A Variety of Creative Projects

“Never underestimate yourself. You are capable of more than you can ever imagine.”

-Les Brown

I began today wondering if I ‘should’ or ‘should not’ write a post. While I truly want to get into the habit of writing every weekend, it seemed to me like the week went by rather quickly and I didn’t feel as if I did enough to warrant an interesting post for all of you to read. After all, I want to share what creative things I had done over the past week, and I honestly hadn’t really thought about it too much. But I wasn’t sure there would be much to talk about that would be creatively interesting. It didn’t feel that way, anyway.

But as I began to list the things that I accomplished, I was rather astonished how many ‘little things’ I had achieved. Not only did I get my gifts that had to be mailed out packed and posted, but I also switched my autumn decorations here in my house for the Christmas ones. That alone was a nice thing to check off the list. (I will be blogging about that in the near future.)

In between those major efforts being checked off my list, I spent a good deal of time watching several different classes online and creating some fun projects using several of my wonderful supplies. If you read the previous post, you will see that one of my main goals for the upcoming year is to break out these awesome art supplies that I own and use them as much as I can to explore, learn, and create artwork. Even though my livelihood is doing some form of creating, it has seemed that I had been finding less time to actually create things. I plan on changing that. I think I am off to a good start.

The past week was actually the second week in my five or six-week sabbatical that I am treating myself to for the month of December and slightly into January. I had decided not to cut or ship wood pieces for the month because the shipping companies and post offices are quite messed up and with the holiday season upon us, I felt it would be a great time to bow out for a while in that department, as most of my customers purchase my wood pieces for creating and by the time things would arrive for them, it would be too late anyway. This (I feel) will save us all a lot of frustration and heartache, and to me seemed like an optimal time to take a breath and enjoy my own life and family and also give me time to play and create.

The first week, however, was far from what I deem as a ‘vacation.’

No matter how much I kept up with things, there were always a few things that I wanted and needed to do before I could put my feet up and relax. I truly had realized this, though, and it is one reason why I felt I need so much time in order to truly feel refreshed. So I got the responsibilities out of the way (which took me a week) and then I could really just pick around and learn and create. The two aforementioned things were weighing on me a bit and it felt great to get them both behind me. There is a clear path ahead.

I did sneak one project in last week that one may classify as “work”, but it didn’t feel like a job because I had been wanting to paint it for nearly a year now. I think that happens when you love what you do. It makes it very difficult to differentiate work from play and sometimes things fall into that crack in between where it is quite a grey area. Nevertheless, it felt good to do and I am very pleased with the outcome.

What I painted was a project based on a card that I created last year for a friend using oil pastels. I like to call it “Midnight Hare.”

When I showed the card (last year) in my Let’s Paint (and CREATE!) with Sheila Landry Facebook group, I had many requests for me to make it into an acrylic painting pattern. The original card was done using Sennelier Oil Pastels on Canson Mi-Teintes paper. I wanted to translate the design to wood and map out the instructions into easy-to-follow steps that can be replicated over and over using DecoArt Americana acrylic paint. (That is the brand most of my followers use.) So that meant painting it over and dissecting it so that everything made sense.

That isn’t always easy, as when I originally painted it, there was a lot of back and forth and adjusting and changing. Add to that, I had made it a year earlier and the above photo was the only memory I had of it. But it really wasn’t too difficult to paint again in acrylics and I think the result came out nice:

I actually really had fun doing it. I was really pleased with how the sky came out and as I always do, I took lots of step-by-step photos for the pattern. I think there are about 15 full-color photos, so just about anyone can follow along and paint this project. You can get the pattern up on my website here: https://tolepaintingdesigns.com/decorative-painting-supplies/midnight-hare-painting-pattern/ Like all of my patterns, they are available as PDF patterns or paper, so you can get the PDF patterns instantly.

I painted it on my wood tree surface, but it could be adapted to just about anything. All in all, I am happy with getting it up on the site and making it available.

So much for ‘work’. Now on to all the fun things I am got to play with.

