Monday, December 22, 2008


I've been madly painting and sewing in preparation for Christmas! Here's Sophie's painting. Her request was "A lamb wearing boots, a cat wearing boots, and a dog wearing boots." One sketch had them all having a picnic tea, but she voted for this one instead, playing in the rain.

More Christmas paintings to come...

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Dancing squirrels, a little rambunctious for Illustration Friday this week.

Remember I gave everyone on our gift list the choice of an original painting? Well, Angela requested "Squirrels, dancing." And so she shall have them. I had a sketch where one was upside down on his hands and she was really opposed to it for some reason, so here are her dancing squirrels, all on their feet. They'll need to have shadows underneath them, but other than that, I don't think I want to do too much more to it. In a perfect world, I would have painted the background FIRST, but I'm toying with going back in and adding in a light wash.

Extreme tail close up:

Tomorrow hopefully: painting in progress of a lamb, a cat, and a dog, all wearing boots and carrying umbrellas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

small faces

While making all the presents for Christmas has been fun, and rewarding, it's also time consuming. At least the dolls all have hair and faces... now they need some clothes! And while 4 of the 11 paintings are completely done and framed, and 4 more of them in various other states of completion, I can't show any of them yet or the recipients (and their parents) might see them. When my kids' paintings are done, I can post them, as all they're interested in seeing on the computer is YouTube, Cute Overload, and the occasional visit to Flying Pizza Kitty.

Monday, December 08, 2008

how we got the tree home

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The catchiest songs you've never heard

Thank you so much for all the book suggestions! Some of them are favorites of mine too, and I can't wait to get to the library and share them with the kiddos. I could go on and on about books all day because I love them so much.

I have been hard at work on paintings for Christmas, and the dolls (hopefully will be posting a photo of them tomorrow), but in the meantime...

In that photo of the fridge Thanksgiving week, you saw a picture of Paul McCartney that I clipped out of Blender Magazine, with a balloon coming out of his mouth singing "Obla-di Blah Blah Blah." (Taken from an article naming him one of the worst lyricists of all time. That photo just cracks me up.)

Anyway, one of the things I love about the interwebs is the fact that people post their bootlegs! Woo! So... if you ever wanted to hear unreleased gems and stuff that got bumped from albums, here are a few of my favorites. And I must remind you: pay no attention to the lyrics. Lyric disdain must always be suspended when reviewing a new McCartney tune.

A Love for You, which I shouldn't really list because it's been plucked from the vault and now has been released. But it has such great raw energy to it.

Waterspout. The catchiest darn thing ever, and we like to dance around the house to this. Kind of like C-Moon in that respect.

Two Fingers/Mary's Song. Great story, and interesting in how he was inspired by art to write a song with only two-fingered chords. This song eventually got words, but I like the whistling version much better.

Ivonne. It's a demo for 10cc, but I've never heard their version. When I was in high school and first heard this, I used to have a whole set of alternate lyrics made up about my brother and his beard. Something like "Antoine's the one I've been counting on... "

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ramona Q. vs. Junie B.

(Note: yes, I gave up on NaBloPoMo this year, with only 4 days to go... but I felt like all the posting was eating up precious painting time. So - the paints and the sewing won out, and you will see more of that soon.)

Sophie, as I've mentioned before, is a bit precocious. She taught herself to read at age two, and since then, we've had a time supplying her with enough books. She's gone through all of Dr. Seuss and Tomie dePaola, enjoys Shel Silverstein, Nate the Great, Amelia Bedelia, Frog and Toad, Curious George, and is now working on chapter books. BUT - while she may read like a 10-year-old, she is still only five. Her favorite books that she's carried around all summer are the Sideways Stories series, and they are now dog-eared from repeated readings. But the fact is, she's not in 4th grade like the students in the series. She's in kindergarten and some of it is just a bit beyond her understanding; I wanted to find something age-appropriate.

