Thursday, December 31, 2015

Weird and Wonderful Perennial Vegetables and Edible Flowers

There isn't much to do in a Minnesota Garden over the winter except plan next years growing. This time of year my mailbox overflows with garden catalogs which make it easy not only to pick the things that I want to be growing but to compare the prices on everything as well.

I see no real benefit in maintaining a lawn when water is so precious so the majority of my city lot around my house is devoted to growing things that are both beautiful and useful.

I'm lucky that everyone here would rather pick dinner than mow lawn.

Perennial veggies are new to me so I'll begin with organic Egyptian walking onions that I hope will grow well here. I'm a bit concerned because they say 250 days and we've got such short seasons here but I'm looking forward to trying them anyway.

So far all I've come up with for flowers is Chamomile which I plan to use for tea, nasturtiums and chives.

I'm sure there are many other possibilities so I can't wait to settle back in with the catalogs and explore.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A coat of snow for the garden

As you can see, the weather is perfect to be working on my houseplants and dreaming of next year's garden as I page through today's stack of garden catalogs.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ugly Sweater Designs

This is the finished design and i'll walk you through they way I worked to get here.The whole project start to finish took me 3 days because some of the paints I was using required several coats to cover early mistakes I made along the way. Still, I'm more or less pleased with the results and it has sparked a few other ideas.

I used to knit and crochet a lot years ago but my hands aren't up to it anymore so I'm indulging myself by letting my imagination run wild and just painting up some designs for sweaters that I would like to have made.
This one feels like it's off to a pretty good start so far.

The reason I added a Santa Suit to the design is that many years ago I had knit baby outfits like that and for a few years I knit dog sweaters like that so this is my little nod to sweaters past too.

I'm planning on using this design in my Zazzle stores on cards, stickers and more. That's where I have the most fun with it all.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Back to work on the last sunflower

When I started this painting last summer it had a dark background because I was trying to paint all of the other plants that were around it. Somewhere during the process I decided to focus just on the flower itself and am giving it a bright red background to help me do that.

This is a small painting, just 8 by 10 inches so it will be cheap and easy to frame if it turns out the way I want it to and I'm able to use it for a Christmas present. I'll continue to take pictures of it from time to time as I work on it and add them to this blog.

After I'd decided on a background color I began working on some shading and texture with painting knives and brushes.

Once the background began to satisfy me I moved on to developing some of the other areas as I find some of my garden photos to capture a bit of the mood and the energy that there was when it was blooming.

I always feel that it's best to paint from live flowers but summer moves so fast that I never quite have time to do that. The other reason for this painting is that I give so much of my work away and when the last one came off the wall this year as a Christmas gift  I had to promise my husband that I would paint another one to replace it. Perhaps the motivation for that is what's holding back the real "flow" and inspiration on this one.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Wading back in with paints and knives

Sometimes when I feel like painting but can't quite get started I just grab an old canvas and scrape a few new colors over it here and there to see if anything pops or inspiration strikes. Often it doesn't and I just spend a lot of time relaxing into the process. Far from being a waste of time,it makes me feel better and I find these paintings make useful backgrounds for a lot of my florals.

I haven't got any photos yet but will shoot a few tomorrow and will add them to the blog.

I'm still not sure if this one's going to go anywhere but here's the picture of how it looks so far.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Making do with paint

Sometime's there's more to an artist's life than art. If you're lucky enough to live in a place that allows you to paint the walls, there's always something you can do to improve your surroundings.

There's nothing I can do about repairing the walls or installing baseboards so I've settled for painting things out and pretending it's nice. it's not the perfect solution but it works for me.

The white was nice and clean but a bit stark so I'm painting a woodgrained finish on the shelves to warm it up a bit.

There's still paint to touch up and more work to do on the woodgrain finish but I think it's quite an improvement, don't you? It's what my Mom always called "a lick and a promise" which is just making things as nice as you can get them until you can afford to really do the job right.

It may not be perfect but I like it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Winter Birds in the Garden

There have been several species of birds at the feeders and on the plants in the garden today but the only photo we managed to catch was this cardinal. Earlier in the day there had been 2 males and a female until a large blue and black bird seemed to have chased them off. other than that we've had chickadees, a woodpecker and a few of other birds that I don't know the names of.

