Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favorite Daniel Smith Watercolors

  by megan_n_smith_99
, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

This is a little snippet of something I am working on. Speaking of working, I finally did something I've been meaning to do for a while, namely make a list of all the Daniel Smith Watercolors I own to prevent the purchase of duplicates, which has happened a few times. I thought I'd share with you my favorites:

Burnt Umber
Cabazole Violet
French Ultramarine
Opera Pink
Payne's Gray
Perylene Violet
Phthalo Turquoise
Quinacridone Coral
Quinacridone Gold
Quinacridone Fuchsia
Quinacridone Burnt Orange
Rich Green Cold
Shadow Violet

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Recent Sketch & More Notes on Art Supplies.

Sketching by megan_n_smith_99
Sketching, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

...It was really sort of a doodle but if you add shading to a doodle, I think it's respectable enough to call it a sketch. This was not all done with the 2B pencil shown, there is some darker pencil in there as well. I forget what it was - something I bought to experiment on and am not too impressed with. My favorite lately is 6B. There are a few brands I like. I think my favorites are:

STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph Drafting Pencil


Koh-I-Noor Toison-d’Or Graphite Pencil

Though if you want something fun & trendy you could also try the Palomino Blackwing 602.

The paper I used is Stonehenge. I recommend something with a little tooth. I don't normally use stonehenge for watercolor, though it is thick enough for a little mixed media, so I may try doing a light wash over this sketch. The gum arabic in the watercolor will actually set the graphite so it does not smear. I use water pretty sparingly, but then I usually use a little restraint with my water when it comes to watercolor - that's how I get vivid colors and fine details. And there is some layering too.

I like using a heavy paper that can take some blending on the paper - lately Arches 140 lb and 300 lb - either cold press or rough press. I like either one in blocks, but I like to use 300 lb if It's not on a block. Mostly because I don't have to mount it on anything. It can stand up to a lot so you can also do acrylics on it and mixed media.

I hope to do some cleaning on New Year's Eve (my life, so exciting) and some artwork on New Year's Eve. More exciting. Seems like a good way to start the year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gnome of the Day & Thoughts on Experimenting

Gnome by megan_n_smith_99
Gnome, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

Today I did very little, which was exactly what I needed. I drank some tea, read a bit, drew a bit, and really was generally fairly ineffectual. I read some stupid stuff on line. That's really not (generally) as satisfying as reading a book, but on an aimless day I suppose it does not matter too much.

I experimented a bit with watercolor, and was not entirely happy with the results (this gnome was not from today, it's from a couple weeks ago.) Anyway, I shall try some layering and see what I think.

With watercolor sometimes if you do something you don't care for, you can go back with a wet wash and, either just plain water or you can also use a sponge or paper towel and pick up some color. And sometimes you can glaze over the top. Or you can go over with ink, pencil, or colored pencil. It's not like acrylic, though, where you can just sort of cover things up and start over. --

(i just interrupted that thought to go spill some loose earl grey tea and now my kitchen smells great.)

-- so i find that sometimes that makes me less inclined to want to experiment, and that's not so great. experimenting is good. one needs to spend some time doing it, even if the results are not always what one wanted. I may try going over today's work with a bit of white gauche, but it will take several layers to get a surface I want to work on. And you need to make sure it is dry between layers unless you want colors to sort of bleed through.

Ironically most people tell me they don't like watercolor as much as acrylic because they can't control it. i find i have a much easier time controlling watercolor than i do acrylics - i just have not spent as much time with acrylics and my brush technique is not as good. and i think i will always love watercolors the most. there is something special about them. you can control them (with patience and care) or you can let them surprise you, and more and more I am trying to do both in the same painting, in different areas.

The gnome seen here is:
Daniel Smith watercolor,
white prismacolor,
pitt artist pens in B & S, in several colors,
& White gel pen.

& the photo was taken with my iphone and manipulated in Instagram.

I have discovered I like the sort of fuzzy halo I can get by adding a bit of white colored pencil over watercolor.

Whatever your favorite media is, I hope you won't be afraid to experiment now and then.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Paintings in progress

Paintings by megan_n_smith_99
Paintings, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

This is a little photo I took & Instagrammed last week, in the process of holiday painting! I hope you all had a pleasant holiday. I spent Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with family, and then Boxing day with friends. It was quite festive, but I think I am ready for some down time now. I will be spending the 30th with family again, when my twin sister & her husband come up to Washington State. Perhaps after that I will hibernate for a while.It's really the best thing to do, during winter in the Pacific Northwest. & I have some painting I want to do. I might spend New Year's Day painting all day.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Beaded Star Ornament Tutorial

this is another re-run from the past, but you still have time to whip some of these up before the holidays descend in a swirl of fruitcake and eggnog. i decided to write up a tutorial for these star ornaments i made recently.

step 1) you will need a handful of black tea bags, WOOL or WOOL / RAYON felt, a glass dish, and boiling water. Make sure you are not using acrylic felt. cut your felt into pieces that will fit in your dish.

