Daddy’s Home!

Just a few weeks ago, my husband (who was deployed with the Army overseas) let us know that Flat Myla‘s travels were nearly over, and that he’d be returning home with her at last.flat myla

Myla and I decided to do a little decorating.  I picked up some chalk markers at our grocery store, and was excited to fill our entryway with lots of doodles, as advertised on their brightly-colored packaging.  Unfortunately, all we got was a big, drippy MESS!  Myla had fun splashing them around, but as for drawing an actual PICTURE, they were impossible.

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Myla also wanted to make a big sign for Daddy so he’d see her in the crowd at the welcoming ceremony, so we got some posterboard and markers.  I wrote the message she wanted, and she drew a stunning little portrait of herself and Daddy.   If you look closely, the line under “Daddy” says “100% love,” which she wrote because I suspect she saw it as a status line, like on a video game.❤

daddy sign

The actual ceremony was held at night, so clear photos were hard to get.  Plus, trying to keep an eye out on everything while trying to take a picture was tricky.  But when they released us all, we had to spend some time looking around for him.  Finding a particular soldier in a company formation is nearly impossible!

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But we found him at last, and she was so excited she could barely contain her smile.

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Someone once compared deployments to a boat on the water….when someone jumps ship, the boat rocks a bit, and then eventually gets into a smooth ride.  When the person jumps back on, there’s a rocky moment until the boat adjusts, and sailing’s smooth again.

So far, the ship’s been smooth, and we’ve been so happy to have him back.  Myla’s happy to have someone to wrestle and roughhouse with (I’m not good with all my back trouble), and has loved showing him all her fun games, projects, and favorites now.  She says “I’m not sure if Daddy’s used to me being SEVEN yet,” (because she’s so grown up now and stuff) which may be true, but he’ll get the swing of it.

So, next week I’ll be back to sharing our art projects, but for now, we’re keeping the boat on the water, doing our best to keep it sailing smoothly, and enjoying time together.  Hug the ones you love, and let them know you love them, and take care!

The Fourth Lasts All Week

We’re out and about this week, so I thought I’d just give you a little peek into our holiday…

The Fourth of July usually means we take the 8-hour drive to go to my parents’ house in Oklahoma.  It’s a lovely place on the lake, previously owned by my mom’s mom–Grandma Mary, and my memories of this place stretch back as far as I can remember–we’ve always been here.  As a kid, finding cicadas in the trees, walking through the woods, and exploring the dam, finding frogs by the rocks, and being warned of water moccasins in the murky water.  Crawdads and catfish.  Good times.

When my grandmother passed away a couple of years ago, my parents were thankfully able to buy the house, and moved from a 3-level house in bustling Maryland to the tiny 1-story house on the lake.  They downsized, they remodeled, they added and altered, but it still has that happy feeling.

So my sister drives the 20-plus hours to visit, and we’re stationed 8 hours away in Texas, and we all meet up at the lake.  And we try to do all the things we loved as a kid, just a taste, and then some new things to add to the mix.

My uncle takes us for a ride on his boat, and we look at the fancy villas and wonder which house we’d choose if we had a billion dollars to spare.

boat

The family plays out in the lake.  I usually stay on the sidelines, keeping my pale white skin out of the sun, doodling,  and throwing sticks in the water for our dog to bring them back.  Sometimes I join in, but mostly I love to watch and listen.  It’s my favorite thing.

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And admittedly, my face is in my sketchbook a lot of the time, but I can’t help it–I love listening to everything.  When grandma was alive, my husband could pull stories from her that I’d never have even thought to ask, and I’d sketch and listen, afraid to ruin the flow, and it was my very favorite thing.  I always wished I could get her to tell stories like he could, but I’m so grateful I got to hear them nonetheless.

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We weren’t allowed to play with fireworks much (beyond sparklers and snakes) when I was younger, and probably for good reason.  The one time my dad let me try at about Myla’s age now, I got burned across the chest by an errant wonky bottle rocket.  So there’s that.  But my sister is always careful now to buy the little ones, the fun ones that Myla can join in on, and a few fancy bigger ones, and we sit by the lake popping little fireworks.

