Hand Painted Tree Mural

I suppose this is more of a silhouette than a full mural, and it is inspired by the tree decals you can buy for walls. Apart from the exorbitant cost of a decal, this was an odd space by the front door in my foyer, so I knew I’d have to draw my own tree to fit the space.

TreeDrawing_chalk

I drew up a tree on paper, and then took measurements of my wall and the elements like the light fixture that I had to fit the tree around, and modified it slightly. I bought some children’s sidewalk chalk that came with a plastic holder at the dollar store, and used that to sketch the drawing onto the wall, eyeballing the proportions from the paper. Chalk is good because you can rub it off with a cloth if you make a mistake, and redo part of your drawing.

ChalkTree_sm

As I suspected, I had to decrease the width of my drawing once I got started transferring it to the wall. The story is that the tree got blasted by lightning on the left, but carried on growing to beckon people onward through the front door.

I have problems with tendinitis and arthritis, bad knees, and the challenge here was not to hurt myself but to get the artwork done. I first planned this 15 months ago but I needed to wait until the spouse repainted the foyer a pale grey first.

The tree took a day to draw up on paper and adjust, a second day to chalk it on the wall, and two days to put the first coat on. After that I was sore and could only do 40 minutes per day maximum so it took another six days to finish the second coat and do a few touch-ups.

TreeMuralFoyer_JJ

When you are sitting in the living room seeing this, the tree seems to include the whole room, so instead of having this empty-looking foyer with its light and table, it becomes part of the whole room, not just a little area isolated by the front door.

The big “J” was a solid wood one we bought 38 years ago, and I often feature that letter in artwork or crafts; I wasn’t sure it would fit in the tree, but it seems to like it.

What letter wouldn’t like to hang around in a tree?

 

 

 

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Books on Painting Water and Bird Photography

I want to do up a small watercolour and coloured pencil drawing of a sandpiper to represent a story from my father’s childhood. Now that he’s dead I’d like to get this done and framed. I was going to use Stonehenge paper because I want to do it on a toned surface with minimal background. Strathmore has a new toned mixed media paper that is heavyweight and can take watercolour better but it doesn’t seem to be in Canada yet, so I might wait a bit to see if it shows up in art supply stores in a few weeks, hopefully it won’t take months and months which is the usual way of distributing supplies here.

So for preliminaries I was looking for good photo references. There are several types of sandpipers here and sanderlings as well. Not knowing the particular species, I found a photo of a Western Sandpiper and a Sanderling in books by Glenn Bartley: Birds of British Columbia: A Photographic Journey, published in 2013, and Birds of Vancouver Island: A Photographic Journey, published in 2010 that will be useful.

BCBirdBooks

I like photographic bird books because you can so easily see the exact birds that might be around you. Even my field guide for birds can be confusing, so I loved these two books and see all kinds of references that might be useful for drawing some of my favourite birds.

The other two books I bought are (surprise!) watercolour and pen and ink books on techniques for drawing and painting water and weather, coastal scenes, rivers, rainy streets, rocks, spray, glittering light on water, all kinds of scenarios.

WaterBooks

The first is by Claudia Nice, Down by the Sea with Brush & Pen: Draw and Paint Beautiful Coastal Scenes. I have about five of Claudia’s books and they are excellent, and she uses different media. She really covers everything in this, from rough seas to coastal trees, even dogs and children playing at the beach.

The second is by Ron Hazell called The Artist’s Guide to Painting Water in Watercolor: 30 Techniques, and he too has some comprehensive scenes and much information on the way light behaves on water and how to paint that, how to paint reflections.

I just need to wait for the right paper.

 

 

 

 

 

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Beefing Up Gouache Palette and Brushes

One of the fairly local art supply places has a big sale on so I added four more colours to my gouache palette. While fiddling around doing decorative initials and drop caps on my Manner and Material blog, I realized that it was either too laborious to mix certain colours or mixing used too much white, so I bought these on sale. The Winsor Violet cost a lot but it will be so useful and I felt lost without Burnt Sienna. Opera Rose was an indulgence and the Olive Green is one I use quite a bit in regular watercolours so it made sense to buy a tube of gouache in that colour too.

WNGouache_new

While browsing Instagram and looking at people’s watercolours, I saw one woman mention the Escoda Versàtil brand of synthetic sable brushes as being great and holding up to lots of mixing. To date, I have only used relatively inexpensive brushes that don’t last very long, but these Escoda brushes were on sale so I bought a #4 and a #6 round. I use those most often and could only afford two so this was my decision. I will take good care of them!

EscodaVersatil_Rounds

 

 

 

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Daniel Smith Watercolour Sets

Daniel Smith has an enormous number of watercolours and some with special effects. Way too many for my budget, but I decided to make up a little palette of twelve colours from sets they offer.

DanielSmith_2Sets

The paints come in tubes, so I bought a tin box with 12 half pans that I can squeeze the watercolour into and thus have a nicely organized portable palette.

Medeen_12HalfTin

Is this something I needed? No, but I’m going to have fun trying them out. I also realized that I could drive myself nuts trying to pick the perfect Daniel Smith pigments to buy, and they are scarce in Canada, so I gave up and ordered the sets and tin off Amazon.ca.

I went through agonies of indecision when setting up my main 24-pan Winsor & Newton watercolour palette in a similar tin with purchased half pans. This Daniel Smith tin is just for fun, just to noodle around moving paint around and seeing what happens.

