April 11th: The First Day of Spring

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The Calendar Doesn’t always know when Spring will happen

If I don’t write this down I swear my brain will explode.  A day like today is the reason I moved to Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains. Today is April 11th and it’s the first day of Spring.

Every Spring the Synchronous Fireflies light up Elkmont Campground in the Smokies
Synchronous Fireflies at Elkmont

Have you ever noticed that each season there is one perfect day.  A day that epitomizes what it means to be Spring or Summer or Winter or Fall. A day that officially or unofficially for you starts the season off. Like this is the day the poets and songwriters had in mind when they wrote that poem or song. Today is that day.

I noticed it when I was bringing my Dad back from town after his lab tests. I was just looking around and suddenly realized it’s amazing out here! This is the reason I’ve always wanted to be a photographer or an artist. I feel the need to capture this perfect day before it slips away. The greens are indescribable (and yet I’m describing them) The vernal green here is pretty intense with just a hint of autumn colors to them. It’s as if they’re reminding us not to get too attached to Spring (Winter is coming) But not today.

this year april 11th was the perfect spring day

The Vernal Greens of Spring cover the mountains
Vernal Green

Today is the first day of Spring.  The mountains are soft and fuzzy. Covered in light green, dark green, lemon green, and blue green. Everyone will tell you when you’re trying to paint greens it’s really hard to get them just the way you want them. I think this is the reason why. There’re just so many different shades of green. In between all of the greens the dogwoods are blooming white, the pink red buds are poking up and there’s some kind of fuchsia colored trees everywhere.  Not sure what they are I need to look them up. (I’m leaning towards crepe myrtle)

spring has all the colors

Spring brings out the most colorful flowers of the year.
April Showers bring Spring Flowers

There’s crazy color every place you look. After the gray winter suddenly Spring just bursts out in every color imaginable. I look around and I’m struck, that’s not the right word, awestruck that’s it! Gobsmacked even. This is what spring is supposed to look like and feel like and smell like. I wish this blog post had smell-o-vision just to get it perfect. There are golfers out enjoying the morning. I wonder if they even notice how beautiful it is. For the first time this year we may even hit 80° today. (flashback to Aprils past in Michigan Ohio and New York often with feet of snow)

I really shouldn’t be complaining. Let’s be honest here. This past winter was not that bad. Literally just one day when it snowed in December and it melted by 3 o’clock. We did have a very wet winter this year, very floody. One day my 45 minute drive took 2 hours due to all the roads being underwater. But that still beat snow.

While I’m driving Dad home and thinking about how beautiful it is, my brain is overflowing with Springtime Wonder. The second I turn on my recorder for my drive to work, it goes as quiet as the Warner Brother’s frog. I had all of these ideas running around like rampant squirrels until I turned on the microphone. Whatever. It’ll all come back or I’ll think of something else.

Cardinal Flowers and Black Swallowtail

I’m just overwhelmed at all the beauty here. Red Cardinal Flowers, lavender phlox, yellow buttercups and white flea-bane line the sides of the road. I literally do not want to go to work today. I want to grab my camera and my paints and run away into the mountains where phones don’t work.

monet knew what he was doing

Willow at Monet’s Pond in Giverny

There’s a Willow tree ahead of me that’s just as perfect as a Monet painting. Even if I can’t capture the perfection of it I still want to try. The leaves are so delicate and wispy I want to just pull the car over right now and paint it. That would probably be hard to explain at work. Sorry I’m late, boss, the trees were begging me to paint them. I couldn’t say no.

This is why I moved from the North to Tennessee. Yes, we had days like this back home but rarely in April. Tennessee has four seasons all roughly three months long. Not six months of winter and the other seasons divided up among the other six. The beauty of Spring here is amazing.

The white and pink Dogwoods of Spring bloom throughout the area
White Dogwood

I should probably pull the car over and take a picture to prove that it’s actually real. But a picture can’t convey the smells and the sounds that accompany what’s happening around me. The silkiness of the air, the smell of the freshly turned Earth, birds by the hundreds filling the air with, well, birdsong apparently.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just the sunshine coming out after so much rain. But again we have had plenty of days this winter where it was warm and sunny. There’s just something about this day and how it has all come together so perfectly like the perfect Spring package

every season you should find your perfect day

Irises

So now I’m inspired to find the perfect day for all of the other seasons as well. I drive this route every day but today I woke up and realized everything is alive with color.

Summer traditionally is my favorite season. But in Tennessee Summer’s not very colorful unless you’re at the beach. The flowers in the mountains have died back, the leaves are pretty much a uniform dusty green, and humidity like a hot wet blanket covers the mountains. The wind barely moves here because Townsend is surrounded by mountains. There are days during the Summer you just beg for the smallest of breezes. I will find that perfect summer day, though, mark my words.

I’m taking the back roads along the river due to the many rock slides we’ve had this Winter due to heavy rains. It’s a prettier drive but more hazardous because of all the bicyclists. They hate it if you come around a curve and run them over. So I’ll go slow and have more time to appreciate the beauty.

