Sunday, December 30, 2012

Announcing the Jump for Joy Series of Patterns available at C. Hartman Designs

I have a new line of patterns that are available called the Jump for Joy Collection showcasing children and seasonal characters jumping for joy showing that zest for life that many children have.  The first pattern in the line is currently available at and even has its own Pattern Sub Category.  This pattern is called the Four Season Bank and shows children "jumping for joy" during the four different seasons.  I think this pattern has so many possibilities including being painted on the adorable bank that I've painted it on.  I can see this pattern painted on ornaments, individual canvases, scrap booking pages, journal pages, desk lamps, checkbook covers, the sky is the limit.  The Love Bug Boogie has always been an extremely popular pattern and I think that this one could as well.  Come on over and take a look, I hope you will love this pattern as much as I do. 

I have a number of patterns planned for this collection, the next should be out in time for Easter and then look for a set for Halloween and Christmas.  Take a look at the card that I have available that I blogged about earlier this week for a hint for a future project. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts about his pattern and the collection. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Handmade Cards Available at C. Hartman Designs

I have just added a series of handmade cards on my website, they can be found under the Artist Originals Category in the Main Menu. There are a limited number of cards available for sale, but if they sell well I will make more cards. I am test marketing a line of cards to see how well they are received. Let me know what you think. Each card is different and unique and no two are exactly alike. Come on over and see what you think.

Mixed Media Canvas Part 2

Here are the second set of mixed media canvases that I mentioned in one of my previous posts.  These were painted using my Jacquard Neopaque paints and Jacquard Lumiere metallic paints and in a similiar manner as the earlier set although I did not add the Alcohol Inks to these, I didn't feel that they needed the additional burst of color and actually wanted these to be more subdued.  I also spent more time blending the paint with my fingers and you can see the result in the sky on both, the clouds definitely pop more on the Turquoise canvas.  Obviously one is designed to be a fall canvas while the other is going to be spring or summer.  The leaves were stenciled using a Laurie Speltz Background stencil while the stars were formed using a piece of vellum and a Martha Stewart punch.  You do not have to use a traditional stencil but can make your own using a variety of materials.  Anything that forms a mask will do the trick.

I'm not sure what I will put on these canvases.  Any suggestions?  I don' have a plan for these.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Patterns

These new patterns are finally on my website for purchase.  I love each and every one of these patterns and hope that you will as well.  Two of these patterns will look familiar as I have blogged about designing them.  There is one more pattern that I hope to have out later this weekend which will be very appropriate seasonally.  Look for it soon.  I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Wedding Box

Mixed Media Witch
Love is in the Air

Mixed Media Canvas

Merry Belated Christmas to all of you.  My resolution this year to post twice a week was waylaid by the Christmas holiday.  Too many things to do to prepare for the holiday, but I'm back and I still have the same resolution to provide blog posts once a week and twice if my schedule will allow. 

Between designing and blogging this Fall I managed to sign up for 4 online classes, one was with Kelly Rae Roberts, Flying Lessons, which I loved.  If you have never taken her class I would strongly suggest that you take it.  It is inspiring to say the least.  The other 3 classes that I signed up for are from Christy Tomlinson who is an amazing mixed media artist and again I have learned so much, I am about a third of the way through the classes but have a year in which to complete them, but am loving the process.  The success of these classes encouraged me to sign up for another mixed media class called Life Book which begins in January and I am so thrilled to be taking it.  It is a year long class and has a number of different international artists teaching classes throughout the course of the class.  Christy Tomlinson and Kelly Hoernig are just a few of the guest artists.  I have not taken a class for a few years and these online classes are so incredible, for someone who still kind of feels like computers and the Internet are a little like magic, this is a big step for me.  I'll keep you posted on my progress. 

To start us out on the right foot this coming year I thought that I'd post some photos of two canvas projects that I am currently working on.  As many of you know I love working with stencils and have shown you a variety of ways in which to incorporate stencils into your projects.  They are just so easy and there are so many outstanding stencils out on the market at the moment.  I decided to pull out the 4"X4" gallery wrap canvases that I had purchased a while back at Michael's and decided to use my Jacquard paints on them.  I actually have an idea in mind for the set that I am sharing today but am still working on the sketches for them but really wanted to get the color scheme set on the canvases.  I knew that I wanted to incorporate my alcohol inks somehow with this project and also wanted to try painting using my fingers, something that Christy Tomlinson does frequently and amazingly it was a fun liberating experience.  I also knew that I wanted to use the Jacquard Lumiere Metallic paints somehow. 

1.  Blue Canvas:  I began by mixing the Neopaque Blue with White and slip slapped the paint on the canvas to get it covered.  Next pulled out a variety of Lumiere Metallics and using my fingers began to blend the paint around the canvas until I had the look that I wanted and then pulled out my Lime Green Pinata Alcohol Ink and dripped it onto the canvas and finger blended.  Lastly added white snowflakes with a stencil.  It was quick, easy and very effective.

