Friday, December 18, 2015

Getting messy in the studio

The last few months I put the blog on hold, but I'm ready to come back and show everyone what's been going on around here!

Christmas is looming near, and with it all the anticipation and preparation. Each year I think I'm going to keep it low key, but then find myself getting giddy with excitement like a child! It's great! I've had a lot of fun making tons of new product for my shop, like theses zippy pencil pouches.

Not a new idea, but I love breaking free and doing some messy painting. I find it relaxing to not worry about straight lines and creating a "perfect" painting. These pouches are where I really get to play with color and pattern! To my surprise, colors I thought I didn't "like" have become some new favorites. I'm also learning to use new tools - like stencils, brayers, hex nuts, coffee cups - whatever I can apply paint with! The dots below were made with my fingers, then I used a cup to stamp the larger circles. Other favorite tools are bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, and paint pens.

Most of these zip pouches traveled with me to my first ever craft fair! Yay! It was a small event and not very well attended, but it was still a great learning experience. Creating a booth and displays made me think about my art in new ways. I'm ready to find a few more shows - but after the holidays!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Forever Flowers - Coloring Page

Another coloring page! This one is called "Forever Flowers" - pollen-free too! LOL

 Download this coloring page!

I'm having a great time making these illustrations and hope to do a few more. Get this download over at my Etsy shop, Domina Design.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Coloring Pages for Grown ups

My art "career" started with a coloring page - at the tender age of five I entered a department store's coloring contest. The picture had airplanes flying around a frame, and I colored them purple and yellow. I still remember my mom remarking how odd those colors were for airplanes - but I was not to be moved! Some time later I found out I had won the contest for my age group and got to have the joy of seeing my picture taped up in the front window of the store! The prize was a gift certificate to the store (not exactly what a five year old hopes for), but since then I've been hooked on coloring!

And so I'm offering my own coloring pages - to spread the love of coloring to all! It's so relaxing to sit down and get lost in filling in the spaces. I love using colored pencil and layering colors to add depth and dimension.

I have two coloring pages available for download over in my shop - and hope to add more in the days to come. You can get the "Rainy Garden" above, or perhaps some "Space Bubbles" are more your speed,

All downloads are high res and sized to fit an 8.5x11" paper. Watermarks will not appear in the purchased file. 

How will you color yours? Leave a comment and pic to share!

Friday, July 24, 2015

In my Sketchbook

School is back in session for us - the July heat and humidity are too much for doing anything outside, so we take the opportunity to get a jump on our school year. Yes, it's painful - but we will thank ourselves next spring! School feels different this year - the kids are older and do much more on their own, checking in with me a few times a day. I have a high schooler, two middle schoolers and a fourth grader. When did they grow up?? Starting the school year is very labor intensive for me - there are lists to make, last minute books to buy, school supplies to procure and color coordinate (yes, each student has their own color. I love organization), lists to double check, and finally we enter the tentative first day. To keep my sanity in the midst of starting a new school year, I try to find a few minutes every day to doodle in my sketchbook.

Nothing jaw dropping, but the exercise of getting out the paints and putting pigment to paper keeps my mind moving. It's a discipline of finding inspiration in the everyday things around me. The picture above was an embroidery pattern on a woman's shirt - I secretly painted it while sitting poolside waiting for the kids to finish swimming lessons.

And some quick lettering before turning in for the night.

And lest you think every page is something I love, here's proof that some days are just a disaster. I just roll with it and use the page for lettering practice instead. 

Now that our school routine is settling down, I think I will have more time to work on some bigger art projects.

Like this one.

Can you guess what's hiding under the sheet? 

A very large (and boring) painting - the walls in our garage. This is NOT pretty, but trust me, our neglected garage looks much better than it did a week ago! It is barely large enough to drive our mini van into, but not quite big enough to open the doors and exit said van. I have no idea who designed such a tiny parking area - someone who drives a motorcycle, perhaps? So the garage has become a catch-all for our STUFF (no basements in our reclaimed swamp area). I finally took everything down and patched and painted the walls. I plan to use this space as an art studio where I can create and hold classes! This will give me much more room when I have painting students, and nobody will have to worry about spilling paint in the house. A long table, a comfy chair, and we'll be ready to create some art!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Painting Houses

This week I've had the *joyous* task of painting my garage. It's been hot, sweaty, dirty work involving lots of spider killing. As I write this, there still remains one wall to paint - the one that has all my husband's tools hanging on it. So think of me this afternoon, taking down all those screwdrivers, pliers, and millions of peg board hooks!

