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From the desk of Lauren Palmer

If you have followed The Art of Living Beautifully for a while, you are no stranger to Wayne Batchelder and the unique hand-thrown coffee mugs he creates by attaching reclaimed wood handles. I love them and promote them on the regular! I believe the soft, white glaze combined with the perfect imperfections of nature bring a sense of peace and healing to those who drink from these mugs.

Last fall, as I wrote the feature article about rainbows for this magazine, I had a vision of my readers waking early, sitting mindfully in preparation for the day, and drinking coffee out of a mug created by Wayne. However, the mug in my vision was not solid white. Instead, it had a colorful reminder for its owner to live a bright and colorful life, to beam like a rainbow to all they encounter.

We met at Wayne’s studio a few weeks later to discuss my thoughts and produced an idea—one that left me giddy. We asked Valerie, a local watercolor artist who happens to be married to Wayne, to paint one of the colorful faces, for which she is so well-known, in the bottom of the mug. This would serve as a beautiful, hand-painted reminder to be what I call in our feature article a “rainbow face”. Wayne, Valerie, and I began the process of designing a line of mini coffee mugs: a juxtaposition of his grounded, organic pottery with her faces that communicate adventure, freedom, and strength of character.

As the design process continued, I was given some insight into Valerie’s artistic eye and inspiration. The colorful faces of women she paints pay homage to her youth—days running on breezy North Carolina beaches with freshly permed and wildly colored hair. Valerie explained, “I’ve always loved wild hair.” (This is a trait that can be seen in each of the girls she paints.)

Mostly self-taught, with the exception of one watercolor class in 2009, Valerie began painting one evening four years ago when boredom struck. “There was nothing good on TV,” she smiled. Around that same time, Wayne retired from a long career at the Art Institute of Dallas and began making pottery as a way of celebrating the end of teaching deadlines. “My pottery doesn’t have a time frame. I work to create and to communicate with myself and whoever’s hands find my pottery within them.”

I asked what they hope to communicate by combining their talents. “I always believe in coupleship,” Valerie told me. “By working on a project together, we have to talk, we have to think together, and spend a little time together. There are all sorts of ways to protect your coupleship.” I love her thoughts on coupleship. Their art studios sit side-by-side on their property in the historic district: his, a pottery studio with clay tools hung in designated spots on a pegboard; hers, a bright and airy painting studio with her colorful faces hung and clipped about the room.

I am grateful for Wayne and Valerie’s willingness to create a special line of mini-mugs for The Art of Living Beautifully readers. By just holding one of Wayne and Valerie’s creations, we learn so much from them as a couple and as individuals. Enjoy your relationships and find common ground. Relax and use nature to heal and become whole again. Be adventurous. Be yourself. Be free. Be a rainbow face.

*Valerie and Wayne have created a limited number of Rainbow Face mugs for The Art of Living Beautifully readers. There are 20 available, individually priced at $65. Each are made by hand. The wood is reclaimed from fallen trees around McKinney, Texas and polished with wax prior to attachment to the mug. Valerie painted each face by hand using food safe glaze. These beautiful pieces of art were imagined, thrown, glazed, and fired in McKinney, Texas. Local pick-up only. Not dishwasher safe. To order, please respond to this email or send a message to


To learn more about Lauren and The Art of Living Beautifully, please visit our ‘about’ page.

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