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.

Learning For Life

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I was commenting on another blog post, and I realized I’d typed something that I’ve wanted to say for a while. So I pasted it here as a jumping off point:

I’ve just accepted that I’m always going to be in the learning phase, and that it’s ok. It’s helped me a lot to hear pros say they toss about half of everything they create. I used to treat everything like it was going to be THE masterpiece (and still struggle with that) so I’m not willing to take risks, and it makes me wait until I am super inspired. I’m working really hard now to reframe all my work ask practice, at least for now.

I’ve been more or less hiding the painting above for a week or so. I put a lot of time into it, but it wasn’t working. I finally decided to go out on a limb and try some dramatic coloring. I definitely learned some beneficial things, but this wasn’t the fix I was looking for. I was disappointed. So I hid it.

But that’s me slinking back to my old ways of only showing my work when I feel like it’s good enough, trying to pretend like I don’t create bad work.

So I’m a learner. So I mess up. A lot. It’s going to be ok… it’s going to be ok.

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!

 

Lemonwood Clock on Facebook

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This is a short and sweet post to announce the launch of the Lemonwood Clock Facebook page. I took a creative break due to random life events, like growing a baby (that’s still creative!) and badly breaking my toe (I found a creative way to do it too!! I can’t stop!).

I’m really excited to share quick progress updates and amazing tips I’ve been learning and to share other artists that have been inspiring me. I also want to create a space where other artists can feel encouraged and have conversations about their experiences as well.

Hope to see you there!

(Pssst, also look for lemonwoodclock on instagram!)

Fox Applique Tutorial and Pattern

This post is waaaaaay overdue, and I’ve been trying to work on it for months. I think I made my fox tee back in April. I don’t have any absolutely amazing photos of it, as creative documentation and I are sort of at odds with one another these days. I’m just excited to finally be sharing!

I’m gonna give a special shout out to my husband, who saved me from the pit of PDF-sharing ignorance and despair. And I’m dedicating this post to Mimi, who never gave up. 

Now that the credits are out of the way…

I give you the fox applique tutorial and pattern. You may remember this design from my *ahem* award-winning version of the Archie Doll.

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1. Print and cut.

If you’re making your own tee, the pattern I used is Dana’s Basic Tee. You can find my fox pattern here

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I did not include a pattern for eyes and a nose, but you guys should be able to figure that out. They’re just circles and a rounded triangle. 

Oh, and I should say that I did this applique with knit, so, when sewn, the edges will be left raw. And I sewed my applique onto my tee front *before* I assembled it, so that my t-shirt and sewing machine wouldn’t get into a fight. And use a ball-point needle!

2. Determine your placement and start sewing.

I don’t have pictures that get really specific about this, but pin on your first layer (the orange fox face), and sew the edges first. Then layer the whiskers and do the same thing. Now, I placed my whiskers a little high for my tastes, I meant to place them flush with the bottom of the fox face. So that’s the one change I’d make if I were doing this again. 

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3. Sew on the eyes and nose.

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4. Sew on the white ear pieces. And throw on some eyebrows for good measure.

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Then, if you’re making your own tee, assemble it. Boom, you’re done! 

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My shirt looks a little weird because I scaled up the pattern to a 5T, but I forgot to make the arms bigger. It doesn’t look as weird when Dex is wearing it. But if you resize a pattern, just remember to resize all the pieces!! 

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Dexter has worn this shirt like crazy for the past few months, mostly because I put it on him every single time it’s clean. 

I’d love to see if anyone recreates this! And, as usual, I’m cool with this being used for personal use, but not for monetary gain. 

Hexagons!

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Because have no resistance when it comes to starting new projects… I’m working on a hexagon quilt. I’m really loving it too, it’s mindless and soothing. Much easier than I ever expected it to be!

And for some reason, I just cannot bring myself to sit at my sewing machine right now. So it’s nice to have a lap project that I can do anywhere.

I’ve looked at a bunch of tutorials, but this is the main one I’ve been referencing.

And now I’m going to get back to it! (It’s very addictive, you’ll see! Smile with tongue out )

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 :-P.