Birch Tree Mural

The stairway going into my basement has always been an eyesore. It was ugly, 80’s bad taste left over from the previous owners and it had to go. i tried painting it a you will see in some of the pictures but fiddley, picky painting is not something I want/interested in doing.

Then the spindles started falling out. Did I mention that the former owners of my house were “contractors” I would run screaming from a home that they had anything to do with. So anyways they had installed the spindles incorrectly and the bottom rail was sagging in the middle and the spindles started popping out. Super safe. There also wasn’t a handrail and I am a faller so going downstairs was always a test of courage.

We started out by ripping out the spindles and building a wall. Cheap and easy. The whole new wall literally cost us $30. We still have to do the other side so another $30 and we will have a safe stairwell.

Then, being me, I couldn’t just let a blank wall stay a blank wall. I wanted something simple that would only take me a couple of hours and I stumbled upon this post on And Then There Was Home and loved the idea.

I started at 11 am this morning and was finishing up by 2pm. Not a bad days work. I am not sure if it is too busy and I might have to take some of the background green and prune out a couple trees but over all I am really happy with the final outcome.

Photographing in a stairwell is really difficult and it it hard to get good angles. I couldn’t photograph from the basement up because the sun was reflecting off the paint. I’m going to live with it for a couple days and see fi I think it needs to be spaced out more or not.

So now it just needs a handrail to make it safer and I finishing on the top of the wall.

Thanks for looking!

Fun with Gesso- Color Love #27

For those of you that don’t know I have been taking several online classes with Joanne Sharpe of Whimspirations and have been enjoying every minute of it! A huge part of the class is the Facebook group and I do have to say that they are some of the most supportive woman I have ever had the privileged to be a part of. The last class just finished and we were feeling the withdrawal so Joanne has organized that people from the Facebook group can teach everyone else a lesson. Each week until September, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a different student is going to present a lesson or a prompt to keep the color love going.

I am the second person up so I decided that I would demonstrate a little more about different ways to use gesso to create textural backgrounds using gesso and the supplies that we already have purchased for “Color Love

First I think it is important to understand exactly what gesso is and how it is different from acrylic paint. Gesso was traditionally created using rabbit glue and plaster dust (kinda gross if you ask me) and today we can enjoy knowing that it 100% acrylic (most brands) therefore no little fuzzy bunnies were harmed to make our art today. However that does not mean that gesso acts like acrylic paint.

Gesso is an absorbent ground. Meaning that it has a bit of texture or “tooth” that gives your materials something to hold onto and sink itself into. This is very different from acrylic paint which dries to a plastic finish and resists adding other art materials on top of it. Other materials such as watercolour will simply sit on top of acrylic paint and will not bond to it. You can put acrylic paint over watercolour but cannot watercolour over acrylic paint because there is nothing for the watercolour to bond with.

The advantage to gesso in the application that we are going to use today is its resistant capabilities. You don’t have to gesso over every inch of your paper or even gesso very thick in order to achieve some fantastic results. And the great thing about gesso is that if you don’t like what you have done you simply paint some gesso back over what you don’t like and start over again! Love me some gesso. Every company makes their gesso differently it comes thick or thin. smooth or textured. Adjust what you are doing according to the temperament of your gesso!

Supplies that I used for this lesson included:

  1. Golden Gesso (Use what you have!)
  2. Palette Knife (Old plastic cards work great for this)
  3. Watercolour paper
  4. paper towel for cleaning
  5. Container of water for cleaning
  6. Heat gun
  7. Paintbrushes
  8. Variety of stencils or materials that can be used as a stencil
  9. Variety of different supplies including Koi watercolours, Inktense, Peerless Watercolors, Micron Pens, Uniball Vision Pen, Gel Pens

Technique #1- Thin application of Gesso with a Stencil

In this example I simply applied a thin layer of gesso using a paintbrush over my stencil. I just wanted to see what would happen when my watercolour paint interacted with a thin layer of gesso. What I found is that the watercolour sat on the surface of the gesso longer and remained wet longer. It also automatically was lighter than the watercolour that was absorbed into the watercolour paper. You are going to find that this is a quality that is going to remain consistent no matter what material you apply on top of the watercolour.  And everything will need more time to dry properly!!!

Again! Everything needs more time to dry! Especially your markers. As long as they are waterproof and permanent they will stay put but you need to give them the time to adhere to the surface properly.

The materials that I used on the final “create” image was Koi watercolours for the background, Tombows within the letters, Uniball vision black permanent marker and my White Gel pen.