So I went to the library, determined to find some short chapter books that would be just right for Sophie: hopefully they would be funny or silly, because she loves that, and not be just about princesses and fairies and braiding hair (or makeup, pretty dresses, and braiding hair, or about whatever new thing marketers are painting pink and pushing on little girls. No Rainbow Magic or Jewel Princesses, thank you.)

I picked up two of the Junie B. Jones books because they looked about the right size, and were about a kindergarten girl, Babysitter's Club Little Sister books because I'd read the BC's waaaaay back in the day and knew they were clean, and Ramona the Pest, because guess what? Ramona is in kindergarten, and besides it's a classic. Naturally, I read them first before handing them off (or not) to Soph.

Junie B.... I was pretty horrified with. Yes, she's spunky, but she mouths off to her teacher all the time and is regularly rude to her classmates and family. There's been some controversy about her bad grammar; I could care less about that. The rudeness and name-calling - maybe it's funnier when the reader's older, but there's no way I was handing that off to Sophie. Those went back the library the next day.

Babysitter's Club, which I knew would be pretty innocuous, I also put aside for now. Karen, the main character, is 5 and goes to kindergarten, but she also lives in two houses, and has two families, because her parents are divorced. If Sophie even had one friend whose parents were divorced, or asked me about it, I would be happy to discuss it with her. But at this point in her life why should I even let the thought enter her head that some parents don't stay married forever? Not necessary.

And then there's Ramona. Ramona Quimby is all the things Junie B. wishes she were, and more. Ramona is creative, a little rambunctious, imaginative, and is not above "making a great big fuss" if she wants to get her way. But she's never rude, never intentionally mean, and her worst insult is to call someone a baby - which to her, is the antithesis of all that it means to be a kindergartner. We've been reading it out loud together and whenever we get to the part about the "dawnzer, that gives a lee light" she and Angela crack up. Ramona rocks and so does Beverly Cleary. (By the way, Ramona is the book that got carried around with her this weekend.)

My friend Krystyna, who reminded me of the Ramona books and also has a 5-year-old daughter, also suggested the Little House series and the American Girl series. So - here's where I need some input - what books would you suggest for Sophie? Something not too sophisticated or grown up, anything about adventurous characters is good but please no killing. I have tried reading all three of them Mary Poppins and Pippi Longstocking but they're still a little too young for it, it seems. (And by the way, my earliest memory is of sitting on my mom's lap, reading Nancy Drew.)

Please, suggest away!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Don't forget the pumpkin pie

Words of wisdom (and warning) from Sophie.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


For the third year in a row... This one's for sharing: print this out and bring it to your table Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Brand New: POSTERS!

The biggest prints EVER! For the first time, Tree/bird/heart (with Angela, top) and Storytime (with Peter, below) are now available in 16" x 20" size. Printed on thick, high-quality photographic stock. Enlargements show great detail of the creative process - see pencil lines, brush strokes, and coffee splashes close up! Perfect for children's rooms or just those young at heart.

♥ $30 (+$5 USPS). Email me for orders. :) ♥

Sunday, November 23, 2008

big announcement coming tomorrow


Saturday, November 22, 2008


Guess what's on newsstands now? :) See the full recipe here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Take the Handmade Pledge

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

If you didn’t see the “handmade pledge” button last holiday season, here’s your chance to be a part of it for this year. Instead of adding to the commercialism of the season and spending extra money, why not try to make your gifts, or purchase them from those who do?

Why buy handmade?

Buying handmade is better for the environment.

The accumulating environmental effects of mass production are a major cause of global warming and the poisoning of our air, water and soil. Every item you make or purchase from a small-scale independent artist or crafter strikes a small blow to the forces of mass production.

This year, I’ve already told friends and family that if they’d like, I’ll paint a picture of pretty much anything they want for Christmas this year, instead of buying a gift. So far I've had requests for the night sky, Kermit, koalas, soccer balls, and (this could only come from Sophie) "A lamb and a cat, both wearing boots." My kids know also that they will be getting homemade dolls and can pick out some of their clothes as well, and my husband already has asked for a painting with “lots and lots of trees.”

