources. A postcard uses half as much paper as a folded-card, saving as much paper as possible while still creating the special experience of receiving a thoughtful note in the mail.

They save on postage! Did you know that postcards can use special less-expensive postcard stamps that are $0.34 instead of the typical postage rate of $0.49? Just ask for them at the post office (or order them online). If you have a long mailing list of friends and family like I do, you’ll see your postage costs go way down by sending postcards.

They fit envelopes too! What if you want to mail some 4×6 photos, a children’s drawing, and a newspaper clipping with your holiday postcard to grandma? These postcards are the standard “A6” size, so they fit all standard “A6” envelopes. You can always enclose and send them in an envelope whenever appropriate or preferred, which is why I also offer classic white envelopes to go with my postcards (the envelopes are also on 100% recycled paper).

They are fun! Postcards go well pinned up to a bulletin board, framed, or put on a refrigerator – making them easy to decorate with and enjoy for a long time.


Refocusing and introspection.

Recent life events have left me feeling many things – mostly grief over the death of my younger brother, who faced alcohol addiction and mental health issues for many years and passed away in June at the age of 33. This loss has definitely triggered an introspective look, thinking about humanity, life, and how to approach the world.

What is the meaning of life anyway, and how can one pursue their dreams when everything can change so suddenly? Whether someone dies in an accident. Or a terrible illness strikes. Or when the iron-clad grip of severe alcoholism destroys a person. Are we here simply like a field of different flowers blowing in the wind, never knowing when at any moment an elephant foot might stomp down and crush us to death in a single second, with utter disregard to whether the flowers stomped are a new young bud, a flower in the middle of life, or an aged flower at the end of its natural days?

It reminds me of this Slate article from 2014 where a waitress asks the Dalai Lama the meaning of life, and he replies that the meaning of life is happiness – but the real and more difficult question is what and how is real happiness achieved. Is it money, mansions, and expensive food? Probably not. Or is true happiness achieved with love, compassion, and a kind heart? If so, how does one go about ensuring a kind heart? I just yelled at my kids for not chewing with their mouths closed at dinner tonight – so… crud. Guess my kind heart definitely needs a lot more work.

After thinking on things a bit, here are some of my newly revised life goals:

  1. Love My Kids: Always my top priority, particularly after I left my full-time job 7 months ago to be a stay-at-home mom, raising my kids in a loving and supportive home is absolutely a top focus of my life and I am sure it will stay that way until they are all grown up. In particular, I am trying to impart to my daughters a sense of self-confidence combined with an understanding that needing help is okay and there is nothing to be ashamed of if they are feeling sad or anxious. Honesty and addressing hard feelings openly is so important.
  2. Make Art: As an artist, whether painting, drawing, making comics, or working toward writing my first book, I think that being true to my creativity is essential to my humanity and exploring ideas and passions through those projects is essential to me being true to myself and not neglecting my own happiness. What if all the art I make is really cruddy? Who cares. What if I publish a book and zero people buy it? Also, who cares. I need to pursue my art with passion and without fear – knowing that whatever I produce will be enough simply because it is my process and my journey and the creation of the work that adds value to my human experience.
  3. Work Toward Kindness: Whether donating time and volunteering for causes I care about, or supporting a friend going through a tough time, or staying calm and collected through difficult parenting moments, I need to foster kindness in my actions. I feel that I inevitably fall short on this one and my past failings on this are tied to all of my deepest regrets – speaking in anger and frustration when my kids are misbehaving, or saying something foolish, heartless, and insensitive to family, colleagues, or friends. It’s easy to beat myself up over all the miss-steps, but I need to try to learn from my mistakes, apologize, and move forward – starting fresh each day to do my best to act with kindness in what I do. I am reminded of an Anne Frank quote: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

I can only hope that my brother has found peace. He loved my kids, his nieces, so dearly and I hope that I can honor his memory by remembering him with love, and helping my kids to remember the good times with him. To all who have lost someone – may you find peace in your heart.


The July postcard that I made is a condolences themed card with a simple candle shining. It isn’t available yet on my Etsy store, but I hope to add it in the next week or two.

I don’t know the meaning of life. Do you? Why are we here? Why do terrible things happen? Where can I go as I move forward carrying this burden of grief? So many tragedies in the world, and so many people we see are carrying their own burdens of grief – whatever deep pain or loss they have faced in their lives. May we each find solace. May we find tenderness with each other. May we find compassion in this life.

Mother's Day Postcard of bird nest

May and Mother’s Day!

I’m thrilled to have recently printed my 5th and 6th postcards of the year in my Patreon Postcard series project. With that 6th card I’m now half way through the year’s production goal of 12 cards! My May Mother’s Day themed postcard is now available on Etsy, as is the June Father’s Day postcard.

It’s been a busy and productive several weeks on the art side of my life. Here’s how my Mother’s Day postcard looks:

Mother's Day Postcard of bird nest

I was aiming for a snuggling baby bird and mom bird, looking cozy in their nest. Due to the Stars of David decorations among the leaves and hearts of the tree, it is definitely a Jewish Mom themed card instead of being more universal.

For the Father’s Day card, I wanted to create a design that would work for a congratulations┬ácard after a baby is born as well as for Father’s Day. As I was looking at reference ideas, all the Father’s Day cards I could find were either stereotypical about BBQ’s, tacky sports obsession references, or strange puns about being super good or super bad at fixing things around the house. While those are not inherently bad subjects to make a card about, it all felt rather stereotypical and limiting in terms of showing a caring and loving father. I wanted to create a card that tried to capture a serene and caring moment between a father and his new baby. Here’s the Father’s Day card design:

Father's Day Postcard of dad and new baby

In addition to the two postcards, I’ve also completed a new fabric design – I painted this┬áFruit Medley watercolor design for the current Spoonflower design contest (voting closes on May 16th! Go find my design and vote for it if you are feeling supportive…). ┬áHere’s what my design looks like:

Fruit Medley Fabric Design

Of course, aside from the once-a-month postcards and occasional fabric design and other projects I am brainstorming but don’t yet have time to accomplish, almost all of my time is devoted to my two kidlings right now. Today was a special and emotional day as my oldest daughter’s first grade class gave a special Mother’s Day performance. Seeing my daughter smiling, singing her heart out, beaming with pride – I have to admit I started crying a bit. She has such creativity, thoughtfulness, and energy – I am very lucky to be her mother. And miracle of miracles, her little sister sat nicely and behaved appropriately during the entire performance!!! If you know my littlest kidlet, you know why that is indeed such a miracle.

After five months as a stay-at-home mother, I feel like I’ve ironed out┬áa solid routine, but that’s all about to be tossed in the air a bit again when school is out for the summer in just a few weeks. Every day is a┬átiring adventure with my energetic kidlings, but even with the tantrums and issues that crop up, the feeling of snuggling together under a blanket for bedtime stories each evening reminds me that these amazing little kidlings are worth all the challenges they throw my way.


Plant Parenthood

#SecretLivesOfPlants 09 – Plant Parenthood

Plant Parenthood

For all those plant puberty challenges that arise, good to know that they can count on Plant Parenthood. ­čÖé