The Little River is at its best in the Spring
The Little River

Even the Little River is a beautiful Caribbean blue today not the usual muddy brown. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this color before. I’m hoping it’s just because it’s Spring not because of pollution. Right now it’s so clear for you can actually see the rocks on the bottom. Makes it much easier for the people to see the fish. I mean for the the fish to see the people. Smoky Mountain trout are notoriously hard to catch. The River is free of tubers at the moment (the tourist kind not the potato kind) so you can get a lovely unobstructed view.

welcome to the peaceful side

It’s so beautiful I’m at a loss for words (and yet I keep writing) Sometimes the English language just doesn’t have the right words that will work. Perhaps I’ll create one. There’s wisteria hanging all over the hill. So beautiful, so parasitic. The Summer homes are still closed and there’s a spring nearby where you can get fresh water. It’s been here for as long as anyone can remember. My boss is so lucky I’m coming in today

Tubing at the Wye in Townsend

This is why the tourists come here to the Peaceful Side of the Smokies. (must not run over the Tourists on bikes) There’s a reason we don’t have all the stores and restaurants and entertainment like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg (think Canadian side of Niagara Falls without the Falls) People here like it quiet. Many who stay here are more interested in the natural beauty and activities like hiking, biking (get out of my way bicyclist) tubing, and horseback riding. If they want more touristy activities they just drive 20 minutes to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg then come back to Townsend and enjoy the peace and quiet.

catch a dragon by the tail

The Tail of the Dragon

I pass by a line of Broncos (no, not the horses, the cars) on their way to the Dragon. It’s a stretch of road favored by motorcycles and tourists. I think it’s like 360 curves in 11 miles. (Fact Check: The Tail of the Dragon: an 11 mile stretch of Route 129 that contains 318 curves. Also known as Deals Gap.) Just the thought of it makes me nauseous. I’ve lived here 15 years and I’ve never gone once. I enjoy my stomach too much. But there may be some good places to paint along the way

Spring Pink Dogwood

There’s some pink dogwoods along the road. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to paint one and make it look surreal and realistic at the same time. Mine just pretty much come out looking like cartoon flowers.

I have arrived at work and I believe I’ve exhausted my brain squirrels with Springtime goodness. Thank you for coming along with me.  My boss has no idea how lucky she is that I’m here.

While you’re out and about, see if you can find your perfect Spring day and please tell me all about it! Time to get ready for Summer!

June 20, the last Sunset of Spring

Acrylic Comparison

Liquitex Basics, Artists Loft, Masters Touch And Americana DecoArt

I have insomnia. Most nights I am awake from 2 to 4 in the morning. Around 2ish I wake up, head for the bathroom and if I can make it back to bed without opening my eyes I’m good. More often than not, my rising from the bed creates a mass exodus of animals from under the blankets. The cat wants out, the dogs want snacks and long after they are back under the covers, I am wide awake.

I don’t turn the TV on as its too noisy and more stimulation than I need. So, I sit in my chair and watch YouTube videos on my phone. I’d never paid much attention to YouTube before. I never really understood what it was about. I thought it was just a bunch of people’s home videos and I can barely watch my own.

With a better phone and unlimited data, I started to find myself turning more and more to YouTube. I like the fact that most of it is 20 minutes or less. I’m not into commitments. Especially at 2 in the morning.

YouTube, better than Ambien

Hercules’s Pretzels

I have become totally obsessed with the Hercules Candy videos. There is something so soothing and relaxing about watching pretzels go through the enrober. As a Rochester transplant, it’s nice to hear an Upstate New York accent again. It was fun watching the video of their trip to Buffalo. They literally passed by my old house just off of 90.

Mayim Bialik is another favorite. I love her on Big Bang and her videos are always fun. I forgot that she played a young Bette Midler in Beaches. (Was trapped on an airplane once with Beaches as the in-flight movie. The girl in front of me was actually wailing at one point. Fun flight.)

Which brings me finally to the point. I find the best way to go back to sleep is to watch paint dry. So I troll YouTube looking for “How to Paint” videos. A couple of those and I’m ready for bed.

Who Can Sleep When an Australian is Talking?

How to Paint Tropical Water

A few nights ago I came across Mark Waller’s “How to Paint Tropical Water” video. His tutorial is easy to follow and his Australian accent is easy on the ears. Come for the art, stay for the accent!

I wanted to immediately start painting waves, not conducive to sleeping but good for thinking up projects. That got me thinking about my last projects, Create an Abstract Acrylic Ocean and Paint a Beautiful Galaxy. Both times I mentioned that I use a variety of Acrylic paints. Mostly because I’m cheap. I buy nothing at full price. Both Michaels and Hobby Lobby have lovely coupons and/or sales all.the.time! If you are too impatient to wait a week for the sale, you really need to take up yoga or something.

