Saturday, November 29, 2014

Remember to Shop Small Business Saturday!

Sorry this post is a little late in the day, but better late than never, right?  I just wanted to remind everyone to consider shopping at small businesses today for Small Business Saturday.  Shops like myself really depend on your business, and we really, truly appreciate it!  

I am also have a sale at my official website and Etsy shop in honor of Small Business Saturday!  Take 20% off all orders now through Wednesday, December 3rd.  Use the code SHOPSMALL20 on either site to save and finally buy that art print you have been eyeing.  This sale is my small way of saying thank you for supporting handmade artists like myself this holiday season!! 

Have a Happy Saturday!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New Paper for Prints!

I have been crazy busy lately searching for the best rag paper to use for my art prints, and I am beyond excited to announce that I have finally found it!  Moving forward, my archival art prints will now be printed on AMAZING Hahnemuele William Turner 310 gsm rag paper!

For those of you who don’t quite know what that means, let me try to explain what it is that I love about this paper.  I want only the best for my work (and you as customers deserve only the best, too), so here is the breakdown of what, in my opinion, is so special about this paper.

First off, a little background might by helpful.  Hahnemule is a paper manufacturing company based in Germany.  Their company dates back to 1584 (yes, 1584!), and they are industry leaders when it comes to producing high quality fine art papers.  Although I tested papers from other great companies, I just kept coming back to Hahnemule rag paper (by the way, rag paper is made from cotton remnants and is an acid free paper that is pretty top-notch in the art world).  Hahnemule also has a long record of using responsible sources when it comes to their environmental impact.  As a very eco-conscious person, knowing this is a great-added bonus to using their papers.

Hahnemule has many types of fine art paper to choose from, so within the brand itself I also tested some of their different papers.  The William Turner rag paper, though, was by far my favorite!  It is a very unique paper, and you can tell that just by feeling it.  The texture to this paper is just incredible!  It has this crisp and almost chalky feel to it, and yet it is incredibly durable.  You can actually see the texture on this paper.  And as a watercolor artist who likes working on textured paper, I think that offering that same kind of texture on my prints is pretty cool.  So if you buy one of my prints, it will look almost exactly like the original painting itself- color, texture and all!

I should also mention that the weight and thickness to this paper is similar to what I use when painting original work.  The William Turner rag paper can be printed at two weights, and I am choosing to print on the heaviest weight at 310 gsm (grams per square meter). Gsm refers to the weight of the paper, and 310 gsm is a pretty hefty weight (to give a quick comparison, paper found in an office printer is typically between 70-100 gsm).  So when you buy a print from me, you are now getting some pretty serious fine art paper!

In addition to its awesome texture and durability, the paper creates top-notch prints in terms of color and overall quality.  My jaw actually dropped the first time I printed on it because I was so blown away by how my print looked on the paper! The paper that you choose to print on actually makes a huge difference in the overall look and feel of the print.  Depending on one’s style, medium, etc., different papers work for different artists.  For my work, though, this paper compliments my watercolors amazingly.  The results with this paper take my prints to a whole new level! 

I am so thrilled to now be offering this paper, especially because my prints now look and feel just like my original work!  And if you buy a print for yourself, you, too, will see what it all is that I am raving about!

Feel free to share your questions or comments with me.  And to my artist friends out there, do you have a paper preference when it comes to printing?

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DIY Artwork with Sparkle!

I am in the process of making a few special gifts for some family and friends this holiday season, so I wanted to share one of my projects with you all!  This project is not as complicated as you might think, and it produces a beautiful and gift-giving worthy result :)

-Sheet of watercolor paper
-Computer & printer
-Mod Podge or glue

If you are painting the letters (like I did), you'll want these additional supplies:
-Watercolor paint
-Container of water
-Tray for paint

To start out, you'll want to create a template for your print.  Decide what words/saying you want to include on your paper.  I went with the saying "Never Let Anyone Dull Your Sparkle" on this print.  You can create your template on word, photoshop, or whatever software program you would like to use.  I typed out the words using Chalkline font, but feel free to use whatever font suits you!  I made the font large enough to fill the whole paper, and I changed the font from black to a golden color to reflect how I am decorating it.  Here is what it looked like on my computer:

Once I created my template, all I had to do was print it out.  Since I have a heavy duty printer, I was able to print the words on a nice sheet of thick watercolor paper measuring 12" x 9."  If you don't have a printer that will print on watercolor paper, you can take your template to a printing store and they will print it for you.  If you aren't painting or doing much decorating to your print, regular printing paper should work just fine :)

Looks pretty good so far, right?!  

Next I wanted to spruce up my print by filling in the letters with watercolor paint.  I (obviously) like the effect of watercolor paint,  as it creates a lovely, hand-painted quality to the work.   But you can use whatever art medium you would like to spruce up your print.

Once all the letters have been painted, let the paper dry. 

Once dry, you can add glitter or whatever fun decorations you would like.  If you would like to add glitter around the letters like I did, just paint some mod podge around the letters and then throw a hefty amount of glitter on top of the glue.  

