I usually wait until Thanksgiving weekend, but I couldn’t resist putting up my tree early this year ;). I love vintage Christmas decor almost as much as I love handmade ornaments, so I’ve combined my two holiday passions with this fun and simple craft. I hope you are inspired to give it a go!
This year, my main tree in the living room is covered in my paintbrush assemblage ornaments accented by bulbs in different shades of gold, some vintage pieces, and some softies gifted by friends and family. My second small tree in the spare room has all my bulbs decoupaged with images from art magazines. And of course, I have my own vintage jewelry tree hanging up in my kitchen! I did some tutorials showing my process for both the paintbrush ornaments and trees using old junk jewelry pieces last year, so be sure to check those out if you need some inspiration. I know for me, crafting these decorations has been wonderful art therapy in between my more taxing commissioned pieces, gifts, and pieces for upcoming shows. I know it can be difficult, but I hope you all take some time near the end of this year to reflect and unwind, and remember holidays are supposed to be fun – don’t pressure yourself too much or feel you have to stick to traditions that don’t work for you. Make these next couple months what you need them to be. ❤
As we get close to Christmas, I have no clue what kids today are asking Santa for! I don’t have kids myself, and don’t know many people with young kids. Also, 3-year-olds seems to have smart phones and tablets now, so … Do they still play with toys? Who are they planning to call, Big Bird? I have so many questions. All that aside, toys can be tools that help kids develop their interests and explore what they may want to be or do in the future. In homage to 90s nostalgia and the time when toys were still not quite high-tech, I’ve compiled a list of the best art and design toys from when I was a kid. I’m sure a lot of these will look familiar to many of you! And so our trip down memory lane begins…
This toy let you be a high-class big name designer, mixing and matching your own styles with plastic stencils you could shade over with a magic black crayon and then render in your favorite color story. That woman with the bob, chunky bracelets, and boots is basically the me of today. Check out that dapper lady on the top right adjusting her bow-tie!
First off, this commercial is just nauseating. That aside, this was a fun toy, again utilizing stencils so even those terrible at drawing could be a star, thus preventing any destroyed self esteem. I had the fashion design stencil set for this rather than the ones shown in this video – I was obviously a bit singularly focused. I liked my clothes far better than cuddly creatures, but I’m no Cruella de Vil, just cursed with being allergic to anything fuzzy.
Crayola Stampers Markers
You could make some wacky mosaic drawings with these markers, case in point the self portrait on the right, circa 8 years old. Remember the 70s revival yellow smiley face craze around that time? Those guys are in there.
Barbie Fashion Designer PC Game
Again with the fashion designing … I honestly did consider this career path but alas, discovered later on that I hated sewing.
As you can see, the earlier self portrait was pretty spot-on.
Nickelodeon’s Mix ‘N Spin
I never had this, but one of my friends did – The 90s kid version of all that pour art that is so popular now. Was there any design trend that people loved more than rainbow splatter painting in the 90s?
Watercolor Coloring Books
These books really lulled you into a false sense of security, giving you perfect blending and shading with just a smear of water, provided you followed the coloring book code and stayed inside the lines ;). Nevertheless, they were so relaxing to sit and fill in, and I spent many a rainy day with a pile of these in front of me, completing one picture after another.
Like color by numbers but with colored sand, you would peel off one number at a time revealing a sticky surface to pour the corresponding colored sand upon to slowly reveal a finished masterpiece. Though Disney ones were always super popular, my sets were of unicorns and tropical birds!
As a kid the shrinky dinks I had were pre-outlined, and you colored them in like a coloring book before putting the plastic sheets in the oven and watching them curl up, shrink, and harden into durable plastic pendants or flat mini figures. As an adult, I discovered the fun of using blank shrink plastic to design your own one of a kind pendants covered in art! I sold these for a couple years in a local handmade shop downtown, and they did really well.
These truly are the toys that made me! I hope everyone gets what they were hoping for this Christmas, though of course, no gifts could ever possibly be as epic as these.
I feel like with the completion of my ongoing Unlimited series in addition to working with art classes 9-5 for my day job, I got a bit burned out from drawing and painting. I have to be creating something at all times though, so I have changed my focus as of late to crafting just in time for holiday gifting. I have tons of fun handmade wonders available in my Ebay Store, like the hand-sewn ornaments below … These make great stocking stuffers because honestly, you can never have too many ornaments.
If ornaments aren’t your thing, everyone needs to keep their hands warm as it gets chillier outside. I love fingerless gloves because regular gloves and mittens make me feel as if my fingers were in 10 tiny straight jackets, and I feel like they make me clumsier than usual and I drop everything. With these, your fingers can experience sweet freedom!