A Beautiful Galaxy

I would love Oil Painting more if the paints were cheaper. (and less messy, and less mineral spirity…but I digress) When I first started Oil Painting I would buy 1 tube every paycheck, depending on the sale at the time. (If no sale, then a nice juicy 40% off coupon) It took a long time but I eventually bought all my colors. With Acrylics, I can buy 3 or 4 for the price of one Oil. I am getting a little lazy though. Instead of having my base colors and mixing what I need, the inexpensiveness of acrylics encourages me to just buy the colors I need. Though if I’m honest, I must admit I like the colors I generate with my mixes better than the pre-mixed.

These are a Few of My Favorite Paints

Just to let you know, I’m not being sponsored by any of these paints. If someone would like to sponsor me that would be nice but this is all me.

My favorites, in no particular order, are Liquitex Basics, Masters Touch, Artists Loft and when I have extra money to spend, Golden. I find myself leaning towards Liquitex Basics for some reason. I don’t know why. So I want to do an experiment. Using Mark’s Video as my guide (who am I kidding, it’s the accent) I will paint and compare 4 wave paintings. 1 each using Basics, Masterstouch, Artists Loft and just for fun Folk Art Paint (Anita’s and Americana)

I will use the same white with all of them, Master’s Touch Titanium White, for mixing and use as close to the same colors as possible. (mostly what I have on hand, I’m too cheap to go buy more if I don’t have to.)

The Mission, should I choose to accept it

This is what I’ll be looking for in comparison. Ease of use, is it too thick or too runny? Coverage, how many coats does it need? The vibrancy, good colors or dull? And whatever else pops up in the process. Maybe I’ll even do a group using the Professional versions and see what happens.

All the canvases will be the basic cotton canvas from Michael’s (I stock up with the sales) Perhaps I’ll do a comparison with some of the other fun canvases later. Here is what I’m using for brushes: #12 Royal & Langnickel Flat, #8 Liquitex Basics Filbert, #10 Royal & Langnickel Filbert, and an 8/0 White Sable Robert Simmons Round.

I checked the prices against Amazon, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s and Walmart. Amazon does run higher due to no coupons but has all the colors you need, all the time. Walmart doesn’t carry them, so it’s down to Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. All the paints run between 3.99 and 4.99, so they’re all pretty equal in that respect. (The Folk Art paints are somewhat cheaper, though)

As I finish each painting, I’ll post the results here. Let’s see what happens!

First Up: Liquitex Basics

I do like Basics. It has good coverage, even on the first coat. It mixes well and its colors are bright and pretty. ( Yes, pretty is a technical term ). I plan on doing this one again after trying a few of the others as I don’t have a comparison at the moment. But so far I like what I see. I can’t wait to try the next one.

Liquitex after 1 layer of Paint
Finished Result


Next is Artist’s Loft.

It’s the least expensive which I like. The first coat was a little funky and showed the brush strokes more than Liquitex. But it was easily fixed and as you can see, turned out just fine.

Artist’s Loft after 1st layer
Finished result

Master’s Touch is the Next One Up

I tried Master’s Touch next and I must admit it fought me all the way, which surprised me. I had never noticed that before, but then again, I wasn’t really paying attention. Perhaps they just need a little more water added to make it less sticky. It left streaks which took 2 coats to cover and just didn’t spread the way I like. The end result was very nice though, lots of color that really popped. So I guess that’s what’s really important, right?

Okay, so I tried Master’s Touch again, but this time adding just a bit of water to my brush before painting. It applied much better and didn’t fight me at all (but still took 2 good coats to cover) The colors are still quite good.

First Layer
Finished Result (First Time)
Finished Result (2nd time)

So, craft paint is still paint, right?

The next one I tried is the Folk Art Paint, Americana Deco Art paint. I have to admit I was actually planning on being very snooty and condescending with the Folk Art paints. Oddly enough, they cover really well. They didn’t fight me at all and they didn’t leave white streaks after the first coat. They blend really easy, too. Maybe it’s because of their thinner consistency than the other brands.

If I have any criticism, though, its that the colors are not as vivid as the other more “Artist” brands. They mix up more subdued and tend to look more pastel which is fine if that’s what you are going for. I was pleasantly surprised at their ease of use, shocked even.

I think they would make great practice paints though. Just had a thought. This might be a case of buying the colors you need instead of mixing them yourself. There are dozens to choose from and when Hobby Lobby and Michaels have sales they can be purchased quite cheaply. This might explain their use for craft projects, no mixing necessary. I will try that and see what happens.

So, I decided to try my idea about using the paints straight out of the bottle with no mixing. Wow, what a difference. They looked good, mixed great and covered on the first layer. Very nice.

Americana First Layer
Americana Finished
Americana (Second Try)

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9 Easy Easter Cricut Gifts for Under $10

Dollar General Supplies for under 10 dollars
Dollar General Goodies
Total Cost $9.33

In the spirit of the Easter Season and the fact that payday is still a week off, I’m going to hit up my local Dollar General and see how many Easy Cricut Gifts I can make for under $10. (It came to $9.33 including tax to be precise)

Bags o’ Scraps

Just to make it interesting, I will be using up my scraps of Vinyl, Iron-On, Cardstock, and Paper just to see what I can do. Get a little Scrap Busting going on. If it can work for yarn, it can work for Papercrafts.

