Friday, December 5, 2014

Advent Calendar

I wanted to make my own advent calendar this year, so I searched the internet for ideas. I knew the one I made would have to be deep enough to hold little candy treats for the children.  (And since was only going to make one, it needed to have room for two treats in every door).

I also recently read a book that took place in the Netherlands, and was fascinated by the description of the houses, so I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of "Holland houses" for inspiration.  Here's a few photos of my project!

The kids are enjoying finding mini Dove chocolates, mini York peppermint patties and gold wrapped chocolate coins.  Andes candies would have worked really well too, since they're small and flat, but I couldn't find them that day.

I cut the openings in the poster board directly on top of the mat board, to help indicate where the foam board needed to be built up.  It took two layers to reach the height I wanted.  I was trying to use stuff I had around the house the day after Thanksgiving.  

After all the openings were cut and the foam board in place I painted the top with acrylic.  I added a string to the top for hanging, but they decided to lean it against the wall on a small table.  The only thing I had to go out for was the candy to fill it.  The house is about 20 inches tall and 12 wide.

Photo after day 4.  I kind of wish there were pictures behind the doors for something to look at once they open, but I wasn't prepared for that.  Maybe next time...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dollhouse food

My daughter and I have been working on making tiny things for the dollhouse.  We bought one pack of white Sculpey clay thinking we could use it for anything and then paint it the color we needed. But later we did find it challenging to paint such little pieces!  We're pretty happy with the results.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Happy October!

It's been awhile since I posted and I, myself, wonder what I've been doing.  I've made a few things here and there in the last two months, but also I've been encouraging creativity in other people.  For four days in the end of September I worked as an "art room coordinator" for an unschooling conference.  All ages wandered through and there were plenty of supplies for them to make that special something (including a box of odds and ends from my garage that the teens were very excited to find).  So here are a few things that I painted and some from the art room.

... trying out a little tangle doodle before the conference

and admiring the white winged doves behind the house...

one of my favorite little guys in marker, and kids' work from the conference!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer art and science

Summer has been busy, but I've been able to spend time with my kids and nurture their creative side.  The girl has been exploring science with Steve Spangler and the boy has been diving into pool toy expression.  He and his cousin needed one more friend in the pool for a game, so they built one (I think its name is Baby). My own sketchbook has suffered, with only smaller, quicker drawings of ideas I wanted to remember, but I finally got to change the colors of the walls in our house.  Ah, the smell of fresh paint!


Color Mixing

Dollhouse canisters

Surprise visitor:  Cicada!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mountain view

I love the changing light on the mountain and this time, rather than reaching for my camera I grabbed  pencil and paper from my kids' stash and starting sketching.  I remembered that I'm an artist.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Universe for IF

Playing around with my new water brush and sketch box, exploring the theme for Illustration Friday.   The sketch box was a gift that arrived for my birthday and I've been having fun with it, even though a bit tricky adjusting to the way the water flows through the brush.  It's a very strange thing to not have to reach for the water jar to rinse and wet a color.  It works well at the kitchen table, and at my desk.  I can't wait to try it out in the field!

Koi Water Colors Pocket Field Sketch Box by Sakura. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mini Time Machine Museum

Recently we visited a miniatures museum that I absolutely loved.  I only wish we lived closer so I could go again!  I cut up the brochure, added the entry stickers, made a mini book, and painted over some parts to bring it all together.  I now have a fun page to remember a great trip!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mosaic bird

Just one of those days where I set my daughter up to create a mosaic and couldn't let her have all the fun!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Breyer horse repair

I have discovered in keeping an artist's journal, that there are some pages I just don't want to share with anyone.  (Who really wants to see my terrible drawing about a dream of Johnny Depp as a college English tutor). But since creativity comes in all forms I will show you the project my daughter and I worked on today.  Repairing Breyer horses.  Some are hers and some are from my childhood.  We've been playing around with this moldable plastic called InstaMorph and found it to be a lot of fun!  This was one of the old horses from over 30 years ago who survived but was missing two feet and a tail.  We rebuilt those parts out of plastic and glued them back on.  It's a little tricky since it cools quickly, but a quick dip back in the hot water makes it pliable.  Once the glue dries we'll try acrylics.

Friday, March 14, 2014

sketchbook pages

A few recent pages.  Our young cat, imaginary birds, copy of a work by Don Blanding, and the Monday obsession with the setting sun as I drive home from "the farm".