Maybe one day I will become better friends with sewing machines, but for now I stick to hand sewing or crocheting as those monsters scare the crap out of me!
When I say I’m going on a crafts binge, I’m not lying – though I guess I did lie earlier about the total painting hiatus. I can’t entirely abandon painting but I switched from paper to wood to create these artsy, modern, geometric designed wooden bead necklaces. I also painted some new wooden dolls in winter wear to fit the season!
As always, in addition to ebay I have a variety of cool, art-covered products in my Redbubble Shop. I’ve been experimenting a lot the end of this year with watercolor patterns. I know paper calendars are kind of old school, but I love them still just for the pictures! I have a calendar of the 12 pieces included in my Unlimited series new for 2018. These calendars are super high quality on thick, art print quality paper so when you are done with it you can even cut the pieces out and frame them.
It gets so hard to figure out what friends and family want that they don’t already own year after year … I know I have quite a few things from Redbubble on my wish list ;). Definitely hoping Santa brings me a hoodie with this too cool design on it by katepowellart …
Where do you guys like to find unique gifts?
I have to admit, I never make New Year’s resolutions; partly because if you are truly dissatisfied with something, it seems silly to arbitrarily wait until the turning of the calendar to fix it. In part also because we all tend to set the same goals, those goals that we know everyone else is setting so we can easier relate to those around us as we share that we want to find our soulmate, get a promotion, or lose weight, and we can all laugh together about how we probably won’t actually do anything to work towards most of those things. But, what would happen if we committed to doing one thing that we were truly passionate about in this new year, one thing that we didn’t over analyze to death, asking ourselves, Should I want this? Is it too silly? Too shallow? Too lofty? Too weird? No one would understand anyway …
During my senior year of college 7 years ago (Whoa! 7 is a big number.), I entered an art book into the Annual Student Exhibition at Central Michigan University. I asked a sampling of the people I encountered in a day, some I knew well and some I did not, to think of a couple of experiences they would like to have before their life was over, and pick the most obscure one to share with me. I chose 35 different submissions to illustrate, and Underneath was born. This was my first experiment with creating art based on collected personal stories, something I would use to create many more projects in the future. I also ended up winning the Grand Award for this piece, which was the first time I’d ever won anything for my art aside from a coloring contest in 4th grade, and not a bad way to exit my college career ;).
As annoying as it may be that the first thing anyone asks when meeting someone for the first time after “What’s your name?” is, “So what do you do?”, we kind of are what we do. This doesn’t have to mean our day jobs, or even be workplace related at all. What we do with each day is a choice, and it is these choices that reflect what we value and shape who we will become. True goals can give immense insight into each individual’s unique personality, drive, and psyche. That is why I so enjoyed sifting through the responses I received for this project.
I was reminded of Underneath recently for an unfortunate reason. The young woman who 7 years ago submitted the far right response above took her own life in a murder-suicide earlier this month. She attended my high school, but our school was so large growing up there were tons of people who walked in graduation with me that I felt like I’d never laid eyes on my whole four years there. I never knew her well, but our paths did cross and I remembered her submission deeply affecting me back then, as the news of what occurred deeply saddened me now. A couple of my good friends had had classes and clubs with her, some even keeping up over the years at least through texting and facebook, and the news hit them even harder.
This may not be a typical resolution, but something to be mindful of in the new year is this: we do not know everyone else’s story. We have no clue about everything the people we run into in our day to day life may be going through. People learn to adapt, and to act, and to portray themselves in person, at work, and in social media as how they want others to see them. I know I do it; I think we all do to a point. I have always been fascinated with the dichotomy between individual’s alone personas versus their public personas. It is a concept that is interesting to explore. It can also be a concept that is dangerous, because it can prevent people from reaching out who need help. If you make one resolution (aside from foregoing all convention and chasing your oddest dream / within reason and lawfulness, of course), resolve to be transparent and authentic, and resolve to be someone who is willing to make that reach when someone needs support either in the form of just a listening ear or otherwise. Christmas falling on a Sunday, I attended the Christmas morning church service at MFMC with my family this year. We spoke about how there is the whole Christmas story which most of us, churchgoers or not, have known since childhood. But, we all have stories, and our story, how we live and interact, can change someone else’s story for the better if we allow it to happen. We have nothing to lose for trying.
To see the rest of my art book in order, visit the album on my website.