2.  The purple canvas was painted in the same way, different paint colors, added a little sponging to the corners and edges, dribbled Sunbright Yellow Pinata Ink onto the canvas and finger blended.  Added Neopaque Magenta to the edges using a square stencil and used Neopaque Yellow with a swirl stencil.  And loved it. 

3.  The pink canvas was equally fun and was painted in a similar manner to the purple one but with a dot stencil on the edges and swirls on top.  Again I dribbled Sunbright Yellow onto the canvas to enhance the metallic paints. 

I have been a paint layering fan for many years and love how the layered look enhances the background of the canvas, these are actually lovely on their own but really think they will be spectacular once I have added the design elements.  I can't wait to get started on what I have planned to finish these canvases off.  How fun is this?

My next post will show the next set of canvases which are the second set that I referred to earlier in this post.  They are quite different. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gel Printing Part 3

Part three of my Gel printing journey shows the use of my Gelli Arts Printing plate with a number of different types of textures, bubble wrap, and a variety of my new stencils.  I'm fond of the bubble wrap used in conjunction with the stencils.  The top piece has a bubble wrap texture printed with a lighter green and then I overlayed one of my new stencils.  In the bottom right you see just the bubble wrap and in the piece to the left you can see the bubble wrap with the same stencil but used in a different application.  Love them.  They are fun, quirky, and challenging to do. 

I recently participated in a Christmas card exchange and with the cards that I made and sent out I included tags that I had cut out of the printed papers made using my gel printing plate.  They were fun and would make beautiful gift tags.

As I continue along this journey I will periodically share some of the pieces that I make.  I recently was the happy recipient of three Catalyst Wedge tools by Princeton Brush in a giveaway sponsored by Gelli Arts that I've been using on my Gelli Printing Plate and when I'm happy with some of the results I will share those.  They work great and I am really enjoying the process. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I have been sharing this project as it has progressed from working on the background to now sharing the finished product.   I love her.  I love the background, the lettering, and the little girl.  It all turned out exactly as I had hoped and am happy to report that it is available on my website under the Valentine Pattern Category.  She is too cute and would be darling as a card or painted on this adorable heart box.  The box is available from  Wood products from this company are made here in the US and are fantastic to paint on.  The quality of their wood pieces are outstanding.  I hope that you will come on over to my website and see the new pattern and let me know what you think.  I think she is a keeper.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gell Printing Part 2

In my day job as an art teacher I have been showing my students a few of the You Tube videos from Gelli Arts.  We look for inspiration in so many places and for some of my students I like to use You Tube, in this day and age they all have access to technology and probably watch you Tube but how many of them use it for educational purposes?  I've shown a few of the more recent videos where Joan is using the Catalyst Wedge Tools and my students are fascinated.  I'm generating interest in the gel plates that I ordered to try with my students.  I could only afford 6 plates so we will need to share them.  I'm sure that my students are going to love the process and so do I.  Maybe my enthusiasm for the project is showing and they are catching the vibe.  I still haven't printed anything that I am in love with although I did like the ones that I'm showing above more so than the others.  I'm sure that I will eventually print something that I am happy with but so far feel like such a newbie at the process that I am devouring educational information found on blogs.  I would however recommend purchasing a plate and trying your hand at it.  So fun.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Prim Look Witch

As many of you know who read my blog regularly I like to try new art techniques.  This new pattern incorporates an interest that I've had with mixing media with trying new product.  I used the DecouPage product from Deco Art when I decided to include scrap booking paper in the background of this design.  I also included a number of stencils from both Laurie Speltz and Renee Mullins and love how this turned out.  This is one of those projects that can be used on so many different surfaces.  This pattern should be on the website very soon, I had hoped to have it on before Halloween but as you can see that didn't turn out so better late than never.  When this pattern is published I have included an alternate background that does not incorporate scrap booking paper into it.  Look for it in the next couple of weeks.  The frame is one by, formerly Turns in Time, and I felt that this project needed a frame that was distressed and consequently worked to achieve that.  This frame is made from reclaimed wood and I thought that it would work well for a more prim look for this Halloween design.  I hope that you will love this as much as I do, so far it has been receiving rave reviews from everyone that has viewed it.  Let me know what you think.    

Gelli Arts Printing Plate Part 1

I enjoy an artistic challenge and love to learn new techniques.  I find that when I try something new that may be outside of my comfort zone I take something away that I can use in my own personal art.  Those new challenges make us better artist just through the "experience of it".  The creative activity helps to generate new opportunities that you may have not considered. 

My newest challenge has been in the printing arena and I'm finding that I love it.  If you have been following my blog you know that I have experimented with the media of printing in the past and have cut my own stamps.  My newest interest has been in the area of gel printing and have been following a small company called Gelli Arts for some time now.  I've watched when grow from a start up company to a company that seems to have developed a nice following and is certainly taking the world of gel printing by storm.  I recently took the plunge and purchased one of their gel plates so I could try this fascinating media and have been having a great time.  So far I've thrown out more pieces than I've kept but isn't that part of experiencing a new media and I'm finally ready to share some of what I've done with the plate. 

