Monday, January 12, 2015

A Knitted Owl

I have a niece that is obsessed with owls. And she just had a birthday. So of course I had to send her a knitted owl (like the ones I made for my daughter's birthday last year) with an owl tag.
Pattern: Tufty Owls
Needles: US 5
Yarn: Cascade 220 (any worsted scarp yarn will do)
Other elements: Felt, thread, paint

And the little tag (based on this owl card tutorial)

Friday, January 9, 2015

First Friday Art Class for January 2015 - Let's Draw Animals

We had our First Friday Art Class on the 2nd Friday this month because of the holidays. And this week we drew animals. Lots and lots of animals.

I began by telling the girls about how I like to draw animals. I like them to be fun, silly, and most of all cute. I can draw realistic animals...but I rarely do. To me it feels like work. And this class is all about having fun and having a relaxed atmosphere. So our animals are going to be fun, silly, and SO CUTE!!

I had the girls draw a gumdrop, a circle, some dots, a teardrop, and a heart at the top of their page. Pretty much all of our animals will start with one of these BASIC SHAPES. When drawing with kids I love to start animals with basic shapes.

After class one of these little sweethearts told me, "I love how you do art because you make it so it's not so complicated. You make it so I really feel like I can do it!"--absolutely made my day! Yes! That is the goal. I want the girls to gain confidence and to feel comfortable with their skills. This is not a stuffy, learn the rules, get out your rulers so we can measure everything art class. We are all about fun and freedom!!

I spent lots of time before class sketching out several animals I thought the girls would like. And then I sort of made a list of what shapes they started with...(here are my sketches--we didn't get to all of these animals, but we did get to most of them)
Here's the basic list:

Animals that start with a gumdrop shape- 
Racoon (the raccoon came from HERE)

Animals that start with a circle - 

Animals that start with dots or hearts or other basic shapes -
Dog (the dog starts with an upside down heart, but don't even bother with this one because the girls just giggled the entire time because it looks like a bum!! They called the poor thing "Butt Dog") :)

Ok...back to the lesson...I let the girls know to start every drawing with very light pencil lines because many of the lines would later be erased as they are just guidelines to help us get the shapes where we want them. Start light and then at the end you can go over and darken the lines that are staying.

And then we dove right in. I asked the girls if they liked to know before hand what we were drawing or if they just wanted me to guide them through and they could guess along the way. The wanted to guess--so fun, adventurous, these girls!!

Here are most of the animals broken down into steps:

Here are the girls hamming it up for the camera (and drawing):
We talked a lot about how changing the size and placement of elements in the drawing can completely change the look and personality of your animal. Here are their drawing pages and I think you'll agree they each have their own wonderful personality! (Looks like I missed photographing one of them--not sure how that happened...)

It was fun today to have a very laid back, relaxed class where we all just sort of sketched and laughed and talked together. I love these darling girls!!

Next month we'll be doing lettering so we can make some gorgeous Valentine's Day cards. See you then!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Knitting Journal - Chunky Cabled Throw

I have been working on this for almost 2 months. But now it's done and I'm in love!!

Needles: US 35 (made by Havenwood Farms -- they are awesome!)
Yarn: Red Heart Comfort Solids (6 giant 16 oz. skeins)
Pattern: Super Chunky Double Cable Throw Blanket/Rug from Erin Black Designs
Finished Size: 44" x 60"

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Art Journal Page 12/09/14 - Christmas Girls

These little gals are all dressed up in their Christmas dresses. These faces started out just as sketchbook sketches, but I liked them so much I cut them out and gave them their own Art Journal page. Aren't they festive?
Their neighboring page is a little neighborhood I did back in November. I didn't try to have the two pages work together this time. Instead I used a strip of washi tape to divide the pages and keep them very separate.

Art Journal Page 12/09/14 - 1 Bird, 2 Bird

I have been utterly inspired lately by quilts. Paper piecing is very similar to quilting, so you can see how I'd be drawn to quilts (even though I'm not a quilter myself).

I have this lovely quilt from Jodi at Pleasant Home and I LOVE it!! As I was hanging it up this year for Christmas I decided to make a little paper bird inspired by the quilt. And then I decided that that bird needed a little friend. And that's how this page was born.
Here's the full page spread with a page I did back in November. I didn't bother trying to connect the two pages today. I'm nearing the end of this Art Journal so I'm sort of just fitting things in where I can and this page already had a bit of blue paint for the sky so I went with it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Christmas Neighborhood

I'm still having so much fun making these little neighborhoods. This one is currently displayed right next to my Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cream Cheese Peppermints With Chocolate

This is my "Go To" recipe for cookie exchanges and Christmas parties. They are simple and delicious.

