Monday, December 31, 2012

Writing Life

I love writing like I love painting. They both take you somewhere far away from your pain an troubles. People are often surprised when they actually talk to me or see me and find it odd when I tell them that they'd like me better on paper or e-mail. I don't think I'm alone in that, do you?

If you're going to write your day, wouldn't you want it to be somehow better and brighter instead of listing every ache or pain and problem? There are certainly enough people out there doing that and I want the focus here to be the art, gardening and crafts.

That said, I'd like to give you some further updates on projects:

I'm back to hand hemming that green tablecloth and finding it a bit boring so I keep switching between that and the sunflower painting.

I wrote notes on both of the backs of those blue and white paintings before I listed them for sale. I felt it was important to let people know that they can come to this blog and see the whole creation process from beginning to end of both pieces. Having done that I'm also considering making a disc so that I can watch the whole thing in my DVD player, a bit like a football player watching game footage to see where the game went right or wrong.

Yes, it's true "My projects have projects"

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quitting for the night on the Sunflower Painting

Progress on the Sunflower Painting


I had started this sunflower painting last summer but they quit blooming so I quit painting.

I like working from live flowers but I don't want to wait 1/2 a year to have more of them so I thought I'd just grab my brushes and get back to work on it.

It's going slowly but I'm starting to enjoy it again...

Moving along

I was tempted to put those blue and white paintings up in the dining room but realized that I couldn't afford frames anyway  so I'll be listing those for sale on etsy and moving on to other projects.

My practice quilt piece from yesterday will be the protective packing when I send more quilter's dala  horses to Karen.

I'll finish hemming that tablecloth which I'm pleased to report laundered well and didn't even unravel.

We're carving and sanding more wooden horses.

I still can't get "into" a new painting but I keep trying and when I get frustrated with that I go back to completing or revising some of the old ones.

As usual there are a lot of other things going on around here but I'm less interested in them right now than I am in making some breakfast and grabbing another cup of coffee.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Before and after

I just couldn't get "into" a new painting today so I decided to rework an old one.

When I finished this one a year ago I loved it but I've changed my style quite a bit and I wanted this painting to reflect that.

I completely painted over the most distracting horse and then made minor changes on five or six more.

This is how it stands now and I'm looking forward to treating it to a new frame in the dining room where it should look great with my blue and white dishes, vases and flower pots.

Getting Ready To Paint

Paints, canvases and palette knives

I got out some brushes too but have no firm idea of what I want to paint yet so I'm just moving a bit of color around and seeing if it sparks any ideas. With the first one I even stuck my hands into it and did a bit of finger painting.

Amazing timing and unexpected surprises

I got started on the round tablecloth I'd hoped to have finished before Christmas and had about 3/4 of it hemmed when I had unexpected company. Yes I used the tablecloth anyway, I simply put it on the table with the finished portions facing my guests and the shaggy bit on my side.

Ron and Karen brought lunch, more paints and a 2013 calendar- just in time too, it was all needed and appreciated.

The really cool thing was that on top of all of that Karen gave me a little sewing lesson on how to make and apply quilt bindings as well as giving me some bindings to practice with just in time for those placemats I've been wanting to make.

Thanks So Much!

You've probably guessed by now that I'm headed for the paints and will post pictures again when I can. (It depends on how caught up I get in them)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Some of today's projects

This scarf is easy but a bit boring so I'll just do a couple of more rows and set it aside so that I can move on to some photography that will kick off a new series of projects in pen, pencil and paint.

Oh, back to the scarf. I'm using a size K hook and started by crocheting a chain as long as I wanted the scarf to be and then taking it from there with a half double crochet stitch (you can look that up in any crochet book or just leave a comment and I'll be happy to shoot more pictures to show you how)
I chain 2 at the end of each row and turn. It goes pretty fast but the paints are pulling me and I want to get back to some acrylics.

Watercolor poinsettia

I started this poinsettia at painting group where they had one to work from. There's nothing at home except this picture of a rug torn from a catalog in my junk mail so it will be interesting to see what happens between the petals I'd already dome and the shading ideas from the catalog.

Next year I hope to have enough space in here to get some real plants to work with but in the meantime it will be interesting to see how this painting turns out. I haven't quite decided whether I'm finished with it or not.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Project update

it's good to be back to work at the table:

DRAWING- Most of the drawings have been on peoples letters so I haven't bothered to scan them

CROCHETING- I just finished a hat and have gone back to making scarves

SEWING- I'm sorting fabrics and deciding what I want to work on next

EMBROIDERY- I'm still finishing the outside pieces for a tote bag that I'm making

It helped to clear off the table for a while and get everything sorted and organized. There are fewer projects on the table now but I'm getting a lot more done.

