When I first saw the Tree of Heaven shop on Etsy.com, I immediately fell in love with so many of the devotional art pieces. My cursor was clicking the red heart icon for just about everything!! Like, like, like, love!!
Sue Kouma Johnson is the artist behind this contemporary Christian art store, and her joy for our Catholic faith just radiates in all of her creations. Her Esty shop features inspirational bracelets, broaches, charms, earrings, necklaces, and--most especially--beautiful, full-color prints of her gorgeous paintings! Here are a few of my favorites that she has for sale right now:
|Michael and I make it a point to display Catholic artwork around our house. Whether large or small, a devotional piece like these helps us keep perspective and feel inspired.|
|Imagine my excitement when I saw her St. Philomena charm!! It's made of glass and sterling silver.|
This week I asked Sue to tell us a little more about herself and Tree of Heaven.
1. First, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family!
I am a Catholic wife and mom of five, one son and four daughters, aged 23 to 13. We live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and are members of St. Teresa (the Little Flower) parish. It is a great parish, not too big, not too small, with a lot of devotion, thanks to our wonderful pastor and a many good people. Our parish is known for having bigger than average families and many priestly vocations. We home educated our kids for about 15 years, then I needed to help with the family income so we put the kids into the parish school, which is excellent and very reasonable.
2. Next, tell us how your business came to be! Who inspired you? How did your talents develop?
I really felt the urge to get back to my art of painting and took the direction of painting the saints after a friend asked me to paint St Catherine for her daughter's confirmation. I just felt like, "This is what I want to do; paint the saints and all things Catholic!" In college, I majored in fine arts and did a little bit of everything, but right now I paint in acrylics, which dry quickly, and then I hand make the glass and solder charm-type medals using tiny prints of my paintings. My background interests are icons, medieval art, and modern artists like Chagall, Van Gogh, and Matisse. I love to include color, symbolism, and a sense of emotion or movement in my paintings. And most of all, my faith is what inspires me to paint. I really ponder the saint or subject matter as I paint and try to let that move me in my choices of composition, color, and other expressions.
3. What difficulties did you have to overcome in order to be at the point where you are today? In other words, what or who helped you to “keep on keeping on”?
The main obstacle has been starting out with no clue, really, as to how to market this art for quite a narrow audience, that is, Catholics who love their faith enough to display religious images, and who like my style! My husband has been the biggest support for me, both emotionally and action-wise, as he built my website, prints the reproductions, and generally adds his business and sales expertise to the program. Also, there has been so much positive feedback from customers that encourages and keeps me going!
4. Lastly, what is most rewarding about your business?
Ever since I was a "wee lass" I wanted to be an artist and, now I am doing that, while at the same time helping support my family and sharing my love of God and my beautiful Catholic faith. It's all good!
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Sue's prints and charms are owned by thousands of people around the U.S. and world-wide. Her prints are available in 3 standard sizes, and she'll make nearly anything into a charm, if you request it. Sue also does custom work, from personal holy cards to murals! (We'll be ordering a personalized holy card for Liam when it's time for him to make his First Holy Communion. Can't wait!)
When ordering from the Tree of Heaven Etsy shop, use the coupon code "5HEAVEN" to receive $5 off your order of $20 or more. :) Also be sure to check out Sue's website at http://www.suekoumajohnson.com. Your treat will come nestled in a cute little gift pouch. :)