Daily Art Challenge: July 18

Our challenge today is to practice with our paint brushes.

By this, I mean see how many different things you can do with only one brush.  Paint an entire picture using one brush.  Grab a piece of watercolor paper and see how many different sized lines you can make. Can you make fine details or wide washes?  Make squiggles and dots, curlyques and swirls. Get to know your brush intimately, it should become a natural extension on your hand.  Become comfortable with your tools.


The Marathon Purge Continues

After moving down to the back room of the basement, todays purge has been upstairs. I’ve cleared two closets and the laundry room so far. One more closet and then the linen cupboard and drawers and the hallway is finished. I had purged the main bathroom earlier, before we had the dumpster, but will go through it again.

Erin and the kids went through the kids bedrooms and all their toys today. She’ll start in her bedroom tomorrow.

Once I have the hallway finished, and the quick check on the main bath, the entire main floor has been purged. And while we have a good start on the back storage room, we’ll need a second dumpster for all of that stuff.

A couple observations:

  1. I think stuff breeds when you put it away. I swear I’ve found things I’ve never seen before and have no memory of how they got here.

  2. I made a lot of stupid purchases at second hand stores just because the stuff was cheap and we might need it when ours wears out. If our stuff did wear out I wouldn’t be able to find the replacement in all this crap anyway. Again, sometimes the best place to store your stuff is at the store.

  3. I bought a lot of cheap junk which didn’t last and would have been better off saving up for good quality things instead. It’s so depressing seeing all the busted stuff we have around here. What was it Jeff Foxworthy said? “If it ain’t broke it ain’t ours.” Yeah, that’s us. And it wouldn’t be if I bought good quality items.

  4. I have a problem with purses and coats. I have tons of them. Most are out of here.

  5. When you’re sick of your clothes get rid of them! Just because they’re perfectly good doesn’t mean you need them in your house. You’re just left with closets full of stuff you’ll never wear again. Why take up that space with things you don’t even like?

  6. If you find you don’t know what project you want to make- go through your supplies. Clean out the crap, the tacky stickers we all bought in the nineties-pitch ’em! All that patterned paper, the ugly ribbon, the dried up stuff- pitch it all! Only keep what you really like and what you’ll actually use. I have four totes filled with puppet making supplies. I’m going to make a ton of puppets and donate them to preschools in the area. Get rid of that stuff!

  7. If a new trend comes along, don’t buy every single thing to make it. I did that for lots of things. Once I made a few of whatever it was, I’d be bored with it and move onto something else. I’m never making candles, lip balm, lotions, bath salts or any of the stuff again-yet I have totes of supplies. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

  8. Before you buy a new supply, ask yourself if you already have something that will do the same thing. I have probably 15 different brands of watercolor paints. I have enough to last a couple years, if I painted every day. That’s just ridiculous.

  9. I will be much more mindful of what I’m purchasing in the future. Does it serve a purpose? Do I actually like it or am I just settling on it (when I would really prefer something else) just because it’s cheap? Do I already have something that will do the same thing (or very close)? Is it good quality or cheap crap that won’t last? Does it enhance my life in some way or does it just add more “stuff” to it?

  10. I will also be much more selective when buying gifts. Sometimes I throw something in the cart because I have a price amount I want to spend-and everybody’s is the same. Well just because I’m spending slightly less on one is no reason to buy junk to reach my spending amount. If that happens again, I’ll buy a gift card from the gas station-everybody needs gas in their vehicles.

All I can say is this has been eye opening. The more you have the more you have to take care of.

I was thinking about this. When we stay in a hotel, what is nice about that? Well, there’s no clutter, it’s spotlessly clean, and very simply furnished. The linens are crisp and fresh with bright white towels and a very clean bathroom. Everything has a place and everything you need is easily accessible.

Why can’t our homes be this way too? Why do we have so much stuff we can’t even find what we’re looking for? Is it to much to have what we need, in its spot where we can always find it, without the appalling excess? The store has more stuff, if we need to replace a worn out item-so we can get rid of it and replace as needed. We don’t have to store extras just in case…

Again, I am in no way a minimalist, but I’ve certainly seen the light when it comes to living with less. It’s a freeing experience to get rid of stuff and one I would recommend highly.