And in the spirit of making my life more difficult than it needs to be, I will be using only 1 Bunny SVG file that I will modify for each craft. I will be using the same technique that I talked about in my previous post.

1 Bunny, Many Looks

Just in case you don’t feel like working that hard, the Bunnies will be available on my freebies page. Just sign up with your email and I’ll send you the password.

I’m going to work on this over the course of a couple of days, so the stock photos will eventually be replaced with actual ones. And some of the more complex gifts will have how-to posts attached. Let’s get crafting!

1. Personalized Journal

The most expensive Dollar General find at $2, but the easiest to embellish in my humble opinion. The smooth cover is perfect for adding stickers and vinyl with abandon. (If 1 embellishment is good, 15 must be better, right?)

2. Plastic Eggs for an Easter Egg Hunt (or Easter Tree Decorations)

When my daughter was growing up, her Grandparents would fill these eggs with money, candy, toys, and stickers and hide them around the yard. There were 3 sets exactly alike for her and her cousins, Jonathan and Gregg. The rule was that you were only allowed 2 of each color. If you found a third one, you leave it for the next person.

One year, no matter how hard they looked, they could only find 5 of the 6 white eggs. It had completely disappeared. Grandpa made things right though and made sure Gregg, I think it was, got his fair share.

Two days later, pieces of white plastic shell kept appearing next to a small hole in the yard. Apparently, Mr. Chipmunk had wanted in on the fun.

3. Purple Bucket to use as an Easter Basket.

Dollar General has these in many colors and they are very easy to personalize for the child (or adult) on your Easter list. After Easter, they can be re-purposed as Beach Toys, Lego Receptacles or anything else that needs to be contained.

4. Mini Cards for Easter Basket Scavenger Hunt

If you live in the Frozen North, sometimes Easter comes with several feet of snow on the ground. One way to spice things up is to have a Scavenger Hunt inside the house for the Easter Basket. Each Mini Card comes with a poem or riddle to solve leading to the next clue. Guaranteed hours minutes of fun!

5. Paper Flowers

You can glue these to a card or put them on the end of a straw or chopsticks if you like. (We eat at Panda Express a lot.) In my case, I happened to have some leftover floral wire from Christmas

6. Bunny Banner

Hang these across a doorway or over a bed for a fun Easter Decoration. You can tape them to ribbon, fishing line, twine, or yarn. You can leave them plain or dress them up with letters spelling out your child’s name.

7. Thermos or Water Bottle

A personalized water bottle is a great way to make sure you are not drinking out of someone else’s bottle, eww.

8. Cell Phone, Eyeglass or iPad Decor

The nice thing about adding Vinyl and Stickers is you can dress up your cases and easily change them out again for the next holiday.

9. Pop-Up Easter Card

I am obsessed with pop-up cards on Cricut. There’s one by Jennifer Maker that I am dying to try. It’s called the Apple Tree Card. It is so intricate it just blows my mind. I imagine the weeding on that thing will take hours, but I must make one.

Bonus: Reverse Canvas and Hot Mess Canvas

I’m not including these with the rest because the canvas at Dollar General is $3 apiece and it would go over my $10 limit. I do, however, stock up every time Michael’s has a sale. So, technically they are part of my “scrap” pile. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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7 Simple Steps to Customize SVG Files on Cricut Design Space

Have you ever found a lovely SVG or png file and thought, “It’s perfect! Now, I need to change it.” Of course, you have. Maybe it’s the wrong color, maybe the wrong font or just doesn’t fit what you are making. It’s crazy easy to customize an SVG file with multiple layers. Just click and change it to whatever you want.

But what if its a single layer piece? Are you stuck with what you have? Of course not. If you don’t have Adobe Illustrator you can use the free Inkscape app and change it there. Which is what I did after weeks of teaching myself how to use it. I’ve come to realize that Design Space is a simplified version of Illustrator and Inkscape without the ability to save your works. Which is fine and all, but not convenient at times.

Well, I am here to help you set things straight. While this method works great for me, if you know any methods that make it simpler, just leave a comment! (I always take the long road first.)

If you belong to Cricut Access, there are plenty of roses you can download. I chose to save my $10 per month and make my own on Inkscape. You can always find images on Google that you can modify if you like. Some are easier to clean up than others, though. You can download the truck and rose from my Free Library Resource page if you don’t have an image to work on.

Step 1: Remove the Existing Lettering

After you have uploaded your images, go to the top right of the page (under the “Make It” button) and Ungroup them so you can isolate the words. Click the words and you will see it surrounded by a box with a red X in the top left corner. Click the X to remove the Words.

Step 2: Choose a Font You Like

Click Text on the left side of the page then go up to Fonts. When you click on Fonts, you’ll see All, System, and Cricut at the top of the page. Click on System (those are the Fonts that are installed on your computer). Scroll through and find a Font you like. A nice thick script will be easier to cut out than thin fonts or individual letters. I chose Janda Happy Day. Make it Bold for extra thickness.

