Painted Cityscape at Night

I'm sharing two painting projects in a row, but they couldn't be more different. Yesterday's subject was a colorful daytime scene of a stunning natural wonder, while today's is a cityscape at night. 


Painted Cityscape at Night



Put paint in the palette and water in a cup. Select a wide brush. 

Cut the watercolor paper so it is the size of a postcard and orient it vertically. Blend the paints to create five different shades of gray and paint them on the paper with a wet brush. These will be the buildings. I left white space for the sidewalk and the sky, but that's not necessary since they're both darker than the colors of the buildings. 

Mix gray and black to create the color of the sidewalk. Mix in Thunder Blue for the sky. You can stagger the heights of the buildings for interest.

Use a craft knife to carve an eraser into a rectangle. 

Dip the eraser into black paint and stamp windows onto the buildings. Vary the windows on the different buildings by stamping horizontally and vertically. You can stamp twice to create a larger window. Leave some blank spaces to make the lighted windows. 

Clean your homemade stamp by washing it under running water and blotting it on a paper towel. Then dip it into yellow paint and stamp in the remaining windows. 

Use a small brush to add bands of gray to the lower parts of the buildings to represent awnings or signs.

Water down some yellow paint and add blobs along the sidewalk.

When the paint has dried completely, use the flair pen to outline the buildings, windows, doors, and awnings. 

Draw street lamps in the center of each of the yellow blobs, then add the rough shapes of people walking by. 

This is a great project to do with kids, but can be difficult for those who struggle with perfectionism. It's nearly impossible to line up all the windows perfectly, for example, and that's OK. It's not an architectural drawing. For students who focus too much on perfection, challenge them to intentionally draw wavy lines and crooked buildings. Dr. Seuss made a whole career out of imperfection!


Inspired by Wyoming: Grand Prismatic Spring Art

One of my goals for the year is to design more state-inspired crafts. I'm still missing a few states, including Wyoming. When I think of Wyoming, the first thing that comes to mind is Yellowstone. I've never been to Yellowstone, but will make it there someday. And when I do, the Grand Prismatic Spring is at the top of my must-see list, along with Old Faithful, of course.

I'm fascinated by the science behind the colors of Grand Prismatic Spring, as explained in this article. It's so beautiful in photos, and I can only imagine how much more spectacular it would be in person. It is perfect for my first Wyoming-inspired project. Affiliate links below. 


Grand Prismatic Spring Art



I cut my watercolor paper to the size of a postcard, but you can make your artwork whatever size you'd like. 

With a wet brush, paint a bullseye (of sorts) starting with blue in the center, then yellow, then orange, then red, pulling the paint outward from the center. Don't clean the brush between colors. You want them to blend.

Fill in the outside area with browns and grays. Clean the brush and let the paint dry. 

Use the reference photo to adjust the size and shape of your color bands, starting with the blue and working out. When you get to the oranges and reds, pull them out over the browns and grays. Let the paint dry. 

Add the observation path along the left of the painting. 

Now it's time for the colored pencils. Lightly color light blue highlights around the edges of the blue, then add light green. Highlight the yellow. Use the reference photo to mimic the colors of the orange, red, and brown organisms. Outline the observation path. 

Finally, use the white colored pencil to swirl color gently over most of the painting, leaving only the center uncolored. This will help blend the colors and mimic the steam. 

Here's my finished artwork.

When I do eventually make it to Yellowstone, I think I'll bring my postcard-sized art along, add a stamp, and mail it to myself from the park. That would make a neat souvenir.


Name Art for Kids

I am on a roll! I've finished indexing another category of crafts, Name Art. I am so happy to have it all in one place.

I'm totally in the mood to do more name art. Hopefully I'll have a new project or two to share with you soon.


Paint Storage

Now that I am an ambassador for Plaid, they've been sending me the latest colors of specialty paints as they're released. I already had a huge collection of Plaid products that I stored in plastic tubs. With the new specialty paints showing up, I needed to reorganize and come up with a way to store the paints so I could find what I need quickly. (There are affiliate links throughout this post.)