In the middle of rolling on acres of white paint, I needed some excitment! So I set up my easel (which just happened to be in the garage) in the driveway and started painting. I think using a big roller on the walls caused me to swing to the other extreme - I found myself grabbing my tiniest brushes! The house across the street made a great model.

This is the house right across the road from ours. I look at it a million times a day, so I figured I might as well paint it! When we first moved in, we secretly called this the Haunted House - it was not well kept and we didn't think anyone lived there. But we eventually met our neighbor and he has done a lot to transform the spooky weedy mess into a lovely home, don't you think?

In the process I discovered I really like to paint outdoors, even though thunder was rumbling and dark clouds threatened overhead. A bright green dragonfly visited me often, landing on the top of my easel to oversee my progress. I didn't mind him flitting about because I knew he was eating the mosquitos that were eating me! Next time I paint outside, I'll wear long pants.

And painting in my driveway had another bonus - I could grill our hamburgers at the same time! OK, maybe that wasn't such a great idea. I got a bit wrapped up in my work and may have burnt them a bit.

Here's a quick photo of the house I snapped a couple days after I finished my painting, just for reference.

Friday, July 10, 2015

African Violets

Grocery store flowers get a bad rap, but when I saw these beauties for only $5 I had to snatch them up. Their boring plastic containers are hiding inside the (much prettier) ceramic pots. They've been in my kitchen for over a year, happily blooming - as long as I remember to water them. I sit in my favorite chair next to them every day with a cuppa coffee and a book - sometimes my sketchbook comes too.

Grandma frequently had African violets in her kitchen, too. These remind me of her, puttering about with her oven-singed wig and quick to offer her latest baked yummies. Sometimes when we'd be running errands she'd drive way out in the country to the violet whisperer - a farmer's wife who propagated and sold violets from her garage. I was very young and don't remember much, but I imagine every windowsill in her house was crowded with pots of flowers, violets on top of the washer and dryer, pots over every surface of her patient husband's workbench - all trying to catch what little sunlight the Michigan winters offered. A little sunlight makes me happy too!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

It's almost over in my part of the country, but I can still hear a few pops and booms from neighborhood fireworks. It's always so hard to coax the kids to sleep when the sounds of nearby festivities floats in through their windows! They really need to rest - it's been a tough week for all of us. Colds and fevers meant we didn't get to see friends who we've been longing to visit, several hours of sitting in traffic on clogged highways, and a random pinched nerve in my neck. Yeah, it's been a who-tossed-the-match-into-the-firecracker-shed kind of week. Whew!

To end the day I'm sharing a painting I did a while ago, to remember Who binds the restless wave (that's a great description, don't you think?) and also to Whom we owe our thanks for freedom in this great nation (for those on the sea as well as the rest of us land lubbers!).

I hope you enjoyed the holiday! Here's hoping for calmer waters next week for everyone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New cards

This spring has been busy - busy producing artwork! A box full of lovelies came back to me lately from the printer....mmmm, I love the smell of fresh ink. And the sound of printing presses. And the potential in reams of blank paper. The whole printing industry is really fascinating and worth a field trip if you can swing it. My creative staff (read: children) came along on my proofing visit and were a bit disappointed that they didn't get to see these giant machines in action, especially after I hyped up how amazing they are. Maybe next time, guys.

But look - new cards!

And this sweet little imprint on the back -

I cannot tell you how exciting it is to see my own art in print! And now I get to share it with you - these are for sale over in my shop, either individually or in a set. And because I'm blown away at how expensive greeting cards are in the store, I've determined to keep these much more affordable.

Have a great summer! My little studio is enjoying inspiration from the wild outdoors and I can't wait to share more with you soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A cupcake for everyday

Every day should be a celebration! I painted this cupcake thinking it'd be a fun piece to hang up when family birthdays roll around, but it's so happy I think it needs to be up all year long! 

I hope to get prints and cards made of this soon - I'll let you know when they're available!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

One Word Weekend - Olives

The past few weekends have slipped away from me in this series. Blame the allure of spring weather. This time I have a page from my watercolor sketchbook - it started as a page to clean off my brush, but some of the colors inspired me to paint some of these delicious little gems. Too bad there aren't any in my house right now!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A peek inside my sketchbook....Lilacs

Still smitten with the lilacs around here. This time, I'm preserving them in my art journal with a quick watercolor and ink sketch. Too bad I can't preserve the smell. Mmm.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring blossoms

Our poor yard is getting a facelift this spring, which means my poor body is getting a workout. There is lots of digging, dividing, trimming and transplanting going on around here! 

