Monday, September 15, 2014

Our Useful Porch: Living Room/School Room

I finally got the school room rearranged and organized for the start of the school year a couple weeks back and am making time to share them today.

For some reason, there is something about having a "new" room to go to that makes the first day of home-schooling seem more like a new place to be.

The new set-up gives useful separate areas for the different needs this porch room fills.

We moved the table up against the wall in front of the bright windows.

I love the long table: it offers a lot of elbow room.
The bottom was an outdoor table that the glass broke out of
and we found the wooden top to replace it on Craig's List.

On one end of the table I put needed supplies in separate containers...

and am hoping they will stay separated long enough to make the effort worth it.

 It seems I/we can keep things more organized when we have enough containers and storage spaces.
I especially like baskets because not only do they look quaint,
the handles make them easier for kids to carry.

A big basket of markers on the floor seems harder to lose than a generalized plastic box
(or maybe it just stands out to these eyes that seem to miss things that appear too ordinary...

"Scream at me, markers, where are you?")

 I have read over and over that if the artist in me ever wants to get much of my own projects accomplished, I need to set up a distinct place that is mine
and a distinct time to work there.

 At least with my easel and desk set up here, I can view the television to catch an evening movie while I work, or get a few strokes in at the easel while seat work is going on.

I like to repeat using some colors/boxes for storage.  Somehow, this makes me "feel" more organized;
but then allowing for some different basket containers makes it seem more inviting.

I also have found it helpful to keep a different child's books on different shelves.
My 5 year old's school books are on the second shelf,
my 7 year-old's school books are on the bottom shelf.
My supplies are on the very top and the first shelf holds some school games.

 I also think it's fun to employ old pieces of furniture to hold things.


The top part of this piece came out of our barn.
The bottom is a dresser that was missing the two large lower drawers.

Painting them the same color helped bring them together.

The large crate beside it holds my oldest daughter's school books.

 The top part holds my things: some of my favorite tea cups as well as sewing supplies and some ink supplies for artwork.

 The bottom behind the curtain holds some of my teacher books and art pads;
a fabric box full of extra reading to go with our year of schooling: 
one for my son and the other for my daughter.

 There are also my special art markers in a basket and a box tin full of CD's underneath the cupboard.
A smaller bookshelf hidden partially under my sewing machine cupboard has art supplies for the kids to use.

Isn't it a necessity to keep a good amount of green plants around to make it seem like the outdoors isn't too far away?
(Or to put it simply: I love plants!)

The other side of the room is set up for relaxing to read books, or watch a movie in the evening,
or, occasionally, to watch something educational.
I worried the fuzzy wool off-white rug would be hard to keep in this room,
but I took a risk and got it,
hoping it would make this part of the room feel more welcoming.
I am glad a fellow blogger gave the advice that stretching to take a small risk like this doesn't need to be such a scary thing to do; so I took a small bit of my kitchen money I had set aside
(and that was not going to happen this year),
and I bought a few rugs during a good sale at USA Rugs,
weighing in that the immediate warmth they would give to our home was worth the extra wait toward the kitchen.
  I have been so happy with the results).

My son's bearded dragon on the other side of the room enjoys having the constant flow of traffic throughout this room, I'm sure.

Now we can hit the books...

and paintbrushes!

Thanks for stopping in for our tour.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Art Lesson: Chalk Pastel Daylily


My life lately seems to revolve around ducklings and chicks, gardening, weeding, and picking berries...

and more berries...

and more berries.

We have had an abundance of the tiny finger fruits: black raspberries and now wineberries.
I have been freezing them so that when the fall comes and it is cooler, I can make some jellies and berry syrup.

We have picked and frozen well over 50 quarts of berries...our freezer is getting full!

The other day I just had the urge to get back to art again;
so I threw my to-do list aside and grabbed my pastels and paper and took a seat out in front of whatever I saw that looked pretty and inspiring.

 This decorative maple with the garden decoration looked nice to me.