Buying from small businesses and crafters assures artists that they can keep doing the work they do so well. And if you’re lucky enough to be the one doing the creating, you’ll see the joy that comes from making – and giving – a present that’s one of a kind.

♥ Take the Handmade Pledge here.
♥ Check out Etsy for all sorts of simply gorgeous artwork, jewelry, and other homemade items.
♥ Have you taken the Pledge or are you an artist with things to sell? Leave a link in the comments and tell me about it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Dolls in progress, about to get sewn together, with faces and hair and outfits... in a word, all dolled up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

wallowing in the love

It's been emotionally draining around my house lately - a certain small someone is acting up to get more attention, and honey, I'm already giving 1000%. There's no more to give!

It's in times like this I try to keep in mind something I heard at church last week from a visiting priest. He said that the two most common prayers are "Gimme gimme" and "I'm not worthy." But that instead of beating ourselves up all the time, we should be wallowing in God's love, like a pig in the mud.

Isn't that the most fantastic visual? Imagine how a pig joyfully rolls around, getting just completely covered in layers of thick squishy mud. And that word, wallow. That's a marvelous word - it means you don't jump in and then jump out and have a shower, you linger in it for as long as you can. That's how completely covered I picture myself in God's love, and then I put myself in the mood to change every "please help" prayer to a "thank you" instead.

Please make them stop yelling at each other all the time turns into a reminder: Thank you that my children are healthy.

Why does everything have to happen right now turns into Thank you that we both have jobs we love.

Lord, help me get everything done for the holidays turns into Thank you for the talents you've given me and the energy to put them to work.

And in that vein, I'd better sign off and go work on the Christmas paintings... and wallow while I do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holiday Mail for Heroes

My Uncle Dominick sent me this great email and I thought the idea was such a good one, it needed to be passed along! What a great project this would be for church groups, CCD class, scouts, a class, or a family to send.

When doing your holiday cards this year, take one card and send it to the address below. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderful, special people who have sacrificed so much would get.

Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD

Please read the details and guidelines here - they need to be postmarked no later than December 10 to arrive on time.

Also note that if you've received an email about this and it gives the address as Walter Reed Hospital, they are no longer taking cards. Use the address above instead. They also give links to places that accept phone cards and care packages.

What a simple and loving way to make a difference!

Monday, November 17, 2008

PC to Mac : copying settings

So... after nearly 15 years of working at my day job solely on PCs, we've finally made the move to Macs. (And there was much rejoicing.) I have the same programs for both (and I should mention that I've done all my studio work on a Mac!) but the little things that make a program customized - the settings - were going to be time-consuming to duplicate. Most of this is applicable for copying settings between any two computers - I didn't know how to do this before today, but it works! This saved me so much time today.

PDF settings
I have special PDF settings that I've made myself for sending things to the printer with bleeds and cropmarks. Check this out: search on your own computer for files named "joboptions". Copy them to the other computer, then install them. Open Indesign, and then choose Adobe PDF Presets/Define. Then choose Load and load your job option file. Done!

Dreamweaver settings
All the instructions are here. If you're the only one using your computer, you want "Back up my settings"; it copies the passwords too. Then on the other computer, go to "Manage Sites" and choose "Import." Just note that each import has 2 parts, the first asks you to import the .ste file, and the second asks you where the local files are. I ♥ this tip.

Guess what? True type fonts work on the Mac! Just copy them from your Windows/Fonts on your PC into Library/Fonts on the Mac. The only fonts I'm having a problem with are Postscript fonts; ones that I had to install through ATM aren't crossing over. But the amount of those fonts are very small compared to the fonts I do already have (and use more frequently).

