Friday, September 28, 2012

Making the Most Out of Downtime (House Renovations)

It would seem that I'm going to get more "mileage" out of this house renovation than expected—both figuratively and literally. 
The project has"tentatively" expanded again, however, I'll be saving those details until we actually see if the product is going to work the way we want it to. But because the product is on clearance, I took myself over to the next county to pick up more boards—you've no idea how upset I would be if this works and we didn't have enough materials! It would NOT be pretty. 
It seemed only fair that if I were picking up the boards that I should have a little fun along the way. Since I had to pass a Hobby Lobby on my way to the store...I just had to stop on my way back! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), they didn't really have anything that spoke to me. 
Part of the problem was that I was hungry. There happened to be a cute little place called Firehouse Subs in the same shopping center and they were busy, busy, busy. It's a chain sub shop—you may even have one in your neighborhood. At this location, when you walk in the door, all the workers call out, "Welcome to Firehouse!" There is one woman who works there and she has a very strong northeastern (New York?) accent. It's always a treat to hear her!
"Welcome to Firehouse!"
Watercolor and Non-Permanent Ink
5.5" x 11"
Pineapple Sketchbook
I decided to do some sketching while I waited for my "Hook and Ladder" sub. One of the sandwich makers happened by as I was sketching and asked what I was doing. I replied I was sketching. She glanced at my sketch and then asked what I was sketching. I pointed to the wall with the "retired" fireman's jacket, pants, and boots. The hat was imaginary. I added it for balance. She glanced at the wall and back at the page and said, "That's pretty good...actually."

Her response made my day. I smiled the better part of the afternoon! 
I didn't have time to add color at the restaurant, so I did it last night from memory. I had used a non-waterproof pen to sketch and wasn't sure at the time if I would add color or not. 

I had lit a "autumn-season-smell-good-type of candle and as I was dousing the match in a stream of water, decided to set it aside to use later on my sketch. Once some of the water had dried, I used it to add "soot marks" to the fireman's outfit. I then used my finger to rub it in a little more. 

No one but me will ever know what I did, but that's okay. It was a fun way to add a touch of texture to the sketch!

Wishing y'all an awesome weekend...I will be embroiled in a home renovation. What will you be doing?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes and House Renovation Projects

Pumpkin Pancakes at IHOP
Watercolor and Ink
Pineapple Journal
5.5 x 5.5 Inches 
Have you ever notice that a home improvement project will take over and totally eclipse your otherwise sane life?

If you answered no, consider yourself lucky. If you answered yes, you commiseration is greatly appreciated. We are reluctant do-it-yourselfer's. We're too picky about what we want and how we want it done to hire out the job so we always end up doing it ourselves.

Chris and I have decided it was finally time to tackle the long hallway in our house. The hallway that has 7 doors and slightly resembles a hotel hallway. (What was the builder thinking?!)

So there is our first challenge...we decided we would try to "disguise" two of the doors by making them less obvious.

Our second challenge came from the fact that the people who built this house did not prime any of the walls. They used the old, thick wallpaper paste and glued wallpaper up—over drywall. Oh yay. Can you say damage?

The prior owner removed the wallpaper as it was very (VERY) dated. In the process of removing the paper all the walls were left with an "interesting" texture. If it had been a texture we could have worked with, great, but no. Instead, it looked like exactly what it was—damaged. In fairness, I have to say I don't think anybody could have removed the paper and the glue without damaging the walls.

Our third and final (?) challenge is that this hallway is in the center of our home and you don't go anywhere without accessing the hallway. That meant there was no way to shut it off and work on it. If we tried to drywall, even with wet sanding, we'd be cleaning dust long after the cows had come home and the chickens had roosted. (In case you've forgotten, I am NOT nor will I EVER be a good housekeeper—there are too many other things I would RATHER be doing!)

So, we've looked at textured paint products, heavy wallpaper, paneling, drywall textures, and something else I'm not recalling to the point of ad nauseum. Without success. Nothing looked promising as the walls are so messed up. We were quite perplexed.

Enter the power of the internet.

I was surfing the web in search of paint grade v-groove planks that were not 5/8 of an inch thick. Oh yeah, there's another challenge...the hallway's not particularly wide and it's dark. We don't want to make it narrower nor darker.

After getting frustrated with all the big DIY box store web sites, I started thinking we were going to have to "settle" for a product that neither of us were crazy about but would do the job. To blow out a little of the frustration I switched over to looking at pictures on Google.

I stumbled across a very talented woman who had used paint-grade v-groove planks to redo her dining room ceiling! Oh boy! Not only did she show a photo of the product, she also mentioned where she purchased it. A year ago.