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spark for IF

When my kids were little they liked to watch sparks rise from the fire.  "Sparky Friends!"  they would shout excitedly, and follow it until it burnt out while they chattered about Spark's adventure.  We all need to have more of that childlike wonder.  Today I saw a boy step onto the sidewalk and freeze in his tracks because he saw a bird (a beautiful great tailed grackle).  Seconds later he told his mom he just saw a BIRD and it sounded as important as if he just saw the president of the world.  His reaction made me smile, partly because that's how I feel when a bird lands beside me, and also for the simple fact that I got to witness his enthusiasm. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rainy Day Build

This week my daughter and I took out the unfinished houses from the village we started at Christmas.  There were only two left: the schoolhouse and church.  We built them quickly but I spent the better part of this very rainy afternoon adding the finishing touches.  These are model train size, so they don't take up much room, but I think our next project will be to work on a 1/2" scale house together, and try making some furniture for it.  I love that it is something we can enjoy together.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The garden grows

Here's a little sketch I made while enjoying the flowers growing in the garden.
Progress is good.  Both the carrots and beets have sprouted.  There are baby tomatoes, strawberries and a squash plant.  So far, the squirrel has stayed away.
I love spring!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

A great day for painting on the patio, playing with a colorful palette.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Who's that Bird?

I tried to take a nap today, but when I closed my eyes I kept seeing different ideas for patterned birds.  Where's my pen?  A drawing not based on any avian in particular, but I see traces of some of my favorites: finches, parrots, and quail. (There's a hint of a diamond dove in there, too). I naturally gravitate toward a purple/orange/green color scheme.  My house shows it, my garden shows it, and my artwork shows it.

Monday, February 10, 2014


It's been awhile since I posted, but February in the desert is great weather, so I was playing in the garden.

We rearranged some things and tried something new.  We also discovered that ground squirrels love to eat pansies and dianthus.  Grrrr.  I sprinkled a little cayenne pepper around the plants and filled the bird feeders in another part of the yard with black oil sunflower seeds. So far so good.  It seems to be working, which is great because we also planted some beet and carrot seeds and I hope he'll stay away from those.  Here are my quick notes in my journal to remember what kind they were.

"die Karotten" also happened to be in my German lesson that day.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

IF: Disguise

Just having a little fun with ink and pencils before this week's Illustration Friday topic changes.
My family volunteers at a farm regularly and one of our favorite animals to see are the peacocks, with their hens and chicks.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bali House

This is probably my favorite way to work- a light pencil sketch, loose watercolor, followed by a little ink line.  I've been looking at a lot of "over water bungalow" pictures and watching Treehouse Masters and thought this place would make a great artist's studio.  Can you see yourself being creative in there?


Thursday, January 23, 2014

IF: Beginning

I have newly acquired zebra and society finches and they are so much fun to watch.  What a bunch of clowns!  Splashing about in a bowl of water.  Jumping and vaulting off the little swings.  Hiding in the cups.  This sketch for Illustration Friday is my way of showing the beginning of their stay at my house.  Hopefully I won't be finding any surprise eggs.

3x4" watercolor

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


As I am new at this, I have no standard artist's journal entry style.  I am still experimenting.  This particular page was a record of the day, but as it would look on a clock.  Also still experimenting with my new pencils, adding a rainbow of colors seemed natural.  I like the way it turned out and should do it more often.  Then, at the end of the day when I can't figure out why I am so tired, I will have it all right there on the page!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Up and Away

I doodled this little picture in church this week, of Abraham climbing the mountain with Isaac, and decided to use it on a journal page.  I've been wanting to do some collage and play with cut paper, so using the first week theme from Journal52 I placed my figure on a mountain.  Add watercolor pencil... Up and Away!  I didn't really feel adequate at this exercise, but it was a place to start and make the white paper be gone.  And my kids enjoyed seeing me work on it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

IF: Searching for a Creator

Hand of God

This year I am inspired by Cathy Johnson and will be creating an artist's journal.  After I flipped through just a few pages of her book I couldn't wait to get started, so I pulled out an old art show guest book and started painting over those wonderful people's names.  (I had long since digitized the list but couldn't bring myself to throw the book away).  I tested out my new Derwent Inktense pencils and they were so brilliant!  I also added a little acrylic to some spots where I didn't want to see as much of the writing showing through.  

Daily creativity is still my goal for the year, though I won't be posting something every day.  Getting out into nature with the dogs is another regular activity.  I'll be searching for the answers to life's questions out there.   

Walk With Me

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 Hike

A five hour hike to start the year off.  We've been wanting to do this trek with the kids for years and they finally made it. They were amazing!  I snapped a quick picture of my daughter on one of our rests and sketched it with watercolor pencils once we got home.  Next time I should bring the pencils with me and have more excuses to stop and rest!