Friday, December 19, 2014

When Christmas Comes to the Living Room.

My life has been so busy with Christmas:
crafting, wrapping, baking,...

repeating to my five year old how many more days until Christmas several times each day.

It seems a big job to decorate the house,
but it makes everything have that special "Christmas spirit."

It is so much fun turning the mantel into a vision of snow and evergreens.

This year, my twelve year old wanted her carolers that I painted for her a few years ago on the mantel;

so we put the other carolers we had on as well.

A vintage sled filled a spot where we had gathered some trees I made a few years back
from cereal boxes painted with Plaster of Paris in white paint,
and two that were made from another recycled idea of inverted coffee bags snipped and wrapped around a cone form.  They came during a time when I wanted unusual looking trees and decided to rummage the cupboards for an idea.

(Why is it coffee seems to come to mind when I feel the need to think?)

 I let the kids decorate the piano
(pretty much, although I did hide away a few too many of the things they had crowded there).

Violet set a section of home-made snowmen together with a bunch of trees and a fence
and then strung some lights across it to brighten them.

 Her school table is behind the piano,
a festive place to have to work.

We decided to save a little money this year and bring the artificial tree down from the attic.
We all love rekindling the friendship from Christmases past,
placing it down in the living room with us again.

After everything has been set up,
it is a nice place to sit and relax and remember the real meaning of Christmas,
the sweet birthday of that tiny baby in the manger,
the King of Kings.

Then it's back out to the easel to try to finish one more Christmas present.

Thanks for stopping by today
and have a Merry Christmas!

Sharing with all the other fun Christmas home tours at:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Wreath from a Wool Jacket and a Cereal Box.

 It is hard to believe the Christmas season is here!
Is your home festive and merry?

It's a work in progress at our home, but a cheerful one that the kids are happy to help with.

I had a few bags full of wool jackets in various colors I got at the end of a summer yard sale:
2 for $.25 because nobody wanted to load them up to take them home again.
I was happy to find a great assortment of colors, and all wool!
I'm sure they were happy I showed up and took that trash bag full that I did.

I had gotten them to make braided wool rugs,
planned on one for my room and one for the girls' room,
but they've gone into several other projects while the rugs have lingered at the back of my mind.

The wreath I made is now wearing the red jacket. :)

 I cut the jacket into strips and tied them around the wreath form.

The fun part of a wreath is dressing it in possibilities:

Sparklings beads and a glittered greenery pick;

Natural pinecones;

 A winter scene on the wreath...

with possibly a snowman made from plaster of Paris pom-poms;

Greenery and bells that have been made to look old by plaster of Paris mixed with black/brown paint
(I explain the process >HERE<);

 Real Greenery and a rustic rope;

Adding a beaded ornament for an accent or some old sparkly garland

or some home-made ornaments.

I decided to use some decorations I had made from an empty cereal box.
 I cut squares and then fringed them and curled the fringes with a pencil.
A coating of Plaster-of-Paris mixed with white paint stiffened them;
some glue and glitter finished them and a jingle bell glued in the center.

It's a happy thing to have a festive wreath...

 and it probably looks much better as a wreath than waiting to become a rug anyway.

Sharing with other great wreath ideas over at the Nester's blog,
and at:

By Stephanie Lynn

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!