To make a long story a little shorter, I skipped over to Lowe's yesterday to find out if they still carried the product as their web site was not answering my questions. Sure enough they had it, but it was on clearance. Yay! Oh, wait, oh no...

Luckily, I had managed to find one of those super nice, super knowledgable, super helpful sales people. He helped me source the additional planks we would need at another store nearby.

After picking up our spiffy new planks, we came home and reevaluated our project—and right before our eyes—it expanded! Poof! Just like that.


We were going to need even more boards. So bright and (too) early this morning, we hiked over to IHOP for breakfast which just happens to be conveniently located right across the street from Lowe's.

Since I love just about anything pumpkin, I was delighted to see Pumpkin Pancakes on the menu! As for the wonky sketch of them above...I can only say that I had not yet had any coffee when I started rather captures the mood of the morning with all its wonkiness! And the pancakes were delicious.

After returning to Lowe's, we bumped into Mr. Super Helpful Sales Guy and he once again helped us to locate the additional boards we need. Yay!

All this and we haven't even started the project. And yes, it has taken over our lives. I rather dread the coming month.

Have no will be hearing more about the ongoing saga, and maybe, just maybe I'll be able to wrangle some more of those pumpkin pancakes out of the deal!

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's Fall, y'all!

I am so happy Autumn has arrived! It is truly my favorite season. Life seems to start slowing (fingers crossed), at least slowing enough that I can start to savor the passing of the days. There's a sweetness to the air when I go outside—on some days. Others, it's just plain muggy.
Yay! First pumpkins are showing up on the shelves!
Colors change, growing warmer, and the light changes especially. Love the long, cool shadows and warm golden light at the end of the day.
Just a few leaves have started to change color
I find that all I want to do is sit and paint leaves and pumpkins and landscapes and harvest corn and sunflowers and coneflowers and scarecrows and ravens and naked trees and tea bags and coffee mugs and outdoor fires and and and!
Dreaming of beautiful fall colors! 
Now, if the weather would cooperate and drop about 30 degrees, it would actually feel like fall—until then, I'll just have to live vicariously through all the folks living north of the Florida state line!

And if you'd care to join me on An Imaginary Visit To Autumn, you'll find more information here! It will be 4 all new classes to sip and savor Autumn's beauty. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Info on A Journal-MAKING Workshop

© Lori Vliegen's Journal Making Class

I just came from visiting Lori Vliegen's blog, Elvie Studio, and she's going to have a Journal-MAKING class next month! I've seen one of Lori's journal's up close and they're beautiful. I would imagine she'll have all kinds of fun things to share and tips on how to get the journal you want.

P.S. She's also giving away a spot for free if you're interested!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Watercolor Painting On Old Pages - Tutorial

St. Francis of Assisi in the
Beauregard-Keyes House Garden
Watercolor on Old Book Page*
As promised as a consolation prize for those that did not win the palette, this is a tutorial on painting on old paper with watercolor! If you tried to paint on old paper without any prep work, chances are very good the paper would just fall apart on you. At the very least, it would crinkle and wrinkle to the point of not being recognizable as a book page!

With a little bit of prep work, you can turn the paper into a great painting surface!

Waste Paper to protect your work surface
Old pages* from a book, letter, etc.
Mat board cut to size for your page
Gel Medium
Clear Gesso
Large soft brush
Soft eraser

Gather all your supplies first. Reading the tutorial all the way through will also make it MUCH easier to understand the steps and come out with a success new surface to paint on in the end! (Trust me, this is the voice of experience [ahem!] speaking!)

1. I used acid-free mat board as a backing board from my pages. The pages I'm using are from a book published in 1945 so I know the paper is not acid-free. With this process, with the barriers between the board and the paint, it will help to make the surface acid-free for longer period of time.

Because my pages were 5.5 x 8 inches, I chose to put them on 8 x 10 inch boards so they would be easier to frame. Adjust your boards to whatever works best for you and your page size.

