Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More Year of the Doodle Art Play

I'm still loving my Year of the Doodle planner/art journal.    I love the small size for each day, the beginning backgrounds, and the prompts.  Well, most of the prompts- sometimes I ignore them and do my own thing.

I turned the splotches of color into  little  birds, adding a few more with watercolor pencils so I'd have a whole flock.

I continue playing with doodling.   I'm reading Danny Gregory's The Creative License and appeciating his reminder to draw what you see, not what you think you see.    It is interesting that when you really look at something, it is often not quite the way you see it in your mind .

It's no secret that I love Vivian Swift's art and blog.  In a recent post she explained how she paints teacups, making the tea in the cup lighter at the far rim  as that's the way it is when you look at it.  Sure enough - again, what you think it is isn't always how it really it.   I'm trying to really look at things as I try to draw and , who knew, it makes my drawing more realistic.

The picture on the right started out as the watercolored squares - so fun to turn them into faces!

As if this book isn't fun enough, our Montana grand  loves working in hers.  I love anything that helps me stay connected to this far-away sweetie.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earth Works by Nancy R. Hugo - A Review

I love to read gardening books during the winter;  they remind me of gardens of summers past and give me hope for gardens of summers future.   I don't read how-to gardening books, but rather books about gardens written by gardeners about the good, the bad and the ugly experiences in their gardens. 

Old books about gardens are the best - another winter read was  Garden Open Today by Beverly Nichols ,  published in 1963.  How else would I know that in the 1960s  the Fire Department  (at least in charming old England) would come and hose out the gunk from your garden water feature?   Pretty sure even in England this charming service is no longer available.   Mr. Nichols thinks that every garden should have a "water feature"- maybe our back 40 swamp can be re-branded !

Back to  Earth Works by Nancy Hugo - what a delight!    The book is a month-by-month treasure of gardening insights, opinions, and just great writing.    She starts by recommending old gardening books, beginning with my favorite,  Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katherine White that I talked about here.

I like people with opinions and this book is full of them.  On hollyhocks: " Grow the single- flowered ones, not the doubles.  A double-flowered hollyhock is like a 7-foot man who's changed his hairstyle to attract attention".    For July :  "What most gardeners want in July are flowers that need no attention.  They want flowers they can smile at on the way to the air-conditioned car".  Her go-to flower for July is Echinacea, one of my all-time favorites. 

From our back garden - sans water feature!

It's not all snappy comments - I learned that toads don't drink water, they absorb it through their skin. And that the American lawn is the largest crop in the world, using more fertilizer than all of India and Africa do.  Any one who has seen our lawns knows we are most definitely NOT contributing to that scary stat!    I also got a recommendation for a plant for our problematic front slope,  Fire Pink,  that apparently isn't fussy about its growing conditions.   It does have the downside of being red  (I have opinions, and one of them is that most red flowers are hideous), but since I can't really see the slope from the house, I may give them a whirl.

I'm going to go though Ms Hugo's list of "must-reads', looking for her  sure-sign of a great one - a dried pressed flower between the pages.

Friday, April 15, 2016

DIY Beach Art

I've been staring at a blank wall while I drink my morning coffee.  The Captain brings coffee to me in bed - surely one of life's special luxuries!  I haven't been able to find anything to hang between the windows until I saw beach-y scenes painted on pallet boards all over Pinterest.   

I've had my eye on an old pallet leaning against the neighbor's garage that I thought I could use, but then on a recent trip to Hobby Lobby*,  I found these:

The Captain hooked the two together to make the perfect size for my beach.

Here are the paints I used.  I watered them down to just make a wash of color and mixed things up as I went along.  The goal isn't full coverage, just a wash so the wood underneath shows through.

A watery mix of tan and white made the sand at the bottom.

And then washes of light-to-dark blue for water.

A very light blue for the sky with some pounces of diluted white to suggest clouds, a bit of brown along the edges and my beach art was done.

This is my new morning coffee view,  and I love it.