Technique #2- Thick application of Gesso With a Stencil

So the obvious next technique is what happens with a thick application of the gesso! Using the same stencil but applying the gesso with my palette knife (you can use an old credit card or other plastic card) I applied a nice thick gloppy layer of gesso and used my heat gun to dry the gesso. You have to be carful to hold your heat gun at a distance so that you don’t literally boil your gesso. I’ll show you below what happens when you dry too closely to the gesso.

After I dried my gesso I applied my Koi to the surface in a simple variety of darker blues and greens. I found that the surface had a distinct raised texture and I already knew that I wanted to try my Inktense over top of the stencilled gesso so I took a bit of fine sandpaper and gave the surface a bit of a sanding. This is one of the advantages of gesso. You can sand gesso, especially if it a bit thicker and it is going to take the material you applied off the surface but still remain absorbant. Or if you are concerned that the gesso is going to be too textury to write on you can give it a bit of a light sand to take the rough tips off. The image below is what it looked like before I sanded it. Be careful not to sand too much of the paper. It will create a texture on the paper and you will find that the paper then wants to “pill up” when you apply the water to the paper.

On this image I specifically wanted to know how the Inktense would act with the watercolour AND the gesso. I would say that the difficulty that I ran into was the transparency of the Inktense was challenging with the darkness of my base colour and did work better on the lighter gesso colour. I forgot to take a picture before I added the white outlining but I can say that I would suggest a lighter base colour if you are planning on adding the Inktense on top of watercolour.

Drying the gesso with a heat gun requires a bit of patience and care. What the heat gun is going to do is dry the surface of the gesso first and then as you bring the heat gun closer the gesso is going to start to bubble and volcano out and literally boil. While this can create some cool textures, (and if that is what you are looking for by all means do it) it also means that the gesso has not bonded with the surface of the paper. Therefore if you accidentally nick where the bubbles are you are going to be left with a patchy spot. Again you may be going for that and like that effect but it also could be frustrating if you are not going for that effect.

Now you can see in the above image where my heat gun bubbles were and what it looks like  when they get sanded off. Personally I didn’t care either way and I can see the advantages of having the bubbles and also see how a little bit if sanding is going to create an entirely different effect.

This is the last image that I created using a stencil but I used my peerless watercolours over top. The gesso really resisted absorbing the peerless and I like the contrast of the lightness of the gesso stencil and the darkness here the paper absorbed the peerless. And I love the quote!

Technique # 3- Paintbrush Application of Gesso

The final technique does not require you to use a stencil but to simply apply the gesso with a paintbrush, willy-nilly if you dare! I was interested in a simpler more organic application of the gesso. Something that was a little less texturally prominent but still interesting. Using the stencil means that the stencil is going to remain important no matter what else you do. Perhaps you just want to ability to have lighter and darker areas and by applying the gesso with a paintbrush you care going to be able to have the contrast of light (where it is sitting on the gesso) and dark (where it is absorbed into the paper) that is created when you then add your watercolour on to that surface.

I learned a couple if different things on this image. I had decided that I wanted to add a face to the image after I had applied the Tombows to the background. However I did not want a purple face. I knew from pervious experiments that the Inktense was too transparent and would not work…what to do. I thought that perhaps the gesso would allow the Tombows to be lifted off the surface and so I drew the outline of the face and a applied clean water just in that area and dabbed with some paper towel. Viola! The gesso had not absorbed much of the Tombow and I was able to pull enough off that I could paint an actual face colour. I like using my Caron D’ache to apply for a skin colour so I wet the end of a paintbrush and painted the Salmon colour onto the face. I did have to add a layer of white on top to brighten it a bit.

I did learn however that the white  Gel pen DOES NOT!!! like being applied over the Caron D’ache and adding the white pattern lines was very frustrating. Lesson learned and shared!

Finally the last image I made was to draw into the wet gesso. I wrote the word “create” but there is no reason that you couldn’t simply doodle patterns, lines for writing text, images… the possibilities are limitless.

Where I wrote the paper remained exposed so the Peerless that I applied over top was darker within the words and lighter where it sat on top of the gesso. My doodleing was done using a Uniball Vision marker a white Gel marker and a little bit of Prismacolor markers around the word to make it stand out a bit more.

I know this was a really long read so THANK YOU if you read all the way to the bottom. The problem with having chose this technique to share is that there is so much more that I could have shared and gesso really is an under appreciated material. That being said all of these techniques could be done using acrylic paints and you would have achieved an entirely different look using the same processes!

