Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coke Bottle Cherry Blossoms: A Pinterest Success Story

I love cherry blossoms.  I went to college in Macon, GA, where there's a Cherry Blossom Festival every year.  Walking to class was amazing--the blossoms were like magical snow blowing in the warm southern spring air.  I keep promising myself I'll go back, but somehow year after year passes by and Life sends me on a detour....

I've had this pin on my Pinterest board for a while.  I admit I was skeptical, but this actually is quite simple.  I don't have any experience with stamps, so make sure your inner perfectionist is taking a nap while you paint.

The instructions on  Alphamom are excellent.  I did mine a little differently, but I love how it ended up anyway.  I'll add a couple more tips:
1. See the bottom of the bottle in this photo?  You want paint over the entire bottom, not just the obvious five "petals."  It gives you the perfect teardrap shape as well as a centered dot.  So be generous with the paint on your plate!
2. I used a 20oz Coke bottle rather than a 2 liter.  It was fine for my 11x14 canvas panel.
3. I painted the canvas sky blue before stamping.  Well, technically my 6-year-old did :)
4. I stamped blossoms first and then made the branches.  I do NOT recommend this--follow the instructions on Alphamom and paint the darn sticks first.

I also made a smaller version on an 8.5x11 blue cardstock and had equal success, so don't think you have to buy a canvas.  You can also use any color for your flowers--this is by no means limited to cherry tress.
I'm not feeling the "Spring Fever" as so many others are, but doing this painting is a reminder of why Spring is awesome.
Materials: 11x14 canvas panel, craft paint, brushes, and a 20oz Coke bottle
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Me+Art Journaling=True Love

Epic Art Journalist Julie Fei-Fan Balzer has a great blog, and today she answered the main question: How To Get Started.  At the end, she asked everyone to list how each of us started as well.  So this is my story:

I'm very much a beginner, and totally new to "art."  I started out using Crayola products: watercolors (I'm still using these,) crayons, colored pencils, etc.  I figured that if I didn't like them, I hadn't wasted any money because my son plays with the same things.  And of course, with Crayola, the total for a little of everything was less than $10.

Well, and craft paint too--I've been what I consider a "crafter" for years now, so I had plenty of craft paint acrylics to use.

I've written in my journal my entire life--my mom encouraged this and I've never stopped.  She gave me my first journal at age 5!  So I started by adding a few pictures to my journal entries.  And then one day last year I leaped and created a full "Art Page."  It was a total failure but I LOVED it!!  I was hooked, and I've been consistently learning and experimenting ever since!

So I'm going to show my first Disastrous page and some others that stand out in my mind.  My apologies to these artists who inspired me--at the time, I never thought about showing my journal, so attribution was not important.
I had no plan, no idea of what to say, how to use the supplies I had just bought or anything else, but it was SO-MUCH-FUN!!  It reads "Don't let the Gray blind you from the Sparkles all around."  The inspiration was a cute pin on Etsy, a cloud with little heart crystal raindrops.

Luckily, even with this disaster, I had the idea to keep notes of what I'd done.

 And some favorites:
 I spent hours, an entire day actually, creating and making flower stencils of my own.  I've never used them to this day...but I felt the need back then.  I really liked this quick entry I made, using a printed page from something online and my Pitt Big Brush pens.

I used a black and white printable, colored over it with my Pitt Big Brush pens, and pasted a photo of my son on the next page, and covered both with tons of Mod Podge.  This is in my top 5 favorite pages :)

 It's a sketch I found on the web somewhere that I printed out in black and white and then painted over myself.  This was my first time using watercolors, which made the ink run, so I really turned this into a jumping off point for my own version.  I loved (LOVED!) what I'd made, and then used acrylics on the sky and learned the hard way that acrylics are OPAQUE and ruined my piece!  I was able to remove most of it, and ended up starting over the next morning once the page had dried, and was able to make something I love.  The quote above says "Yearning to hear the whispers of my soul."

All these pages are from last year.  I have some more recent works to show as well.  These are not necessarily in a journal, but I've been happy with these pieces:
 I had this page complete--my first "real" ART JOURNAL page, and then I ruined it by adding glitter to the words.  So I covered them with the same paper, but I no longer liked my quote, so it's been sitting for a while.  I finished yesterday, using "ART and Courage Becoming Friends" as a title.  I covered the entire page with packing tape, a move I may later regret, in order to protect it from paint overflow from other pages--I get messy with the edges :)

Another recent favorite, I have no idea where the title came from, but once I had the 3 pink pictures together, the title "Only Wake Me Early If You've Brought Me Pink Roses" jumped into my mind.  NO IDEA where this came from--hubby never buys me flowers, and I thought I was fine with it--he gives me gifts all the time, just not flowers--and I get up early for no reason all the time.  Oh well, I'm putting this in the Art For Art's Sake column.

And for last, this is the outside of my current art journal.  The cupcake is white, brown and red felt, with marker "sprinkles" so it stands out against the white page, along with a flower and a K both painted with metallic paints.  I've titled my journal "Flowers and Cupcakes" to reflect my recent obsessions.  I couldn't use the flash because the entire thing is also covered in clear packing tape for protection--why did I choose white?  Oh well :)
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: Darkness Becomes Her

I was very skeptical about this book.  I've had just about enough teen vampires, werewolves, ghosts, demons and angels.  The best stories are easily overlooked in this crowded post-Twilight world of young adult paranormal fiction.