 Crocosmia are starting to bloom inside it.

I started a rough sketch of it...

and added a few details.

I was suddenly needed inside the house by one of the little people, so I set the sketch down and ran in.

By the time I came back from the situation (as well as a few distractions along the way),
I noticed a small summer drizzle had started and when I got to my paper, it looked like this:

 I was feeling like I did not want to continue with such a large sketch anyhow,
and by this time, one of the kids had followed me and decided she wanted to create some artwork, too.

 As we prepared to share the pastels, I found a pretty daylily flower I decided to sketch.

 Isn't it superb?  I just love the colors of daylilies!

 I lightly sketched the outline of the bloom with pencil on my paper.
(I had chosen to do the sketch on yellow paper, trying to capture the yellow of the inner part of the flower.)

I decided to use the over-layment of tracing paper trick to get the main veins of the petals etched in.

 This creates a sunken line that will avoid the colors as they are put down.

 I started with a light pink on the petals, a light green inside the center, and a touch of yellow surrounding the green.  I like to start light and build up the colors from there.

 By this time, another artist had joined our group and she began creating.

 (I was hoping her art depiction would in reality leave us alone for the rest of the day).

I continued to add colors to my bloom, trying to build up to the colors I could see in the flower.

It is always more fun when everybody joins in on creating a few sketches of art.
Finally, my son could not resist the crowd that had gathered around the picnic table covered in pastels.

Of course, his art always seems to revolve around dinosaurs and dragons.

 Taking pictures of everybody else's artwork meant I was asked to take one of hers,
except she can never resist making a face,...

 but eventually, she can't help letting a smile out.

 Finally, I got my sketch to the point where I felt it was done and I decided I would stop and spray fixative on all of our work.

Chalk pastels are so much fun to create with and I felt happy that the blossom turned out as well as it did for just a random afternoon sketch.

I think the best part about this artistic endeavor however, was the fun memories all the artists came and made with me.

How about you?  Have you taken a break and sketched something in your July days?
If not, there are a few more days left, so see if you can take a few minutes to get something sketched...
you'll be glad you did!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Curtains: A Fun, No-Sew Fix.


I have been working on a bunch of different projects but haven't completed most of them, 
so I went looking through the photos I have in my files and found this easy project I did to transform the curtains in my daughters' room.

The girls had picked out some very long sheer turquoise panels with embroidery and sequins on them.
We could only find four of them, and there are three windows in the room.
Knowing that they were only going to be for decorative purposes and not to be closed up at all,
I bought them and decided to cut them in half, with one extra curtain left to make a valance across the center of each 
(which did require sewing, but if valances had been available, this step could have been skipped).

I could tell that these were completely synthetic and the fabric would melt if heat was applied.

 The curtains were about 3 feet too long for the windows, so I cut the length to the windows.

Then I took what was left and cut strips in different widths from about 3 inches to 5 inches or so.

I took the strips and began to pinch them up to gather them, accordion style.

When the entire strip had been gathered up, I pinched it together.

 With some turquoise thread cut to about 10 inches long that I had thickened by folding it over on it itself about six times it's normal self, I tied the folded material in the middle.
(I wanted the long extra string so that I could tie them onto the curtains later.)

When this was knotted well, I pulled the folds out to create a poof.

 I continued creating poofs until I had used up all the left-over material, making about 60 poofs
(this is great to do while watching a movie with your husband, especially a war one.
I may be speaking from experience).

 To seal the edges of the poofs, I lit a candle and lightly held the edges over the flame until I could see they had begun to melt.

 The poof on the left has not had the edges melted.
The one on the right has been finished.

 Next, I cut 4 inch wide strips lengthwise into the sheers that were going to be used as the actual curtain panels 
 and then lightly sealed the edges of each strip over the candle flame.

(This made the curtains each have three hanging strips to each one.)

 (The hem of the panel could have been melted as well, but I chose to actually hem these up.)