It's so nice to have the feeders outside the living room window and be able to watch them any time that I'd like to. I don't get out in the yard much this time of the year to watch them with the rose hips and the black raspberries that we leave on the bushes for them but I know they're enjoying them form the occasional splashes of color that decorate the wheelchair ramp.

Speaking of splashes of color, I plan to get some painting done today. I haven't even decided just what I'll start on. I guess I'll just wander around a bit and see what catches my eye.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Million Sunflowers

I've been painting sunflowers for a number of years now but there's always something new. How can anything that seems so bright and simple be so amazingly complex?

Nothing I ever learned in art or science ever prepared me to be able to capture something that's structured and alive in so many ways.

I grew a lot of them outside my window this year and enjoyed watching the birds land on them and pull out the seeds, the squirrels and chipmunks diving at them and knocking a few down to tear at the flowers and seeds while the bees
simply landed there and enjoyed the flowers They were full of life and covered with life. How do you capture the essence of that in a single image?

Today I'm not even thinking about that, I'm just going back to basics with an inexpensive set of children's watercolors and a couple of photos from the summer.

I'm not expecting much in the results department, just trying to relax and see what comes of it.

The more I look at them, grow them, draw and paint them. The less I really know but it's an interesting journey few will really understand or have the patience for...and I'm OK with that.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Planning vs Instinct in Painting

Things turn out all sorts of ways depending on the mood you're in or the amount of pressure you use on your brush. I'm still working to get a daisy that I like.

I tried doing them in different sizes with different brushes and guess I'll just move on to other designs in different areas of the canvas for a while.

All of the time that I'm doing this I'm thinking about doing some serious painting again but with space at a premium over the winter it's important to finish things up before moving on.

This runs contrary to my nature but I feel that it stretches me as a person and an artist. By the time I get to my next painting I should have some firm ideas in mind of the direction that I want it to take. All of that should actually improve my work.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Winter Studio

Well, here's the plan for this winter:

I set up a table easel on top of the pedestal from my old table. Soon I'll be reviewing this season's photos from the garden and doing a series of paintings based on them.

While I'm waiting to do that I'm trying to turn this old painting into the basis for a line of valentine merchandise in my zazzle stores.

The Merits of This Project:

1. It uses up an old canvas that hadn't turned out.

2. Each heart will be treated like a separate painting and
    that will give me a chance to work on many brushstrokes
    and designs I'd been wanting to teach myself.

2. the finished painting can be used on merchandise in
    my zazzle and cafe' press stores

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Dark Side

It's been nice to take the last few sheets of watercolor paper and just play with them. No real plan in mind, just relaxing, letting go and sliding into the paints and process.

 Now that I made it up into cards I may add bits of paper or acrylic paints, whatever suits my mood or the materials at hand. It should be interesting...

The Warm End of the Paintbox

Here's a little watercolor in red, orange and yellow. No plan to it other than to relax and get a brush in my hands again.

The next thing I did was to hack it up and make it into note cards. It's interesting to see it cropped and take more notice of what's going on in different areas of the painting and it will entertain the people that I write too as well.

I added this little sticker to create a little planet and make my friend laugh. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Blue Jay

Look who was waiting for me when I opened the blinds this morning! This time I am really going to try to draw it. I'm headed to the worktable now...
I grabbed a cup of coffee and a watercolor envelope and here's what I came up with. I ran out of room for the tail because I did it on the lower left corner of the envelope.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The wildlife take over the garden and I settle in to paint

 I enjoy watching the birds but have never tried drawing or painting them. This may be the year. So far I'm just re-organizing the art supplies and kicking the idea around a bit but you've got to start somewhere and this is as good a place as any.

This white squirrel seems to appreciate the fact that we leave a lot of the leaves and plants for them.
We have an untidy yard but a busy one. the trouble is in trying to get good photos whenever anything interesting turns up. My husband took today's photo's.

There were a lot of different birds on the feeders this morning but they scattered when we pulled up the blinds. They seem to startle easily. There have been a couple of woodpeckers too.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Letters In Collage and Pencil

 Becca drew the outlines for these letters and I drew the designs on them. I've still got quite a few to finish but I thought you might and to know about this project because it will make personalized products in my zazzle stores more interesting.

To take a break from drawing I grabbed some old magaizes that Becca brought and started to make collages on some letters too.

I kind of like the way this one turned out.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Changing Seasons

You know it's fall when the leaves change color but in this part of the country you don't get much of a chance to enjoy the show of reds and gold. The leaves are falling so fast that about half of my birch leaves have already blown away. I'll layer up a few warm clothes and head out to the garden to see if there are any plants that still have leaves that are flexible enough to use with my paints to do some leaf printing on cards or fabric.

