1985: Bruce’s Origin Story (Sort of)

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1985. Acrylic. 8×10. Artist: Rebekah Robson. 2016.

Bruce Charles Wilson was born June 28, 1985.  I don’t remember much about him at that time, but his birth brought me the greatest gift of all: a plastic charm bracelet (you 80’s girls know what I’m talking about).

I painted this entire piece upside down to try to focus on shapes and colors vs face/hand/eye etc.

I must have felt an intense responsibility for Bruce, though. The first dream I can remember occurred during that time. I’m carrying him and I discover he has a fatal shrinking disease. Soon, he can fit in palm of my hand and I have to keep him in a plastic bag to protect him. I still feel a little scared and frantic when I think about that nightmare.

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This is my favorite part of the whole painting. I could look at this for days.

Deborah, my younger sister, also wanted to protect our new baby. She turned his bassinet over once while trying to comfort his cries.

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Deborah’s face was the most difficult part for me. I’m not even sure why. But I loved the end result so much.

One day, Bruce would grow into a little boy with crazy-curly hair and permanent coating of dirt, but those stories are for another time.

Visit my website to view and purchase prints of my work. Sign up for my newsletter for more awesome content and to be alerted when new prints and originals are available.

To learn more about Bruce, the full-grown chef, visit his food truck page on Facebook.

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This is my first attempt at a gif. It doesn’t appear to be playing. Please enjoy this still frame of the original sketch while I sort out my technical difficulties.

Shnoof Learns To Draw

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Shnoof Learns to Draw. Acrylic, Crayon, and Collage on Canvas. 16×20. April 4, 2016.

I finished my newest piece, Shnoof Learns to Draw, last night and wanted to share my process.

I don’t have an exciting story for how this painting popped into my head. I’d already completed the background and was sort of staring at it to decide what I wanted to do and then the idea just sort of unfolded. I based the mouse on a face my niece does along with some features from my 18 month old.

First of all, I am TERRIBLE at translating images from my head to paper. I have to just sort of feel my way through it. For a long time I’ve been embarrassed by that, but it is what it is and I’m making efforts to improve. Don’t let fear and self-consciousness prevent you from creating! All artists struggle with something. 

I currently enjoy sketching my figures into a sketchbook, cutting out the image, and then adhering it to my canvas with matte medium. This time I actually made a photocopy for my work so I could keep the original.

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I didn’t photograph the process of creating my background. This particular piece was made by covering a canvas with an old sketch of mine, painting the image, then ripping off strips of the paper. I then laid down several washes to create the look I wanted for the floor and wall.

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I had my baby help me with the crayon scribbles because I wanted it to look authentic. I held his hand and helped him make the recognizable shapes. He loved this part and was really upset when he had to stop. (I’d like to add a note here for artists who are moms, or even artists who have day jobs and are crazy busy and never have time to paint: I did this painting largely in 15-20 minute bursts. I often fail to create because I think I don’t have time, but by carving out tiny chunks here and there, I was able to put my vision on canvas and still have time for my other roles. When my baby got tired of playing alone and couldn’t take it anymore, I just stopped. When my older son wanted me to play Minecraft with him, I’d tell him I was going to set a 20 minute timer and then spend time with him. I hope this is an encouragement for those of you who are struggling to fit it in as well!)

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I started layering paint when I had time. I tried out a new wet into wet technique using a mop brush (which is made out of goat hair and definitely smells like it). You can find the tutorial I used here. I don’t have an airbrush so I had to stop when my paint started drying. But just the small bit I did made a huge difference in my color blending!
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In the name of transparency, I will show you a failed attempt at fur. I used my palette knife to hold my paint and a tiny brush to try to add fur on the stomach and muzzle. No no no no. I had to cover all that up. It did not go well.

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To finalize the piece, I went over the scribbles that I wanted to stand out. Once I finished filling in my image, I went around the entire thing with a brown black outline.

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Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear if you try any of these techniques in your own work and tips for how you fit creativity into your days!

 

Archie

My adoring fans have reminded me that it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. And she is they are right.

As I mentioned a while back, I’ve been participating in the Sewing Buddy Challenge at Whipstitch.

Our first challenge wrapped up this month, and my partner and I won 2nd place! We were to collaborate to make a pair of boy/girl projects, which works out perfectly since I have Dexter and Elisabeth has her baby daughter, Cate. We made these precious little dolls from Wee Wonderfuls called Olive and Archie.