Let your lovely sparkly print dry, and then place it in a mat and frame for the lucky recipient :)

Are you making any handmade gifts for others this holiday season?  If so, feel free to share some of your awesome DIY gifts ideas here!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Take a Pause

Running a business is hard work!  I am certainly not complaining, as knew what I was getting into it when I started it, and I love everything about what I do.  Since I want my art business to succeed, though, I seem to spend every waking minute on it.  I'm constantly trying to find ways to better run my business for myself and for my customers, and there is always something new to be learned and more to be done.

So today I decided to take a pause.

I realized recently that I need to allow myself to take a breather every now and then.  Taking some time to simply relax is not only okay, it is healthy for myself and my business overall.  I took the morning to sleep in, hang out with my dog, and catch up on some light magazine reading.  Although I didn't make much of a dent in the stack of unread magazines, it still felt really great just to give myself permission to relax for a while.  

It doesn't get much better than this!

My lovely coffee cup atop my large stack of unread magazines.

Bailey took a "paws" too :)

I hope that you all take some much needed time for yourselves, too.  I guarantee that you will feel rejuvenated and recharged by doing so!

Wishing you all a peaceful day,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Abstract Art

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you all are keeping warm with the cold front making its way through the country!  I thought that today I'd share some of my recent abstract work with you all.  I'm still debating which of these I'm going to make prints of, so definitely let me know if there is one that you would like to see as a print.  And, if you are interested, the originals of these are all for sale :)

This first painting was something I made on a whim, I just let the design come to me as I was painting.  I really like how it turned out, and, as one of my awesome Instagram followers pointed out, it has a very underwater, Caribbean feel to it.  She said that the big red circle and the swirls next to it looked like a betta fish to her, which I totally saw once she pointed it out! Fittingly, I decided to name this one "The Tropics."

For this second painting, my inspiration came from thinking about the month of December.  To me, December is a wonderful time of the year filled with holiday joy, time with family and friends, and delicious food.  But it is also a BUSY time of the year!  Despite there being no silvery colors in the painting, I actually had the song, "Silver Bells," in my head while painting this:

"...City sidewalks
Busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there's
A feeling of Christmas
Children laughing
People passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every
Street corner you'll hear

Silver Bells, Silver Bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them sing
Soon it will be Christmas Day

Strings of street lights
Even stoplights
Blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush home
With their treasures
Hear the snow crunch
See the kids bunch
This is Santa's big scene
And above all

This bustle you'll hear..."

Can you see my holiday inspiration in this piece?  
PS- I also added Rudolph somewhere in the painting, can you find him?

Finally, I was eating way too much peppermint the day I made this last one.  I was also highly caffeinated from splurging and getting a Starbucks peppermint mocha earlier in the day.  So this crazy painting was the result of a sugar and caffeine high!  I do like the fun and sporadic feel to this one, though, and it reminds me a lot of the game "Candy Land" for some reason!

"Sugar High"

Now you know some of the creative process behind these whimsical works!  Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that you enjoyed seeing my latest paintings!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Birds of a Feather Decor

Just in case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m really like birds.  And that obsession also transfers to feathers.  So I recently made some DIY decorations for the house using feathers and thought I would bring you a little tutorial showing you what I did. J

          1.  Feather Shadow Box

      A quick little aside before I begin- there is a group of wild turkeys that live in my neighborhood; they are awesome and one of them even has his own Facebook page!  I’m sure many of you live in more rural areas where you see wildlife regularly.  However, I live in the middle of Milwaukee, so having a pack of wild turkeys live in our neighborhood is pretty cool.  Here's a picture of Bailey trying to chase them last winter:

      Anyways, I’ve started collecting their feathers as they lose them, and I wanted to make something fun with them to hang in my studio.  Here's a few of the wild turkey feathers I've found:

I decided to make a simple shadow box using the largest feather, and here’s all you would need to make your own:

Feather(s) (obviously!)
Shadow Box (I got mine at Michaels)
Hot Glue Gun


And this is all you have to do to make your own:  Take your feather and put a few dots of glue on the back of it.  Can you see the glue on mine? Hopefully you can barely see it because you hardly need any glue on the feather to make it stick!

Place the feather where you want it to go in the shadow box.  Hold it down for a few seconds so that the feather sticks.  Repeat with as many feathers as you'd like.  Close the shadow box and, viola, you have a pretty art display to hang in your house!  So simple and pretty!

 2.  Gold-Dipped Feathers in a Vase

This decor idea is also super easy to make.  And I think that it makes really lovely and festive holiday d├ęcor!  Here are all the supplies you’ll need:

-A variety of feathers (I bought these from Michaels, so they are fake but they still look pretty nice!)
-Gold paint
-A paintbrush or sponge
-A container to pour glitter into (so the glitter doesn't make a colossal mess)
-A lovely vase/container

Start out by setting up your workspace.  I put newspaper down where I was painting so not to make a huge mess of paint.  Then I started to paint the top of my feather.  If you want to put glitter on both sides of the feather, be sure to flip the feather over and paint both sides.

Next, while the paint is still wet, cover your feather with lots of glitter!  I would recommend placing your feather in a tray and then pouring the glitter over the feather.  This way, the glitter stays contained in the tray and does not get all over the place.

Place your feather aside to dry.  Then repeat the above steps until you've made as many pretty glitter feathers as you'd like!

Once your feathers have dried, put them somewhere on display!  I put mine in a mason jar!

So there you have it- two super easy and fun DIY projects with feathers.  I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial, and feel free to share your thoughts on it with me!