Valentines 2016

The thing about having kids, is the chances are good they’ll multiply.  With one married and the other two engaged, making Valentines is becoming quite the production. There are 7 to make now!  I used to leave them out at night for the kids to open Valentine’s morning, but now they go through the mail. I was in such a hurry to send them, I only got a couple pictures.  This year I watercolored animals and thought of punny mush to go with each one.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Dare I say it? Christmas.

Christmas music has been playing in our local stores since November first. Yesterday the decorations were already up at the grocery store strip mall. That’s a little too soon, even for this elf.

I LOVE Christmas and everything that goes with it. I love shopping and wrapping and secrets and sparkly things and Christmas plays and lights… I really should have been an elf.  I was 10 years old when my (very mean) best friend insisted Santa wasn’t real. I still don’t believe her.

That’s me on the right, listening intently to what my future boss had to say.

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Every Christmas Eve we’d pile into the car to go pick our Christmas tree. We’d drink hot chocolate while Daddy brought the tree into the house and set it in its stand. We’d make a big production of giving it lots of water, hang our stockings from the mantel and go to bed. I couldn’t sleep wondering if every noise I heard might be Santa on the roof. It’s a wonder I survived the anticipation at all.

Our first house in New Jersey was a wee little two-bedroom rancher. You could see the entire living room from our bedroom door. On Christmas morning my sister and I would fling open that door and freeze in absolute wonder. The bare tree we left in the stand was now fully decorated and lit, the only glow in the room, surrounded by presents. Pure magic!

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Our magical tree, 1968.

I was eight when we moved across town. Our new house had two stories and the impact of seeing that sight as we flew down the stairs on Christmas morning was a new brand of magic that didn’t disappoint.

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Christmas 1972: I’m the elf on the left. 

Two years later we moved to Florida, and the tradition changed in a lot of ways, but Mom’s knack for the magical smoothed it over.

Then I grew up and learned a few things. Like Christmas trees are free on Christmas Eve. And Mom and Dad had to wait until we were sleeping to begin decorating the tree, so they got maybe 30 minutes of sleep Christmas Eve. And it looks like a lot more presents when the room is only 8 feet wide. And the tree looks much bigger when you put it on the coffee table and you’re only four feet tall.
Knowing the secrets behind the magic makes it even stronger, because it was made with love.

The best part of being a grown-up is that I get to make the magic now. After all, I did inherit Mom’s elf gene.

Quilt Rags to Riches

A friend asked me to take an old, well-worn 80s comforter and make a quilt for her daughter’s engagement present. When the box arrived, it was worse than I thought. The fabric was not only threadbare, it was so faded I had to rip seams to find out what color it used to be. I found a couple solids and a blender fabric that complimented the focal fabric, and used clothing interfacing to stabilize the older fabric and make its hand more equal with the newer fabrics.

My design idea was sparked by the pattern of some subway tiles, but, I relied on my memory instead of sketching them. The tiles were rectangular and without a picture to jog my brain it turned out to be a math nightmare. So I settled on squares.  I practiced on a trial quilt, and I’m glad I did.
I found the perfect floral for the backing that tied in with the focal fabric and gave it an updated look.

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A free-motion quilted rose motif to match the backing fabric tied it all together perfectly.

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Here’s to many happy years together under their new quilt!

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New Tricks: Hand-painted to Digital

I’m an old school paper, brushes, and paint gal. I’m pretty tech savvy and can hold my own with software, but digital art is a learning curve I’m still working to master. Imagine my delight when a client wanted a hand-painted header for her website!

I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it work, so I stuck with the skills I already have in my personal “tool box”, and everything was the same almost to the end when the header needed to be placed in its digital home.

It started with some ideas and options on paper. Once we settled on an arrangement I made a scaled way up version in pencil on vellum so adjustments could be made easily. We added ferns.

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ME_Template                       FernPlacement

Mixing colors is my favorite! Once I had an approved pallet I transferred the design to paper and got to painting.   I like to work in small increments, because making a mistake means starting over.

Paint hand-painted illustration

 

When I’m not sure about an idea or stroke I’ll test it on the sidelines until I’m confident. I’ll play with a new idea and doodle with the paint until I find something I like. My clean color sheet looks like a circus when I’m finished with it.