Sorry if this is stuff you already knew, but it saved me a huge hunk of time this morning! Hope someone else can find it useful and spend less time on file management and more time creating!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I was going to write about patchy service and how we never got a new router, but you know what? I'm on a homemade- pumpkin-pie-and-cuppa-tea high, and I don't feel like getting negative right now and bringing down the mood. :)


As idyllic as that sounds, our house has been a beehive of activity this weekend. Paul has upgraded all the computers in the house, from my Mac in the Tower studio to his Macs in his studio on the first floor, and everything in between. I've just switched to a Mac for my day job (finally!!!), and Paul was my tech all weekend as he's tried to move everything over from PC-land into its new home. I'm so grateful to him for taking it all over and setting me up, because if it were up to me I'd be working on both the PC and the Mac for months until I finally gave one of them up. (I'm the kind of girl who takes hours to get into the pool, because I'm getting in one toe at a time.) This way, I have a beautiful set up and while I might have a bit of a learning curve, after jumping in, I'll probably have no trouble with it at all after a week or two. (Note, Best Husband Ever is transferring files now, so I don't have to, and can be in my studio because it's Art Night. He rocks.)

And me, I've begun making Christmas presents - drunk with the success of the kid's Halloween costumes, I started the dolls that will look like each of the kids, using the Martha Stewart pattern. They're all cut out and stuffed, and now I have to attach the arms and legs and give them some faces and hair. (And clothes! And glasses!) If I don't run out of time, I want to give them little accessories that make them even more identifiable as each the kids, like some books and art supplies for Soph and art supplies and a matchbox car for Petey and a purple pony and art supplies for Angela. (Did I mention they like art supplies?) Mom and I made the IKEA pilgrimage today to get frames for the 10+ NEW paintings I'm doing for Christmas presents; painting begins tomorrow night. I find IKEA has incredibly affordable prices for frames, but is such a pain in the butt to get to so I only do it once or twice a year. The colors are so bright and luscious, I can't wait to get started! I also made homemade pizza with the kids and two pumpkin pies, took them on a nature walk, and did the usual assortment of cleaning and laundry. Seriously, this is a typical weekend for us, as I bet it is for most creative families with kids. Don't get me wrong; if I could spend the whole weekend in bed with a book, I probably would, but since I can't, I'd rather live it as fully as I can.

Time for the queen bee to get to bed.... :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Still out

If you're reading this, it means we still don't have a router, darnit! I don't mind taking a break from the internet, but I do mind not having a choice about it. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lessons from a 4 year old

This morning, in a nutshell: CA-RAZY. I was working very early in the morning to get something done and then couldn't upload my files to the server. Our router just bit the dust. I packed everything up to go to the library, finally got there, was trying to figure out alternate ways to do the file transfer with a different setup, and Paul calls me on the cell to tell me the router has arisen from the dead. I race home, run up to the tower, upload everything I need to and send an email about it, unpack the laptop and all its accouterments, and get back to work... until the router dies again.

I was stomping around and muttering under my breath, and I said, "This is a wasted day. This day has just been wasted." Peter came over, looked up and said insistenty, "No, Mama, it's not."

And I thought, he's absolutely right! (and I told him so.) There is no way I could declare a day ruined at 10:30 in the morning. I have a whole day ahead of me that could be filled with all sorts of lovely surprises and great joys - it's too early to condemn it. (And I'm posting this now from the library, again.)

As Anne says, "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" Here's hoping tomorrow brings a router that works!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

facebook + fans

Some of you know that I'm on facebook now, and holy moley, is it addictive! I'm really enjoying getting back in touch with old friends, and keeping up-to-date with others. Right now I'm only linking up to people I know personally (as opposed to people I know online). But since I am an all-inclusive kind of girl, I was trying to think of a way around it...

So I made a fan page! Anyone (who's a member of facebook) can become a fan and get updates, news, and even read blog entries right there.

And yes, it seems mighty surreal to me to say "Fan Page" in conjunction with myself. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Are you a wasteroon?

I had to share this lovely picture of the scariest, angriest, don't-mess-with-me drop of water ever. Angela would like to make it clear that you really shouldn't waste water. EVER. When I asked her if that little red circle in the middle was its tongue, she looked up from her drawing to say, "No, that's a lung," and went right on coloring. Now that's passion for ecology!

