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.