Several big hostas were divided to fill in naked areas around our deck. When we bought this house, there was one giant - and lonely - granddaddy hosta in the back yard. I've been dividing it over the years and now have over a dozen plants taken from the original! Hostas are so easy to grow and look great; they are my favorite thing to put in areas that need a little oomph. Can't wait to see what these guys look like when they've filled in a bit.

This huge spirea was planted right in front of our house door. You couldn't even see the door from the street! The branches grew out so quickly we were constantly hacking them back just to have room to walk into our house! A friend helped dig it out, then we pulled it out of the ground the rest of the way with a tow rope hooked to my van. I was worried it wouldn't survive the move, but it budded and looks great! Now it's in our back yard where we can actually see the lovely blooms. 

And oh - the lilacs! This was a true gift from God. I didn't know this bush was right by my kitchen window when we bought our house. Having moved to the South from Michigan, I missed the lilacs that are so common there each spring. Someone told me they didn't grow in the South - guess they were wrong!

The smell wafting into my kitchen is delicious!

But watch out for bumblebees before you decide to bury your nose for a whiff!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Keep smiling!

A quick doodle for lettering practice. Warming up the watercolors for a wedding project today. I hope to squeeze some art time in between teaching school and soccer practice tonight!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bow ties for the Boys

There are a ton of projects lined up by my sewing machine! This cute little bow tie was one of four that I knocked out last week. Seriously, these are so quick and easy, they take just as long to sew together as they do to cut out.

To encourage my guys to wear a tie, some fun fabrics were in order. What 8 year old doesn't want to wear a Star Wars tie??

I used this pattern from It's Always Autumn. It's sized for boys/tweens, and was a snap to make. Since I used quilting cottons that already had some body to them, I skipped the interfacing. The one thing that wasn't mentioned in the pattern which I think is important is to lay out the pattern pieces on the bias. This will help the tie to lay better when you tie it. It took just under half a yard to make each one - a great way to use up some scraps of fabric.

Making these was addictive:

basic denim - wouldn't this look great with a bright plaid shirt?

 and tractors! But wait - this one has a secret -

- a secret identity! I sewed a contrasting fabric on the back of the ties, making it reversible! It's kind of like a mullet - party on one side, business on the other. Not that I would ever encourage a mullet. Some things need to stay in the '80s. 

I also made a red/white polka dot tie, but couldn't find it when I photographed the others. Later it turned up, tied around the neck of my son's giant stuffed penguin. Go figure. Hey, when nature gives you a built-in tuxedo, I guess you need a snazzy bow tie to go with it, right? 

A friend had a great tip for making the neck length adjustable: sew in a elastic strip that has buttonholes, like the ones that you find in the waistband of kids' jeans. I will have to try that next time.

If you don't know how to tie a bow tie, it's not hard at all! Much like tying your shoes, only with a bit of finesse. Even if you don't have boys, it's great to learn how - you can use the same method to tie those big bow sashes on the backs of little girls' dresses. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Vintage pillowcase turned skirt

Vintage linens are a weak spot for me - I love the soft worn feel, the muted colors, florals (and more florals!). Whenever I'm in a thrift shop I always make sure I cruise by the linens section to see what treasures are to be found. If there's lace, it gets my attention! Pretty flowers and I'm bringing it home with me. I've used them to make PJ pants, quilts, baby dresses, and now a skirt.

I found this lovely pillowcase for a mere $2.00 and knew it was destined to become more than a shelf sitter. Lovely linens deserve so much more than to collect dust on a forgotten shelf!! There was a unique, centered motif on this one that caught my eye. At first I thought it'd be great for an apron, but later I changed my mind and decided a lightweight summer skirt would be perfect! It was so easy. Here's how I did it.

First I cut the pillowcase apart at the sides and trimmed off the wide band on the opening. This gave me two panels, the front and back of the skirt. The design is horizontally oriented - so this project is made with the pillowcase in "landscape" position. Guess my body is more landscape shaped than vertical! Really, I wanted to have a gathered elastic waist I needed the extra width to draw in (because this is a quick project, remember? No fussing with zippers!).

Side seams were sewn next, then the top folded down and stitched to form a 1" casing for elastic. I cut the trim off another pillowcase and sewed that to the bottom edge for a pretty lace hem. Last I pulled my elastic through to fit and voila! It's perfect for a spring tea party, don't you think?

The rest of the pillowcase that the lace edging was taken from is another vintage-rescue project in the works - this time it's ALL lace!. I'll show that to you soon! You'll love it!