I love making art. There is so much that you can do using really basic materials and I hope that you create something beautiful! I added some larger images of my finished work below so you can see a bit more close up. The final image is just an Inktense background that I didn’t get to finishing but thought was pretty. Pardon the rock in the pictures. it was a bit windy and I didn’t want my work to blow away!

Now go Gesso something!!

Superwoman Strikes Again!!!

*Update* I am now offering my “Creativity” print in my Etsy shop! Look here for more details.


After a bit of a blog break I hope to be posting a bit more frequently. Just one of those times when you need to be away from the soul sucking computer for a little while. But now with a bit of a break under my belt and only 2 weeks until vacation time I am willing to spend a little more time in front of the computer. If only my fingers would cooperate and not twitch out to the wrong letters. You don’t know how many spelling mistakes I have corrected so far!

So three weeks ago I said to Mom that we should do a gravel walkway across the front of the house and make the planting beds bigger so that there were not so many weird little spots of grass to mow. Two weeks ago i came home to a gravel walkway across the front of the house. Serendipity struck and the fates aligned so that she was able to make the walkway. Then last week we went and bought the landscape fabric and landscape ties and new planting beds were born. And the final bit of chance happened yesterday when she walked to Walmart to pick up something for dinner and found out that the bark mulch was $3.00 a bag instead of the $6.00 that we had seen everywhere else!

26 bags of mulch and we went from this.

To this bit of fantasticalness-

The bit of green in the lower left corner is our daisies that are about to pop open. I’ll post another picture when that happens. The view of the walkway looks like this.

And the Superwoman that made all this happen (cause all I did was drill some holes and help with the mulch) is here!

The flowers are slowly coming up and I managed to get some Anemones this year. I love them but I think it is because they remind me of my favourites…Poppies!

On the art making front I have been doing lots and lots but producing just a bit. I have been working with Copic and Prismacolor markers but the work is VERY time consuming and I have only made a few pieces. I only have about 2 hours a day to work on them so usually from start to finish each of the drawings will take ma week. I have also been working on learning how to make my own hand bound books which is super fun and exciting. Here are a couple of the pictures I have done in the last three weeks.

This picture is now for sale as a print HERE

The last picture is a little different form the first two. It was made with plain old crayola markers because I wanted to see if it would be something that I would be able to teach in the classroom. It works but it really not the same so i don’t know if that is something I am willing to spend a lot of time with my students on.

So the next couple of weeks are going to be busy with starting another online course this Monday with Joanne Sharpe called Color Love 101. very excited to get going on that. I have school to get wrapped up, report cards to write, a classroom to clean and a summer to look forward to!


Faux Washi Tape

I’ve been eying and ogling washi tape for a while now. If you don’t know what washi tape is it is a Japanese masking tape that comes in a huge variety of colour and patterns and is just yummy. But…difficult to find in my little town. And even more annoying to have to order and pay shipping charges. And if I’m being honest…I’m cheap and don’t want to always order everything because eventually I can figure out how to get it cheaper or make it.

I did break down yesterday and order 5 rolls from this Etsy store called Washi Wishes because she was having a 20% off sale so I saved the shipping costs. but then I thought can I make this stuff.

Hello google!

One site was using cloth tape and another used double sided tape and I though “hummm”

Hello Dollar Store

Three hours and three dollars later I have a stinkload of new patterned tapes that I can use and it is totally unique! Here is what I used.

  • Tissue Paper
  • Double sided Carpet tape
  • Ink pads
  • Stamps
  • X-Acto Knife

I started by taking a sheet of tissue paper and laying it out and cutting strips of carpet tape and laying it onto the tissue paper. Don’t try to cut the tissue paper and lay it on the carpet tape. Doing it that way is a total pain because all the tape wants to do is stick to your fingers. if you just cut it and lay it down on the paper you will be much happier!

I know I have double sided scotch tape in the picture but I didn’t do as much with that…yet! You need to be able to stick the tape to some wax paper and I was being lazy about going upstairs to get it so I just stuck with the carpet tape.

So in this example I added a layer texture ( cannot remember the name of the red stuff- its the left over from cutting confetti!) and then laid the tissue paper on top of that. Then i got out my stamping supplies and went to town!

The tissue paper allows you to paint, stamp, use rub ons, get wet with water and that was just with a couple of hours of experimenting. My mind is swirling with ideas for more textures, designs and patterns!

I can’t wait to get to use these !!! And i have ideas on other tapes that I could use to make different widths of tape too! The possibilities are exciting (giggles and jumps in seat!)

Butterflies For Brynne!

