Sunday, May 4

curtain call

It's obvious that I've been a little M.I.A. for a while. Life is getting so full of fun and craziness prepping for life with another baby that I have had to put work and blogging on the back burner. It's safe to say I probably won't have anything new or fun to share with you as often as I would like. 

The nursery is turning out fantastic and little man's room has transformed into a BIG man room and we are all thrilled about it  Other than getting ready for baby and surviving my last trimester and first few months (or years) as a mom of two, I don't/won't/choose not to have time for much else. My etsy shop has been closed for a while now, and I don't have any plans in the foreseeable future of reopening the store. I do love taking custom orders on the side (as I can handle them) and will of course always pursue a life full of love for all things art and design.

At this time, I feel my priorities are majorly shifting as our family expands, and I want to soak up all the time I can with my babies at home, and spend more time devoting myself to my husband and my Lord. For this reason, I am posting a notice to you all that I'm officially "closing the doors" as an etsy seller and blogger, in an effort to focus more attention on the wonderful life that is all around me.

This decision has weighed on my heart and is something I have thought through and prayed about for weeks. It has become a heavy load to keep up with the business end of blogging, producing, etc. and I have begun to stretch myself thin. I hope you will all understand that it is important for me to take a step back and concentrate on the precious gifts of fleeting moments with littles at home, devote more energy to supporting and loving my husband, and building a stronger bond with Christ my Lord.

I must also mention that this will only be temporary. As our children grow older and I am able to spend more time and energy on my business as an artist and instructor, I am sure that I will be making more appearances, hopefully to share some fun lessons/tutorials for you all.

Thank you all for the love, support, and encouragement throughout this adventure! I look forward to sharing more with you in the future. In the meantime, please keep our family in your prayers, and always know how grateful I am to have shared this experience with you!

Monday, March 24

I'm blue, da ba dee, da ba die

I've got little art lesson for you today that I loved teaching to my middle & high school students. A PORTRAIT! And probably the easiest one ever. Let's dive in, shall we?

Here's a word for you - monochromatic. It means one (mono) color (chroma), so anytime you're going with this color scheme, you just use all different shades of a single color. The main goal for this lesson was to teach my kids about value, which describes the lightness and darkness of a color. We made really fun Warhol-esque self-portraits based on photographs the kids took of each other in class. Today I'm going to show you how to create this for yourself! You can go with a single color for the entire thing, or for most of it, adding in some contrasting colors just for fun (like I did).

The following are some screen shots of the photo editing process that I completed with PicMonkey. It's a completely free photo editing website, though you can pay a little extra each month (I think $4?) to get some "Royale" features - which I do, because I use it all the time. You can do the same thing in Photoshop or just about any other photo editing software. 

Start with a photograph (preferably digital -- if it's a print, you can always scan and import it into your computer to manipulate). Here's the photo I started with:
First, I cropped my photograph into a square, because my canvas is a large square. Though this step is not essential, it gave me a better visual of how my final product would turn out.
The next step is to edit the photo with the Posterize tool. This breaks down the photo into flat "layers" of color. You can adjust how many layers, how detailed you want everything, etc. So play around with that for a little bit until you're happy with your image.
I wound up with 17 "layers" or "Number of colors" as labeled by the program, with 48% "Detail".
Next, I used the Black and White tool to simply make my photograph b/w and less chaotic for my own sake when transferring the image.
Once totally happy with my image, all that was left was save and print!
I printed my image to be about 4x4 inches, because the viewfinder on my projector is small. This really doesn't make a difference in the final size. Once it was on paper, I stuck it under my projector in a dark room, lined it up how I wanted on my primed canvas, and started tracing. I opted to throw the image off to the side a little bit for some asymmetry.
Keep in mind that the number of colors you have will have an impact on how detailed your final image is, because more layers = lower contrast between each layer. In other words, some areas may be a little tricky to transfer if you have a lot of colors to work with. Even though the program told me I had 17 colors, I actually only used 8, because I decided not to transfer the background, and simplified a few areas on my own.
Here's the important part: when you are tracing the image, you have to remember to outline each of the little shapes or "layers" of color, in order to break it up into values for painting. 
Once it's been traced, double check by putting your canvas next to your image and make sure you got every little shape. (Some free handing may be required.) Yes, it will look weird.
The next thing you'll do is basically create a giant paint-by-number for yourself. I assigned each shade a different number - 1 = lightest, then going from there. Label every shape with its corresponding number, depending on the shade it's supposed to be based on the photograph. Then, when you paint, you'll know your total number of values/shades to mix (I had 8) AND you'll know just where to put them. Always keep the photograph close by while you're working, for reference.
I wanted my main color to be blue. With 8 shades to create, I actually used black for the darkest (number 8) and white for the lightest (number 1), so I had 6 shades of blue to play with for the in-between. 

