What makes you feel love, makes your heart sing, or lights up your life?
If it’s creativity, Paxson House, Center for Creative Endeavors, may be just what you need.
What makes owner and artist, inspirational author and creative encourager Connie McDonald come to life are “dancing with my husband, engaging in anything creative and colorful, watching children play, connecting with kindred-spirit friends, and ‘ah ha’ moments when I see the love of God surrounding me in nature, in repeated themes, everywhere I turn.”
To help others with their search for creative joy, McDonald and her husband, Tim, a professional photographer, opened Paxson House and held an open house in January.
The couple named their south Salem home Paxson House for two reasons.
“First, our classic home built in 1939 was designed by Glen Paxson, the premiere bridge architect for over 27 Oregon bridges,” McDonald says. “He was the first owner of our home.
“The second reason we call it Paxson House is because of the Latin translation of ‘pax’ which means ‘peace,’” she adds. “Hence ‘son of peace,’ which describes the feeling one has when they are in our home. I like to think that the warm and welcoming atmosphere is felt by all who enter.”
When the couple bought their place almost 15 years ago, they felt that they were to be good stewards of its use.
“Tim has steadily improved and remodeled many of the rooms, leaving the charm of the home intact,” McDonald says. “Being an entrepreneur and former restaurant/catering owner in the Willamette Valley for a good 20 years, hospitality seems to be in my blood. However, my creative talents have taken an upward turn focusing on teaching and facilitating creative classes in our group art studio in the converted basement.”
Turning her talents for creating edible art in a culinary world to creating expressive art wasn’t much of a stretch for McDonald.
“I’m passionate about all forms of creativity,” she says, “whether it be collage, abstract painting or wearable art.”
The couple recently returned from a trip to Italy, where they learned how to use acrylics to creatively design silk scarves.
“We came back on fire to teach others the techniques in paper and fabric,” McDonald says. “My husband helps me with the creative end.”
Together, the couple creates custom marbling silk scarf trays for “folks to come and create their own silk scarves by “painting on water.” They both convey this style of painting “is remarkably easy.”
Encouraging creativity is McDonald’s passion. She loves to help folks of all ages to create, have fun, and experience other Paxson House offerings, including acrylic pour parties.
McDonald says one of the most successful classes was “Girls Night Out” in which 10 ladies were taught acrylic pour painting on tiles and canvasses.
“Another fun experience was the three generations — mother, grandmother and mom’s young adult daughters — having an ‘artful play’ quality tie with abstract acrylic pour and alcohol ink,” McDonald says. “Our most recent fabulous class was four to five women who created two one-of-a-kind marbleized silk scarves while having a great time. Also, our first mobile Sip and Play Acrylic Pour class was held in the fall at the 13th Street Nursery in southeast Salem.”
McDonald loves to encourage people of all ages to have fun while experiencing one of her art classes. In addition to the acrylic pour parties, she specializes in Vision Board parties and coaches one-on-one with folks who are in life or career transition, and, she says, “want help envisioning their vocation or the like.”
A group of six taking the Fluid Art Fun class pays $35 per person, instruction and materials included, for more than two hours of creating 8-inch-by-10-inch abstract art canvasses and one tile. The class requires a minimum of six people.
“Participants in the marbleized silk scarves class create two silk scarves to take home, one 15-inches-by-60-inches and the other 8-inches-by-54 inches,” McDonald says.
The class includes two hours of instruction, all materials, and is $40 per person with a minimum of five people. Vision Board parties are three hours, include all materials and “encouraging guidance” and are for a minimum of six people for $35 each.
“We are also open to having guest teachers possibly rent the space to teach, or collaborate,” McDonald says. “We also can bring the joy of creativity to your office, your home, or at your chosen venue.”
Paxson House is officially on Airbnb, but McDonald says opening it up for rental is “on pause.”
“We most likely will open up one to two rooms in May, with a shared bathroom,” she says of the option for artists or others from out of town to stay over.
McDonald’s new book, “Embracing God’s Rainbow” reflects how God took her from “black and white to Technicolor living.” The book tells her personal story “from breakdown to breakthrough, fear to freedom, sorry to joy, and the transformational tools that God used of creativity,” she says. “This is also a workbook/playbook for healing, restoration of joy and wellness, and healing our image of God.”
Her book can be found at Amazon.com.
McDonald graduated from the SAGE Legacy fellowship program, where, with team partner Cynthia Lester, she completed a project, “Restoring Joy and Wellness through the Arts.”