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Because we lead a fairly nomadic army life now, I don’t always get to be this close to my family (if 8 hours is “close”), so I’m grateful for the time we have.  I’d love to visit all the other family, but I’ll take what we can get.  We’re used to being far from friends and family.  My husband is still deployed, but heading back soon, thankfully.  It’s not easy, but it’s life…so when we have it within visiting distance, it’s definitely worth the trip.

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Gratitude and love and good memories.  What do your 4th memories look like?  Where are your happy places?

Wonder Woman Repaint

While I was browsing the grocery store toy aisle the other day, I came across something that made me gasp out loud.  A Wonder Woman Barbie!  I’m not really a big fan of Barbies, but this was something I had to splurge on, because I am a responsible adult, and sometimes you just need a really awesome Wonder Woman doll in your life.wonder1

I’ve had a love of Wonder Woman for awhile, shared mostly between me and my roller derby friend–we even used to wear matching WW derby shorts! (Here’s me on the right as Captain Wonderpants, and her wearing our team shirt–from North Pole, Alaska.)

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So back to the doll…Since I couldn’t just leave her with a factory paint, I was thrilled to learn of the amazing custom repaints people do online!  I’m nowhere near that level of detail and professionalism, but I always love the idea of painting everything and making it my own.

The first step:  taking off the factory face paint.  This can be done easily with acetone-based nail polish remover and a washcloth.  I used a little tiny paintbrush to get the hard-to-reach places in her eyes and mouth.

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I printed some photos of the new Wonder Woman actress, Gal Gadot, to look at as reference, but I didn’t really follow them too closely.  And I wanted her eyes staring to the side, instead of just straight ahead.  I used acrylic paint, and started out with a soft dark pinkish color to find the shapes I wanted, remembering that if I absolutely hated it, I could always wipe it away with the acetone.

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There were several moments I did actually consider wiping her away completely–it’s so difficult to paint a three-dimensional figure that small!  But I kept working with it wiping small areas here and there and starting over again, and finally got it where I liked it.  I’ve read that most of the pro doll painters use chalks and blushes, but I sort of enjoyed the painted look for some of the shading, and since it’s mine and I’m the boss of it, that’s what I did.

I also added quite a lot of shading and highlight detail on her headpiece and uniform to make it pop out more, and not look so plasticky.

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And lastly, I decided she needed a chest tattoo of a big ol’ eagle because Wonder Woman is awesome like that. I might fill her up with more.  In fact I’m pretty sure I will…those legs look a little bare for my taste.  :)  And I debated on it with myself a bit, but finally decided she needed a few freckles, because…why not?    And to finish her up, I gave her a good spray-down with Testors varnish, which works well on dolls, and dries to a matte finish.

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And there she is!  Someone on Instagram already commented that they didn’t like her eyebrows, but since I didn’t really ask for her opinion and I didn’t paint it for her, I don’t care.  I like how she turned out.

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She’s really mine now, and she’ll protect our house as well as a Barbie-sized Wonder Woman can, maybe on the fireplace mantle.

Have you ever had to have a kid doll, and made it your own somehow?  I’m pretty positive I’m not the only one (I’ve got my eye on some Dark Crystal and Labyrinth Funko toys, too)….  So have fun and have a WONDERful day!

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Patch it Up

Remember in our summer post, how I said Myla and I were collecting patches to put on our patch jackets?  Well, we decided to make our own larger patches for the back!

It’s easy:  We took some off-white fabric, cut it in circles, and went to town with the permanent markers.

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Myla drew a fox on hers, and I drew Frida and let her finish it.  She added flowers, a caterpillar, mosquito, a frog eating a fly, and put a mockingbird body on Frida.

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Then I sewed them on to the backs with a quick stitch, and BOOM!  Cool patches.  (That big moth on mine is from Spiders Stitches Parlor.)

