Watercolor Wreaths

My son's school was having a craft show and they needed some school families to participate. I had the idea of selling little plants (thanks to Grammy who can actually grow plants) and I thought some holiday cards to go with them would be nice. I decided a theme of wreaths would be fun. Here are a few that I painted:

drawingsarah-wreath1
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drawingsarah-wreath6
drawingsarah-wreath7

The craft fair was kind of a bust as we only sold a few plants and a few cards. :( But the good news is I am going to list some of the cards in my (currently unopened) etsy shop! Gotta start somewhere, right?

Five Happy Years

My husband and I are celebrating our 5 year anniversary today! He has spent this week spoiling me with 5 days of presents. It's been so fun and he is so thoughtful. I'm not sure how I got so lucky with him but I feel really blessed. He makes me want to be a better person and, at the same time, I feel so loved and so secure with him. I'm sure you get it...I think he's pretty great. :)

Below are the five days of presents (the man did good!), plus a picture of the card I painted for him:

drawingsarah | day1-2
drawingsarah | day3-4
drawingsarah | day5-card

Business Coaching Call with Le Papier Studio

A while back I won (yippee!) a business coaching call with Le Papier Studio. I wasn't sure if I should even enter the contest since I don't have a creative business yet.

I've been following the lovely Vana Chupp of Le Papier Studio for a while now. I love her charming silhouettes, fine art prints and jewelry. Plus I went to college with her husband, so it's fun to see their growing family on her blog and instagram. I really love her story, too. She's a mom. She wanted to be home with her babies, help support her family and do something she loved and was passionate about. A story I could relate to. 

I took a page of notes while we were talking and I thought I'd share some of my biggest takeaways. The painting above was inspired by one of the points that really stayed with me. Vana said, "Give yourself permission to start!" That is huge. I think sometimes we want everything to perfect first: the perfect idea, the perfect blog post, the perfect website, the perfect timing. Nothing is perfect and you have to JUST START! 

drawingsarah.com | Just Start!

Other points of great advice were:

  • Don't think about the money. Do something you love and are passionate about.
  • But still have a goal. How much money do you want or need to bring in?
  • Figure out your strengths and develop them. What can you do that no one else can?
  • Have an online presence.
  • The "about" on your website or blog is important!
  • Be the expert and inspire people. Offer valuable content on your blog.
  • And, get into the mindset that "I'm starting an etsy shop (for me)."

I had some questions for Vana about Etsy, since that is where she started and still has a shop there today. I asked her how many listings to start with? Fill the page, about 20. And if there were any resources out there to help with Etsy? She recommended the Etsy Blog and Etsy Seller's Handbook.

It was amazing to have the opportunity to speak to an experienced and knowledgeable blogger, business owner, etsy seller, working mom and all around lovely person! :) I soaked up every bit I could from our conversation.

Now, everyone out there, including me, whether it's a business idea, clearing out clutter, exercising, etc., let's follow Vana's advice and . . . JUST START!


36 in 36

I woke up this birthday morning feeling like I needed about two more hours of sleep (as usual). I've had my coffee now and am feeling ambitious. I've seen these birthday lists before – # of things to accomplish in a year based on your age – and thought I'd take a crack at one. It'll be interesting to see how much I've crossed off by next year... one? five? none?

So this year, let's see if I can come up with 36 things, in no particular order...

1. Eat a salad most days of the week.
2. Exercise more
3. Eat less junk food
4. Draw everyday
5. Paint/finish my giant canvas
6. Join the Midland Artist Guild
7. Use up all of the blank sketch books that I currently own
8. Travel to see some far away family
9. Read a book a month-ish
10. Paint more often
11. Try out new/different art media
12. Take walks
13. Take bike rides
14. Explore some local stores downtown
15. Open my etsy shop
16. Blog at least once a week
17. Organize already printed photos
18. Catch up on Eli's baby book
19. Print more photos and get into albums (I'm so behind)
20. Create/print some family "year books"
21. Go antiquing
22. Plan next summer's vacation with dear old friends
23. Work in the yard/garden - get ready for fall/spring
24. Get together with my sister every month or so
25. Come up with a house cleaning schedule
26. Follow above cleaning schedule :)
27. Put together a chore/jobs chart for the kids for the school year
28. Plan meals
29. Try some new recipes/freezer meals. Get out of the rut!
30. Put together my graphic design portfolio for the blog
31. Decide if we're going to try for another baby
32. Clean out closets!
33. Go see some waterfalls in the U.P.
34. Make new friendships-be more social
35. Explore the downtown shops in a nearby town
36. Take more pictures WITH my kids. You know, like be IN the picture :)