Step 3: Type out Happy Mother’s Day

Type out Happy Mother’s Day or anything you want to say. Now let’s fancy it up a bit. Select your word by clicking on them. Next, click on Curve at the top of the page. Move the bar to the left to curve down, right to curve up until you’re happy with how it looks. (I stopped at +19). If you are adding words below you will curve it at -19 so the arc will match perfectly.

Now we need to separate the letters so we can move them where we want them. Click Advanced, then Ungroup to Letters. Now you will notice you can move each letter individually. You can do some fun things with that if you’re feeling frisky.

It is much easier to cut out and transfer the words if they are connected. Go to Letter Space at the top of the page and click the down arrow until most or all of your letters are touching. If you need to, you can manually move the letters until you are happy with how they look.

(I forgot the apostrophe. I just went back to Text and typed one out as it’s already set up for Janda and moved it into place. Easy peasy.)

Step 3: Weld Words Together to Make Solid

When everything looks as you want it, hit Weld at the bottom to connect all ofthe letters. Notice the sidebar went from individual letters to one group of words. Ta da! Now for the fun part.

Step 4: Remove the Eggs

This method seems a little weird at first but once you get the hang of it you’ll use it on everything. This method gives your Slice tool a workout for sure.

Click Shapes then click Square. Unlock the Square (bottom left corner of the box) Make sure to move the other stuff out of your way and give yourself some room. Then drag the green arrows at the bottom right corner of the box and make a rectangle small to fit over the eggs in the back of the truck

Slide the block over the eggs covering as much as possible without covering the bed or back window of the truck. Select both the Square and the truck beneath. (Use can use Drag and Click method or CTRL and Click on both pieces) Now Slice, found at the bottom right side of the page. If Slice is greyed out and not letting you choose it, check to see if there are other pieces selected by accident. Slice will only work on 2 pieces at a time.

Move the sliced pieces away and delete them. I reuse the square over and over until I’m finished or it’s too small to work with. Or you can duplicate the Square a few times and use them as back ups.

Step 5: Repeat

Repeat this process until all traces of the eggs are gone. If a triangle or circle helps you get in the nooks and crannies, use those. Also, you can pivot (top right corner of the box) until it matches the angle of the back window as closely as possible. If you slice into the truck and remove too much, don’t panic. Just hit the Undo arrow at the top left of the screen. You can’t mess it up. Just keep slicing away until all trace of the eggs are gone.

Step 6: Duplicate the Rose

Select the Rose by clicking on it, then Duplicate it (top right corner of the page next to the Ungroup Button) Resize the roses and put them into the back of the truck.

Step 7: Select All the Pieces and Weld. That’s it!

Don’t forget to Save it and Make it! Great Job! I have yet to find any SVG file I can’t customize this way. Though some take a little more effort than others.

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Acrylic April 2019

It’s that time of year again, Acrylic April! The weather is warming up and I have the desire to sit on the porch and paint. Word on the street is that there is a worldwide challenge going on to paint a small (less than 12×12 inch) painting, using Acrylics, every day this month and post/pin it. I’m in. Let’s see what happens. Check out TheArtSherpa for daily Acrylic Inspiration Videos!

April 1, 2019

Acrylic April 2019

No fooling, this painting is only 2.5″ x 3.5″. Referred to as an ACEO (Art Cards and Originals) ACEO’s are fun to paint and easy to store.
ACEO
It’s smaller than a pen, but bigger than life! Just like the Synchronous Fireflies they are patterned after!

April 2, 2019

This 4×6 cutie was done with just 4 colors,
Black, Red, Yellow and White

April 3, 2019

This 8×10 Galaxy is out of this world!

April 4, 2019

Acrylic Pour and Cricut, the perfect combo

April 5, 2019

Cherry Blossom Acrylic Pour

April 6, 2019

4×6 Middle Prong

April 7, 2019

Super Moon, Super Beautiful

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Paint a Beautiful Galaxy in 5 Steps

A Beautiful Galaxy in Acrylic

I have always been fascinated by the stars.  Someone once told me that looking at the stars for ten minutes every night is good for your soul.  I have to agree. So, just for fun I took some Astrophysics Classes on Coursera for free. Why not? I learned so much and now when I look at the stars, I really see them.


So now I’m obsessed with painting the Universe.  There are billions and billions of objects to paint out there,  everything you do is right! You can literally paint anything and it’s right.

This is one of those times you can do it straight out of your head but if you are like me a little inspiration never hurts.  There are several sites with free stock photos you can use for reference photos. The one I am using here is from Pexels.com.  Make sure if you use someone’s artwork they get the credit for it and get their permission before posting copyrighted work. I love the one titled “Blue and Red Galaxy” by Suzy Hazelwood. You can see it here on Pexels.com. ( I like how the blues pinks and purples blend and I think it will make a nice reference photo.

Time to take on the Universe

Step One: First, gather your supplies. Then take a canvas, any size, and paint it completely black, sides and all.  I do tend to lean towards Liquitex Basics. I like the Basic brand. It’s good and thick, nicely opaque and has very vibrant colors with good coverage. As you can see, I use whatever Brand is on sale!

