Art For Reals

May 15, 2020 | By Steph Hargrove

Art For Reals

Last night was the Creative Pinellas virtual gallery opening on Facebook live, and I had a fabulous time hanging out with my fellow grantees, Creative Pinellas staff, and all of our visitors. The virtual exhibit looks great! Kudos to Danny Olda and everyone at Creative Pinellas for pulling off a social art event during a pandemic. These are amazing people.

While I know all of the grantees are still very much looking forward to an in person, in real life, physically present in the gallery show at some point in the future, I especially cannot wait for that day. The best part of the reeeeeallly long process of creating a large scale art installation is finally getting to view the completed piece! Until then, I will keep gluing those little seashells to their lines. They will absolutely be ready for their big debut whenever it’s safe for us to gather once again.

In the meantime, I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to create the FLow photography series for the virtual opening. And I can finally share it with you here! #soimpatient

You’re welcome to click on the images to learn more about each piece.










The FLow images are available to purchase as large canvas prints or smaller paper prints.

Wow. Sharing these with you feels great! After all this work, I’m ready for a hard-earned beach weekend break… where I will of course be collecting more shells.

To create more work.


Opening Week

May 11, 2020 | By Steph Hargrove

Opening Week

It’s here! The Creative Pinellas emerging artist exhibit opens this week!

Yes, it’s a virtual opening, so no FLow seashell installation from me just yet. But I’m super excited to share the FLow photography series AND see all of the amazing work from my fellow grantees. Bonus – it’s 100% germ free.

But wait, there’s more! As some of the coronavirus restrictions have been lessened, Pinellas county has lots of openings to celebrate this week . Restaurant dining rooms (sort of), hair salons (still too chicken to try this one myself), and my favorite… BEACHES! My husband and I braved the crazy weekend traffic to get back on the sand and back in the surf:

Totally. Worth. It.

Beach access is immensely important to me, not only for my health and well being and because I freaking love it, but also because coronavirus closures put me behind in my shell collecting (small price to pay – totally support the closures). The 2,511 seashells used in FLow took me over a year to collect. In order to keep new installations on track, I collect shells and other materials year round. Gotta hit the beaches to get caught up! Fortunately, physical therapy is paying off so I’m actually physically able to walk the shores and pick up new goodies. YAY!!

My next art installation will feature giant cockle shells. No, seriously, that’s what they’re called – “giant cockles” – and for good reason. These massive seashells are thick and sturdy, making them perfect for a large scale art installation. I’ve been collecting cockles since 2018, and it’s time to begin the process of transforming them into my next piece.

As per usual I don’t have an exact plan for these guys, because I really like to leave room for a project to evolve. I do however have a general direction and I’m anxious to start playing with colors, patterns, and some cool effects using lighting. As soon as I’m done gluing the last string of lucine shells for my Creative Pinellas FLow installation, the giant cockles will take over my studio.

Until then, I’m happy to celebrate all of these new openings. Also I’m terrible at keeping secrets and it’s been sooooo hard not to share images from the FLow photography series, so here’s a sneak peek:

surf, 36″ x 48″, photography print on canvas

Ahhhhhhhh that felt amazing!!!!! I hope to ‘see’ you all at the virtual opening this Thursday from 7p to 8p!


Technically Keeping Up

April 29, 2020 | By Steph Hargrove

Technically Keeping Up

What people think my life is like when I tell them I’m a full time artist:

Okay, TBH, that’s pretty accurate.

But there are other aspects of art that aren’t quite as magical as Peter Griffin riding a dolphin. This week I’m enduring a big chunk of the business side of art. Is it as fun as throwing paint on a canvas? Um, no. But it’s rather satisfying when all of the hard work on the un-fun side pays off.

First, my top priority and most important job is taking care of myself. I’m still doing 2.5 hours of physical therapy daily to rehab my hip and keep my chronic illnesses out of flare. Doing this work is what allows me to be physically able to sew masks and create art. Honestly I couldn’t even sit at my laptop for longer than a minute when my hip was out of whack.

Next, I’m preparing for the Creative Pinellas virtual opening on May 14th. I am presenting a series of nine photographs created using the painted seashells that will eventually become a large installation in the gallery. The photographs are done, but I’m building the ecommerce portion of the series at fromSteph.com. Hey, are you looking for a great time? Then definitely don’t spend an hour researching SEO. Seriously, there’s not enough coffee and banana bread in the world to make this even remotely enjoyable. Building product listings on a website is straight up tedious. There are mockups to create, descriptions to write, photos to resize, error messages to scream at, and so much more. But oh when it’s all done and functioning and beautiful and Google can actually find it! There’s the joy. And relief.

