Tag Archives: Acrylic

Anniversary Present

Dear readers,

It has been a long time since my last post, but a number of unexpected things have happened that have kept me both from blogging and from artwork.  However, I am back again, and I am here to share with you something that I’ve kept a secret since I first thought up the idea back around March of this year.  My parents celebrated their 35th anniversary on September 13th.  Since it was a milestone year for them, I wanted to make some kind of artwork for them that would be meaningful.  I came across several beautiful poems that likened parents to the roots of a tree, the strong, steady foundation that holds everything together.  I liked that idea very much.  It inspired me to start working on a poem of my own, personalized to mean as much to my mom and dad as possible.  I had to work in complete, delicious, secrecy.  They are so involved in what I create and what I’m up to in my studio, so I had to go to great effort to keep this a secret.

It all started when I went to Junk Bonanza last April.  I went with my mom, but I had a secret agenda.  I wanted to find something with a 35 on it, or even letters to spell Happy Anniversary.  I knew it would be tricky to buy it when she was right there with me, but I was determined.

I came across a booth that had many small metal numbered tags, post office tags, cattle tags, you name it.  Under the guise of searching for “junk supplies for my sculptures”, I began to look quite thoroughly.  Luckily for me, my mom said she was going to move on to the next booth while I looked.  And then I found it!  A metal tag with a 35 on it.  And not only that, but above the 35 were the two letters H and W.  How perfect could it be?  H for Husband, W for Wife, and a 35.  Awesome!  Just so my mom wouldn’t wonder what I had bought, I purchased a few other little items so she wouldn’t single out that one tag.

And here it is.

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Early in the summer, as soon as the leaves were full on the trees, I went for camera walks, getting pictures of our trees to go with some sort of tree poem.  The tree that has the most sentimentality for our family is the enormous maple tree that is in our front yard, towering over our house.  It’s been a part of our lives for a long time.  My dad remembers stringing up a tire swing in it as a kid, and my brothers and I used to play in a tire swing from that very tree, and now, my parents’ grandkids have two tire swings hanging in that tree, too.  It’s a trusty old tree, complete with wooden board “steps” nailed onto it from my childhood.

As you can imagine, I decided that this was the tree to draw.  As I photographed it, I included the house, which was build in 1926.  My brothers and I grew up in it, and my dad and his brothers and sisters, and even his dad and his brother.  It’s got so much history and so many memories for us all.  I couldn’t draw that tree without this beloved house nestled beneath it, so my plans were made.

I started the drawing on June 17th.

The drawing is clayboard, just the second clayboard I’ve done.  It’s a big drawing, as I wanted it to be dramatic for Mom and Dad’s wall.  Keeping it very secret, I worked on it only when they were nowhere near, and I had to cleverly hide the drawing, the supplies, and all other evidence that I was working on anything in my studio.

Meanwhile, I spent several nights up late in bed, writing and rewriting the poem I wanted to give to them with the drawing.  I found some amazing tips on how to paint letters neatly on a wooden board, and I got started on that.  I mixed a couple of ideas I found online for sign-painting to get the result I wanted.  I painted the board black (just an old board that was in the basement…I sanded it fairly smooth first), and then printed the poem on regular printer paper in the font I liked.  I then took a white charcoal pencil and colored the backs of the papers generously.  After checking, re-checking, re-checking, and re-checking the alignment of the papers on the board (it took 4 sheets of paper to get the lettering big enough to fill the board), I taped them in place.  I then took a ball point pen and wrote over the words firmly, causing the white charcoal to transfer onto the wood.  When I lifted the papers, I was so surprised by how neat it looked!  I then took a cream-colored acrylic paint, diluted it quite a bit, and painted the letters using mostly a 00 paint brush.  It took quite some time, but I was really pleased with the result!