I then tied the poofs at intervals on the different strips of the panel.

Toward the middle of the curtains, I tied two strips of the curtain together in one poof, and then below that toward the base, I tied the other with one of them into a poof, so that the curtain had more of a unified look instead of looking like strips.

This created a fun, fuller look for the girls room and added a bit of character to the panels.

Because everything was sealed with the candle flame or fastened tightly with knots for the poofs, these curtains will be washable on the gentle setting.

Adding artistic touches to the home is rewarding because it makes your home unique and special to you and your family and it is almost as fun as creating art it on paper...
almost. :)

(You can see more of the my daughters' room in my home tour  >HERE<).

Have you added any personal touches to your home lately?
I'd love to hear about them!

(If you have any questions, let me know.  Explaining this process was a challenge, but I hope it made sense).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Art Lesson: Shading Water with Watercolors.


Today I am going to post a video I made a while ago and just never got it on the blog.
I was working with watercolors, a picture of a cat drinking from a pond
(it was actually something I was working on for a book I had written hoping to get published,
but have put that on the back burner for now while I am working on something more pressing).

The original picture of the cat had much more detail in the water of the sky and the trees overhead,
but I chose to just shade some of the ripples around the cat drinking and leave the rest whites and grays.

Here I will show you how I worked on shading the ripples.

 That is all I am going to share today.  I do hope to be back again really soon!

I hope this was helpful for somebody.
It is fun to work with watercolors and it seems that the more one works with them
the more confident and fun one can have with them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Art Lesson: Drippy Watercolors

Hi there!

I decided it was time to get these pictures of the bee picture on here.

I wanted to do a bit of experimenting with letting the watercolors be bold, loose, drip down the canvas.

Here is one I loved of a butterfly from a shop on Etsy by Dean Crouser.

Also, the beautiful, colorful artwork of Slaveyka Aladjova which can viewed at her esty shop here:

(I think the lion, horse heads, cow, and rooster are my favorites.  FANTASTIC!)

I wanted so much to create a beautiful piece like these, so I used the bee sketch that I partially outlined with ink, took a picture of it,
and then printed up 4 or 5 copies of it onto cardstock paper to experiment before I completed the large canvas.

I started by using masking fluid on the areas I wanted to keep lighter or white.

On my first try, I was very careful and conservative and basically just painted without letting any of the paint get too drippy.

For the next image, I decided to brush water all over the areas I was about to paint,...

and add the paint right away, letting it drip and wash where it wanted.

(I am a bit embarrassed to show this image as I obviously got impatient and the masking fluid was not completely dry and it ran down the wet paint.
I knew this was just a rough run-through of experiments that I would be throwing away,
so I was not as patient as I would be with a real canvas

One cannot rush the masking fluid.
I wiped it up with a bit of paper towel.)

I followed the same wetting down of the paper procedure before I painted on some yellow.

For my next sample, I wet the page down, but used less water, so it would not be quite so loose.

I did the same with the light blue.

I painted the pink on the petals with a fine brush.

I finished with a bit more detail and some loose green for the stems and leaves,...

and then added more wet colors for the dripping effect.


For the other pages, I basically continued experimenting with putting down washes,
letting colors drip, putting on heavier colors where I wanted more detail.

(heavier paint on flowers)

(cleaner, more bold colors)

(more warm colors, blended colors)

It was a fun experiment and I am glad I did them on the cardstock instead of going right to the canvas.

When it came down to it, I did not like the results I had achieved with the dripping watercolors enough to go through with them on my canvas,
at least, maybe for this scene.
I loved the images the other artists have done with this, but I am not ready to frame my own attempts, so I chose to go with what I was comfortable with for my canvas:
copic markers.

Here is what I chose to do, partially finished...

and this is where I decided to stop.

I enjoyed the dripping watercolor method and hope to try it again.

Have you ever given the drippy watercolor method a try?

Here is a video I found very useful for explaining the technique.

Thanks for stopping by and have an excellent day!