I use the regular Folk Art acrylic paints most often, so it's important that they're accessible and portable. I put them upside down in Sterilite Show-Offs, divided into warm and cool colors. Here are two of those bins with the lids off:

I moved all the specialty paints in separate Sterilite Show-Offs. Most are upside down, marked with a Sharpie so I can easily tell what type of paint is each is. XT stands for Extreme Glitter Paint, my favorite way to add tons of ultra-fine sparkle to a project. W is for Watercolor and they're so pretty. M is for Metallic. These go on so well and provide great shine. 

I have more specialty paints in larger ClearView Latch Boxes. There's a photo of one of the tubs below. The paints with the printed design on the top are the Multi-Surface paints. E is for Enamel, F is for Fabric, and P is for Pickling Wash. CS is for Color Shift, one of my favorites of Folk Art's specialty paints. My budding collection of Glitterific is in another, along with the newly-released Dragonfly Glaze

So far, I'm really liking the way I've organized my paints. How do you store your paints? I'd love to hear!


Easter Artwork Inspired by John 11:25

I do a lot of bunny crafts, but I don't consider them Easter crafts. This is what an Easter project looks like to me:

My project was inspired by this card. I love the way the words of John 11:25 were arranged to form a cross.

(affiliate link here and below)

I'm not sure whose idea this originally was, as a quick search shows that many people are selling projects featuring the text of John 11:25 written in the shape of a cross. 


There are elements I like about each of the designs, as well as things I don't. For example, some of the crosses are actually plus signs (with three words above 'Resurrection' and three words below). I like the cross bar higher. I like the emphasis to stay on the verse and not get lost in embellishments. I like the words to actually create the cross without having to outline it. 

I played around on PicMonkey, trying different fonts and sizes until I made this:

I printed it on heavy paper, then used watered-down Folk Art paint to make the sunrise. When that was dry, I painted the hill the cross sits on. I love it.

Happy Easter, everyone! 


Edible Crafts for Kids

Another HUGE project completed! Yea, me! I now have all of my edible craft tutorials in one location. Click the link or the graphic below to go to the page.

I had a lot of fun making the graphic and it took hardly any time at all. I started with a square canvas, colored it blue, and added a Weave texture. I put a black rectangle on the left, then made a large white circle and resized it twice. I colored the middle circle black. I added the fork and the text and exported it. Super quick and easy. I love PicMonkey.

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Creativation Seminar

In January 2018, I taught a seminar at Creativation called, "Expand Your Customer Base: Easy Ways to Sell to Teachers, Homeschoolers, and Kids."

In January 2019, I taught a second time at Creativation. That seminar was called, "An Introvert's Guide to Networking: Making the Most of Creativation."

Both talks were very well-received and I had a great time presenting. I will be applying to speak at the next Creativation show in January 2020. I have an idea brewing, but before I go forward with it, I wanted to see if any of you have topic suggestions. From the call for submissions:

"AFCI Business Presentations focus on the craft/maker's needs as an owner, salesperson and marketer. Topics may include accounting, blogging, branding and/or manufacturing, digital marketing, eCommerce, legal, point of sale, shipping solutions, social media, technology and more. Formats may include seminars, panels, roundtables and other unique ways to encourage interactivity and idea sharing. These sessions do not reference or promote specific products or services....
Creativation 2020 targeted topics include: marketing and branding strategies to expand your business and bring in new customers; social media (beginner and advanced); time management and prioritization; roundtable topics to encourage networking and peer sharing; new products and trends."

I'd love to hear any ideas you have!


Quilled Cactus

This quilling project is inspired by the stuffed cactus I made last year. This post contains affiliate links. 


Quilled Cactus



Cut the white cardstock to the desired size for the background (mine is 4.25" x 5.5"). Cut a trapezoid from the yellow copy paper to make the front of the pot. Cut a curved arc the same width as the top of the trapezoid to make the back of the pot. Use the green copy paper to cut out the cactus. I did one large oval and two smaller ovals. Glue these to the cardstock background. 