Ah, but the wooden sign didn’t take long at all compared to the drawing.  A clayboard is essentially an un-inked scratchboard…it is simply white clay on a Masonite board.  You add the ink (or paint or whatever else you’d like) yourself as you wish.  I used Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens for this project, using mostly brush tip for the application of inks.  Anything on the board that is not white had to be inked over first.  I used a variety of grays and blacks to get the desired values in this drawing.

The house part of the drawing was by far the most challenging.  I definitely do not have a mathematical brain, and all of these angles and corners and straight lines were certainly out of my comfort zone.  I spent many hours (days, even) with a straight edge and a pen, drawing and re-drawing all of those squares and lines and shapes over and over until I finally felt things were in place.  I then got to work building values, which was done using shades of gray pens.  The beauty of clayboard is that you can draw in the traditional sense, but you can push it further by treating it like a scratchboard.  You can take your X-Acto knives, your blades, your fiberglass brushes, and you can scratch away the ink.  It’s a beautiful thing! 🙂

I am happy to say that my parents were both completely unaware I was working on anything.  I never thought I could keep this a secret all summer long.  I was so excited to give this to them, and they seemed pretty excited to get it, too. 🙂

Anniversary Present

– The clayboard drawing measures 16 x 20 inches in size.  It is made with a set of Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens (the Manga set of 8), some other very fine pens for detail and texture, a couple of different X-Acto knives, a fiberglass brush, some other scratchboard tools, and steel wool to remove smudges or marks in larger areas.

– The wooden sign is made with just an old board that was in the basement (note the hole in the upper left corner), sanded, and painted with black acrylic paint.  White charcoal, printer paper, and tape for the lettering, and cream-colored acrylic paint for the poem.  I sealed the board with a satin varnish.

Ok, at long last, here are the pictures.  Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to photograph something this large without getting some shadow and lighting issues.  The photos do not do this drawing justice, but they were about the best I could do.  I did not take one single progress photo – I couldn’t afford any evidence to be found! 😉

The drawing.

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A few close-ups.

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The poem.  (Click to view larger.)

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And the finished, framed, and displayed artwork as it looks on the wall.

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Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.  I love you both so much!


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Doll Makeunders

Well, this will be something very, very different for my blog.  First, I’m going to confess here and now that I really don’t care for dolls.  I never had any desire to play with them.  If I got one for a gift, I’d promptly shun it.  When I was pretty little, my parents gave me a big doll for my birthday, but I hated it.  I refused to take it to my bedroom that night, or ever since.  Thankfully, my parents found that hilarious, and there were no hurt feelings.  Nevertheless, sorry Mom and Dad. 🙂  I ended up being much happier with things like “Stuffies” (stuffed animals), toy animals, and my legendary Creepy Crawler making machine.  Ah, memories!

Recently, my sister-in-law asked me if I would be interested in repainting the faces of a collection of dolls that her daughters got secondhand from a friend.  They are Bratz dolls, to those who may know what they are.  My sister-in-law wanted something sweeter and more girlish than the extreme makeup and pouty lips of the Bratz dolls.  She told me about people who have repainted doll faces, so I did some internet research and found that I had almost all the supplies needed to do the doll faces.  A couple of months later, after painting over 15 dolls, they are complete and I’ve given them back to her.  I recently got a photo of her daughter happily playing with them.  Hooray, success! 🙂

Here is the collection of dolls when I got them.  The hair was ratty and tangled, the dolls a bit grimy, the faces a bit…adult and edgy.

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The first thing I did was clean them all up gently with baby wipes.  And after that, I tackled the hair.  I found an amazing trick for washing, detangling, and restyling doll hair at this fun site called Epbot.  If you’re dealing with tangled doll hair, read that article and try it out.  It works!

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Once the dolls were all clean and combed out, I took nail polish remover and removed the makeup from the faces with Q-Tips and cotton balls.  It left an appealing blank canvas to work on, as you can see.

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Doesn’t she look sweeter already?

