Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Big Blue

My grandpa is turning 92 this week! He's been a farmer all his life. In fact, he's lived in the same house his entire life! Just think about that - 92 years in the same house! Of course he's not out plowing fields anymore, but I know he'd love to be driving his trusty blue Ford tractor if he could. Since he can't climb up into the cab anymore, I thought I'd do a painting of it so he can still have "Big Blue" close by.

 This tractor is older than I am - as a kid I can remember him telling me how the hat the dealer gave him when he bought this Ford was the most expensive hat he ever purchased.....but it came with a great "free" tractor! Over the years he's modified it - built a cab to stay warm while plowing snow as well as giving her a few new paint jobs.
 My dad sent some reference photos of Big Blue as she stands in the barn. Thankfully he included a few different angles so I could see what was hiding behind the posts. Since I knew Grandpa knows every inch of this tractor, I couldn't fake any of the details! 
I have never attempted a watercolor painting of this detail before - I am so surprised how it turned out! I think I've found "my voice" artistically. Painting with a teeny tiny brush and getting all those shadows and details just right was immensely satisfying. You could say I even felt giddy while painting! What fun! 

Happy Birthday, Grandpa! I hope you enjoy your painting!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sharpie Sunday

A Sharpie Seek-n-Find! The kids did almost all of this on their own - it's a project from Creative Doodling and Beyond by Stephanie Corfee. My daughter started with a few cute little drawings of items that represent her interests, then asked her 3 brothers and me to add some of our own. I guess they knew Dad would never draw anything, so they took the liberty of putting in a few doodles to represent him, too! 

A lot of extra doodles and designs filled in the gaps, just to make it harder to find each item. We typed up a list and attached it to the final artwork. Of course the enthusiasm for the project ran ahead of the planning - the kids finished everything then realized they needed a frame. Thank goodness for large floating frames! We could sandwich the poster between the glass and not worry about finding the exact size. (And when they tire of it, they can easily swap it out for a new drawing). Bonus.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Old Jeans, New Quilt

All those old jeans with worn our knees have new life! I finished this USA recycled denim quilt this afternoon and LOVE it! The denim makes it very heavy and snuggly.

If you want to try something like this, be warned: it is a labor-intensive process! I enlarged one of the kids' US maps, carefully pieced and cut out each state, then traced that paper pattern onto Heat-N-Bond. Cut each state out again and ironed it onto the wrong side of cut up jeans. Then each state was cut out again and ironed it into its final position on the background cloth (which is a heavy canvas duck cloth). I tried to use a variety of denim colors and some interesting details like pockets, seams, even the holes! In a flash of inspiration I made Lake Obi-Wan-Kenobi in Florida out of a hole (yes, I do know that's not the name of the lake, but I can never remember the correct name for the life of me. Okinabe? Ochikawee? It will probably remain a Jedi-lake in my mind forever).

For the quilting I wanted to try messy stitching around each state. This was a great way to learn how to manage and maneuver all the bulk of a quilt under the needle. I'm pretty new to machine quilting, but feel like I can advance to the next level (whatever that is) after this project. The messy stitching freed me of all need for precision and perfection - and it was a ton of fun! I threw in some zig zags and loops whenever I felt sassy. I was a little worried about how the stitching would go through the thick denim, canvas, and batting. A heavy needle was just the thing - only broke two needles.


For the back I used a variety of stash fabrics plus a bandana print. I searched high and low for a good bandana print and finally came up with this one from someone's stash on etsy. Sorry, I don't remember the name of the print.

After stitching down each state, I was queen of the free motion quilting. The oceans are a torrent of hurricane-esque swirls, and Canada is covered with loopy vines. All caution was thrown to the wind and I even tried a bit of FMQ lettering! I practiced with a marker on paper first to figure this out. 

I probably broke every rule on how to make a quilt on this one - pretty much made up my own process along the way. It was so much fun! I can see more applique and messy stitching in my future. I'm sure the boys will have their toy cars zooming across the country before long, and perhaps even a few notes will make their way into the pockets. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Secrets revealed

Babies - everyone loves them! And what's better than one baby but TWO? Double the squishy lovey-ness. I had the joy of attending a baby shower for twins this weekend. It was such fun, especially since many of the people attending made their gifts for the mom-to-be. I knew quite a few people would be sewing/knitting/crocheting goodies for the little ones, so I decided to do a painting. You've seen my sketches and details already. Here is the finished project!

This is a loose translation of a verse from Psalm 128. I used a version that we sing quite often in our worship services. I learned a lot in painting this - like how much I do NOT like to do lettering on a textured canvas! I struggled with my paints as well. Good materials make all the difference! Painting faces is completely out of my comfort zone, but I had lots of time while fighting bronchitis to sit in bed and practice. I have a sketchbook full of happy little faces now! Way back in my illustration classes our prof often told us to find a style that worked for us, but was flexible enough to show variety. Faces have always been a challenge for me, so I'm still seeking my own solution. Not a lot of variety in these kids, but it keeps the focus on the text.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sneak peek's a detail of a gift I've been working on as a gift for a friend. Will post the entire painting after I give it to her. I had a lot of fun creating these little kiddos!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Today's To-Do List

Hi all

It's been crazy around here lately. I'm slowly recovering from bronchitis, which has really slowed down everything in the house! Every day I try to add one more item to my regular routine until I'm back in the swing of things. Ironing clothes and scrubbing bath tubs are at the bottom of that list!

A few special projects have claimed some of my time lately. A painting for a baby shower. Drawing with my daughter. Altering pants for a high schooler. Preparing to host a dinner and an evening with friends.

Sewing has taken center stage now that a few other projects have wrapped up. I'm close to finishing this quilt, plus I plan to hack apart a maxi dress to turn it into a skirt as well as shorten a different skirt. (I've never owned anything that was too long for me, so I'm kind of giddy about chopping off the bottom and rehemming.) A new skirt is in the queue for my daughter as well. I'm going to encourage her to do some of the sewing herself to help sharpen her skills. Perhaps I can get to cleaning that bath tub while she's working!

What's on your to-do list today?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sharpie Sunday

Getting ready for Valentine's Day