Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pumpkins, Porches, and Painting!

This past Sunday, after a very rainy Saturday, I woke up to a beautiful Fall day. I got out in the yard right away and about 4 hours of yard work later...and after balancing on two storage tubs while using a piece of drain pipe to clean cobwebs off the second level window...I'd had about enough work.  It was time for some "fall fun".

I'd received a HyVee mailer earlier in the morning that had really cool black, orange and white painted pumpkins throughout.  Great inspiration for a fun afternoon project. So off to Michael's I drove with the hope of finding some really great items to decorate with!

Found the Black Crocodile Round Mats at TJ Max for $3.00 for 12!
On the way I made a pit stop at the Antique store Daffidillys and Picked up this AWESOME 3 gallon Glass Jar. Similar ones sell at Crate and Barrel for WAY more then the $15.00 I paid so it was a real steal! After picking up some pumpkins and arranging them in colored rows...voila - a new dining room table center piece!

My pumpkins are outside waiting to be painted!

Alright $15.00 down and still on my way to Michael's. Once there I was reminded how much I can't stand busy stores, crazy shoppers, and everyone else REALLY EXCITED TO DECORATE FALL STUFF...however I was just as bad as the rest of them so I fit right in. Got a ton of Loot, probably too much...but with me too much is never enough! The purchase included feathers, rhinestones, glitter, metallic paints, tissue paper, ribbons, rubber stamps, push pins, pearls....the list goes on and on. Regrettably I spent almost $70.00 but that's what returns are for RIGHT?!

I think I got enough!
And I was off, grab bag of decorating goodies in hand. I drove over to Home Depot and selected the best of the best - for about $15.00 I got 5 medium sized pumpkins and a bag of small multi colored pumpkins for the Table display!

So much Orange!
Now it was time to get down to business. The Sun was starting to set and the fall breeze was picking up as I hurriedly got to work. I made sure to cover my work surface and started in on the first pumpkin! Bronze metallic paint it is with a white stem!

Turns out when it's about 50 degrees outside paint takes a little bit longer to dry then planned. I kept trying to mess with this thing, and then decided to go in and make some dinner while I waited. Once inside the dining room, I again was greeted with my mismatched table and benches....I bought these benches off Craigslist for $5 a piece (awesome!) but they have stayed black for about 5 months now...SIDE PROJECT.
 So to the porch I went and about 5 coats of antique white later, brushed over with a distressed finish, the benches were now a perfect set! It did however take till about 1am for them to dry on the front porch :). I'm not much of a plan ahead type!
Alright back to the pumpkin at hand. The bronze paint had dried and it was ready for the royal treatment. Pearl Warts! I took pearl tipped push pins "threaded" them through a pearl bead and then pushed them into the pumpkin on all sides.  After all the push pins were in place it was time for some Rhinestones.  Rhinestones don't like thankfully I'd purchased a new glue gun! By this time is was 9pm and I was freezing! The other pumpkins will have to wait till later this week but see below for the first of 5! More to come!
Pearl Warts - So chic! :)
Creep'n outside my window to get the "neighbors view"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nurturing the Creative Spirit

I was asked by one of my art students the other day, "who taught you to be an artist?" I thought for a moment and I didn't really have an answer. I considered the thought that every person in their own right could be an artist, it's just whether or not from a young age they're encouraged to continue being creative.

After I talked with this girl for a few minutes about my wonderful art teacher in elementary school, my artist friends through HS that got me involved in sculpture work, and then my professors in college that shaped my direction in art, I paused and realized that truly in the beginning it was my Mom who taught me how.

I remember scaling the counter tops in her 5th grade classroom to lay out all of the elements of bulletin board, or having her teach me how to outline the coloring book pages with marker first and fill in with crayon to make the colors pop, or even telling me over and over again, that this time would be the time that HIGHLIGHTS magazine would feature my rudimentary stick figure drawing in their magazine page for kids art submissions. (This never happened, but I'd be damned if I didn't try!)

To be honest, there isn't a time throughout my childhood I can remember when I wasn't being encouraged to be creative. Well except for the time my parents bought me a new bed, and realized when they took the old mattress off of the frame, that I'd been laying under it each night and doodling in permanent marker ALL OVER THE UNDERSIDE.

Dressed to Impress!
My childhood was fun, it was messy, and it was adventurous! There were always rules but never limits to the imagination... Take for example the picture above of "dress yourself for school day." I can only imagine that this was not the outfit my mom would have picked out... but for me it was the coolest!

A little (leaf) feather in Mel's hat! :) As our Grandparents laugh at us!
Hat parties were another favorite past time. The second my sister, our friends, and I figured out you could really make a killer hat out of any object that would fit on your head - the sky was the limit! From newspaper pirate caps to flowery paper plate bonnets we created the head piece and Mom and Dad were left with an afternoon of watching our great adventures...and I'm sure a few laughs along the way!
Paper Plate Bonnet Time, Mom, Me and Amanda with my sister in her terrible Makeup!? Nice glasses mom.
As I look back on it now, my work was never better than anyone else's... never more colorful or more creative- to be honest, it was a hot mess. But I new all of those hot messes were my messes and it was what made me tic. They were mini adventures in my mind - things I had created in order to bring my imagination to life!