Christmas sales were disappointing so I've gone back to reading "Affirmations for artists by Eric Maisil" it was encouraging to  be reminded that " work that is difficult and often fails,they compete in a marketplace that provides few of them a living wage" it's not just me.

The next description reminds me a bit of myself and makes me smile, I hope you enjoy it too.
"The artist at her best-wild,passionate, rebellious and humane-is often too large and truthful a creature for society's taste. The artist at her most outlandish-profane, eccentric, even a little mad-is at least as disquieting a figure. In neither case can she walk the streets with impunity: her grandeur and her strangeness make her a target. Her task is to become a successful eccentric, a strange but wise duck able to venture out of solitary confinement and mingle among society"

Now that I'm back to the studio it may be a while before I venture out in the real world again but right now I'm thinking that's a good thing.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday for the worktable

 I'm sure this doesn't look like much to most people but the candle ring is from my sister in law,the fabric was from my Mom and the imari pattern china is from the very first set of dishes I ever picked out back in the 1970's. Of course guys don't generally like to use tiny teacups so the mug is from our product line at Zazzle. The image on it is from a Christmas stocking I made about 20 years ago. These are the things that make it special to us.

I was surprised to discover that almost all of the thread I have left around here is heavy hand quilting thread so the sewing machine wasn't an option which of course explains why I was only able to hem the table topper in time for Christmas. In the background you can see that there's a LOT more of this fabric I can do things with for next year. I think it's time to ask Mom "what were you thinking?" and see if she'd still like to have any of the things she wanted to make. I'll do that today before I make any plans for the rest of it.

As you can see, most of my projects didn't go very far but it helped to make that list and set some priorities for them so I'll tackle the most important ones first when I get back to work

In the meantime I plan to enjoy things, how about you?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Better late than never with a surprise

I finally cleared off the table and decided to make some table linens to brighten our Christmas. We're
making quiche in the morning! We're picking up some apple cider today, it's been a while and sounds really good-don't you think so?

Well, that table never stays cleared off for long. Here are a few fabrics that might work.
 Yes, all the fabric I own "lives" in that green bin in front of the buffet so finding enough of anything for a project can be a challenge.

Just as I'd cleared things away and was waiting for the next part of my project a friend dropped by with the perfect gift. You're bound to see this little pitcher turning up in my paintings for years but in the meantime it's the perfect place to keep my most important and well used brushes (details and liners) until I'm able to fill it with flowers.

The really funny thing about all of this is that I had just finished telling my husband that he might as well come away from the window because "it's not like anyone will be stopping here this Christmas"...and then someone did. Thank goodness for friends!!! They chase the blues away and help keep me going. Happy Holidays to all of them and to all of you.

As festive as it gets

 The silver tree by my computer monitor is fiber optic and kind of pretty at night and as you can see here is really something when the sun bounces off of it. When we've got trouble seeing the things we're working on at the computer we run them on the TV which probably explains the placement of my desk. Anyway, as you can see that card display idea works in here and we've enjoyed it quite a bit.

 This little tree is in the dining room and had a tree skirt around it until I loaned it to someone who needed it more.
This is also in the dining room and shows that you can still use your mini blinds when displaying cards in them as long as you leave the bottom half of the blind empty so that it can be raised or lowered. The beauty of this idea is that the blinds can still be opened  and closed regardless of the number of cards you've got in there.

Where does the time go?

I've already given away all of the things from my last post. As you can imagine, this time of year just about everyone is happy to get a card and some fresh cookies.

 The potholder was appreciated so I started another one and while I was doing that I finished a hat and started another one and a scarf. Yes I get a bit carried away with things and it's endless. One project always carries me into another and it can be hours,days or weeks before I snap out of it and wonder what happened.

It's a good thing we're not expecting company for the holidays. I work at the dining room table and her's a tour of the projects happening there right now:

1.Crochet potholder
2.crochet hat
3.crochet scarf
4.patchwork tote bag
7&8.paper projects and letters
9.painting a wooden bird house
10.carving a wooden horse
11.painting a watercolor poinsettia
12.pencil drawings

The thing that makes this really interesting is that the diameter of the table is only 52 inches so I just don't buy it when people say they don't pursue their hobbies or interests because they don't have room.

Do the best you can with whatever you've got anyplace you can. It's the only thing thing that really matters to me these days and I think you'll find it useful to you too.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Projects and thoughts on what's next

Here's a view of that last horse from above so that you can see the designs on the top and the back.

Here are a few cards I made today from the supplies I was given recently. They were fun and seemed to work out really well.

After finishing that I went back to crocheting another pot holder which sadly is the only present I can give my hubby this year.

Starting any business is a hard and slow process with a lot of lean times. It helps us to keep going to know how many people are really wanting us to succeed, we'd hate to let them down.

On the bright side, having some new potholders made baking a few holiday cookies more fun.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Red Dala Horse

This one is a bit more traditional in style than most of the horses that I've been designing lately. There's a good reason for that. This one's for my Dad who's really proud of his Swedish heritage.