step 2) place the tea bags in the glass dish and pour the hot water over them. let them seep for a few minutes and add your wool felt, one piece at a time, making sure the wool is saturated. i used a wooden spoon to assist. let your wool felt rest in the tea for at least a half and hour. if you allow the felt to fall into folds then the color will vary a bit, which i like.

step 3) remove the wool felt from the tea bath, squeeze out excess fluid, and toss in a hot dryer for about a half hour or until dry. this will cause the felt to shrink a bit and fluff up, creating a pleasing organic texture.

step 4) when your felt is dry, cut simple shapes from it. you can use christmas clip art, or trace around cookie cutters if you do not feel making a pattern freehand. i drew my pattern on paper, cut out, and taped to the felt then cut out. cut 2 pieces for each ornament.

step 5) using strong thread, stitch beads and sequins to your felt. you can see in some places i staked a larger sequin under a smaller sequin, then went through a bead, then back down through the 2 sequins. i also used some mother - of - pearl buttons. for thread i suggest beading thread, selected to match your felt. if you do not have beading thread you could use 1 strand of embroidery floss, which is also strong.

step 7) lastly, place your back and front pieces wrong side together and stitch shut using blanket stitch or whipstitch. before you go all the way around, stuff the star with a bit of stuffing. add a hanger (i like to use metallic floss,) and your ornament is done! the background in this photo is undyed felt. you can see the dyed felt has a light antique look. if you want yours to be darker, use more teabags.

enjoy! i would love to see what YOU make!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Last minute holiday gift idea - Unicorn Ornament

I originally posted this a few years ago but here it is again.. You still have time to make a whole herd of unicorns before the holidays!

This pattern requires: wool felt, 2 black beads, 4 tiny buttons, novelty yarns, stuffing, flower bead or ribbon flower, and polymer clay.

cut out 2 bodies and 8 legs and 2 ears from felt. whipstitch together, stuff, and sew shut, inserting the horn as you sew shut the head, as shown in diagram. after you have sewed all the peices together sew the legs on with the buttons (ask me if you need more details but i think a lot of my readers probably know how to make button joined legs.) lastly embellish the unicorn by tacking on his mane, tail, and the flower. sew one the 2 black bead eyes and the ears and enjoy! i have also modified this pattern in the past to make horses and donkeys. you could further embellish with beads or sequins, add wings, etc. they can be enjoyed as is or you can add a loop to hang them up as ornaments.

finished product. click on thumbnails to see larger:

making and inserting the horn from polymer and the pattern

full size pattern.

feel free to make, pass on, share, etc. just credit me and please don't make to sell them w/o permission!
edit: an alternate way to make the horn out of wool felt is here. I have also adapted this pattern to make horses (leave off the horn), & donkeys (add mane and change the head so it's down like Eeyore's usually is). you could also adapt it to make llamas, camels, etc.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Peek-a-Boo Holiday House Ornaments

This is a "re-run" of a post from last year - you might like to whip some of these up as holiday gifts!
I came up with this idea a couple days ago. These are easy to make and I must say addictive - I am sure I will be making more!

You will need:
wool felt
novelty fabric with a small scale motif
flower bead and seed beads
embroidery floss in a contrasting color from your felt
needle, pins, and tape

Cut out the little house pattern which is available here. Cut out on the outer line and then carefully cut the window out using small sharp scissors. you may need to adjust the size of the window to fit your motif.

Position the cut out house over your novelty fabric and move it around until you get just the bit you want peeking through the window. then cut out a small square of your novelty fabric that is a bit bigger than your window all the way around.

Lay your felt on top of the cut out motif and position as you want it. Pin it and stitch all the way around the window using 2 strands of embroidery floss.

Sew a flower bead at near the top of your house.

Layer the 2 felt houses together and stitch all the way around the outside of the house to fasten the front and backs together. Work your ends in. Add an embroidery thread loop to the top and it's ready to hang!

Snow Queen

Snow queen shawl by megan_n_smith_99
Snow queen shawl, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

This seems appropriate to the season, though it has not snowed in Seattle and I would not be surprised if we did not get any snow this year. I have a view of the Olympic Mountains, though, and they are decked out in white. Well, I have a view of them when it's not too cloudy.

I have not been feeling well ... for the last month, actually, but managed tea with a friend on Tuesday and going to a knit meet-up on Wednesday, and I am glad I did, I really needed to get out of the house. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and perhaps he will have some helpful advice.

This quote seems appropriate to this photo, if not to the world outside my window:

“In the nineteenth century, Fritjof Nansen wrote that skiing washes civilization clean from our minds by dint of its exhilarating physicality. By extension, I believe that snow helps strip away the things that don't matter. It leaves us thinking of little else but the greatness of nature, the place of our souls within it, and the dazzling whiteness that lies ahead.”
― Charlie English

Monday, December 10, 2012

Twilight Tree & A Few Thoughts of Hibernation.

Twilight Tree by megan_n_smith_99
Twilight Tree, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

Here is my latest. And Maybe I am painting too many trees and need to take a break? I had a notion to paint a whale but I have not gotten to it yet. Portions of this particular tree also grace items in my Zazzle shop and the original can be found on Etsy Shop.

