4-Leaf Clover Art

After having a nagging urge to paint for a couple of days last month, I finally found some time to sit down with my watercolor supplies, to create something. As usual, I wanted to make something that would have a purpose; as opposed to just painting for the fun of it, and then wondering what to do with it. (I don’t really like this quality in me, by the way. I’d rather be more creatively spontaneous. So I am working on that in another creative process.) As I figured out what to paint, I realized it was almost the month of March, and so almost time to change our home’s February/Love themed double-mantels.

March….the beginning of spring, and St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t think there is a lick of Irish in any of us, but I decided to go with the theme somewhat anyway, and make a piece of art for our March mantels.


I had a vision in my head. I got my hues of green ready to go in my palette, and then free-handed a 4-leaf clover, on my ~11×14″ watercolor pad.

As part of the art, I wanted to include a phrase [Read more…]

A Simple Buttons and Love-Themed Craft Project

I have promised myself that this year, I will spend even more time in the space in which I get so very much enjoyment and fulfillment in; my art studio. And so this past Sunday, that’s just what I did for myself!

In anticipating our home mantels decor, for the month of February, I wanted to create something love-themed, in celebration St. Valentine’s Day, of course.  I chose to do this simple project, using buttons. I have a certain kind of love-thing, for buttons!  Do you, too? [Read more…]

A Countdown Pillow

There is nothing like using crafts as a coping skill! Sometimes, you need to. And that is just what the 3 littles and I did this summer. My oldest daughter, Alexis Grace, (17)(and the littles’ big sister), went away for 2 weeks!! (To a summer Catholic Collegiate program.)  Now, for some, 2 weeks may be no big deal. But for us? HUGE? Remember; for me, my kids are not away all day, most days, at school. My children are all homeschooled. I’m not even remotely used to this. We’re together most all of the time, except for extra-curricular kind of events. On the other hand, it’s not like my oldest has never been away. She has, numerous times. In fact, she’s away on a regular basis. 3-4 days at a time, with no contact, when she goes on retreats with her friends. But 2 weeks…. . And FAR away.

It was a good thing. MANY very good things about it, that are now gifts for a lifetime for Alexis. But one being, we all (she and us!) needed this trial run of her being away from home for an extended period of time. Because she’s a senior this year!  Which means she’ll likely be off to college next year!  So, we all had to give this separation-thing a temporary go.

This was the big-first, and well, needless to say, the kids and I…were struggling. I figured about a day in, that it would be fun to come up with a project the kids could make, that we could use to ‘count down’ the days until Alexis came home.  And frankly, I needed a busy-project!  The trio brainstormed, and came up with a few good ideas!  But ultimately they settled on one of them:
a countdown pillow.
Something that would serve it’s purpose for us, but end up being a memorable gift we could give her, when she came home.
And so that’s just what we made.

Now, I am no seamstress. In fact, umm, <gulp!>, I have yet to truly learn how to operate a sewing machine.
However, I do have my mother’s old one. And I do have a husband who knows how to use it!
(See? When I say [Read more…]

My Art Style | Pushing Outside of my Comfort Zone


For the past several months, about one night a week, a friend of mine comes over to play with me in the art studio.  It started out because she wanted me to give her watercolor lessons. But ultimately, I never could get quite comfortable in that role, and expressed it to her often, because honestly, she has some real skills herself, very different from mine. And I just felt like I had much to learn from her! Still, she continued to call it her lessons, until finally she realized that if we just called it having some creative time together, I’d settle in.  And I did.

One of wonderful things about spending time with her, is that she has a whole new perspective in seeing her art, which I find intriguing. She has a way with expressing what she is trying to accomplish in a piece she is working on, or in retrospect, where she felt she went wrong, and what she could have done better.  She enjoys the process of creating art, seeing where it takes her, and what she may learn along the way.  Furthermore, she is always content enough with how it came out, and grateful for the lessons she took away from it.

I have never been like that!

I tend to expect instant perfection from myself. I want to plan it right, and execute it right, right off the bat. And I want it to come out as perfectly as I see it in my mind. And if it’s not coming out that way, or I’m not happy with how it came out, well….it’s practically useless to me. And more shamefully, I see the whole process almost as a waste of my time and materials. 

Just imagine how that has hindered me. Not only in productivity, but in an open willingness to experiment and learn. I am quite sure, that as a direct result of my demanding perspective, I have limited my productivity, and most certainly hindered myself from true growth as an artist.  Which is just SAD. And years I cannot get back.