Have any of you ever come up with a list like this? I don't usually make "new year's resolutions" but I often make a mental list in the fall. I've blogged about it before here. It's funny how some of these are just always on my to-do list. How successful were you with actually crossing things off the list?

Words On the Porch - a DIY project

I am very fortunate that my house has a lovely screened-in porch. It's a very peaceful space with views of our small, tree-lined yard. The only problem is the one giant wall of tan siding that is just begging for some art.  Whatever I put there needs to either be weather resistant or something that I don't care if it gets ruined by our extreme seasons. 

I was inspired by this post on the blog Young House Love so I decided to look for some large/cheap art at a rummage sale. I had some luck with this faded reproduction of Willard Leroy Metcalf's The Last Snow. It's the perfect size (37"x34"), neutral enough to paint a quote on and $10! Can't beat that. If you're curious, this is what the original painting looks like. 

Faded rummage sale find perfect for painting a quote on!

Faded rummage sale find perfect for painting a quote on!

I wanted a peaceful quote so I decided on Matt. 28:11 which is "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." I wanted to make my life simple so rather than draw the letters by hand, I went to Michaels to look for a stencil. I found this fabulous one from Hazel & Ruby. It was $19.99 at Michaels and I had a 50% off coupon so that was a score! Each letter is a vinyl sticker that you can paint over if you wanted to and then peel off revealing the background. I decided to trace around each letter and then color it in with a paint pen which worked perfectly!

Tracing the vinyl "sticker" stencil.

Tracing the vinyl "sticker" stencil.

Filling in the letters with a black paint pen. I loved how it dried shiny and matched the sheen of the rest of the canvas.

Filling in the letters with a black paint pen. I loved how it dried shiny and matched the sheen of the rest of the canvas.

To hang the canvas on the vinyl siding, I used these hooks from amazon and they won't put a hole in the siding. They seem to be doing a great job. Below is the final product! I like it. :)

The final product! Pay no attention to the giant yellow canvas. That is for a future project I'm working on. :)

The final product! Pay no attention to the giant yellow canvas. That is for a future project I'm working on. :)

And that giant yellow canvas? Well, pay no attention to that. Just a future project I'm working on. That yellow is just the ol' underpainting. 

Have you taken on any DIY projects lately?

What I've Been Up to Lately

Hello there! It's been a while. I've been posting often in my head but that doesn't really help this blog now does it. :) I have been busy with a couple of fun projects which I'll post about soon. 

Yesterday was Father's Day and I wanted to make something fun for my hubby. He is a great daddy who also happens to love baseball and the Red Sox. In our driveway, I made a chalk drawing of Fenway Park and put our youngest, Eli, in the picture "hitting a home run." I think it turned out cute (even though I had to bribe him with suckers). And daddy loved it so that's what matters. :)

And some outtakes... 

Hope everyone had a nice weekend and Father's Day.

How To ... Procrastinate?

I have a very serious DIY post today. This is not a joke! Ok, maybe it is. I've been so busy lately. And when I'm busy I tend to be in a state of denial and I might just procrastinate a little. The only good thing that comes out of this is that I usually get other things done that I haven't had/made the time for. So maybe it isn't procrastinating as much as a creative restructuring of my To Do list. Ha!