I've tried many of the techniques that Joan shares on the Gelli Arts Blog and was the very happy winner of one of their give aways this past week and am looking forward to receiving my Princeton Art Catalyst Wedges so I can continue this wonderful new media that I am exploring and I want to thank them for that opportunity. 

I think that if you are a Decorative Painter who is saying, "ok this is cool, but it isn't something that I can wrap my head around to use,"  I think that if you try this you will see that it has so many applications for the Decorative Painting world and I'm working on a new project that will incorporate the printing plate.  Ok, don't worry I will also include the painting instructions in case you aren't quite as enthralled with this new media as I am.  LOL.

If you do the research and are interested in the plates you can purchase the plates, brayer, and Princeton Arts Catalyst Wedges from Dick Blick which is where I purchased mine.  I like one stop shopping and was able to do that through Dick Blick, I recently became a partner with Dick Blick in their affiliate program and you can access the company through my links page on my website.  This link will take you directly to the Dick Blick website.  Google Dick Blick to see if they have any coupons that you can use, they often have unannounced specials in addition to their usual sale flyers.  I was able to save 15% off of my order and that helped pay shipping costs. 

This is my first attempt at the wipe out technique that is currently on the Gelli Arts Blog.  It was very fun, but because I didn't have the tools that Joan has I had to use other household items to smear my paint around and I had mixed results.  I can't wait to try it once I get the wedge tools.  You can see that in the bottom left photo I started by adding texture with bubble wrap as my first layer and went on to use the wipe out technique.  I used my Deco Art paint and in the two samples on the right used glitter paints in addition to my Americana paints.   That worked well and I always print a ghost print which is recommended by Joan on her blog and the print below is the result. 
The sample that you see above was completed by pressing bubble wrap into my paint, lifting that off and pressing a sunburst texture plate into my paint color and printing that.  Next I added orange to my plate and printed using one of those fantastic stencils that I was blogging about earlier this month and printed the orange dots.  This is actually a ghost print because I had too much paint on my plate and my first print didn't turn out well but I liked the ghost print. 
What are your thoughts?  Will you try this technique?  Stay tuned for further posts showing other samples.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Head on over to the Gelli Arts blog to sign up for a very exciting giveaway. If you have not tried their new gell plates for mono printing yet, you really should.  I just got mine and have been playing with it most of the weekend.  I'm not that great with it yet to share anything but have fallen in love with it.  It makes gel printing so incredibly easy,  I purchased the 8"x10".  I'd recommend this size but can see how the larger size would be useful and can see how great the smaller one would be.  This is another tool that I have just fallen in love with.  Head on over and take a look at their blog and watch their videos,  see just how easy it is.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More Backgrounds and Stencils

Do you remember this background piece that I painted a few weeks ago?  Well I decided to work with it and used the new stencils to alter it pretty significantly.  I think that this will become the background for a card or even to be used in a later project.  I'm going to have to give this some additional thought to see what I decide to do with it.   

What do you think? 

What If I used Stencils in Combination with Background Papers?

The phrase "what if" has been rattling around in the back of my mind for the past few days.  I don't know about you but "what if " thoughts tend to be a part of my life.  What if I had done things differently or what if I'd taken a different path, more often than not those thoughts are filled with relief rather than regret, but in my art life the phrase "what if" takes on a completely different meaning.  What if is usually filled with excitement and anticipation, the what if that accompanies the start of a new project or a light bulb moment.  What if is not a bad statement about my life and it isn't a bad statement where my art is concerned.  I had one of those "what if" moments the other day when I came across background papers that I had worked on a year ago.  I found them in one of my many piles and thought ...HMMMMM!  What if?

I decided to go ahead and put my thoughts into action and began playing around with those background papers. In March 2011 I painted background papers and posted the technique on my blog.  They were a very popular blog post and I've spent the past year thinking what else could I do with them.  I used them for card making and some scrapbooking but I am always thinking of new ways to use an existing project to make it more current.  I thought that I  should take some of those papers that I had made and enhance them.

As many of you know who frequent my blog  I recently did a series of blog posts about using stencils and even invested in some new stencils.  One evening this past week I sat down and thought that I'd play with the new stencils,  and I remembered that stack of background papers and wondered what if I enhanced those.   I picked out one of the nondescript boring papers and thought that I would see what happened.  I began by randomly choosing one of the stencil screens.  I chose the floral stencil, I actually began thinking that I'd design a Christmas themed background but as you can see that didn't happen.