Here’s a snapshot of just one of hundreds of super fun things that get done to sell my work online:
We are nowhere near Peter Griffin riding a dolphin whilst buried in this form.

And we’re not done with business-y stuff just yet. All this work is for not if no one ever sees it. Enter marketing. Social media is just one aspect of the marketing effort required to get artwork seen and sold. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I also maintain a fromSteph mailing list. Updating and linking to all of these lovelies requires some major work on the tech side.

Finally, I am full on running a handmade mask business. That wasn’t in my plan for this year, but I’m happy to do my small part in helping out during the coronavirus outbreak. Remember all that awesome stuff I mentioned in the previous paragraphs that has to get done to build product listings? Yeah. Doing that for masks, too. Oh, and let’s not forget I have to actually be a human factory and make each mask with my own two hands. And pack and ship. I am one hard working artist these days.

To be clear, I am not complaining that I have all this work to do. I love working. I love a challenge. My point here is that I am just one of a whole bunch of artists making my way in the world. And I am certainly not an expert at everything tech or business, or art for that matter. Artists are typically out of the box thinkers, (the nice way of saying total weirdos), and we’re quite used to going it on our own, which makes us a remarkably resourceful and innovative bunch. And I couldn’t be happier to be included in this group of amazing people.





Mask Appeal

April 21, 2020 | By Steph Hargrove

Mask Appeal

As promised last week, I temporarily turned my art studio into a sewing space to crank out face masks. To be honest I prefer making art. Like, a lot. However, given that I earned a living with a sewing machine for ten years, lots of people reached out and asked for face masks. Okay. Because I love you guys, masks are now available at fromSteph.com.

New additions to my workspace include the ironing board, a paint-free cutting mat, oh and the ginormous piles of fabric everywhere. The other big motivator to dive into this new mask adventure was the potential to give back. I really wanted to support a group here in Pinellas county purchasing meals from our local restaurants (who really need our help right now) which are then delivered to our local healthcare workers and first responders. I’m happy to report that I’ve already exceeded my donation goal to StPeteMeals.com!

I’ve still got plenty of fabric in my stash, so there are more masks and more donations to come. Oh, and since I’m an artist, I have some majorly cool fabric on hand. Of course the mask everyone wants is the boring plain black one. Apparently you all want to look like ninjas. That’s cool. Imma be over here in my funky geometric print looking freaking amazing.


The other big happening last week was our online conversation with the Creative Pinellas emerging artist grantees. I’ve been dying to meet my fellow grantees in person, but meeting them online will have to do. I’m now even more excited for our in person gallery show, whenever that may be. A huge thank you to everyone at Creative Pinellas for making this grant period as fabulous as possible given the circumstances. You are all doing an outstanding job!


Get In Line

April 14, 2020 | By Steph Hargrove

Get In Line

Current situation: there are over 2,000 seashells in my life that need to be glued to fishing line. The shells are hanging out in the corner of my workspace. Staring at me. Looming.

Yep. That’s them on the back table. Patiently waiting to become part of a large installation at Creative Pinellas.

Allow me to walk you through the process I’ve devised to tackle this monumental task. First, I take a shell from each bin, being sure to alternate between buttercup lucine and Pennsylvania lucine. I keep the shells in  the same color order as the bins on the table so I create an ombre effect on the finished line.

I place the shells, in ombre color order, on my work table. Next, I measure and cut a piece of fishing line.

I then place the first six shells into poster putty on my table with all the bottoms of the shells pointing to the right.

After that, I use a hot glue gun to carefully attach each shell to the fishing line.

I repeat the process until all 13 shells are glued to the line. I then wind up the excess line on the end and secure it with tape to prevent tangled line when unpacking. Finally, the completed line is carefully placed in a plastic bag.

And there you have it! One completed line! The finished piece will feature 193 of these lines suspended from the ceiling, so I have a bit of work left ahead of me. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “But Steph, I thought you were totally OCD and loved to do the math, don’t you know exactly how much time this will take?” And my answer is… yes. It’s 42 hours and 40 minutes of work. Math rules.

Which brings me to my current inner struggle. I do not procrastinate. I get my work done waaaayyy before deadlines approach. However, 42 hours and 40 minutes is totally doable between now and whenever coronavirus allows us to have a physical, in person show (June? September? When Halley’s Comet comes back around?). That means if I wanted to, I could pause this seashell gluing process for a week or so. And I reeeaaallly want to.