Once Thanksgiving hits, I am all about the Christmas music. The fact that there are multiple radio stations devoted to playing nothing but Christmas music around this time makes my morning commute a whole lot cheerier, which is quite a feat as I am not what you’d call a morning person. However, like radio is apt to do, they tend to cycle the same 20 songs over and over and over again. Now, you can play Sinatra every hour on the hour and won’t hear me complain, but enough Mariah Carey already! All I Want For Christmas Is You wasn’t that great the first time around, let alone by the 100th listen! Here are some of my Christmas favorites that for whatever reason don’t make the radio.
First of all, I want that Jack Skellington pillow in the background of this music video. I liked The Raveonettes quite a lot in high school, and I have to say they have some mighty fine dreamy, atmospheric Christmas tunes.
I think this next one is the most beautiful Christmas song I’ve ever heard in my life. I can never get tired of it. I still have yet to listen to any of Calexico‘s non-holiday music, mainly because all I’ve been listening to is Christmas music … need to get on that!
Classic, what can I say?
Pretty much anything Christmas by The Polyphonic Spree gives me chills. Their videos are such fun too, aren’t they?
I always hated the song Blue Christmas, mainly because I’m never a fan of whiny breakup music at any point in the year but at Christmas, man? Don’t be a downer. Also, Elvis = intense need for earplugs. However, apparently Conor Oberst is magic (like I didn’t already know that), and turned me around on the whole thing.
Another classic … punk rock Christmas forever! Give all the toys to the little rich boys.
Ok, this last one is a little cheesy but I included it because I have fond childhood memories of this song. The 60s/70s were big on family bands, and my mom loved The Partridge Family TV series growing up and had a couple of their cassette tapes. This band was my first introduction to music that wasn’t Disney. Well, them and ABBA. This was definitely a dance around in the basement in my tutu kind of song. My tutu was black with silver stars on it, however, so I was still kind of punk rock ;).
What are some of your favorite Christmas songs or covers?
I know I’ve been terrible at keeping up this blog lately. I promise to do better! Honestly though, I’ve been working on a plethora of fun projects which is the main reason for my lapse (Also, it’s the holidays. No one has any spare time right now, do they???). This post will be kind of a hodgepodge of everything that’s been going down in the past couple weeks while my blog has been silent.
First and most importantly, a new year coming up can only mean one thing … The grand reveal of Pantone’s new Color of the Year! I’m a huge dork, and honestly do look forward to finding out what the new color is each year … I hate not knowing things!
In my opinion, it’s ok. I was kind of scared while watching the reveal video where they add one by one the different pigments to stir together for the big reveal, because they were dumping a WHOLE LOT of freaking yellow onto the palette first off. I’m so glad it’s not yellow – I am not a fan of yellow. Gold, ochre, fine – but crayola crayon yellow? Yikes. I read an article awhile ago that featured a test gauging how many colors in the spectrum your eyes could detect. People who could detect the largest amount of colors possible tended to be irritated by yellow. I did decide I wanted a bright yellow sports car in 8th grade, but that was just because I wanted people to think I was cool and glaring, eye-offending color seemed the proper type of vehicle for a devil-may-care attitude. I ended up with a silver used car with sparkly blue “gothic flame” decals on the side and a hello kitty license plate holder once I got to high school, so I was still kind of a badass at least in my own mind. This pondering over the color reveal sent me down the internet rabbit hole, and of course I had to go back and check what year the Pantone Color had in fact been a yellow. It seems there was a shade of yellow in 2009. 2009 was quite a strange and tumultuous year filled with all manner of general awkwardness and unpleasantry now that I think about it. Perhaps the color was to blame.
I must have been crazy to do another piece with more damn butterflies. Detailing the wing patterns is all great fun … until it’s not. The process can get a bit tedious, though the end result is worth it.
My other butterfly piece that was shown at Studio 23 sold after the show! I’ve never had a piece go the first time it was exhibited. I was of course over the moon excited, but also felt a bit of sadness since I’d just finished it only just a month before. We were just getting to know each other … I suppose this is how parents must feel when their kids go off to college or something.
I also did something I never ever do … I worked all November on a collaboration with former art student and all around cool girl Heather-Dawn Deogracia. We got into the upcoming “Dynamic Duos” exhibition also at Studio 23. Look what happens when we put our minds together. We didn’t end up killing each other or getting into a fistfight, and we didn’t even yell and rip our project in half, so I’d say it was a successful venture. How would you interpret the story in this piece? Feel free to comment! I’d honestly love to know everyone’s thoughts. This is a fun one for hearing others’ interpretations.
