Monday, January 30, 2012

A Deer and a Snake

This is my painting from this weekend, A Deer and a Snake. It's 9x12 acrylic on bristol paper.

A nice person on the internet site suggested that I try painting on a surface smoother than canvas, so I did. It was nice not to fuss with the little dimples inherent in canvas.

I'm pretty happy with the composition and the color palette. Though, if I painted this over again, I might take the time to draw out and paint in each little leaf on the trees individually in a thick double coat. But, I think I'm happy enough with this that I'll leave it alone and take my lesson on to the next painting.

The mister got the creative bug at 2:00am Sunday morning and started singing his heart out in his not-sound-proof studio, so I was up too. With not much else to do at such an indecent hour of the morning, I got several new paintings sketched out -- all on bristol. A little robot and a portrait of a panda bear are now on the docket for this week! I'm crossing my fingers that they look as cute painted as they do sketched in pencil!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ode to Shortbread

When I visited London, the hotel I stayed in left a little free treat basket in the closet that they refilled each day. Since I was desperately short on funds during my stay, I pretty much survived on that basket alone. It contained little packets of fake coffee (better than no coffee at all! But I looked for the mini coffee pot for 20 minutes with the packet clenched in my caffeine deprived fist before realizing that it was reconstituted and meant to be mixed with water, not brewed), hot cocoa, mints, and shortbread.

Oh, shortbread. How is it possible I'd never encountered this miracle biscuit before? I fell in love. It is food for the gods!

With no generous hotel staff to sneak a constant supply into my house each day, I have since learned to make my own. I was shocked at how easy and simple it is to make something so delicious.

Quite Delicious Shortbread Biscuits
1 cups butter, softened, not melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
Stir in vanilla.
Mix in flour.
Roll out dough between two sheets of plastic wrap (to prevent sticking).
Cut into charming little shapes of your choosing.
Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until some of them start to look slightly golden around the edges.
Dip daintily in coffee and then devour them all ravenously.

Monday, January 23, 2012

DIY Paperback Book Covers

Pretty DIY Paperback Book Covers
Attractive book displays in design blogs and magazines often have perfectly color coordinated books on their shelves. But, if you're a reader, you might be aware that "shades of red" is not an actual genre of book and color coordination is not a commonly accepted method of cataloging one's collection. I love beautiful rooms, but I've even seen a blog that suggested turning your books around with the spines facing inward and my head nearly exploded.

But, there is hope for those of us with a love for elegant aesthetics and our paperback book collections.

These book covers are easy and attractive, made from the paper bags you get from the grocer and wrapped the same way you once had to wrap your textbooks for school. With bits of left-over scrapbook paper for eye-garnish and nicely typed titles and authors, this project is an ideal way to make your paperback collection a lot more sightly. The jackets can be removed if desired (who would want to permanently deface a book, even if it is somewhat ugly?). And, best of all, it's thoroughly inexpensive.

DIY Recycled Paper Book Covers

1. Wrap your paperback books in brown paper. If you find yourself needing a reminder how this is accomplished, I found this YouTube video to be quite good.

2. Pick a lovely pattern of scrapbook paper or wrapping paper and cut to fit across the front and spine.

3. Type (or print or neatly write) your title, etc. on the pretty paper.

4. Glue onto brown paper cover.

5. Place with pride back onto shelf.

Thank you for visiting my blog! Don't forget to stop by my little shop for more pretty things before you go!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Make Good Decisions!

After I accidentally destroyed my new portrait this weekend, I wanted to paint something to remind myself to be more careful in the future. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Though, I don't think my portrait is curable.

The mister and I went to the movies some years ago and saw a carload full of tweens getting out of a mini van. Their mom shouted after them, "Have fun! And make good decisions!" I thought it was adorable.

I rather like this little guy, especially his dainty Peter Pan collar and precious green bow-tie. He's a bit Mother Goosey and a bit kawaii too. I hope you like him!

Have a happy week, and make good decisions!

Click on the top banner for my full blog, or follow the links on the left to explore! And, if you feel so inclined, stop by my shop for more cute things to hang in your house!

DIY Paper Pompom Garland

The Christmas decorations are finally down and it's not nearly time yet to start working on my flower garden... My house suddenly seems so plain. So, I made this paper pompom garland to add a little cheer and a little color while I'm waiting for spring to get here! Now I'm dreaming of making fantastically long garlands of these to decorate for a garden party as soon as it warms up a bit outside. I can imagine them perfectly, draped all about my pergola. It's actually quite easy if you'd like to give it a go. Have fun!

1. Supplies needed: Tissue paper, string, scissors.
2. Cut a wide strip, about 6-8" from the stack of tissue paper.
3. Cut this strip in half, lengthwise, so you have two stacks of tissue, roughly 8x10"

4. Using 8 pieces, fold tissue like an accordion.
5. Don't fret too much about being neat. It won't really matter.
6. Keep your tissue folded.

7. Cut the ends to make them rounded.
8. Cut two notches in the middle, one on each side, and tie your string around your folded tissue.
9. Leave the ends of the string, as you'll need them to tie your pompoms together.

10. Begin peeling the top piece of tissue away from the top of the stack, being gentle so you don't rip it.
11-12. Peel and fluff, peel and fluff, round and round you go!