2. Lightly mark the corners of the page on the board in pencil as guides so that you'll know where to position the page once it's ready. You may need to erase those marks later if you don't line up completely on the line.
Lightly mark the corners on the board as guides
Click to enlarge
3. Protect your work surface with a piece of waste paper. I have a piece of parchment down on my desk. You can use clean newsprint or any type of paper so long as it is larger than the page you are working on. 
Waste paper
Click to enlarge
4. Using gel medium and a soft brush, start in the center of the page and work out to the edges. Be sure to cover the entire page and all the pages. You don't want any globs of medium, just a thin coverage from edge to edge. 
Paint the gel medium from the center of the page
to the outer edges. Be sure to cover the whole page.
Click to enlarge
5. Once the gel medium is on the page, pick it up, flip it over and lay it down on the board using the pencil marks as guides. Use a brayer to roll out any air bubbles and to make sure it is pressed down to the board. You can use an old credit card instead of a brayer, but be careful! That old paper will tear very easily!
Use a brayer to make sure to get out air bubbles and to
get a good seal between the two pieces.
Click to enlarge
6. If any gel oozes out from under the page, carefully wipe it up with a paper towel or tissue.

7. After I had my pages down, my mat boards started to curl and bow. To stop this, I placed all the boards down on my work surface, put down a piece of waste paper and weighted the boards down with books and magazines. They were weighted down for about 4 hours. If it's raining or humid, you may need to let them stay under the weights overnight.
Weight the pages and boards down if they start to curl.
Click to enlarge
8. Once the pages have dried, erase any guide marks on your board that may be showing. Erase carefully, the paper will bruise or tear easily.

9. Pour some clear gesso into a small container and using a soft brush, brush on the gesso. Start in the middle and work out towards the edge. While you are doing this, you may notice some air bubbles coming up between the board and the page. Mine did the same thing, but it dried flat and did not interfere with the painting process.
Paint the clear gesso out to the edges of the page.
Be sure to get an even coverage.
Click to enlarge
10. Once the page is dry it will feel a bit like sandpaper! Draw out your image and begin to paint with regular watercolors. The pencil lines will be much darker than on normal watercolor paper due to the gesso. You can lighten it some using a kneaded eraser if you choose. Be very careful erasing on the paper as it will damage quite easily and the paint will adhere differently (darker) in areas that have been erased too roughly.

I have not tried this technique using a lot of water but rather light washes to build up color. You may have to wait longer for the paper to dry than on regular watercolor paper. Once dry, there is no reason to seal it, but you can if you want to using an acrylic gloss spray sealer. Be sure to use it in a well ventilated area! It works best to use 2 or 3 coats allowing them to dry completely between applications.

I do find it easier to do several pages at one time rather than one-by-one.

Good luck with your pages and please let me know how they turn out!

*A Note About Old Pages - the pages I used came from a book published in 1945. The author died in 1970 and her estate still holds copyright to the book. The copyright on any creative work is good for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

When I checked into whether this was a copyright infringement, I was told it was not because I am not altering her story or words, you can still see them through the artwork. I was told that it may be considered by some to be a collateral work or a derivative work, but not an infringement.

However, because this work is destined (hopefully) to be donated to a museum in the author's name and the author's grandson is on the board of directors, we're trying to determine if any infringement has occurred as the museum director felt there was some question on the possibility of infringement.

I urge you to be careful in using old pages from books in your artwork. Creating the work just for yourself and not for profit does not protect you from copyright infringement but can save you from lawsuits. The laws of copyright are there to protect us, but the law is not always crystal clear because there are many instances, like this one, where the laws become an interpretation.

Drum Roll, Please!! (UPDATED)

Let me start with a great, big THANK YOU to everyone who left comments—what fun! I'm kind of sad to see it end....which tells me I'll probably be doing this again!! (I also have more art supplies that need a new home!)

As we were drawing the winner this morning, my husband commented that it was too bad we couldn't do something for 2nd and 3rd place as well. Since that's not possible, instead I have another idea....

In way of a consolation prize, I'm be posting a "how-to" tutorial on how to turn old, fragile papers into watercolor paper that can easily be painted on! Please check back later today.

So without further ado....our lovely tin watercolor palette goes to....

This is GORGEOUS! and very practical, too! I would be thrilled to win it. - jgr

jgr, please contact me via the email box on the sidebar to send me your mailing address!

THANKS again to everyone for playing!!


Update: Several of you (who do not need an intervention!) asked where I purchased the palette/tin. I bought it at the Papyrus store in San Francisco. There is an online Papyrus store as well, but they do not carry them. 

When I phoned and spoke with a woman at one of the stores in SF, she did not recognize the description of the tin and said they didn't have any more. She mentioned that these tins are usually seasonal items they receive with the graphics being season-appropriate. You might want to check anyway and see if they have something you like even better!! Good luck in your search!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1st Ever GIVEAWAY at Painted Thoughts!

What could it be!?! A pill box?

Painted Thoughts Blog's 1st Giveaway!!
I have wanted to do a GIVEAWAY for a long while now, but it had to be just the right item! I've looked for a long while, and finally, I think I've found a very special item for the 1st giveaway! I must say it's hard to let go of this little goody, too...