This Layer is made up of Titanium White, Violet, Quinacridone Magenta and Primary Blue.  (Or in English, White, Purple, Red, and Blue.) I will use the White, Blue, Red, and Yellow for the Stars.

Step Two: So, using your photo or your imagination as your guide, grab your sponge and dip it in your water.  I swear I have dozens of paintbrushes, though you wouldn’t know it from my last two posts.   We used palette knives in my post, Acrylic Ocean Painting, and now we’re using sponges. If you think about it, it just goes to show anything can make Art.(And anything can be Art. I found that out at the Centre Pompidou in Paris when my daughter pointed out that a urinal signed by the artist Marcel Duchamp is actually considered Art.)  You don’t need fancy equipment. (but that does make for lovely birthday and Christmas lists)

Keep on Swirling!

Don’t be afraid to swirl your sponge around and blend colors together because you can just keep adding layers upon layers until you get the effect you like. The Universe is vast and everything you paint is probably out there.  There’s no wrong way to do it. Just keep going back and forth between the White, Violet, and Blue. If you get an effect you like and don’t want to mess it up, let it dry for about 10 minutes before going over it again. That way when you paint on top of it, it doesn’t accidentally get ruined.  Using the corner of the sponge, keep adding colors letting them blend together.  

One of the disadvantages of being outdoors when it is warm out is that your paint will dry fairly quickly.  There are additives you can add but I prefer to just use small amounts of paint on my palette at a time. In this situation layers are your friend and the quicker it dries the more you can add.  Just keep adding the white, purple, blue and pink clouds until you get the effect you want. You’ll get a feel for it as you go.  The drier the sponge, the sharper the details.  The wetter, the more blendy.

Get Ready to be Speckled!

I just found this video on YouTube.  Cinnamon Cooney, TheArtSherpa has the perfect video showing all the techniques and effects of Splatter Painting Stars.  I wish I had watched her first. I always end up with more paint on my face than canvas with the toothbrush method. And look, tap two brushes, not my poor wrist. Mind Blown!

How to Splatter Stars Better in Acrylic Paint Tips and Tricks by Cinnamon Cooney, TheArtSherpa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQUmNielwrw

Step Three: Time for some splatter painting to make your star field. How to explain splatter painting? It took me a while to get the hang of it, and now it’s the most fun part of the process. In its simplest form, you dip your brush into thin paint then strike down onto the index finger of your opposite hand (or wrist when that starts to hurt) towards the painting. You can play with the consistency to see what different effects you get.  Just keep dipping and tapping all over your canvas until you’re happy or run out of canvas. Word to the wise, you will be covered in tiny dots when you are through. Enjoy.

Step Four: Sponge on some black here and there when you are happy with your star field. It helps break up the clouds and makes it look like you are peeking at the Universe beyond.  I find adding black down the outside edges and down the middle gives it a nice Milky Way sort of look if that’s what you’re going for. Check your reference photo if you like and see where you want the darker bits.

Step Five: Time for one last round of star splatters.  You can also paint the sides completely black and then spatter some stars on it (because it’s fun). It gives you that peering off the edge of the Universe kind of feeling. Then, if you like, make some star shines using the bottom of the brush or a toothpick. Just make a larger white dot and run a cross through it.  

That’s it, you’re done! Now sign it and hang it up. Time to go outside and look at the stars!

Great job!


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Change is Good For the Soul

Change is good for the soul.  And the soda machine.

I resist change with every fiber of my being. If it ain’t broke, why fix it. If it is broke, ignore it until it goes away. (or gets so huge you can’t ignore it, then give it away and let someone else deal with it.)

It’s not a perfect system, but it works. (Mostly). When I find something I like, I stick with it. Hair? If it worked for me in the ’70’s, it’ll work for me now. Clothes? Hey, if I’m not naked, it’s all good. (My beautiful, patient daughter took me clothes shopping once, (a bottle of wine and some Xanax made the trip quite enjoyable.) This leopard can change her shorts.

I learned how to paint with Windsor & Newton Artist Oil Paints.  It’s what my instructor uses and his art is amazing. I love these paints and their bright, rich colors, their ease of use, and their ease of un-use. (Which is good because I make a lot of mistakes, or happy accidents, according to Bob Ross). I love everything about them.  Well, sort of.

I’m not so crazy about the smell of mineral spirits.  Even odorless mineral spirits are kind of odorly.  I paint outdoors for nine months of the year (God bless the South) so for the most part, it is not a problem.  But ’tis the season, and it’s just too cold to paint on the porch. Something has to change.

After painting indoors for a week, I started to notice a very painterly smell when I came home every day.  I started to hold my breath every time my husband would light a cigarette.  (He smokes indoors when I’m not home, he thinks I don’t notice).  It was definitely time for a *gasp* change.

I Welcome Change, As Long as Nothing is Altered or Different

On one of my trips to Shangri-la (aka Jerry’s Artarama), it came to my attention that Winsor Newton carries a line of water-mixable oil paints.  It’s like magic because everyone knows water and oil don’t mix. This could be the change I was looking for. So with much trepidation, I purchased all of my base colors.  The Hope Diamond received less scrutiny than these tiny tubes of transition.

