Today I’m here to share my simple Valentine’s Day decor! I don’t go all out, but do like a few festive touches! A little pink and red sprinkled about never hurt anyone (well, not that I am aware of anyway)!
art, DIY & Crafts, entryway, Family Room, Free Printables, Home & Garden, kitchen, Seasonal & Holiday
Okay, so this post does not involve any dishes. BUT it does involve tea towels. And one specific pretty one at that!
While browsing in Homesense a few weeks ago, my eyes found this 3-pack of tea towels for $6.99. I instantly fell in love with the grey one featuring the ornaments.
There is no way THAT tea towel deserves to see the inside of a sippy cup – especially boasting that sparkly silver pinstripe and glittery white ornament.
As I sat petting the tea towel in the store (#don’tjudgeme) I thought, “this is so beautiful it should be framed. It would look awesome on my black mantel for Christmas”.
I think you can see where this is going.
Ya I did! I framed a tea towel. Are you ready for this jelly?
Last year was the first year that I got to dress my ‘newly’ painted black mantel for Christmas. With the black being so graphic and bold it was fun to dress it up with a large scale print and glittery decorations – see last year’s mantel here. When I saw this tea towel I knew it could look stunning as this year’s feature. And where else can you find a “print” for $2.33 ($2.60 with tax if we’re being technical).
Here is a better shot of all the shimmer and glitter that this little tea towel holds.
That’s one fabulous tea towel. It’s so fabulous I bet Cee Lo Green would turn it into an outfit for the Voice – either that or make it his new pet.
It’s quite large (awesome) so to frame it I used a silver 20.5″ x 28.5″ Ribba frame from Ikea.
Okay, answer me this? Why do frame mats never come in white? They are always an ugly off-white. Argh. I have spray painted one in the past – and this one I painted too. Such a pet peeve. Consider this my official plea to frame mat makers everywhere – WHITE. Thank you.
I didn’t have any white spray paint so I just used what I had on hand – leftover from here. FYI – the spray paint worked better but this did the trick (if in a pinch).
With that done, I left it to dry and went to iron my tea towel. Once I had all the creases out I laid it flat on the table and placed my (now dry) mat over it to arrange the composition I liked. I preferred the ornaments to be off centre just for some visual interest.
Because it is hard to line something like this up from the back, and impossible to flip over while keeping it all in place, I came up with a little system where I lifted two of the corners and inserted a little roll of masking tape to ‘tack’ the mat in place.
Then I could easily flip it over and tape it on the back.
Then all that was left to do was pop it into the frame and admire it!
Here is shot of it resting against our coffee table (complete with Harold the Helicopter toy, blankie and tent for your enjoyment) so that you can see how large in size it is.
I’m really looking forward to doing my Christmas mantel now! Currently my fall mantel décor is still up so I can’t show you how this looks up there yet – but soon!
Look at that pretty sparkle and fabric texture!
I know that framing fabric is not a new concept but what I love about this tea towel is that it has the extra little pizzaz that rolls of fabric may not – and it’s not a repeating pattern as is so common with large loom rolls.
How about you? Ever framed a tea towel? Anything else out of the ordinary? Found yourself petting unlikely items in the middle of a store? Please tell me I’m not the only one…
Christmas crazy? Me too! See all my Christmas posts here.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all my fellow Canadians!
What are you doing this weekend?
a) enjoying your loved ones
b) giving thanks
c) salivating over a nice feast at a fancy table full of thanks
d) snoozing somewhere in a tryptophan induced coma or
e) all of the above.
Chef Kev and I are really lucky in that we have not one, but two dinners this long weekend. Yay! We are off to my parents one day, and his the other.
I wanted to bring a nice Thanksgiving flower arrangement to each dinner to show our ‘thanks’. And so I made some tonight. Here they are…
I’ve always wanted to try making one of those neat pumpkin arrangements I’ve been seeing around, so here was my chance! I’ve outlined the steps below if you’d like to make something similar.
