Catching Up on a Tuesday

Things have been pretty busy, and time has gotten away from me here in this still unnamed studio. I’ve made a good stack of new work, and spent the weekend in East Texas doing some research and getting some more photos and other items to use.


It was nice to be home in East Texas, and my work on the Pine Curtain project made it a little more interesting to be there. The nature of it being a community history means that it gave me a lot of new things to talk about with my family, which was fun. Both my mom’s side and my dad’s side are from and still live there, a mile or two apart, and their extended families came from other parts of the piney woods. So, with those two perspectives there is a wealth of information and lots to learn. Also, as time is doing its thing with my parents and older relatives (and me!) it is important and valuable to get these stories as close to firsthand as I can, while I can.

During a break in activity, I went to the older of the two community cemeteries and walked around looking for names that matched my research. Many of the headstones from that era (late 1800s) were pretty weathered, but I identified a few who I had been reading about. It was cool to see, and to connect what I am doing to real people.


So, now I am back to the more usual routine, and that always feels good. Now that my Etsy store is stocked and up, I can look toward 2021 and work toward some of those goals!

Coming Soon: New Art For Sale

Abstract Floral “Butterfly Farm.” Monotype Print embellished with Acrylic, Gold Leaf. By Stephanie Khattak.

After a long hiatus, I am reopening my art shop on Etsy October 15! I’ll be exclusively selling monotype prints, including the one above, in a variety of sizes. This art store launch will include ten original pieces, and I’ll do a flash/mini update for Small Business Saturday in November, just in time for the holidays. More regular updates to come in 2021!

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Besties

“Besties, 1980” by Stephanie Khattak. Embellished acrylic monotype.

In rural East Texas, your first best friends are your cousins and your neighbors. And often, your cousin IS your neighbor! In my case, my cousin spent lots of time visiting my grandmother, who lived just one stop sign and few houses away. So, almost a neighbor.⁠

I’m an only child, and people often ask “Weren’t you lonely growing up?” ⁠

Because of my cousin and my neighbor, I really can’t relate to that question. How could I be lonely when one bestie lived at the far end of my driveway and the other was conveniently at all family functions? Plus, they’re older than me by a few years, so I don’t know what it’s like not to have friends like them.

An upside to being related to and living next door to your best friends is that they’re stuck with you for life. Lucky them! And lucky, lucky me.

Homer Church

“Homer United Methodist Church, 1961.” Print and Acrylic Paint, Stephanie Khattak.

For generations of my family in East Texas, life centered around Homer United Methodist Church. It functioned (and still does) as part house of worship, part community hub. Sunday services were of equal importance to potluck suppers, holiday events, and youth group get-togethers as well as volleyball games, dances and other non-religious activities. Regardless of how religious you were or weren’t, whether you were a member or a prospective member, or just there to fellowship – ours was a church that just got everyone together for a good time. It was all part of God’s work.

Those good times bound our community through generations. This print is taken from a photo taken outside the first church building in 1961. In the source photo is my mom and a few of her best friends. She still sees many of them every few weeks at least, and not necessarily at church. Many of my friends and I have the same kind of relationships, which were also cultivated through the church but exist outside its walls. We genuinely liked, and still like each other.

The church sits where the Homer “town square” used to be. So, it has a legacy in East Texas history as a place of excitement and energy. The church seen here was replaced with a more modern building in the later 60s, which is still there. My family lived a few doors down from the church, within walking distance. Or, when I was learning to drive, within driving the riding lawnmower distance!

All in how you look at it

Gel Print plate with acrylic painting, post-printing.

I’ve wanted to create on bigger canvases for a while now, and made my first 16 x 20 print using a large gel plate. I wasn’t sure how it would go, as I had only printed on paper, and never paper as large as this canvas.

As with my other work, I wanted to keep it loose and a little abstract. I enjoy it when the piece tells me where it’s going. But where was this going? For a while, it was hard to tell. Maybe nowhere good!

I added layers and pattern until I was happy with it. But as I became happier with the flowers, I realized there was still a lot of space to fill. My flowers looked like they were floating in space! Not the look I was going for. And yet, I knew if I wasn’t careful, I would overwork the piece.

I walked away for a few hours, then came back and started to rotate the canvas, something pretty easy to do with these more abstract pieces. I also added some marks, which I admit are not my best work. 😀 But, that’s okay, that’s why we experiment!

I turned it on its side, and found the perfect spot for a vase or pot to go. So, that balances out the painting a bit more, and now I can begin adding the finishing touches and fix the marks that I don’t like as much. This is still a work in progress, for sure.

The lesson here is to look at your art from all angles! I stared at this painting for a while before I realized I could turn the actual canvas. It was that easy to change perspective and find a solution. Especially in more abstract works, don’t forget to use ALL of the tools in your box, even the ones that in hindsight, seem pretty obvious.


Working on a larger piece is fun, and poses new challenges to overcome. My biggest challenges were filling the space, and balancing enough definition to make it look “finished” at that size, while keeping it in my loose style without going too abstract. In general, I like the piece and think it’s a great start. This is more for practice and won’t be for sale, but I plan to have at least three large canvases available when I open my art shop next month.