March 30, 2009

Robin vs. Glass

Yesterday morning as I was sipping my coffee, I heard a loud thumping in the family room. At first, I figured it was the restless-spring-breaking kids bouncing themselves off walls. I chose to ignore since there wasn’t screaming. However as the thumping persisted, I decided an investigation was needed. Much to my surprise, I found this little guy staring at me through our picture window.

Over and over she/he would fly directly from branch into window with a loud thud. You would think after the tenth or say eleventh time he might give up and realize that there was indeed an invisible barrier between him and our family room…but no. This continued throughout the day and quickly went from amusing to annoying. Repeated attempts to shoo and explain, ‘hey bird, you’re flying into a window…somebody is going to get hurt and i’m not driving to the emergency room (end statement used interchangeably between bird and kids) did not deter this spring robin’s persistence.

Here’s our little friend giving the window the evil eye as in the end the glass came out victorious. Hopefully today this silly birdie has gone on to do more mainstream bird things so I can get out there and Windex one bird smudged-up window.
Filed Under: Uncategorized
March 26, 2009

PB and rain

After two solid days of rainy weather, I couldn’t take it any more. This called for action.

With two assistants/spring breakers on hand, we whipped up a batch of our favorite cookies.

shhhhhhh….my secret is to use a potato masher instead of a fork for the patterned tops. I experimented with other kitchen utensils way back here to make cookies that looked like these, but the potato masher is still my all time favorite.

Yes, the sky is definitely looking brighter now (not really…butwhocares…we have cookies in the house.) If you’re looking out at umbrella weather, may I strongly suggest some cookie therapy. It works for us.
Filed Under: baking
March 24, 2009

flashcards + paint = a PIF giveaway

As promised, here’s the second flashcard-inspired illustration I created over the weekend. This piece plays off the idea of paying it forward. And speaking of good deeds multiplying, I’ll send a free 8″ x 10″ good deeds multiply signed print to the first two commenters here. The only thing I ask in return is that you agree to play, which means that you also give something away on your blog. Positive multiplication. Happy Tuesday!
March 22, 2009

Free home addition

Subtracting can be a funny thing. Especially when you think about it in terms of cleaning out, decluttering, organizing, rethinking all of that “stuff.” Sometimes you have to subtract to add space, gain perspective and enjoy what you already have. Less IS more. Drawers, closets, maybe even a room can be added free of charge just for subtracting. I’m a big believer in the one bag in, two bags out rule. When one bag comes in from the thrift stores, yard sales or wherever else, I try to make sure I’m sending out an equal amount…better yet more.

An illustration about subtracting was the perfect opportunity to finally use the vintage flashcards I picked up a few months ago…decluttering the art related stockpile is another story by the way. It was the last day of this retreat, when instructor Michael deMeng announced to us eager students that we should look through and take anything we wanted from the shared mixed media goody pile. I spyed boxes of vintage flash cards and admittedly geeked out. I shoved them into my already overflowing supply bag while holding the art created in class plus my 50lb+ art bin. Well the cards spilled. Everywhere. Michael joked, “you’re losing your flashcards.” Which was really funny…since it was true literally and figuratively. I laughed, blushed a little and reasoned that he understood (artists and our cool junk) as I hurried to gather up the ever multiplying cards.

As I was finishing up the piece above, another idea came to me. While I was on my flashcard kick with numbers and signs floating around I went for it. More flashcard inspired art currently drying. I’ll be sure to add that piece later this week.
March 20, 2009

Start your engines

Last weekend I experienced my first ever Boy Scout Pinewood Derby. For those of you not familiar, a few weeks ahead of race day the scout is given a kit with a plain chunk of wood, wheels and axles to create a derby car. The idea to sculpt and design whatever your aerodynamic imagination dreams up (within a certain weight/size limit of course). Dad helped our scout with the sculpting and construction of the car. Brendan then marched up to my studio and together we planned out design.

Ed Emberley a.k.a. the master of children’s how-to-draw books provided major inspiration for “Frankensteins Fury” or “Fury” for short. Brendan painted his car monster green and rendered Frankenstein the Ed Emberley way.

After that, I introduced Brendan to my ever-growing rubber stamp collection. Going with the theme, we picked a cool skull and a spider to add more spookiness. Next, I showed him how easy it is to paint a spider web. The little wire+fiber antenna thingamabob was my idea..not really sure of the purpose, but it seemed to me that the Frankensteinmobile should have something weblike blowing in the breeze. Brendan searched for a lego steering wheel and put together a creepy little Lego driver from the lego surplus we have going on around here. After we attached those with hot glue, we were ready to burn rubber.