First I simply picked up an assortment of grocery store blooms. I just chose what was economical and what I thought looked nice together. I was going for a ‘harvest’ type colour palette to play off the feel and colour of the pumpkins.
Once home, I grabbed two styrofoam cups from my stash to use as the ‘vessels’ to hold water. I was afraid that putting the flowers directly into the pumpkins (and filling them with water) would cause them to rot faster than the speed at which Chef Kev gets up for seconds of turkey. Fast.
As you can see, they are taller than the pumpkins. But don’t worry, I have a plan for that.
I traced the perimeter of the cup to mark the opening on my pumpkin.
Then I cut them open, hollowed and cleaned out my little gourds.
Placing the styrofoam cups inside, I rested my pen on the ‘lip’ of the pumpkin and rotated the cup to mark where I would be cutting it down to fit.
Then I simply cut the cup down to size with regular scissors.
Once trimmed, I placed them into the pumpkins. Don’t worry that they are not a ‘perfect’ fit to your opening, the extra space allows you to wiggle your fingers in to turn or remove the cup (for adjusting, filling with water etc.) So it’s actually a good thing (to quote Martha).
After filling both cups with water and flower preserve, I began assembling each arrangement.
First I started with the sunflowers as they were the largest bloom I had.
The bundle sold at the store came with three sunflowers so I already knew I’d be building two different arrangements (versus building little twin ones).
Next I started layering in the carnations. It’s probably obvious but you’ll be cutting your stalks down really short for this type of ‘low and lush’ arrangement.
Don’t worry about making it perfect, or even gaps like this…
Simply fill it in with some of your lighter textured blooms. I always like getting an array of textures when I pick flowers for arranging. Dense blooms are great for ‘bulk’ but finer, more textural or ‘looser’ blooms make great options for filling in gaps and adding some variety to your arrangements.
I like that that bloom has a much smaller ‘flower’ on it than the larger carnations and sunflowers.
Since one bouquet had two large sunflowers and the other only one, you’ll see that the arrangement below right was starting to lack some star power.
But BAM! Using my trick above I threw in an unexpected textural element to turn it up a notch (am I channelling Emeril here)?
See that little greeney yellow guy I added and how with just ONE bloom it can totally change the dynamic of the arrangement? Oh, and I placed it in that location and a bit higher than the rest to add some balance to the large sunflower.
Next I layered in the tiny roses I had bought and I was done. To save you from scrolling back up, here are the finished arrangements again…
These were fun AND economical. Each arrangement came in at around $15.
And a few more views of the finished pumpkins…
Oh, and don’t worry if your favourite ‘side’ or ‘view’ of the arrangement falls at a spot of the pumpkin where there is a blemish or scratch, simply wiggle your fingers in and turn the styrofoam cup so that the flowers’ ‘good side’ matches that of the pumpkin’s.
Gourds can be so vain.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Then my little guy Chace must be pretty flattered.
Because I imitated him.
Now I’m not an artist or painter by ANY means, and I even hesitated to share this because I’m not any sort of professional on the subject… but then I realised I’m not really a professional on anything I blog about here! 😉 Just me rambling along about what I do. And this is what I did.
If we’re going to talk profession(al) mine is Graphic Design. Back in design school I did take some illustration and painting courses but have literally not done a painting since. Well actually I did do one in 2004 – but I wasn’t overly happy with it and I think I got discouraged so it was the only one I had done since I graduated. However, lately I’ve just had a really strong desire to paint. So I recalled any tips I could (from the back of the ol’ brain) and decided to start before I changed my mind – or got intimidated!
What I was thinking!? This is no small painting. It is 2′ x 3′! But for some odd reason I took the leap.
My reference was this photo of Chace that I took last year – one of my faves. I love his little expression.
I was hoping that it would turn out so that I could hang it above our living room couch. Chef Kev and I had been commenting lately that we needed some real ‘art’. Here it is so that you can get a sense of the scale.