Here’s the deal. I want to drop everything and make ridiculously awesome face masks with my killer fabric collection. I am always and forever raising money and awareness for causes. The only reason I haven’t jumped in sooner to do something in the coronavirus outbreak is because all of my time and energy has been focused on physical therapy as I recovered from a hip injury. Now that I’m drastically improved, (but still doing 2.5 hours of therapy daily to maintain my progress and continue healing), I really want to jump in and do my small part to make a difference and help out.

So that settles it. Gluing seashells absolutely will get done. Totally on time. But for the next week, I’m gonna make masks. I’m determined to generate funds for StPeteMeals.com, where money is used to purchase meals from our local restaurants (who really need our help right now) which are then delivered to healthcare workers and first responders here in Pinellas county (huge thank you to all of you!). So freaking awesome!

Need a cool face mask? Check out fromSteph.com this week. I’ll get them sewn and added to my website as quickly as possible. Stay safe and stay healthy! 🙂


Scenic Route

April 7, 2020 | By Steph Hargrove

Scenic Route

I have successfully completed my surprise side project – a photography series for the upcoming Creative Pinellas Emerging Artists virtual show. Since coronavirus has delayed our physical show opening at the gallery, these photographs feature the 2,511 seashells that were collected and painted for my large installation piece. Even though I’m pretty impatient when it comes to sharing new work <nervously taps foot>, I’m keeping the photos under wraps until the virtual show opens on May 14th. However, I will share some behind the scenes info with you.

First, I should tell you that the name of the installation is…

As I’ve mentioned before, 2,511 seashells will (eventually) be installed in the Creative Pinellas gallery to represent a statistic involving clean water in the state of Florida. Following that theme, I have created a series of nine photographs <fights urge to post images> with these titles:

While I didn’t actually use all 2,511 shells at the same time in the photography series, I did have to lug all of them outside for the photo shoot:

Fun fact: This is my WTF face. I was checking my phone for a photograph that tells me the correct order of the 13 shell colors to create an ombre effect. Yeah, even though I decided on that order months ago and have built it at least 20 times on my studio table, I still had to check. WTF.

I will also share that I used four color schemes and three patterns to create the nine photographs in the series. Both myself and my husband Jason took hundreds of images <OMG this is killing me not to share at least ONE> over the course of five days. We shot in four different spots around our home.

I hope you’re excited to see the finished series in the virtual opening! I’m just a little excited. 😉


Flatten That Curve

March 31, 2020 | By Steph Hargrove

Flatten That Curve

Now that Pinellas county is (hopefully) staying safer at home, we all have altered routines and new normals in our lives. I’m so grateful I’m able to continue working since my studio is located immediately adjacent to my dining room. I’ve still had to overcome some challenges though. Since the Creative Pinellas in person opening is on hold, I’ve added a photography series to my large seashell installation. Extra work? Sure. Super fun? Heck yes. The main obstacle here is that I normally shoot these on the beach, but, um, the beaches are closed. So I built a faux beach. And it’s totally doing the job. Here’s a little sneak peek at what I’ve been up to. Disclaimer – this image has not been fully edited and retouched as of yet:

My faux beach is built on canvas. My neighbors (who are all home now) must think I’m totally nuts carrying this giant canvas around outside looking for the perfect sunny spot for photographs. Normally I’d welcome them over to talk about the project, but we are total pros at social distancing so I have to settle for far away puzzled looks, waves, and nods. Fun fact – when you remove shells from a sandy canvas it leaves behind a giant sand painting:

When I’m not meticulously placing seashells on a canvas covered in sand like a crazy person, I’m finding plenty of other activities around the house to keep myself entertained. Some are hobbies I already enjoyed before quarantine life, like baking, yoga, jigsaw puzzles, and my coloring books. I have a ridiculously detailed book and I figure what better time than now to tackle an impossible coloring page?

I am a total puzzle nerd. My birthday is coming up on April 13th, and my awesome husband ordered a few gifts early for me. Two new puzzles came to the door this week! They kept me busy for a few days. And I’m totally gonna work them again.

Other activities are specific to Coronavirus life. Hand washing, cleaning, and disinfecting should probably be added to the 2021 Olympics. I have a faux hawk, and I normally get a haircut about every 3 weeks. Thanks to self isolation, I’ve had to get brave and cut my own hair. My husband helped me out in the back where I can’t see. Honestly, it’s not terrible! But I’m definitely going back to the salon as soon as freaking possible. For now, I’m rocking a ‘too tall but who’s gonna see me anyways’ faux hawk. Oh wait. You. You’re gonna see. 🙂

I can’t wait to share this new seashell photography series with all of you. I’ve got a date with my laptop, a dozen cookies, and about 15 lattes so I can get these images show ready. I hope you’re all finding your happy, safe, healthy places this week!