The good news is, I have noticed that my friend’s healthy attitude and perspective practices, is rubbing off on me. I am trying to take this time with her, and any other time I can dig up, to just enjoy the process of art. As an artist should. And learn from it all I can, as I go, as well as when the project is complete.

Because of this, I am now growing as an artist, just a little bit so far, in my older years. I think that’s a really good, if unexpected happenstance, for me.

So today I thought I would share with you a bit of what my style has always been, and then how I have actually felt drawn lately, to styles that have never appeared to have been my own before, and am digging up the courage to experiment with them.

First, just a handful of samples of my work from my past. These are all scanned photos. Some even scanned photos, of photos of photos.  (Did you follow that?) And I wasn’t always a professional photographer, so the exposure and color balance is not great on them. But anyway…. I am talking years old artwork, here.  Some of it is almost hard for me to look at now, as I see mistakes and things I could have done better. But at the time I apparently was pleased enough with it.  And this awkward and humbling experience is an opportunity for me to grow as well. Right? But my really intention is sharing these with you, is to show you what my style has always been. In my own words, I would describe my work as very tight, with an effort to make my subjects look as real as possible. That goal has always been what my style has been about.

01_Illustration-work-Erik_w Allow me to gush for a moment. This is a portrait of my nephew and Godson. To give you an idea of just how old this is, he just turned 21! So adorable. Michael and I always thought he resembled the actor Gene Hackman, in this photo. (Right, anyone?).  Anyway…..back in the day, as a freelance artist, I did a whole lot of large pencil and watercolor portraits, as client work. Approximately 22 x 30″, matted and framed.  Mostly pencil.  Possibly 100’s before and after this one.

This was a HUGE watercolor painting I did for our own kitchen, before we had any children. (Although I may have been pregnant with our first?) It was a serious painting project, that probably took me months to do.  It did hang in my kitchen for years, and certainly served as a conversation piece at times, with guests.  I always liked most of the work here, except the very inaccurate perspective of the black and white tiles. I just couldn’t get that right. It was all to me more of an aerial perspective, but the tiles really tended to confuse the viewer I think. Which was usually me.  Painting the water puddles and droplets were my most challenging and favorite part.

03_SailorBabyBoy-Photo-watercolor-illustration_2w This was one of my first watercolor portraits.  Working with the medium of watercolor in and of itself, has always been equally a joy and a challenge to me. I have always longed to work more loosely with the paint, and yet create work that, when viewed at a distance, really pulls together in a realistic way.  I would seriously consider myself a very amateur watercolorist, at best.

04_Nobska_Lighthouse_Falmouth, MA_w
And yet I have sold many watercolor paintings. Including this one, I believe? I forget. This is Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth, MA.   I did a few lighthouse paintings in my time. This photo of this painting was very underexposed, so the color to the true painting is not accurate.  Though in truth, nor was the painting accurate to the actual scene. Another challenge of mine:  mixing the the color I need, with the paints I have. Anyway, the shingles on the roof are an excellent example of how tight I always worked, when really, there is a looser form to paint such things, that appear realistic, for which I have not even begun to master yet.  In conclusion, you have no idea how hard I would work, to replicate exactly when I was using as a reference. (Which was often from a photo given tome, or one I took myself.  I never took liberty to change anything from the reality, which I think is a real weakness in an artist.

OK, so back to the present.  Lately I have had an urge to create a more abstract piece of work. Which may quite possibly be because of the freedom it would lend me, when I have felt as of late, as I work in the studio with my friend, that I have lost any art skills I once had.
The style of abstract artwork is an area I have never even remotely been interested in. Not as a an artist, or a viewer. I have always somewhat liked mixed medium kind of artwork, but have never done such a piece of work myself.  But in the past couple of months, an idea/visual of such a piece has begun to take shape in my mind. Something very much layered, and of mixed medium. I have decided that although I have decided on a theme of sorts, and a general palette of colors I’d like to work with, I am not going to try to make the vision in my head so clear in detail before I begin, nor make an effort to create that vision exactly.

I really want to just enjoy the process of creating art.

These are just some of the materials I gathered, to work with. I have thought of many other materials since, that I may, or may not, incorporate as I go. I decidedly don’t know entirely, what I’ll use as I go. I’m just going to go with the flow!