I placed the floral screen onto my nondescript green background paper and used the thinned down acrylics in a spray bottle that I used originally back in 2011, I randomly sprayed primary colors onto the green background.  Because I had used acrylic paint I could easily layer paint colors as long as each layer was dry.  The paint still seemed dull and nondescript.  I obviously needed to find a way to jazz it up a bit and stenciled white flowers over the sprayed stencil.  My next step was to go through some of my paint and find some interesting paints from the Deco Art line.   I decided to use a mix of Metallic, Neon, Glitter and regular paints.   I picked up the sponge and repositioned my stencil over the top of one of the floral areas and sponged blue metallic over the blue sprayed area and a beautiful rich color began to develop.  You will find that this frequently happens when you are working with layered paint colors.  The layering of paint develops a richness and vibrancy that you may not achieve otherwise.   Next I picked up on some red glitter paint on my sponge, repositioned my stencil again and sponged some red glitter paint over the top of the red areas that I had sprayed in the previous application.  Then added red metallic paint randomly to the area.  At that time I wondered "what if"  I picked up some yellow neon and sponged over another one of the stenciled areas and lastly sponged randomly throughout the paper wherever I felt I needed a little ZING.

I don't know about you but I think this piece rivals many scrapbooking papers out there, it was substantially cheaper, and I spruced up a boring nondescript paper.  Now I just need to decide how to use this.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stenciled Box

I had time to paint this weekend! 

Surprising because my dishwasher died, it has been on its last leg for some time and I was hoping to keep it plugging along until after Christmas but we all know about those best laid plans.  LOL.  Appliances donot always cooperate.  Needless to  say my husband I were out shopping for a new dishwasher today.  I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner and I want to have a functioning dishwasher in time for the holiday.  I have to admit that even with help dishes are not my favorite thing to do.  We found one and it was ON SALE.  WaaHoo!!!  Even better!  At any rate when we got home and after I did a few of my weekend household chores I was able to carve out a small amount of time to paint. 

I am painting this adorable heart box for a new pattern that will be available soon.  I wanted it to have a loose background that I showed you last week as I was stenciling.  I'm sure that you can see the Valentine theme that I've used but my goal is not for this to be used just as a holiday project instead that it could be used year round for someone special.  I've added the design elements and have added the Gesso.  I like to have a white background to paint on and use gesso frequently.  It takes a little more time to add but I think that the result is worth it, I like clean crisp paint colors.  You can see how the stenciled background will work with the finished piece. 

This is the first pattern that I am planning to show you as it progresses.  This is something new in my blogging life and am curious as to how you will enjoy it.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Use those stencils.

Ok, so now you have heeded my advise, you've invested in a few good quality useful stencils.   What can you do with them?  Tons!!!!  Note the exclamation marks!!!  Seriously the sky is the limit, they can used on walls, canvas, wood, paper, there isn't a surface around that you can't use a stencil on. 

Twenty years ago my husband and I had just built our current home, we had spent the extra money on solid oak trim for our windows and didn't want to cover them so I stenciled above the windows and used that instead of a valance.  It was cheaper and could easily be changed when I was tired of it.  A friend of mine did a bathroom using the Deco Art Zebra Border stencil with black and pink.  She and her daughter stenciled a wall and added border trim, she showed me a photo of it and it was darling.

Use sections of the stencil to add interest to your background before you begin painting the foreground.  It isn't necessary to use the entire stencil, I like to take portions of a stencil and use only that.  Deco Art has another border stencil called Floral Breeze and the swirls, or as I call them the flourish, is beautiful.  Why not add that to a background with a tone on tone color scheme, it will add interest to your background without being overpowering.  Often we want a plain background but honestly I have found that I like adding a surprise of color, it adds interest and gives your background a hint of texture.  Using your stencil to help layer color gives you a beautiful effect with just the right amount of interest to draw your eye through the entire piece. Or want a dramatic effect?  Try using the compliment of the color that you've used in your background, that should give your painting some drama. 

Another easy way to add texture to a piece is to use a palette knife and smooth texture paste across the surface of the stencil onto your surface, carefully pull the stencil away and you are left with the stenciled image.  Let it dry and paint it as you would the rest of your piece.  This is another great way to add excitement and interest to your background or foreground.  If you want to show swirls to mimic the look of wind blowing in the sky use your stencil/texture paste technique and paint it the same color as the sky and then dry brush a highlight color over the swirl to subtly give the impression of wind.  Gorgeous.  It is simple yet subtle and gives your painting an interesting dimensional feel that is extremely popular right now.  Deco Art carries a fantastic texture paste that I use frequently called Decorating Paste, I used it on a project recently to make fall leaves stand out and I was pleased with the result. 

How about the age old dilemma of whether to use stencil brushes or a sponge?  Honestly it is personal preference and is dependant on the surface.  If I'm stenciling on a small surface and I want the stencil to be subtle then I use a makeup sponge but if I'm stenciling on a wall and I want to show variations in color for shaded areas and highlights then I will use a stencil brush.  Be careful not all stencil brushes are alike and I would recommend that you invest in a good quality stencil brush, do your research and see which one would work well for you.  I frequently use my stencil brushes for purposes other than stenciling, they are amazing for dry brushing. 

I hope this helps you feel confident and comfortable to give stencils a good old college try. 