Here you go... How To Procrastinate in Three Easy Steps:

  1. Have LOTS of work to do. This could include work from a paying job, setting up your etsy shop (*ahem), house work, yard work, child rearing, etc.
  2. INSTEAD of actually getting some of the above done and satisfyingly crossing them off your To Do list, find something else to do. Example: Maybe a project idea comes to mind, like displaying your babies' home-from-the-hospital-outfits in a shadow box. Begin to imagine how you might make that dream project a reality.
  3. GO TO MICHAELS. This is always the perfect start to perfect procrastination. I mean this could lead to HOURS of procrastination.

So there you have it. Procrastination is as easy as 1, 2, 3. 

And, so you're not left hanging, here are some lovely iPhone pics of how I put the above steps into practice. See, you can do it, too!

Lovely shadowboxes found at Michaels. Originally $29.99 and I got them on sale for $13.50! From left to right: Emma, Aiden and Eli. :)

Lovely shadowboxes found at Michaels. Originally $29.99 and I got them on sale for $13.50! From left to right: Emma, Aiden and Eli. :)

Here they are on the wall which leads down to the basement playroom. It's been bare for two years. Another reason not to wait one more second! Even though I had lots of other things needing to be done. ;)

Here they are on the wall which leads down to the basement playroom. It's been bare for two years. Another reason not to wait one more second! Even though I had lots of other things needing to be done. ;)

On Experimenting

I don't know about you but I am a rule follower. If I'm not doing the "right thing" then I am out of my comfort zone. That being said, I do think it's important to break the rules and experiment in art. I don't usually even try out an idea unless I'm pretty sure it's going to turn out. (That's why I have all pinterest wins! Ha ha!). Experimenting feels foreign and scary to me. I mean, what if I don't like the outcome? Gasp!

Every weekday morning, I have 40 minutes of silence between the time the big kids get on the bus and the little kid gets up. I normally use that time to drink coffee, look at some sort of social media or email and start to work. I'd love to draw and paint but it's not really enough time to start and finish a painting. Because, heaven forbid, I have to work on something in more than one sitting. ;) Are you getting the hint that I like short and successful art projects? 

But this morning, I decided to do some experimenting. I wanted to see how different colors would move and work on the pages of my sketchbook. Right away, things weren't turning out exactly how I saw them in my mind but I told myself to simmer down and keep going. Pictures below. I'm going to try to do this more often and I may not even post every experiment on the blog but just keep them for myself whether or not I think they are a success or failure.

What about you? Do you play it safe in whatever creative outlet you have? Do you love to experiment? Is it scary or exciting? What do you discover about yourself or your art in the process? I'd love to know!

Flower Sketch

Last week was spring break for the kids. We didn't go anywhere but tried to do something fun everyday. We shopped, hit the movies, the pool, went to a frog exhibit and visited Auntie in Detroit. It turned out to be a very busy and fun week! The big ones are back in school today. Yay for routine!

My daughter and I did a little sewing project (a mini-messenger bag) so she could learn how to use my sewing machine. It turned out great and I was a more patient teacher than I thought I would be. Ha!

It is starting to feel like spring here (hope I didn't jinx us by saying that) so here is a flowery sketch. Happy Monday!

Here Emma is practicing, getting used to the sewing machine and the finished product on the right. She picked out the fabric, too.

Here Emma is practicing, getting used to the sewing machine and the finished product on the right. She picked out the fabric, too.

Outside My Window

Well, even though there is still snow on the ground and below freezing temperatures, the birdies have decided to return. I had fun sketching doing a little impromptu sketching of them this morning. I've seen Morning Doves, Cardinals, House Finches, Blue Jays, a couple others that I don't know the names of and, this year, little Chickadees. They are so sweet so I had to add some watercolor to this sketch.

Thar She Blows (New Whale Painting)

Remember part one of the kids' bathroom redo? Well, I decided to paint something after I found a cute clearance 11x14 frame in navy at Michael's. I had been thinking another whale would be cute but I wanted it in watercolor and more illustrative than realistic so this is what I came up with. I love the mama and baby. :)

And here are the whales in the cute frame from Michael's and hung up in the bathroom...