I think I’m going to find the natural pigment in the Primatek set interesting to work with and mix.

 

 

 

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Organizing Quilting Fabric

When I moved to a new house I just took all my fabric out of boxes and piled it up neatly, with no regard to colour. I knew I’d have to sort it out once I got my new sewing machine, so that I could more easily find fabrics. After reading some of my new books on scrap quilts, and the recommendations for sorting by colour, I finally tackled this big job and am satisfied that I took the time to do it.

So I bought some wire baskets from the dollar store and laid out 12 of them on tables and commenced sorting my fabric. I folded the smaller pieces into the baskets, and then folded larger pieces and yardage in piles by each basket. The colour designations I used were:

Blue
Teal
Purple
Red
Green
White
Pink
Brown
Neutral Grey, Taupe, Beige
Multi Brights

This is a view of the Purple and Green piles.

OrganizedFabric2

Then I put them back in the flat pack cupboard I use for fabric. I sorted my batting scraps and placed them in a storage bin on top of the cupboard, and inside two bankers boxes I put big yardage for backings, and yardage of corduroy and velveteen that I use for sewing bags.

OrganizedFabric_sm

I also have my current projects laid out so that they aren’t buried and I can access them, which is much more practical.

The cupboard is not quite wide enough to have the baskets spaced evenly so it looks a bit jumbled, but it is so easy to find colours, especially the smaller pieces that are now collected in the baskets, and I discovered many fabrics that I’d forgotten I had so I am very pleased I took the time to sort in this way. It will be much easier to pick and choose fabrics for scrap quilts in the future.

 

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New Botanical Drawing and Painting Books and Sketchbooks

Botanical Drawing using Graphite and Coloured Pencils by Sue Vize which has a lovely mix of graphite and coloured pencil, one of my favourite approaches to botanicals.

The other one uses support boards for painting which is not something I’m interested in but he has some useful information on glazing and mixing with gouache. Botanical Painting with Gouache: a step-by-step guide by Simon Williams.

BotanicalBooks

I am still having trouble with my shoulder which makes it painful to draw but I am following a vegan eating plan and hoping that will promote healing. To dispel discouragement because I haven’t been able to work in my large Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook for the pretend trip to Chile, I ordered two smaller Stillman & Birn sketchbooks with the same heavier weight of paper for everyday sketching.

I got the wire bound 7 x 7-inch Beta paper which is slightly rougher than the Zeta paper but not as rough apparently as cold-press watercolour. Then I decided to try a softcover Zeta sketchbook in a smaller 8 x 10-inch size than the hardcover I have.

Sketchbooks_June2017

I really like these heavier weights of paper that Stillman & Birn offer. Curry’s in Canada has discontinued carrying these sketchbooks and local shops won’t carry them because of the price, but I mail ordered mine from Aboveground Art in Toronto, who have been very good to buy Faber-Castell supplies from, which I also find hard to hunt up.

Here’s to healing and feeling better!

 

 

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A Fresh Round of Embroidery and Quilting Books

I saw a couple of embroidery and sewing books that seemed to have a fresh approach so bought three of them for my collection.

EmbBooks

1) Modern Folk Embroidery: 30 Contemporary Projects for Folk Art Inspired Designs by Nancy Nicholson

I have often admired Nancy’s patterns on Etsy, but thought I’d get more patterns in her book so was pleased to finally buy it when it was published. It’s so nice to see books on hand embroidery coming out for new generations who want to pick up the craft.

2) Tilda Homemade & Happy by Tone Finnanger

She is quite prolific and I’ve seen lots of her designs around, but I liked some of her reindeer and pigs and sheep in this.

3) Zakka Embroidery: Simple One- and Two-Color Embroidery Motifs and Small Crafts by Yumiko Higuchi

These are tiny motifs and I was interested in her ideas for small purses using purse frames and embroidery. I have several purse frames on hand so want to use them up. There are lots of small cross-stitch motifs around but not many for hand embroidery, so this looked good for my library.

I was able to buy a new sewing machine, the Janome 9400, and I’m hoping it will enable me to quilt about 12 to 14 quilt tops that are languishing here. I took all the quilts and quilt tops out of the Rubbermaid trunk they’d been stored in for two years while we were selling our old house and moving and they reeked of plastic.

I spent some weeks washing and airing them and bought a nice wooden blanket box to store them. As I was confronted with the old tops, some dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, I felt the imperative to finish them. I cleaned up and reorganized my sewing area and now I have the fabric cupboard to deal with.

JJ_SewingStudio2a

There is another Rubbermaid container in there, so I’ll have another round of airing fabric, but I particularly wanted to get my fabrics and scraps organized by colour and sew up some simpler quilt patterns. I have been quilting since 1984 so I have many magazines and books on the subject, and I’ve given away many more but I liked the fresh look of these publications and many of the designs.

QuiltBooks

1) Sunday Morning Quilts: 16 Modern Scrap Projects – Sort, Store, and Use Every Last Bit of Your Treasured Fabrics by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison

2) No Scrap Left Behind: 16 Quilt Projects That Celebrate Scraps of All Sizes by Amanda Jean Nyberg

3) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

4) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

I am not in good health but things are improving, so I want ideas and projects and happier creative endeavours to look forward to. That should sort me out (pun)!

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