This pattern was absolutely worth the money. I only had one problem with it, which I will go into later. But, for your $15, you get the patterns for both Olive and Archie, plus all sorts of clothes, and accessories including backpacks, sleeping bags, and a cat pal.

Elisabeth and I chose a color palette, using Moda’s A Walk in the Woods line as our inspiration. I would have loved to just get some of that fabric, because it is PRECIOUS, but I’m trying to stash-bust. So I had to bring that vibe to my doll while keeping down extra purchases.

I created a few sketches, with three major goals in mind:

1. Use what I have as much as I can.

2. Stick to the color palatte/theme we chose.

3. Make the little guy look as much like Dexter as possible.

I easily found a felt in color similar to Dexter’s hair. I ended up getting a blend because I was trying to keep costs down. I can tell that it’s pilled a bit, but overall I think it’s fine.

But finding a skin tone nearly drove me crazy. I shopped at Joann Fabrics, which I normally really like. But they had a whopping total of two fabrics that could possibly work for skintone. One of them was too orange (we are an extremely pale family) and the other was thinner and weirder looking than I’d like. I made the smart choice and went with thin and weird.

I started stitching my hair on. So far so good. Except in this photo, you can see straight through to the paper under the fabric. But surely that won’t be a problem, right? Right??

I’m 99% certain I washed my fabric before cutting. But I really can’t remember now. After sewing all my hair on and starting to assemble the body, I ironed some seams, and suddenly the weirdness of the fabric became an actual problem.

The fabric melted/shrunk. The photo above shows the difference between the pattern piece and how much shrinkage occurred. In retrospect, desperation to find the right color may have caused me to get something partially synthetic. But I will never know, because when I went back to Joann for a replacement, I couldn’t find the mystery fabric.

So I came some with the too-orange fabric, washed it… and then realized under our lights that it was yellow.

Long story short, I went to Hobby Lobby and found an acceptable fabric. The twist: A few days after I submitted my doll, I found my own stash of fleshtone fabric. Sigh.

Aside from that, the pattern started out ridiculously easy. But there comes a point when the creator tells you that you will be cursing her name, and she was not wrong. I didn’t curse *her* per se, but I nearly lost it several times. The problem is that wretched bottom panel. If you’ve made this pattern before, I’m sure you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t and plan to, you *will* know what i’m talking about! I Googled and searched and pleaded to the internet fairies to give me the answer and I never found it.

In the end I just had to wing it. So Archie has a funky butt.

I thought it might bother me that my handstitching is so awful, but I’m just glad that part is over. And as with childbirth, I’ve almost forgotten the pain and would do totally do it all over again.

The eyes where my only other creative difficulty, because I wanted Archie to look like Dexter, but Dex has hazel eyes that are difficult to replicate.

I almost settled for these plain dark eyes, which I love, but I just really wanted light eyes, even if they were still wrong. So I chose to do a circle of charcoal gray with pale blue on top to create irises.

I stuck on all the features, subbing felt scraps for the mouth and nose, to get the correct placement and shapes. Then I just stitched on the face.

I made a little red jacket last minute using the hoodie pattern included in the set. I didn’t finish the seams, because I was running out of time. But I really wanted that pop of color to complete the look I was going for. It was then that I realized that I didn’t like the placement of the arms, beause with the jacket on, things look a little weird and the jacket actually doesn’t want to stay on.

But, I was extremely happy with how he turned out!

More importantly, Dexter is extremely happy with him. I wish I could have captured how thrilled he was initially. I gave him the choice of whether he wanted to change the name and he really liked “Archie”. Or “Artsy”, as he calls him.
And he sleeps with Archie every single day.
Even if I didn’t win anything in the challenge, this would have been enough!
But I won’t say no to the 1/2 yard bundle of fabric 2nd place gets😛.

The Beast

Inside this cave lives a terrible beast.

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The beast wakes.
Terrible Beast
He paws the ground.
Terrible Beast
He glares.
Terrible Beast
He creeps.
Creeping
He lives with his mother, who is equally terrible.
Mommy Beast
Together, they are ferocious.
Ferocious
Growl
Crunch
The beast selects his prey… And attacks!
Attack!
Mmm. Delish.
Yom!
The beast is happy. For now.
Silly Beast
Time for seconds!
Double Attack!

