Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine DIY: How to Make Glittered Watercolor Valentines

Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching, so it's time to proclaim your love for all the awesome people in your life. Now, you could go to the nearest big box store and pick up a store-bought card to let your loved ones know how you feel. You know the drill- sappy poems, embossed roses, pink hearts, a box of kittens. But aren't the objects of your affection so much more awesome than that? Don't they deserve something one-of-a-kind? Oh yeah they do! That's why it's time for an epic Valentine's Day DIY: 

The Glittered Watercolor Valentine

glittered watercolor valentine card

These valentines are super easy to make once you know how. And I'm going to show you how in my first ever DIY craft tutorial! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Handmade Valentines for The Great Valentine Swap

Valentine's Day stamp
Valentine's Day, man. I fully acknowledge the consumerism inherent in the "Hallmark holidays," but even my cynical little heart can't help but love Valentine's Day.

What I really love is the opportunity to make someone feel special. I mean, obviously we can and should try to do that every day, not just on holidays. But let's be real; it's hard to remember to not only stop and smell the roses, but also pick one and give it to your sweetie when your mind is a blur of bills to be paid and errands to be run.

That's why I like holidays so much. They interrupt our routine. They encourage us to be generous with our affection. They allow us to express just how special the people around us are.

I felt pretty special today when I checked the mailbox, only to discover 3 beautiful handmade valentines addressed to me. But get this- I don't even know the senders!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Send Some Holiday Love

Christmas is almost here, and we're all running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get all the obligatory gift shopping and merrymaking crammed in. But please, take 5 minutes and do this one little thing.

It's so easy- just drop a Christmas card in the mail, addressed to

Ed and Betty Vogel
425 E. Coleman Rd.
Clare, MI 48617

Why? Well you can read the whole story over at the blog of their granddaughter, Mrs. Greene. It's Miss Betty's last Christmas, and her family is trying to harness the power of the internet to brighten her days and show her how much she is loved, even by total strangers.

One of the things Mrs. Greene has requested is for people to send drawings from their children to cheer up her grandmother. Obviously I'm a little old for that request, but I decided to send a drawing anyway. I couldn't help myself. As a kid, when my grandparents' health was failing toward the end of their lives, I would spend hours making art to hang in their hospital rooms. I've never had the right words in times like that, but I could at least make them smile with my little gifts.

cardinal watercolor painting

I hope this makes you smile, Miss Betty. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Scientific Illustration: Cicada

cicada scientific illustration

Take a look at my latest piece, a small painting of a Costa Rican Cicada. I've always loved scientific illustration and this little guy was super fun to paint.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Grinch's Guide to Holiday Shopping: Support the Arts!

Well, the holiday shopping frenzy has begun for another year! As a retail survivor, I must admit that I am not a huge fan of the holidays. Blasphemy, I know. But something about hearing the Macy's holiday playlist repeated three times a shift broke me, resulting in 'Nam-style flashbacks whenever I hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas."

Holiday retail PTSD aside, I swear I'm not a total Grinch! I've always loved making or finding the perfect gift for friends and family, and the holidays are a great opportunity to support the things you believe in: handmade gifts, local businesses, and the arts. So for all of my fellow Grinches out there, I'm going to be sharing my suggestions for awesome holiday gifts.

As we all know, the last few years have been hard on the arts. Why not support your local arts programs and treat your loved ones to an actual experience? Memories last forever and don't take up space in your house. It's cheesy, but come on- your mother-in-law doesn't need another kitchen gadget or decorative vase. Instead of the latest fleece onesie/sartorial embarrassment, consider: 

How do you support the arts at the holidays?

photo by Jessica McGowan via High Museum of Art on Facebook 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dragon*Con Art and a Gallery Wall!

Every year at Dragon*Con, I go through the same routine. I tell myself I'm not going to buy anything, I'm going to save money for once, I don't really need anything anyway... And then I wander into Artist Alley and all self-control goes out the window. I've discovered quite a few new artists that way, and this year I went a little crazier than normal and bought a gazillion prints.

I finally got them into frames, and, along with some of the other framed arty things we had lying around, my husband and I hung them all up on one super awesome gallery wall. The enormous blank space over the couch had been empty for way too long, so we decided to throw everything up there and see how it looked. It definitely outs us as mega-nerds right off the bat, but anyone we invite over probably knew that about us anyway!

(Please pardon the awful phone photos in this post!) Since you can't really see them well, here are the prints I bought at Dragon*Con:

ShiShi by Leslie Ditto

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Silencing the Critic and Other Advice for Creatives

One of my favorite events at this year's Dragon*Con was part of the art show programming. Shocking, right?

5 Lies to Bust for Freeing Your Creativity was a lecture by author and illustrator Janny Wurts. While I was not familiar with her work, I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and wanted to share some of the points that really struck a chord with me. These are the heavily paraphrased nuggets of insight I took away from her much more extensive (and eloquent) presentation.

No one has your unique viewpoint except for you. Don't deprive the world of that. Put in the work and time to do justice to that unique viewpoint. 

You must form the neural connections you want to use. That means practicing every day, whatever your medium. 

The thoughts you're thinking right now create your future. Banish self-doubt, self-pity, feelings of inadequacy- whatever negative thoughts are impeding you from creating the future you want.

Realize that depression is anger you think you're not supposed to have.
[Whoa. This was probably the most personally relevant thing I've heard in a long time.]

Good work is an investment in your future, so no excuses. Low pay or other less-than-ideal circumstances are no excuse for doing less than your best. Every piece is an opportunity to add to your portfolio and build your skills. 

You can't create and destroy at the same time. Silence the critic while you create. 

What you think is perfection is actually mediocrity. See item #1, re: your unique viewpoint. 

Good stuff, right? Afterwards I had the artist equivalent of that feeling you get after a really good church sermon; chastened, but inspired.

Today I saw a quote from David Bayles that relates really well to that last point. Since I'm obviously on a self-help kick today, I figured I might as well throw it in for good measure!

The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides- valuable, objective, non-judgemental guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.
So what's your biggest obstacle to nurturing and expressing your creativity? For me, it's time management, but these ideas have me reevaluating my attitude as well. I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment about your struggles with living a creative life.

quote via Skinny Artist, photo by Patrick Feller via Flickr Creative Commons