Punch a heart from pink copy paper and glue it to the pot. Now it's time to start quilling. Begin by outlining the main part of the cactus in green, then outline the arms. Add two vertical ribs. Outline the pot with yellow. 

Now fill in the cactus with a combination of loose circles and other shapes. If you look closely, you'll see I used some teardrops and a marquise. There's no right or wrong. I didn't glue anything in until I'd completely filled the area. Once I liked how it looked, I used reverse tweezers to remove one circle at a time so I could add glue and return it to the correct spot. 

Finally, use pink quilling paper to make 6 tight circles and a heart. Glue the circles next to the arms and the heart directly over the punched heart shape.  

Display your design on an easel.

Once you know the basics of quilling, you can apply them to literally any design you'd like to make. 


Best Blogger Contest 2019

For the past 5 years, I've attended the Prime Networking Event for bloggers that takes place during the Creativation show. This year's sponsors included:

  • Deflecto
  • Leisure Arts
  • Love Crafts
  • Marvy Uchida
  • Plaid
  • Rinea
  • Spinrite (Yarnspirations)
  • Styletech Crafts/Tape Technologies
  • Xyron

Many of the sponsors sent us home with new products to try out. We were encouraged to submit our most creative designs to the Best Blogger Contest for a chance to win cash prizes.

I made three projects for the contest and today they are announcing the finalists. Since I'm writing this ahead of time, I have no idea if any of my projects are amongst them. Regardless, I'd encourage you to check out the projects and vote for your favorite. Voting ends on April 23.

Win or lose, I can't share the projects I've made here on the blog for another 3 months. It's so hard to have to wait!


Using Leftover Diamond Dotz: Luggage Tag with Monogram

New luggage means a new luggage tag. It took less than 10 minutes to pull together cardstock scraps and extra Diamond Dotz to make a tag that perfectly matches my awesome new, inexplicably-inexpensive, purple suitcase. Make your own luggage tag! Affiliate links below.


Luggage Tag with Diamond Dotz Monogram



Cut a rectangle of purple cardstock the same size as your tag holder. Cut a piece of white cardstock so that it is slightly smaller and run it through an embossing machine to add texture. Punch a scalloped circle from purple and a regular circle from white. Glue all the layers together.

Use the craft glue to write the letter of your monogram. Add Diamond Dotz along the glue line to make the letter. Then dot glue along each of the scallops and add Dotz. 

Write your contact info on the back (or attach a business card), then slide it into the tag holder. You're ready to travel!


Tactile, High-Contrast Maze Placemat

Can you solve this maze? I'm pretty sure you can.

But can you solve it with your eyes closed? Not without using your eyes to memorize the path first!

As I was making my various projects using the leftover StickTogether stickers, I came across an extra sheet of green stickers where someone had used three of the stickers from the center instead of from an edge. I ran my finger over the opening and inspiration hit - I could remove more stickers to create a maze. As you know, Trevor LOVES mazes. I have so many wonderful memories of him filling in maze books over the years, drawing his own mazes, and creating maze-themed games. If Trevor had been born blind or visually impaired, would we ever have discovered his passion for mazes? The thought of him never doing mazes makes me so incredibly sad.

From there, my mind went to kids who do actually have visual impairments. So I set out to test ways I could use the StickTogether stickers to make a maze that you solve tactilely instead of visually. As I was working, I realized that by choosing the green stickers, I'd made a maze that was both tactile for blind children but also high-contrast for those with limited vision.

To make your own tactile and high-contrast maze, remove stickers from two opposite sides of a dark-colored sticker sheet to make a beginning and an end to the maze. Then remove stickers one at a time to create a winding pathway between them. I left two-sticker-wide walls between each path, testing frequently with my eyes closed to see if my fingers could follow the path. Then I added a dead end.

With the maze design complete, I experimented with ways to seal the maze so that the stickers wouldn't peel up. The easiest way was by simply smoothing clear contact paper over the top. When I did that, I realized that I'd made a placemat that could be enjoyed by any child, regardless of their visual abilities.