 

Cousin Craze

I started this post about a week and a half ago at my sister’s house. I never finished it because hours later, Deborah and I were making a midnight trip to the ER to check on some early contractions. Needless to say, the week did not go as we had planned and we spent most of our time after that trying to recover. Deborah more so than me, obviously…

This week I’m staying with my sister Deborah (below), who is very pregnant, and her twins, Ty and Micah, who are equal parts sweet and lively. We’re going to be doing a few baby projects* while I’m here, but in the meantime, we’ve just been wrangling hooligans and trying to keep the avalanche of toys from killing us all.

*The projects were not completed, boo, and as I was leaving we discovered a glitch in one of the pieces. Hopefully Deborah will feel well enough to complete them soon and post some pix!

On the first day, I got to snuggle sweet baby Isaac, my brothers son. He is the most precious baby in all the land, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a child as consistently happy as he is. I rarely get to see him, so I was really excited that our visits overlapped.
Dex was EXTREMELY excited to be with our family!
The colors in the picture below are off, but it was the only time I could get Dexter to look at me for a picture. I’m not really sure he likes to be photographed. He only enjoyed the snapshot above because Uncle Ian was the photographer and allowed him to get within lens-biting distance.
It’s so lovely when the cousins take a break from harassing each other (or Ty and Micah get a break from being harassed by Dexter). Ty and Dex spent a fair amount of time Magna Doodling together…
…while sweet Micah played with animals by himself.
This child has the sweetest, most squishable-kissable cheeks!
Dexter is working with Magna Doodle intensity.
The boys fought over played with a lot of cars.
Below we have Hoarding Action Ty*.
*Hoarding Action Micah and Hoarding Action Dexter sold separately.
Dexter feigns patience while Ty plays. Yeah, save your thumb-sucking and sparkly eyes, buddy, I’m not buying it.
Things got a little crazy when the balloon fight started. But at least they were all laughing at the same time…

I love cousins.

Felt Food Tutorial and Patterns

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Here is the moment we’ve all been waiting for… (there’s totally a drumroll)…

I learned to create patterns in pdf form!!!!

I’ve been saying I’d do this for the longest time. It really wasn’t as hard as I was worried it would be. One day I’ll post about that for the other chickens out there Smile .

Patterns:

You’ll notice that most of the patterns call for cutting 2 pieces of felt, even for something flat. This is for stability, because you can warp or even tear felt pretty easily.

I tried to keep everything simple. All the stitching is on the outside, there’s no flipping or turning things inside out. And I did everything by machine.

Assembly Tutorial:

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Cheese: Probably the easiest thing you’ll make in the felt food world. Cut 2 rectangles of felt, and sew them together. Tada! You’ve made cheese. You have some creative options here: you can change colors for different types of cheese slices (think off white with stitched sprinkles for Monterey Jack), oval for provolone, and if you want Swiss, my suggestion is to sew circles, and then trim the holes.

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Bacon and Eggs: Felt food must-haves! Cut 2 egg whites and 1 yolk for each egg. Sew the yolk onto one of the whites, leaving a small opening. Very lightly stuff the yolk with polyfil and close the opening. Then put your 2 egg whites together, with the yolk on the outside, and sew all the way around.

For the bacon slices, I only cut 1 layer, because I felt like those lighter strips would be secure enough. Cut your darker bacon slices and 2 lighter strips for each slice. Just freehand those stripes, there is no reason to try to conform them to a pattern, and I think it would be more difficult to do so. Lay the light strips on top of the darker fabric and stitch around the strips.

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PB&J Sammy: I wanted everything to be as simple as possible, so these bread slices are flat, flat, flat! For each slice, cut 1 dark piece (that will become the crust) and 2 lighter pieces. This was actually the most difficult thing I did, despite trying to keep simplicity in mind. Sandwich those 3 pieces (light, then dark, then light) and pin the layers. You want to stitch around the edges of the light felt, catching all 3 layers. One of my slices came out perfectly the first time. The other slice slipped and I had to redo it a couple of times.

For the peanut butter and jelly, cut 2 pieces each and sew together. Super easy.

If you want to go a little further, you could make sandwich meats out of circles and ovals. I also want to make lettuce and tomato slices one day, but I just didn’t bother this time. Dexter already has a wooden sandwich set anyway. 

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Broccoli: I had a lot of fun making the little veggies! I was inspired by Dana at MADE for the broccoli and chicken legs for sure. In fact, I was probably most inspired by her felt food, because I saw how simple it could be instead of trying to create incredibly detailed 3D models of food.

Back to the broccoli. For each piece, cut 2 stalks, and sew those together. Cut 2 florets, my recommendation is to cut ovals just slightly bigger than you want your floret to be. This is another time where freehanding is going to be easier on you.