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All in all, our jackets are looking pretty spiffy so far!  Here’s how Myla’s looks when worn:

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She loves looking through patches and pins and looking for new ones.  Her favorites are the animals and insects.  And we’ve got a pretty good collection going so far:

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Myla loves finding patches, and choosing where they go on her jacket.  She’s got a rough “food chain” on her sleeve, which is an interesting concept she came up with.

If you’re interested in patches and pins, take a look at some of the places we find ours:

Stay Home Club , Frog and Toad Press, and Spider Stitches Parlor.

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And I found some lovely Wes Anderson patches over at For The Love of Patch… I just love the Zissou whale and the Ash fox!

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It’s so hot, though, we can’t wear them in summer.  I’m thinking I may get a sleeveless jacket to continue the fun.

I’m even looking into making a few of our early collabs into patches.  Wouldn’t that be so much fun?  I’ll keep you posted!

 

Painting Bird Ladies

A couple of weeks ago, my parents came to visit for Myla’s birthday.  While they were here, we did some Austin sightseeing, and found some fun, off-the-wall places to visit…one of them being Graffiti Park–The Hope Outdoor Gallery.  Hope (Helping Other People Everywhere) was started in 2011 with help from street artist Shepard Fairy (see the Obey Crew hanging artwork at the gallery launch), as a place for artists to display large-scale murals and positive messages.  It’s private property, so you have to obtain a paint pass (and if you’re really geeky like me, you speak with the owner about what you plan to paint and if it’s okay).

So a couple of weeks later (and after getting the OK), we showed up that morning paints in hand, blanket ready, ice cold water on stand-by, ready to paint a small mural in a very small spot.  I mostly just wanted Myla to have the experience, and I wanted to leave something little and lovely on the wall.

Well, remember that bit about getting permission?  Most street artists don’t do that.  People assume that if it’s outdoors, it’s open to everyone.  So it goes to figure that on that morning, we were asked if we wouldn’t mind covering a very disappointing piece of “inappropriate” and most unwelcome graffiti that appeared to have been placed there just the night before.  Remember that bit about “positive messages?”  Maybe you can tell from our start that the piece we were covering wasn’t so much “positive” as it was just plain ol’ juvenile.  Even Myla said it best:  “They snuck in here to paint, and all they painted was a giant penis?”  Pretty lame.  But it was a good chance to explain a little bit about why stupid people do stupid things….

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It was hot outside.  …Okay, maybe “hot” is too simple a word.  I get hot when I work out.  This was HUMID.  And even “humid” can’t accurately describe the feeling of sitting full-on in a human-sized preheated oven.  That’s Texas.  So Myla took a lot of rest breaks, while I tried to finish my part as quickly as I could.

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The idea was that we would each paint a head, and then switch up and paint the body for the others’ piece.  When we finished our heads, we swapped places so we could each put a mockingbird body on the others’.

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By this point, our skin was melting off of our bones, because someone left the central heating on full blast in outdoor Texas, I think.  That, or it’s built directly on top of the lava beds of the fiery infernos of hell itself.

In any case, we quickly finished the bodies, and I roughly filled the background with a light blue, as quickly as I could before the heat evaporated the last of the moisture in my bones and made me faint from exhaustion.  It turned out okay.  Not as lovely as I’d have liked it if we had a cool day in the shade, but lovely nonetheless.

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And just as we were about to pack up, a frozen yogurt truck pulled up to sell his wares.  I would’ve gladly given him $20 for a milkshake to cool down my kid.  (Thankfully, it was only a couple of bucks.)

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I think one of the most difficult things for Myla to understand is that all the work we did painting those bird ladies, all the heat and sweat we spent out there, and they might not be there next time we visit.  As you can see in the photo above, those Obey posters are long-gone, despite them being quite famous works of art.  And I guess that’s a good thing?  Or not?  It’s at least reflective of the world around us.  Good things get covered up.  Bad things get covered up.  People come around and do their best to make the world a little better.  Everything you do leaves a little footprint stamp on the world.  It’s up to you if you want to be soft and deep or jagged and destructive.