So, ready!?!

Love the lilacs on the top!
How about a mint tin?

Getting closer!

How about a palette made from a mint tin!?!

3 x 2.75 inches or 7.6 x 6.98 cm - perfect for your pocket!
12 pans just waiting for your preferred paints!
This sweet little palette tin is 3 x 2.75 inches (7.6 x 6.98 cm) and holds 12 half pans—the perfect size to slip into your pocket or purse so you can sketch on the go! I picked this up while I was out in California as I just loved that graphic on the top.

If I didn't already have so many palettes, I'm not sure I could part with this one, but then again, I need intervention when it comes to art supplies, so y'all are the lucky ones (unless, that is, you need intervention too)!

The inside has been prepped and painted with a white gloss enamel for easy mixing, cleaning and to tell what the color will look like on your paper. The half pans are secured with rubber cement so that if you decide to change up your palette, you can easily do so.

Now, if you'd like to be entered to win the 1st Ever Painted Thoughts' Giveway, just leave me a comment below! I will have my own personal version of the Random Number Generator (Chris) pull the lucky winner on Friday, September 14th at 8 am and I'll announce the lucky winner a little later that morning here on the blog!

Please leave comments on this post to be entered to win. Contest closes at 7:30 am, Friday, September 14th. 

Good luck!!

The Giveaway is Now Closed! Good luck to all who entered!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest Artist: Sketching On Location (and Being Photographed!)

Donna Vacca, one of the artists from the Imaginary Trips online sketching classes, recently emailed me after she returned home from a three week trip to several European countries (lucky girl!!). Donna joined me earlier this year on an Imaginary Visit to a Japanese Garden and an Imaginary Trip to Greece

Donna is fairly new to watercolors (but not to art) and she wanted to combine two of her passions—travel and art–on her upcoming trip. She took the two online classes as a way to help her prepare. Take a look at her gorgeous pages! I'm posting her delightful email below:

Hi Laure, 
I want to thank you again for your fabulous online classes that helped me practice and achieve such personal satisfaction with my art skills. Working with different tools [in the classes] helped me pack my supplies knowing what would work for me. I often made use of the fountain pen and waterbrush for super quick sketches (something I had never used before your classes).
During August I traveled in France, Switzerland and Italy, sketching and painting in my journal as we went along. I managed to do 16 pages over 3 weeks.
Here are some of the pages:
Eiffel Tower - 15 min. on site and embellished later at the hotel 
Moulin Rouge - Painted leisurely from memory, 4 sessions on the bus
Venice - 50 min. on site (while being constantly photographed by tourists!)
Donna Vacca 
Eiffel Tower by Donna Vacca
Click to Enlarge
Donna Sketching at the Eiffel Tower
(Note that she's standing up!)
Click to Enlarge
Moulin Rouge by Donna Vacca
Click to Enlarge
Gondola by Donna Vacca
Click to Enlarge
Donna sketching in Venice
Click to Enlarge
Sixteen pages in 3 weeks—that's incredible! Some of the things we work on in the classes are what tools work best for quick sketching, how to take advantage of those small windows of downtime (waiting for the bus, the train, dinner, the lost passenger, etc.) and how to go with the flow and enjoy the experience.   

Thanks, Donna, for sharing your fabulous pages and experience with us!

P.S. Don't forget to check back for the GIVEAWAY tomorrow!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sketching At Lunch And A Special Announcement!

It's kind of cool to go to lunch with a friend that "gets" sketching during the meal, even if it is for celebratory reasons.
Neighborhood Bistro
sketched with pen and watercolor
in my
Pineapple Sketchbook
This was a new restaurant that I'd not been to before nor had my lunch partner. We decided we were in the mood for something different and it had come highly recommended (how many little bistros do you know that have their own chef?!).

The restaurant was at the end of a strip mall with each storefront different from the next to give the feel of a small village. I had intended to sketch my meal, but I was too busy eating to sketch it. Maybe next time.

One of the coolest things was their logo—it strongly reminded me of a logo we saw in NOLA last year, but then I've had NOLA on the brain for the last few days!

Lunch was good, the company superb and the day an absolute delight!

It's also a delight to come back after being gone nearly two weeks and see all the new folks that have joined the blog—welcome, my friends! I'm so glad you're here!

The technology war continues and it's still impossible to tell who is winning. However, I'm going to be doing the first ever Painted Thoughts' GIVEAWAY next week, so please check back next Tuesday to see what the giveaway is and whether you would like to win it!

Hope y'all have an awesome weekend!