Cream Cheese Peppermints With Chocolate (adapted from

1 pound confections sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
a few drops of peppermint oil (to taste)
green food coloring gel (optional)
4 ounces chocolate chips
granulated sugar

Using a mixer, gradually add the powdered sugar to the cream cheese, beat well until incorporated. Add peppermint extract and food coloring (if using) and combine well.

Roll dough into teaspoon size balls and roll in granulated sugar and place on baking sheet(s) lined with parchment paper. Create a small “bowl” or indentation in each ball using a ¼ teaspoon or your finger. Refrigerate for a few hours until firm.

When peppermints have firmed, melt chocolate according to package directions. Fill a piping bag or freezer bag with the corner clipped with melted chocolate. Fill each mini peppermint with chocolate and let cool

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 4 dozen.

Friday, December 5, 2014

First Friday Art Class for December 2014 - Won't You Be My Neighbor?

We are creating little neighborhoods today in Art Class.

We began by talking about the Rule of Thirds and how it's more pleasing to our eyes to have the horizon line either lower or higher than the midline. Even in pieces where you're not going for realism--like our little neighborhoods.

We discussed the difference between a composition and design. For instance, if we made a bunch of these little houses and put them in rows with nothing else around them, that could make for a great DESIGN for fabric or wrapping paper. But today we did a full composition with foreground (either snow or grass), background (blue sky or any other color the girls chose), and our main elements (houses and trees). We also talked a little bit about Folk Art and how if we did several rows of these houses with each row having it's own little street or hill to sit on, that would give us a more Folk Art feel.

I then showed them my sketchbook where I keep several pages of basic house shapes to use as a reference when making these houses. When I see a new shape I like, I add it to my reference page. We drew several simple house shapes together.
I also gave the girls this Architectural Detail Hunt page from Art Starters by Ande Cook. I have this page laminated and keep it close when making houses. It's a great reference! I especially love all the window ideas. The girls loved that the handles on the French doors look like a mustache. :)
We talked about different tree shapes they could do--ranging from the very most basic triangle tree, to a bit more complicated two tone tree with a Y shaped trunk (as you'll see in their finished paintings).

I showed them examples of backgrounds I'd done and we discussed other ideas including attaching snowflakes cut with a tiny snowflake punch or just circles, adding clouds, and splattering paint onto your background. There are so many fun possibilities.

Then we talked about where our inspiration could come from when making our houses. You can do a theme such as a holiday or one particular color (I'm working on a pinks/purples neighborhood right now) or you can let the paper guide you or be your restriction (i.e., whatever piece I pick up next, I have to use somewhere), you can give each house it's own distinct personality. I told them to listen to the paper and let it "speak" to which one of the little, clever cuties said, "I don't trust the paper." :) Hilarious!

And then one final tip before we got down to business...GLUE STICKS TO ITSELF BETTER THAN TO "NAKED" PAPER. Put glue on both surfaces for a better adhesion. We used Glue Sticks today, but normally I use Mod Podge. (For the girls today I figured Glue Sticks would be simpler and less messy).
I made one house from start to finish to show them my process. Here are the steps...

Step 1 - Cut out your shapes and lay them out to see where you want things to go. Always leave yourself room to glue since we are not assembling these on the background paper--they are free standing houses. So if you want your triangle roof to sit right on top of your rectangle house, leave a little overlap on the top of the house for gluing.
Step 2 - Outline the house, roof, and chimney. I find it easier to do this before gluing. I use Micron pens. The girls used a variety of pens today.
Step 3 - Glue all your pieces together (being careful to not glue it onto the table) :) and outline the remaining elements. It's so much easier to outline those tiny pieces like the windows and doors once they are glued down!

Here's a picture to give you an idea of size.
Isn't it so cute?? As the girls worked they talked about how these little houses looked perfect for little fairies or magic elves.

Step 4 - Glue the houses onto your background page. The girls are using 8-1/2" x 5-1/2" pieces of cardstock for their backgrounds. Add your other elements (snowflakes, clouds, etc.)
And here are all the finished projects.
 This artist created a lovely little Christmas village, complete with a beautiful snowy sky. Isn't it cozy?
 This artist wanted to have one large neighborhood Christmas tree...and a penguin peeking out of the snow.
 This creative girl wanted to have a snowy sky AND have her houses on snowy hills. I love the simplicity and the depth the two layers of paper give.
This artist put a lot of thought into her composition and decided to leave one of the houses she made out in order to get a more pleasing, balanced composition.  
 This cutie made all of her houses very tiny and added snow circles at the very last minute. She also distressed rather than outlined her foreground grass piece.
This artist wanted each of her houses to have their own distinct personality. And I think she achieved that beautifully!

We had lots of fun and hot chocolate at this week's class. What a great group! See you next month.
ETA (12/18/14): One of our sweet little artists recently moved. We miss her terribly, but she is doing the class online. She sent me a picture of her beautiful neighborhood. Her mom said she was mad they didn't have a paper punch for her snow, but I love her improvisation!


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