I am so happy that we live in a time when there are so many amazing classes and tutorials available online! As I mentioned in previous posts, there are several wonderful, talented artists that I follow who are willing to share their techniques with us all. Some of these classes are free and others cost a nominal amount to participate in. I must say though that I rarely feel that my money isn’t well-spent. As I look at my own art and see how much better I have become over the past few years, I fully attribute it to these wonderful teachers. There are many of them, and I find that I take nuggets from each of them and it has helped me develop my own style and techniques.

With Christmas coming so quickly, there are many (many!) tutorials for quick projects such as cards and tags. I love doing these because the time commitment is small and the result is within a very short time. It is a great way to try new techniques and supplies that you may or may not like. And most of these teachers give options for variations or help you along with ideas of your own. It is a win for everyone.

One teacher I enjoy particularly is Lindsay Weirich – The Frugal Crafter. You can see her YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/thefrugalcrafter I love Lindsay because she is not only amazingly talented in many types of mediums, but she is also very personable and funny and I can relate to her on many levels.

I have been a member of her “Critique Club” for over a year now, and I love to see the fun prompts and projects she posts there to get our creative juices flowing. This week she prompted us with an adorable Nutcracker painting using gouache (rhymes with “squash”) paint and markers. One thing I am not really into is creating with markers. While I have some alcohol markers, I just didn’t find that they were for me. But I figured I would try to do the nutcracker using my Caran d’Ache Neocolor II crayons, which are actually gouache paint in crayon form. (For those who may not know, gouache is a water-soluble paint – much like watercolors – only instead of being transparent, it is very opaque, making it good for use on colored and darker paper, as well as layering.) I had purchased this beautiful set last year:

You can see by the swatch cards I made (I love to swatch out my art supplies, so I see the true colors that they are before using them) they are very rich and vibrant in color. They are also artist-grade and lightfast, which means they will not fade over time.

You can see they look like regular Crayola crayons. You lay them down the same, and take a brush and clear water to them to activate them and liquidate them. This allows you to mix and blend them very nicely.

You can even just touch the wet brush to the tip of the crayon and use it as you would a pan of paint. So to me, it is the best of both worlds. Once dry, you can use a colored pencil over it for fine details or even ink or marker. it is a lovely, versatile medium.

The paper I chose to use for the project is one of my favorites – Canson Mi-Teints.

I actually have three variety packages of this type of paper. This is called the “Grey tones” although it is more of a brown and earthy set. You can see that some have a kind of granite-like look to them, which is really beautiful.

I love the paper because while it isn’t as thick as most watercolor paper that I use (I usually use about 140 lb. and this is 98 lb.) it is heavy enough to withstand a good deal of water. It is also great for my oil pastels and my colored pencils. Another great feature of it is that it is smooth on one side and more textured on the other, so you can choose which would be best suitable for each project you use it for. And it is pretty enough that there is really no need to color in the background if you want to leave it. That makes me really happy.

So here is how far I am on my nutcracker so far:

I think he is coming out really nice. 🙂 I will be working on it the rest of the day.

Another thing that I worked on this week from Lindsay was some Christmas Cards from her “Hand Painted Holiday” club. (You can find her courses here: https://lindsayweirich.teachable.com/courses ) I made this beautiful ‘Stained Glass’ card from her tutorial using watercolor:

I used my Bombay India Ink as the ‘leading’ on the stained glass and it gave such a wonderful effect.

Above is my set of Iridescent inks from Dr. Ph. Martin’s. They are shellac-based India Ink, meaning they are permanent. They are also lightfast. I have three sets of this ink and I adore the vibrancy of the colors and how easy they are to paint with. They can also be watered down for washes and more transparent coverage. I was so impressed with how quickly this covered, that I decided to recreate the card on black cardstock and I will be using all the iridescent inks. So far, it looks awesome.

I just love taking one design and making it look totally different. It is so much fun to explore and try something new.

And I was fortunate on Friday afternoon to catch a “live” class with Lindsay. She seems to be popping in about once a week to do a “live” lesson on YouTube and it is fun to not only watch her create but visit with her other followers. Since so many of us are housebound these days, I find that visiting with my other creative friends online has been a lifesaver! It sure makes our lives more fun! Be sure to check out what Lindsay has to offer. There is certainly something for every taste.