Race day was a complete S*H*O*C*K to me. Unfortunately my husband couldn’t attend, so with three kids, Frankenstein and numero uno cup of coffee we headed off for the race track. I left the pot on as I was expecting we’d be home from the festivities in a half hour…45 minutes at the most…really…how long could this last? I slowly began to get the gist that I may have underestimated things just a little when we walked in and saw the metal track running the length of the cafeteria. PLUS the electronic finishing system, the computerized standings board on a big screen and an eager Dad announcing that lunch would be served at 11:45 over the loud speaker. Definitely not in Kansas anymore Dorothy. Welcome to the Indianapolis Speedway. Even without my beloved second cup of coffee, I’ll admit that it was a thoroughly entertaining and exciting morning. As far as the standings, my little guy managed to finish sixth for speed overall (after 6 rounds of racing) and captured an honorable mention medal for best design. Not too bad for a rookie. Next year we’ll really be ready. And I’ll be bringing my second cup along.

Filed Under: kids, projects
March 15, 2009

Miss four finger’s pink pony

I can hardly believe that my youngest turns four today. That happened in the blink of a pink pony. Speaking of which, she had a really hard time deciding on a cake this year. First, she wanted last years cake. Then there was a stream of other ideas, finally deciding that the cake should indeed be a pony. I made the pony pink while she napped because everybody knows that a pony is pretty great, but a pink anything is 10 times better.

This is how the pony came together. Nothing too complicated…just a cake baked in a 9″ x 13″ pan…cut and pieced like so. I used different colors of butter cream icing and a variety of decorating tips to make things a little fancy, but I certainly don’t claim professional. Plus a four-year-old only naps for so long.

She practiced her new fingers today. All ready for someone to ask how old she is. Four fingers is much easier to hold up than three…go figure. Happy birthday sweetie. Enjoy your fourth year in which the best things are always pink.
Filed Under: baking, kids
March 10, 2009

the secret to happiness (well one of them anyway)

Don’t you feel all content inside when your coop…errrrr i mean…house is clean?? Not to be confused with the actual ‘cleaning of’, but you know what I’m talking about…the aftermath when everything is in order, nobody sticks to the kitchen floor and there’s not a dust bunny or stale crumb to be found. ahhhhhhhhhh…Happiness.

I took a trip across my studio into the craft supply closet to pull out a few tricks for this one. I reasoned that old latchhook canvas would be perfect for coop walls, as would raffia for nesting. Then I chose a funky paper for the hen. Yes, everything you see above was attached to canvas with some big dollops of matte medium. My paint brush took over from there. This silly hen print can be found over in my etsy shop. I’m thinking it’s a nice reminder to have hanging around for the rooster (and peeps if you have them.) Everybody knows there’s nothing worse than a grouchy hen.
March 9, 2009

A recipe for cupcakes

Here’s a book I’ve had my eye on for some time. I finally purchased and found myself completely inspired and totally excited about the possibilities of felting with cast-off wool sweaters. Mainly because I don’t knit and I’m pretty sure that I don’t have the knitting gene. I’ve tried several times and found knitting needles and yarn more stressful than soothing. But maybe, like running, I didn’t stick with it long enough to get into that zone I’ve heard about. Plus after my three year old got a hold of my in-progress scarf and pulled…well that marked the end of that.

Betz White put together a book filled with projects that even a beginner felter like myself can whip up with ease. The first step is to acquire a variety of wool sweaters. As luck would have it, it’s the perfect time of year to find them for a steal at thrift stores.

The only new material I had to buy was an assortment of felt balls. Pretty little things aren’t they?

Here’s a look at the treats I put together…the infamous cupcake pincushions from the cover. Maybe not as perfect as Betz’s, but satisfying just the same. Hope you’re having a sweet Monday!
Filed Under: crafts, projects
March 5, 2009

Fruits of labor

Here’s a peek at one of the bigger projects I’ve been working on over the past two months. I was commissioned to do a total of fifteen paintings for a Catholic Motherhouse cafeteria of fruits, vegetables and in one case flowers. I came up with the idea to incorporate Bible quotes that involved food and harvest in a modern, more unexpected way.

These are 18″ x 18″ paintings on gallery wood paneled canvases. I used a mixture of xerox copies, acrylic paints, matte medium and charcoal. The paintings have lots of earthy texture.

I finished wiring the last of the fifteen yesterday.Today, they all got a second coat of satin varnish. I’m actually kind of sad to be finished with the project. I absolutely loved taking a closer look at the subjects working to capture their simple beauty while translating into my mixed media style.

To keep parts of the passages showing through I used a rag and even my fingernail. The selective reveals also served as highlights.

Tomorrow I’ll be putting my designer hat back on as I tackle several projects lined up for the next few weeks. I so enjoy the variety of work I do. Much to be thankful for.
March 2, 2009

take this winter

i admit it. winter is getting to me. At least there are no signs of a monochromatic landscape on the inside. After getting my new toy for Christmas, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to settle anymore. Settle for the ordinary curtain pickings I was finding in stores. I might not be ready to take on zippers, but I can certainly sew a square panel. And so I present…my first long panel curtains made from six yards of Anna Maria Horner’s Garden Party fabric. What you’re seeing above is our second floor landing space. If I land anywhere, I think a garden party would be a nice spot to do so.

With my sewing machine on fire, I also took the time to whip up some funky flowers. These are sewn from muslin with a wooden dowel stuck in for the stem. Then I poured out the brightest, happiest paint palette I could and went to work. No more winter doldrums here. Have a bright Monday!

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