(Inspired by this gem. )

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

cd swap

For a few summers, friends and I did a cd swap. It's sort of like doing a mix tape, except each of us got assigned a month, and when it was your turn, you'd made cds for all the participants and mail them out. It was kind of like a cd-of-the-month club and I loved knowing I was going to get to hear new music on a regular basis. I had a great time making my mixes to send out, as well as (of course!) making the cover art. Here was one of my summer ones (playlist follows the picture):

Here is the play list, in case you can't read sideways... I will link to the song if I can find it online. I would dare say that most of these songs are available on iTunes, but I don't know how to link there. :)

running on ice BiLLY JOEL
i love my shirt DONOVAN (song starts at :25)
what do all the people know? THE MONROES
somewhere only we know KEANE
lord of the reedy river MARY HOPKiN + DONOVAN (I can't find this anywhere online, I recorded it from my vinyl copy)
calico skies PAUL McCARTNEY
singing lessons JUDY COLLiNS
isn’t it a lovely day STACEY KENT
the girl from ipanema ASTRUD GiLBERTO
she loves you PETER SELLERS
blue for you MEN AT WORK
one thing leads to another THE FiXX
virtual insanity JAMiROQUAi
the dangling conversation SiMON + GARFUNKEL
fear from paradise BAR SCOTT (plays mp3 from my very very talented friend. She rocks, big time.)
love’s in need of love today STEViE WONDER

This one was supposed to have included the McCartney song "Somedays", hence the title. It never sounded right with the others, so Calico Skies took its place.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Morning's Here

I was never a huge Friends fan when it was on, but I caught this rerun the other night and it's totally stuck in my head (which is perfectly fine with me). I've been singing it around the house and now finally have the right lyrics - I was making up my own, not that that's a bad thing. I love it! Joey and the neighbor do a duet at the end.

I love the way the singing neighbor says "Aw, come on! Morning's here!" That's how I feel most mornings.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Moonlight hayride

Tonight we attended Sophie's first function as a Daisy Scout - our whole family went on a hayride, did a craft that involved feathers and googly eyes, stood around a bonfire and toasted marshmallows, had hot apple cider and cocoa, and played games under the almost-full moon. And at the end of the night, she got her Hayride Badge (hers has a bunny on it too)! Seriously... how romantic do the words "moonlight hayride" sound?

While all of this is beyond cute, we're so excited to be in scouting again. Especially since the focus of Girl Scouts seems to have changed from when I was a girl to be more focused on "leadership, strong values, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth." Amen to that!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

happy birthday, laughing boy

Today is my brother's birthday. When God made him, he broke the mold. We love you, 'Toine!

ps ~ For the origin of the term "laughing boy", click here. And to see what routine his nieces and nephew always request, click here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

large art, large living

The posters arrived... and holey moley, are they gorgeous! I have one little thing to change about the Storytime poster, but the Tree/Bird/Heart one looks amazing. Every stroke, drop, and sketchy pencil line is blown up and I think I like it even better than the original size. I'm very happy with it.

We just have to calculate shipping costs (and buy us some tubes!) and if you want one, you can have it! Yay!

Magical thinking for today...

I partied with my co-workers (I work from home and they are over an hour away, so I don't get to hang out with them as much as I would like.) We had italian food, ordered lots of dessert and shared it all. My boss ordered a dish ending in "dolce vita" purely for the name.

I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather by wearing a little black sweater and a very full and fluffy skirt the color of a bright fall leaf. I wrapped a necklace of earth-toned rocks around my wrist as a very chunky bracelet.

Sang myself hoarse in the car by putting the iPod on alphabetical order, and singing whatever came next.

I've been planning out all my Christmas artwork presents... and I'm having so much fun doing it! For some reason, I don't find this overwhelming in the slightest bit. Tomorrow I start on the dolls for the kids.

Laughed myself silly watching YouTube videos with Paul and the kiddos.