Stencils used in a Background

Here is a project that I am currently working on and will be available as a pattern in the near future.  You can see how I've used my background colors and stencils to design the background for this box.  I think this would be lovely on its own but naturally I have more to add to it.  The background for this box is finished for now.  I'll add the design to the box lid and then will decided if I think that anything more needs to be added.  I love how the random look in the background will enhance the design that I have planned to put on it and it literally took me a couple of hours from start to finish to get it to this point and that includes prepping the box and sanding it.  In my opinion that is quick and easy. 

I'm curious to see if any of you use stencils in creative and unique ways.  

I love this wooden box, you can purchase this box from This company was formerly Turns in Time and they produce a wonderful made in America product.  Check them out on their website.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stencils that I use in my Painting

As I stated before I like to purchase tools that make my job as an artist easier and allow me to be more efficient and in the process more creative.  I love all types of art tools, paint brushes, different paints, different mediums, and love to learn new techniques.  You can see that on my blog and website just by the paint brushes that I carry.  I like to have my tools easily accessible and of a quality that I'm satisfied with the result after using them.  Stencils are one of those tools that I find to be extremely useful and allow me the consistent result that I strive for.

Staedtler is another company that produces a great quality stencil or as they prefer to call them a template tool.  These were designed as a drawing aid but work brilliantly as a stencil.  I particularly like the sizes that are in descending order and find that the variety of sizes and shapes that are available make them a very versatile tool, even if you don't want to use them as stencils they are invaluable in drawing basic shapes.  I have larger sized oval and circle templates that I use often as well.  Take a look at these as a good general tool in your design and art work.  I will say that these tend to be slightly more expensive than a stencil and that can be hard to justify, when you are on a budget, which many of us are.   However they wear like iron because they are a hard plastic that will be dependable whether you are using them with paint or as a template drawing tool. 

These can be purchased at many art/business supply stores.  Dick Blick carries a wonderful selection, I've ordered from Dick Blick as an art teacher and as an artist and I can guarantee that they are easy to work with and stand behind their product. 

Staedtler is not the only company that produces this type of product, take a look at these as a tool that you might want to add to your collection.  I assure you that you won't be disappointed. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tools of the Painting Trade

Whenever the topic of stencils comes up it seems to generate strong feelings.  I personally love stencils and use them frequently in many of my designs, stencils are a quick and easy way to develop a background or add interesting detail.  In just a few minutes an artist can add stars to a sky or to a Santa's coat and it requires very little skill.  Anytime that I can use a tool that makes my job easier I'm all for it, whether it is around my house or as an artist.  You can see in this photo the stars on this Santa's coat which were all done using a stencil and it literally took me moments.  This pattern is called First Star of Christmas and is available on my website as both a paper pattern and as an e-pattern. 

I have a decent collection of stencils and have a few that I seem to use more often than others probably because they are of very high quality and produce a consistent image.  I also have a number of newer ones that I recently used in a soon to be released Halloween design that I purchased from Renee Mullins. Bat Night, Candy Corn, and Spooky Words, all of which were excellent stencils and were a great size to be easy to use on any surface.  They are 8.5" X 5.5" which is smaller than many stencils but made them very easy and comfortable to use.  Another fantastic stencil that I've used is made by Laurie Speltz  Laurie started developing a line of stencils many years ago which she called base coat stencils, made in layers so that you could start with the base coat and move through to adding details.  They were wildly popular with anyone painting for shows and were a brilliant idea.  I've also used a number of her stencils and can attest to the fact that they are another quality stencil product. 

Typically when I purchase a stencil I have a specific use in mind but just recently decided that I needed generic stencils that I can use at any time in the foreground or background.  I only recently discovered these stencils and just received them in the mail as of yet I haven't had a chance to use them but am looking forward to trying them out.  I've ordered an interesting assortment and really can't wait to use them on a future project. 

Do any of you know of any interesting stencils?  I'd love to hear of different brands that I haven't tried yet.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

#2 in Background Papers 2012

When I sat down to paint these background papers I didn't really have a goal in mind other than to just spend some time playing with paint.  Remember that "play" from my last post.  I added a number of random paint colors to my palette and just started laying down color, making sure to allow each layer to dry before continuing on to the next, in fact I painted this in a mass production format.  I laid out 5 papers and walked around the table adding various colors to each paper.  All I used was inexpensive computer paper and my acrylic paints.  As I got to this one I decided that I wanted the background to have more of a mottled look to it and triple loaded my brush with various shades of blue and just started slip slapping my brush out onto the paper, then thought that I'd dab bits of white and pink in a random manner and voila this is what came about.  I actually really liked this one and thought that the paint colors were very sweet and reminded me of babies.  Maybe it would be great for a baby scrapbook page or a card. 

I laughed when I was scanning these that out of the five I only scanned three to post, in fact I was pretty happy with that.  I only had to throw away two of them, often I throw away all of them.  LOL.  The point I'm making is that this is an exercise in creativity, not intended to produce great works of art, if it does then great but if not then they are round filed.  These may end up having additional paint added on to them before I ever use them but for now I'm holding onto them for future use.   

