Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Laurel Burch Cats Update

I have been busy stitching my Laurel Burch Cats.  The Feathered Friends has only a little back stitching left and then it can be framed.  I am almost finished the Feline Friends design.  I really like how the pieces turned out.  Even better, they were quick to stitch.  Only two weeks start to finish.  No I am not one of those ladies with nothing better to do than cross stitch.  I am constantly busy, leaving only a couple hours at the most, each evening to cross stitch. 

Feathered Friends

Feline Friends-almost finished!

Recently I pre-ordered Creative Girl Mixed Media Techniques For An Artful Life by Danielle Donaldson, from Amazon.  I was really unsure about ordering this book since Amazon had not posted a preview of the book.  I really like Danielle Donaldson's watercolors and was hoping for a book where she would share her techniques.  The entire book is based on her techniques and is set up on a project by project basis. Naturally I just had to create something using her approach to mixed media.  Watercolor is the foundation of the project and then paints, gel pens, markers and other mixed media elements are added to enhance the painting.

Just Thinking
Just Thinking is a journal entry that will probably never see the light of day.  May be it will end up in a finished piece, who knows?  Danielle Donaldson uses white space to highlight her paintings while I covered every inch of the paper with color.  Gel pens and black Sharpie were used to make the doodles in the background.  Everyone can use this book.  The instructions are easy to follow and the designs are simple and easy to draw.  If you can draw basic shapes you can easily draw a Creative Girl inspired figure.

A Hibiscus By Any Other Name

Lately I have devoted so much time and effort to maintaining the gardens, but it has paid off.  They are beautiful!  Everyone who visits our home always wants to visit the gardens.  My son-in-law has described it as "a beautiful retreat."  He really liked the perennial Hibiscus. He always liked Hibiscus but didn't like the fact that they were annuals in our part of the country. Brandon recently planted the perennial Hibiscus in his gardens and they are thriving.

As I acquired four more Rose of Sharon bushes, also a Hibiscus, the cashier at the garden center saw Hibiscus on the plant tag and said that she thought that these were Rose of Sharon and not Hibiscus.  I started thinking that a lot of people might not know the difference in the plants.  Since my gardens have all three types, I thought that a post might be helpful.

The Rose of Sharon, while technically a Hibiscus, is a flowering shrub.  It blooms continuously from the end of May until the first frost.  It is a perennial and has been quite hardy.  At my house, they have endured hurricane force winds, very cold winters and long hot summers. The White Chiffon is planted close to the house so I placed a trellis behind it to contain its growth.  This plant is growing more upright and has not spread as much as the violet one. Rose of Sharon is one of my favorite plants because it provides a lot of flowers without a lot of maintenance.

Five Year Old Rose of Sharon Bush

Rose of Sharon
White Chiffon Rose of Sharon

The tropical Hibiscus are so beautiful and they come in a variety of colors from the familiar orange to yellow, and a coral pink. The hummingbirds love the nectar.  These plants also like sunny locations and flower all summer long without a lot of maintenance.  However, unless one lives in a tropical location like Florida these plants are annuals.  They cannot tolerate cold temperatures.  I sometimes dig them up before the first frost and plant them in a container and place them indoors over the winter. Then in the spring I transplant them outdoors.

Tropical Hibiscus

Lately the garden centers in my area have been selling perennial Hibiscus.  These plants can withstand the cold winter temperatures.  The plant has larger leaves and larger flowers than the tropical plants.  The hummingbirds also like the nectar of these plants. Unfortunately Japanese Beetles also like the leaves.  I don't spray the plants because the birds like to eat the beetles.

Three year old perennial Hibiscus.

Recently planted perennial Hibiscus.

I hope the pictures and the description of the plants will be helpful.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mail Art

It's always fun to get a package in the mail.  It's even nicer to receive a brightly decorated package.  The first time that I encountered "mail art" was while leafing through Sommerset Studio magazine.  The editor published some of the creative packaging the magazine received containing art submissions.   At the time, I was sending so many packages to Connecticut that I thought it might be nice for Brittany to see a brightly decorated box on her door step after a long day on campus.  The decorated package was an instant hit, she loved it and so did her neighbors, her room mate and the UPS driver.  I reached for a plain shipping envelope to enclose a small box containing a gift card,  but I couldn't bring myself to place the contents inside this boring envelope.  Maybe it's time to revive mail art.

For the past few nights I had been trying to work art into my busy schedule.  I bought a copy of Dyan Reaverly's  Distictly Dylusional art journaling book, some Dylusions spray inks, stamps and the Dylusions journal and had been working my way through the book.  As I finished up my first entry in this new journal I decided to use the left over stamped flowers in the mail art.

Dylusions Journal Entry

I squirted some light blue DecoArt craft paint on the envelope in several places and spread it out with an old gift card.  Next I added some dark blue, and then purple paint creating a marbled effect as I spread the paint out.  I found a Chat Noir cut out in the "Pandora's Box" of die cuts and decorative elements. I glued the cat and the flowers to the envelope and added a decorative border (with a quote from Shakespeare on the inside of the border) for the address label.  Once the label is attached to the envelope the design area will be covered with clear contact paper to protect it during shipping. Hopefully this decorated package will brighten everyone's day.

Chat Noir Shipping Envelope

Directions for Decorated Shipping Envelope:

8x10 Padded Shipping Envelope
DecoArt light blue, purple and dark blue craft paint
Used GiftCard
Dylusions Flower Stamps
Color Box Chalk Ink-black
Dylusions Acrylic Block
Chat Noir Die Cut- SVG Cuts Maple Manor
Black and yellow card stock
Black Sharpie Marker-regular and fine point
White Gel Pen
Prisma Colored Pencils
Strathmore Bristol Paper
Clear Contact Paper or Shipping Tape

1.  Stamp several sizes of flowers on the Bristol paper using the black ink.

2.  Color the flowers with the colored pencils using colors that will stand out against the blue background.  Carefully cut the white paper away from the flowers petals.

3.  Cut Chat Noir at the given SVG Cuts file dimensions, out of black card stock.  Glue a small scrap of yellow card stock behind the opening for the cat's eyes.

4.  Randomly squirt light blue paint over the surface of the envelope and spread with the gift card.  Squirt dark blue paint over the surface and swirl with the gift card.  Repeat with the purple paint. Set aside to dry.

5.  Glue Chat Noir the left side of the envelope.  Use the journaling block to add a scalloped border the right side of the envelope.  The border should be large enough to attach and address label later.

6.  Add doodles or Zentangles to the inside of the border, with the black Sharpie marker.  Use the white gel pen to highlight to doodles.  Use a fine point black Sharpie to add a quote around the inside of the border.

7.  Glue the flowers randomly around the envelope, leave room for the postage in the upper right.

8.  Outline Chat Noir and the flowers with the white gel pen.  Add the cat's pupils and whiskers with the black Sharpie.

9.  Cover with clear contact paper or shipping to protect the design.