Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Make it special, fun, and unique!

I stood in the card aisle reading wedding card after wedding card... and nothing, absolutely nothing, appealed to me.  At all.  Sooooo... I decided to create something handmade, unique and especially for the happy wedding couple.

First, I took a look at some of my creative *toys*.
pretty papers!
Then I decided what papers I wanted to use.
handmade paper and watercolor paper with a deckle edge
I wanted to do a little watercolor painting for the front of the card, but I didn't want a hard edge on the paper.  I wanted a deckle edge.  Here's a quick trick to create a deckle edge on watercolor paper.  This will also work on almost any heavy paper.

create a deckle edge on watercolor paper
Place your paper face down on a firm, flat, stable surface.  Place a ruler, preferably with a metal edge or a metal ruler, on top of the back side of the paper.  Firmly hold the ruler in place.  Firmly grasp the edge of the and tear it against the side of the ruler.  The deckle you create will look great from the front, though it will be a bit rough on the back side.

Here's what the finished painting looks like...
original watercolor painting
Now it's time to assemble all the little pieces.
archival double stick tape
I used an archival double stick tape that I got at The Art Store.  I like this professional grade tape that is used in the picture framing industry because it is very thin and easy to apply.  It also is easy to remove if I get it where I don't want it.  Yes I did and no, I removed it, so you can't see it.

Wow - Look! a very fun one of a kind card!
a beautiful handmade card
Include a hand written message on the inside, and you have a unique, one of a kind, very special gift!
add your personal message
Check out the little package included in there - cute, huh!  Toss out the plain old gift card holder or money envelope and create something special.  This is a small piece of handmade paper that I folded over to make an envelope.  I added two heart stickers just for fun and made it a little more personal by writing "Enjoy!" on the outside.

Voila!  I am much happier with this than with any of the commercial greeting cards that I saw - and I had a lot more fun creating this card especially for the happy couple!

Next time you need a card for someone, try something special, fun, and unique!   Happy creating!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If I had a nickle for every time my mother or my grandmother said "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  ...I would have a *blinkin' LOT* of nickles!

It's very true, though.  A little bit of action taken to prevent something from happening, will be worth a lot more than all the effort it will take later to fix everything. 

I have a thousand examples leaping to my mind right now - everything from sewing the loose button on instead of loosing it and replacing all the buttons later...

newly and securely sewed, well...  to - how to reach out to those in need before they are in need.

I read a great article today that gave a review of the most cost effective ways to help the poor. 

Okay, I'm not talking about those who are 'starving' for a fast food burger or who are a little 'short of cash' for their daily latte.  I'm talking about those who know the meaning of being hungry.  Daily. 

This article lists the 10 most popular ways to help the poor and they have all been evaluated by economists.  The writer lists the names of all of the economists who rated these programs and he also 'names names' of organizations who are dedicated to working within these strageties.  It's well worth the read!

Interested?  Check out:  Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor (Economists rate impact.)

One organization mentioned in the article is Compassion International.  Poverty is like the sticky web that traps unwary prey.  One problem leads to another...  Intervention, again, is better than trying to fix the result.  Their Facts About Poverty give some surprising information.  "Fore-warned is fore-armed" - another saying I heard frequently while growing up.  Their web page not only gives you facts about worldwide poverty, it also shows you lots of ways you can help - from a distance, or up close and personal!

You see, anyone and everyone can help. 

For instance:  Joni and Friends Wheels for the World provides wheelchairs free of charge to those who may never have been out of their bed.  Children have the ability to attend school for the first time.  Adults are able to work.  Lives are changed and people have a chance to break the cycle of poverty.  In order to get the wheelchairs to those in need, those wheelchairs have to be collected, transported, restored, and delivered. 

Like I said, anyone can help.  According to the Joni and Friends website, "Wheels for the World currently restores wheelchairs at 16 correctional facilities, located in 13 different states. These prisons include federal, state, and private institutions."  Don't miss the chance to read the very brief comments about how the lives of those in the prisons were changed by helping those who could never afford a wheelchair.

Anyone can help those in need.  Anyone, anywhere.

It's time to sew that button.


He who is generous will be blessed,
For he gives some of his food to the poor.
Proverbs 22:9

Friday, February 24, 2012

How does a chicken eat spaghetti? But first - Funtry Friday!

Happy Funtry Friday!  Come on - let's take a stroll through the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary - otherwise known as our local zoo! 