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton is an excellent story, and I highly recommend this book to other fans of this genre, and even to younger teens, as there's no sex, drugs, or even "bad" language--the story is good enough on its own without having to rely on such things.  The world is easily imagined: after 2 disastrous hurricanes decimating New Orleans, the US government agrees to sell this tiny bit of land to the Novem, a group made of 9 powerful families that have made their home in the area for centuries. 

It’s common knowledge that "New 2" is home to the "freaks" of the world--and this is another reason I think this is a great story for younger readers.  After all, every one of us felt like a freak (or geek, lol) at some point in our teenage years, so having a place to go and "be yourself" is appealing.  In this story though, it means out-of-the-ordinary people, such as...well, think of X-Men’s young mutants, lol.

The friendships that Ari makes in New 2 are rather instantaneous, and this is the only part of the story I found a little too convenient. But I imagine that the author or the editors wanted the whole "getting to know you" part out of the way in favor of the more exciting parts of the story. 

I won't tell you who, what or how the story revolves around, because it surprised me :)  I will, however, relate the last line of the story at the end of this review--it's truly one of the best last lines and it gives nothing away!  There is another book coming out just published called “A Beautiful Evil,” and I'll probably end up buying it since I'm #38 on the wishlist for it on
My rating is a full 5 stars!

Last Line:
"And it was then that I knew, one way or another, no matter how long it took, I'd have my revenge."
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Adding a "Pin It" Button To Your Blog Posts
Pinterest is a brilliant source of the best of the Internet, a new way of using and sharing ideas and images, that is so new that the rules are being written as it grows bigger and bigger each day. There has been an interest lately of the ethics, rules and etiquette of this source of information.  The image above is from a great article on Pinterest's appeal and creative new ways to use it.

I've had my "Follow Me On Pinterest" button on my blog gadget list since the day I joined the site.  Following the advice of several articles on bad Pinterest manners, I've added a "Pin It" button at the end of each post.  This button is supposed to make it easy to track down an original source and let your readers easily attribute your work.  Use it to post new pins to your boards rather than just "repinning" at random.

So I wanted that cute little button at the bottom of my blog posts, if only to show my love and support for Pinterest...but learning how to add it to every post was easier said than done.  "Copy this code, paste it here," no problem, I can do that!  Instead it turned out to be a little harder than that....

Okay, it was A LOT harder--2 hours of teeth grinding frustration for me!  Pinterest seriously needs to clarify their language for us Hobby Bloggies!  They have both "basic" and "advanced" coding, but neither helped.  It took me a while, but I had finally found a great source: Add Pinterest Pin It Button To Blogger Post literally spells it out for you.  Kind of......

If you also use Blogger, and you are as clueless about HTML as I am--follow his steps, one at a time, and you'll have it done in less than 5 minutes!  He even tells you how to customize the image to match your site!!  

My problem was using my Ctrl+F button to find "<data:post.body/>." At the time, I had about 10 tabs open, 2 Word docs and a notepad...massive confusion was the inevitable outcome of such chaos--don't do that to yourself!  I finally managed to find that line of code in my blog template and was able to move on.

But here's my other mistake: if you want the pin to be at the bottom of your posts, you paste it "below" <data:post.body/>.  "Below" can be a relative term, especially for the HTML-disabled.  Does it go immediately after that code, on that same line?  Should I hit enter on that line and paste it on the new line in the middle of those 3 lines??  Does it have to be in line with the rest of the code?  I swear, I can make the simplest task difficult....

For me, it goes after the last ">" of that last line of that little group of code. In my code, it looked like this originally:
      <div style='clear: both;'/> <!-- clear for photos floats -->

      <more code

And now it looks like this:
      <div style='clear: both;'/> <!-- clear for photos floats -->
Copy and paste the new code from this article here

      <more code

"Pin it" button: conquered!!  
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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Paint Resist, Perfection and Inspiration From the Internet

I can be a perfectionist, and more than a little obsessive at times.
I have subjects I get "stuck" on, I think everyone does. I've been staring at our J and D paint resist canvases, and the drive for perfection won out over the desire to "Let It Be.". While my son slept, I stayed up a little late and used a slightly different shade of paint to get crisp lines. I also painted the foamboard I mounted the canvases on, then luckily realized before I glued them that a little something more was needed. I added some white to the edges--just enough to separate the canvas from the mat.

Here it is on the wall but this is shot from an angle so it looks wonky.

I found this amazing site called Daisy Yellow that has about 1,ooo ideas and even a free "Journalism 101" course. In fact, I think that's how I found it, a Pin on Pinterest for the course.
Thoroughly inspired, I created a TON of stuff this weekend--And the painting didn't end there. I've discovered a new level of "arty-ness" with my little $3 Crayola 16-pan set, my pearl pan set and my Neocolor II's. I have not been excited to use any of those three, simply for lack of knowledge. Amazing how a little bit of instruction now has me loving watercolors!
I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.....

I also finished my first "real" collage-style art piece, then promptly messed it up with glitter. Look for another post for it. :)

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