This past Sunday, Hubby’s Mom and Dad had a little garden party…

…In fact, the garden WAS the party!


I mean, look at all that COLOR!

Winter Berry

The sky was a little gray that afternoon,
but that seemed to make the colors even more vibrant!

Lambs Ear

Mom and Dad have a knack for creating color contrasts in the garden!


Everything was in bloom, and very fragrant!

White Flowers

Even the tiniest of blossoms…

Bleeding Heart

… seem to tug at your heartstrings.

Outside In

So I went home, and brought some Outside In.

Go not abroad for happiness,
for see,
it is a flower blooming at thy door.
~Minot Savage~

Colors that Complement…

When Annie first showed up in my sketchbook, I was playing around with the complementary colors Orange and Blue. Complementary colors have a unique relationship… they are opposite each other on the color wheel. When side by side, they make each other stand out or “pop.” When mixed together, they temper, or dull the other color. A whole myriad of tones and hues can be created just by mixing two complementary colors!

It’s possible to paint an entire picture with complements, but sometimes you just want to add a little “zing.” One of the best way to add some extra color in a painting is to use a split complementary color scheme. (One of my young art students LOVED that concept… or maybe just how important it sounded. :-) He always wanted to use a split complementary color scheme!) Basically, you choose a main color and its complement, and then incorporate the two colors on each side of the complement on the color wheel. A picture is much easier to grasp than words…

See the Orange? And the Blue across the wheel? On each side of Blue is Green and Purple. Of course there are many versions of Oranges, Blues, Greens, and Purples… but that’s the general idea. Orange is my color of choice, because it makes gorgeous pumpkins. And Blue will be perfect for Annie’s dress. All the mixed up muddy colors will work for skin tones and fall foliage. And then a dash of Green and Purple here and there for the “WOW! factor!

Want to play with color too? Create a simple color wheel on your own, and practice mixing complements to see what combinations you can create! Or, if you want to learn how color can play a huge part in illustrating for children, check out Mark Mitchell’s How to be a Children’s Book Illustrator course!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Lots of Dots… or what I did instead of cooking dinner last night.

Yesterday’s art class was fun! I started making a sample for the kids before class, and we all worked on our pictures during class, and then instead of cooking dinner, I finished playing with this picture!

Our lesson was on Pointillism…a method of painting by using tiny dots of color instead of brushing on pre-mixed paint. Pointillism was developed by the Impressionist artist Georges Seurat in the late 1800’s. Scientists in the 1800’s had been writing about color theory, and how the eye perceives color, and the Impressionists began experimenting with new ways to use color in their paintings. Seurat used tiny dots of color in his paintings… up close you see tiny dots of color, but from far away you can see the colors mixed together.

Detail of "La Parade" by Georges Seurat

Far away, his paintings looked like this…

"Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat

Like Seurat, you and your children might like playing with dots of color…

…And seeing that yellow and blue make green…

…with some inexpensive markers…

(Teacher/Mom Note: Tell them not to “tap” too hard with the markers so they preserve the points!)

If they enjoy that, and you’d like to try doing a Pointillism art project, draw or trace simple shapes and fill them in with dots of color! Have them draw their designs lightly, using a 3H or 4H pencil, or a yellow colored pencil, so their sketching lines don’t show when the picture is finishes. I actually traced some simple fruit shapes into a Still Life composition, but they may want to draw their own designs. Then start dotting away! I outlined each shape with dots first, then filled in with dots, and then shaded with more dots. It takes lots of patience to finish a pointillism picture, but it’s actually quite addicting!

Below is a printable .pdf of the Still Life Stencils… Drawing by hand is always best, but sometimes it’s fun to not have to worry about the drawing process and get right into playing with color! Print these out on cardstock, cut themout on the solid lines, and trace lightly around them to make a still life. (The dotted lines are only there to help see where things might be shaded.) And hang onto these… I’ve got another post planned on composition, and will use them again!

Still Life Stencils

And for the record, nobody went hungry last night…
…We had dinner at Grammy & Grampy’s!


Fun Fall Painting Project…

I was cleaning up the art room a bit to prepare for art class this afternoon, and started to put away the results of last week’s class. Then I thought it might be a fun project to do with the kids or grandkids over Thanksgiving weekend! So here’s a couple of leafy painting activities if you have some spare time and random children milling about!