Let me share my tools, tricks and tips incase they come in handy 🙂
To do a painting like this you will need the following. I will explain what to do with each later…
1) Acrylic Gel and Gesso
3) Acrylic Paint – in addition to the ‘set’ I purchased the citrusey green and teal as I knew I wanted to pull a lot of those two colours into the piece. I also grabbed an extra white as you will be amazed how much white you go through. It’s faster than a three year old going through underwear when you’re potty training (not that I have any first hand experience with that – cough.LIE.cough).
And of course a canvas! As mentioned mine was 24″ x 36″. I bought all of my supplies at Michaels and everything came in at less than $100. Not bad for a majorly huge piece of custom art! And if I do future paintings it will be less as I won’t have to buy new brushes, as much paint, a palette etc.
Okay – so now for the tricks, tips and basic ramblings of someone fumbling through a painting and then blogging about it after.
First you will want to prime your canvas with Gesso (large round tub in the top ‘supplies’ photo). There are debates about whether or not you actually need to do this step but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. I found the best way to apply the gesso was to liberally ‘paint’ it all over the canvas with my large foam brush.
It levels as it dries so don’t worry about brush strokes. You will need to let it dry overnight.
Once dry you can add some texture with your Acrylic Gel (tube in the top ‘supplies’ photo). I used the same brush but this time purposely painted it on with a more rough and ‘crosshatch’ motion. I wanted some nice globs. Those will dry hard and add some great texture to your painting (which you can see in some of the close-ups later). So get your glob on!
Once that is dry you are ready to begin painting! You can either freehand it from this point or transfer your image to the canvas as I did. I’m not the strongest illustrator (horrible really) so thought the best way for me to
not pull out my hair and cry like a mad woman do this was to transfer my image of Chace to my canvas. That way he’d be ‘drawn’ proportionately and I’d have a framework to build my painting from. Some purists may call this cheating but I call it sanity. Pick your battles….
I blew my photo up to 2′ x 3′ and printed it out on a colour printer in ’tiles’ (pieces). Then I taped it together so I had a large paper ‘printout’.
From there I took the charcoal I mention in the supplies list and started scribbling like a toddler (again – experience here) all over the back. Side note: I did this step when Chace was asleep as he would have insisted he help with this part.
Charcoal = messy. Toddler + charcoal = you asked for it.
When you buy your charcoal you will want to get the ‘soft’ rather than ‘hard’ kind. A ‘soft’ charcoal will work better for this treatment as it’s darker and well, ‘softer’. In other words, it scribbles better.
You can see the tiled pages in this shot above as well.
When you are done you will thank yourself for putting your toddler to bed as your hands will look like this. Oh, and I’m right handed but my camera was in the right hand here so this is a shot of my clean hand.
Now go and change your white bed linens. Not a mandatory step in the completion of your painting but could still be fun? No. Okay.
Bad laundry joke aside, flip your large charcoal backed printout over and place on top of your DRY gesso/gelled canvas.
Then you trace your image. I didn’t trace every detail but rather blocked in my shapes, higlight areas, shadow zones etc.
When you are all done you will now have a line drawing of your painting that is in proportion to your reference photo. It kind of looks like a paint-by-number here but without the numbers and cheap packaging.
It looks creepy but really helps. Honest.
You can really see the Gel texture here after doing the charcoal rub and trace.
Next you can clean up/rub off the majority of the charcoal excess from your large printout and hang it somewhere visible as reference. I just taped mine up on the wall.
Now we start painting!
Add a splash of each colour to your palette…
begin mixing and GO. Have fun. Relax. Enjoy.
Here is where it gets a bit tricky as there is no right or wrong way to paint. It’s such a personal thing. I can only share how I did mine and encourage you to follow your heart (and eye) if you do your own.
I personally love the style of painting that has ‘hidden’ outlines. In otherwords, defined borders that are made of hits of colour versus an actual ‘line’. I hope my final photos explain that better but I began my painting by blocking in some ‘hidden’ outlines.