Another painter that I have been following on YouTube is Ellen Crimi-Trent. (https://www.youtube.com/c/ellencrimitrent ) She is fun to watch and has a lovely, down-to-Earth way of teaching. She has loads of cards and painting projects (real-time) to follow along with. This is a card I did following her:

I used my Steve Mitchell set of M. Graham watercolors for these cards. (I love Steve Mitchell, too!) I have several more cards that I want to do with Ellen.

And finally (for this post), I wanted to share yet another fun watercolor project I am working on. This one is a cool 24-day Advent Calendar and is presented on YouTube by Harriet de Winton of de Winton Paper Company.

Each day this month, there is a new 10-15 minute video showing how to paint the days’ treat. As you can see, I didn’t quite get to yesterday’s painting (we were helping Keith’s mom put up her tree), but I plan to catch up today and I will certainly show you how things come out as I fill up my paper. These are fun and quick and just so darn cute. Harriet has SO MANY nice tutorials that you can follow along with – all without a fee on YouTube. They are nice for quick and cute projects and you can use them for a variety of tags, RAK pieces, or even cards. What fun!

Well, that is about all I will be sharing with you in this post. It is already quite long. I honestly could go on and on, as my ‘to do’ list keeps growing daily as those lovely artists I follow keep adding to their project arsenals. PLUS there are projects of my own I want to tackle! I just wish there were more hours in a day!

I may resort to posting more often than once a week so things don’t get too long. There are just a lot of things to share with you so you can be inspired, too.

If you are still reading, thank you for sticking with me for such a long post! I would love to hear about what you are all working on. My Facebook groups and pages are just bursting with so many lovely projects that are uplifting and inspiring. It really is nice to focus on the positive side of things. Remember – much of life is what we choose to make it. We follow where we focus and by focusing on positive things, I believe we are much happier in the long run.

I wish you all a fun, safe, and creative week.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Vera says:

    Everything looks so wonderful! Thank you for sharing your beautiful talent with us. You are truly an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I have been like a kid in a candy store. Just now catching up with ‘house stuff’ and the next three weeks or so will be fun. Writing this post took longer than anticipated. I was hoping to be done by 12. Then 2. At 2:45 I finished and then took a nap. HA! I just got up. But I “really” don’t have anything pressing now until next weeks’ post. The projects are all lined up though. So many pretty things to make. I hope you are having fun playing a little, too. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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  2. Thank you for the newletter! I loved it. I can relate to writing a newsletter, I often find myself wondering what to say when I write one. I love the watercolor trees Christmas cards. They are beautiful! You encourage me to work with watercolors more. Hope you have a great week!

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. I just love watching teachers and learning. I am also learning to be brave and not worry about ‘ruining’ paper. I linked to some of those teachers that are my favorites, and I have many more that are great. I would love to see you try. You have a wonderful week, too. 🙂

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  3. Hi Sheila, love all the painting projects and you hv given me some inspiration to paint my Christmas cards for next year. I make my cards in January for the following Christmas and I have thought many times of painting them so 2022 is the year! I’ve made stitched cards, stamped cards, collage cards fabric cards and now painted cards has to b on the agenda. I love the holly card and I’m very impressed at how beautiful it looks on the black paper. Keep enjoying your sabbatical Sheila and creating for yourself! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, anna. 🙂 I am getting a little ‘collection’ of card-sized projects done. It is so fun to learn new techniques too and the risk is low with cards. Yours sound wonderful! 🙂 I hope to get on Instagram more and see yours. Merry Christmas to you and Jim. I hope you have a great holiday season.

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  4. All cool stuff. I wish I could draw that well. Sometimes when I get to doing my Wednesday working posts, I look back on what I’ve done and can’t see that I’ve done enough for a post. Looks like you’ve done a lot. Looking forward to more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Andrew. Some are drawn. Some are made using linework, and others are free-handed. I should try to draw them all to improve my skills, but I often just use the framework and go from there. With the basic shapes in, I usually just fill in the rest with color and adjust things as necessary It all takes time though – right? 😉 I have been having only piles of cut wood to show for months, so I certainly understand about ‘content’. You have had lots of big things going. It will come when you are ready. 🙂 Have a great week and thank you for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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