This is a really cool zoo because all of their animals have been rescued.  The history of some of their rescued animals is on their web page and there are also signs on most of the exhibits that tell about the animals.  At the bottom of this sign we found out that Monsoon was rescued from a swimming pool in Phoenix.
Monsoon the Grey Fox
Monsoon was busy hiding behind some bushes...

This is a hawk that couldn't be released into the wild after rehabilitation.  You can see where this beautiful bird's left wing is damaged.

Red Hawk
I love watching the big cats!  Sassy is fairly new to the zoo - she is really pretty!

Sassy the Mountain Lion

I didn't see Abbey, who was the resident Mountain Lion since 1990, but you can read her story on the Heritage Park Zoo website.  She was so tame that she would come up to the edge of her cage, look at you, and purr.

 This little, er big, guy is a fairly new resident, too!

Talk about a ham!  This alpaca just kept posing and posing and posing!

Huh?  What does all this have to do with chickens eating spaghetti?  Well, let's wander back to the home zoo and feed the chickens the leftovers from lunch and you'll see. 

Did you ever watch a chicken eat spaghetti?  It's hysterical!  They suck the spaghetti down the same way people do... except they don't slurp.  Maybe it has to do with the beak...

My sister donated her lunch leftovers - Hey, Mary!  The chickens say "Thanks!"

Hope you enjoyed your little Funtry Friday tour of the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary - and my little home zoo!

Happy Funtry Friday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What to do with the *whoops!*

We've all had it happen.... It sounded like a great idea... you invested some time... and now... ummm....  it turned out *ughly* with a capital *UGH*!  Well, this little project will come to your rescue.  Not only that, but you will probably have so much fun doing this that you will create some art specifically for this project.

First, cut your artwork into strips.  These strips are all cut about the same width and they are all cut straight.  One fun thing about this project is that you can cut your strips any way you like.

I have taken two pieces of black and white stamped art cards and cut one into vertical strips and one into horizontal strips.  I like to keep life simple.  Sometimes...

Cut the pieces.
Begin weaving the pieces of paper together in an over and under way.  Push the pieces together so they will stay in place.  You can keep them very even, trim them to size later, or decide to let the edges be uneven.

Weave the pieces together.
Once you have the paper pieces woven to the size that you want it to be, it's time to make sure it doesn't come apart.

 Add a paper backing to woven paper.  Here is a green backing which sort of peaks through the holes in the weaving.  It's fun to use a color backing if you leave a little more space in the weaving for the color to show through.  You can also use a plain paper on the back or a transparent paper (like tissue paper) on the front for a different effect.  I used matte medium to glue the solid paper to the woven paper pieces.

Want some color?
The sky is the limit!  Use some colored prints, drawings, or paintings for your strips and you will have a completely different look.  Keeping the colors light and the patterns simple will let the details show up on your finished artwork better than if you use bold colors or strong patterns in your paper weaving.

Go wild and crazy!
Now you are ready to paint, draw or whatever on your woven piece of paper.  You can also cut the woven paper into shapes for collage or add collage elements on top of the woven paper. 

Well, that's just a few ides for some fun things you can do with the next *whoops* artwork that accidentally comes your way.  This is definitely a lot more fun than the shredder....

Happy Creating!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Accomplishing the impossible.

NOT an orphan!
Sometimes life presents us with a task that seems impossible to accomplish.  A task so large that we despair of making any progress at all.

There are as many as 163,000,000 orphans in the world – some estimates put it at over 200,000,000. 

Behind each one of those numbers is a child.  A child who does not have a family to care for them.  Many of these children were welcomed into loving families who were delighted when they were born.  Then something happened.  HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of abandoned and orphaned children in many countries.  Drought, wars, famine, poverty – many things contribute to the rising number of orphans who need homes.   

Are these children all in nice clean orphanages?  No.  Some as young as two years old are on the street fighting for what little food they can find.  Some are taking care of younger children when they become an ‘orphan family’. Many are sibling groups of varying ages.  Some are in nice clean orphanages, but some are in institutions that would make you sick if you were to know the details.

Every country on the map faces the problem that sometimes children become orphans.  Relatives, group homes, orphanages, institutions, governments and international organizations have ideas, possible solutions, disastrous responses, and, sometimes, successful programs to help these children.