I do know, that I will share it with you when the piece is done. Whether or not I like it. And I will not see it as a waste of my time, or materials.  For it’s my intention to just enjoy the process of creating it, and seeing what lessons I can take from it along the way, or in the end.  If nothing else, I will have grown from the experience.
And that alone, can often be the best piece of work, of it all.
– Laura


Tips and Ideas for Card Making

I thought I would share with you a little bit about making your own cards, today.  To be honest, I feel a little bit silly, because my sister is the real card-making whiz. And I’m, well….the one who most always forgets to even buy a card, and send it on time….to even those with birthdays in our families.  I’m flat-out awful about it. They’ll tell you.

But, last year I challenged myself to make sure I get a card to everyone, and on time, for at least a year from that point forward. I think I’ve managed so far! I’ve even made most of them, myself. Now that’s planning ahead. I’d be proud of myself, if it weren’t for all of the prior years I forget altogether.  I think if I patted myself on the back, someone might slap me. 😉

My sister is awesome at making a whole bunch of great cards at once. She has files of ready-made cards, made with love, to just grab last minute.  There is always something fitting for any occasion, for any one.  We love her cards. I save them all. Plus she usually writes a little something that makes me cry.

I have a different style. I make cards one at a time, and I make them specifically for whoever I need one for. I custom make something I think they’ll like. Or they they will anyway.
I have fun with it. Like a little art project.

I thought I’d share with you some of my tips, ideas and tools you might use, to make cards of your own.
02_card-making-supplies-tools Clockwise from the top left (in my studio): 
1. I have a basket of blank cards and envelopes, in a few different colors and textures, and in 2 different sizes.  Blank cards w/ envelopes can be bought in packages at craft stores, and they are very handy. It’s also an option to make your own cards, by folding and cutting to size card stock, in a variety of colors and textures. I do that sometimes as well.
2.  Another basket in my studio holds just some of the elements I have. Shown here are some specialty ribbons, colored strings, tags, and flat gems.  Seen in the back, as more ideas, are washi tape, and striped baker string. You can also use stickers, embossers, or die-cuts. I love working with elements on my cards, to add those special little touches.
3. I highly suggest a Fiskar trimmer. I just find them so quick and easy to work with, for cutting paper to size and trimming. I have a cutter in 2 sizes, and I use them super-regularly in crafting.
4. Sticky-tabs!!  It doesn’t matter what brand you get. But these little 2-sided tabs come on a roll in a box like this, and I use them as an adhesive when working with paper or photos. They are so convenient, mess and hassle-free. My kids love using them when doing their own crafts too, as evidenced by the little blue peel-offs I find here and there that I didn’t leave. 😉 

03_rubber-stamps Rubber stamps are very useful in card making!!  I have…a LOT. My sister used to be in the Stampin’ Up business. So I have bins of sets. You can get really creative with stamps like these, just stamping with different colored inks, or really getting into it with embossing powders.
I have struggled with the flatness of the stamp look though, when just working with ink.

So I tend to get coloring, because I love to color!
04_coloring-with-colored-pencils Colored pencils are so much fun to use, with rubber stamps.  By deciding which direction light might be hitting your subject (such as my octopus and sea horse above), and coloring lighter where light may be hitting more, and harder where the areas would be more in shadow, you can really take your flat stamped art to a more dimensional look.
05_belated-crab So this card was created for my Goddaughter, with a blank white card and envelope, rubber stamps, white card stock, colored pencils, some aqua textured cardstock, and washi tape. ‘Happy Belated Birthday’ was a stamp, and I free handed ‘Julia‘ and the word ‘Crabby‘ to match the same letter-style as the stamp. And just wrote the rest of the message in regular printing. So the little sea creatures were stamped on separate card stock, trimmed to a rectangle, and then mounted on slightly bigger aqua rectangles, to kind of frame it. Sticky tab this, to this, to this. Voila! 

The image of the card in the upper right is sitting on the envelope, which I stamped with the starfish. See it?  I addressed it right next to that star fish. I think it’s fun to pull out mail from the mailbox and see a decorated envelope. I always imagine it makes the mailmen/women smile too.