As another example, the EXACT area we were painting at the Hope Gallery used to be covered just a few short weeks ago (when my parents came to visit) with a cute little (large) baby goat head.  And then a crudely-drawn penis.  And then our crazy bird-ladies.

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But that’s life, isn’t it?   That bad stuff?  It didn’t go away.  It’s still there–we just covered it up with something that’s hopefully a little nicer.  And sometimes the good things you do get erased and covered up.  Which is why you have to keep putting good things out there into the world.  And keep on putting good in the world.  And keep on putting good in the world….<3

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Sum-Sum-Summertime!

Well, the kid’s out of school, and summer break has begun!!  I’m not exactly sure why people get so excited about this…for me, I have to admit it’s a bit stressful and exhausting.

I’m a work-at-home mom.  My job is sitting in front of the computer, doing graphics work for MWR, designing posters and flyers and web ads for functions on the military post.  And if our daughter’s home full time, this means I have to try to keep her busy and supervised, while also trying to give my job my full attention.  Arg!  It gets very stressful sometimes. And since she’s got some separation issues, she wants to make sure she’s never far from me at all times, and I’m okay with that.

But we have found some solutions!  We’re doing summer day camp at a place that has wi-fi, so I can technically be in the building while still being able to work from my laptop.  It takes a little effort, but everyone’s happy.

We’ve already had a pretty busy summer so far!  We got a new pet rat to give Myla’s pet rat Skunk someone to play with.  Her name is Doodle (the little one on the left), and she’s SUPER sweet. :)rats

We saved a baby bird from the middle of the road on our way back from the gym one day…She could fly a little, but the closest nests were above some storefronts, so I was afraid she’d wander back into the road.  Instead, we put her in a nearby forested area, so she could find her family again and be safer.

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We have been sending dinosaur packages to friends, and building a 2-foot tall robot (which was her big birthday gift this year, and we’re ALMOST done with her!) on the weekends…

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During work time, Myla keeps busy with art projects…

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After work, I squeeze in some doodle time while she does summer things (I do summer things, too, I just don’t last as long as her!)…

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And at night time, I have a little time to watch a grownup movie on the couch and draw by myself for awhile…

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I’ve also been keeping busy with a few commissions…

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And Myla and I have some projects we’ll be working on together…We’re going to be painting a small mural for Hope Outdoor Gallery in Graffiti Park in Austin.  We’ll be painting a prosthetic leg to contribute to the Painted Prosthetic Project to help military veterans.  And we’re going to paint a pair of Vans for a show to raise money for help for families and research into rare children’s diseases.  Yay for doing good things!

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And Myla’s a Girl Scout, and just bridged from a young Daisy to a Brownie level!  And since the Scouts are out for the summer, we’ll be working on a couple of art and nature projects to earn a couple of patches for her new Brownie vest on our own.  We started things out this weekend by making a bee pond for our garden.

In the meantime, we both have decided to start collecting patches and pins on our own denim shirts.  We each got a shirt, and have started collecting patches and pins from such places as Stay Home Club, Frog and Toad Press, and Spider Stitches Parlor.  We especially loved the “Friend to Bugs” patch!

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So that’s the start of our summer, and it’s already a busy one!  Most importantly, my husband is supposed to return from deployment some time in July or August (you never know for sure with the military)!  So we’ll be doing some fun things like chalking the driveway and making some signs for the house to celebrate him coming home.

So has summer started yet for you?  How are you keeping busy this summer?  What new projects are you working on?

 

 

Seven Years Good Luck

Well, May is nearly over, and it marks two significant events for us:  the end of the school year, and Myla turning SEVEN.

So I thought it’d be fun to take a quick little look back for a moment, and appreciate some things…

Do you remember the wonderful little doodles we did when she was so young, that made their way all over different parts of the entire world?

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Time has certainly changed both us and our art.  We’re always growing, always changing, always creating.