My niece’s birthday is coming up soon and rather than send her more and more toys (which she probably does not need) i want to make my nieces presents that they will be able to have and appreciate for a long time. Or that can be appreciated by Mom and Da until they are old enough to know how much homemade gifts really mean.

And how many kids have an auntie that can make them cool art things. So the idea started here with something I saw on Pinterest.

I like the 3-Dness of it. And it sparked a ‘hummm’

However the plain white background is not me or even the orderliness of it. Straight lines. blah Anyway I didn’t want to copy it I was just inspired by it.

I started with some watercolour paper that I splattered with a resist medium and then painted a blochy purple. After that dired I traced some of the butterflies out and outlined them with glue and sprinkled glitter on them (Every 3 year old needs some glitter) then i punched out some butterflies and attached with with glue to the paper.

Mom made a frame for it and I just have to finish painting it purple.

Since it is a birthday present I cut out one white butterfly and wrote her name and birthday in it and glued it near the top

My other niece is getting the same thing for her birthday in June since they really do have to get the same thing or jealously reigns.

When Mom was making the shadow box she glued in the trim that was holding the glass in place before I could paint it. To cover the wood that was showing I applied a layer of glue then glitter over the moulding that you could see.

Works well I think! Now to go wrap the Barbies that she will want to play with!

Happy Birthday Brynne!

Entertainment Centre

Mom’s Christmas present to me was a new entertainment centre that she was going to build. I had found plans online of one that I liked and so we started buying all the supplies that we needed to get it done. We had a bit of a make shift, hodge podge of different things put together to hold our TV and all the stuff that goes with it.

The thing that neither of us liked was that you could see all the cords hanging in the back and that it was three separate things across the whole wall. The dresser, black book stand and the coffee table held everything that we needed but didn’t look too put together.

It took Mom about 2 weeks in total to get everything built to her satisfaction and even now there are a few thing that are not quite right that she wants to fix.

You can still see the dresser on the left hand side and her next project is to build the side hutches for the cabinet. This is what the original plan looked like and if you click on the picture it will take you to the original website that I found the design.

You can see that we changed several things about the design to fit our preferences. Less drawers for one and we eliminated the shelve under the TV and put the PVR and the BlueRay in the bottom portion of the hutch. We also made our taller than the original plan called for. It was only suppose to be 6 feet tall but when you are 6 feet tall it feels a little too short. Ours is a couple inches bigger than that.

When she builds the side shelves that are going to be about 6 inches shorter than the middle cabinet to scale it back a little but the bottom doors are going to be the same  height all the way across. This part of the unit cost about $200 and the other 2 sides are probably going to cost about the same. But all told $400 for an entire entertainment hutch is money well spent!

And yes my Mom built this whole thing with her own two hands. The only help she got was a little lifting and perhaps the purchase of a compressor and nail gun from yours truly for Christmas!

Good job Mom!

Rug Makeover

I have been working on cleaning up, organizing and decorating my workspace in the basement. I’ve painted the walls, gone through some of my hoarded art supplies and garbaged things I didn’t know that I had thus did not need and generally just have tried to make it a better looking space. i thought that I had taken pictures as a”before” but I think the computer ate them…out of shame! It was bad, a dumping ground. A “I don’t know where to put this, I’ll deal with it later” space.

One of the things that bugged me most was the rugs. I know the mess should bother me more but I like being able to see everything. i forget what I have if I can’t see it so having it out is not a problem for me.  If I put everything into baskets or pretty containers it might look nice but I can’t figure out where anything is!

Back to the rug. Prepare your eyes for hideousness.

They are both ugly. I hate them. I avert my eyes when I go downstairs and dream of lovely pretty rugs. So as I was puttering and organizing downstairs I thought “Paint them” and thought “ok, where’s the paint” Have I mentioned I am a little impulsive. I might also admit that I will do almost anything to get out of organizing so painting sounded way more fun!

Now i didn’t ever really think of painting the plush-ish side of the rug. That would have been ridiculous and used up way too much paint ( I know because I tried to paint a rug in university and it was a disaster) However if you flip the rug over you have a lovely textured side that can be painted on. I don’t need the rug for cosiness on feet because i don’t ever walk around barefoot (it’s a thing)

So problem number one was that no matter how many coats of white paint I applied ( the upper part has three layers) the pattern from the rug still showed through. So my solution.

Start with a dark paint…so much easier! One coat covered everything.

Next I used a drywall ruler and started measuring everything out.  My rug was 60 inches wide so I made measurements every 10 inches and created a grid. This made sure that my chevron ended nicely and started and stopped going in the same direction. One the length of my rug I ended up cutting off about 4 inches of my chevron but I don’t care because I don’t do math and the 60 inch measurement was easy to figure out!