How many of you have some wonderful activity that you use to help you when you are experiencing a creative block or to just get the creative juices flowing?  I'd love to hear the techniques that you all use.  Wouldn't that be a great topic of conversation?  Leave me a comment and lets see if we can give each other new ideas and techniques to use. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Every year all the teachers that work in my hallway at school dress up with a theme and we have a ball doing it, one year we all dressed up as laundry baskets.  Here is a visual for you... I'm an art teacher and I spend my day moving around my classroom helping children who are messy and using a variety of media.  My classroom for an art room is fairly small and my tables are fairly large with relatively large classes of kids from Kindergarten to 8th grade.  Needless to say there isn't a lot of room and the laundry basket just wasn't cuttin' the mustard for me.  I put the costume on when each class came into my room and then quickly got out of it because it was driving me crazy.  Luckily all I had to do was step out of it and remove the suspenders,  The following year I decided that I needed an easier dressing up idea and came up with the idea to paint a men's long sleeved t-shirt to wear as a tunic.  That year our theme was candy and I painted candy corn on my shirt.  I was comfortable and received so many compliments during the day that I knew I had a hit. 

I used Deco Art So Soft Paints to paint the candy corn on the front of the shirt and the pumpkins on the back .  So Soft Paints are a wonderful fabric paint and really are soft when you have completed the painting.  They also wash wonderfully.  I also added glitter detail on each of these pieces but glitter doesn't photograph particularly well. 

A few years later our hallway theme was witches and I decided to paint a huge witches face on a black shirt.  This witch is not completely my own design, I knew that I had an old Diana Marcum book somewhere in my stash that had a great witches face in it and I also remembered a Holly Hanley witch design that I had somewhere and combined the two and added some of my own detail and again painted them with the Deco Art So Soft Paints.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Background Papers 2012

Happy Halloween! 

As many of you know I enjoy painting my own background papers to use in collage, scrapbooking, cardmaking, or just for the fun of painting these crazy papers.  How could you not love doing these, the creative freedom that you experience is so liberating.  It is such a wonderful right brained activity, many of you enjoy Zentangle and I do too, however I find this to be just as creatively stimulating as many of you do with the "Zen" of Zentangle.  In fact I often allow my students to "play" with paint when we are exploring color or just have some free painting time.  They love it and do not even realize that in their "play" they are learning such valuable color theory lessons. 

These two orange papers remind me of Halloween and I plan to use them as a background papers for a few new Whimsy Stamps that I just received.  I love the play of yellow, orange, white, red, and a little turquoise thrown in to add a little compliment to the layers. 

Christmas Train

I just want to say that my heart goes out to everyone in the east dealing with hurricane Sandy.  I wish you all the best and know that we are all thinking of you. 

This project is the second in a series of resin train projects that I've painted for Artists Club, they are amazing and darling and are sure to be a keeper.  I have my Halloween Train out at the moment and as soon as I put it away will pull out the Christmas Train that you see in this photo.  Artist Club always has surfaces that are right on trend and sell out quickly.  The instructions for this project are available as a free download and the surface is still available but I'm not sure how many are left.  This is my photo of the project but if you hop over to Artists Club you can see their outstanding photography and download the project instructions for FREE!!!  That is a price that you can't beat. 

I just sent in my Easter Train project that will come out after the 1st of the year and is darling.  If I must say so myself. 

I just wanted to say thanks to all of my friends who have been adding their great comments!  I've enjoyed corresponding with you. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I'm finally ready to post the finished wedding box and as I stated in an earlier post rarely does a piece come together easily and without having to repaint parts or pieces as was the case with this box.  The center landscape went together really well and I was optimistic that the remainder of the piece would, I was happy with the mountains, the trees and the foreground.  I emailed a copy of the photo to my daughter and had her look it over with her "scientific" eye to make sure that I had stayed true to the look of the location.  She was thrilled and felt that I had really captured the essence of the area.  This is an actual location just outside of Yellowstone Park between Cooke City and the Beartooth Highway.  Fortunately I had been able to spend some time in the area the previous summer and was able to get quite a few great photos that I could use as reference.  I also knew that I wanted to show an Aspen Tree and her flowers for the wedding were going to be sunflowers and I knew that I wanted to paint those as well.  Both my daughter and her fiance are outdoor type of people, they love to hike, backpack, and camp and I really wanted to represent an area that they loved recreating in.  I began painting the Aspen Tree and when I emailed a photo to my daughter with the comment "there is something wrong with this tree" she responded that it looked like a Birch Tree so back to the drawing board I went.  I went up into the mountains and took a look at Aspen Trees to try to figure out what I needed to change, repainted it and emailed another copy to my daughter to look at.  Fortunately I live in an area where I can view the trees.  My daughter has a natural resources degree which is a science based program and I often use her as my "go to gal" for her opinions and suggestions for my paintings, she is an invaluable resource.  This time we were both happy with the result and I moved on to the sunflowers. 
Today I was talking to a friend who had asked how the wedding went and I mentioned that it was an amazing, emotional, and exhausting experience that both my husband and myself were grateful to be able to celebrate with our daughter and new son.  For us this was one of those amazing events in your children's lives where you reflect on their lives up to this point during the course of the planning and the ceremony.  We both kept asking each other where the years went, it seemed just like yesterday that she was playing Cinderella in her dress up clothes and now she was a young woman embarking on her new life with her spouse.  I have to admit that I was teary through the entire ceremony and then enjoyed the reception completely.  Below you can see the box on the gift table during the reception.  The day was lovely and the happy couple are starting an amazing journey of their own.
This card box will soon be available on my website as a pattern and if you choose to paint it I hope that you are able to paint it for someone that you love as I did. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Design Process