Part of the fun for me, of making cards, is trying to come up with something clever or witty to write inside. Trying is the key word there. No one else may think I’m very funny, but I promise you, I’m laughing and really enjoying my own jokes sometimes, making cards. 😉    I’ve always said, “Nobody thinks my jokes are funnier, than I do.” True story. I amuse myself more than anyone else.
06_flamingo-family-card This was for my mother-in-law/Grandma. That’s her on the front. 😉  Another rubber-stamped card (using the set seen near the beginning of this post). On this one, I stamped right on the card, except for the message inside and out, and colored. The pink polka-dot wash tap is along the side of the inside of the card only. But I trimmed the front/cover side of the card off to reveal that element, even when the card is closed.

I used the trio of pink flamingos stamp twice, so there was a family of 6. That would be us, who the card was from. We all signed the card next to ourselves. :) 
The envelop was also stamped and colored. (See left photo.) 

When Michael was talking to his mom on the phone, he asked her if she got her card. She had to think about it, and then said she wasn’t sure…she couldn’t remember. So…either it was forgettable, or it never got to her. But the thought was there, she got a call anyway (and us singing!), and I had fun making the card. For whoever got it. lol

07_elephants-card This one was for one of my teen nephews. I just wanted to keep it boyish.  The elephants were stamped. Although my sister-believed I illustrated them myself, because…..well, she knew I could.  But why? When I have the stamp? LOL.  I did color/’paint’ it though….with chalk!  That might have been a bit crazy. And time-consuming. But again, it was all fun, and specially made for someone I love. The dirt clouds around the elephants were specially fun, and the chalk was a suitable medium to work with, to create that. The ‘Happy Birthday’ was stamped, and I hand-matched the exclamation point, which I punctuated with a hand-hammered rivet. (More fun elements to work with!).  I ‘hung the tag, with his name hand-drawn on both sides, off of the rivet. The string was actually hammed in there, to stay.  
I gave the card a quick fixing spray when I was done.

This one was for another nephew, who is an avid, very serious, very good, hunter. I really planned this one in my head.
Now, you’d think with all of my paper stock, I’d have some kind of camouflage patter, or any kind, right? No. So I decided, to pick a background color, and just cut out those weird random shapes, in the other colors, and layer it together. I used glue this time.
His name I stamped, and that star is another fun rivet! 
The inside: card stock, tissue paper, washi tape, and hand writing. Again, I was too-amused with myself.  But I totally had to Google and research, what a ‘sight’ mark might look like. I’m probably not even using the right terminology. But hopefully he could tell I put some real love in it. Although, it was from all of us.

09_basketball-card1 My niece is very much into sports; basketball being one of her favorites. Can you believe I had basketball skin stock?  I did. So I cut a circle out of it that would fit on the front of her card. Loved that I had orange striped baker’s twine to work with too. And washi tape that complimented well enough too. I often use a piece as a seal on the envelope. (Well, I lick it too. For security-paranoid purposes.) I think it’s another nice touch.

I could not even believed I pulled off drawing the basketball lines and name with permanent markers. Her name is in the Wilson band letter style. 😉  (Had to tell you in case it wasn’t good enough to notice.  Ha haha.)  This is the little free-hand thing (the ball)I did that and I walked room to room, showing everyone in my house, and the kids totally ‘checked’ me about boasting. < Insert eye roll here. >
I shared about that on our blog’s Facebook Page, in case you missed it.

Hope the ball makes up for the lame joke inside. : [ . 

11_feminine-card Lastly, for today, a card I made for my sister. I have an eyelet edge punch, which I used all over this card, as well as on the edge of the envelope flap.
All hand drawn I think…copied from that stamp. The pretty decorative paper along the bottom of the inside of the card, was shown when closed too, by making the front of the card trimmed smaller, like before.

My sister and I share a birthday. Did you know that? We do. (I won’t say she’s the older one, this time. 😉  ) So on the inside, I said something like….
“If all of your birthday wishes come true,
Then all of my wishes will have come true, too.”

So…..there are just some of the cards I made during my self-challenge here. I did make a few others and mailed them out, forgetting to photograph them. And even some of these photos were just taken with my phone, because I hadn’t thought of making a blog post and sharing them with you all at the time. So, the photo quality varies, and I apologize about that.  But I do hope you enjoyed this big share, and I hope you feel inspired to make some custom, personalized cards for others as well.

You can do this card-making thing! 
Fold, stamp, color, sticky-tab, ….it’s all fun you need to get in on!

Save and share the card-making love!  PIN this on Pinterest and be sure you are following us there!
Thanks for coming to hang out with me today.
12_Tips-Ideas-Card-Making – Laura