With great ceremony, I assembled my work area.  I set aside my oily oils and mineral spirit container and poured a glass of water.  (Then maybe a glass of wine, no sense getting rid of all the spirits) Then I put some in my brush washer.  There’s something wonderful about opening a fresh tube of paint.  It’s so clean and fresh and full of possibilities.

I proceeded to apply it to my palette. It looks like oil paint, it paints like oil paint, it covers my clothes and hands like oil paint.  But unlike oil paint, it washes right off.  It cleans up like acrylic but has the richness of oils.  My house smells like…well let’s not get into that, (anyone who owns a dog will understand) let’s just say it doesn’t smell like mineral spirits.  Huh. Go figure.  I guess if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be oil paint.

Well, I guess change isn’t so bad after all.  No, wait, that’s a lie.  Change is terrifying and uncomfortable. Change is the hardest thing to accept as a human being.  But sometimes it’s worth it.

A little change never hurts, right?

Acrylic painting
Bubba in the Blueberries Using WN Water Mixable Oil Paints

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Find Joy in the Skills You Have

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I find hilarity and humor in almost every situation. In fact you could say Joy is my middle name. Well, actually, it is my middle name. I am a child of the 60’s.

While I am a certified worry wart, it takes a lot to get me down. I live on the edge of one of the most visited and beautiful national parks in the country. Often I will just stand in my yard and gaze at the mountains in wonder. People spend millions of dollars to do what I can do for free.

At night the stars are bright and clear and the Milky Way looks like a footpath connecting the mountain tops. There’s something about staring at a sparkling, midnight blue sky that makes all your worries seem so trivial.

I have come to realize during my journey of discovery of oil painting that no matter who I try to emulate, my own spirit/soul/personality comes through.

I want so desperately to paint like my mentor/teacher Jeremy Doss, with his warm, peaceful, beautiful paintings. But even though I can sit behind him and paint the exact same thing with the exact same palette,

(french ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, viridian, sap green, transparent oxide red, alizarin crimson, yellow ochre pale, cadmium red deep, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cadmium yellow pale, lemon yellow and white, in that order always around our palettes), mine always come out bolder, brighter, more fantasy than reality.

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The harder I tried to paint like him, the more discouraged I became. Then came the day that turned painting from a chore to a joy.

My class and Jeremy were plein air (fancy for outdoors) painting at the Visitor Center here in Townsend. It was a warm Spring day and the mountains were budding with new life.

A woman I admire very much walked up behind me. She looked at my painting, then Jeremy’s. She hugged me and whispered in my ear, “I love Jeremy with all my heart, but I like your painting better, it’s bright and bold just like you.” That was my Aha! Moment.

The reason I can’t paint soft, peaceful, calming paintings like Jeremy is because I am not a soft, peaceful, calming person like he is. I’m bright, bold and in your face. Just like my paintings.

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That was the day I decided to embrace the painter I was and not try to force myself to be what I’m not.  I removed the yellow ochre and replaced it with turquoise blue and permanent rose. I don’t necessarily paint what I see but what I feel or what I think it should look like. And that’s okay because that’s who I am.

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And I found my joy. Because as you know, Joy is my middle name.

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Create an Abstract Acrylic Ocean in 5 Easy Steps

Finished Acrylic Ocean Painting

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you just want to add a pop of color to a space and not spend a fortune doing it. This is one of those times. This fun little Acrylic Ocean Painting can be done in any color you like using as many or as few colors as your little heart desires.

Step One: Gather Your Supplies

Okay, first you’re going to gather your supplies. Everything you see here can be purchased at your favorite hobby and craft store, Big Box store or Dollar store. The beauty of Acrylic painting is that it requires very little expense to get started.

Acrylic Painting Supplies


You will need White (I’m using Master’s Touch Titanium White) and at least 3 Colors from Dark to Light. I’m using a Liquitex Basics Permanent Blue, Liquitex Basics Cobalt Blue Hue and Artist’s Loft Turquoise. You can pick whatever brand you like. As you can see I use all the Acrylic Brands I can find on sale. I have never once paid full price for paint. I’m patient and wait for the sales (and the lovely 40% off coupon)

Instead of brushes, we’ll be using knives. You can use a Palette knife or Butter knife or a combination if you wish.

The canvas is just a common cotton canvas. This one is a 9×13, but they come in a variety of sizes. Just pick the one that’s right for you.

I do try to keep the mess to a minimum, so I put newspaper underneath. Yes, I still read the newspaper. It is acrylic, so it does wash off nicely. Just don’t let it dry on your clothes or it’ll never come out.

Don’t forget, what I’m showing you is just a template. You can choose any color combination you like, oranges and reds for a sunset look, purples and blues for twilight, pinks and greens just because. I’m using turquoise at the bottom for water, the medium blue at the top for sky. I think this gives it more of a sunny, beachy day sort of look. You are only limited by your imagination.

Add your other colors however you like, whatever you feel is pleasing.

