25 December 2010

handmade with love

Not having any cousins around, but having lots of grandparents, aunties and uncles in the area, my boys get a bit spoiled with presents this time of year. They don't earn enough allowance to buy gifts for all the adults they receive from, but I think it's important for them to give and not just receive.

Our solution is to figure out a project each year that they can pour their creativity into and make gifts with their own two hands. In the past we've made jewelry or large paintings. This year, everyone got a five-piece note card and envelope set with a mix of art on the front. They were fairly easy to make and turned out pretty cute. Here's a little sample of some of the art and how we made it:


For this one, you need some brown watercolor paint, various sheets of colored paper, glue, a bird punch and a cat punch. Punch bird shapes out of the colored paper and glue them on to your painted tree. Then punch a little cat at the bottom gazing longingly at the flock. The punch-outs were only $1 each at Michael's - can't beat that.


This worked best with my little one's tiny fingers. He dipped directly into the paint and blobbed on a rainbow of colors with a cheerful result. Entirely his idea; no two are alike!


Straight watercolor here; no special technique.


For this one, we used a doily as a stencil, carefully painting one color in the holes and another color out from the edge. Pretty and easy, too! Someone with nice penmanship can make it into a "thank you" note if desired.


Paper, glue and ink: taking advantage of my son's passion for drawing chibi manga figures. He drew a bunch of different characters, then we cut around each one and glued it onto the card over a paper oval (cut out from a stencil for evenness). I helped him outline the shadow and he colored it in with black ink. Totally cute!

We tied each set in a bundle with a little ribbon and they made the perfect gift for aunties, grandmas and big sisters ~ although most said they intended to keep them for themselves and never actually use them. :)

As for me... besides the portrait that I shared with you earlier, I was also able to help someone give a special gift to his parents. They needed a new mailbox, but instead of just giving one straight out of the box, this one was sanded, primed, and then handed to me to paint something personal on it. The numbers were obvious, but since the mom and dad are of Irish and Italian descent, the son asked for these flags to be painted as well. After that, it got a spray of clear-coat for protection.

He must be a really good son and know what his parents like, because I'm told that his mom nearly cried when she saw it. She must be very fond of her country and her mail. :)

Or, maybe it's just proof that everyone appreciates a personal touch.

Merry Christmas!

20 December 2010

sketchbook project progress ~ {part 3}

I've been a bit shy about my sketchbook, mostly because of my very slow progress, but thought it was time to share a couple pages again. Not all of them are finished, but that's how my sketchbook really is. Quite unfinished!

First, a "musings" page where I've sketched my worries and doubts... I keep coming back to this one as they occur.

The beginning of a story...

and some outlines of its continuation.

I have so many ideas in my head but so little time to sit down and work on them. Trying not to be nervous although there is much to accomplish before the January deadline!

I will definitely have to buckle down once all this holiday get-together, big-dinner, gift-giving fun time has passed. Happy arty holidays to all!

08 December 2010


Painted this watercolor for a gift this season. (I don't think he reads this blog!) Patterned it to hang together with this sketch I did back in July ~

because someone really loved it and we decided it looked a little like her. The intended portrait is a bit more detailed, so they're not exactly the same style, but I think they'll look cute hanging together in matching frames. Apparently there is a blank bedroom wall where they're destined to go.

I'm glad to have at least one of my holiday gifts under control! :)

05 December 2010

my california autumn

Inside, we've been admiring our decorated tree. But outside, the trees and plants are decorating themselves. Perhaps their ornaments are even more lovely.

The mini oranges are so tasty right now ~ tart but sweet.

This is the only blossom so I saved it, even though the rest of the bush got a good trim with the clippers.

Soon to come: a new flower. The bulbs popped up right after I planted them, but I can't recall what kind they are. It will be a surprise when the blossom is revealed.

Good ole rosemary always seems to have a bloom somewhere. The bees love it for that.

My most charming backyard jewel! She totally posed for this picture when I brought the camera out.

The lavender is drying from flower to seed. It smells so good. I like to harvest it and sew into little sachets for the laundry.

The geranium got a little too cold one night and all the leaves turned red. Still, it's doing its best to make some new flowers.

The ornamental pomegranates really look like ornaments, especially this time of year.

The peach tree's leaves are falling, falling into the water below. Before too long it will be bare and I won't have to keep skimming the pond twice a day.

The fish hide under the waterfall when I pass the net to catch up leaves.

That was a backyard tour. In the front, we've got the Christmas cactus right on schedule.

A little color in the flower bed.

Very happy mums!

Paper whites aplenty.

What do you see in the clouds?