Happy creating!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Grandma's hummers

Grandma loved hummingbirds - she would diligently fill her bird feeders everyday. She had to. There were so many of those ruby-throated gems visiting her kitchen window that they'd drink an entire feeder's contents in one day! I remember counting 20 of them darting, fighting for a turn at the perch. There was also an ancient trumpet vine climbing up some utility wires to the top of the telephone pole - another hummingbird favorite. Grandma's passed on now, and new owners are in the house...trumpet vine torn down and bird feeders removed. Kind of sad, but I can't help but smile and think of Grandma whenever I see a hummingbird.

I think Grandma would've enjoyed this painting!! It's my second attempt at getting everything right - sizes, colors, textures. I'm still figuring out how to translate what is in my head onto the canvas without getting sidetracked. :) 

An armful of hummingbird books came home with me from the library. I wanted to study their shape and coloring better. Did you know hummingbirds only live in the Americas? Lucky us! Most are in the tropics, but some range as far north as Alaska. And the fact I found most interesting: they cannot walk. Guess you don't need to walk much when you can dance in the air so beautifully!

Free spirited fuschia flowers - my other Grandma often had baskets of these hanging at her lake house. I had fun making the background textures: I stenciled paper doilies, stamped with corrugated cardboard, and made random dots with the end of my paint brush.

Ah, Grandma, this one's for you! (I got choked up writing that just now).
Don't you think it should hang next to the painting of Grandpa's tractor, Big Blue

I'll be leading a sip and paint style class tomorrow night featuring this painting and can't wait to see how my students do! Wish us luck!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Why I let kids doodle in my books

Many of you know I homeschool my four kids - this is a full time job and my art has to get squeezed into any spare moments. As the kids are getting older (hello - high school next fall!?), I find that the one-on-one teaching time is diminishing a bit. I try to sit with my kids while they're working so I'm immediately available to answer questions, but for those moments when I'm waiting for them to finish up assignments, I keep my sketchbook handy.

And often in their spare moments, little hands will end up doodling in my sketchbook too - because just watching Mom is impossible. My ideas inspire their own ideas, which are often good ones! I think they feel grown up and special knowing they can draw in Mom's books.

I think it all started here, when I traced their hands in the front cover of a brand new sketchbook. Somehow that told them this book wasn't sacred ground - they were now a part of it. Many times we have come back to this page and laughed while comparing our current hand sizes to the ones here.

Art has been a way of life for us. As little kids, they loved to request drawings. Since I have three boys, dragons were often asked for.

LOTS of dragons. And knights. And damsels in distress. I would draw and they would tell little stories that would grow and require I add more to the picture.

Even though they loved to have me draw for them, I encouraged them to draw their own pictures from an early age - all the time telling them it was ok if it didn't look like Mom's! That was a struggle and discouraging for them at times, but now they are all confident in their own styles and skills.

Sometimes I'd have little ones sit on my lap and scribble while I helped older ones do school lessons. Eventually, their drawings magically appeared in my sketchbook all on their own!

They started out as simple little doodles - tanks and armies were common themes (boys!).

They became more complex...

And sometimes we even collaborated!

All these are little snapshots of their personalities and developmental skills - better than a photograph in many ways. With four little kids, I didn't have much time to chase around with a camera, so these drawings have become my memory book of their early childhood. 

I look in here and see a boy's first attempts at writing his name

And glimpses into their imaginations - look at the worlds they came up with!

(the above warms my heart especially - my daughter painted this. Being the only girl with three brothers, she is a wonderful mix of rainbows, volcanoes,  crumbling fairy castles, and lava snakes.)

This is a fantastic record of their current interests and quirky sense of humor! Really, I have no idea why this potato is laughing maniacally. And a happy tomato can? Better than a Hallmark card. I've learned to just enjoy, don't try to comprehend!

All these are interspersed with my sketches for logo designs, painting rough drafts, and whatever else I happened to noodle. Whenever I get bogged down in a project all I have to do is flip a few pages for inspiration!

For the thousands of sheets of paper my kids used, these are the only drawings that survived. I'm not super sentimental and don't save much, especially when I end up with 300 drawing that look identical. But these doodles in my books will always remind me of our crazy times together! Now that they're older they enjoy having their own sketchbooks, which is kind of sad for me. There's something special about the mish-mash of everyone's thoughts all together in one place.

 I should mention that even though I allow my kids to draw in my books, we never had any issues with them drawing in other books. There are over 2000 books in this house (I married a bibliophile), and the only one I can think of that's been damaged embellished by a young artist is a page in the book of Isaiah in my husband's bible!

Do art together as a family!  You'll make more than two-dimensional memories. Maybe this would be a great idea to try as a family over the summer - keep a family sketchbook/art journal of your adventures together.

Happy creating!