Step Two: Apply Lines of Acrylic Paint

So now its time to squeeze out your colors. Your darkest color is the horizon line. Place it one-third down from the top for more focus on the water, two-thirds down for more focus on the sky. The rule of thirds says that it looks nicer this way. (I think its more of a suggestion than a rule) You can be a rebel and go straight across the center if you like, I won’t tell.

Less paint
More paint

Now I used a lot of paint on this one. You don’t have to use as much. I wanted to give it a nice, chunky textured feel. But if you wanted to try a smoother one (I’ll try that one next to show you the difference) just add less paint. Remember, it’s your space and you can create it however you wish.

Step Three: Smoosh the Colors

Acrylic Painting with Palette Knife

Okay, now you take the knife of your choice and you are going to smoosh the colors (yes, I believe that is a technical term) Right to left, left to right, add some swirls and waves. Make sure you make one swipe across your darker color all the way across to create a nice horizon line. This is your chance to let out your inner Van Gogh and Gogh crazy. You do you.

The sides can be painted if you like. Therefore, you can leave them partially painted for a looser, more painterly look or you can even paint the sides a solid color like black or one of the blues as well. You can decide as you go.

Palette Knife Effects

As you can see, the butter knife makes some nice wavy textures with the ridges. However, if you don’t want that effect, just lay the knife flat and you will get a smooth look. You get some great effects by combining both.

Also, try not to over mix the colors if you can help it. (I never know when to say enough is enough) You want to keep the integrity of the colors. Keep it painterly, as it is called. The key to Abstract Acrylic Art is not to over do.

Step Four (Optional): Add More Color

Adding More White

I thought I’d add a little more white at the top for poofy clouds (another technical term) and at the bottom so you can get that wave crashing into the beach effect.

Step Five: Let it Dry

Because the paint is so thick, it’s going to take it a while to dry. I would give it a full 24 hours before adding any little details like seagulls or a ship on the horizon, whatever you’re in the mood for. Or you can just leave it the way it is, you’re the boss.

Comparison of More Acrylic paint on left to Less on right

I painted a second one with the exact same tools and exact same colors just less paint, to show you the difference.

As you can see Acrylic Painting is a quick, fun way to change up your decor for very little time and money. The best part is, if you get tired of this color, paint the whole thing white and do it again using a different set of colors.

Now’s the time to hang it up and start on your next one! Thank you for painting along with me. See you soon!


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Procrastination isn’t a Fear of Failure, but Fear of Success.

Procrastination is a big part of Crafting
Kitty Purry lends a paw

If procrastination was an Olympic sport I would get the gold every four years and every year in between.  Say, for example, I have two months to finish something, I always wait until the day before to start. Granted, it does get finished (most of the time) and the huge rush of relief and satisfaction when I’ve accomplished it is overwhelming and gratifying.  If I didn’t know better I would swear there’s a part of my brain that enjoys the rush.

It’s Never Too Late to Start

I have recently come into the world of oil painting.  After a life long desire, I started lessons for my 48th birthday with the amazing artist, Jeremy Doss. Jeremy Doss Art His words were, and I quote, “If I can teach a pigeon-toed man to dance, I can teach you to paint.” And he did.  To which I will be eternally grateful.  I’m telling you right now if you ever have an opportunity to attend one of his workshops run, don’t walk to the nearest one.
What does this have to do with procrastination, you say? Well, I love oil painting. It satisfies something in me that photography never quite accomplished.

I belong to a great Plein Aire group of men and women called the Tuesday Painters, because we, well, paint every Tuesday.  When you live in East Tennessee you will run of days before you run out of places to paint.  But when I sit down in front of that giant, mind-searingly white sheet of canvas, my brain shuts down like a frightened turtle.

I can suddenly think of a thousand things that need to be done instead. Must have more reference photos, must organize my space, must find a snack, bathroom or anything else to postpone the inevitable.  When I finally get down to the business of painting, some of the others are starting their second. Yes, Kathie Odom, I’m talking about you. (side note: If you could design a beautiful, amazingly talented, wonderfully spiritual human being, her name would be Kathie Odom.)

I do eventually start painting and have a fantastic time but the ritual never changes.

Art Cards Originals and Editions

Enter ACEOs, an artist’s version of trading cards. It combines the fun of trading Baseball Cards with the artwork of Magic Cards. These tiny (2 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch) bite-size morsels of painty goodness bring me joy and happiness.  I think of a topic, and boom I can pop out 3 in an afternoon. The process of painting is exactly the same, just in miniature.  All of the paint and paraphernalia are confined to a 4-foot square tabletop on a sunny porch. Instead of gargantuan sheets of canvas taunting me with their whiteness and blankness, rectangles the size of playing cards greet me.  Did I mention how much fun they are to paint? In other words, I don’t hem and haw. Suddenly the refrigerator doesn’t need cleaning. I just sit down and paint. Then I paint some more.

I think I will start some now, as a matter of fact.   Or maybe this afternoon. Definitely before bedtime.

Don't let Procrastination slow you down.
Monet’s Lily Pond, Giverny

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