I am afraid, as is so often the case, that I've been under the weather. For the last 3 weeks. I had not been this bad since February. I really recommend avoiding autoimmune issues if you can possibly avoid it. I keep saying I am going to go to the doctor if it does not get better - maybe this week. I don't really know what they can do and am mostly just trying to be patient and not leaving the house much. I've done some knitting and reading. I've painted when I can but sometimes I just just do better with something a bit more rote.

I am, like many of you I am sure, getting ready for the holidays, or trying to. I am making nearly all of my gifts. I sometimes think my family has gotten tired of homemade gifts from me -- at least my friends aren't showing any signs of being tired of it! We'll see what really happens. I sort of just want to hibernate, really. I am sure there is still some DNA in my genetic code that would enable me to hibernate - I just need to activate it. Any ideas? I have an electric blanket so I think I am good to go.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Spirit Beaded Doll

SpiritDoll1 by megan_n_smith_99
SpiritDoll1, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

I've never marked down the prices on my beaded dolls but I have three for sale on Etsy right now, including the doll shown. and they are marked down from $275 & $300 to $220 for this weekend only. Sale ends Sun Dec 8th at midnight PST.

I will also take commissions for a 6" beaded doll for the same price - with a 50% deposit - though I could not promise to have those done by Xmas, so we'd need to discuss the dates.

you can see the dolls

Oh goodness, though, I wish I was feeling as free and serene as the beaded doll appears to be. I think I will be going to the dr. next week - I've been under the weather for 3 weeks and I clearly need a tuneup or something.

I hope I feel like painting today, though possible I will just curl up under my electric blanket and read.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Scarred creatures are my dearest companions"

Red Fox II
watercolor & ink

I found a new quote today that I just have to share with you:

"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could." 
— Louise Erdrich

& I may have shared this one before:

"I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them..." 
— Annie Dillard

& I how can I close without one from Ann Lamott, one of my favorite writers ever-- she's writing for all of us, all creative people, all parents, everyone who feels like they are walking in the dark half of the time:

"I said that I thought the secret of life was obvious: be here now, love as if your whole life depended on it, find your life's work, and try to get hold of a giant panda. If you had a giant panda in your back yard, anything could go wrong — someone could die, or stop loving you, or you could get sick — and if you could look outside and see this adorable, ridiculous, boffo panda, you'd start to laugh; you'd be so filled with thankfulness and amusement that everything would be O.K. again."
— Anne Lamott

Sunset Tree

Sunset Tree by megan_n_smith_99
Sunset Tree, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

Groggy. Stayed up too late due to my Earl Grey bender, then woke up too early when my electric blanket controls fell off the window sill. Went back to sleep. Dreamed there was a Mcdonald's salad in my fridge.

Perhaps some watercolor will perk me up.

This is:
Sunset Tree
Watercolor, ink, and colored pencil on paper
Available on Etsy

& for you, a quote:

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
— E.E. Cummings

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All Small Critters

I've been painting some small critters lately, as is my wont -- one of them, anyway -- and I've designed some clothing, mugs, etc. with some of my critters. You can see them at my Zazzle Shop. Zazzle has a lot of sales, too, and they're posted in the header, so watch for handy coupon codes.

As I quoted on one of the mugs:

"The fox knows many tricks, And the hedgehog only one; But that is the best one of all." --Archilochus:

what other critters do you think I should paint?

Cool Art on Etsy - Patricia Anders & Andrea Stern

I am not the only one selling cool art on Etsy. I'd like to introduce you to two other artists whose work you'll enjoy ...

Patricia Anders paintings and sculptures are all kind of creepy cool. And I don't know anyone who paints better hair!  Who hasn't felt this way when untangling holiday lights? And everything else she paints has her own slightly off-kilter - but delightful - world view. She's got prints, originals and more in her Etsy Shop. You'll love her Ornies - when she has them - they sell out fast so be sure to add her shop to your favorites.

Andi Stern's beadwork & paintings are amazing. I fell in love with her beadwork first & it's my favorite - but her mixed media paintings are equally charming.  The centerpiece of this necklace is a hand carved netsuke and is gorgeous-- truly one of a kind! There's a lot more to see in her  Etsy Shop.

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mice and Hedgehogs - Oh My!

I have not not been a very good blogger over the last week or two. I have not been feeling well.  I think I am getting better. When you have chronic health issues, you are never really sure what better is going to men. I am just doing my best and we'll see where that goes.

I have been adding new items to my zazzle shop. It's been fun to use my artwork to design various items.. The mouse and hedgehog are features on several items - infant and toddler clothing and mugs.

I also have t-shirts for adults using some of my more elaborate paintings. And a few mugs, water bottles, tea pots, etc.

And of course I still have original artwork on Etsy. Check it out -- You may get some ideas for gifts!

And I am also working on a few new paintings. I think I'll have something to show you tomorrow.

Can you believe it's already December? I'm also trying to think about holiday gifts and I ordered my holiday cards!