How did you live out loud today?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

giving art

I will be taking the handmade pledge this year, which is worth its own post. Last year I was struck by the fact that I was getting ready to sell my work at a craft fair, showcasing my prints as a great Christmas present, when I had already bought all the presents we were giving out this year and wasn't giving any art. I wanted to remedy that.

So this Christmas, I asked everyone we usually gift if they would like an original painting instead, of their very own. As most of them are kids, we've gotten some really interesting replies! I'm so excited to be spending my time making something from my heart for the people I love best. I'll be painting everything from soccer balls to sheep wearing boots!

Meanwhile, if you would like to give artwork this year (or heck, just keep it for yourself), since I haven't set these up in the store yet, I wanted to post these paintings here. If you want one, email me with your info, and leave me a comment here claiming it as your own. One's gone already!

(I should also note, I should be getting in posters any day... here's hoping they turn out well, if they do, I'll post them!)

The sets: three matted prints in a white wooden frame with glass. Images measure 4.675" x 6.675". Entire piece measures 10" x 20". Each piece is $40 (+ $10 USPS Shipping: Priority Mail, Insurance, and Signature Confirmation. )

Framed and matted prints in black wooden frames with plexiglass. Images measure 5" x 7". Each is $15 (+ $5 USPS Shipping: Priority Mail.)

Framed prints in wooden frames with plexiglass. Image area is 5" x 7". Each is $10 + ($5 USPS Shipping: Priority Mail.)

Framed prints in hand-painted wooden frames with plexiglass. Image area is 4" x 6". Each is $8 + ($5 USPS Shipping: Priority Mail.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The United States of Sophia

Yesterday was such a historic day! We took the kids right into the voting booth with us so they could be a part of it all. I told them that they were going to see history being made: we were either going to see the first African American president, or the first female VP. I was so proud to be able to share it with them. I hope so much that they remember it all.

On the Craft site, I found the Color Your Own Electoral College Mapto color as the results came in, and I printed a bunch out thinking I'd do it with the kids... and then realized that they'd all be in bed before the polls closed! So we gave some to Paul's students and parents, and just colored them and had fun. This morning, Paul gave them some more blank maps - and let me tell you, do kids ever love to color in maps! Sophie filled in all the states herself, but what I really enjoy is the creative spelling (which I suspect was entirely on purpose). My personal favorite is "Pencilvania," followed by "Minasoda".

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Magic frame

You know what, I had a thoughtful post about voting, but as I already sort of wrote about it here, watch this instead while you're waiting for all the election results to come in! This is a hilarious take on what has to be hands down, my absolute favorite 80's song and video... tell me you never wished this could actually happen to you!

ps ~ By the way, we now call doorways at my house "magic frames".

Monday, November 03, 2008


Today while walking with the kids to deliver a new batch of prints to the post office, Angela found one of the strangest leaves I've ever seen. It looked almost as though it had been tie-dyed. The only explanation that I can think of is that another leaf laid directly on top of it while it changed color and blocked the sun in parts, or that it underwent some sort of trauma to make it change its color so dramatically.

Which makes me wonder about the times when I've been blocked from the sun, and the sorts of patterns it's created in me. I'd like to think that in the times that I felt the most cut off and alone, I was working inwardly on something beautiful to show when the time was right.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

pockets full of leaves

Today while Sophie had CCD class (Paul's her teacher), Peter and Angela and I went to return a video to the library. Can I just interrupt my story before I even start, by saying how awesome the library is? It's the greatest deal in town. I ♥ the library so much.

Instead of driving, we decided to walk, and turned it into a nature hike. We gathered as many different kinds of leaves as we could, just scooping up any leaf that grabbed our attention. We found tiny red leaves the size of my thumbnail. Big, feathery lemon-yellow leaves the size of my outspread hand. Long leaves, football-shaped leaves, and the most delicate, lovely, tiny oak leaf ever. (I have a thing for oaks.) At one point we wandered under a maple so gorgeous I almost knocked on the door of the house it was in front of to ask exactly what kind it was. Its leaves carpeted the sidewalk and patterned the grass like a riot of tulips in June. Some leaves were all red, some were red with yellow hearts, and others flirted with shades between the two. By the time we got home, my pockets were full of leaves, Angela was holding seed pods, and Petey clutched a stick in his hand, which he referred to as "a piece of tree."