I’d also been doing a lot of crafting for a holiday art fair I attended 2 weekends ago. I went crazy with inventory and have a ton of cool stuff still left, so be sure to visit my ebay store for last minute gifts! Everything is 20% off this week through Sunday at 12 am, so check it out.
I wasn’t kidding when I said a lot has been going on … in addition to all the art stuff, I had the pleasure of meeting the new baby of one of my best friends from high school last weekend! She is the first of my core group of friends to reproduce, so it’s still super surreal at this point. I never know what to do around kids. At my boyfriend’s family Thanksgiving, I was sitting next to him in the living room and his niece kept hovering around me, backing up against my knee. I hissed to him, “Why does she keep rubbing her butt on my leg?” He responded, “She’s trying to get onto your lap, pick her up.” I responded back in whispers, “How do I do that, will I break her?” I tend to be clumsy with inanimate objects like dishes, so I’m always scared of picking up tiny adorable children, though I’ve heard they’re far more resilient. When my friend passed her daughter, Darshini (Isn’t that an awesome name?), to me to hold she of course immediately started howling. She was hungry and had a dirty diaper allegedly, so totally not my fault. I held her later and she was calm and didn’t think I was scary.
I hope you’ve all been well! I have a couple more projects to share, but some are Christmas gifts so they must remain a secret for now :). So long! Now that the craziness has died down, I solemnly swear I will be writing more often again.
… Just kidding, I actually can’t stand Madonna’s music, but it seemed an apt title to use when talking about all the fun artsy things I have for sale.
This past weekend the program I direct at Creative 360, Express Yourself Artshop, hosted an art and craft fair. A number of our students participated, and a fun time was had by all. I was having so much fun making stuff that as usual I went a bit overboard so I have a lot of surplus stock, which I have posted in my ebay store and will continue to add to.
I have two kinds of plushes, both incorporating unique upholstery fabrics and hand-sewn and hand-painted details along with vintage embellishments.
I also have hand-painted wooden art dolls that range from adorable, girly fashionably dressed characters to holiday themed and even some mermaids thrown in.
In addition, you will find affordable art prints (including wallet size ACEO prints for $2.99!) and original pieces for sale, as well as a wide range of paper dolls. I’m up to over 10 different designs, and all the clothing is interchangeable which is super fun.
I also have two print-on-demand shops through Redbubble and Zazzle. I own a selection of products myself from both sites, and have been so impressed with the quality for a really affordable price. Both sites offer slightly different products and designs including jewelry pendants, clothing, mugs, tote bags, stickers and cards, notebooks and journals, phone and laptop cases, pillows and other home accessories, and more.
It gets so tedious to shop anywhere the later into Fall it gets with the holidays coming up. With stores filled with grouchy, hurried people running into each other like bumper cars, I am a huge fan of online shopping. Plus, giving something people have never before in their journeys through big box stores will make you the coolest of gift givers for sure :).
I love supporting others’ art as well. Are there any shops on etsy, ebay, or print-on-demand websites that are your go-to for gifts?
It’s hard to believe this week is Christmas already. Seasonal art typically gets lumped into the same category where we heap images of puppies in baskets and kittens playing in flower gardens, pigs in dresses going shopping and maybe even some dogs playing poker: all that silly, cutesy, uncreative nonsense. However, just like it seems every musical artist has recorded a Christmas song or two at one time or another, most artists have tried their hand at a design that some may call “seasonal”. Christmas art doesn’t have to be all Thomas Kinkade snow villages and fuzzy animals wearing santa hats.
Camille Rose Garcia’s work often deals with the dilemma of capitalism and its relationship to greed. “The Saddest Place On Earth” describes the story behind her pieces that feature the nefarious “Peppermint Man”. Apparently, he solves the overpopulation problem by luring all the “bad” little children into his pastry factory, where he then feeds them poison candy and re-purposes their bodies by baking them into treats he serves at his chain of all-you-can-eat Peppermint Town Buffets. Lovely. I know quite a few people who aren’t much of Christmas fans due to its emphasis on over-consumption. However, I’d say any celebration is what you make it to be. If you don’t like all of our culture’s current traditions, then toss them out and make new ones of your own. Rather than becoming horrified by overeating and Black Friday shopping and tossing out the whole Christmas thing entirely, decide to make your celebration about experience, giving, and reconnecting. If you don’t like the way something is done, do it differently. Too often we don’t realize, it’s really all up to us.
I became hooked on Catalina Estrada’s work after purchasing a box of Christmas cards with the blue angel artwork shown above from an art museum gift shop in Chicago. Her use of color and pattern is pretty spot-on.