You can see I chose brighter colour on the right (highlight) and darker tones on the left (shadow). Establishing a light source allows your painting to look more natural. Not that this is supposed to look realistic but you know when you see something and think “that doesn’t look right” – a lot of the time it is a conflicting or unnatural light source.
Then I started filling in, and building ‘up’ my painting. My approach consisted of blocking in highlights, shadows and focussing on tone.
Attemping to do the eyes scared me so I left those blank as I built up my confidence.
This close up of the mouth is a good photo to show how I did my painting in layers. The mouth was not nearly as red and vibrant in the final piece but I started this way knowing that as I built up my layers of paint, this red base would peek through and add some ‘life’ and splashes of vibrant colour.
You can also see the charcoal rub drawing through this first layer. Once your first layer dries and you build upon it, those lines will disapear. After the first layer of paint the charcoal drawing isn’t really needed anymore so that is not an issue.
This painting is built up in about three main ‘layers’. Luckily acrylic dries fast so the actual painting part only took about 5-6 hours including the drying time.
Chef Kev was amazed how fast it was when it came right down to it. Yup, faster than Rob Pattinson moving out on Kristen Stewart. FAST!
Here is Chace’s face filling out…
And he now has eyes! Gulp.
Here is the background coming together. I orginally had done more of a foresty background like my inspiration photo but did not like it. It competed too much with Chace so I just painted over it!
It was as this point that I noticed his eye on the left looked a bit droopy. So I fixed it. You can also see a small printout of the photo on the left here. I had it right beside my canvas for reference (in addition to my large tiled one).
And kept building up the colour. You can see more highlights here – especially in the wood.
Starting to look a bit more finished now. I fiddled some more and then stood back and officially called it – D.O.N.E!
My main goal was to challenge myself – and try to make it look like Chace. I’m happy with what I’ve done.
I also wanted Chace to love it.
He told me to take it back.
He said “No Chace funny face”
It scared him.
But he came around (aka I put it up anyway) and now loves it.
He calls it his “Chacey painting”.
Here are some close-ups and a few more notes…
You can see the ‘hidden’ outlines here. See how there are just little hits of colour that border his head?
Here you can see how toned down the bright red mouth is after some more layering.
Adding little hits of colour (such as the teal in his eyelids) will add some character to your painting. Well, in my opinion anyway. Not necessary of course!
A close-up of his shirt collar and neck.
Here is close-up of the wood. You can really see a good example of the gel texture here.
To finish it all off I signed my piece and painted the canvas wrap edges black.
So there we have it! A crash course in portrait painting by this one little blogger.
What about you? Stepped out of your comfort zone recently? Painting something new? What do you think of my first painting attempt in 8 years!? I generally like to make jokes but this one I’m happy to not be the butt of so be kind 😉
You may recall in this post where I updated you on Chace’s ‘Big Boy Room’ progress, that I had another project in the works for this big blank space of wall…
Well here it is!
It all started when Chace got this awesome ‘card’ with one of the gifts from his 3rd birthday – a little multi-jointed robot (who also happened to fit his bedroom colour palette perfectly AND play off the robot art I created in his closet nook).
I couldn’t just file this little guy away in a box.
However, he did sit around awhile as I didn’t have a frame and there were other ‘bigger’ things I wanted to get for his room first (table, toy storage etc. as mentioned here), but this past week while looking for something else I stumbled upon this tucked away…
Art I had done in design school (I’m a Graphic Designer) yes, but more importantly, the perfect sized frame!
Here are a few close-up of my little ‘botanical style’ illustrations from back in the day – ah, memories. I remember even creating that custom matt with handmade paper. Ha. Good times.
Okay, so maybe styles have changed but it’s always fun to look back.
Knowing I wanted to paint the frame white, I started by taking out the old art. And that’s when it happened…
… the glass broke.
So I took this as a sign that my little robot friend did not want to be kept under glass (kinda like how nobody keeps Baby in a corner – name that movie) and just came up with a new plan – to ‘bump’ him up (more on that later). No glass needed for this direction.
Armed with my newly glass-free frame I headed down to the garage for a little spray
And even managed to do this step without breaking anything.