I did some image searching online for ideas and inspiration, mainly from Tree Change Dolls.  I learned so many tips in the DIY link from this site.  Very helpful!

So, here is the result of my work on these dolls.  Enjoy!

Doll 1

It all started with this one.  I agonized over getting the eye size right, the colors just so, and the expression sweet.  It’s not the neatest of the collection…the paint looks a little wobbly as I hadn’t developed a comfortable rhythm yet.  Each face I painted gave me a little more confidence and comfort.  This was fun in the end!

doll 1 a doll 1 b

Doll 2

I tried to give each doll a slightly different eye and/or lip color so they wouldn’t get tedious.

Doll 2 a Doll 2 b

Doll 3

This poor doll had a bit of damage.  She had a scratch by the left eye, and a black line on the side of her head that wouldn’t wash off, even with the nail polish remover.  I had to disguise that black line in some way, so I painted a tiny butterfly over it, with the black mark being the body of the butterfly.  It worked out nicely.

Doll 3 A Doll 3 B Doll 3 B2

Doll 4

Brown eyes this time, and a slightly darker lip color.

Doll 4 A Doll 4 B Doll 4 B1

Doll 5

This one turned out a little less detailed.  This is a miniature sized doll, and her face was literally smaller than a dime (notice my finger and thumb in the before photo), so it was challenging to do this one.

Doll 5 A Doll 5 B

Doll 6

I like to think this doll just drank a strong cup of coffee. 😉  Eyes wide open, this girl’s bursting with energy and ready to play.  Also, I did freckles on this one.

Doll 6 A Doll 6 B Doll 6 B1

Doll 7

Along with the girl dolls came a couple of toddler dolls.  I had a difficult time finding many examples of these particular dolls with the “makeunders” online, so I was winging it mostly.

Doll 7 A Doll 7 B

Doll 8

My personal favorite of all of the dolls, this one was begging for jewel-toned eyes.  She has red hair with a bright turquois streak in it.  I so enjoyed painting this particular doll, with her fun eye color and freckles.  (…I kept this one for myself!)

Doll 8 A Doll 8 BDoll 8 B1

Doll 9

Three boy dolls also came with the group.  I struggled to find many boy dolls with makeunders in my online search, too.  I guess they’re not as popular.  I purposely painted the eyebrows a bit bushy to make him more boyish, and made his eyes a bit kinder.

Doll 9 A Doll 9 B

Doll 10

I’ve got two befores and afters of this one to show a side view of her face for those who might wonder how they look from the side.

Doll 10 A Doll 10 B

Doll 10 A2 Doll 10 B2

Doll 11

Another boy.  He looked almost identical to the first boy I shared above, so the end result is also similar, though I gave this guy some deep blue-green eyes.

Doll 11 A Doll 11 B

Doll 12

There were also two tween aged girls.  These were challenging because they had really large heads with tiny noses and mouths.  I wasn’t sure how to cover that much forehead space, but I did my best.

Doll 12 A Doll 12 B Doll 12 B1

Doll 13

This guy has pretty cool hair, doesn’t he?  Unfortunately, he’s probably my least favorite of the bunch, as he looks a bit wide-eyed and extreme with my paint job.  Oh well…again, I did my best.

Doll 13 A Doll 13 B Doll 13 B1

Doll 14

Another tween.  I gave her brown eyes and blond brows.

Doll 14 A Doll 14 B

Doll 15

Are you hanging in there, dear readers?  This is a big post!  Here is the other baby I painted.  She, too, seemed to need that pretty jewel blue eye color.

Doll 15 A Doll 15 B

Doll 16

The last doll I painted, and one that I had been looking forward to all the while.  Her icy pink lips and even icier stare made me eager to repaint her.  I gave her some pretty cranberry-colored lips and soft brown eyes.  She was a nice way to finish off the set of dolls.

