"life lately"

Dreaming of Gold

I've been seriously absent from this little piece of the internet, and I totally have no excuses.  Life hasn't been terribly exciting, and I've been away from the computer.  My days have been filled with babysitting my beautiful niece and nephew, making our own long weekends with great friends, travelling to see family and celebrate birthdays, and playing lots of video games.  Well, the hubs was playing lots of video games, and I was settling into the couch with knitting needles and crochet hooks.  I'm totally converting to the fuzzies of yarn, and definitely escaped the inks for a while.  

In the midst of all of this, two of our great friends got engaged over new years, and I've been blessed by being asked to join in the festivities through standing as a bridesmaid, as well as invite and paper goods designer.  Thankfully, it's brought me back to my desk for a little messy finger work.  One of the main colours of this wedding is going to be gold, and I'm totally falling in love with each shimmery bit of it.  I just want to make everything gold!  It's totally surprising, since I've always been a diehard anti-gold pro-silver girl, through and through.  But I think I'm completely converting.  Bring on the gold!  It's so so lovely!  Can't wait to share the final pieces after the wedding!  

Handmade Christmas Wrapping Paper and Gift Tags

I love paper, particularly brown craft paper (or even better?  that rosey brown butcher paper!)  I love cutting it up, writing or drawing on it, folding it, touching it, collecting...anything but getting paper cuts from it.  

The last couple years, I decided that I really wanted to just making my own wrapping paper, since buying it is sooo expensive, and sometimes the designs are so dumb.  Plus, it's more fun looking at stuff under the tree that has different textures or shininess, rather than all the red and green glossy sheets being the same.  Last year, I bought a $5 dollar huge roll of white paper from the kids craft section of Walmart, carved up some stamps, and made a clean and simple wrapping paper for all our gifts.  This year, I decided to return to a classic love, craft paper.  It's easy to find, at the post office, the dollar store, or again, just at Walmart.

I painted white stripes, pale green trees, frosty blue star bursts, and copper Xs.  I have plans to keep painting some more designs, using silvers and golds, metallic greens and maybe a little black here and there.  It's so easy to do!  I just clear off the kitchen table, spread out my paper and go to town.  After finishing the whole section covering the table, I wander off for a while to let it dry.  Then I just roll it up a bit, and reveal a new section ready to paint.  I like to use slightly watered down acrylics, for vibrant, opaque colours, quick drying, and easy clean up.

Here's a little peek at my trees.  I don't put a lot of detail into them, just quick swipes of my brush, and then I move onto the next one.  I felt like Bob Ross painting these happy little trees!
I also like to make my own gift tags for all my presents.  They're more personal, I like writing, and again, buying them just costs so much!  Plus, you can't go wrong with a little white on craft paper.  After looking at these for a while, I went back and worked them a little more, adding some silver along the edges of each card.
Do you make anything handmade for your loved ones?

Paining Again After a Long Time Away

It's been two years, maybe even more, since I broke out my large glass palette.  I can't believe that it's been so long since I really sat down and painted.  Painted for me, painted for fun.  Not for a present, not for an order.  Just for me to have some time to myself, creatively, emotionally, spiritually.  I cracked open some seriously old oil paints (hello, I haven't been used in almost 7 years!) and gave up on the bottle of linseed oil that I just can't open for the life of me.  I had just a dribble of mineral spirits, so I settled for stinky, headache inducing Turpentine instead.  Most of my brushes were stiff and a little crusty, so I only had two decent ones to choose from, plus a knife.  My mom has my table top easel and my standing easel, so I had to make shift something to set my canvas on.  Man, looking back I feel like I should have quit while I was ahead, and gone to the store to get better supplies.

Even though the conditions weren't prime for painting, I didn't let that stop me.  I wanted to get my fingers messy, smell the oil paints, create something.  I squished out little bits of the couple colours I had, poured out some of my turpentine in a jar, and started getting some colour on the canvas.  It felt good!  I didn't have any kind of plan, I was going completely abstract, and I didn't care too much about my colours mixing.  I started with thin washed out layers of colour, and covered the whole canvas with swashes and dabs and blobs.  I started going in heavier after that, working the paint with my knife, scraping it across the canvas.  I really love the sound that a palette knife makes as it travels across the rough canvas.  It brings me back to the time I first used oils, first used a knife, first worked on stretched canvas.  I feel so blessed with the various mediums and techniques I've been able to try in my short life.