One solution is to protect a child before they become an orphan. 

World Vision International has many local programs that provide community assistance to families.  Through donations and/or child sponsorship they provide AIDS awareness education, treatment for HIV/AIDS, clean water wells, food, emergency supplies and more.  People like Nomsa volunteer their time to become part of the solution in their own country. 

Sponsorship of a child through World Vision International helps to insure that a child does not become an orphan by providing needed water, food, clothing, education, and medical care - sometimes to the entire village.  85% of all World Vision funds in 2011 went directly to their projects.

Another approach is to facilitate national and international adoption. 

If adoption is not a feasible option for you, there are still many things you can do.  You can share information about adoption with others and you can support those who are in the process of adopting.  Like Shannon and her family who are currently waiting for that special message to pack their bags and travel.  Find out how you can help them on her blog, Baruch’s Lullaby, where you can peek at their sweet family and get all the news about their soon-to-be newest members.

Supporting adoptive parents doesn’t end when they arrive home with their new family member(s).  Hang around and prepare to cook a few meals, make some visits and, in my case, pass around a few (((hugs))) including some to my little adopted granddaughter. 
Yes, I let her play with the fifty-five
(seventy-five?) year old tea set!

Or maybe I will take pictures of her being silly - and remember how hard it was to get her to laugh a year ago when we welcomed her home.

Sometimes the steps to accomplishing the impossible are simpler than you think.


Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me..."
Mark 9:37a

Monday, February 13, 2012

A portfolio, A Huge Chicken, and An Egg on the Floor

I am really happy with my new Itoya Art Profolio from The Art Store.  Yay!  That was a happy shopping trip.  At last, a nice safe place for my original artwork!
Itoya Art Profolio
Not only is it archival and safe for my original watercolor paintings, it is also very professional in appearance.  Happy me!  and, happy artwork... Here are some old favorites...
Percy and Bellator
...and some you may have not seen before!
Talk to the Tail and Ready to Run

Here is another original painting of mine that you may not have seen before.
This is one BIG Chicken!
Like the snazzy red frame?  Oh, speaking of the frame... it's also framed by a whole bunch of other artwork in the same snazzy red frame.  Or, rather it was framed by a whole bunch of other artwork.  This 2 foot-ish by 4 foot-ish painting was part of The Art Store ceiling.  Since they are moving to a new location, the ceiling had to be repainted... to look like a regular old boring ceiling.  This is (was) probably one of the biggest paintings I have ever finished.  LOL - I really do like to paint small!

How small?  This little original acrylic painting is 1/12 doll house scale.

Fresh Eggs
And that is close to the smallest painting that I have done.  But not the smallest!

I am really looking forward to visiting my local art store in their new location.  Wonder what they will do with the ceiling there....

Do you have a local art store?  Shop local and support them!

Happy creating!

PS Oh, yes - and one of the employees painted an egg on the floor below this chicken.  You should have seen the customer reactions!

Friday, February 10, 2012

What's fun this Friday? Funtry Friday, of course!

I love my bread maker!  I have had this baby since almost forever and it works great.  I have a few favorite recipes that I make with great regularity.  Ummm.... if you know me well, then you know that I really should stick to the recipes...

For some reason, this week I decided to *experiment* a little bit.  Just a little, mind you, however, it was apparently enough... 
Do you think this is how "The Blob" got its start?

No worries.  I caught and annihilated the creeping varmint before it covered the kitchen in gooey dough...  Ahem.  Apparently that was too much yeast to add in that little recipe change... 

Made for a very interesting meal, though...

A far safer thing for me to do is to amble on down to my favorite art store, The Art Store, and find some new ***toys***!  Since The Art Store is moving, they are having a huge sale.  Ahhhh.... a sale on art supplies *big smile*

There is some serious play time happening soon!

Look!  A real portfolio for my original artwork!  Oh, yeah!  I'm going to really enjoy using that.  I haven't used the Stonehenge paper before, but I admit that I have looked at it several times.  Now it's time to play with it and see what all I can do with it.  I do know what I can do with the Bateman paper - that is ***wonderful*** for ink work and great for pencil, too.  It will even take a light wash.  I like that it has a "crisp" surface and the ink doesn't bleed.

In addition to these fun purchases, a friend sent me some samples of a lovely watercolor paper that is cream.  I have an idea that is running around in my mind to try with this yummy paper.  So sweet of her to share!