I'm happy to say that there are many tactile mazes available for purchase. Here are some interesting ones I found.


Convert a Photo to a Square (Without Losing Parts of the Image)

I've been going back into the archives making sure I didn't miss any projects when I did my big organization and indexing of all my animal crafts. Sure enough, I found another reptile craft, which I'm very happy about since that category is sorely lacking. I'd forgotten about Trevor's Snake Cake from his early days as a Cub Scout. In order to include it on the indexed page, I needed to convert the existing photo from a rectangle...

.... to a square. 

It wouldn't have been that big of a deal to just crop it square in this case, but there are many projects where doing so would cut off part of the image in an unflattering or confusing way. So I take a few extra steps to preserve the original image while converting to square. Using PicMonkey, I open Design and make a custom canvas size (usually 1000x1000). Then I choose Add Your Own Graphics and put the original photo on top of the plain canvas. I save this file. 

Then I reopen the file in Edit. Next, I make color corrections. The original Snake Cake image is a bit dark, so I adjusted the exposure in the Basic Edits, then used Highlights in the Touch Up menu to lighten the tabletop and the marshmallow eyes a little.

The final step is to use the Clone tool from the Touch Up menu to fill in the white areas to match the tabletop and wall in the original photo.  

I've done this so many times that it takes me just a few minutes to go through the steps to create a square image from a rectangular one. (It's not perfect, but it doesn't need to be since it will be displayed at such a small resolution compared to what you see here.) With new projects, I create the square image from the get-go to save having to go through the steps to create it later.

By the way, not only is this Snake Cake now up on the Reptiles and Amphibians page, but I've added it to my current huge project, which is indexing my edible crafts. I'm almost done, so I'll be sharing that soon! I'm really excited to have all of the edible crafts in one place, and pleased with myself for working hard on another of my 2019 creative resolutions.

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"The Most ____ from Each of the 50 States"

I am obsessed with any sort of list of "The most ______ from each of the 50 states." It doesn't matter what it is, I'm pretty much guaranteed to read it. Even if it's April and the topic is Halloween candy.

CandyStore.com Top Halloween Candy by State
Source: CandyStore.com

Here are some of the other articles I've read in the past few weeks:

I don't know what it is about these, but I love them. I am particularly enamored with any that have to do with food, particularly if that food is unique to the state. Before we travel, one of the first things I do is find out if there are any local foods that we have to taste in the state we're visiting. You can learn a lot about a place by trying its local cuisine. 

When you're headed to a new-to-you location, I highly recommend researching their official state food(s) and any regional favorites. Then seek out those foods. Our family has really enjoyed trying eating local favorites while traveling, like Smith Island Cake in Maryland or burgoo in Kentucky. So many good memories. 


Pixelated Name Art

Here's another fun idea for using up the leftover squares after completing a StickTogether kit - make name art! Affiliate links below. 


Pixelated Name Art



Decide what colors you want your name to be. I chose to do rainbow order, but it doesn't matter what you pick as long as the letters that touch each other are different colors. 

Through trial and error, I learned that it is easiest to start your name in the lower lefthand corner. If you do this and have a descending letter, like the Y in my name, you'll need to use a capital or otherwise change the letter. You can start in the upper lefthand corner and maintain and descenders, but it's harder to keep the word straight. I also learned that the D needed to be 5 pixels high in order to form it correctly. Any shorter and it didn't read as a D.   

Fortunately, it is easy to peel up the stickers and reposition them as needed. Once you're happy with your name art, use scissors to cut away the excess construction paper. I chose to remove the material from inside the closed spaces, but that's optional. Microtip scissors make it easy. 

Because I was going with a rainbow theme, I mounted my name art on blue paper and added two clouds (since you can't have a rainbow without clouds). I glued one behind me name and used a foam dot to pop the other one up off the page to add a little dimension. 

Are you inspired to use up your extra StickTogether stickers? Or perhaps try your first StickTogether kit? There are so many I still want to do. (Warning: They're addictive!)