13. Once the first tissue on the first side is peeled up, do the same to the other side.
14. Once the whole first layer is peeled up, flip over your stack and peel and fluff a layer from the bottom of the stack.
15. Repeat until all layers of tissue have been peeled apart and fluffed. Then, holding your pompom by the string, re-fluff any flat areas.

16. Now that your first pompom is done, make some more! I made 9 for my garland.
17. Get a piece of string as long as you'd like your garland and tie your pompoms on, using the strings you've left hanging out.
18. Hang your garland and enjoy!

Looking for something more to make your house even prettier? Perhaps a lovely picture for your wall!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Epic Fail: How to make bad painting decisions

My portrait ended in utter disaster and epic failure. After twelve hours of optimistic toil, she kept getting further and further away from what I wanted her to be, until in a fit of frustration and dissatisfaction, I defaced her entirely in one last effort to "fix" her. She wasn’t great, but now she is definitely ruined.

A Portrait Gone Wrong. Click for a closer look at miserable failure.

In an effort to shade her more subtly, I made her too purple and dark. In an effort to fix one eye, I ruined both. And, thinking this a good opportunity to fix the grayness of her skin, I mixed some earthier shades of beige and slathered it all over her pretty face. Maybe it's still salvageable, but I think I'd rather start over.

Finding my own style of human character paintings has been rather difficult so far. I want cute and soft, but expressive and rich. I want characters that can pose peacefully, play with bunnies, rule imaginary kingdoms, escape from the lairs of dragons, read books quietly in an old library, and ride swans across enchanted lakes. Beautiful, versatile, and consistent. I have a long way to go and I'm likely to ruin a lot of paintings along the way. But, I'd rather fail epically occasionally than to have never tried.

Back to the drawing board. Literally.

Not all my paintings end in blobs of muddled paint. heartbreak, and disappointment (thank goodness!). Take a peek at my gallery and pop over to my little shop, where I keep my not so awful creations!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Craft Painting Roses

I don't think of my paintings as decorations. They may decorate someone's walls, but I hope there is more to them than that. Craft painting, though, is meant entirely as decoration and normally relies on formulas. Think roses on trinket boxes or a pattern painted on a tabletop, or a vine and pansies painted on a glass bottle. I have nothing against craft painting, but it's never seemed particularly relevant to me and what I do. Until now.

You see, I'm working on a rather large portrait of a girl and I'd like for her to be standing in front of a wall with pretty rose patterned wallpaper. So, I needed to learn to make said roses. A lot of them. Quickly. And all about the same shape and size. Without agonizing over each one.

I turned to YouTube and found this amazing video. And, voila! Here are my very first craft painting roses! Each rose takes about 15 seconds from start to finish.

Obviously, I'll take more care with their blending when incorporating them into a final painting, but I still don't imagine they'll take more than a minute each. I can live with that. I'm now thinking of all sorts of uses for my new skill, most of which involve covering all of my walls and furniture with painted roses. But, I'm trying to resist for the Mister's sake.
And, I shall not show you the large painting until it's complete, but here's a tiny little peek of my girl: 

Portrait of a Girl with Book, early draft sneak peek.

Do you notice the little ringlets by her cheek? How terribly exciting! She still needs an awful lot of work before she's entirely presentable, but I hope to get her done by the end of this holiday weekend. 

Until next time, please visit my gallery or shop (you know, to keep the dream alive and feed a starving artist)!

Friday, January 6, 2012

From Sketch to Finish No. 1: Kitty Cat

Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been? 
I've been to London to visit the Queen.

I've never drawn a house cat before. Isn't that strange? For each new thing one draws, there is a bit of a learning process. You think you know how a thing looks, so you draw it and realize quickly that you didn't really know. 

Then, you find reference photos and accidentally spend three hours looking at cute kittens on google. 

Next, you draw more cats that may or may not look like your reference photos. But, you start to really see what a cat is about. 

Then, you start playing with shapes as you adapt your kitty to your own style, hoping against hope these atrocious pictures will never appear online. The expression "There are many ways to skin a cat" should have been "There are many ways to butcher a drawing of a cat."

But, eventually, something nice happens on your page, so you keep it and keep on sketching.

Finally, you grow tired of sketching, pull out your canvas, and work out the rest of your snags and tangles with paint, which can be layered to hide your less successful moments. I think he turned out pretty solid in the end:

  I think I shall have to draw more cats. I'm allergic to and suspicious of the real thing, but they are rather attractive animals. Happy Paint Party Friday!

Another cat I made from these sketches. This guy's already in my shop as a super cute postcard.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The White Tree

The White Tree
I'm not fond of New Year's resolutions, so I don't make them anymore. But, if I were to have made one, it would have been to paint more frequently. Instead of resolving to paint, I sat down and painted.

This is my first new painting of the new year! I wanted to paint something very Januaryish. I love the pale branches with the deep red fruits. I might have to do more in this color scheme.

I also painted a little black cat with a pretty bow-tie. But, his head came out fairly malformed. Really, it looks like his brain is in danger of exploding through his skull. So, I think I shall work on him a bit more before posting him. When he is less ugly, I'll show him to you.

Tomorrow night I'm expecting a rather large box of new goodies from my printer for the little shop. I'm pretty excited to have a full wall of lovely pictures finally. I hope you'll stop by to see it!