When we got home we gathered them all in a basket and took out our tree manuals to look them up. While we couldn't find all of them, I looked up to see the new trees Paul planted this summer out in the yard - two maples and two pear trees. Right outside our dining room window, we now have a view of our own gorgeous autumn blaze maple that's already lived up to its name. Out of the next window, we'll see flowering pears in the spring. Surrounding myself with trees - that's something that makes me happy.

What made you happy today?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

boo to you!


I know it's November and all, but I couldn't pass up the chance to post these little ghostie finger puppets I made for the kiddos one night while watching Grey's Anatomy. We're still in Halloween mode here, which is fine with me - I've never been one to rush holidays. In fact, I'm rather annoyed that there are Christmas commercials on NOW, when, as Sally Brown says, "I haven't even finished eating my Halloween candy yet!" One of the main reasons I'm bugged by it is because I am starting to work on Christmas stuff and I like to feel like I'm getting a jump on the competition. :) My goal is to handmake as many things as I can - but more about that later, that's its own post for another day.

Angela, poster child for cuteness.

As stated earlier, I'm going to be posting every single day for the entire month of November. My (rough) theme is The Month of Magical Thinking, where I will make the most succulent and alive choice every chance I get. So far this morning, that meant staying in bed a little longer, reading a book and watching the autumn morning light shine through the maple leaves and turn them golden; choosing a mug with gorgeous Van Gogh purple irises for my morning coffee, chocolate chip pancakes, and a sparkling fairy pin on my long grey belted cardigan. Everyday things hold magic in them. That's one truth I know for sure... will you look for the magic around you today?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mahna Mahna (and the Snowths)

Remember when I promised some Mahna Mahna? After much sewing, hot-glueing, and dancing around and singing, the kids' Halloween costumes are finally finished. I am SO happy with the way these turned out (and so are they)! Paul already has the video loaded onto his iPod (which has speakers) and will provide a soundtrack - or an explanation as needed - when we go trick or treating. And instead of "Trick or treat" they can say "Mahna mahna."

I had the best time making these! I didn't have any kind of pattern, I just made it up as I went along. And now it makes me want to go back to making puppets even more.

For those who need a refresher course on Mahna Mahna and the Snowths, watch this. And crank it up!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How to make Ratatouille

Remember when I posted recipes for parfaits and sun tea this summer? Someone said, "You really oughta have those published." Well, thanks to the super-fantastic people at Craft: Magazine, this one is! Yay!

Click here to see the full illustration, where you can zoom in and see it in greater detail than I could ever fit on this blog. Go, enjoy, and most of all, please go make your family some ratatouille because I promise it's absolutely delicious.

Monday, October 27, 2008

NaBloPoMo time!

View my profile on NaBloPoMo

Hey kids! It's NaBloPoMo time again! I've done it since (I think?) year one, and it's lots of fun. Every day in the month of November, I will post something new. This year I'm going to have a theme; The Month of Magical Thinking. As in this post, I will be concentrating on making what's usually a pretty hectic month a magical and joy-filled one as I make a conscious decision to make the most succulent choice every time. Friend me up and I will link right back to you, I would love to hear how your journey is going. :)

And this year, I'm going to give a prize! Just sign up at NaBloPoMo headquarters and post every day to qualify.

ps ~ This isn't this month's badge, but it's my favorite one. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Found this lovely film via CuteOverload. My mamacita's birthday is today, and we will be calling her soon to sing at the top of our lungs as we do for all birthdays. Watch this, then call your mom and tell her how much you love her.