Speaking of sharing, here's a ***fantastic sight*** that I had to share with you!

ummmm...  what?  You don't know what that is?  It's goat hair.  More specifically, it is goat hair in the very-early-start-of-the-beginning-stages-of-shedding!!!  huh?  Well, the *literal translation* is:  Spring is just around the corner! 

Take that, groundhogs.  Bested by a goat.

Hope you had a great week and a very Funtry Friday!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Whatcha do for country fun on a Funtry Friday? Lots of cool stuff!

How do we have fun in the country?  Well, first you start off your Funtry Friday with a beautiful sunrise.  Is there a better sight to see first thing in the morning?!

Then you enjoy some early morning company.  It's an extra blessing if they have a beautiful song to share.  And gusto and enthusiasm counts even more!

Guinea Choir
Then take an unplanned drive out to the woods for a walk and on the way go sightseeing...

Are we in a SciFi movie?
Looks like the space shuttle could launch from here...  "Mission Control... T minus 10 and counting...."

Area 42?
This is way out in the middle of nowhere... sort of... Well, since we knock around out here on all of these dirt roads, it really doesn't feel like the middle of nowhere to us.  But it isn't a launch site and it isn't any weird area whatever - it's a cement plant.  And those little trucks in the picture?  Those are huge trucks.  LOL - this place is gianormous.  One good thing, though.  You can see it for miles and miles and miles... and miles.  No way anybody can get turned around out there now...

Speaking of turning around... it's time to head back home.

Beautiful evening clouds!
Lots of times we start the days out here with a beautiful sunrise, and then in the afternoon and early evening the clouds roll in and tempt us to believe that it will rain.  Time to race out there and feed all the critters - oh! and gather up the eggs, too.

Pretty colored eggs!
No green eggs because I think Christmas has decided to retire from laying eggs.  Well, at 15 she is entitled to a vacation!  But look at all those pretty shades of brown eggs - and now I have two hens that lay white eggs.  And look at all the interesting shapes and sizes, too.  I love fresh eggs!  They are so pretty.

The last of today's eggs.
Fresh out of the laying box... and covered with a little bit of hay.  You can really see the different shapes of theses eggs.  The bottom one even has a big dent in it - totally not sure how that happened! 

Well, time to go wash up those eggs and call it a night.  Hope you had a fun Friday wherever you are.  There's always some country fun happening around here on Funtry Friday!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When is white not white and black not black?

Have you ever looked closely at white?  or at black?  Trust me.  Whatever white or black object or critter that you are looking at is not going to look like a blob of white paint or a blob of black paint.  Ever. Not ever.

Proof?  You want proof? 

Okay... remember Sharla's lovely little kitty, Angel?  (You can see pictures of her on Sharla's very fun blog, Beaded Tail.)  Angel has a lot of color, but her face, neck and front paws have a lot of white, too.  Here is a little work in progress photo of the painting I am doing of Angel.

Angel - watercolor - work in progress
Isn't she precious?!

Without some shading, she is not going to have a lot of definition on her cute paws not to mention her furry nice little face.  Using gray will leave a very flat and dull appearance (I'm sure that Angel would not approve of that!), so I am using various shades of blue.  For the very dark shadows, I will throw in a dash of paynes gray.  That's right... I am not using black for those dark areas.

So what about the painting of Sharla's cute little Tortie, Isabella?  (You can see her on Sharla's blog, too.)  What am I using to create all her "black" fur?

Isabella - watercolor - work in progress

Well, if you look really closely at "black" fur, you will see that it is usually a very dark brown.  Another problem with black paint straight out of the tube is that is has a dull appearance.  What I am doing here is creating a Chromatic Black.  If you want to know how to mix Chromatic Black, check out my blog post, "No room for black on my palette!"  All the directions are there and they can be modified for any painting medium.

For Isabella's little painting, I am changing the chromatic black mixture in order to lighten or darken an area where there is more or less light.  For the very dark details, I mix in a little paynes gray into the chromatic black.

Isabella - watercolor - work in progress
Isabella has caught up to Sadie, now.   You can see Sadie's painting in my blog post, "Oh, yay!  Look what's happening in my studio!"  After I get a little bit more done on Angel's painting, I will lay in the background colors for all of these paintings.

That's what you will get to see next time!  ...and then you will find out the only time I use white paint *winks*

Happy creating!
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