Stroll Down Art School Memory Lane (Part 2)

I am SO glad it's Friday. How about you? It's been a good, but long and tiring week. My plans this weekend are to go through some more storage bins (we have quite a few that have moved with us twice – time to get rid of some stuff) and hopefully do some painting. 

Thought I'd post one more art school painting. Even though that plate edge on the left is a little wonky, I always liked this piece. It was my first experience with oils which, I have to say, are probably my first love, even though I've been cheating on them with watercolor. :)

Happy Weekend!

Stroll Down Art School Memory Lane (Part 1)

I loved college. I loved the freedom and the possibilities. I loved learning new things and when I finally changed majors and transferred to an art school it felt like, "where have you been all my life?!" 

I still had two giant rubbermaid bins taking up room in my office, ahem, studio, filled with drawings and paintings. I finally went through everything and threw out lots of garbage. It was fun to see where I started and how far I've come (and how far I have to go!). 

I thought I hadn't used the watercolor medium before a couple years ago but I found this little watercolor landscape gem. 

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I have hardly any recollection of this painting! I swear sometimes my brain is too full and things just get deleted. The back was signed and dated 3/15/99. My professor had written his comments, too, which were: "Excellent job, not overworked, good use of the medium, A." Woo hoo. :) 

Do you have any good old school memories?

Studio Redo

We have had frigid temps here in Michigan. We've have mountains of snow. And, a couple weeks ago, because it actually got above freezing, I had a fountain in my office!

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Yeah, that's right. That's a steady stream of water coming out of a light fixture in my ceiling! Sigh.

Luckily there's a polar vortex and the temps went back down and everything froze again so the water stopped (for now). Good to know what I have to look forward to if spring ever really does come again. ;)

While it was raining (on the inside) I schlepped all of my stuff to other rooms in the house. And because my studio was empty, I decided to paint. The walls were green from previous owners and they had a faux texture on them. I went with Agreeable Gray (not shocking for anyone who knows me). Here's the before...

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And, ta da, the afters...

I'm loving the new space even though I'd like to replace the rug someday. I think I can finally call it my studio now instead of an office. Feels much more arty these days. :) It's a space I actually want to spend time in.

I'm loving the new space even though I'd like to replace the rug someday. I think I can finally call it my studio now instead of an office. Feels much more arty these days. :) It's a space I actually want to spend time in.

Another view... the shelves are not exactly "styled" yet but that will come eventually. I want them to function as well as look good so I plan to take my time.

Another view... the shelves are not exactly "styled" yet but that will come eventually. I want them to function as well as look good so I plan to take my time.

I did get the top of the shelf done which I love! I mean, who doesn't love books arranged by spine color?

I did get the top of the shelf done which I love! I mean, who doesn't love books arranged by spine color?

The kids' space. I'll probably paint that bulletin board this summer. I love having an old folding table in here that can be colored and painted and spilled on.

The kids' space. I'll probably paint that bulletin board this summer. I love having an old folding table in here that can be colored and painted and spilled on.

My current view. I really love looking out a window as I sit at my desk now.

My current view. I really love looking out a window as I sit at my desk now.

The brother's painting. Of course, little brother had to take his shirt off like big brother.

The brother's painting. Of course, little brother had to take his shirt off like big brother.

More art hopefully will be coming soon!

Give Me Some Green

The groundhog was right. Winter is never ending. I live in the tundra. 

Ok, maybe not but it sure feels like it. The weather channel was predicting rain and 40° weather this week and then tonight we get 8" of snow! Yikes. So... I was in the mood for green. 

And being in the mood for spring, I was excited when I found this closed terrarium on sale at Target. I went out and bought some succulents. Then I did some research and found out that succulents can only go in an open terrarium. Oh well. Another shopping trip is in order, I guess.

But to celebrate 8" of snow, I painted this pretty little succulent.

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What do you do to celebrate the never ending winter?

Breaking Through

I took some time off the blog and painting. Not intentionally, though. I was just creatively blocked. Like writer's block, I guess. These periods are so extremely frustrating. I feel like I can't be making progress artistically if I'm not actually working on anything. I'm not sure why a block happens but maybe it's the brain's way of forcing a much needed rest? This time, instead of completely beating myself up about it, I surrendered to it. I cleaned the house, cuddled babies, read a book (!), and finally, a deadline got me out of it. I'm still not really sure if it was the deadline and powering through, or time that got me through it. 