* I don't usually go to Hobby Lobby because, as Snoopy's brother Spike said about his girlfriend, "We have religious differences".   I like religion and shopping widely separated  and employees not subject to employer's idea of what kind of health care should be covered - not the case for either at HL.  

Friday, March 25, 2016

Easter Egg Delivery, Thanks to the USPS

Pinterest is full of posts about what you can send in the mail, like those little boxes of Mike and Ikes, tote bags, and  plastic Easter eggs.   I'm working to up my mailing game, so  eggs are a good place to start.   

I found these big ( "UUUUGE!")  eggs at the Dollar Store.  Pretty sure you could mail smaller ones,  but probably not the tiny, real egg sized ones.    Then the fun -- filling them with Easter goodies.   Since these are going to Texas where it has already hit 80°,  I had to look for non-melty things.  Sadly that meant no chocolate goodies!

Sweet Baby James is a bit young for an overload of  candy, so he gets a chewy toy and a tiny board book, plus a couple of Peeps for fun.   I wrapped the book in a baggie just in case the Peeps melted in the heat!   Added some stamped chicks and grass to a tag and Egg #1 ready to go.

 Then I taped on the lid, using wide packing tape and going around it twice.

Second egg filled, taped and ready to go.  William got all candy- no book filler.

These carrot cards make a perfect and Easter-ish mailing label.  The back side is really a playing card - another Dollar Store find a few years ago.

I packed up my eggs and headed to the Post Office, wondering if I would be  laughed at and sent packing with my eggs.   Wrong!   The clerk didn't even hesitate,  telling me that people mail all sorts of things  - like coconuts from Hawaii to the folks back home.   All the clerks came over to check the eggs - my apologies to the guy in line behind me who clearly wasn't in the Easter spirit!   Our local Post Office is the best at humoring my crazy mailings.

Here's the egg, getting the official Post Office mailing label.     I do wonder why the dang thing has to be so big !   It cost about $4.50 to mail each egg - a bargain for this much fun and guaranteed delivery before Easter.  (This clerk is so fashionable - check out the glittery gold nails).

Success!  The eggs made it to Texas without cracking or coming apart!  Here they are hiding in the boys' mom's car until she can spirit them into the house without prying little eyes.

One more egg to do, but we get to deliver Montana grand's egg in person - yippee!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Easy DIY Envelopes

(My sweetie and me at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  Note that she is writing in her journal !  )

I am now officially pen pals with my Montana granddaughter,  so I've been looking around for some ideas to up my letter- writing game.

I like the idea of handmade envelopes, but not the fussing with a template, measuring, folding, and then still coming up with a wonky-looking envelope.  The problem might be that I'm not good with precise measuring, exact cutting - the whole accuracy thing.

Then  I came across this blog post by Catherine McEver with what looked like a method that even I could master - no measuring, no marking cuts - just fold, crease and eyeball the cutting- a system made for me.

I gathered up some papers - magazine and book pages,  scrapbook papers, and some Gelli prints and got started.

Here, straight from  Catherine, are the directions.  (Since starting this blog, I've learned that it isn't easy to write clear instructions, so I'm shamelessly using hers and giving her the credit!).  The how-to pics are hers, too.

"Start by leafing through your book(s) and ripping out pages you think would create interesting envelopes. Create an envelope template out of a sheet of cardboard, cutting it to the size you would like your envelopes to be. ( I used an old mailer for my template - cereal box cardboard would work well, too).  Place the template on the page, and try to position it over the most interesting portion of the page. This is going to be the front, featured section of your envelope. Make sure to leave at least one inch space on left and right sides of the page (these will be your side flaps), about 1.5 or 2 inches on top (this will be your top flap, sealed after you insert a letter), and enough space on the bottom so that when you fold the page, the edge of the page reaches the top of your template. If you're working with a large page and you end up with the bottom edge of the page overshooting the template, just trim it. You may also trim sides or top as desired. There is no need to measure anything! This is all freehand and eyeball work.

Proceed to fold the page over the template as shown below, as if you were wrapping a package. Again, no need for perfection. The colors and printing on the envelope mean that it's very forgiving visually.

