Inspiring Artists: Lachri Fine Art

I came across Lisa Clough-Lachri of Lachri Fine Art when I was searching for YouTube videos about motivation to paint and becoming better at the business side of art. I connected immediately with her videos. It was like she was answering every question I’d ever asked.

This was one of the first videos I watched and it was enormously helpful to me. She recommends putting thought into your sensory experience while painting, which was really intriguing to me. Sounds, smells, having tea while you paint (if you feel safe drinking in your studio!)… just setting up this routine that engages your senses and lets your brain know what mode to be in.

A few others I heart:

7 Tips to Improve Your Art

5 Think You Should Do to Improve Your Art (This is more about setting goals than about specifically improving your artwork)

5 Ways to Get More Followers For Your Art on Social Media

How to Cure Artist Block

Ok, I could keep linking these for a very long time, but I’ll stop there. Check her out, she’s great!

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!

 

Eggs and Hearts

Raise your hand if you can’t wait for Spring!! (Do you see my hand? I’m the one jumping up and down.)

I’ll be honest, I’ve been having difficulty blogging, because I’m just having… difficulty. In general. (Speaking of difficulty in blogging, if it looks like I have some weird spacing in this post, I don’t know why that is. Let’s just agree to ignore it together.)

Today was a halfway productive day, meaning the first half of the day was great and I got lots done.. and then everything crashed.

But during that exciting do-everything phase, I:

-Cleaned my entire kitchen and living room (Some of you may be thinking that cleaning the living room shouldn’t be listed as a grand accomplishment. Allow me to introduce you to my son. He’s blurry for a reason.)

Image-Researched lunches with Dexter while coaxing him to eat.

-Packed a week’s worth of kiddo lunches. This *is* impressive, because I cut all kinds of foods into heart-shapes, sooo…. I’m kind of a big deal.ImageImage-And yes, I boiled and dyed eggs (I really can’t wait until spring!! Also, I thought it would be fun for Dexter. And it was.)

I also relied heavily the good ol’ internet. And so I shall share with you the links that made my half-way productive day possible:

-Do *you* know how to boil an egg?? I don’t eat boiled eggs, so I certainly didn’t.

-What about dying eggs? We did a very basic dye-job with food coloring and vinegar, but this site gives you some tips on getting fancy with the eggs.

-We lived on my kiddo snackumz Pinterest board today. These sites in particular (1, 2, 3) really got Dexter excited about the pre-packed lunch idea.

-Hearts, hearts, and more hearts. They’re pretty much the only cool shape I’m confident in free-handing, and thankfully, Dexter really appreciates them. But have you seen this awesome tutorial on heart-shaped carrots?? Not hard, and totally worth it.

Now that I’ve written out all the awesome parts of the day and avoided complaining about the (really, really) bad parts, I feel much better about all that’s transpired and I’m ready to spend my evening relaxing. Sigh 🙂

Rotating Toys (or How Not To Be Crushed Under An Avalanche Of Toys)

We are moving (yes, again), so we’ve been using this opportunity to prioritize and purge. One of the areas that’s always been really difficult for me is toys.

I’m sure, if you’re a parent, you’ve been in this situation: your kid has a TON of toys already, most of them littering every square inch of your home, but your child acts as if he has nothing to play with. And getting rid of toys is close to impossible because you know your child has played with each and every thing in the pile (once or twice), and will again (once or twice).

Some of my friends have been really successful at rotating toys, but I just couldn’t figure out how to implement that in our home. But, thanks to Pinterest, I learned that the key is stripping it down to the bare minimum.
I found this great guide at Little Stories. She shows you how to categorize what you have and divide toys into sets that will maximize learning potential.

I really wanted to wait until after the move to start this, but seriously, we were tripping on toys constantly, and I was about to lose it. Teaching clean-up skills is likely my least favorite part of parenting so far. After starting this system, it’s SO much more manageable.

I gathered all the toys and was shocked to realize how many we really had. This is for one child, people, and this doesn’t include larger toys and outside toys, such as his kitcken, basketball goal, and sand and water table, and things like craft supplies. I don’t know if you can tell, but it’s not just one layer deep… the pile covers our entire king-size bed.

