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!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Creating a Garden Patio

Hi, all!

  I got my bee picture that I've been working on done, but I haven't taken a picture of it yet.  I will make time for it tomorrow.

  Meanwhile, I worked on creating a patio area off of our porch for those picnicking days of summer to come.

  We have a picnic table that we only seem to use twice a year:
during our annual plant sale where the "cash registering" gets done,
and when the kids suddenly get the urge to have a picnic supper (and I happen to be willing to haul it all out to the middle of the yard).

  I decided the table might be used more if it was closer to the kitchen.

  When I thought on where the best place for that to be was, I turned to this place.

  Location is key when choosing where to have a patio.  I noticed that my kids and I all seem to try to lay claim to the seat toward the end of this porch each morning because the early morning sun comes up on this side and it's warmth is so sweet in the morning.  By afternoon, this space has a gentle shade and by evening, the shade is complete.

  The porch is also right off the kitchen, so hauling foods and utensils wouldn't be too hard to do from this distance.

  So it seemed that this place was the best place for a picnic patio...
which meant removing all the plants that seemed to grow exceptionally well here.

The first thing I felt I needed to do was extend this garden.

  The ground is so good here, so little rock and just thick, brown dirt.  It was very easy to dig and flip off the sod, so I chose to go that route.

  (For many of my other gardens where the ground has been too hard to dig and work with, I just laid a thick layer of newspaper (probably 4-5 pages thick) right on the ground and then shoveled good dirt I have from our rotted manure dirt pile right onto the newspaper.  Once completely covered, I would then top it off with mulch and hose it all down good.  In a few weeks, I found I could plant into it  Of course, I didn't always want to wait that long, so sometimes I made holes in the newspaper where I wanted the plants and planted them right away, but then I had to battle weeds that also poked through around those areas.)

  I used my hose to create a rough line of where I wanted the edge of the garden extension to be.

  (The hens like to keep me company while I dig and overturn the grass and then shake out the sod before removing it because there were plenty of earth worms and grubs to scurry after.)

   The digging of the extension took about 2 days of work, in between dealing with the kids and other normal interruptions.

  I began removing the plants that were in this place, digging each variety up and separating each plant into many plants, potting them up so that I can replant smaller version in new spaces and sell the rest next spring.  They will have time to grow and fill in the pots til then.

  We had a number of old terracotta drain pipes up in one of the cow fields where an old corn bin had been.  It seemed a shame for them to sit out there not being used, so I hauled as many as weren't broken down to the area.

At first, I thought I might use them for edging...

but did not like the way they looked and worried one of us would twist our ankles on them.

I next tried them as a type of dividing wall coming down the garden.

I dug a trench and partly buried them to make them secure.

There were extra, so I moved them the other side of the garden to create a small wall there as well.

The plants all removed and the walls up, I then called in some help to prepare for the table.
(It is always nice to have a helping hand willing to give of his busy day with a happy smile and song on his lips...

okay, I may be stretching it a little,
but his help really was appreciated).

We leveled the ground somewhat, removing dirt to be used elsewhere.

I had two old rugs in the shed that I had saved for a project like this.  They had been used in rooms where the dogs often laid on them (before the dogs were restricted to just the basement den).  They had just gotten to the point of no return.

We laid these out as a type of weed barrier.

The table was moved in, and immediately, I could see that it will have much more use in this space.

With the few extra drain pipe pieces, legs were made for this "bench."

(There is a granite counter top business in town that lets us take some of their broken pieces).

I still need to finish planting everything where I want it, and my daughter wants a little part of this garden for herself.

I can see evidence of her play here.

For now, I hope it will turn out to be worth all the effort.

Here is the before picture:

And here it is at the moment:

I will be by again soon with painting techniques;...
just need to make sure all the dirt is off these hands.

Thanks for stopping by!