I spent the day shopping with my daughter today, we were shopping for new clothes for her to wear to a new job that she begins this next week.  We had a lovely day doing something that we haven't been able to do for a number of years as she recently moved back to the area, both she and her husband to start new phases in their careers.  As we discussed some of her goals and plans for the future I was reminded how the design for the wedding box visually illustrated many of those goals that she and I were discussing during the course of the day. 
Sometimes designing is all about an emotional journey, as was this box and because it was for someone that I loved it became a very personal journey.  Because of that I was even more critical and apprehensive at the same time.  A huge part of the journey also involved my comfort level and my need to visually represent the landscape in a way that I knew my daughter and her husband would find pleasing. 
When I began to design the Wedding Box I knew that I wanted pine trees to take up the bulk of the space in the foreground.  I also knew that I hadn't painted pine trees in some time and I needed to practice so that I felt comfortable and capable with my ability to represent the trees.  This is just one of the many practice sheets that painted when I was trying to decide how to paint the trees and which color scheme I wanted to use.  I also had to decide which paint brush seemed to work for me.  I ended up using the Loew Cornell 1/4" Angular Bristle and really felt that it worked beautifully for me.  It had just the right amount of play in the bristles to allow me the control that seemed to work.  I used it both dry and wet and found that I was able to control the paint and was delighted with the end product. 
I am happy to report that the final product did represent the trees and I was satisfied but more importantly my daughter and her husband were also happy with the result.  As I looked at the pine trees on the finished box naturally there were some flaws but isn't that the great thing about nature, nothing in nature is ever perfect.   In that way I decided I had something in common with the natural world.   

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I love to get comments and am hoping to hear your thoughts on my past few posts.  It is pretty easy to post comments and certainly helps me when I begin to plan for new posts.  Give it a shot.  I'd love to hear from you.  Also consider becoming a follower of my blog, I'm really trying to blog more often this year and hope that encourages all of you to follow me.  It certainly gives my blog more credibility.

Using Stencils in Your Design

The photo you see above is the backview of the Wedding Box that I have been describing in the last few posts.  I wanted the front of the box to be the focal point of the design and the sides and back to not detract, I also wanted the design to flow into the front.  I was concerned that this might be a difficult task until I happened to be surfing the net and saw the most amazing stencils from a company called Nature's Vignettes.  I had already decided that a diamond pattern stencil might be the way to go but had only been able to find stencils in a small size and this box is not small, consequently repeating that design might take a lot of time and effort.  Now I have to admit that I really prefer to make my painting job go as seamlessly as any creative project can go and didn't want to have to repeat a stencil as many times as using a small one would take.  Then I happened upon the Harlequin stencil that you see above #305 Classic Harlequin.  The repeat was super easy and it all went together seamlessly which was a good thing because the front proved to be somewhat problematic. But that is a story for a later post.   

Watching the Design Process Unfold in Young Learners

If you work with children you know that they are fearless when it comes to their artwork and I rarely hear from my students that they don't believe they are good artists.  Why is that?  Maybe it is the fact that they are more concerned about themselves than the world around them, I also believe that a child's world is centered on the here and now. 

This is a project that I call Movement Bodies and the published version of this project can be found and downloaded free of charge at
For any of you who are interested Nasco as well as most of the online art suppliers have lesson plans available for your free download.  Many of them are provided by art teachers from around the country and have been kid tested and teacher approved. 
This is a project that I often use with my students and am doing so again this year, I provide each student the preprinted template for the body, the students determine the movement for the body and then put the template pieces together to simulate the movement.  My students transfer the body to a clean piece of paper and then design a different line/shape pattern for each section of the body.  They develop a background, and use watercolor pencils to complete the project.  The goal of this project is to understand the use of line/pattern/shape/rhythm in their artwork.  I often have my students outline their designs with black markers as this helps them focus in on the design/pattern when coloring as well as makes for a bold presentation. 
Watching children design is a fascinating process and is so different for an adult.  We as adults could learn alot from children in their fearless approach to art and design. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Design Process