Monday, October 20, 2008

art show today

It's been an exciting week - I have two paintings up at the Westfield Art Association's Autumnal Exhibition going on right now at the Community Room on East Broad Street (in the same building as the police station, next to Mindowaskin Park). I know not all of you are in town, but in case you're passing though Westfield, you might want to check it out. It's running from October 19, 21, 22, 25, and 26, from 1pm - 4pm. It's free and open to the public, and you could see the Blossom Fairy and Storytime in person!

The kids had their own art show up at our house as well - our walls are covered with even more than the usual amount of drawings! As soon as I can set up a little photo album, I'll publish both our sets of gallery experiences - together.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Catching up

Things have been ca-razy busy here, and I apologize for not posting more. I've been working on new illustrations I can't show yet, knitting and crocheting just because it's fun, working on the kids' Halloween costumes, and oh yes, there's that day job. I'm also getting into gear for NaBloPoMo in November, are you?

I do have some new posts up at Miomarmo (where we'll also be doing NaBloPoMo, which should be really fun!). In case you missed them there, some recent ones are...

Turn an old shirt into a new skirt. Creative recycling! As shown above
Do you walk enough?
Proposition 2 (or, 67 Square Inches). Proposition 2 "stops cruel and inhumane treatment of animals, ending the practice of cramming farm animals into cages so small the animals can't even turn around, lie down or extend their limbs."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

on paint, and learning more

A new painting, another learning experience!

I've been trying (and not too successfully) to paint every day, and so I've been using photos from my idea folder to work with. That way, I don't think "I don't know what to paint," I think, "Okay, let's do this one today." I'm trying to not overthink it, just to get messy and just jump in. So... here's the original photo of Miss Sophie out in the yard, and yes, there is a story there, and you will all hear it one day, and I did make the wings myself and will try to post instructions when I get around to it, I promise:

Trying to be faithful to the photo, I did a pretty tight sketch and started to do some watercolour washes. But the spirit of it just eluded me... every time I would put down a color, I'd blot it back up. I was being really timid about paint, which just ain't me.

It was starting to be pretty, but that wasn't what I was going for. So I put it aside, and thought about it, and realized what I was doing wrong. Like this painting, I was trying to do watercolor "right" and try new techniques out I wasn't comfortable with, but it instead was losing the whole spirit. Remember when I did the painting of Angela in the grass and I said, "I did the background first, next time I'll do the subject first"? Well, that's what was missing. The point of the whole painting is Sophie, the fairy girl.

And more about that - I'd decided early on that I didn't want this to look like a little girl in a costume in her backyard, but that's what it was turning into. So I stopped thinking of her as Sophie. And that helped immensely. I didn't worry if her coloring looked right, or her hair, or if she looked age-appropriate blah blah blah. I was painting a fairy, and that meant I could get as wild as I wanted!

Before... I'm trying too hard to make her look natural and as lovely as she is.

After... while it may not look precisely like Sophie, it captures her spirit so much more vividly (and accurately).

I wound up erasing all the pencil I could, leaving just what I needed for the barest guidelines, and went to town, splashing color all over the place. You all have no idea how much I had to fight myself NOT to go in and do perfectly rendered veins on the wings, to do her eyelashes and hair perfectly, and to make the lines in the watercolour set perfectly straight. LESS IS MORE, remember? I'm so proud that I refrained from overworking it all.

Take this down: It doesn't have to be perfect.

The last thing I'm really proud of is the background. All those trees, and the path, and all that stuff - not necessary! And it was pulling my attention away from my fairy. So instead I erased everything, and wet my background area with water and a brush, being verrrry careful to only put it where I wanted paint to go. And then I color-bombed it (ala this one). I lifted up the paper and let the color find its path, staying only where the paper was wet. (Mind you, you only want to try this when everything else on the page is dry.)

I am just so happy with those edges where one color bumps up against the other - back in the day, I would get that kind of contrast with a very sharp pencil or fine pen. Now it's nothing but pure color. (Ooh, I'm getting shivers about it again.) And the hair, I'm quite pleased with that. And especially the edges of those wings becoming organic and leaf-edged - I couldn't have made that happen if I tried.

(Petey wants to know, when is it my turn to have a painting?)