A note of precaution… this activity involves paint… which can be messy if it also involves kids! Put  newspaper or a plastic tablecloth on the table, or head outside to the picnic table. And, cover up good clothes with an apron, a big tee shirt, or if you’re feeling extra artsy, use one of Dad’s old button-down shirts, but put it on backward and button it up the back and roll up the sleeves. (This was required attire for kindergarten finger painting time back in the day.)

The first thing we did was leaf prints… Head outside and gather a variety of pretty leaves. The ones that are still on the trees are preferred, since they are still a bit supple. Make a thickish watercolor wash or thin down acrylic paints with water, and brush the paint on the back of the leaves (where the veins are). Press the leaf on watercolor paper pain-side-down, cover with a piece of plain paper, and rub the entire leaf area. Repeat with multiple leaves… they look pretty overlapped!

Now for the really fun project… Take clean leaves and trace them lightly on a piece of watercolor paper. Overlap the leaves if you’d like, but “hide” the overlapped sections so you’re not seeing through a leaf. (The leaf in the foreground should be a whole leaf, with the underneath leaf sticking out.) Make up washes of watercolor… we used a warm color scheme of Red, Yellow, and Orange, and threw in a Green from the other side of the color wheel to make things “Pop” a bit. Paint the leaves different colors and let it dry very well. You can actually be a bit loose and sloppy about this… try to stay in the lines of the leaves, but don’t stress over it!

When the leaves are completely dry, paint the background with clear water. It’s hard to see if you’ve covered the whole background, but do your best! Before it dries, dip your paintbrush into the watercolor washes and touch it to the wet areas and watch the color spread! If you see a spot where the watercolor is not spreading, add more water and then more paint. And… this is the really cool part… BEFORE IT DRIES… sprinkle some very coarse salt or Kosher salt on the wet paint. Let it dry completely, and brush off the salt. The little “sparkles” you see are the results of the salt! You can also add some veins with a fine point marker. (I used a brown Micron Pigma pen.)

Although this seems like a simple, crafty project, it looks really great framed! We used 140 lb. watercolor paper… not a weight usually used for kids’ painting projects… but it holds up under all the wetness and doesn’t crinkle all up. My girls did this project when they were young with another art teacher, and their grandparents took these to a professional framer and had them matted and framed. The results are awesome, and they still hang at Grammie & Grampie’s house!

A few updates…


I just had a chance to update our website’s main page, and added a couple of things to our Currently for Sale page! (And subtracted quite a few… thank you to our dear customers!) If you get a chance, go take a peek over there!

The papercutting above is I think my very favorite new design… it was fun to work with a limited palette of blues, greens, and golds, and also to incorporate those fun fraktur flowers! The basket was inspired by those seen in old theorem paintings. Scherenschnitte always seems to “come to life” for me with the final touches of ink and lettering, but this one was alive from the get-go, with the happy colors & florals!


And before I go, I thought I’d share this little critter with you… I caught him with the camera a couple of weeks ago. He was a very tiny “little man that goes to church” (our family’s term for a praying mantis… dubbed so by a little cousin of mine many moons ago!) in the music room… he was maybe an inch long?


However, he took offense at being photographed and begin waving his arms and coming toward me…


… and climbed right over the lens to attack me!


Sorry for the blurry picture… it was taken in haste! He was a fiesty little critter, and soon thereafter was placed out-of-doors. Mostly due to the GET-HIM-OFF-OF-ME tone of voice I had as I was requesting help from Hubby Dear. Who, by the way, thought the entire situation was hilarious.

Thought you’d get a laugh too!

Color seems…



Just wanted to share a small treasure I found yesterday when Mom and I snuck out to an antique shop… I found a book published in 1972, called Color Seems. It’s a children’s book, and has all the markings of spending its days on a public library shelf. Its cover bespeaks “library book”… it’s that ugly hard-board-covered-in-fabric stuff that all children’s library books were covered in during the 1970’s. There are lots of smudges and fingerprints and dog-eared pages and even a few scribbles that made me think twice about paying $10 for it. (Probably should have dickered there a bit.) BUT, Oh! The story line.


It is pure first grade, which is exactly where I was in 1972. Each page has a thoughtful one-liner about color, and for all that it doesn’t make sense… to the right person, it does. Or at least it did to me.


Makes me wish I had a bunch of 6 year-olds sitting in a circle to read it to, and then we’d go play with paint.