I love the design process as much as I enjoy the painting process.  I love the possibilities that designing brings with it, the ideas that float around in my head that eventually end up on paper is such an exciting process.  Then to transfer that design to a surface adds to the potential of a project.  I began the Wedding Box project thinking about how I would lay out the design and decided on a circular design.  I struggled with that for quite a while until one morning in the shower the idea of a circular design came to me.  The shower seems to be that quiet spot where my mind can just free float and I often solve design problems in the shower.  It seems to be my quiet place.  LOL.  Once I decided on that the rest became a matter of which trees to use and the mountains that the soon to be happy couple wanted.  From start to finish this project took me 6 months to design and get down on paper.   I don't usually take this long to design a project but I really wanted this one to be special for one of the most important days in my daughter's life.  I also worked on it in between other projects,  it isn't like I worked on it steadily for 6 months.  Once I had the design worked out it was time to find the box and fortunately my friends at Ideal Wood Products had a perfectly lovely box that I ordered.  The next obstacle became what to do with the remainder of the box that the design wouldn't cover.  LOL.  That will be for my next post.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Not too long ago I did a series of blog posts where I suggested other options for projects but I thought that for this series I might talk a little about the design process.  To me it is such a personal journey to design a project.  You as an artist are trying to appeal to the masses while staying true to your inner vision.  That can be difficult when you are trying to balance the two.  I have often felt like it was similar to when you have young children at home and you are trying to be wife, mom, career person, and artist.  That is a particularly difficult balancing act, while you can't compare your need to share yourself artistically to raising your family it still can be a difficult struggle and for those of us who love the arts it is the food for the soul.  My solution is to make sure that I have some time each week to paint or draw for myself. 

I recently designed a wedding box for my daughter's wedding and it was a labor of love.  Not only was it for an important person in my life but it was for one of the most important events in her life.   She had definite ideas about what she wanted the box to look like, I don't know why we would be surprised about that as we raised both of our children to be strong individuals.   She wanted a scene that reflected her and her soon to be husband's life and much of that revolves around the out of doors.  They love to hike and backpack. This design was to be the focus on their wedding invitations as well.  No pressure, right?  I was a little worried and hoped that I could pull it off for her.  Needless to say I got started designing and had three different versions by the time that I was finished.  I did all of these in pen and ink before ever starting to paint.

I knew that they wanted the mountains Pilot and Index which are down by Yellowstone Park and they wanted an Aspen Tree and Sunflowers somewhere on the design.  I started out with a rough sketch that just lined out the basic design and the format for the design and had my daughter look at it and naturally she had ideas using her "scientific eye" as she calls it.  Her college degree is a science based degree and she has often been called on to help me with designs when I needed an unbiased scientific view.  I then went back to the drawing board and made the changes that they wanted. This was another process and it took a couple of tries before we had worked out the details and   I think this was almost a year in the making but I felt that the process and the finished product were all worth it.  You can see the sketch below and of course once the sketch was finished it was time to start painting which is another story.  LOL. 

The box turned out beautifully and the day was perfect for the happy couple.  I'm happy to report that they are married now and working on starting this new phase of their lives together and we couldn't be happier. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Watercolor Pencils Sunflower Tutorial

Have you every used Watercolor Pencils?  They are fantastic and so easy to use, my favorite brand is the Faber Castell brand although there are so many great brands available on the market.  I've done a quick tutorial showing how to use them.  The first two photos that you see above are steps 1 and 2.  I like to work light to dark and have roughed in the sunflower using a creme colored pencil in the first photo and then darkened it in using a golden yellow.  You can see where I've darkened in my shaded areas and have begun to layer colors over the top to slowly build up the cast shadows of the sunflower.  In the second photo I began to develop the colors in the center of the sunflower and have further deepened the shadows by using a Burnt Sienna colored pencil. 

In step 3 I darkened the shadows of the sunflower using a dark brown.  In step 4 you can see that I have activated the paint with clean water and further added detail by lightly adding a small amount of black.  It is not necessary to activate your paint and may just use them as colored pencils as well.  They are a very versatile medium and I would like to encourage you to give them a try.  


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

End of the Day Ornaments

I'm so thrilled that these ornaments have been published in the Paintworks 2012 Ornament issue.  These ornaments are so fun and EASY to paint, these are painted on porcelain ornaments from Bows Plus Bisque but can be painted on absolutely any ornament that is dimensional from paper mache, glass, tin, and wood.  The technique is so incredibly easy and to prove how easy it is I decided to video my first You Tube Video showing how to paint these ornaments.  I hope that you will watch the video and paint these up for your next show or for gifts for friends and family.  I hope that you will enjoy the video. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Patterns Available

When Art Mimics Life

Blooming Beauties

Coral Reef

Chicken Little


Spellbinder Witch

I have a number of new patterns available this week.  Phew, finally got them ready to go.  LOL.  All of these designs will be available at HOOT in the Ideal Wood Products Inc. booth, this company recently took over the Turns in Time company and will continue to produce top quality wood products which are all made in the USA.  Their products are fantastic and such a delight to paint on.  I look at so many of these and they just make me smile.  I think that these patterns are really cute and I had a blast painting them.  Take a look and let me know what you think.  All of these are available on my website