I got carried away with other projects and haven't gotten around to those pottery paintings yet.
It was exciting to see how well that last sunflower painting looked on products on zazzle. I couldn't resist ordering it in on a few greeting cards to send out to friends and family. So far everyone's loved it so I'm feeling really good about that.

A lot of little drawings and paintings come and go on my letters and I've been designing a lot of new art lettering to use on products on zazzle.

Now that I'm not out in the garden there seem to be a million other things to do, one thing's for sure-there hasn't been time to get bored.

keep creating and have some fun, I plan to.

How to Recycle or Repurose a Lumpy Bed Pillow

I forgot to take photos all during the process. These just show pulling the stuffing apart and using it to stuff throw pillows. I got 3 out of the stuffing from one old bed pillow.

1. Wash and dry the old bed pillow
2. Cut open one end and reach in to make sure it's completely dry.
                             a. if not dry pull the stuffing out and spread it 
                                on a table or someplace to air dry.
3. Purchase or sew cases for throw pillows.
4. Pick the stuffing from the lumpy pillow apart until it's light and fluffy.
5. Stuff throw pillows
6. Close them up.
7. Get comfy and enjoy.                           

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Look in My Paintbox, out with the old and in with the new

It's been a very long time since I've bought any new tubes of acrylic paint so I'm planning projects for the colors that  I've got on hand:
                                                       burnt sienna
                                                        cadmium yellow
                                                        bronze yellow
                                                         prisim violet
                                                         light portrait pink
                                                         burnt umber
                                                         payne's gray
                                                         cadmium red
As you can see it's mostly browns, yellows and a bit of red and purple. I had painted sunflowers until I ran out of anything to make nice greens for the leaves.

Now that I'm about out of everything I'll finally get around to painting the still life of all of the pottery that my sister and I made years ago.

A few versions of that should polish off the end of those paints and I'll be able to start fresh with a full set in new colors.

Clearing the old paints out of the way first is the best way to make sure that you don't accidently put a thickened or lumpy paint  into a new painting and spoil it.

I've been meaning to paint that pottery for years, now I'm out of excuses and more or less forced to get it done.

It may not sound like it but I'm actually excited at the prospect of it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Red Roses in Watercolor and Ink

  You can see at this point how much difference there is between adding the ink or just leaving the watercolor alone.

Once I'd added the ink  I grabbed a blue pencil and started to work over part of the background.

 Here you can see it before and after. It didn't matter either way. I wrote a letter on it and sent it out within minutes of finishing it.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Denim Slipper,Christmas Curtains and Dala Horses

I sewed denim slippers in various sizes until I ran out of "slipper gripper" fabric for the soles and elastic for the backs. Results were slow but I managed to make enough for myself before I started running out of things.

I'll need a lot more practice before they turn out nice enough to sell or donate anywhere but I'm proud of the effort anyway and got compliments on them at a couple of appointments that I wore them to.

While the sewing machine is out I'll move on to sewing up some valances for the windows out of that red and green fabric that Mom gave me years ago. They should brighten up things around here for the holidays.

The weather is getting too cold to work outside so I've stopped carving,sanding and clear coating wooden horses for the season.

The next step will be selling the wooden horses on

There are many products available with pictures of the dala horses on them too, they're at*

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Creative Chaos and Fall Projects

 Somewhere under all of this is (or was) my dining room. It's currently been swallowed up by sewing, drawing, woodworking and a number of other things.

 I'm avoiding wood carving and sanding in the house so I'm trying to get that done out in the garden before the weather makes it impossible.

Most of the painting happens in the house because it takes too many trips to haul all of the supplies outside.

In the middle of all of this I'm sewing some slippers for people that haven't been able to find any that fit. I'm starting with myself because various medical problems make it necessary to have different sizes for each foot. I'm sure a lot of people have similar problems so I'll practice on myself and when I get good enough at it I'll be offering to do it for others.

Somewhere in all of this I'm finishing things up in the garden and deciding what if anything I'll be growing indoors over the winter.

It sure confuses people when they come in here. This place is more of a workshop or studio than a regular house and i wouldn't have it any other way. I enjoy being able to grab anything i'm in the mood for and create something useful out of it. That confuses people too and it's OK by me.