Myla has grown to LOVE making things out of paper.  Give her some scissors, paper, and tape, and she’ll get to work creating the most wonderful little three-dimensional paper sculptures you’ve ever seen from a kid…

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She gets inspired by ideas, and creates things from her doodles.  She’s inspired by people we know, people we meet, people we’ve learned about…

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And still, one of our favorite things to do is to make art together.  Just taking time with each other to share our ideas, draw things that makes us smile, or create little worlds with our imaginations…

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I’ve introduced her to some of the artists I’ve become friends with, and they’ve shared their friendship with her.  She’s talked to Lori about art blocks.  And she sends packages to Mab and still talks about her–Mab painted one of the few images of us drawing together that I have, gave me the original in a necklace pendant, and put a sealed version in a locket for Myla.  It’s one of her favorite things to wear, and something very dear to both of us.

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And although we’ve had a great many adventures most of this past year, we’ve sadly done it all without her dad, who’s currently deployed overseas.  Thankfully, watching Flat Myla on her European adventures and on his Blackhawk flights through the clouds has helped him seem a little closer to us.

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So here’s hoping year seven will be just as creative and magical as age six!   And from us to you, thank you for following our adventures!  Share some smiles with your family, with your friends.  Grab a pen and doodle with someone.  And when you part, give them a big hug.

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How to Draw for Real

Most of the time, our 6-year old is very happy with her art style.  She draws as well as builds 3D sculpture creature things out of paper and tape.  But the other day, she said, “I want to draw for REAL.  Can you teach me?”  I assumed she meant drawing realistically, since that’s what I was doing at the time she asked.  “Can you show me step by step?” she asked.  And so I did.

We started with the basics:  simple football eyes, two comma shapes for the nostrils, and the bow of the top lip, the line of the mouth, and the curve of the bottom lip.

She added her own flairs, as she always does (like vampire teeth and a “knight’s helmet”), and then she stood back and took a look.

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“It still doesn’t look real, like yours.”

I explained to her that it was a VERY good start, and better than a lot of people can do as an adult, but the details would come with time and with practice.  The good news is, if you enjoy it, it doesn’t seem like hard work at all.

Anyone who draws will tell you that people often want to know the type of tool they use, the type of paper, the name brand of everything, they want to see a timelapse, they want detailed instructions on HOW you did it.  Aside from general interest as an artist, I can tell you that stuff is NOT NEARLY as important as practice.

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It sounds easy, doesn’t it?  It takes time.  Lots and lots of time.  But if it’s something you enjoy doing, you’ll do it for the love of it, and the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

When you’re just starting as a kid, I think it’s perfectly okay to learn by copying a piece by another artist.  Or copying a face from a magazine.  Or by using the style of one of your favorite artists to make something of your own.  As long as you don’t tell everyone it was YOUR original idea, it can be a good way to learn from people whose work you admire.  From there, you can create your own work, your own drawings, and your own style.

And once you REALLY learn the basics, and really understand them well, you can unlearn them and create your own style!  People ask me why the people I draw are so wonky-looking (I assume they mean that respectfully–haha!).  They assume the variation in proportion is a choice I intentionally make while I draw.  Like, “okay, now I’m going to make this eye bigger…”  Actually, when I was in college, I took countless classes on proportion, and facial structure.  We studied live models, and had to measure out the proportions of the face and body correctly.  For me, there is something pleasant in perfected proportion, but once I learned it, I found I had much more fun when I just drew things as I saw them.

I often start with an eye, and then sort of guess-measure where everything goes from there, based on a reference photo I’m looking at.  And because I’m not a computer, my proportions wind up a bit…askew.  And I’ve learned that I enjoy that!  It’s not an intentional distortion, it’s just me, and what happens when I don’t walk directly down the center of the road.  And I enjoy it!

I’m often impressed at the technical perfection of people who can draw hyperrealism (where it looks EXACTLY like a photograph), but that style doesn’t sing to me nearly as much as wonky imperfection does.