Daily Art Challenge: July 17

Having spent the last several days purging, dumping and donating-I thought a challenge using found objects was in order.

These could be things you’ve found in a drawer in the kitchen, something you found in your kids toy box, a bottle cap you found while on a walk…

Since the massive purge of our stuff began, I’ve found things I could swear I’ve never seen before.  Boxes filled with fabric I’ve never laid eyes on, books and games, tools, you name it and I’ve found it.  Much of it could be used in art projects.

Use whatever you have available and be fearless in creating your art.


True Confession Time

Alright guys, here’s the deal.  My blog is showing the “white screen of death”.

This happened a couple weeks ago and I’ve only been able to post from my phone.  I’m not able to do anything from my computer.  I have tried to figure out what the problem is and have been unsuccessful in correcting the issues thus far.  One suggestion was to change the theme, which I did.  Now there is no tab showing that says “write” which is what I’ve always used to post.  I’m in a quandary here-do I just bag this blog and start a new one?  Even though I haven’t been able to post pictures for several months-which has frustrated me no end-there is a tremendous amount of detailed information on here.

I mean, I have tutorials, DIY’s, product reviews, series, challenges, tips and tricks, frugal alternatives, this site is information heavy.

And after several years I’m finally starting to build a following…

According to WordPress, the site is backed up daily.  That’s great.  Maybe I can download everything, then start a new blog and put it all back on the new one.  I don’t know if that’s possible, or how to do it.  I cannot access my administration area to even try to correct these problems.

I’m sure many of you are saying :  “Well just go into such and such and do this and that and then everything will be fine.”  Yeah.  Except I’m completely computer illiterate and have no idea what any of that would mean or the first clue how to do it.

My husband is a computer guy, but has never used WordPress nor does he have the time to mess with my blog problems.  His suggestion is to pitch the whole thing, since it’s not like I’m making money doing this, it’s just for fun.

My reason for creating the blog in the first place was to share my passion for creating art on a limited budget.  I thought there were probably others like me, with large families living on one income and no extra money for art materials.  If I could share some ways to make art on the cheap, others might be encouraged or inspired to do it too.

At this point I’m utterly frustrated and defeated.  I’ve spent vast amounts of time researching and trying out the stuff I’ve shared with you here.  I work hard at coming up with inexpensive alternatives to commonly used supplies.  I try to give you helpful information so you can make informed decisions about what to spend your hard earned money on.

And now the site I’ve worked so hard to build is messed up and I don’t know how to fix it…

I will continue to try to correct the problems I’m having here, and I really appreciate your support and encouragement these last several years.  If I should screw it up and this blog vanishes- I’ll be back with the same name.  It just might not be with WordPress.





Daily Art Challenge: July 16

Our challenge today is to use a black background for our art project.  This can be black paper, black gesso, black paint.

The use of a dark background can give you an entirely new perspective on your project.  Often we use the same light or white paper or canvas for each project, forgetting the possibilities of other, more dramatic options.

The use of pastels on a black background can have truly spectacular results.  A painting of a treasured landscape becomes entirely different when seen in the shadowy twilight of an evening sky.  A portrait stands out proudly from a dusky backdrop.

Use chromatic blacks when possible over straight black from a tube.  The richness of these blacks will bring a liveliness to your work which is lacking from straight blacks.  (My not so humble opinion is true black deadens a painting and makes the other colors flat, which is why I mix my own.)  Here are a few simple recipes for chromatic blacks for you to try-one part to one part of each:

  1. Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.
  2. Phthylo blue and raw umber
  3. Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine blue
  4. Dioxazine purple and Phthylo Green
  5. Dioxazine purple and sap green

Obviously there are many different options for color mixing.  These are just a couple very simple recipes anyone can mix.

Many artists take great pride in their color mixing abilities and guard their color recipe books like they’re the Crown Jewels.  I have several books of my own recipes, and when I have no inspiration for creating anything, I’ll mix colors for my books.  It’s a very relaxing thing for me to do and I have discovered some truly delightful hues along the way.

Give a “black” background a try and see how you like it.