Roll With It

March 27, 2020 | By Steph Hargrove

Roll With It

I was all set to start attaching 2,511 painted seashells to fishing line for my installation at Creative Pinellas, and then coronavirus came along and changed everyone’s plans. A crowded art opening on May 14th in the gallery? Yeah, probably not happening. Fortunately, the team at Creative Pinellas is amazing and they’ve got new plans. We’re gonna have a virtual art opening.

Technology is keeping us connected while we shelter at home, so why shouldn’t it connect us with new art? Just one small issue… my installation is designed to experience physically. In person. In the gallery. What to do? After throwing around a few ideas, I’ve decided to go with a side project that still highlights the installation materials, but in a different way. A way that allows everyone to view it from the safety and comfort of their own couch.

My new focus is on a photography series using the 2,511 painted shells as subjects. There are so many patterns and textures to be had when playing with a giant pile of seashells, some natural light, and a camera. Mockups have begun and the seashell bins that keep the 13 different colors of shells organized have taken over my studio space. And a little bit of the dining room.

I’m super excited about this little creative detour. I depend on photography to capture my large scale pieces installed, so it’s a natural step to expand into visually playing with the materials in new and different ways before they become attached to a gallery wall. Or ceiling. Or floor.

Fortunately, I happen to be married to my photographer, so coronavirus won’t stand in my way of getting this side project underway. The official outdoor photo shoot will start this weekend when my husband Jason is available to help with building sets and taking photos. Until then, I have a few sneak peeks to share with you. These are mockups shot indoors with my iPhone:

Until next time, stay safe, stay home, and #flattenthecurve. 🙂


Weird Week

March 15, 2020 | By Steph Hargrove

Weird Week

This week brought some big changes for all of us in our daily lives due to the arrival of the coronavirus. My new coloring club is of course on hold until we can all once again socialize safely. Meetings in person with my mentor are also on hold. My other half is now working from home. Basically, like you, I’m spending the majority of my time at home for at least the next few weeks. My wiener dog thinks this is awesome.

How to pass the time? Since I already work from home, I’m still painting seashells and preparing for the next step of attaching shells to lines. Business as usual. Minor bump in the road – I’ve had some shells not make the cut for the installation so I need to go collect about 75 more. Fortunately the weather is amazing right now and there’s plenty of space on the beach for social distancing. Also I’m thrilled to be outside, out of the house, with other humans – at a safe distance.

Coloring club may be on hold, but that doesn’t mean coloring isn’t happening. I’m having a fabulous time digging through my coloring books, picking out my favorite pages, and spending some quality time with a latte and my new sharpies. This week I’ll post some free downloadable coloring pages at fromSteph.com for anyone who needs something to color while you’re stuck in the house. Some will be selections from my Must Add Color books, others will be new.

And finally, a bit of good news I’d love to share with you. All that pain I’ve been battling has drastically improved! Physical therapy has been difficult but absolutely worth it, as I’m pain free about 80% of the time now. Feels great to be able to function like a (mostly) normal human being again! Still have a ways to go, but I’m feeling great about the progress so far. Now if you’ll excuse me, my wiener dog is demanding more lap time. 🙂


The Next Part

The painting seashells phase of my installation for Creative Pinellas is nearing the end. Soon my living room will be overtaken with painters tape and fishing line, and painted seashells will be everywhere. I can’t wait!

To cope with with physical challenges of painting so many shells, I’ve been alternating between painting and coloring. If I keep switching up my activity (and my body position) I’m able to work far more hours. Recently I mentioned I had been dreaming up new challenges for my arts education project art4theppl. Years ago when I lived in Texas, coloring parties were one of the first events I used to raise money and awareness for my cause. We had so much fun, and I met so many amazing people. Sooooo, I’ve decided to start a coloring club here in Pinellas county!

I’ve started this group that’s open to any awesome human being who enjoys coloring. We’ll meet at coffee shops, hang out, enjoy a beverage, and color. That’s it.

Okay, I might have a little something extra up my sleeve.

Totally optional for group members: donate your colored pages to art4theppl so I can turn them into fundraising artwork and accessories. I have lots of cool toys, including pin presses and various die cut machines, that allow me to make some pretty cool stuff. I might even do something with colored seashells…

I’ll leave you with some of my finished pages from this week to hopefully inspire you to join the coloring fun. 🙂

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