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And no matter WHAT tool you use, the only way you’ll get better at it is practicing, practicing, practicing, practicing, practicing, practicing, and PRACTICING.  As I told our daughter, I’m STILL learning.  There’s a ton out there for me to STILL learn.  And I’ve got TONS of practice left to go.  So as frustrating as it may be for our girl to not be able to draw “for real” after one lesson, I’ve reminded her that you can have all the lessons in the world and have the finest (or least expensive) art supplies, but it just takes practice.  And the great thing is that if it’s something you’re into, practice is FUN.

Fun Little Nature Project

It’s been a busy week, trying to keep up with the world…sometimes it’s nice to just step away and do an easy, fun little thing with the kid.

My mother’s day weekend was spent with a large group of giggling Girl Scouts, on a Mother-Daughter Campout in the woods.  (Please please, calm your envy…)

Even with the archery, horseback riding, and nature walks we did, if you asked Myla what her favorite part was, she’d tell you it was the nature project.  She’s been asking me to do it again, and since our Texas days have cooled down for a couple of days, we were able to just go into our yard and have some fun.  So I thought I’d share what we worked on, in case you’d like to give it a go yourself!

FLOWER CATlabel

First step is to Pick some plants.  You want to find things that have a variety of shapes and sizes and colors, but you want to make sure they’re fairly flat.  You don’t need to go far; if you’ve got houseplants nearby, or have access to grass (unlike some Ohioans I’ve heard, who are currently covered in snow) and plants in your own yard, all you have to do is gather them up.

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Next, you’ll need contact paper.  I’m sure it’s cheaper sold in rolls, but I only happened to have self-laminating sheets on hand, which are admittedly a bit pricier.  But they got more action with this project than they’ve seen in a while, so I didn’t mind.

With your gathered plants nearby, unpeel half of the sheet with the sticky side up, so you can start placing your plants where you want them, into whatever design you choose.

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Since Myla’s more into building animals and creatures and things with faces, she went straight for making something adorably weird, even adding little bits of paper for the eyes, while I made a simple little mouse.  Fun little tip:  clover petals look like hearts. :)NATURE3

Or you can go decorative, like my wonky little tree-shape below.

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Myla moved on to making a rabbit from various plants, being very careful in properly laying them out how she wanted.  With have the page exposed, when you feel finished, just unfold the other half and fold it over your piece to seal it up.

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Once you’ve folded it over and sealed it up, cut around your piece, being sure to leave quite a lot of space around.  Sometimes, it even helps to seal it twice, making sure all the edges or sealed, or air will get in, and your little creations will discolor and “turn rotten,” as Myla says.

And there you have it!   Just a fun and easy little idea to make into bookmarks or punch holes to make a mobile to hang in a window.  And a calm little happy project that nearly anyone of any age can do.  So get out and spend some time in the sunshine (if you have it) and make some lovely little things with someone you love!

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The Trouble With Foxes

This weekend found Myla scribbling on her paper in agonizing frustration.  “I can’t draw foxes anymore!”  she cried.  She told me that she had been thinking of a new way to draw a fox face, and it just wasn’t coming out right, no matter what she did.  She even tried going back to her old way of drawing foxes, and even THAT didn’t work.  It brought her to absolute tears, and all I could do was hold her as she sobbed uncontrollably, pen clenched in her hand.  It was the first time in her life she WANTED to create something that just didn’t work out.  It was a new frustration that she had never experienced before.

fox

Luckily, I’ve had this problem myself.  Most artists have.  I’ve written blog posts in the past about art block, but this is the first time it had ever happened to her.

“You’ve got a wonderful, creative mind,” I told her as she cried in my arms.  “But the down side is that sometimes you’ll have a block.  It’s usually when you’re trying something new.  And you try and you try and it just doesn’t look right.  So you try your old way, but your mind is already trying to figure out the new way, so you can’t go back.  But as hard as it is, it’s actually a GOOD thing, because it means you’re getting ready for something new.  And I promise you EVERY artist I know has had a block before.”