I made some tough calls, trying to be honest with myself about what he doesn’t use or need. Then I added back just a few types of toys.

(I feeled compelled to note that I did not lay out the numbers like that, Dexter did. My OCD tendencies would not have allowed me to let them be out of order!)

The benefits so far:

  • There are less toys in the floor.
  • Clean up is a breeze because he’s not overwhelmed.
  • He actually plays with what he has.
  • He plays with things he never tried before and gets creative with what’s available.
  • I’m able to monitor what he’s still not playing with so I can remove it from our home.
  • Our time is spent more productively than before, when he wasted time whining and being bored, and I wasted time trying to force him to clean.

We are in our second round of rotation so far, and it’s still working well. When he asks for a different type of toy, I have him gather up something he’s willing to trade before I give him the new items. Otherwise, I plan to rotate the entire set about every 2 weeks.

I’m really excited to be able to really sort and store my sets when we move. Right now, all the extra toys are still in my bedroom because there was no better place to put them during the move.

If you have other tips and tricks, definitely leave me a comment!

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!!

Don’t be an idiot (like me…) Part 2

I have a feeling you guys are going to get sick of seeing these squares! Especially since, to the untrained eye, it looks like nothing is happening with them.

While it *is* in fact slow-going… it’s at least going. If you’ll pay special attention to the bag in the upper right corner, you can see it’s well organized while the other bags are in complete disarray. I’ve sewn all those squares into duos and have IRONED THEM. (I never iron anything. Unless I really really really really REALLY have to. And this time I really really really really REALLY had to.)

Which brings me to my point.

I am not at all an expert on fabric. I’m learning a bit at a time, especially as I follow other bloggers. When Mary at The Curious Quilter said there should be no homespuns included in the swap, I literally had to Google it. Now I know what a homespun is (or I at least have a clearer picture), and I went through my swapping fabric and pulled out all the probable homespuns.

But I’d already learned a valuable lesson during my ironing sessions. When I was ironing out my duos, some of my fabrics MELTED. Yes. They just shriveled up into a crunchy mess. So, my assumption is that some of those fabrics were synthetics. I am systematically having to go through my bags of squares and pull out the offenders and test the suspects. I am really excited that I get to personally touch all 3000+ squares at least 20 times each. (Sarcasm.)

So, don’t be an idiot like me. Learn your fabrics. Know what you’re using. And if you’re in doubt, test before you cut, sort, and sew.

So, you fellow swappers out there, I am sorry if you get my fabric!!! I am definitely trying to do this right, and I can assure you that you will not have anything that I *think* is a homespun, and you will not have anything that will melt!


Here’s a sad little shot of some of my swapping squares. I have so many duplicates, it’s not even funny. I am making sure that each set is without duplicates, but I have the potential to create LOTS of sets. 🙂

Postage Stamp Quilt Progress

We’ve been having a crazy couple of weeks! In order to de-stress, I finally started working on my postage stamp quilt. I finished cutting all my pieces… 3584 to be exact. Here they are all sorted and bagged into quadrants.
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I’m sewing duos right now, keeping them all strung together until I’m ready to iron them. IMG_8681

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Pairing my little squares has been a lot of fun! I know Mary at The Curious Quilter keeps hers pretty random. Unfortunately, had A LOT of duplicates, so I was a little picky about how to pair them. My goal is to keep duplicates from touching, and hopefully to keep fabrics that are very similar from touching. Plus, as I was pairing them up, I really liked the idea that each fabric would have a coordinating buddy in the all the chaos!

Because of all the duplicates and my vow to keep them apart, I’m having to go about the whole thing a little differently. I’m going to use Mary’s Classic Squares Tutorial as my piecing guide. but I’m doing all my duos in a quadrant first, then I’ll probably lay them all out and sort them into individual 64 square blocks, to try to spread out the duplicates. Tip: Take it from someone who now knows better- duplicates in a postage stamp quilt cause problems!! I now believe it’s better to have as many unique squares as possible, unless you are striving for a controlled pattern in your quilt.