Friday, November 21, 2014

Brush in hand again!

We did a crazy thing today as a family - declared a "snow day" for our homeschool! There's not a single flake in sight and the sun is shining brightly. Call it playing hooky. Call it a day off. Call it whatever you want, but we all needed a day off so we thought it'd be fun to surprise the kids this morning by announcing there's no school! Hooray!!! 

I spent this morning painting - and oh, it was so wonderful to spread colors across canvas again! Dear brushes, you have been out of my hands for too long!

Bright summery colors were calling to me.
Winter grays are close at hand, but this bouquet will never fade! 

It was so much fun layering color upon color. I have no studio space, so our dining table was temporarily converted into a studio. No paint dripped onto the carpet (yet)! Last year my kiddos gave me a table-top easel that folds up into a neat little briefcase sized package. I feel like Wiley Coyote with his array of expanding Acme products every time I set it up! 

Recently I've been studying Dutch genre art, floral still lifes, and Vanitas paintings. So much beauty there. I was inspired to create my own version, minus the skulls and dead animals. 

Peek-a-boo! Snow days mean it's a no-makeup/don't do your hair day. This is all you get to see, glasses and all. No glam shots today! 

I will be back behind the easel soon; several blank canvases await!

To celebrate our snow day without snow, this painting is FOR SALE!
Find it in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Settling in for Autumn

Autumn's colors are finally touching the leaves in our neck of the woods. I could sit by my kitchen window and marvel at the oranges in one tree alone! There's something about Autumn - a feeling of settling in, drawing comforts around you. The quilts and pillows have been coming out over these past few cold mornings. Hot cocoa consumption has increased. And soups grace my menus more frequently. Everyone is getting cozy for a long winter.

I found our Tufon Quilt I made awhile ago and decided it had been living in the wrong room. It was in my husband's library/office snuggled next to some dusty tomes of theology, but seemed so much happier listening to my kids read aloud on the sofa in the living room. I decided it needed a friend, so I made a quick pillow cover out of the quilt scraps. (I knew I had been saving those for a reason!)

I haven't sewn in quite some months; it was very soothing to create with fabric again. Almost like meeting a long lost friend. I got a bit caught up in digging through my fabric stash, pulling out old treasures, bits of lace, and other goodies. A few other projects are under the needle - I'll show those to you soon, after a few last touches are added.

Other touches of the season are showing up in my house. I never realized how much I used orange in my decorating! The outdoor colors must be influencing me.

Here's a corner of my mantle, slightly Halloween-y perhaps. I look forward to setting out "Cinderella's pumpkin" every year.

This afternoon I drew up this quick chalkboard art to fill a dead spot on a wall. This is chalk cloth, which really isn't that nice to write on. Must remember to find a real chalkboard sometime...

I spotted a small 4x6" canvas at the thrift store - some mama had donated her child's (very messy/abstract??) artwork! Well, I couldn't leave it there, so for $0.75 I picked up the world's cheapest wrapped canvas. I messy-painted over it and doodled a bit - now Jr.'s cast off art project has new life.

What do you do to welcome the fall season? The kids and I want to perfect a homemade hot cocoa recipe, learn to make marshmallows, and do some leaf collecting.

Happy creating!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Getting organized!

Much of my daily life is taken up with homeschooling our children. This is a full-time job, on top of all the duties that go along with keeping a house! In the early years, school was an extension of play. We'd count blocks, color in shapes, do a worksheet or two. But now that my kids are in upper elementary and middle school, the work is more demanding, for both them and me.

There are about 20 different lesson plans that I need to juggle every day. There is no way I can remember all that! I needed a place to write everything down, plus any other notes for what is going on during the week. I'm a very visual person, so if I don't see it, I won't remember it!

Over the past few years, I've developed a system to keep track of our schoolwork, but everything was written out by hand. This year, I decided to put my graphic design skills to use and make a printable form - and save myself some time! I needed something simple - not an entire "home planning menu grocery list emergency contacts cleaning schedule" type of planner. Because there are so many free  monthly and yearly calendars already on the web, I printed some of those for myself to include in our family's school binder. I don't use these as the "command central" calendar, but just to have handy for school planning and a general overview of the year. I block out vacation time and visits from grandparents, and put that all-important LAST DAY OF SCHOOL on there as our goal!