After talking to my friend Lori Nelson, who is a Brooklyn painter (who reassured Myla that it does, in fact, happen to every artist), I started thinking of what I do that works for me when I have an art block.  But this time, I sort of gathered up a list to fit a kid’s speed.  Maybe it’ll help someone you know.  Maybe it’ll even give you some ideas for when art blocks hit you…

1. TAKE A STEP AWAY.     Get out of the house for a bit.  Go outside, take a walk around the block.  Go to the zoo.  Pet an animal.  Get lost in the woods.  Take a hike.  Spend some time in nature to clear your head.  Sometimes reconnecting with the world around you can settle a restless mind.

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2. TRY A DIFFERENT MEDIUM.     Whatever you usually do, switch it up a bit.  Get some chalk out and chalk a sidewalk.  Bake some cookies.  Play an instrument.  Sew something.  This is a good time to try learning something new, like embroidery or sculpting.  Mixing up your medium might give you a fresh perspective.

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3. DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL.  I cannot tell you how good physical activity is for a stressed-out mind.  Go for a jog, take a long fast walk.  Skate.  Sweat.  Take an aerobics class.  Focus on something other than your art for awhile.

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4. LOOK AT YOUR OLDER WORK.  I keep a scrapbook full of my past work, and I take it out sometimes and look at what I’ve done in the past.  It’s a good reminder when you’re beating yourself up and doubting your skills, that you’re NOT horrible.  Remind yourself that you’re awesome.

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5. DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE.  Give someone a gift.  Make them something.  Draw them something.  Help someone with their yard, or offer to watch their kid or pet for an evening.  Focusing your energy outward is one way to avoid that internal downward spiral.

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6. CREATE SOMETHING WITH SOMEONE ELSE.  Lori told me the way she gets out of a rut is to ask someone to “assign” her something.  Working with another person or with someone else’s ideas helps your mind go places you wouldn’t normally go on your own.  Nothing’s helped me more with that than the collaborations I’ve done with our daughter.

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7. MAKE A MESS.  Gasp!  “WHAT?!?  But messes are so…MESSY!”   Messes are an awesome way to just let go of control for a bit.  Just get the fingerpaints out, and go outside.  Baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring are also good mess combos.  Splash in the water.  Splash in the mud.  Do you realize how often we DON’T do that, now that we’re adults?  Kids know that messes cleanse the soul.  If messes freak you out, you should REALLY consider doing it.  Get towels, get yukky clothes, and just prepare yourself to make a mess.  Like my mom always said, “You’re washable.”

make a mess

If ACTUAL messes are too much to bear, maybe try a little project Myla and I do, where we take turns messing up eachothers’ drawings.  You each start out by drawing something simple, like a mouse.  When it’s your turn, you draw something silly on the other person’s drawing.  When it’s their turn, they draw something silly on yours.  It’s a lot of fun, and good practice in letting go of control and expectations in your artwork.

draw messes

8. DRAW ON YOURSELF.  Grab those non-toxic, washable kid markers, and just doodle away.  Or use a pen.  Once in awhile isn’t going to kill you.  Draw on eachother.  Sometimes, the idea of drawing on something “forbidden” sparks something in your creative mind and makes it happy.

draw on yourself

9.  KEEP TRYING AND DON’T GIVE UP.  Every now and then, test it out and see if it’s passed yet.  If it hasn’t, keep going.  Keep trying over and over, keep pounding your head against that sketchbook.  If you have to make 100 bad drawings before the good one comes out, then you’d better get started now.  When I told Myla this, she asked me, “But isn’t that a waste?”  But nothing is a waste if you’re learning from it.

try try again

10. KEEP A SENSE OF HUMOR.  You have to trust that if you can push through this art block, it’ll come back to you.  It’s scary at first.  You start to question your skills and abilities.  But if it’s something that drives you, you can push through it.  Keep your chin up, and don’t take it too seriously.  Your art skill’ll come back when it’s good and ready, and it’ll probably bring you stories of the road, and some new souvenirs.  And that’s a good thing.

So here’s to hoping the foxes come back.

Have you or your kids ever had a big block?   What do you do when art blocks hit?

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