I was so excited when a friend of mine from the other side of the country wanted to commission me to paint a portrait of her husband who was retiring from the marines. She sent me lots of pictures of him in his uniform and I asked her many, many questions about ribbons and medals to keep it all straight. I did have to force myself to finish it (due to the creative block), but I'm happy with how it turned out!

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And here he is framed and hanging in his new home. :)

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What do you do when you can't move forward? I'd love to hear someone else's ideas!

InDesign Class Update

My class is coming to a close. Last week we learned how to type set a novel or play. I won't bother to post any pictures since it's all boring (to all non-print designers) text. And our last project is an interactive PDF so I'll probably not post anything on that either. I've learned so much about the capabilities of InDesign and I'm very impressed with it. I am definitely going to dive into it with all future jobs. 

For the kids' bathroom redo, it's getting there! I have the shower curtain hung and rugs down. The whale art and initial plaques are hung. My next plan was to purchase some prints from one of my favorite illustrators. Then I saw some gorgeous pictures of coral on Pinterest and it got me thinking how beautiful a watercolor of one would be. I'm thinking white on a dark blue background and very stylized. I've never used masking fluid before so this might be a good first project.

Below is a first sketch from my sketchbook...

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Another idea I had for art in their bathroom, was to have each of them paint something sea-like in navy blue paint on white and then frame that. I thought that would be very cute, too. What do you think? More grown-up coral watercolor or kid art? It's a tough choice!

Crafty Weekend - Part Three

I have this wall in my kitchen that I've been wanting to find a chalkboard for. I didn't want to paint the whole wall with chalkboard paint because that seems really messy to me. I couldn't find anything in the large size (36"x24") I wanted that wasn't super expensive. And even those chalkboards came in ugly or plain frames. So my plan was to buy a frame and then buy some thin plywood and paint it with chalkboard paint. Well, while I was at Michael's searching for frames and realizing that none of them were that great, I meandered down the clearance aisle. And what did I find? Two hotel-looking large size framed canvas wall art for $10 each!

I bought them both because I thought, "Why not?!" The venice-looking scene (below) isn't exactly my style but this wall desperately needed some art so I just hung that one there for now. It actually goes really well with the previous owners curtains and paint choice so that was a happy accident. These framed canvases were actually a little smaller that I thought I wanted but actually worked perfect in both spaces. Also, the frame isn't exactly what I had in mind but it really does work with our traditional house and oak trim.

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For the other framed canvas, I used a $6 bottle of Martha Steward brand black chalkboard paint and painted three coats right on top of the canvas. You have to do one coat, allow to dry for at least an hour and then do the next coat. I used a foam brush and it went on so easy. When you finish your last coat, let it dry for at least 24 hours. Then you want to condition the chalkboard by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk all over the surface and then wiping it off with a damp cloth. That way you don't end up with words that never really erase. 

I wasn't sure if I'd like the canvas texture for the chalkboard but it worked great! Such a fun and easy project for $16! Below is the "after."

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Anyone have any fun DIY plans for the coming weekend?

Crafty Weekend - Part Two

The three hooks by the shower are where the kids (are supposed to) hang their towels. I loved this idea but needed to make something that went with my navy blue theme. At Michael's (my local craft store), I picked up three wooden plaques and wooden letters that were the kids' initials. I also bought glossy Navy acrylic paint, white paint and a paint pen in white. I painted the wooden plaques navy blue. It took a couple coats since I didn't bother priming the bare wood. The wooden letters were also bare wood that I painted white. I added some lines with the paint pen, just for some interest. My daughter, Emma, has the same initial as her brother, Eli, so I just added some hearts on her plaque to make it a little more girly. I carefully drilled a hole in the back of the plaque (only about half way through) so that they would hang flush against the wall on a nail. Then I just hot glued the letters to the plaques. I think they turned out cute!

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