Doll 16 A Doll 16 B Doll 16 B1 Doll 16 B2

While I painted these faces, my mom had it in mind to sew some cute clothes for these dolls.  She sewed one really adorable outfit, and found that sewing tiny clothes was not her cup of tea.  However, I feel it should be mentioned that the blond doll with the butterfly on her face is dressed in an outfit handmade by her.  Great job, Mom! 🙂

We also washed (and even ironed!) all the clothes, and washed up the shoes, too.  We dressed the dolls up head-to-toe (admittedly enjoying the process).  Before packing them up, I also re-rinsed their hair so they were all sleek and shiny and cute.  These dolls are ready to play!

The Grand Finale

Before sending them back to my nieces to be played with, I set up a little photoshoot with the whole group.  Please click to see these larger.

Finished Bratz Dolls Group Photo

Finished Bratz Dolls, all together, plus others 070 Finished Bratz Dolls, all together, plus others 071 Finished Bratz Dolls, all together, plus others 072 Finished Bratz Dolls, all together, plus others 073 - Copy Finished Bratz Dolls, all together, plus others 074 Finished Bratz Dolls, all together, plus others 076 Finished Bratz Dolls, all together, plus others 077 Finished Bratz Dolls, all together, plus others 080

Long story short, I’ve never played with dolls this much in my life! 😉

Finished Bratz Dolls, all together, plus others 092 - Copy

Thank you for looking!


Posted by on July 5, 2015 in Odds and Ends (Uncategorized)


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Norman on Red

Some of you may remember my new house cat, Norman.  He’s been in the house for just over a year now, and is a wonderful – if sometimes naughty! – cat.  I adore this guy, and he’s such a charmer.  He’s got the wimpiest, squeakiest little voice of any cat I know, and he loves to play and roughhouse with my other wonderful cat, Oliver.  Oliver is over ten years old now, and he and Norman are…for the most part…great buddies.  They play and tumble and wrestle every day, and even are willing to share toys and blankets and beds.

So since I’m currently working on a scratchboard of Oliver, I got the bug to do an art piece inspired by Norman.  For as regal and stately as Oliver is, Norman is the clown with his antics and his silly little face.

I don’t often paint…almost never, really.  Maybe once or twice per year.  But that once or twice a year, I simply must paint.  Acrylics are my usual choice in painting mediums, so this is an acrylic painting.  I mixed gel into the paints for some whimsical textures.  Norman is whimsical, after all!

Norman on Red

– 8×10 inch stretched canvas.

– Painted with acrylic paints mixed with gel to add gloss and texture.

– Paint was applied mostly with knives, although I used brushes for some details such as the eyes, nose, and whiskers.

Norman Painting - CopyCR

This was a fun change from my usual detailed stuff.  I hope you like it too.  Thanks for looking! 🙂

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Posted by on October 8, 2014 in All Artwork, Paintings


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Josephine’s Shoe in Acrylics

You may remember the adorable little shoes I purchased earlier this year.  They reminded me of one of my characters in a book-in-the-works.  Her name is Josephine, and I imagine she wore shoes like these.

Painting is always difficult for me.  It just doesn’t come to me as naturally as drawing, so I tend to put it aside easily.  Still, the bug to paint comes every so often, and then I’ll take out my brushes and give it a go.  I’ve found that painting from life is much more educational than using a photograph, so I usually try to use a real object.  I ended up using one of these fabulous old shoes as a subject, and started in on the painting.

I used three basic colors for this, with the addition of white and black for values.  It is much less complicated to use a limited palette, and it really helps me to learn more about color mixing.

Josephine’s Shoe

– Painted with Liquitex Acrylic paints.  Colors used were Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue, Ultramarine Blue, Naphthol Crimson, Mars Black, and Titanium White.

– Brushes used were mostly coarse flat, bright, and round brushes.

– 5×7 inches in size, painted on a canvas panel.

Josephine's ShoeCR

Thank you for looking!


Posted by on October 26, 2013 in All Artwork, Paintings


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