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It’s exciting to see it come to life bit by bit!

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Things went really well until the end, when I smudged the paint with my hand. This is where technology saves the day – up top I re-recreated that section and used Photoshop magic to replace the smudged area with the clean version. I can’t believe how easy it was!

Once the original was finished, I erased all the pencil lines then scan it into the computer. My photographic scanner is super high resolution, which helps a lot. Then it’s time to remove the background paper in Photoshop. The aqua background is in place to illuminate any spots I might miss.

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It’s a wrap!

Scared is the New Brave

When I began this blog, my goal was simple – to create fearlessly. I figured if I was struggling with it someone else out there probably was, too. That goal remains in the back of my mind as I continue to fight the perfection monster and reclaim the child-like joy of creating. Fear has no place in creativity. We are made in the image of the Master Creator and He only asks us to show up. How’s that for no pressure? Show up and be who you are.  Too often I allow fear to keep me from awesome things. I listen to what-ifs and turn back to “safe.” Safe is boring. Safe doesn’t reach our goals. Safe doesn’t spark life, it hastens death.

This arrived in my in box. Not only do I love its message, it’s my colors, and I thought it would look fabulous here.  It’s big enough to print out and hang on your wall as a healthy reminder. Credit Lisa Jo Baker.

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Snowy Day

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This is my view today as I work.  All that snow makes it BRIGHT in here! I had to pull the shades down 3/4 of the way to keep from needing my sunglasses.   We don’t get much snow here in coastal Virginia, so when we do things pretty much close down – everyone’s working from home today.

There are squirrel tracks outside the back door. From the look of the muddy prints on the door, I’d say they wanted in. No wonder –  it’s 12 degrees out there with a wind chill in the negatives. Brrr! I made sure my feathered friends have fresh water, and they’re thanking me by singing outside my window.

Red All Over Quilt

Do you ever get on a roll and one thing leads to another? That’s what’s been happening in the studio this week.   Saturday’s guild meeting was a jelly roll race, and I’ve had this luscious red batik jelly roll a friend bought for me a couple years ago. I love it so much I didn’t want to risk messing it up. (I know….)  I decided to take the plunge and use it for this project, with no idea how a monochromatic jelly roll quilt would even look.

First you have to sew all those strips together end-to-end. Very boring.  After trimming the seams I was left with a pile of bits that could not be wasted, so I had some fun and made wee 3-1/2 ” blocks….

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I used my wee blocks to spice things up a bit and add a row to the top for interest, and I’m in love with the result!

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Valentines 2013

When making last year’s Valentines I kept the theme “Love Letters” and had a nice surprise at the end. This year I had five Valentines to make instead of four, so it was time to come up with something new. I didn’t need to look far. As my friends and I gathered to make this year’s snippets of love, one of the gals showed up with cupcakes made by our friend, Alice, whose cakes are famous and not only works of art, they taste like Heaven in your mouth.

With that inspiration, I baked up my own creations for the loves of my life in their favorite flavors: Cookies N’ Cream, Red Velvet, Lemon, Chocolate and Funfetti.

Designing and making my own Valentines is a tradition I started when the kids were little and just can’t seem to give up. As our family grows, I might need to start thinking about Valentines Day in July!

Animation Camp is a Wrap!

For the past two weeks, I’ve been teaching the Animation track at Regent University’s summer Film Camp. What a blast!!  There were five campers, and we covered a lot of material in that short time. It was super exciting watching the lights come on in these young minds as I helped them draw their creativity to the surface.

A favorite part of camp was joint time we spent each morning with all the campers. Our theme for the week was Creation (God’s first act recorded in the bible) and our role as artists. We began the day with a film clip of some sort, and the instructors took turns presenting short devotionals that fit our theme. This time was a watering hole of sorts for me.  It reminded me of how very much I love film and art and creating.  Even working with high-schoolers creating silly short films is magical. It also reignited my passion to change the perception of what people consider “Christian” art.

Valentines 2012

Last year my theme was Love Letters, and this year I decided to expand on that theme. So I give you Love Letters II:

I made a list of sentiments, trying to come up with four fun puns. After they were all finished, I lined the kids’ Valentines up in a row to take a picture and noticed a happy accident….

I hope your Valentines Day is full of fun surprises!