I'm not sharing bits of the piece I started working on just yet, as I'm not totally comfortable with it at the moment.  For now it's hanging on a nail on the wall of my studio, drying before I can put more layers and more colours down on the canvas.  I'm thinking about switching up my mediums a bit and going in with some vibrant fluid acrylics and lots of white.  I want to experiment with more mark making techniques than just a brush and knife.  I want to paint with my fingers, brushes, found items around the house.  I want to write messages and cover them up.  I want to share secrets in those layers, secrets only I will know are there.  I love the beauty of layering paint, the evolution of a painting, and the whole process in general.

I'm so glad that I broke out my palette again.  It had been way, way too long.

Treat Yourself...to New Supplies!

A couple weeks ago I ordered some new nibs, and a fancy wooden nib holder.  Today, they finally came in the mail!  And, oh man, that holder is so much more comfortable that the thinner straight holder's I've been using.  There's definitely less hand cramping, and it's just so smooth and silky against my skin!  The nib I picked up is a Nikko G, and the holder is the Thick Wood Pen Holder, both from John Neal Bookseller.  I also snagged the Zebra G nib, but haven't been using it as much yet as the Nikko.  The Nikko is such an upgrade from my generic old Speedball nibs, and I feel so much more grown up in my craft buying supplies from a calligraphy supplier, instead of just the art store.  (I really love my Curry's art store though!)

I also just signed up for my first Skillshare class, learning The Art of Modern Calligraphy with Molly Jacques.  I already feel such a vast improvement after my first day of practice!  I don't know if it's the new supplies, or how silky the ink is as it glides across my paper, but Molly breaks stuff down in a way that's perfect for me.  Plus she has templates that I can print out, and trace over with my Layout Paper.  (This stuff is seriously the best!)  

Here's a little snapshot of some of my (smudgy) practice sheets.  I still have a ways to go, obviously, and I have to develop my own personal calligraphy style.  I'm in love with my new class and supplies, and just ordered a bunch of new fancy nibs from Paper & Ink Arts to try out, so I can't wait for those to come in the mail.

This isn't a sponsored post, just my opinions on some stuff I'm currently loving.  I do recommend that you skip the line at Michael's or another big craft store, and purchase real tools and real supplies from a company that specializes in a specific medium.  Plus, Michael's is ridiculously expensive (most of their art supplies are TWICE as much money as the same stuff at Curry's.  This is why it seems so sweet when Michael's puts out their coupons.  They are not anything special.) Support the smaller companies!

Painting Flowers All Day Long

I'm been painting my butt off this week, getting ready for Christmas, as well as pumping out my everyday orders, and I'm totally loving it.  I feel more and more blessed every day that I get to do this.  I've been pushing myself beyond just black ink, and just letters.  I got this great new book, The Watercolor Flower Artist's Bible, which I've mentioned about before. Now that I've finally cracked it open, I've completely fallen in love.

The response from my desktop calendar giveaway has been so much better than I expected.  I hope that you all have beautiful computer screens to look at every day now.  Some of the suggestions that I've had as part of this little painting I made have been that everyone wants to buy a 2014 calendar.  So now I have another project that I've added to the list, and sorry other projects, but the calendar paintings have definitely jumped to the top of my list.  Making these paintings have been so much fun!  I'm in love with the new watercolours I picked up a few weeks ago (they stay moist so long!  Yes, MOIST.  I'm not scared of that word, haha.)  I'm going to be making two different calendars with the same flowery backgrounds.  One will be filled with pieces of scripture to reflect upon and learn from each month, and the second is going to be filled with inspirational and timeless quotes.  I hope to have these finished soon, and up in the shop as quickly as I can!  

Here's some sneak peeks at some of the page backgrounds I've been working on.  
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!