I had always planned to put some decorative scrapbook paper behind the little robot to add some fun but wasn’t sure exactly what look I was going for. I know I wanted somethind dynamic and playful but not too busy. I didn’t want any pattern to compete with our star – little robot.
I grabbed three paper contenders from my stash and headed up to my other stash (this is where my organized hoarding comes in handy) to find a larger piece of white paper to fill the whole frame. I knew my scrapbook paper was 12″ x 12″ so was not going to fill the whole space up. I needed a simple clean background to mount it all on.
But I had nothing.
However, I did find a clean white mat instead.
But it didn’t’ fill the frame either.
So I came up with a new plan.
Spray the board that came in my frame white, layer the scrapbook paper on that, covered with the matt and then bump up my little robot.
First to pick a scrapbook paper design though…
I started with the busiest of the shortlisted bunch but quickly decided that yes, it was too busy. Althought cute, little robot wasn’t the focus I wanted him to be. Oh, and I know he extends past the inside frame of the mat but I was okay with that – even wanted it if I’m being honest. I liked that he was jumping out – much more dynamic that way.
That dark brown backing is actually the back of the frame board that I mention above – pre-‘sprayathon’.
Next up was a crisp green plaid.
Much better but not quite the right shade of green. I liked the boyish plaid though and loved the diagonal. Getting closer…
From the same pack (a Christmas one if you can believe it) I found the match to the above paper, but in blue.
Loved it. Boyish, fun, playful and non-competing with the robot. And the fact that it was going on a blue wall – serendipity.
With that decided, I was back to the garage to begin spraying the board. I decided to spray the rough side of the board as I thought the texture would add an unexpected element – plus it was a little more ‘boyish’.
Holy paint suck batman! This board kept drinking and was never satisfied! It drained what I had in this can and I moved on to some white primer I had on hand – but it still didn’t look good. Oh, and I only sprayed the outside edges as the middle would be covered up.
Here it is once dried (after about 10 coats).
The texture is fun but the whites don’t work well together and you can still see bits of the brown fibres. It just didn’t accept the spray paint evenly and uniformly.
So I did what any blogging mama on the fly would do – I changed my plan – AGAIN. By the way, this project cost me zero dollars. I just kept working with what I had on hand until I found a solution that worked!
I remembered that I had some leftover blue wall paint from when I painted Chace’s room a few months ago and thought applying that with a brush could garner the results I was after.
Here you can see how uneven the white finish was…
And here it is with a coat of blue.
Chace may have been in the tub when I was doing this, hence the impromptu painting set up in the bathroom! You take every moment you can get when you’re a full-time working, graphic design on the side, blogging mama of a toddler!
He thought it was awesome and gave me a full play-by-play of what I was doing.
Here is a close up of the blue paint (and mat) once dried. Much better! Doesn’t the texture of the backside of the board look neat?
Then I began adding some little foam ‘bumpers’ to the back of robot so that he sat elevated slightly. These are also from my scrapbooking supplies. They are simple to use since they are sticky on both sides of the foam. You apply one to your surface, and one to your ‘subject’ and this is what you get!
The cool thing about this is that the robots hands, feet and antenae are free to move since I didn’t need to add any there. That way Chace can manipulate them if he wants to play with it. Interactive art ;)!
Once it was put back into it’s frame and hung up, this is how he looked!
That’s robot for “how do you like them apples!?” And you know what, I like ’em. A lot.
I’m actually glad my original vision didn’t work out and I had to change my plan 367 times. I love how the blue ties in to the wall colour. I love the layering effect of the board, scrapbook paper and mat. I love the texture of the board. I love how my little robot is still the star even though he is only one of the many elements at work here. And I love that Chace loves it.
I guess change really is good.
How about you? Ever start a project only to revise it every second step? Ever made art of out of something that wasn’t? Found any old school projects
shoved lovingly stored under the bed that came in handy when least expected?
Beblurrrrp – that’s robot for “dish/spill”.