Wednesday, May 14, 2014

free wonderful

Project beautification-with-zero-money is rolling along nicely. I am pretty stoked on my new spring/summer wreath, not least because it was made with these crazy weed things that grow on the hill behind our house, and also because they dry to a straw-like texture, which should prove relatively sturdy and also pretty and golden. And big, at about 2 feet in diameter!

I trash-picked an ugly, crappier-than-ikea-laminate shelf, ripped off the back, and it's currently on the porch, awaiting the day when I can replace it with a beautiful weathered wood piece. But it can still hold pretty things. Like a wonky frame that is too crooked to hold glass, but likes sticks just fine. 

And a miniature fern (Mother's Day gift from my sister), some moss (from the yard) in an extra pot, and a makeshift terrarium in a mason jar. All gathered here in the woods behind our house.

Along with other assorted twigs, barks, stones and ferns that sit in pots in the shade of the porch. This is fast becoming my happy place.

Use what you've got! A rusted out pot filled with spiky balls, or a wooden box with acorn caps and twigs are a textural feast for the eyes, as well as a nice contrast to the greenery.

All beautiful and all free! Yay!
Plus it's a fitting setting for our fairy village. But I'll save that for another post.

I'll leave you with this revelation that came to me this morning: use gardening gloves, and you won't have black fingernails! 

I know, I know. It's revolutionary.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Lately, I've been trying.  Trying. Trying. Trying a lot of things, with varying degrees of success.  But mainly I've been tying to breathe some new life into our home without spending any money.  

Spring is that time when, along with some spring cleaning, I get super antsy for new stuff. Stuff being the point. We need less stuff, not more stuff, but being the visual person that I am, I want change and newness and brightness. Spring is "penetrating... (my) dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing".

That's a quote from the beginning of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.  Pretty perfect.  I'm the mole.  And just like him, I tend to want to both whitewash frantically, and also run outside and ignore the housework.  But today it's raining, so I'm wanting to brighten. And buy new stuff.  So I'm solving a problem, and repurposing some old stuff.  Today's little project: wooden blocks.

Several of the windows in our very old place have broken sashes.  Meaning that our enormous, ancient, ridiculously heavy windows don't open and close, but must be propped with something very sturdy if we want any fresh air.  Enter the old wooden blocks that I recently dug out of a box of college things in my parent's basement.  These were an unfinished project that I started, it doesn't even matter what for any more, but I had an idea.  These wooden blocks were perfect window props. But they needed to be pretty.

So I dug out some gesso, slapped a coat of it on the blocks, and looked up some design inspiration on good old google.  I used some vintage wrought iron scrollwork patterns as my starting point, used a gold paint pen to draw the designs, then brushed more gesso overtop. All in all, it probably took about an hour at the most.

 Here are my 6 blocks:

And here they are propping the kitchen window...

And awaiting use in the bathroom:

They would also be fun on the newly decluttered and restyled bookshelf, come winter:)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

weakness. honesty.

Oh man, I'm such a better parent when Dan is with me! This partnership thing is no joke:  when I'm a CrankyMomma, Dan swoops in and saves the day. He gives me room to breathe and gives the smallies the gift of patience that I was unintentionally withholding.  When he loses his mind,  I can somehow find some extra grace and calm, and balance things out.  It's like we hand each other the gifts of otherness, and don't judge the areas in one another where we may lack.  

But man, on Friday, when I've been doing the bulk of the parenting for a few days, I am one touchy beast. I'm so glad it's Saturday. Saturday makes me feel like I've been to the spa. It's that refreshing to see my sweet little beans through he eyes of their Daddy, who's been missing them all week! I get all emotional at how cute and funny they are, because my best friend colors all I see. And because they really are pretty awesome.  

Collaboration with Jude: thunder and lightening. Graphite and marker.  It's all practice. And it's all the real thing.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

what am I trying to do?

I'm having a rough go of it, artistically. I feel as though, when I am really pleased with something, it's just an echo of something else. A copycat of something I admire. I'm trying to use the painters I love as inspiration, but it keeps on feeling like plagiarism. I ought to have a style at this point. I should commit, but I can't. I love quirky, off kilter drawings that come from my mind. I love color field paintings, I adore fauvism.  I want to make book illustrations that suck you into an alternate universe, and I want to do it all with the believability and mastery of realism. That's all, really. Oh to make it interesting, lets throw in a distinctly arts and crafts feel. Ok? 

Yeah, just working through some stuff.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

quick one

The kids are all in my bed watching a movie(with the unfolded laundry), so naturally I am in Jude's toddler bed, blogging. Yep. That's me, scrunched on a crib sized mattress with my feet up on the daybed sides.  Because that's what makes sense to my brain. Is it possible to have developed ADD in my twenties? I mean, for the love of Pete, I really make some nonsensical moves, all based on my inability to put off whatever hairbrained scheme has popped into my mind. I should stop reading the symptoms of adult ADHD online. It could just be extreme left-brainness.

Today, I drew a quickie in the car line, waiting to pick up the fairie-elves that I call daughters.  Five minutes on a grocery receipt, with a pen I 'borrowed' from the bank. Eh. I like the crinkly paper most.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

the grace I needed.

While wrestling mentally with how best to respond to my kids behavior, a freeing thought occurred to me. 

It doesn't matter. 
Not in the way that I often feel it matters. I'm never going to be a perfect mom with the answer to everything. But as long as I respond in truth and love, I can't miss the mark too badly. Whatever the consequence(within reason), whatever the issue, if I respond with love as the foundation, no matter what, I'm doing ok. 

A loving warning, a loving reprimand, a loving chance for them to work it out for a few more minutes, or a loving, "sorry, beans, but this is not acceptable and this is the consequence". There might be varying degrees of success, but the love is paramount. So, deep breath, they're just kids, but mom up. They need loving boundaries.  It's not loving to ignore behavioral problems, nor is it loving to flip out and have a Mommy tantrum.  Between these extremes, there is a lot of room. Room for trial and error, room for communication, room for trying new methods, room for growing, all of us together.  Maybe it's not earth-shattering, but it was the grace I needed.

Also, in cleaning out some long-neglected nooks and corners, I found this. An old self portrait in oils. It was oddly reminiscent of the last post, so I threw it up for comparison.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I've got pastel on my face.

Well. I'm not even going to get into it.  I got derailed in October, and just never got back on track.  Ah, we'll, I'm actually pretty happy about the past year's worth of posts.  I really got back to basics, knocked out a ton of work, and filled my soul.  And yet, I forgot how happy I am when I smear colors around on a surface.  How do I forget?  Whatever.  Now I've remembered.  I needed a subject, because my brain is tired, so I used my niece, Anna.  She's easy on the eyes.  I was thinking about her while scratching away, and guys, she's so great.    She was born my senior year of high school, and she is now a senior in high school.  What.  WHAT.  Yup.  I'm old.  I was thinking about my life 18 years ago.  Often, I don't feel so much older than that, I feel like I still have plans for when I grow up... is playing a joke on me, and how is it that I have been married for almost 14 years, and where did these kids come from?  But at the same time, I know that there is a vast difference between that girl and this one.  And this one is happy with the direction we are headed. Obviously, I'm making up for lost time, jumbling a few months worth of rumination into a post.  I'm sorry for that, truly.  But life is good, grey hairs and all, and Anna.  back to my subject.  This girl is a bundle of wonderful.  Talent, sweetness, beauty, and love.    She's got her head on straighter than I ever did at that age.  

30 min. Pastel on bristol.