The end result is these cheery planner pages, which I share with you. (Because I have four kids, everything is laid out in fours. If you have more children, you could print double of each page for each week.)  I use a two page spread for each week - there are spaces to write in the children's names at the top (along with a little check box for a daily task, such as piano practice, devotions, chores, etc), subjects along the left side, and daily assignments in the middle. Little circles provide a space for me to check off completed work. This has become our "home base" - the kids can see what they need to do next if I'm not available to direct them. They really like to see the check marks showing their progress! 

I included a page for planning out which curriculum to use for each child. There's also a page for tracking books that have been read, including space for jotting down pages or minutes read.

The last page is to make things pretty. There are spine labels and encouraging bible verses, plus some blank boxes for your own ideas.

I'm thinking of adding some more pages - maybe to tackle those other jobs we moms do, such as preparing meals and keeping a clean house. Check back soon!

Get your free pdf download and get organized today!

What helps you to stay organized? Any tips for making sure everything gets finished by the end of the day? Do you have a planner system that you love? Please share your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Martin Luther meets Freezer Paper

Hey there! I'm back! My early fall has been chock-full of travels, but I am back and settling down into my normal routines once more. Blogging (and creativity!) will hopefully resume with a bit of regularity as well.

If you've been reading along for any time now, you know I tend to dabble in all things crafty. Since Reformation Day is quickly approaching (October 31), I thought I'd share this tutorial for making your very own Martin Luther shirt! My husband was in need of a costume for our church's annual Reformation Day party, and this was a quick fix. (Not technically a costume, but it kept the spirit of the event!).

For your supplies, you'll need a tshirt, freezer paper, pencil, iron, X-Acto knife, Tulip fabric paint, and a brush.

First you'll need to find an image you want to make into a stencil. I searched the web for a portrait of Luther and then adjusted the contrast in a photo editing program. You want to get it nearly black and white, paying attention to the black areas. These will become your final image, so keep them them big enough to cut out with an X-Acto knife. I tried to keep them connected so it was as few shapes as possible. Feel free to use some artistic license! Size you image to the desired final size and click print.

Here's my work in progress. I used the famous portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder for my starting point.

Next, transfer your image to the dull side of freezer paper. An easy way to do this is to print out the image, then cover the back of the print with graphite. Then lay the print right side up on the freezer paper and trace around the shapes. The pressure from tracing will press the graphite onto the freezer paper, like the old fashioned carbon copies.

Carefully cut out all your shapes with an X-Acto knife. It's a good idea to have a few sharp blades handy. Dull blades tend to tear the paper. 

Smooth out your tshirt and insert a piece of cardboard (such as a cereal box) into the shirt to keep the paint from bleeding through. Center your freezer paper stencil on the shirt and gently iron it on. A low temp setting works well. Test the edges to make sure they're sealed down.
(sorry - no pic of this step!)

Now you get to paint your stencil!! I brushed paint onto the shirt rather thinly because I wanted a worn/faded look to the final piece. Make sure to overlap paint onto the paper so your edges are well defined. Let it dry about 30 min.

Slowly, carefully, peel up the paper.

That's it! Enjoy wearing your new creation! 
This was four years ago, and the paint has held up very well through many washings.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

Have some cake! I'm celebrating today - feels like I'm another year younger! (wink)

The past two days I've been painting our two bathrooms, which means everything is torn apart and an utter mess. Painting walls is much less exciting than painting canvases! I'm ready to take a break and celebrate my birthday - after a crazy morning of appointments and general running around town first. I hope to spend the evening with my family - Games, knitting, painting (not walls!). 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Portrait of a House

It has been a busy summer in our house! I hope you are all enjoying your summer (or winter for my Southern Hemisphere friends). We started our homeschool right after the Fourth of July. Where we live the summers are pretty hot and humid - so much so that nobody wants to go outside to play. Since we're indoors anyway, I get us started on the school year. It frees us up to take things a bit easier around Christmas. And the best part is when Spring arrives and we are itching to get out into the sunshine, we're finished with school!

Teaching four kids leaves me with precious little time for art, but I managed to steal some time yesterday to do a house portrait. I saw this photo of this cute little house online. She has so much character she was begging for me to paint her!

To maintain the playful character of the house, I kept my brushstrokes loose.

My kids had fun walking past my easel every now and then to see how the progress was coming. About half way through this my son asked me "What are you painting?" Um, a house?! Seriously, these kids!

I plan to paint more houses - starting with the ones I can see from my front window. (So to my neighbors: I'm not being creepy by staring at your house all day, ok?)

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Celebrating our freedom this weekend! 

Rough sketch/scan - hope to finish and color this one soon!