Weekly Techniques Challenge: Week 27

Each week we are focusing on an art technique.  For week 7 we had the challenge of making a value scale.  If you had already made one of those, the other option was to make an Edgar Degas inspired pastel art piece.  Our techniques challenge for this week is further exploring the versatile medium.

pastels from an earlier post-getting to know your supplies.

We’re going to begin with a simple image: a pear.  You can find an image of a pear at the site Paint My Photo.  This is where photographers upload their pictures and artists can use them copyright free.  This site is a valuable, and free, resource you should take advantage of.

Now that you have your image, begin by lightly sketching it in with your pastels.  (Use pastel paper or give a sheet of watercolor paper a thin coat or two of clear gesso.  This will provide the necessary tooth for pastel art.). Soft pastels will fill the tooth of your paper, so I would use those last for finishing your painting.  You can blend your colors by use of a blending stump, crumpled tissue or paper towel, your fingers, cotton swabs or sponge tools.

Another technique is called scrambling.  This is laying color over top of other colors.  For example, once you’ve blended your pear, you can add more color over top in layers.  Adding yellows over blues will give you a green look.  Add browns and yellows for a golden look to your pear.

Scrumbling can be done by using small circular motions, lightly adding your colors to your work.  Feathering is similar, only you use a hatching/cross hatching pattern rather than circular motions.  Either of these techniques will give your painting depth and interest.

Hard pastels are used first to prevent filling the tooth of the paper.  Once the tooth is full you can’t add more pastel, it won’t adhere.  This is why you wait until the last step in your painting to add the very soft pastels.  These are perfect for your highlights and shadows.  The beautiful creaminess of the soft pastels are delightful to work with.  Your finished painting will be detailed and rich, with several layers of color.

Once you’ve finished your painting, either store it in a glassine bag or mat the painting and put into a frame with glass.  You add the mat to create a space between the picture and the glass to prevent moisture or dust from reaching it.  If you choose to seal your painting, use the cheapest hairspray you can find.  This has no extra additives which can damage your art.  Also be aware, you will have color shift if you seal your pastel paintings.  No matter what type of sealer you use.

And, as always, hang art out of direct sunlight.  This goes for all art work.


Daily Art Challenge: July 15

The challenge for today is to use vintage lettering in your art work.  This can be copyright free images from the internet or letters you make yourself.

I’m currently reading a biography of a person from the 1400’s.  In this book are several examples of ornate lettering from historic documents.  Due to the time period of the persons life, many of the documents are from church records and royal decrees.  I am fascinated by the elaborate way in which these documents were written.  Since only the very wealthy and highly educated of the time could read and write, other than those within the clergy, few would have been able to read them.

The tools used to create these breathtaking works were miserable at best.  Pens were made of cane, reed, bird quill or metal.  To make a quill with cane or reed, first they removed the center of the cane-the pith-then carved the tip to a point or an angle.  Lastly, a small slit was cut in the tip.  The hollow made where the pith was removed held the ink, which flowed through the slit to the tip.  Feather quills were made in the same way and were usually more flexible and lighter than a reed or cane quill.  While the metal pens were durable, the others could be quickly sharpened or adjusted by cutting with a pen knife to suit that writers preference.

The pen knife had many uses for the scribe.  Not only could it sharpen the quill, but it was also used to scrape off their mistakes.  It was the ancient scribes eraser.

The parchment used was made from the skin of animals, usually cows, sheep or goats.  The methods used to make the parchment weren’t consistent and also cost a lot of money.  There were times a scribe would be writing on their parchment and come upon areas of hair.  The use of pumice stone helped smooth the uneven parchment with limited success.  The most costly parchment was usually reserved for monks who were transcribing the Bible.  Legal and historic documents were put on lesser quality parchment.

Because there were no reliable light sources, other than daylight hours, the scribes worked as long as they could see to do so.  Candles provided little light to help the scribes produce the intricate letters and decorative elements you see in these fascinating works.

And even though there are errors in some of these parchments, the efforts made by these dedicated scribes should be greatly admired.  Their working conditions were miserable-imagine working hunched over for hours at a time in blistering heat or frigid temperatures, year round, with poor tools and lousy light.  The monotony of transcribing must have taken a toll on these unsung artists as well.

So take a bit of time to admire the beautiful lettering and the dedication of the scribe.  Truly one of the hardest working and least appreciated  group of artists ever.