Now unfold, remove template, and then refold the page the opposite way so that the graphic side is showing. Press seams firmly - you want to be able to see these folds for the next step.

Unfold again and open up sheet with the wrong side facing you. The lines on the page below are drawn only for instructional purposes  to show you where and how to cut out the envelope. Again, you don't have to do any measuring or drawing. All of this is done freehand.

Your fold lines become your eyeball cutting guide (though you probably want to take care not to cut your eyeballs). I find it's quickest and easiest to do each of these four (A through D) as one cut. For example, I start cutting up along the A foldline, and when I reach the horizontal fold line, I just pivot the scissors slightly on the diagonal and complete the cut. I want to stress again that there is no need for perfection, no need for the diagonal cut angles to perfectly match, no need for any measuring or drawing. Just cut

Now you're ready to glue your envelope together, which involves simply gluing the two side flaps. Make sure you cover the outer edge of the flap with glue, and glue to within a quarter inch or so of the fold.

Flip your envelope over, fold each of the side flaps inward, and bring the bottom section up and on top of the side flaps. Press and smooth with your hand."

I  got carried away and made 43 envelopes!   This is addictive and a great activity to do while watching TV if you need to justify all that couch -sitting.  Another benefit - using up some of that scrap book paper that no longer speaks to you - and some pages from all those books you accumulate for art projects.

Some of the envelopes above are made with pages from Somerset art magazines.   These are for personal use only; I'm not trying to pass off someone else's art work as my own.

I made a template for a legal size envelope and made some of those, too.

I played with how to make a space for the address.   I stamped a handmade tag stamp on some.  I used a combination of white ink and Distress Paint Picket Fence and it took several times to get enough coverage.  Maybe a more opaque white would work better.  

Sometimes you get lucky with the paper and there's already a spot for the address - like the birdie in the bathtub one above.  Can't wait to write the address on the tub!  

Then I raided my stash of labels - lots easier!  I just ordered some full-sheet labels from Amazon so I can make some free-form, torn edge labels.

My plan is to just glue the flap to close the envelope, but might play with using washi tape or envelope glue.

Now no piece of paper or magazine or book is safe from the "that would make a great envelope" assessment.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Collaborative Work on Canvas by William and Yaya, 2016

Our grandson, William, made this abstract painting that I've had hanging in my art space.   I look at it a lot, and lately I began to see a bird in his painting- the purple and orange wings and the branch-like swoosh at the bottom.  Today I brought our bird to life!

I made a copy and played with it before tackling (and maybe ruining) the original.  I added a little additional line to the purple wing, continued  the red outline, and added birdie-essentials like legs, an eye and beak, and voila, our birdie appeared.

This isn't our first collaboration.  Here we are making a shirt for the 4th of July.

And here he is, working on another masterpiece.

This fat budgie makes me smile every time I look at it!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Year of the Doodle Update

I'm still loving this book.   Each day has a prompt or some starting artwork.  I usually follow the prompts, but sometimes go off on my own.  I added in some receipts to the day's trip to Boston to my whimsical flowers.

I cheated here - these faces were in a recent Somerset magazine.  I added some color and details  and this quote that worked with borrowed art.

I'm also following the DLP 2016 Unplanner group, but using this book as my planner.  Feb 1st DLP challenge was to let someone make a mark in your planner.   Since I am not really good at following directions, I used this page from an old French language text, so technically someone else did make these marks.  Don't you just love that handwriting?  A swipe of Gelato added some color.  I like using Gellatos in my journals because they don't add much moisture, so no buckling.  I just swipe on the color and spread it with a baby wipe.

The idea of the book is to practice doodling.   I've expanded that to include  lettering practice.  I do try to do some doodling, too.

Sometimes I use stamps, like this Tim Holtz coffee mug.

I spend lots of time in this book - I often go back in and add some doodling or color, and to be honest, sometimes have to cover up a disaster and start all over.   This is easily the best art book I've bought in a long time!

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