All you have to do now is mix up paint and start putting your colors where they belong! This is really easy, just time consuming! The hardest thing about this step is trying to look past what you want the person to like to just painting shapes. It really is best to just focus on the painting piece by piece, and it turns out better in the end. Here's some photos of my work, after each "layer" or color was added. You can really see it start to come together as the photos progress! Please forgive the horrible photo quality. I was painting late at night, and the best way to photograph was with my flash on!
After a long night, I completed all of the face and crashed in bed. The next day I would finish.

I hesitated a little before painting the frames of his glasses just another shade of blue. I kind of wanted a fun pop of color, and with further review (i.e. hubby's input), decided the frames needed to be a different, bold color. So I went with oranges/reds for the shades. See what I did there?
When it came to the background, I originally planned to paint this another color, so I tried lime green. I snapped these photos with my iPhone as I tried out some different options.
Lime green: not loving it. It broke the image up too much and the face just looked weird all piecy on top of a solid background that didn't quite look right. You may like it, but I wasn't crazy about it. 
So I went with one of the blues from my palette.  
Not enough contrast - it was all bleeding together.
I needed something in the same color family, but a color that would still offer contrast without being too stark. So I went with a deep bluish aqua, and it was perfect. After that, I did some touching up, and voila! It was done. 
Right now it's hanging in the playroom (and looks smaller in this image than it does in real life - the canvas is 36"x36"). Eventually I'll paint a portrait of littlest man and put it on the same wall.

What do you think?! Would you be brave enough to try this for yourself? Feel free to ask any questions about the process in the comments section below. And if you try it for yourself, send me pics!!
Thanks for stopping by today!

Friday, March 21

if you like it then you shoulda put a frame on it

Guys. The frames in the kids' bathrooms look UH-ma-zing. The best part? The whole project cost about $30 and an hour to complete. I won't go into detail on how we completed this task, because there are tutorials galore all over Pinterest and I'm sure you've seen this done before. I just wanted to give you a shot at how it changed things for us in our two hall bathrooms!
Supplies needed:
pre-primed trim in desired width, pattern
miter saw
liquid nails
caulk gun
blue painter's tape
an extra set of hands
possibly some spacing trim (I'll explain)

We used 3 1/2" pre-primed trim pieces from Lowes and some liquid nails to do the deed. I bought 6 pieces of 8' trim to complete TWO mirrors. I was able to get both side pieces (42") for each mirror from one trim piece. The other four pieces were for the tops and bottoms of each of these mirrors (one measured 58" wide, and the other 65" wide). 

The tricky thing about our mirrors is they did NOT extend to the full width of the wall, unlike the vanity beneath it (see photo below). So I bought some 1/4" thick scrap/trim (the thickness of the mirrors), and cut them to fit in the gaps between the mirror and the wall (about a three inch space). You can see the pieces laying on the counter in the photo. I attached them to the wall with some screws and liquid nails. This way, the frames had a solid surface to adhere to outside the edge of the mirror, without wobbling, because I wanted the frames to extend the full width of the wall and make the mirrors look that big. My trim was wide enough that it could touch the edge of the wall and still have a good overlap on the mirror. Hopefully if you're doing this project you don't have to deal with this. If you do, just leave any questions in the comments section below.
I used some white paint I already had to paint the pieces before they were cut and applied to the mirror. We measured carefully, cut, and applied them with liquid nails, then held them in place with some painter's tape while the adhesive set up. Although the tube of liquid nails says it dries fairly quickly, I opted to leave the tape holding everything together for the rest of the afternoon and overnight, just to make sure everything was set.
Alsoooo... fortunately for us, the mirrors weren't being held up with any type of brackets whatsoever, they were just glued onto the wall. Therefore, I had a completely flat surface and didn't have to work around any extra hardware. Not everyone is this lucky. If you're among the unlucky ones, my advice would be to use a drimmel tool to carve out little notches in the back of your trim pieces where the brackets can sit nicely inside them and your trim can be flush against the mirror/wall. There are also tutorials for this online. 

Now all that's left to do is caulk the seams and the inner edges where the trim meets the mirror, then touch up with paint. Easy peasy! I decided to wait until everything was completely dry and set up before applying the caulk. 
This is a super simple, cheap, and easy upgrade that can add major bang for your buck to your home, and give your bathrooms a beautiful custom look. You don't even have to be a pro to do it. Now I'm itching to replace the fixtures in these rooms to update them even more! Just add that to the list...

Here's one more before & after for the road. Have an awesome weekend, and come back Monday for an art lesson you won't want to miss!