My family always gives me a hard time about a vacation we took to Washington DC on the 4th of July. I would guess I was around 10 or 11 - far too old for a blankie but I made sure to have my yellow blanket in tow.  Along the steps of the capital as the fireworks of the 4th exploded behind me and the voice of "Aaron Neville  " echoed the star spangled banner in the background, I ran, leaped, and catapulted my body up and down each flight pretending to be a super hero. In my mind I was invisible, and the whole world blurred around me as I set out on my imaginary quest of 4th of July Domination. Little did I know, my father to this day has this on tape, and really all I was on that muggy July day was an awkward buck toothed 10 year old in my Ked's tennies, ruffled bobby socks and matching "family" American flag outfit with a tattered rag tied around my neck creating a terrible scene for all who would watch.

Notice I was eating more of the chocolate then anything! Mel was probably upset she was dirty :)!
It was the idea of making something out of nothing that to this day I still thrive on. It is the heart behind my business, the root of the clutter in my garage, and the emphasis of almost all of my projects for my home. Nothing to do on a rainy day in October? No problem my Mom would say - how about painting pumpkins or creating fall trees with chocolate, peanut M&M's and a whole lot of butcher paper!

Please notice Mel's perfect painting and my pumpkin that looks like it was thrown up on!

At the end of the day, when I look back on my youth and how much I was encouraged to create, I am so very thankful. Even the nights my Dad would succome to the begging of playing ONE MORE GAME OF PICTIONARY, even though his stick figures never helped him win, we all had so much fun.

So today I take note of those influences. From the very beginning with my Mom instilling the idea that the imagination is limitless - this is something I try to teach all of my students, in hopes that maybe someday they too can look back and say....I knew this crazy art lady way back when and she told me that ANYONE can be an artist all it takes is a few tools, a lot of messes, and a dream.
Still making messes, Senior Year ISU, workin on Herkys!

And yes Mom, I took these photos from your albums, and I will put them back! :) I'm sure you've already noticed! Ha.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Grown Up Tree House!

Alright Folks - I used the Labor Day weekend to actually get a few things done, including my new "wine porch" or "grown up tree house" as I like to think of it. I've been thinking about updating this area of my house since I moved in. It's just such a fun space and only has window access - so it feels kind of exclusive! So while I was out shopping last week at target I saw they had some really great deals on Patio items that were almost gone.  I told myself I'd wait til the weekend and if the pieces were still there I'd bite the bullet and buy away... What follows is my 6 hour adventure into "wine porch" heaven.

My Mom says people think I'm homeless...
Notice all the green CLEARANCE STICKERS! Yippee!
I started the day at target buying the following items: 4 Adirondack chairs, 4 outdoor pillows, 2 boxes of outdoor lantern string lights, (1) 60" x 90" outdoor rug, 1 can black metal spray paint, 2 hideous pink and blue metal side tables, 3 sets of picture hanging hooks, and some crappy metal tins from college and fake tulips. The original cost would have been over $400.00 dollars. Shopping on clearance I got the whole car full of loot for $143.97!!!! What a deal!

First item of business was painting over those hideous tables. That's what $5 buys you - something hideous! This Rust-oleum stuff was great - But I'd recommend a top coat to seal it off!
To Start...
 Now that the tables were finished it was time to start cleaning up the porch.  I quickly made my way upstairs to the "door" of the "wine porch".
 Here is the before of the Porch, it needed a good sweep and the cobwebs cleaned up!

Next up was getting the chairs to the second level. I had already found out at Target that the chairs were huge and only (1) would fit in my car. (Thanks mom for coming and picking them up for me!) Next was trying to wedge them through the such luck.  My first thought was standing in the front yard and launching them one by one - slow pitch softball style to the second level.  I didn't think that would be the best plan so I headed to the garage to find some rope.  Being as though I collect a lot of crap - one thing I don't have any of is Rope so this retractable hose worked wonders.  (Mom & Dad - now is when you're going to want to close your eyes because yes I'm your daughter and yes I did hoist each chair one by one up the side of my house tied to a garden hose.) I thought it was rather inventive :)!
Classy I know! Now that I had all the pieces in place it was time to do some rework of random junk I found in my garage. A sharpie marker went a long way into transforming this planter, and even though I HATE FAKE FLOWERS - these nasty tulips will probably only last a few days before they're blown away so they'll work for now just for a little color!
Moving onto the picture hooks and lantern hanging - measure twice hang once...and perfectly centered! Each bang of the hammer dislodged crap stuck in my gutters and was all over my face ears and eyes...awesome! Pretty sure the neighbors think I'm crazy - but I'm okay with that. It was kinda fun watching them walk by wondering where all the banging was coming from! Here is the house before and one where the lanterns are all hung!

 Permanent marker flower pots and lovely fake tulips! :)
Before I brought out the 99 cent chest as a coffee table!
 And finally it was time to put it all together. 2 hours of shopping, 20 minutes of hoisting, 4 hours of cleaning, hanging, and marker coloring my "wine porch" was ready for it's finishing touches. Oh and a quick trip to the Dollar store for an extension cord to run out my window for the lanterns and the place looks like a million bucks...or maybe $143.97 but still I love it! I will admit the lights are a little bright for a romantic wine porch setting but maybe I'll rig up a dimmer switch one of these days :)! Enjoy!
And then it poured rain...GO FIGURE. You better bet I'll be having a glass of wine out there tonight though! :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Capturing Summer

Working in the studio this week, I've been lacking when it comes to inspiration.  The glass just seemed to be forming the same pallets and I was getting bored.  So after work yesterday I decided to take some
time at the park and capture summer before it's gone.  I'm constantly reminded that all I need is to step outside and see all of the amazing colors, textures and patterns that appear all around me each day. As the wind blew in this morning, with a bite of fall in the air, I was reminded that all too soon the trees will change color and begin to lose their leaves and winter will be upon us. For now I have these images to keep me in the summer spirit!