Making the stripe is easy. Just use your tape and make a diagonal line across your square going down. Then the next one up, then down, then up. You get the idea.

The next set of squares is the bottom of your chevron. This is the tricky part. If the bottom of the tape is considered the top of your chevron you have to line that up with the corner of your square.

If the top of your tape is considered the bottom of your chevron you need to line up the top of your tape with the corner of the square…clear as mud?

Here look- Notice how the tape comes to a point on top of the line. Then on the chevron underneath the tape comes to a point underneath the line.

If you just simply make the tape the same on both rows it is going to make the chevron’s different sizes. Now I was using 1 inch tape but I would have still noticed. So I was picky.

Next you have to seal the edges of your tape. Inside the chevrons that you are painting your contrasting colour you apply another thick layer of paint on top of the tape. Just on the inside of the chevron. This will help stop the contrasting colour from bleeding under the tape. Make it thick. It won’t hurt anything and it will have touch ups later.

I put a little tape in the chevron that I was not painting just to help me remember not to paint.

Then put on some snazzy owl pyjamas at 4 in the afternoon (after dealing with crazy Grade 10’s and you need a brain break) and start painting the inside of your chevrons.

Now if I was thinking I would have stopped at the Dollar Store and pick up some foam rollers so I didn’t have to paint this with a paint brush but hindsight, ya know. Oh well I watched an episode of Buffy to entertain me “Beer Bad” helped the time pass.

And paint, and smoosh, and dab and squish.

So because I did not get enough gray paint under my tape to seal it my white bled through. However it is nothing that another episode of Buffy and a little paintbrush won’t fix.

I only took the tape off the first two stripes but I kept getting white on my grey and decided to stop making a mess and be patient. Now notice that I used ugly rug #2 to paint on for ugly rug #1. The second rug is 8 x10 and I am going to paint it but I need to decide what colour and pattern etc, etc.

Notice my shelves are still a mess. I just shoved and stuffed and stacked until I can figure out how I want it organized. Like I said, painting was more exciting than organizing!

When everything is complete I will post after pictures of everything that I have changed.

Off to knit

Freezer Paper Stencils


This year I have decided to make weekly DIY posts of all the different projects that I usually have on the go. It will range from crafts to home deco stuff and art… almost anything that i have going on the burner.

Last week I got together with friends and we made freezer paper stencils. If you have never seen this you are simply cutting out a design on freezer paper. Ironing it onto your fabric and adding some paint to make the stencil.

I have to say that freezer paper is awesome stuff and while I had a bit of a challenging time finding it it was well worth the effort.

So the first thing to do is find your image to stencil. I decided I was going to do an owl and challenged myself to cut out a complicated stencil. Thing is that you don’t have to be able to draw to do this project! All you need is a black and white image and trace it! When I googled “silhouettes” look at the cool images I found here  and Flower Silhouettes

Both of these would work great because they are only black and white. Look for images that are free to use and if you want to do almost anything you can find the silhouette! But obviously what you need is patience and a steady hand with an exacto knife!

Here is my image that i cut out. I think it took me at least an 1.5 to 2 hours. Very fiddley but I LOVE it!

 So everything that is white  within the owl has been cut out. The blue is the colour of the silkscreen ink that I used.

So the process is

  1. Draw your image out on the paper side of the freezer paper.
  2. Cut it out using an exact knife. Remember that everything you are cutting out is going to be the final coloured parts of your image.
  3. Place the stencil onto the fabric you are using to stencil one. Iron it down. The plastic on the other side of the freezer paper bonds to the t-shirt and is what gives you crisp edges!
  4. Next apply your paint to the stencil. You can use fabric paint or a fabric medium added to acrylic paint. I used some fabric silkscreen inks that I got at Wal-Mart. Cheap and lots of colour variety! I used a stencil brush and dabbed the paint on. Put a piece of paper in the inside of your t-shirt so that the ink doesn’t bleed through to the other side. It shouldn’t but better safe than sorry!
  5. I applied a base coat and then went back into it before it dried and added some lighter colours to create some variety. Once it is dry carefully peel your stencil off and set aside.
  6. I used my stencil twice and could have probably managed one more print but it was starting to bleed through in areas


This is what the blue one looked like on the  white t-shirt.

And this is the second one that I did on a lilac t-shirt using purple, pink and white inks

I still have to iron them to set them but I had to wait 24 hours before doing that. I need to play around with altering my t-shirts before I wear it because they fit a little fun since they are men’s shirts!

They are so easy and fun!