This year in Michigan, we have been enjoying anywhere from 40-60 degree days leading up to Christmas. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, this is freaking unheard of. This painting almost, almost, makes me miss the usual piles of snow. If you look up more of his work, they all exhibit his characteristic use of rainbow, prismatic color to depict strong light. I actually recognized many of his other paintings, I just had never known the artist behind them. His work is pretty much everywhere, and for good reason.
If anyone recognizes whom the artist of this piece may be, please fill me in. I am absolutely scandalized at drawing a blank after all my years and years of art history instruction. This image caught my eye on pinterest but when I followed the link, it led me to a website boasting “Buy hand painted images from photos”, advertising even replicas of “Starry Night” and “The Mona Lisa”, among others. That’s not sketchy at all … But, back to the lovely, totally legit painting at hand. Normally another painting of a pasty, blonde Mary and Jesus would elicit from me a lengthened sigh. Still, something about this piece caught my eye. Because of the mix of traditional garb, updated to be far more ornamental than it would have been during the actual time period of the Christmas Story; with the even further out of time decorative banisters and modern era floral wallpaper behind, the piece has a shifting, timeless kind of feel as it embodies many periods. The timelessness makes this a far more relatable piece to me. Adding to this is her facial expression. Her eyes are downcast, and she doesn’t seem unhappy, but doesn’t seem altogether cheerful and light either. Her mind still seems slightly burdened though overall she is at peace, and this makes far more sense given the situation in the story than the usual oversimplified portrayal of, “Immaculate conception? Cool, you know that sounds totally fine to me, let’s get to it!” Acceptance of any trial, or “new adventure” if you will, doesn’t mean you will never wonder or doubt. For if that were the case, I would fear the absence of a brain.
On a less serious note, once again, artist unknown. These fun little pastel-colored nativity characters that look like cheap knockoffs of “Precious Moments” must have been really popular around the early 90s, because I had jigsaw puzzles of them, coloring books, even window clings my mom would always decorate the kids’ bathroom mirror with around Christmas time. I found this picture on accident and had to include it, though it is definitely of the cutesy, sappy variety I described at the beginning that I promised I was not going to show. I cannot be the only one who remembers these.
A new take on a favorite Christmas tale from a pop-surrealism master – the Grinch, painted in eerie photo-realism. The sickly pepto-bismol color present throughout only adds to the arresting nature of this picture. You can almost feel the poor Grinch’s distaste for this entire Christmas-y situation.
Express Yourself Artshop also kicked off the holidays with the last week of classes, topped off with a holiday bash the Monday after the semester’s end. This was my first Christmas as program coordinator for Artshop (an arts and wellness program for adult students of varying abilities, including those with physical and mental challenges), and I feel more proud than ever to be a part of everything as I saw firsthand the joy bubbling over from this wonderful, inspiring, close-knit community of fantastic people.
Happy holidays to all, and to all a good night.
First week of the new job, mission accomplished – complete with a snazzy new bio. Check out that classy head shot. Actually, I realized upon scouring my computer for an acceptable image that finding a professional picture of myself is super hard.
See exhibits A and B below for further proof.
I’m one of those recluses who does all my Christmas shopping online. My heart cannot even take the trials of navigating a parking lot (and subsequently narrowly avoiding my poor little car being squished by lunatics five times over) this time of year. I seriously needed to go grocery shopping today, realized it was the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and decided “Nah, tomato soup out of the can with a salad of slimy, past-expiration-date lettuce sounds fine enough to me.” Plus, I have friends and family with distinctive tastes and it’s often hard to find unique gifts that they’d actually like or don’t already own in stores.
If you are like me and prefer to sit in your pajamas drinking hot tea while scouring the web for unique gifts, you should check out my redbubble shop. I have a ton of fun and whimsical seasonal designs posted, and also a variety of awesome designs for year-round. I also have my first calendar ready for print. Having a calendar hung up on my bulletin board is literally the only way I know what day it is. Plus, when the year is over you can get crafty and turn the pictures into awesome art.
New items for the holidays have also arrived at the Moongirl Designs Zazzle Shop. In my opinion, you can never have enough ornaments. When I am done decorating my tree, there is pretty much no green left to be seen. I have fun illustrated Christmas character ornaments on zazzle : Santa, angels, elves, all the nostalgic classics illustrated with a new twist.
I wish all of you in the states a wonderful Thanksgiving this upcoming weekend, and for those going out on Black Friday … Godspeed to you – try not to get trampled.