Ok, I said oval, but what I did was more like a little mushroom cap. You take your 2 little mushroom cap shapes, and freehand a broccoli shape around the top, leaving the bottom open.

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Next, take a little bit of polyfil and stuff the top. Then poke your little stalk into the opening, and stitch it closed. Like this:

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(Bet you can’t tell that I’m sketching these out as I go…)

Then trim your broccoli tops, and you’re done!

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Beans/Peas: Cut your 2 pieces. Sew along the curved back, leaving the inner curve open. Ball up polyfil into 3 little pea-sized… well… peas. Or beans. Put them in a row inside your shell. Sew up the inner circle.

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Carrots: These go together like the broccoli pieces. Sew your little carrot tops together, then sew the carrots, leaving the top open. Stuff with polyfil, then put the stem inside the opening and stitch shut. Then, I ran these guys under my sewing machine to create the lines. It wasn’t super easy, I had to help them along. Don’t “help” them so much that you break a needle. But some light pressure should be ok.

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Chicken Legs: I’m in love with these little chicken legs. Sew the 2 meat parts together, leaving the bottom open. Sew the 2 bone pieces together, leaving the top open. Stuff both sections with polyfil. I stuffed these a little more firmly, leaving it a little softer at both of the openings. Insert the bone into the meat opening (Ok, I just realized how creepy meat assembly sounds!), and stitch across all layers. 

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Cookies: You can make different kinds of cookies. Whatever you make, sew the add-ons to the top before you sew and stuff the actual cookie (or if you plan to hand stitch, you can do the add-ons at any time). Then sew most of the way around the 2 cookie layers, stuff lightly (you don’t want these to be too puffy), and then sew across the opening.

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Pancakes: These were the first items I made, and I couldn’t find them when I did my photo shoot, AND I only took one phone picture of them before I gave them away. I did not think ahead to when I’d be doing a fancy-schmancy tutorial.

At the time, I did these a little differently than I would now. You can probably see the batting peeking through. That was before I realized that stuffing with polyfil works just as well and actually looks better.

For the pancakes, cut 2 pieces, sew most of the way around, stuff lightly with polyfil, and close ‘em up.

For the syrup, cut 2 pieces, sew together.

For the butter, cut 2 pieces, sew 3 sides, lightly stuff, sew the 4th side. (I feel silly for typing out all these directions, since most of them are “cut 2, sew together”, but I wanted this to be as easy as possible for anyone making them!)

Now, when I made these, I thought I had just created the most amazing thing ever. And then I found these on Etsy. I guess there are only so many ways to make felt pancakes!

Oh, I also indicated on the pancake pattern that this is also what I’d use to make a hamburger. And yet, I have not created a hamburger bun pattern. I will do that soon though, because my sister has requested a hamburger for her boys. I’ll probably tackle the lettuce and tomato slices at the same time.

Links:

Now, I promised links to all the felt food that inspired me, but it was extremely hard to go back and find those!! I will add what I found, and maybe this was all. I know for some of the items I just did my own thing, making them look the way I thought they should look. But I truly don’t want to take credit for something someone else did, so I am sorry if I missed a link!!!

Dana at Made (The cutest little almost-2D picnic set! And I just noticed she has bread slices in there too, so maybe that’s where I got that inspiration as well as the broccoli and drumsticks)

Pickle Things at Black Wagon (This is likely an inspiration for the cookies.)

Stitches by Krustal (I didn’t get my cheese from here- I don’t think that sad little cheese slices are particularly inspired, as they are just squares- but I plan to use this as a jumping off point for my future hamburger bun, because the style is very similar to my felt food philosophy. And if you don’t want to wait for my version, which will probably only be slightly different, this would be a good place to go for a simple bun.)

Now, go have fun felt-fooding it up!!

Felt Food Frenzy

This year my Dexter’s Christmas gift was a beautiful play kitchen. So I went crazy making accessories for myself him.  
 
It was so much fun coming up with ideas for mildly 3-dimensional foods. I also found a lot of great inspiration online. I didn’t want to have to put a lot of thought into it or sculpt something magnificent. I just wanted to throw together a lot of fun little pieces to spark some imaginative play.  
 

 
 

The hardest things to create were the teeny tiny oven mitts, but I hand-sewed binding for the first time, and I’m excited to take that to the next level on a quilt soon!  

Eventually I will compile some links and upload patterns/templates/tutorials (don’t hold your breath, I’m not super great at adding actual patterns…), but for now, I want to showcase my work!