A lot of the strokes are still not coming easily to me but I'm sure I'll improve with practice.

Fast, Easy and Cheap

 A lot of public spaces don't let you put any decorations up but there happened to be a hook on that wall just perfect for an old wreath. All I needed to do was make a quick bow to brighten it up a bit. This time of year you can find a lot of decorations on recycling sites for free. Even without cash there's ALWAYS something you can do to brighten things up.

Crocheting can be useful. I made the afghan we tossed over the organ and a friend crocheted the mats under the centerpieces. Yes, in the background is one of those old fireplace videos to help set the mood in the room.

The centerpieces themselves are just made from chunks of birch bark, bits of ribbon and holiday greens.(these are cloth and plastic but you can use anything you've got) There's a small hole drilled in the top for a battery operated candle. The greens are stapled on the side and a bow is tied around it to hide the staple. They're 3 of my favorite things: Fast, Easy and cheap.

Anything you've got leftover can be tossed into a vase to add a festive touch just about anywhere.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Flower Power Dala horse


This horse is about twice as wide as the ones I've been turning into ornaments so this one will stand on a table or shelf. I chose these colors because the person I designed it for collects things from the 1960's and 70's. I was "playing" with the placement of the leaves and flowers and think I like the way They turned out on the front best. I'll try to get some regular photos so that you can see it from all angles before I send it on it's way.

Enjoying the ride

It was was relaxing and fun just to spend the day with my mail and draw all around and on my letters. It gave me some practice drawing things that I don't usually do and kept the letters interesting both for those I write to and for me because I sometimes get bored or frustrated when trying to draw something new. It helps to "blow off steam" and write "I hate this" or "can you believe what this looks like?" and it gives them the chance to say "I've got her very first drawing of that".

I don't like being bad at something but I'm willing to risk it and keep trying new things instead of getting stuck with the easy "go to" subjects or projects.

I don't know where I'm going with it and I really don't care, I'm just enjoying the ride.

Today I'm back to carving and painting horses but with a new twist. I can't afford to buy Christmas presents this year (or food ...or clothes...or anything like a lot of the rest of the country) so I'll be doing horses is some really unusual themes to go with everyone's collections.

I'll keep you posted on the results.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

17 row crochet pot holder

I was just about to finish this when I thought that you might like to see how it goes together. It's really easy to make:

worsted weight cotton yarn
size G, H or I hook  The size of hook you use depends on whether you crochet loose or tight. I like to use a G because it works best for me and smaller stitches keep the heat from getting through it.

Chain 37 then single crochet in all of the chains all the way around. (instead of going back and forth on rows as you would on most projects you crochet this in one long round) You're finished when you lay it down on a table and the ends meet as shown and you can sew them together. After that all you have to do is weave in the end of the yarn for a few inches.

Friday, December 14, 2012

15 row crochet hat

After a big project I like to relax with this fast and easy hat. the pattern I use is out of an old book from the 1980's but any hat pattern will work. The real trick is in choosing a yarn that you can use with a size J or K hook. It's all done in double crochet stitch so that speeds everything up as well.

An easy way to make sure it's going to be the right size is to lay it on top of a hat that fits or that you like. By holding it up against a finished hat you can tell if you're getting too wide or too narrow and you can increase or decrease wherever it needs it without having to think about it too much.The best thing is that it will be easy to tell when it's wide or long enough without having to count or stitches or rows.

There are several different charities that I donate these to and I'll be taking this one to crochet group with me next week. Most of them stay right in the neighborhood and I think that's kind of nice too.

I'm planing to sit down with some drawing books tomorrow and go back to trying to teach myself to draw dogs.

Moving between projects keeps things from getting boring and moves the day along pretty fast.

Projects and ideas in photos and paint

 These went fairly well but I've got several days into them and I'm still adding layers of clear coat so it may be tomorrow before I'm actually finished with them and ready to send them on their way.

 Coming to the end of that project I'm kicking around ideas for what I want to do next. I started by photographing my Christmas stocking. So far the plan is that if I don't like the way the photo itself works on a greeting card I'll just use it to base a series of drawings and paintings on until I find an image that works for me.

There are several reasons that I love this stocking. Of course the top one is that I designed and made it out of a lot of great things that people I care about have given me. I'll give a short list as I finish this post.

 There is a stick pin that my sister Becca cross stitched for me and some some plastic "shrinkies" that she made as well (drawings on a shrink plastic that turns them into small charms)

 Some of the fabric is from my cousin Susan's wedding in Hawaii, there are buttons from my sister Chris and hand made paper beads from my husbands aunt Doris.

So many things from so many people, and now I want to share it with more. I'm hoping that they'll love it as much as I I've just got to decide which photo to start with...